Inquiry Cycle

image from: Sonya Terborg

One of my favorite new blogs to follow is Sonya Terborg’s.  Every time I read a new post from her, I feel like we are kindred spirits.  Recently, she wrote an article called, “Teaching Without a Plan…What???” in which she addressed how we, as teachers, can approach being “the guide on the side”.  I think that her Inquiry Cycle poster, which you can download as a PDF from her site, will be a perfect resource for me as I guide my gifted students through Genius Hour this year.  I highly recommend reading her entire article, and to visit some of the other posts on Sonya’s site.

Pecha Kucha

According the the above website, “PechaKucha is a presentation format for creative work originally devised in 2003 by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein-Dytham Architecture in Tokyo, Japan. The name derives from a Japanese term for the sound of conversation or chit-chat.”

I first heard about Pecha Kucha from some of my fellow G.T. teachers, and was fascinated by the concept – a presentation of 20 slides with 20 seconds for each slide.  At the time, I was already caught up with end-of-the-school-year projects, and did not have a spare moment to do more research.  This summer, I ran across this great blog post that gives 10 great suggestions for how to create an awesome Pecha Kucha.

I love the idea of giving this option to my students – particularly for their Genius Hour projects.  I also think this is a great way for teachers to introduce a new topic – or even review one.  Or, you can do what the professionals do, have a “Pecha Kucha Night” at which your student present their most inspirational slideshows.  If you can think of any other ideas for Pecha Kucha in the classroom, I would love to see your comments!

Teach with Tournaments

Teach with Tournaments is a curriculum written by Josh Hoekstra, and was recently featured in a blog entry by William Bennett, former U.S. Secretary of Education.  I highly recommend that you read William Bennett’s blog entry, as it gives a very good summary of the idea successfully used by Mr. Hoekstra with his U.S. History students.  I love the concept of having the students defend their “champion” by doing research, and I think that this might also be something that I could include next year as I attempt to “gamify” my classroom.  It could also fit in nicely with the Genius Hour idea.  In addition, I would suggest getting other classrooms involved through Skype or FaceTime, so that they could help determine the “Champions”, which might encourage the students to take their presentations to an even higher level (and discourage popularity contests).  Kudos to Mr. Hoekstra for such a creative idea!

Mrs. Sunda’s Literature Links

If you are trying to allow some of your students who are reading at a higher level to work independently, you might find these literature units helpful.  There are only 6, but they include discussion guides written with Bloom’s Taxonomy in mind.  Another great thing about these materials is that they were created by students.  Not only could some of your students work through the units, but they could use them as examples for developing some of their own.  While you are visiting Mrs. Sunda’s site, check out some of her other links.  Many resources are given for teachers, including a link to a detailed article explaining the process behind the literature units.

Geography Awareness Week

Next week, November 13-19, is Geography Awareness Week.  I think we can all agree that we could stand to brush up on our geography skills.  This site, produced by National Geographic, has some great activities for doing that.  You can print out a booklet of “missions”, or go to the online version.  The wording in the booklet is fun, and the missions are very creative.  For example, one mission is titled, “Alien Invasion”, in which the student is tasked to “Photograph evidence of where a non-native plant or animal has invaded a local ecosystem. Produce a ‘spotter’s guide’ to these invasive species.”  Many of the missions would make great activities any time of the year, so don’t feel restricted to squeezing all of your geography education into one week!

Comparison Search

Today’s post comes from the same people who provide “Boolify”, which I highlighted yesterday.  In Comparison Search, the researcher gets the added benefit of searching for web sites that may have different points of view on the same topic.  It allows you to type in a keyword or phrase, such as “genetic engineering”, and to then choose the positive and negative search terms you would like to use, such as “advantages” and “disadvantages”.  The search results are then given in two columns, respective to your search terms.  As I mentioned yesterday, these searches are not “safe searches”, so teachers in primary grades probably should not let their students loose on this tool.  However, it can be quite valuable in trying to teach a lesson on the objectivity, or lack of it, on many websites.