This week I am giving some guest bloggers the opportunity to share their ideas. This guest post comes from Sean McCutcheon.
You might be thinking, Okay great...here we go...some guest blogger telling me something I probably already know about. Well that could very well be the case but I certainly hope it's not. If you read this post and give me a few minutes of your time, I will change how you use the Internet with your students. It might also engage them in literacy, improve their writing and help them communicate their thinking when solving math problems. I should also mention here that all of this is free.
When it comes to PD I have heard the term, “learn today and try tomorrow.” These sites are more along the lines of “learn today, check out tomorrow, decide for next week.” Implementing them in your class is very easy and takes a small amount of time (especially if you already have your students blogging).
All this can be accomplished by ‘using’ three websites. The first two are writing based. They are the Five Sentence Challenge http://fivesc.net/ and the 100 Word Challenge http://100wc.net/. Depending on the the grade you teach, and/or the level that your students are at, you would use one of these sites. The 100 word challenge in designed for students under 16 and the five sentence challenge is for beginning writers. I currently teach grade 2 and use the five sentence challenge, so that is the one I will explain.
Every two weeks a new prompt is posted on the site. I assign that prompt to my class and they write about it on their blogs. Then, I link their blog entries to the five sentence challenge page and wait. What takes place next is amazing. My students will get constructive feedback about their writing from teachers around the world. Our class is in Canada and we often have comments from Europe and Australia. Teachers dedicate their time to read and comment on the writing. Also, as a class we check out other student work and discuss possible next steps for that student, and leave a comment. Students are writing for authentic purposes and a real audience. They are also analyzing and thinking critically about writing.
The last site is totally amazing and it is a math version of the writing sites above (it is also my site)...Minden Math! http://mindenmath.blogspot.ca/ My students and I loved the writing idea so much I created a math one. On the second Tuesday of each month a math problem is posted. The problems are often open ended, so that a variety of responses or solutions are possible. Teachers are encouraged to have their students solve the problem and then link the solutions. If you link a student's solution they will get feedback. Currently it is a primary level problem, however thanks to positive feedback, we will also be posting a problem more suited for older grades starting in September.
Check out the sites, bookmark them and think about them for the fall. If the Minden math site is something you are interested in, you can follow me on twitter and I will remind you when new problems are posted. Twitter Name: Sean McCutcheon @mindenmath
Sean McCutcheon is a grade two teacher in Minden, Ontario, Canada. He is always looking for innovative ways to prepare my students for the future. Sean is a seeker of educational connections, classroom collaborations and technology resources. You can connect with Sean via Twitter or via email.