Every teacher has his/her favorite lesson. Have you been repeating the same lesson for years without modifying it? Students of the 21st century are learning in a different way from students ten years ago. Let's work together to improve lessons to be relevant to both your curriculum and students' interests.

Road Trip Math Project

posted Dec 27, 2014, 2:18 PM by Cori Frede   [ updated Dec 27, 2014, 2:21 PM by Cori Frede ]

The week before a holiday break is often a difficult time for educators. We might have already finished our last unit but don't want to start something new before the break. In addition, students have often already gone into "vacation mode" and are uninterested in focusing on lessons. Turn to a hands-on project.

Prior to having enough computers, I would force my students to go ninty's style to plan a week long road trip across the country. AAA was a great resource for free travel guides to all fifty states and maps. Of course, I'd have to go to a few different locations so I didn't feel awkward grabbing so many guides. Flash forward to this year and a trip for myself to Austin for GTA where I learned about some hidden gems on the Google platform. I've reinvented my old vacation project for the next generation of technology savvy students.

To complete this project, my students used two different digital tools. MyMaps.google.com and presentations in Google Drive.

I gave my students the following introduction for the project:
MTV wants to see what pre-teens find exciting. You and your partner have won a contest. MTV has given you a tour bus (with a driver). The bus will pick you up at school on the first day of vacation and return to school in one week. As part of the prize, MTV will be recording your road trip for a reality show. In order to make sure that you stay safe during the trip, the producers and your parents are requiring you to map out your trip before you leave. 

Students were given a mini-lesson on using MyMaps and a basic template for their presentations. For each stop on the trip, students need to map the destination on their maps and then create a slide for the stop. Each slide had a 3-2-1 requirement. 
3 - activities to do at the destination
2 - pictures of the area
1 - website source (not Wikipedia) for the destination

I just want to point out that I allowed my students to use Wikipedia as a starting point, but many use it as a shortcut. By banning it as a source, it forces my students to actually look at other websites.

The presentation template had three slides. The first was a title page that said "type your names here" and "link your map here" with a note stating they could change the slide anyway as long as it still had those two requirements. The second slide was a sample 3-2-1 about our home city of Philadelphia. Finally, the third slide that students needed to complete was for their fictional driver. This slide had a table with unit rates for the students to complete. I didn't want to worry about speed limits or let students use the details given on MyMaps so I gave the students a constant speed of 60 miles per hour and gas usage of 15 miles per gallon. I explained that they should assume there was no traffic or lights. Using their maps, students needed to determine the travel time and gas used for each leg of the trip. I explained that while they could eat, sleeping, use the bathroom, etc on bus, the driver needed to stop at least once every five hours. This prevented students from driving non-stop from coast to coast and required them to pay attention to their maps.

While I didn't give them a set number of stops, I told students that with the maximum traveling time, I expected at least two stops per day (14 minimum) but they could always stop more if they choose.


Common Core Standards
This lesson can be adapted for many grade levels based on the complexity of your assignments. This assignment can fit and be used with a variety of standards. This is just a small sampling of the Common Core 8th Grade standards for reference purposes.

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.SP.A.3 Use the equation of a linear model to solve problems in the context of bivariate measurement data, interpreting the slope and intercept. For example, in a linear model for a biology experiment, interpret a slope of 1.5 cm/hr as meaning that an additional hour of sunlight each day is associated with an additional 1.5 cm in mature plant height.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.B.5Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways. For example, compare a distance-time graph to a distance-time equation to determine which of two moving objects has greater speed.


Work Cited
  1. Mathematics Stanards. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved December 27, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/Math/



Book Reports for a Modern Student

posted Oct 4, 2014, 9:31 PM by Cori Frede   [ updated Oct 8, 2014, 4:58 AM ]

Book reports. A common assignment in the classroom, but often students get bored doing the same thing every time. Perhaps you've switched it up with a different project each month, but students still find them to be a frustrating task.  I thought today we could look at different ideas that incorporate technology into the old fashion book report.

Twitter-ize It
Want to speak the same language as your students? Hashtags and 140 characters is the way to go. Twitter is a great way to teach summarizing because students can't write more than a sentence or two. Use a custom hashtag to allow your class to communicate with each other and try to start a trend.

Google+ Community
Prior to assigning a class book, you can create a Google+ Community for your class. Assignments can include posting quotes for students to analyze, responding to classmates comments, and much more. Students will be engaged when they are responding to each other instead of the teacher. You will be able to see everything they post and get inside their heads.

Book Broadcasts
Everyone wants their fifteen minutes of fame, so help your students practice. Allow students to record book reviews as if they were reporting from a Hollywood premiere. These book reviews can be posted on YouTube for your students to share with other classes or students around the world.

Hangouts
Work with teachers from other classes and/or schools to create reading circles with high interest material. The students from different schools will then use Hangouts to host a reading circle and discuss their book. Use Hangouts on Air to record their reading groups for monitoring purposes. These recordings will be saved on YouTube but can be set to private.


Common Core Standards
This lesson can be adapted for many grade levels based on the complexity of your assignments. This assignment can fit and be used with a variety of standards. This is just a small sampling of the Common Core 8th Grade standards for reference purposes.

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.1 Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade 8 topics, texts, and issues, building on others' ideas and expressing their own clearly.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.1.C Pose questions that connect the ideas of several speakers and respond to others' questions and comments with relevant evidence, observations, and ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.8.3 Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.8.5 Integrate multimedia and visual displays into presentations to clarify information, strengthen claims and evidence, and add interest.


Work Cited
  1. English Language Arts Standards. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/


Modern Day Penpals

posted Jul 14, 2014, 6:33 AM by Cori Frede

Do you remember when we were younger and waited weeks to receive a letter from out pen pals? Pen pals are a great way for classroom students to learn about different cultures from around the world or even just across town. I remember that when I was student teaching, myself and a classmate arranged for our students to be pen pals. Although they only lived a few towns over, the students lived completely different lifestyles and found it interesting to learn about their peers. Now imagine that instead of passing letters across a few miles, we expanded the distance. Students in New York can have pen pals in Australia. Students in London can have pen pals from Florida.

If your goal is to help your students practice proper letter formatting and handwriting, you can continue using the old fashion letter writing methods and then scan the letters into a PDF file to send the other teacher. For those teachers ready to embrace the Internet, students can write direct emails to their pen pals. 

A fun twist on the pen pals is to begin with a Mystery Hangout. There are a few variations on the concept, but the main idea is that two classes play twenty questions to determine the location of the opposite class. Once the classes meet each other over a hangout, the students can be assigned their pen pal. Weekly email correspondence may result is a monthly video chat. 

If you don't already have a connection with a teacher in a different region, a quick search on Google will find you many sources. Personally, I would start with the Mystery Hangout Community on Google+. This community consists of teachers from around the globe with a similar goal as your own.

Depending on the age of your students, I recommend getting permission slips signed to acknowledge the use of email and video conferencing by the students. They cannot be 100% monitored and therefore the extra precaution is necessary. For teachers planning to use technology often during the school year, a generic permission slip might be a smart idea at the beginning of the year. I have one posted in the resources section of this site for your convenience. 


The following notice was originally posted on The Teachers Corner. It's an important statement that requires repeating.
Remember: penpals are intrinsically strangers, and the anonymity of the internet can provide an ideal environment for scammers. Please use due diligence when making a penpal connection.

Common Core Standards
This lesson can be adapted for many grade levels based on the complexity of your assignments. This assignment can fit and be used with a variety of standards. This is just a small sampling of the Common Core 8th Grade standards for reference purposes.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.8 - Distinguish among fact, opinion, and reasoned judgment in a text.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RH.6-8.7 - Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.4 - Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas clearly and efficiently.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.WHST.6-8.10 - Write routinely over extended time frames (time for reflection and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Work Cited
  1. English Language Arts Standards. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/

    Mystery Hangout. (n.d.). Community - Google+. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from https://plus.google.com/communities/110369120141935358658

    School Pen Pals & Key Pals. (n.d.). The Teachers Corner. Retrieved July 14, 2014, from http://www.theteacherscorner.net/penpals/

Creative Writing - Choose Your Own Story

posted Jul 13, 2014, 9:45 PM by Cori Frede

Today we are going to look at a modern take on an old favorite creative writing assignment, Choose Your Own Adventure. For years, books have been published using this format and students love it. Using technology, your students can design their own digital "books" in this format. I prefer using Google Spreadsheets to make the book pages, however you can also use Google Sites.

Make sure you give your students guidelines such as how many plot twists they must create and if the decisions can result in the same outcome. 

Another alternative to this story is to have students work collaboratively on a story. Each student can add to the plot.
Example:
  Student A writes a slide. Student B and student C each write a possible choice stemming from A's introduction. Student A and C follow student B while student A and C follow student B. This pattern can continue until they have reached a pre-determined number of slides. 

A sample book can be found on Google Drive and in the resource section. Enjoy!


Common Core Standards
This lesson can be adapted for many grade levels based on the complexity of your assignments. This assignment can fit and be used with a variety of standards. This is just a small sampling of the Common Core 8th Grade standards for reference purposes.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3 - Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details, and well-structured event sequences.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.3.B - Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue, pacing, description, and reflection, to develop experiences, events, and/or characters.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.6 - Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and present the relationships between information and ideas efficiently as well as to interact and collaborate with others.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.9.A - Apply grade 8 Reading standards to literature (e.g., "Analyze how a modern work of fiction draws on themes, patterns of events, or character types from myths, traditional stories, or religious works such as the Bible, including describing how the material is rendered new").
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.W.8.10 - Write routinely over extended time frames (time for research, reflection, and revision) and shorter time frames (a single sitting or a day or two) for a range of discipline-specific tasks, purposes, and audiences.


Work Cited
  1. English Language Arts Standards » Writing » Grade 8. (n.d.). Common Core State Standards Initiative. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/W/8/ 
  2. Newingham, B. (2013, February 6). "Choose Your Own Adventure" Writing Exercises. Scholastic Teachers. Retrieved July 13, 2014, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/top-teaching/2013/02/choose-your-own-adventure-writing-exercises 

Bringing Lessons Into the 21st Century

posted Jul 11, 2014, 7:34 AM by Cori Frede

Every teacher has his/her favorite lesson. Have you been repeating the same lesson for years without modifying it? Students of the 21st century are learning in a different way from students ten years ago. Let's work together to improve lessons to be relevant to both your curriculum and students' interests.

1-5 of 5