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IIM: Teaching Research Skills K-5

New editions of IIM: Teaching Research Skills in Grades K-5 have recently come off the presses! In full-color, these excellent new teacher manuals show 7 steps for both the 'Whole-Class Process' where students learn basic research skills and 'Independent Process' where students apply those skills individually or in small-group.  I have found that the IIM process is unparalleled in setting up students for successful research, supporting teachers to guide them along the way, and for development of essential information literacy skills!

A comprehensive CD is included with the latest kid-friendly editable forms, specific differentiation strategies and grade-level TEKS. I was honored to contribute some ideas for technology connections to IIM Research! Interactive slides coming soon.

(Also find IIM on Facebook & Linkedin).

In the context of the IIM research process, students become increasingly independent researchers with guidance through creating a concept map of questions and background knowledge. Research investigations move forward by generating questions of interest along with teacher guiding questions.  Additional reading, writing, and research skills embedded in these research studies are:

  • Creating a research plan.
  • Locating and using multiple sources to answer questions.
  • Reading non-fiction and determining importance.
  • Taking notefacts and citing sources.
  • Understanding concept of plagiarism and ways to avoid it.
  • Organizing and summarizing information.
  • Creating projects in effective formats using visuals to support meaning.

Adaptive Learning: K-2 DreamBox Math

Students have begun to use DreamBox Math, an adaptive online learning environment with the intent of deepening understanding of computation, conceptual understanding and problem-solving in K-2. With an initial assessment and ongoing placement lessons throughout, students can work in their 'optimal learning zone.' Learning experiences target what students are ready to tackle and move ahead at a personalized rate of acceleration. The lesson sequence and pacing will adjust in real-time based on right or wrong clicks as well as strategies each learner uses. Feedback is immediate and the number and type of hints provided also becomes individualized. In addition, teachers have access to virtual manipulatives to support student's development of mathematical thinking and receive real-time assessment data to inform instruction. There is a parent dashboard too for family involvement at home.

See features of DreamBox Math in this brief clip:

Introduction to DreamBox Learning  from DreamBox Learning on Vimeo.


'Learning How to Learn' online: Think Through Math

Students need support and guidance in 'learning how to learn' online even though we might consider them to be 'digital natives.' Modeling how to manage the online learning process is essential for kids to get the most from their time and efforts. Each system that delivers online content is different. Helping kids to understand specific features and tools helps them to navigate well and better understand content they are learning. It is important to develop online learning habits of mind like 'stick-with-it-ness', focused attention, note-taking and ability to access help at points of need too.

These slides about 'Think Though Math' have these goals in mind.

'Learning How to Learn' in Think Through Math from Elizabeth Eastman




Blended Learning, Istation Reading & Data Analysis

These slides are designed to share & demonstrate with teachers how to utilize reporting features in Istation to inform their assessment and instruction. Additional Istation Report Guides also posted HERE.


Some Reflections on Engagement...

A Gallup Poll The School Cliff [Student Engagement Drops with Each School Year] found recently that student engagement slides progressively downward as students move through school.

These poll results raise questions for reflection because engagement is so complex and multi-faceted. Definitions of engagement vary. What do we look for when we gauge levels of it in our students? Language commonly used to describe it usually includes words like--investment, connection, involvement, attention, participation, and motivation. What learning conditions should we create to foster it? What instructional approaches support and sustain it? 

The Gallup poll has a strengths-based approach to measurement, with the underlying idea that engagement stems from identifying and building on students' strengths. It used a 5-point scale for students' responses to 1) I have a best friend in this school. 2) I feel safe in this school. 3) My teacher makes me feel my school work is important. 4) I have an opportunity to do what I do best every day. 5) In the last 7 days, I have received recognition. This Gallup Poll then focuses on students' sense of safety, awareness of strengths, personal connections and recognition, and how their teacher makes them feel about learning. 

There are a range of other things I look at & think about when I gauge students' levels of engagement, which are a combination of students' opinions and perceptions as well as their observable behaviors. How do kids respond and express themselves to a task, a question or problem posed by me, another teacher, or by a classmate? This could be spoken, written, or digital expression and also be observable in non-verbal body language. What additional new questions do they have? Instead of how I make them feel about learning, what do they think about the quality of what & how they are learning? What does the actual evidence of learning--process or product--indicate about the degree of engagement? How do students experience feedback? In what ways does it validate and recognize their attempts or prompt them to try again and consider other ways to do that? To what extent is this feedback personal and individualized so they can make necessary corrections or adjustments at point of need? Can students move forward in their process at a customized pace? Do they feel invested and see relevance in what they are learning? Do they have some sense of ownership over the efforts they are asked to make?

To my experience, adding technology into the learning equation fuels engagement of kids' minds. It provides tools for powerful creative expression and transformation of learning. Students find an audience and a sense of relevant purpose for their work that is unparallelled. It can differentiate and accelerate the pace of learning in contexts across the curriculum. It can provide individualized feedback and validation of students' successes and provide specifics on how to get better. It motivates and engages kids in varied multisensory ways and provides opportunities for students to draw on strengths and modalities that learning without it in more traditional ways does not.

More on Engagement...

Engagement: Lexipedia word Map

Why So Many Schools Remain Penitentiaries of Boredom via Elizabeth English @HuffPostEdu

'Our schools and teaching have to be worthy of a student's attention. I talk to students about what it means to be fully present-- to "attend," which comes from the Latin attendere, meaning to take care or take charge, to bend toward. Attending means so much more than merely showing up and yet when we utter the word in the context of school, it evokes passivity. Likewise, learning has become synonymous with collecting information or possessing the kind of knowledge that can be readily measured on a test. For those who are college bound, that means a standardized test like the S.A.T. But the true test of knowledge and understanding is applicability. Students want and deserve knowledge which they can apply to an authentic experience. Don't get me wrong, facts and content matter. But deep and enduring learning is always about more than mnemonics, and it's time our schools and curricula reflect this.'

Everything I Know About Engagement I Learned in Kindergarten via @BlueSkunkBlog

Choices--Creativity--Care--Social Engagement Through Collaboration

Ways to Go From On-Task to Engaged via @eyeoneducation

'Ask questions that don’t have right or wrong answers. Seek student opinions, allow argumentation, encourage persuasion, and teach students how to disagree and debate in a positive way.'

'Stress process over product. Some of our most disengaged and bored students care little about grades, points, or other “motivators” we tend to use in school. Instead of focusing on the outcome of the work (which is typically a grade), focus on the process of learning, the experiences students will have, and the personal connections they can make to ideas and content.'

Using Ed.Tech To Support the Learning Process via Sylvia Martinez @EdWeekTeacher

'And if you are thinking, "Who has time to teach my students something complicated?" - I will suggest to you that complexity is different than depth. Sure there are tools that are not age-appropriate or just plain overkill. But educators often overestimate the extra time it takes to learn a new tool. Don't try to front-load too much information about the tool to the students. Instead, introduce a small project for the students, give them the tool and let them work. Allow collaboration between students to share new discoveries. Encourage home-grown student experts who can answer other students' questions. Time spent becoming fluent with a tool that has depth is time well-spent.'