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Popular Posts from Last Week

Classroom info boardThis summer I encouraged students and staff to share #60DaysOfSummer photos so most of my summer online posts have been straight to social media instead of blogging. As a result, last week's popular posts come largely from the archives. Use the tabs at the top of my blog to follow me on various social media sites.

1. Three generations of Biddle men enjoyed a trip to Chicago last week, (thanks Dad!). Besides a Cubs game (they lost) we also toured the Adler Planetarium. My post praising their consistency on observational science received the most visits last week.

2. I've always been baffled by it, but a short post about a Jamaica bulletin board from 2011 has consistently received traffic. I did like the way the yearbook class incorporated that year's theme into the design but don't know what continues to draw traffic to that post.

3. This spring I purchased a 1972 VW Bug and drive it to school every day. If online traffic is anything like the excitement my students have over it, then posts about fixing the wiper motor may gain more hits than my school ones!

4. My review for the Cargo-Bot App received some attention.

5. An early summer reading review for the book behind the movie Boxtrolls also drew a few readers.

Popular posts from this blog

Classcraft Interactive Notebook Page

Finished crafting interactive notebook pages for Classcraft, an engaging classroom management tool.

This fall I plan to add interactive notebooks to my classroom procedures. The goal is to provide students with something tangible to take home at the end of the semester. So that means creating or borrowing resources to guide students in developing their notebook.

Classcraft is a classroom management tool, an elaborate punishments and reward system designed like an epic role play game. Students create avatars and can upgrade pets and outfits based on experience and gold points earned. They can also lose points and suffer minor penalties. Everything is done in a fun, game like environment.

The computer lab is already divided into five or six stations, which lends itself easily to guilds or teams of students who work together in the game. I want students to develop their own backstory and choose their characters for the good of the group. I also need students to keep their login info some…

Easy Offline Lesson Plans

My lesson was on search engines, but the Internet was down. Learn how to have great offline backup plans.

So I had a room full of fifth grade students with a lesson plan on search engines. We were going to compare search results from different engines. We were going to learn how to refine our searches. We were not going anywhere because the Internet connection had gone down.

So I quickly checked with the librarian and moved my lesson offline. We selected books from the reference cart: dictionaries, atlases, encyclopedias and records books. I then gave students the same search queries from the lesson. We still compared results and discussed why some sources provided better results. We even contemplated if other libraries would have better selections or unique resources.

The trick to any offline lesson plan is understanding what concepts digital tools are built upon. Digital search is still the search for and analysis of information. For centuries, people have dug through catalogs of i…

Passionate Purpose

Yesterday I was brainstorming with a coworker on writing projects for gifted students. At first she was looking for creative ideas of topics that students could write on. But then I redirected her thinking towards the purpose of the writing.

By allowing students to choose their topic of writing, it gives them the freedom to explore and question the world around them. Directing them away from fiction writing, we give real purpose to research - the exploration for an answer. Suddenly the focus shifts away from completing a grade or meeting a standard to inquiry and search for understanding.
For students to write meaningful content, they need to be passionate about it.  As teachers, we know it's important for students to (fill in the blank), but we don't always express the purpose well. Too often I hear that students will need these skills when they reach the next level. Elementary prepares for middle school which prepares them for high school where they are prepared for college…