Sunday, April 9, 2017

Wells, ME, USA to Sau Paulo, Sau Paulo, Brazil and back again!

We are a global society, and now our students join us in this global connection. Early on, during winter, for inhabitants of the northern hemisphere, and summer, for inhabitants of the southern hemisphere, Alice Barr and Cheryl Oakes agreed to present at  Amplifica Internacional ELT for the English speaking strand.
Many years ago Carla Arena met Alice,  Cheryl and our friend Bob Sprankle in a Brazilian restaurant in Cambridge, MA. We laughed and talked about education, educators and technology, all the while, enjoying a terrific meal and afternoon. We kept in touch virtually and went on our separate ways.

So,  when Alice and I were asked to speak at Amplifica 2017, in Sao Paulo, Brazil, we jumped at the chance. We would be sharing Google tools and different ways that educators could #changeitup with #studentpurpose in mind. In our Ignite, session Alice and I touched on different ways that educators could change one thing in their classroom or lesson that would allow their students global access. We mentioned free online conferences, Twitter chats and the last one I will focus on is Mystery Skype.

Mystery Skype is a global guessing game where students learn about geography, culture and how we are very much the same and very much different. The process requires a free registration, two interested classrooms, some finagling with time zones and technology including the internet and a way to view the each other's classrooms through SKYPE.
Wells, ME            coakes photo

When our presentation was finished a Brazilian educator promised me that he would be in touch. I was excited about the prospect and two weeks later, thrilled that Roberto had arranged for two classrooms to be involved in the Mystery Skype guessing game. I quickly enlisted two 4th grade classrooms and last Thursday the games began! I was fortunate to be able to participate in both sessions. There were job descriptions for the students and teachers. There were signs used to help the process of speaking, listening and giving think time as the student researchers looked up information and consulted with one another. There was joy as the students learned about one another and there was pride as teachers watched their students correctly guess the clues from the classroom partners in another country.

I even got to speak to Roberto at the end of the final clues. Obrigado to all teachers and students. 
The big take aways! A teacher reported that this was the easiest hour of her day with the script and jobs that the students carried out. A student asked, "Can we do this again, this was the most fun!"

I believe teachers and students in both Sao Paulo and Wells will be enjoying other global opportunities. I hope you will too!

Monday, August 8, 2016

Rewordify- a Whiz-Bang technology tool you must have!

I’ve been using Rewordify with my students for the past 4 years in my job as a high school resource room teacher. I try and use tech tools that can help level the playing field for challenged learners. It is overwhelming when I am trying to differentiate reading material because there are just so many words that I have to address in each passage.

I found rewordify at . It is FREE! It is available to all my students. It is easy to use for them and easy for them to bookmark and use independently! It is a tech tool that once it has been introduced to a student, it is one thing they remember to ask for and use.
Basically, Rewordify takes a passage, an article, a webpage or a book and can sift through the vocabulary and whiz-bang produce a passage with understandable vocabulary with the same meaning.

Here is a passage I entered into the home page from a NOAA website.
An river is the thin zone along a (land next to a body of water) (such as bays, lagoons, sounds orsheds (skin, etc.)) where freshwater systems and rivers meet, and mix with a salty ocean,becoming partly salty.
Sometimes, freshwater from rivers mixes with large freshwater bodies creating a "freshwaterriver" that functions like a typical partly salty rivers.
The five major types of rivers are coastal plain, bar-built, delta system, (related to Earth's surface plate movement), and fjords.
Rivers are (like nothing else in the world) places that are valuable to (the health of the Earth/the surrounding conditions) and to (community of people/all good people in the world).

Original passage:
An estuary is the thin zone along a coastline (such as bays, lagoons, sounds or sloughs) where freshwater systems and rivers meet, and mix with a salty ocean, becoming brackish.
Sometimes, freshwater from rivers mixes with large freshwater bodies creating a "freshwater estuary" that functions like a typical brackish estuaries.
The five major types of estuaries are coastal plain, bar-built, delta system, tectonic, and fjords.
Estuaries are unique places that are valuable to the environment and to society.   

But that is not all! There are features that extend the learning beyond the passage!
I can get a read out of the statistics about words per sentence, letters per word, and much more.This image shows some of the great features. My favorites are the rewordified text, Cloze activity and the answer key! Use this link for a larger clearer image.   Understand what you read.png

This next image is a shout out to my ELL friends and speech and language therapists! The color coded passage with all the parts of speech is such a bonus! Larger image.  2.png
Go to!  Make your own FREE account. Begin differentiating immediately. You have time, the school year is just beginning!      Check back for my next post about Educator Central a part of the Rewordify page.

You are probably wondering who made this site and who supports it. I didn't have to look far to find out about Neil M. Goldman. Here is the scoop! Thanks, Mr. Goldman, this is a treasure. I am glad you found a way to help challenged learners.

Biography from Amazon

Neil M. Goldman spent fifteen years as a cubicle-bound computer professional and decided that he wanted to do more meaningful work than sit in front of a screen and write for-next loops.

So, he said a hearty goodbye to his marginally competent managers and a warm hello to the learning-hungry students in a suburban high school English classroom.

That first year of teaching was the hardest, most rewarding year of his life, and he felt he had to write about it. His first nonfiction book, Never Too Old To Teach, chronicled the joys and frustrations of that first year as a teacher.

Electric Dawn, his first novel, explores a scenario that's been on his mind for many years: what would happen if someone made a miraculous discovery of a device that would change the way the world works? Would that person be embraced and celebrated, or surrounded and destroyed?

When he's not writing books and grading papers, Neil enjoys motorcycling, cooking, and travel.

Monday, July 25, 2016

My Maps-new ideas for tomorrow, no way start today!

Did you learn about Google Maps in 2010? Or 2005? Or 2014?
Did My Maps take a back seat to learning all the other google tools? Well, here is
your chance to learn why  you need My Maps in your daily tool kit.

Here are a few things that have changed that might interest you.
Google Maps is now MyMaps and you can find it right in Google Drive!
  • Rebuilt from the ground up
  • Experience the new look and feel
  • Get started with our welcome guide for new users
  • Work faster with improved performance
  • View photos and videos added on web
  • Get directions to saved points
  • Explore Street View imagery for many places
If you want to design lessons or projects for your students use some of these already built “my maps”. Log into your gmail account. Click here
Build on the shoulders of others! Take an idea and reinvent its purpose. Add your own  voice.  (photo)
Log into your gmail account. Click here
and begin designing. You can design a map, you can add the directions for your assignment, students can copy at the drop down where the arrow points,  and make it their own and add their details. Have them share the finished map’s URL with you, using a google form, publish the work and share with others.
Thanks to Donnie Piercey (@mrpiercEy) for  making this come alive at #CAGTI16.

After you use these tools please give feedback to the geoeducators!


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A month into the school year and.....

 ...the school year is busy! Busy with students learning their schedules, busy with teachers learning their schedules, busy with parents getting back into the routines of early mornings, sports, homework and supporting the learning that exudes every moment of the day and week!  We are nearly at the point in the school year where our school is like a beehive, humming with the precision of nature, feeding the hive, tending the hive and working to support a community. It takes a commitment to and from our students, families and community for this success.

Our school celebrated Open House tonight. There were tired teachers, tired parents and tired students but that did not stop the Open House from humming! By the end of the evening the excitement and enthusiasm brought everyone together in a celebration of a new school year, new students and families and new dreams setting the stage for our school year.

Stay tuned.......
coakes photo

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Co-teaching and co-planning for optimal student learning!

Co-teaching and co-planning

Summer time is a laid back time where co-teachers can think about, design and plan for the upcoming school year without the rush of the school day, school week and after school activities.  In my district staff members are given time to collaborate and work on classroom lessons, projects and assessments for co-taught classes. This co-planning time is valued and valuable. It is a good opportunity for co-teachers to share and teach each other the content and how best to differentiate materials for students.

Roadmap to planning

Choose materials and share with co-planners.
Review the course syllabus and match to the school calendar, be sure to include holidays, school activities, school vacations and plan to give major assessments at optimal times.
Design a course calendar with variations in instructional delivery, variations in projects, provide student choice and provide differentiated levels to meet the needs of all learners.
Design a course calendar and include  homework assignments, projects, video materials, with links available where possible to foster student independence and to simulate online learning.
Look at materials used from previous lessons and tweak and add accommodations.
Cull the Internet for best practices and awesome materials that others have built and shared. Be sure to acknowledge all their work! Share your awesome materials with others, leave a trail so that others can acknowledge your work, too.
Check individual education plans and 504 plans for more specific details on how you may accommodate the learning objectives and learning materials for your students.

Reflect and review

Plan time to reflect and review your plans and how the students are managing the materials and your instruction. Time is the biggest excuse we use and it is the one thing we have control over. Make time to make explicit changes based on  your shared discussions and shared decision making.

Ask your students

 Lastly, remember to ask your students what changes will help them, what projects they liked, what helped them learn the material best!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

What is in your summer PLN?

Educators love summer! Some days it means I can sleep in a bit later, well maybe not later since Seraphina has her own clock.
 Somedays it means I can have that extra cup of coffee while reading through emails! Other days it means I can check in my Diigo account and look at the links that interest me. But the most fun I have is when I am on the workshop presentation  circuit. This summer I kick off with a google day at the NH Summit at Pinkerton Academy,July 22, 2015. Then I move on to Tilton Academy, Aug. 5 and 6th, 2015. Next is GAFE Peak in nearby York, ME on August 26, 2015.                                            

You can also engage through many virtual offerings. My good friend Vicki Davis, the energizer bunny, is presenting at the following. " I'll be presenting how to Differentiate Instruction with Technology at the Teachers Leading Teachers Online Conference this upcoming Friday. You can register and have the video delivered to you if you can't attend. Dozens of top teachers will be presenting their practical advice at this conference. Hat tip to AJ Juliani and John Spencer for putting this together! JOIN US.…/"  

There are many blogs you can check out and spend a whole day jumping link to link as you go deeper into the material. Some of my readings include:
From Maine
From my virtual listings

Share your favorite summer time PLN. Happy Reading!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A bonus after shoveling for two days! Blizzard Juno 2015

Beth Goodwin and I are all shoveled out and ready to head to ATIA 2015 Orlando. Each year we present at this fabulous conference and share some of the digital tools we are using with our students from Maine.

Why do we do this? By presenting at this conference we share with other special educators, parents and service providers. We share tried and true ideas and digital tools that have worked for us.  

As a bonus, we learn so  much from participants in this conference! And what better place to be than in the sunshine when we get a day off from shoveling!