Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Getting a Word in Edgewise: Wordle

Missed the Just One Hour workshop on Wordle? A recap:

Horizontal, vertical, or any-which-way, Wordle makes it fun to, well, get a word in edgewise—visually. Wordle is an easy web-based program at wordle.net that allows you to create a graphic representation of text. Because it quantifies text (the more often a word or phrase appears, the larger it is represented), it can be used to compile or summarize data.

Most important, students love it.

So, how can you use it to promote student thinking in your classroom? What kinds of text can you use?

21 Ways to Use Wordle
1. Visualize a brainstorm session
2. Compile data from classroom polls
3. Create a graphic autobiography
4. Guess the ___________________ (story, novel, event)
5. Write a headline for a current event
6. See similarities and differences
7. Identify criteria for ____________
8. Show class rules
9. Present spelling lists in various fonts
10. Examine student writing (Overused words? Important details missing?)
11. Study an author’s tone
12. Display your syllabus
13. Discover main ideas in text
14. Look for key ideas in important speeches
15. Draw inferences
16. Summarize
17. Show synonyms or antonyms
18. Make a custom illustration for a blog, story, essay, book report
19. Compare news stories for bias
20. Customize your word wall
21. Reflect on your thinking

On his blog Copy/Paste, Peter Pappas shares ways to use Wordle to promote literacy skills. Pappas suggests:

Defining skills
Before the dictionary comes out, give your students a new vocabulary word and ask them to brainstorm all the word they associate with it. Gather up all the brainstormed words for a Wordle. After the term has been formally defined, repeat the process and compare to the "pre-dictionary" Wordle.

Summarizing skills
As a pre-reading exercise, copy/paste text of reading into a Wordle and ask students to predict what the main ideas of the reading will be. Another pre-reading option: give them a Wordle of a non-fiction reading and ask them to use the Wordle to generate a title or headline before they see the real article. Post reading: ask them to reflect on the reading based on a prompt (for example, main idea, what you've learned, funniest element, etc). Then collect all their reflections into a Wordle.

Comparison skills
Give them two different accounts / essays on the same theme / event - let them compare the Wordles generated by each. Or you could generate Wordles for two different readings, then let student see if they can match the Wordle to its corresponding reading.

For GREAT Wordle ideas and tips created by teachers, see the collaborative project Tom Barrett and colleagues created as a PowerPoint slide show:

How to create your own Wordles for class (or, better, have your students create them)? Start here with a copy of our Just One Hour workshop handout, Then head to wordle.net.  It's really as easy as 1-2-3:  Click create, paste in any text, and click go.

A word of caution, it's addictive. In a good way. Have fun.


PS Just found this great post by Iowa teacher Becky Goerend with sample student work!

http://peterpappas.blogs.com/ (Twitter: edteck)
http://edte.ch/blog/ (Twitter: tombarrett)
http://mrsbmg.blogspot.com/ (Twitter: MrsBMG)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Blooming Butterfly

Don't you just love this?

This BLOOMing Butterfly graphic, based on Benjamin Bloom's taxonomy of thinking skills, was created by Learning Today under a Creative Commons license. That means you can print it and use it if 1) you attribute the source (already printed on the poster) and
2) you don't sell it.

Download it by clicking here and print it for your students, your classroom, or your parent newsletter. Thanks, Learning Today!


PS Learn more about Creative Commons here.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

SIOP - Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol

What is more difficult than learning about the interactions of matter and energy throughout the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere? …Trying to learn about it in your non-native language!

Yet, English Language Learners (ELLs) face this challenge every day in classrooms across the nation. Not only are ELLs trying to master academic content, but they are still acquiring English language proficiency.

In order to support the learning and language needs of West Clermont’s ELL students, fourteen district teachers participated in Sheltered  Instruction Observation Protocol (SIOP) training.

SIOP is a research-based approach to lesson planning and implementation that has proven effective with ELL students. The model uses high quality features of instruction withinin a framework of eight components, i.e. lesson preparation, building background, comprehensible input, strategies, interaction, practice/application, lesson delivery, and review/assessment.

In the words of one WC teacher, “The SIOP model provides support to all students, but especially English Language Learners. The model provides meaningful access to the content, with the added benefit of practice in  reading, listening, speaking, and writing."                                         

Another teacher says, “SIOP is a way to take what we know about best practices, and make them even better by adding a language objective to every lesson."

Want to know more? Ask a member of our SIOP team or click here!


Sunday, December 13, 2009

One Book, One School

Seneca once said, "The best ideas are common property."

Isn't that the truth in teaching? In my school district, great ideas are passed up and down the hallways and in between school buildings. And thanks to the many kinds of electronic communication, lesson ideas are spreading instantaneously from up the street and around the world.

One Book, One School was one of those "common property" ideas for me. Let me explain.

I belong to a PLC that consists of Heinemann authors and consultants. Once a year we meet face to face, but mostly we connect via Elluminate and conference calls. Colleen Buddy is one of my colleagues in this PLC. She is truly an idea person! During one of our Heinemann retreats, Colleen shared an idea that brought her school closer together. The initiative was called One Book, One School. I listened to Colleen, scribbled down some notes, and went home ready to share. One Book, One School is simple. Inexpensive. Powerful. Here's how we made it work for us.

I met with our eight elementary principals, suggesting that we all read the same book at the same time, in every grade level at each school. The goal here is unity around a meaningful theme. And the coolest part about it is that it all begins with picture book.

As Colleen recommended, we settled on The Golden Rule for our first attempt. Written by Ilene Cooper and illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska, this beautiful book reminds us all to treat others with the dignity and respect we want for ourselves. What greater message could be shared with our students?

Now we don't have a lot of money to spare, so in most cases we purchased a copy of The Golden Rule to be shared by each grade level at each school. During the first week of the school year, every child heard and discussed The Golden Rule with their classmates and teacher. Principals could stop in any classroom after the first few days of school and strike up a conversation about this age-old concept. The book's theme perfectly supported our district's anti-bullying initiative and classroom management plans.

We didn't stop there. Soon students were writing connections to the text and posting them in the hallways for all to see. Articles about The Golden Rule appeared in school-to-home newsletters and on school websites. Classroom teachers and their students brainstormed ways to practice The Golden Rule at school, on the bus and at home. Talking about The Golden Rule became part of weekly class meetings in the classrooms.
Several of our schools held additional One Book, One School weeks during the school year, like right after winter break and right before our high-stakes test week. The possibilities are endless!

With our hectic school schedules and filled-to-the-brim planning time, it is sometimes hard to come together around a common idea. One Book, One School is a wonderful, easy way to to do just that. It worked for us! And now this idea is officially "common property", just as Seneca said.

For more information, read this Education World article.


Sunday, December 6, 2009

What We Really Read

Love this graphic! Meant to spoof, perhaps, but LOL true. It illustrates the perennial teachers' conflict: teaching the classics ("the canon") or nurturing a love of reading. Forced to choose, I'd go with the latter. I'd rather be a reading catalyst. And you?


So, what are you really reading? For me, it's Barbara Kingsolver's newest, The Lacuna, with Curtis Bonk's The World is Open on deck.

Graphic from graphjam.com