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This e-booklet contains a collection of ten lesson plans to help you develop students' digital literacies and critical thinking skills. Based around authentic infographics the lessons start by using discussion to help students access what they already know about the topics and then move on to comprehension and a range of tasks that help students to explore the validity and authenticity of the information they find. They finish with structured research and presentation tasks that encourage students to work collaboratively and share what they have learned.
Stewart Middle Magnet is a STEM magnet school, and part of our curriculum comes from Project Lead the Way, including classes in engineering, robotics and aerospace. The Design Process is an important part of that curriculum. It also ties in beautifully with what we do in our makerspace. So it made sense for me to partner up with one of our Project Lead the Way classes to teach our students about the basics of the design process. While this was a lesson with a specific class, it could easily work with small groups, after-school clubs, or any group that you bring into your makerspace.
The world of science is teeming with all kinds of technical terminology. Comprehending science jargon can sometimes be a really challenging task for students especially those who don’t have access to special dictionaries. General dictionaries are not always helpful and most of the time they are lacking in technical definitions. This is why we deemed important to curate for you a list of some very good science-specific references and dictionaries that students can use to explain and understand scientific terms.
Teachers have told us they need a place to access safe images that are available to be used in the classroom and for educational purposes. Plus, they want accurate image citations. We’ve heard you and created “Photos For Class” to meet your needs for images!
When I worked with student teachers on developing effective lesson plans, one thing I always asked them to revise was the phrase “We will discuss.”
We will discuss the video.
We will discuss the story.
We will discuss our results.
Every time I saw it in a lesson plan, I would add a note: “What format will you use? What questions will you ask? How will you ensure that all students participate?” I was pretty sure that We will discuss actually meant the teacher would do most of the talking; He would throw out a couple of questions like “So what did you think about the video?” or “What was the theme of the story?” and a few students would respond, resulting in something that looked like a discussion, but was ultimately just a conversation between the teacher and a handful of extroverted students; a classic case of Fisheye Teaching.
The problem wasn’t them; in most of the classrooms where they’d sat as students, that’s exactly what a class discussion looked like. They didn’t know any other “formats.” I have only ever been familiar with a few myself. But when teachers began contacting me recently asking for a more comprehensive list, I knew it was time to do some serious research.
As trends to do, these are changing almost yearly. Consider how quiet iPads in the classroom have been recently, whereas three years ago they were going to replace teachers and were (unsarcastically) compared to magic. While mobile devices like the iPad can indeed parallel a kind of magic in the learning process, it obviously has to ‘fit’ into a progressive supporting ecology of assessment, curriculum, and instruction.
With that in mind, we’ve created a list of 15 (the graphic plus 3 bonus items below) new ideas every teacher should try. Not all will fit or work–again, it depends on the ecology of the classroom, school, and so on. But each of these ideas below–some learning models, some concepts, and some technologies–can be transformational for students, and your teaching.
Maker education (often referred to as “Maker Ed”) is a new school of educational thought that focuses on delivering constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instructional units to students. Maker education spaces can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom. A makerspace isn't just about the tools and equipment, but the sort of learning experience the space provides to students who are making projects.
"Computational thinking is one of the core objectives that runs through the computing program of study in England from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4. Before computers can be used to solve a problem, computational thinking refers to understanding the problem itself and the ways in which it could be resolved. Software engineers and computer scientists for example, routinely engage in computational thinking. As a higher order thinking skill, computational thinking has applications both across and beyond the school curriculum.
There are four key techniques to computational thinking:
* Abstraction – focusing on the important information only, ignoring irrelevant details
* Algorithms – developing a step-by-step solution to the problem
* Decomposition – breaking down the problem into smaller, more manageable parts
*Logic - looking for similarities among and within problems
Learning to program is one of the best ways to develop computational thinking, as it uses each one of these techniques. My intention here is to show an example of a lesson in which computational thinking is taught at Key Stage 1 (5 to 7 years) through programming. I took the lesson plan (attached above) from The Barefoot Computing Project and I taught it to my 1st grade class last week. It required the children to work in pairs to create step-by-step instructions through pictures. The pairs then swapped each other’s instructions, which they used to draw the ‘crazy character’ that the other child had in mind."
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