Archive for June, 2009

Rap, Hip Hop, Vocabulary, History and More… Word up!

Ever since I met the two founders of Flocabulary (Blake and Alex) in 2007, I’ve been a huge fan of the guys, their company and their mission.

Flocabulary helps teachers use hip hop and rap music to teach their students ELA, social studies. math and science. The Flocabulary site states:

The idea for Flocabulary first came to founder/lyricist Blake Harrison in high school. A good student who still struggled to memorize facts for tests, he wondered why it was so easy to remember lines to his favorite rap songs but so difficult to memorize academic information. Blake realized that if a rapper released an album that defined SAT vocab words, students would have a fun and effective way to study for the SAT…

Curious? Take a look at the video above and make sure to visit Flocabulary’s website after!

Word Up!

Anna

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Childhood Dreams

I just finished listening to “the Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch. After seeing the book in airports and bookstores across the Middle East, Europe and the States, I figured that I might as well see what all the press was about, not to mention all of the hype on You Tube.

So, prior to my journey last week to give technology trainings to teachers in a small village in the mountains of the UAE, I downloaded the audio book to pass the car ride along—desert, followed by rocks, followed by jagged mountains amidst 120 degree heat and haze.

In a nutshell, the book left me thinking for hours, reminding myself of life’s pleasures and priorities and the gift and responsibility teachers have of inspiring, challenging and enabling young (and old) minds to achieve their dreams, imagine, think big and do.

For those of you that need a bit of background information, The Last Lecture website summarizes:

On September 18, 2007, computer science professor Randy Pausch stepped in front of an audience of 400 people at Carnegie Mellon University to deliver a last lecture called “Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams.” With slides of his CT scans beaming out to the audience, Randy told his audience about the cancer that is devouring his pancreas and that will claim his life in a matter of months. On the stage that day, Randy was youthful, energetic, handsome, often cheerfully, darkly funny. He seemed invincible. But this was a brief moment, as he himself acknowledged.

Randy’s lecture has become a phenomenon, as has the book he wrote based on the same principles, celebrating the dreams we all strive to make realities. Sadly, Randy lost his battle to pancreatic cancer on July 25th, 2008, but his legacy will continue to inspire us all, for generations to come.

Pausch for the most part tells us the lessons he wished he could teach his kids if he were around to watch them grow into adults. His messages are simple, easy to relate to and grounded in a ton of Disney World metaphors and examples (one of Pausch’s dreams was to become an imagineer—a dream he accomplished), making the book very digestible across a wide variety of audiences. Perhaps it is his simple lessons and prose that make the messages so sticky (see Will your lessons stand the test of time?).

In the addendum of the audio book, there is a live interview with the real Randy Pausch (the audio book of course was read by someone else) in which Pausch is asked, “What inspired the topic of your lecture?” Pausch responds, “A list that I made at the age of eight, ‘My Lifelong Dreams'”.

As you think about topics to teach this summer or next fall, consider having your students write or create a multimedia response to the theme, “My Dreams”. While you’re at it, take a moment to recollect yours.

Happy Dreamin’!

From Dubai,
Anna

P.S. My favorite quote from the book, “Brick walls are there for a reason. And once you get over them – even if someone practically had to throw you over – it can be helpful to others to tell them how you did it”.

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How to make a Classroom Blog on WordPress

Tomorrow I will deliver a professional development session on technology tools for the classroom to Fujairah teachers. One of the topics we will cover is classroom blogging.

Classroom blogs are an excellent tool for motivating students to read, write and share their ideas. To learn more about classroom blogging and to view sample classroom blogs, make sure to review my previous post, “Helpful Resources for Finding and Creating Classroom Blogs“.

To learn how to set up your own classroom blog on WordPress, watch this slideshow:

Happy Classroom Blogging!

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Will your lessons stand the test of time? … How to make your teaching stick!

Made to Stick

What is a pomelo?

(Please pause and think.)

Chip and Dan: Explanation 1: A pomelo is the largest citrus fruit. The rind is very think but soft and easy to peel away. The resulting fruit has a light yellow to coral pink flesh and can vary from juicy to slightly dry and from seductively spicy-sweet to tangy and tart.

Question: If you mixed pomelo juice half and half with orange juice, would it taste good?

Anna: Not sure? How about now?

Chip and Dan: Explanation 2. A pomelo is basically a supersized grapefruit with a very thick and soft rind.

Anna: Now, let’s revisit: If you mixed pomelo juice half and half with orange juice, would it taste good?

This summer while perusing the shelves of Borders, Barnes and Noble and Kinokuniya, make sure to keep an eye out for Made to Stick: Why some ideas take hold and others come unstuck.

Chip and Dan will show you how to teach complex concepts in easy to grasp terms. In a nutshell, you will learn WHAT STICKS!

Anna

P.S. Preview: Sticky ideas are a S.U.C.C.E.S.—Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, Stories.

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Searching for Treasure: Find the Perfect Resource for Tomorrow’s Class

Treasure

Tomorrow I will lead a workshop at one of the UAE Higher Colleges of Technology titled, “Technology Tools for Early Childhood Instruction”. During the workshop, participants will have a chance to use Curriki and other open education resources to to find free materials (lessons, simultions, games, etc.) for their early childhood classrooms.

As my good friend once told me, “You can’t learn to drive, without getting behind the wheel”.

In that spirit, learn how to find free and open education resources for your classroom by participating in this Curriki Scavenger Hunt.

The knowledge and resources you will find… PURE GOLD!

Anna

P.S. Thanks to clevercupcakes for creating and sharing the delicious looking cupcake above!

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