In this season of Trial HSC exams and the lead-up to end-of-year exams, it's too easy to let exercise take a lower priority in our days.
What with school, work, homework and plonk-I'm-exhausted time at the end of the day, something as simple as going for a walk gets put on the tomorrow-list.
But, research clearly shows that exercise is an equally important component of our daily routines, even when the student-diary is chockers with revision tasks.
But, think about this.
- Exercise makes you smarter - it promotes the development of new brain cells.
- It helps you concentrate and focus.
- Exercise helps you sleep better - ensuring a rested start to the next day.
- And, physical activity has been linked with higher exam scores and higher incomes.
In fact, a half hour of exercise has numerous all-round benefits, as this infographic from Tribesports.com
So no matter how tired or busy you are, take the time for a 30 minutes exercise break. Your body and brain will thank you.
Post 1 of 5: My Top Content Curation Tools
Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/95572727@N00/6756753669 Found on flickrcc.net
It's so easy to spend hours browsing the Internet. But how do you make your online time more efficient?
The answer is content curation.
Content curation isn't a new idea. Libraries (and librarians) have been managing information for years - and of course, still are.
But, alongside one of the main benefits of the Information Age - that is, ready access to almost any information we want or need, is the challenge of managing it in a way that is useful and relevant to us.
Content curation is this process. More than simply saving bookmarks, content curation allows you to sort through the barrage of information on the Internet, save it and share it with others who share similar interests to you.
There are numerous tools you can use that will help you curate content. All have varying features and target different audiences. But, what they have in common is that they act as repositories of information found on the web, and have in-built sharing options, be it as a shared web link, to email or to any of the social media sites.
Today I'm going to run you through the first of my top 5 curation tools - Scoop-it. Read on ....
is a website I learned about from Richard Byrne at Free Technology for Teachers.
If you haven't come across Free Technology
before, it's well worth a look.
What I like about engVid
is the sheer breadth of the collection of video lessons it offers. And, from what I can gather from browsing the site, for free.
Although this site is aimed at people learning English as a second language there is still plenty here to help anybody wanting to revise their English skills.
However, the videos feature a teacher and whiteboard - no clever animations or special effects. So, it may not be as attention-grabbing as other sites for younger viewers.
Topics include formal and informal language usage, grammar, vocabulary and writing - among others. I particularly liked some of the writing videos, such as the one that clearly explains how to structure a paragraph
and another that runs through using transitions
to improve the flow of your writing.
There are also several useful grammar and language usage videos that I think would be helpful to high school students as well as adult ESL learners. For example, using 'Then or Than'
, or 'Less or Fewer
', and, going back to basics, 'Basic English Grammar - Noun, Verb, Adjective, Adverbs.'
Videos vary in length between a couple of minutes to between 10-15 minutes, which seems to be the average length. There are also short quizzes after each video lesson.
But, one thing to be aware of. This site is funded by advertising and some of the advertisements were not exactly child-suitable. The videos, however, are also on YouTube, so you can avoid most of the ads by clicking through.
In summary, engVid is another handy tool for refreshing your language usage skills.
Have a look at the sample lesson below, as well as maybe some of the others. Let me know what you think of this resource in the comments below.
Affect vs effect. Who vs whom. Stationary vs stationery ... to, too, two .... We all have those words that occasionally trip us up.
However, procrastinating my way through Youtube last night, I came across these videos produced by the American website: MentalFloss.com/lists.
Apart from the fact the spelling and grammar video uses American English: for example, 'period' instead of 'full stop', and drops an ' l ' for words ending in ' l', it still provides an entertaining refresher course in common, spelling and pronunciation mistakes.Just a reminder: here in Australia we tend to use the British spellings of words. Spellzone has a handy 'cheat sheet' to compare American and British spellings.
I've uploaded two Youtube videos for you to have a listen to. The first (below) features 79 Common Mispronunciations, while the second runs through 38 Common Spelling and Grammar Errors.
Be aware, in the video below there is a slightly rude reference when explaining the differences between lie, lay and laid.
Last night I was reminded of two things that I think apply equally well to school life as they do in adult life.
One. You can always find people willing to help you.
And, two. If those people don't happen to be the ones in your immediate company, you simply reach out to a bigger circle.
Let me give you my most recent example. Yesterday (as in, for today) I was asked to take a class in something that was a smidge out of my comfort zone. And, to be honest, I wasn't really sure where to start with planning a one-off lesson that was structured, syllabus-relevant and maybe even fun. So what'd I do?
I sent out a call for help.
And, thanks to the immediacy of social media and a professional group that I belong to on Facebook, within minutes I got my first reply and suggestions for fun lesson ideas. Soon, other teachers of that subject, from around the state, were giving me some great ideas and sending me resources. And, from that initial moment of Ahhhhhhhh - Brain Freeze! - within a couple of hours I felt organised and SO much better.
Sure, I know I probably could've got by, but 'getting by' wasn't exactly the outcome I was aiming at. I wanted to do better than that. I wanted it to be a great lesson so I asked for help. And, I got it in spades!
"It's plain smart to take responsibility for your learning and reach out for help."
The thing with asking for help is that it doesn't make you a lesser person in some way. Each of us has our strengths and personal breadth of knowledge. Sometimes, when you recognise that getting a hand would actually strengthen your position, it's plain smart to take responsibility for your learning and reach out for help.
Taking responsibility for ourselves is such an important concept, and an important skill that is going to put you streets ahead of others who are happy to blame, or whine, or make excuses for not doing their best.
For example ... what can you do if you don't understand something in class? Here's 7 places you can go to find the help you need.
It's that time of year again - when all HSC students start to freak about being prepared for their HSC exams. Firstly ......
I know that is easier said than done. But, if you have been handing in assessment tasks on time and generally keeping up with your work you will be okay. It's reassuring to remember that HSC English markers use a policy of 'positive marking'. That is, your exam response will be scrutinised for everything you have done right. Not what you have missed. But included.
But, it's also natural to be a little nervous, or at least conscious, of ensuring you feel confident about doing your best in English. And every subject, for that matter, but let's just talk English for the moment.
The good news is that it isn't too late to make sure you know what you need to know for the HSC English course. Of course, it would require a major
commitment to catch up on two years missed work (I'm including the Preliminary course in that statement because that is your HSC prep year) but, more realistically, you will need to revise your understanding of language techniques, have a good understanding of each module/Area of Study and how both of these areas apply to your prescribed and related texts.
So, here's a few tips:
- Go back to a post I wrote previously that offers timely advice for surviving your trial exams and making it to your HSC with your sanity intact. You can read that post "10 Steps to Easy HSC English Revision" HERE.
- Take advantage of expert help. Here in NSW the English Teachers' Association organises some excellent study days. The next one is perfectly timed for your revision: the HSC Students Countdown is in Sydney on the 31st August. It will cover all of the modules and the Area of Study, along with tips for effective revision. I can personally attest to the quality and usefulness of these study days if you have not already been to one. Check with your teacher to see if they are organising a class group to attend.
- If you feel some individual help is needed then consider some after-school tutoring. You can read more about the tutoring services ReadWriteLearnWell can offer HERE.
In closing, keep your HSC exam preparation in perspective. It is one exam out of many you have done and will possibly do in the future. The goal, in my view, is to prepare well so you feel confident and relaxed when you take it on. That way you WILL do your best!
So much that has been said and is being remembered about Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, is food for thought for all educators.
The following YouTube video is one of my favourites, and a reminder of how important it is to encourage critical thinking, creativity and imagination in students.
R.I.P. Mr Jobs. Your legacy will not be forgotten.
Ernest Hemingway Via http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:ErnestHemingwayBabyPicture.jpg
I'll happily confess to being a literature geek. So when I received my morning email from Flavorwire.com
with a subject header of 'Incredibly adorable baby pictures of famous authors' of course I was going to click through!
I love peeking through family albums of old pics, and it's even better that these days social media, like Facebook, makes sharing such pictures even easier. While I would not trade the convenience of today's digital photography, there's something special about the faded greys of black and white photos from the past. Maybe it's because there is a nostalgic-value associated with such images and the past itself? Perhaps it's the capturing of a moment in time, and the act of freezing it to preserve it - as is the strength of any family pic? It could also be that it is just a little bit of fun to ooh and ahh, and giggle and point, and compare and contrast with ourselves and loved ones today. For me, it's a little of each, but I also like that it helps to add a depth and reality to my perceptions of people. Seeing images of younger days brings home that those I know, or know of, had full, complete lives, with all the joys, irritations and general range of life's ups and downs - just like me and my immediate family.
Flavorwire features 15 baby and child photos of famous authors and poets, including (as above) Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, Roald Dahl and James Joyce among others. I particularly like the faded photo of John Steinbeck (Of Mice and Men
, The Grapes of Wrath
) holding his pony. Also, there is a great image of Rudyard Kipling as a child, arms folded and face set in stubbornness or a sulk - at least that's how I imagine him to have been the day the picture was taken.
The slideshow of images features a range of American and European/British authors. I would like to have seen some Australian writers represented, but a quick search before writing this post was unsuccessful in finding any similar-aged shots of Australian composers such as Henry Lawson (my favourite), Barbara Baynton, CJ Dennis or AB (Banjo) Paterson. I did find some early images of Miles Franklin, including a very early baby picture and a family picture taken 1894. You can see them HERE
If you, too, are a literature geek, then check out the junior author pics at Flavorwire
. You might also find another feature at this site interesting: 10 Bestselling books that were originally rejected.
By Carla Anderson
Don't stifle creativity and engagement with the world around us.
Do discourage conformity.
The proof is in the science.
That's the message from this fascinating animation created by British organisation, The 21st Century Learning Initiative,
and posted at Born-to-Learn.
The 21st Century Learning Initiative explores the latest scientific research into learning and motivation, and posits that many Western educational systems aren't providing the necessary foundations for young people to learn best. They claim this is because schools often focus not on learning but on grades, and stifle creativity in young learners, while fostering social conformity.
At this stage, Born-to-Learn features two completed animated videos, which take complex scientific research and condense it in a more accessible format. But, there are also plenty of interesting views to explore at the 21st Century Learning Initiative's website.
While I agree, in principle and on an idealistic level, with the ideas shared in this video, I wonder about the practicalities of implementing this approach in regular classrooms, particularly those with less experienced teachers, with over-heavy workloads and behaviour management issues. From experience, sometimes the best plan for the most engaging and student-directed lesson comes to naught, while at other times, (and often these are unexpected), there is almost a serendipitous turn of events, that lead to those almost-magical learning experiences - for students AND teacher.What do you think?
- What are some practical ways you've tried successfully that encourage more independent, creative and engaged learning?
- How have you got around issues of resourcing?
- If you are a student, what style of lessons do you enjoy most for taking in and exploring new ideas and information?
- Does classwork have to be 'engaging' to be effective? What does 'engaging' look like? Can we, as teachers, build up a bank of 'engagement', that allows us to feel less guilty for not teaching highly creative lessons, every lesson?
Please share your views. I'd like to hear more about what you
think about this topic. It's one that I've heard raised at various times during professional development sessions, and one that gets discussed a lot, almost as a given, within the broader online learning community.
Bottom line... how do we make it happen in the classroom?Thanks to @joblannin for tweeting this video...
A web-based presentation, lecture, workshop or seminar that allows for interaction between presenter and audience.
Yesterday I got to chat, listen and share ideas for using technology in the classroom with teachers from the United States, Asia and Australia.
Today, I was able to attend a seminar with Harvard professor and the father of the Multiple Intelligences theory, Dr Howard Gardner, and teachers from around the world.
Tomorrow there's a session on encouraging teens and tweens to read - that should be interesting too.
And the best part? I can make myself a cup of tea, turn my computer and mic on and settle in to hear the latest in teaching approaches and share ideas, suggestions and experiences with teachers from across the planet. Real-time. Voices. Visuals. Keyboard Chat.I am impressed.
I live and teach in a rural area, so getting away for PD is always a bit of an issue. While clocking up a certain number of hours of additional professional training is a requirement for me as a New Scheme Teacher, the bigger issue is that sharing in the wider community of educators is just so encouraging and motivating. Just think of the experience and knowledge base that you can draw upon if you can participate in professional learning with others from various schools, systems, states and countries!
That's why I'm pretty excited about the online conferencing/training that I discovered through Twitter at Classroom 2.0.
is a social network, particularly for teachers interested in social media
and Web 2.0
. It is a free site that allows teachers to chat in discussion boards and groups, and take part in educated-related webinars. I'm a reasonably new participant at Classroom 2.0, but since I've joined I've received regular emails from site founder @SteveHargadon about online PD sessions, such as the one's mentioned earlier.
Classroom 2.0 uses Blackboard Collaborate as its web-conferencing medium. Using it was fairly straightforward - simply follow the prompts and the interface will open up on your desktop. You will be prompted to check your audio settings - both to hear and to speak, but don't panic. How much you contribute to the discussion is completely up to you - listen, type-chat, or take the mic. You will hear the presenters, see their slides and websites (I believe there is also a video function, but haven't experienced it yet), and be able to read, type comments and ask questions in response to the presentation as it continues.
The first one I attended, 'Succeeding with Web 2.0
', hosted by Arizona educators, Peggy George and Kim Thomas, was well-run, fun and informative. And, I even received a certificate of attendance, so hopefully, it will count as an hour of teacher-identified professional development for me. Of course, if you are also a New Scheme Teacher in NSW, it would be wise to check with the NSW Institute of Teachers
about what training would be 'counted' as part of your required 100 hours.
To learn more about web-based conferencing and learning check out the following websites:
By the way, Peggy and Kim host Succeeding with Web 2.0
the second Monday of each month. Highly recommended. And, a final point, it looks like most sessions are recorded, so you can catch up with one of interest at a time that suits you.