Dare to Care

create, communicate, collaborate, and think critically

04/May/2016
by Denise Krebs
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“Hey, Kids Let’s Put on a Show” Webinar

It was great to hear this webinar with Danielle Capretti. “Hey, Kids!  Let’s Put on a Show!” Theater in the English Language Classroom. She’s an expert on using drama and dance in EFL classes in countries around the world.

Moderator Katie took over during some technical difficulty on Danielle’s end and actually started the presentation. After a few minutes we were able to get started again. Danielle went through a lot of resources for young, secondary and adult classrooms. I’ve shared them below.

She covered the topics of

  • choosing a text or script–student-written, teacher-written, free online, purchased. Others?
  • casting for the parts–teacher chooses, volunteers, auditions. How else?
  • preparation–table work (understanding the words and content) and blocking (moving through the play so the audience gets the most out of it.
  • performance–do you have them memorize or do readers’ theater? Have them do warm-ups like breathing, exercise and tongue twisters. She had a lovely dramatic voice herself, and inspired me to practice enunciating, “The lips, the teeth, the tip of the tongue.” Finally, you can have them do a last minute speed run through–no blocking. Just the spoken lines, fast. If they can do this they should be ready.

Thanks to Danielle, Moderator Katie and Moderator Amy!

So, I’ll be checking out the resources and finding what drama I can do in my classroom very soon.

Resources

  1. American English website
  2. American Rhythms – music, lyrics and classroom activities
  3. The Best Resources on Using Drama in the Classroom by Larry Ferlazzo
  4. Royalty-Free One-Act Plays
  5. ESL Ideas: Using Abstract Drama Scripts in the drama, language and ESL Classroom
  6. Dr. Chase Young: Readers’ Theater Scripts
  7. Free Stage Play Scripts by D.M. Larson
  8. Aaron Shepard’s webpage
  9. Aaron’s Reader’s Theater Edition
  10. All Eugene O’Neill one-act plays are public domain.

18/Apr/2016
by Denise Krebs
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Google Apps for Education Summit, Bahrain, Day 2

A couple days late, but I had to share what I learned at the Google Apps for Education Summit, Day 2. I loved this conference with so many people from so many schools and places!

I was looking forward to the second day, even though my thoughts were with the Accreditation Steering Committee team from my school, which also met today. I had to miss it, but I was not disappointed to be at the Google Summit!

Ben Friesen‘s keynote was as captivating as yesterday’s by Mark! It was so inspiring. It just made me want to keep on creating, annotating and sharing.

The first breakout session, however, was a disappointment. Really, I should learnBen Collage to just not take a chance on vendor sessions. I was sitting in the front row, excited to learn how to use the reading and writing app I had downloaded the night before. However, then I learned that we have to buy a license to use it. I guess the version on my computer is a 30-day trial. I wasn’t enamored enough with the demo to even want to buy it.

The next two sessions I attended were by our keynote speaker–Ben Friesen. One session was using Google Drawings and the other My Maps.

In the first session, we worked on a collaborative drawing of the 1980’s with Ben. It was fun, and, if you click, you can see the messiness of large group collaboration. Then he demonstrated some of the features we can use. A few new features I learned:

  1. There is a red snap-to grid to mark the center of the canvas. That is handy.
  2. You can  connect box lines to group the boxes in a graphic organizer. That way if you need to move the box, the line comes along with it.
  3. You can customize the size of the canvas to fit the project you need. Go to File–Page setup. For instance, if the limit of the header size is 800 x 200 pixels, you make your canvas that size and create it just the right size. No need to crop or fit in later when it’s uploaded.

Finally we worked on our own header for a Google Classroom, which I won’t be using for a while until our students get their own GAFE email addresses assigned. Next on my wish list.

The session I looked most forward to was using My Maps. I love maps and, I really wanted to see how Ben so cleverly compared the true size of Greenland (2.17 sq km) with Saudi Arabia (2.15 sq km) in the Demo Slam on Friday. You would never know these two countries were so similar in size if you use the all too-popular Mercator projection.

I majored in geography in college, largely because of my love for maps. In this session, it was exciting to see the great transformation over the past few years in what Google has done with their map programs. I hadn’t been paying attention!

I used to make maps showing where the participants were from in the Global Read Aloud and other experiences. I still used Maps and Forms, but it was more difficult importing my data with third party applications that most of the time I didn’t understand. Nowadays, My Maps skips the middleman! Excellent. We each easily used the same data to work on our map of places we wanted to take a virtual field trip, manipulating the data during this session. In my map you can see different colors for all the teachers who shared their Twitter handle. Ben’s was a far better and more productive  presentation than one I made several years ago when mapping our connections. (If you visit that link, I’m sorry to say you’ll find that some of the links to my maps have been lost into some unknown digital graveyard.) Ben also shared two warm-up mapping games for kids and adults–GeoGuessr and Smarty Pins. Very fun!

During the last session, I had fun using the virtual reality glasses and apps with Shina in the Google Cardboard session. Amazing! Shina is a geeky technology coach in Saudi Arabia. (And my new friend. She is the first person I met Friday morning at breakfast.) She is also the journalism teacher for her district. Her students make the yearbook for the school, and she helps them use new technologies to make a physical book more interactive. Last year’s book had tons of examples of augmented and virtual reality for readers to access in order to enhance the book. One example was a 360-degree photo sphere of the old campus they vacated last year, so it will always be available as a memory to students.

Speaking of photo spheres (Not that photosphere, Astronomers!), I took my first 360 degree photo in our meeting room at St. Christopher’s School while we waited for the last keynote to start. (Again, I was reminded of all the wide world of learning, creating, and producing we can do with just an Android device! So many things we don’t even know about, YET.) I’ll be ordering some Google Cardboard glasses ASAP!

Finally, Chrystal Hoe did a nice job wrapping up with the session with another keynote address. I loved the video she showed about Erno Rubrik about the importance of asking questions to make amazing things happen!

Check out the schedule to see what other sessions there were.

I’d like to make a challenge to my new friend, Asma, who I enjoyed tweeting with and meeting at the Google Summit. I hope to read on your new blog what you learned last weekend!

17/Apr/2016
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Genius Hour PD

 

Genius TimeToday, we did Genius Hour at school. There were no children here. It was a teacher’s professional development day. Teachers did Genius Hour.

Our principal, Mr. Josh Perkins, introduced Genius Hour, a concept that was new to most people. He said it was “a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.” Definition from Geniushour.com

He then went on to immediately explain that the Genius Hour we would do for PD would be defined like this: “Genius hour allows teachers to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides teachers a choice in what they learn and develop during a set period of time during the professional development time.” It was about here that we all decided we like the name Genius Time better. 20160417_074717

I thought the plan was perfect. He asked for professionalism in carrying out this short plan:

  • Question – What do you want to learn?
  • Explore – Learn about it!
  • Master – Become better at it!
  • Present – Help the rest of us learn!

We will “turn in” our inquiry question at the beginning and the presentation at the end. We will plan, explore, and learn on our own. He will post all our learnings on our school web page to share with the world.

Now, our school happens to have an atypical communication barrier. We are about half Arabic speakers and half English speakers. (And other languages too, which we don’t even take into consideration!) The Genius Hour overview was presented tag-team style in both English and Arabic. Throughout the day, we noticed not only was some of the introduction lost in translation, but also these ideas are huge when heard for the first time and need extra time to absorb.

That’s all good. It’s part of my philosophy as the chief learner in my classroom. We all have questions that need to be answered along the journey. (And the journey is the best part, I believe.)

Because of those big ideas we were trying to explain, there were bound to be misunderstandings. Some people seemed to hear that Genius Hour was something for the children, and they ran with that forgetting about their own PD. As we answered questions, I began to think maybe we shouldn’t have called it Genius Hour or Genius Time, after all!

However, later I realized I was wrong. It was an unexpected, but awesome misunderstanding.  We had scores of teachers today talking about Genius Hour. We weren’t just talking about something wordy: “self-directed professional development time.” Many of the teachers were even talking about how they were going to make Genius Hour work in their classrooms.

  • “How will it work with all the students doing Genius Hour in different subjects?”
  • “Can we do it for 15 minutes each period?” (No, please don’t.)
  • “Should we call it Genius Hour or something else because our class periods aren’t one hour?”

Wait a minute. I began to realize they thought they MUST do Genius Hour with their students in their classrooms.

We aren’t doing Genius Hour with your students, I said during an impromptu meeting. That can come later, I continued. (And hopefully it will!) Today, for the next few weeks this is about you! About you improving your craft–becoming more adept at content knowledge, pedagogy, and technology to bring about learning for your students. We need to focus on 21st century learning skills. (Yeah, since by the time half of our students graduate from high school this “new” century will be a quarter over.)

We introduced a unique-to-every-single-person professional development opportunity. Instead of doing one-size-fits-all PD for the next two months, we each get to make our own learning adventure! (Or with a partner or two–it’s limited to 3 in a group.)

Imagine around 50 different PD programs going on in just the next nine Tuesday professional development hours!

What are the chances of that happening? It can happen, but only if all the teachers own their own learning.

Here are just a few of the thoughts some teachers had for their own unique PD sessions, with possible inquiry questions:

  1. How do you engage very young children to want to know English? And can I get them to  practice by communicating their own knowledge to others?
  2. How can I teach flexibility and adaptability by providing students with many ways to solve math problems, starting with the abacus?
  3. How can I inspire students to be self-directed learners, going beyond the vocabulary in our lessons to searching out the multiple meanings?
  4. Can I build students’ collaboration and communication skills by learning about and teaching Accountable Talk for small group discussions?
  5. How can I help students to be responsible and discerning digital citizens; who can justify their use of technology for educational purposes?
  6. How can I present information in a way that is more engaging to the students, and promotes independent and analytical thinking?

I loved hearing people talk about Genius Hour today. The discussions were amazing. Some of us met for four hours today, instead of the originally scheduled two hours. It won’t be easy, but our school has heart, and we will figure it out together. (I’m particularly excited to see the Arab teachers’ share their Genius Hour learning in the Arabic language. They will be Genius Hour innovators for the Arab world.)  

Al Raja School can have hope in a bright Genius Hour-y future for students and staff alike. I look forward to it!  

15/Apr/2016
by Denise Krebs
4 Comments

Google Apps for Education Summit, Bahrain, Day 1

I had so much fun at the GAFE Summit today! I love learning new things, and there was much to learn. It had been a long time since I was at a tech conference, and my first ever Google Summit. This one is meeting at St. Christopher’s School in Saar, Bahrain. There are people from at least a dozen countries around the region and beyond.

Mark Garrison, Ben Friesen, Chrystal Hoe, Mark Hammons, Jeff Layman, and Lissa Layman are the team leaders for this weekend. They are all very knowledgeable, approachable, and they love to learn and share.

Here are just a few brief takeaways from my first day.

Mark Garrison had a great keynote address. I was inspired to be better, to give up some of the things in my practice that aren’t working. I will START some new things, STOP some old things, and continue to SHARE my learning. It is in making my learning visible that I learn the most. I truly am the chief among learners, and I delight in it. You can share what you are learning these days at the Start, Stop and Share Challenge that Mark shared with us. I will do that after the Summit is finished.

I also went to two other sessions with Mark. One on the 4C’s – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking. These 4C’s are in the tagline on this blog and on my classroom blog (actually 5 C’s on my class blog). I aspire to teach these always, and I loved Mark’s challenge to make these part of our lesson plans. Plan how and when we will let students practice each skill! The second session was a round table discussion about Start, Stop and Share. I heard from passionate educators from all over the region. They are here to make the world a better place, starting at their schools.

Lissa Layman had a great session, which was an overview of Google Sites, Documents, Slides, Forms, Calendar, and more. I immediately thought of something I will STOP, and that is sending home a paper form gathering email addresses and other beginning of the year information. I will have them complete a Google form so the info can come in digitally with much fewer errors than the paper versions produce. (Why didn’t I think of this before? I use Google forms!)

I got to experience BreakoutEDU! Such fun! We solved the game and “broke out.” I had heard of it before, but it didn’t make sense until I experienced it. (So true of so much of life, right?) I am looking forward to bringing a box back from the US this summer and participating with my Imagination Chapter.

I could go on and on about all of the Demo Slam segments. Three minutes each, showing a sweet app or hack or some digital nicety that makes the crowd go, WOW! Some of my favorites were My Map. (More on that later, as I tried it and failed miserably.) Another favorite was that Keep converts image text to editable text! What? I never knew. I came home and showed my husband, and he loved it so. It was an early birthday present for him!

The hour is late, and I’ll be up again to do another day tomorrow, so more tomorrow. In the meantime, there are more photos here, and my notes from today are here.

22/Feb/2016
by Denise Krebs
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In Support of the Word Wall

I moved to second grade this year to a room chock-full of English language learners.

I’ve had a word wall for many years–in grades Kindergarten through 8. This is the first year, however, that I’ve received such positive feedback about the word wall.  For instance, here are two things that happened within a week.

I received this valentine from one thankful student who takes pride in spelling high frequency words correctly.

Then this morning before school, I had to rearrange a few words because of maintenance work done over the weekend.

Word Wall: Friend of English Language Learners

Word Wall: Friend of English Language Learners                Photo by Fatima Hu.

A different boy came in and saw me with words in my hand and proclaimed, “What? Are you taking the words down? I need them to spell ‘because’ when I write it.”

I was happy to be able to tell him that, indeed, I was not taking the words down.

His enthusiastic question has motivated me to find even more ways to use it effectively.

I have always known that children learn with confidence if they are given as much scaffolding as needed. The word wall is perfect for writing with children of all abilities.

Many children still need to look at the word wall to spell are instead of ar. Eventually these children will learn or at least tire of me pointing to are and reminding them to spell it correctly. They will become independent spellers.

Other children need the word wall very rarely. They have already put many words to memory, or the words are decodable and they have the key to unlock many English words.

Eventually my friend from this morning will know how to spell because independently–not because it was a word on his spelling list once upon a time. He’ll learn it because the expectations are high and the environment supports his learning. The best part, though, he’ll learn because he wants to!

Here’s a great resource for primary classes from Harcourt’s Storytown to make fun and effective use of the words on the word wall. (Intermediate grade activities here.)

A couple favorite activities we do to learn the words are chanting the spelling and the mind reader game.  My favorite use of the word wall, though, is for authentic writing, as my two boys and their testimonials show.

How do you use a word wall?

Photo by our photographer of the day, Eman.

Photo by our photographer of the day, Eman.

17/Feb/2016
by Denise Krebs
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Question from @EduQuinn

I started to answer in a tweet, but I soon realized it was going to take more words than fit. So here goes, Dave.

I would have to say it was not student engagement or lack of it that motivated me.

Actually, it was teacher engagement. When I became more involved, more engaged, more in love with learning, I wanted to share it all with my students.

When I became a connected educator, I began to love learning and teaching more than ever. I looked forward to coming in every morning and couldn’t wait to share something I was learning or see what my students were going to do next.

I wasn’t looking for how to help my students become more engaged.

Genius Hour just became a natural extension of what was beginning to happen in our learning. I became more of a learner, and I believe it became contagious.

Now, Genius Hour is definitely engaging and it helped with some students who were not engaged. However, engagement wasn’t a conscience decision in choosing Genius Hour.

I guess I discovered Genius Hour by keeping my eyes and ears open, as the chief learner in my classroom.

Just think what tomorrow will hold!

17/Jan/2016
by Denise Krebs
2 Comments

Jesus and Donald

Donald Trump says quite often that he is Presbyterian. Presbyterians, for centuries, have been followers of Jesus Christ. Here are just a handful of quotes from Jesus and Trump. I can’t help but notice the difference.

Jesus
God blesses those who are humble. Matthew 5:5

Donald
We don’t win anymore. We are going to win again. We are winners, not losers. We’re going to win so much, you’re going to beg me. You’re going to say, Mr. President, we’re so tired of winning, we can’t take it anymore. Please don’t win anymore…The American dream is dead, but we’re going to make it bigger and better and stronger than ever before. Donald Trump speech in Pensacola, Florida, January 13, 2016

Sorry losers and haters, but my I.Q. is one of the highest -and you all know it! Please don’t feel so stupid or insecure,it’s not your fault. Tweet by Donald Trump

Jesus
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Luke 6:27

Donald
When someone crosses you, my advice is ‘Get Even!’ That is not typical advice, but it is real life advice. If you do not get even, you are just a schmuck! When people wrong you, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it. I love getting even. Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life, by Donald J. Trump (2008)

Jesus
Do not be anxious about tomorrow. Matthew 5:34

Donald
I’d say ISIS wants to get you. Washington Post

Jesus
Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone. John 8:7

Donald
Sgt. Berdahl’s a dirty, rotten no-good traitor. I’d fly that son-of-a-bitch back and drop him right over the top. Donald Trump speech in Pensacola, Florida, January 13, 2016

Jesus
For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Mark 8:36

Donald
I mean, part of the beauty of me is that I’m very rich. Brainy Quotes

Jesus
You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Matthew 5:38-39

Donald – On trying to name his favorite Bible verse:

Well, I think many…You know when we get into the Bible I think many, so many. And “an eye for an eye,” you can almost say that. It’s not a particularly nice thing, but you know when you look at what’s happening to our country, I mean, you see what’s going on with our country how people are taking advantage of us and how they scoff at us and laugh at us and laugh in our face and they’re taking our jobs, they’re taking our money, they’re taking our — you know, they’re taking the health of our country. And we have to be very firm and we have to be very strong and we can learn a lot from the Bible, that I can tell you. NewsRadio WHAM 1180 interview, April 14, 2016

For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Jesus, Luke 6:45

17/Nov/2015
by Denise Krebs
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Exciting News

Yesterday was the release day for The Genius Hour Guidebook. It has been about a three-year journey. Gallit Zvi and I wrote it together in a Google Doc. There were several challenges and changes over those three years, but thanks to our editor, John Norton, the book finally found a home. A good strong home in Routledge’s Eye on Education and MiddleWeb, the two publishers that teamed up for their first collaborative project. We are so happy and excited. We actually haven’t even seen a copy yet! I may have to wait a while longer, as I am in Bahrain.

hotnewreleaseselemAnyway, it’s been really fun to participate in this release date! Watching the “Hot New Releases” on Amazon, having a guest post on MiddleWeb, being Routledge’s Authors of the Month, and being part of a new web page–GeniusHourGuide.org, which is a companion for The Genius Hour Guidebook. I feel a little giddy and proud.

My prayer is that the book will be helpful to many teachers who need support in starting Genius Hour in their classroom. I will look forward to hearing about it from you if you get a chance to read it!

Thanks to all of my friends and fellow teachers who will read it! But more importantly, thanks to all of you who inspired, and continue to inspire me, to learn about Genius Hour.

GHG

06/Sep/2015
by Denise Krebs
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Blog Posts for Day 3

My first students from Bahrain are in grade 2 now. I had them in Kindergarten, and now I get to be their teacher again.

It is only the third day of school, and we are already on a mission to be bloggers, contributing to the world. I’m not helping my students with their blog posts (unless they ask me for the proper spelling or for some specific help). You will see some mistakes in their writing, but it will be exciting to see their progress over the course of the year.

There will be a pearl of wisdom awarded to students when they write their first blog post all by themselves–with one or no errors, publishing it themselves. For now, I’m publishing them. And today I accidentally published this one here on my blog instead of on our Krebs Class Blog, but I like it, so I left it here.

By A17

I like the school wee read and write and wee all play on the recess

By B12

I like my school I like to write and read Al raja school is my best school and thanks for techers

11/Aug/2015
by Denise Krebs
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Rubbish Re-Creations

It’s that time during the summer when I can take a couple weeks to organize, clean, and create. I get neglected jobs finished, and I love this time just before school starts.

Today I was looking for another document on my computer and ran across this old booklet, Rubbish Re-Creations, I wrote in 1993. I just wanted to share it, not just because it has a few ideas with life left in them, but because I was delighted to see the #maker in me back in those years. I never called it that, of course, but some #maker values continue to guide me.

I want to save the earth, encourage and grow problem-solving, creativity and imagination in children and adults, and save money. Every year, I give students and families a list of things to save for our classroom, and this year I am excited to be leading an Imagination Chapter through the Imagination Foundation.

Here’s to making, creating, reducing and reusing (the two better Rs than recycyling!)

Rubbish Re-creations Grandville MI 1993

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