Make & print graphs, flow charts, lesson plans
via world-shaker-deactivated2013092I’ve always liked Inspiration and Kidspiration for quick, easy to use ways of brainstorming. But with a $900 price tag for a 20 computer license, there just didn’t seem to be any reason to pay that money when there are several robust, free alternatives. In the past couple of years, these alternatives have come close to matching, and in many aspects, surpassing what Inspiration and Kidspiration can do to help students organize their thoughts. Here are my three favs, with a few honorable mentions thrown in to boot. 1. Diagram.ly
Just discovered this one and it’s already my favorite. Easy to use (really) drag and drop interface. Intuitive tool bar. Decent amount of shapes, lines, and clip art. You have the ability to right-click on any shapes for editing options. Diagram.ly has a very Microsoft feel to it so if you have students who are used to using Office products, the learning curve with Diagram.lywill be easy. Another great feature is that there is no sign up, no registration and no download. You simply create your mind map and save (.xml, .jpg, .png, or .svg).
Click through for the next two!
Favorite Teaching Strategies
I know I have only been at this whole teaching thing for a few months now, but I have already established some strategies that I love to use and find highly effective in the classroom. Amongst quite a few strategies that have surely crashed and burned, these few ideas/strategies/activities have remained loyal to me thus far, and I look forward to further developing them in the months and years to come.
1. Name Sticks. This is a great strategy for keeping students engaged and on their toes during group discussion. They also double as a great device for creating random student groupings and for deciding presentation order. I stole this strategy from another new teacher at my school. Have all of your students write their names on popsicle sticks. Make sure you get all of them! Then, whenever you are facillitating class discussions, keep the sticks with you and draw one in order to call on students at random. I have found that since my students know that I use this strategy, they remain more engaged during discussion. Also, it ensures that I call on each student equally. But, I have to remember to be flexible, especially when a good discussion gets going so that student who really want to give their opinion can do so.
2. Stations. This strategy is as simple as it sounds, but I have found that it is an EXCELLENT way to get students excited and moving, keeping them engaged in their learning. I have used stations for all sorts of different topics and subject. I especially like using them with my 9th grade students who constantly have an excess of energy and like to move around. It is a great way to break up the learning so that students are very focused on one task for a very specific amount of time before going on to the next one. Also, I always give them a certain amount of time at each station which adds a little urgency, so that they are sure to be focused on completing the given task or assignment. What a great way to keep students moving, focused, and engaged in various learning tasks!
3. Poster and Sticky Brainstorming. Similar to the stations, this is a great strategy to get students up and moving around and to focus their thinking. I have found that this is a very good strategy for introducing a new concept and getting students relating to their prior knowledge. At the beginning of a new unit, I post various deep questions around the room to get students thinking about the given topic. Then, I give each student a number of sticky notes that corresponds with the posters around the room. (If there are 5 question posters, I give them each five sticky notes). Then, I give them each a poster to start at and tell them which direciton they are moving. Their task is to visit each poster around the room. While at each poster, they are to think about how they would best answer that question. Then, they are to write their answer along with their name on their sticky note and place it on the poster with the corresponding question. They repeat these steps until they have been all the way around the room and answered all questions. After all students are finished, I walk around and address the questions and answers on each poster, facilitating discussion on each idea. Again, it keeps the students moving and focused on one very specific task at a time. It is also a great segway into class discussion.
Since this is getting lengthy, I think I will stop for now. But, I look forward to sharing more of what I am learning about teaching in the near future. If you have strategies that you have grown to love, please share them with me as well!
Why do schools need the arts?
The following are some bullet point overviews of what benefits arts education has to students. I feel like the last one really jumps out. Students from lower socioeconomic background benefit more from arts programs than those with a higher socioeconomic background. Which, is interesting, because of course with the budget many schools/districts are facing, these programs get cut very quickly in the schools in lower-income neighborhoods, where as many schools with a higher population of students from a high socioeconomic background often have active and powerful PTO’s and such to make up the difference.
Not to mention, the rest of the points make a compelling case for arts education. This excerpt is from Arts With the Brain in Mind, by Eric Jensen
· The arts reach students not ordinarily reached, in ways not normally used. This keeps tardies, truancies, and eventually, dropouts down.
· Students connect to each other better – great camaraderie, fewer fights, less racism, and reduced use of hurtful sarcasm.
· It changes the environment to one of discovery. This can re-ignite the love of learning in students tired of being filled up with facts
· Arts provide challenges for students at all levels, from delayed to gifted. It’s a class where all students can find their own level, automatically.
· Arts connect learners to the world of real work where theater, music, and products have to appeal to a growing consumer public.
· Students of lower socioeconomic status gain as much or more from arts instruction that those of higher socioeconomic status. This suggests the gifted programs need to expand their target audiences.
These are 20 directives I made for my ARTE 202 class. We looked at pieces of contemporary art and tried to come up with directives based on those works. This was a really fun project, I hope to revisit it!
Create a design using three colors and one ‘stamp’ pattern to create a sense of weight. You may overlap and colors can blend.
Turn something you use everyday into a work of art. It must not be able to be used for its intended purpose.
Take someone you admire and think about his or her personality or what makes them unique. Then, create an object that can be used or looks like it can be used that represents their unique personality.
Paint a landscape on an object where paint is not usually applied.
Make an object that looks like it could be functional, but made in a material that makes it useless.
Play with scale and proportion by taking an object out of its actual range and altering it, without actually altering the object.
Find something one can buy in bulk and turn it into a sculpture that looks ‘alive’
Explore ways to represent the seasons without its typical iconography (ie, no snowman for winter, no leaves for fall, etc)
Take 10-20 identical, inanimate objects and animate them. Turn the objects into a group of creatures. Place them in a space where they can ‘live’.
Use text and image to create what you believe is an important message. Place it in a public space. Document.
Create a piece of art that is much more impressive when experienced. It must interact with the viewer.
Explore the relationship between two dimensions and three dimensions by working both elements into a singular piece.
Create a map that is both decorative and informative. That map can be of anything and can be as informative or decorative as you want, it just still needs to function as a map.
Use juxtaposition to change or deepen a meaning of 2 or more objects.
Use color to create a mood that the original image did not convey.
Use your body and ‘feel’ while you are creating. Do not sit, and do not stay stationary.
Create a story or scenario in your space that is missing a critical piece of the explanation.
Use materials that have been used for another purpose and turn them into a work of art. Repurpose.
Cross borders and create a piece that delves deeply into another area of study (science, history, math, economics, etc)
Create a piece that can be hung in a non-traditional manner.
Chalk Board theme by Polaraul