Monday, August 22, 2016

A splash of color, a little song, and creative learning rocks!

I recently started using a planner. I still love my Google Calendar and I use it for everything. It's ease of use makes life easier. My planner allows a different sort of organization and creativity to emerge. In that, I received a pack of gel pens from my very best friend. It has allowed me to color code my planning on paper similarly to how I color code on my Google Calendar. It's fantastic!

Last week, I brought that organizational technique into the classroom. I am using a varied approach to my math instruction this year. I am incorporating different approaches in instruction and learning to reach all students. One thing I started with students was the use of an Interactive Notebook. As we make notes together, I color code with my set of gel pens. I have encouraged students to color code as well. It allows them to get creative while keeping their notes organized. Today, I modeled for them how I would be ok with them using gel pens. Erasable gel pens! Make a mistake? That's ok, erase it, rewrite, and move forward. The colors have engaged them in their note taking and takes some of the potential drudgery out of it.

Meanwhile, in eighth grade, students wrote songs! As we spent the first few days of school getting to know each other and establishing routine, I incorporated some fantastic learning. We started by co-creating a Google Slides presentation. Students worked in small groups and each group created three to five slides with the primary emphasis being on the 13 colonies. Each of the 13 original colonies had its own slide. At the end of the week, we presented together as a class team and the final slide (which I had created) introduced the song assignment. They could work independently or with a partner and they could create their own tune or put words to a familiar song. The only requirement was that all 13 original colonies be included. Today, they presented, and let me tell you, these student

s ROCKED this assignment. One group wrote a song and choreographed their whole number, one group did the whole song creation using technology tools such as Audacity and a voice sounding much like Stephen Hawking came across with the lyrics, another group sang a beautiful tune, another did a rap with a Yankee Doodle underscore to it. Today, we heard very different songs from each group and got to know the 13 colonies just a little bit better.

During tonight's TOSA Chat, I mentioned that one of my goals for the year is to allow more creativity in learning within the "regular" classroom and I think we're off to a great start!

Looking for other ideas? Check out what my EdTech friend Ryan O'Donnell came up with this summer. Seriously, go, read it. Now. And, be sure to follow him on Twitter (if you aren't already.) @creativeedtech

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