Easing Back into the Fray

Monday morning back from a holiday is just as hard on the teachers as it is on the students.  As a veteran teacher, I know that it’s best to ease back into the routine.  We started a new unit today which was a perfect introduction back into a schedule ruled by bells.  The task for today was for students to analyze a secondary source and compile notes utilizing the Thinking Tools:  details and unanswered questions.  Today’s task focused on giving students the choice to work together or independently (my morning classes were half asleep) as they used their analysis skills and background knowledge to make inferences about life on the manor in feudal Europe.
I usually tweet this…but today I really should have done it…I really should have recorded their conversations because they were so interesting, thought-provoking, and in some cases, downright hysterical.  In analyzing a picture of manor life, most students struggled with an object that looked like an elephant (not likely in Europe), a rock (not a significant factor for describing a place), or a person taking off their clothes (to which they wondered…why is someone taking their clothes off in the middle of the manor?!?!).  Then there was an object in quadrant two…is it a guy doing pull-ups (seriously?), committing suicide (well, we did just finish our study on the Bushido Code), or was someone hanged for a crime (what kind of crime required hanging as a punishment? how long did they leave the guy hanging? what is that hanging thing called?!).  One of these days, I’m going to record their conversations because the pictures on Instagram only told half the story.  When students verbalize their thinking, it is truly something to behold…

For the Flippin’ Doodler in All of Us

At the Think.Create.Share conference at CSUF in May I was introduced to Paper 53.  As a prolific doodler, this app was made for me. I love doing picture notes with my students but it’s hard to wait for them to finish their drawings. After all there’s only so many instructional minutes within a traditional class period. But with great apps like Educreations & Paper 53, I can record a flipped lesson which lets me doodle to my heart’s content but without the waiting. And then our class time can be better utilized for something more interactive. 
My only wish is that Paper 53’s multiple writing tools were free as well. But since I work at a public school, I’ll gladly take free apps. =) Free = good.