Friday, November 16, 2012

Close Reading Explained, by Teaching the Core


Teaching The Core has posted a great explanation of close reading and its value to students in the era of Common Core standards. If that’s not enough, the author also includes this great Prezi presentation to help explain the ideas in a more visual form.


Click the frame to start, and use the arrows at the bottom of the frame to move through the slides. When you come across what appears to be an empty slide, it is probably a video – click on it to watch. Same goes for slides containing a YouTube video.

(Note: The presentation above contains references to the Smarter Balanced consortium. We in Illinois are part of the PARCC consortium. Both groups are involved in creating the next generation of assessments aligned with Common Core State Standards. Both place great emphasis on and support for close reading.)

Common Core Lessons from LearnZillion

LearnZillion has (almost) literally “zillions” of Math and English Language Arts lesson plans aligned with National Common Core State Standards. Lessons include a downloadable & customizable lesson plan (Word document), supporting materials (Word or PDF format), and video instruction that students can access at school or at home. To access all materials, users will need a free account (logging in with an existing Google Account was the quickest for me). The ability to preview some of the materials (in a Scribd frame) was blocked for me, but downloading the materials instead took care of the problem.
What a great resource!

Common Core Lesson Plans from Library of Congress


The Library of Congress has a searchable database of free Common Core-aligned lesson plans, primary sources, and other materials available to download and use in your classroom. The database is searchable by state, grade level, and subject. Only English/Language Arts and Literacy for History/Social Studies choices are currently available for Common Core, but more are available depending on your state selection. Users can also search by national organizations, like the National Council for the Social Studies or the National Council of Teachers of English, American Association of School Librarians, National Education Technology Standards, etc.

Thanks for the tweet, @coolcatteacher

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thanksgiving Resources

Turkey Day is just around the corner! Here are some links to help kids understand the holiday in a little more depth!

First of all, the Smithsonian’s Plimoth Plantation web site will provide a definitive look at Thanksgiving, from the perspectives of both colonist and Native American.

The Boston Children’s Museum has an excellent Web site explaining the ways of life of the Wampanoag before and after their contact with English colonists.

Our Current Thanksgiving Wouldn't Be The Same Without: Abraham Lincoln and Sarah Josepha Buell Hale. Gosh, I miss my History classroom some days...

Larry Ferlazzo’s listing of The Best Sites to Learn & Teach About Thanksgiving

Free Tech for Teachers has recently listed some great resources, here and here, including:

New Office Web Apps on SkyDrive!

Office Web Apps

So you’re away from your school desktop computer, you need to edit a page you need for your class first thing in the morning, and all you have available is wi-fi and a tablet or a laptop that doesn’t have Word installed?

Or perhaps (like me) you’ve fished that flash drive out of a pants pocket after a washer or dryer cycle for the last time, and you just don’t want to take that chance any more?

SkyDriveNever fear, SkyDrive is here! Microsoft SkyDrive and the Office Web Apps have been around for quite a while, but they really only worked with certain browsers & devices. The latest update to SkyDrive and Office Web Apps allow them to be accessed by mobile devices, like Android phones and tablets and any iOS device, like an iPad, iPodTouch, or iPhone, running iOS6.

Microsoft Office Web Apps are “light” versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, that run in a Web browser, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, etc.

Please note: On iPad, the SkyDrive app simply lets you manage files, but not create or edit documents. Access Office Web Apps through a browser like Safari instead.

SkyDrive and Office Web Apps are completely free and always available to you anywhere you have Internet access. In fact, if you already have a Hotmail account, you probably already have a free account with 7GB of storage already, including free pared-down versions of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, too!

Watch this 14-minute video to learn how SkyDrive and Office Web Apps work together.

The great part about these tools is that you can share files with others and collaboratively edit the documents simultaneously. This has been a feature enjoyed by Google Docs (now Google Drive) users for quite a while – now it will be built-in to Office files no matter where you go or what device you want to use. These would be great tools to help kids collaborate on documents for group reports, etc., anywhere, anytime. Here’s an older video that shows just how to do that:

Read the latest post!

"New" IAR Replaces PARCC in IL

Image from After several years and no small amount of controversy, PARCC in Illinois is being replaced by the IAR: The Illi...

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