Tom Barrett, a favourite of mine, has written yet another informative and highly useful post, this time about resources he uses to support the teaching of spelling. This is just what I need as I head into last term. I really hate the use of spelling lists and spelling tests. To me it just represents a waste of class time. I seem to struggle meeting the demands of curriculum and I would much prefer my students engage with some interactive online resources that will help them to remember the correct spelling of words they use, or new words they have been introduced to. Tom has listed five he uses regularly and I encourage you to visit his blog to gain insight.
I’ve been having a bit of a play with this and have been having quite a bit of fun. GeoGreetingwas created by Jesse Vig. He’s a software engineer and graduate student from the University of Minnesota studying computer science, who discovered over the Northern summer that he liked playing with Google Maps. Here’s what he says on the FAQ page about how the website came about;
While working on a different Google Maps project, I noticed that a number of buildings looked like letters of the alphabet when viewed from above. This is the point where I should have just said ‘hmmm, good observation’ and gone on with my life. But I didn’t and that’s why this website is here.
Don’t you just love that!
What you do is type a greeting or word into the ‘type your message here’ box and the word(s) will be represented with the pictures of buildings that look like letters of the alphabet. You can see this in the screenshot above. Tom has had his students using the site to write out their spelling words so that they can see the words in an alternative visual way. After reading parts of John Medina’s ‘Brain Rules’, that suggests our brain retains information more readily via the visual medium, then I think there could be educational application for our use of a site like this. I’m sure my kids will enjoy it anyway. It’s also a means of gaining some insight about the geographical location of the buildings that look like letters of the alphabet. Another opportunity to engage our students in discussion that can extend their knowledge base.
Thanks Tom for the heads up to some great resources.
Last night I wasn’t going to tune in to the NECC buzz. I was tired and knew I was taking to my kids out in the morning to meet up with friends. But a tweet from Will Richardson alerted me to a ustream of Konrad Glogawski’s sessionabout blogging communities and I couldn’t resist tuning in.
While it was exciting being able to see and hear Konrad’s presentation – I still marvel at just what is possible these days! – what was most exciting was the vigorous and thought provoking discussion in the ustream chat. Follow this link to check it out. It was wonderful being able to share ideas with educators from all over the globe. Teacherman 79 has written a post about the experience. Thanks very much Will for enabling this opportunity for those of us not in attendance.
Interestingly enough, I’ve read a post by Chris Betcher (Betchaboy) tonight that has made me think – always a good thing! It’s called Going Live vs Doing Life and I find myself agreeing with Chris’ sentiments. The gist of what he is saying is that perhaps we need to be thinking about immersing ourselves and appreciating the real life experiences we are having rather than focusing on how we disseminate the experience to the world. Probably best to block quote from Chris’ post;
I could be completely wrong, and maybe some of the Twitterers will leave a comment about how they deal with the whole mobile tweeting thing, but I always find that in order to tweet about what I’m doing I have to mentally stop doing it. To me, it’s more than just multitasking, it’s about mental timeslicing and taking your attention off the here-and-now of what’s actually taking place around you in order to tell the Twitterverse about what’s going on around you. This is not meant to be a criticism, and I’m glad that people do it so that others who wish they were there can get an insight into what’s going on, but I hope that folks find the balancing point between actually living the event and spending all their energy helping the event “go live”.
I know that I find it hard to do the mental timeslicing that Chris refers to. Even last night when I was participating in the discussion I had to focus on what I wanted to say and lost some of the thread of Konrad’s presentation and even the chat. I think John Medina talks about the difficulties of trying to multitask in his book Brain Rules. I have a copy of it but haven’t found the time to read it (surprise, surprise, seeing as I’ve been up till all hours of late!!) – I must make this a priority!
Regardless, I’m very thankful to everyone in Texas at the moment who are making genuine efforts to share knowledge through this community. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- this is without doubt the best staffroom I’ve ever been a part of!
Garr Reynolds has posted this on Slideshare – it’s his response to the new book Brain Rulesby John Medina. He considers it a must read and after watching this slide presentation I’ll be getting myself a copy asap. Watch it and apply what you learn to your classrooms. I’ve been doing brain gymexercises with my Yr 7 class over the last two days as a result of a session from one of our classroom assistants who also practices Kinesiology. The kids are looking at me a bit strangely, but anything that can assist them with learning and staying motivated in class is worth a go as far as I’m concerned.
Coincidently, I attended the Hawker Brownlow thinking conference in Melbourne last week and attended sessions run by Rich Allen. He’d agree with the ideas presented by John Medina. He had us moving all day, switching tasks and used music to engage us in activities. It was very effective and made me rethink my approach to classroom teaching. In the days that followed I had my students moving around, high fiving one another and telling their classmates how great they were whenever we’d been sedentary for too long. It certainly added a new dynamic to the classroom and not a bad one at that.
I truly believe you’re on a continual learning journey as a teacher and you need to be open to new ideas. I’ve always felt that I am learning and growing as a teacher and never perfect my craft – there are always new ideas that can be applied -you need to be responsive and give things a go. Our kids deserve no less.
Check out this YouTube video with John Medina talking about the power of visual images in relation to learning. Makes sense – another lesson we need to apply to our classrooms. Take note.