Everything Teachers Need to Know about Project Based Learning- 6 Must Read Books

June 5, 2015
According to BIE, project based learning is “an instructional approach built upon authentic learning activities that engage student interest and motivation. These activities are designed to answer a question or solve a problem and generally reflect the types of learning and work people do in the everyday world outside the classroom.”In its essence , project based learning is all about engaging learners in meaningful and goal-oriented learning activities.

Technology is proved to be an effective means of creating and enhancing a PBL-based culture in and outside class. We have already featured a wide variety of iPad and Android apps that are ideal for a PBL classroom. Today, we are grounding you in the theoretical as well as practical part of project based learning. We have selected for you some great books on PBL designed particularly for teachers and educators.  These reads will definitely help you construct an informed understanding of what PB is all about and guide you towards a better implementation of its ethos in your teaching.

1-  Thinking Through Project-Based Learning: Guiding Deeper Inquiry by Jane I. Krauss (Author), Suzanne K. Boss (Author)

'This timely and practical book shows how to implement academically-rich classroom projects that teach the all-important skill of inquiry.'

2- Project Based Learning (PBL) Starter Kit by John Larmer  (Author), David Ross (Author), John R. Mergendollar (Author)

'A practical guide to Project Based Learning. Designed for middle and high school teachers, the PBL Starter Kit contains down-to-earth, classroom tested advice, including six sample projects, step-by-step guidance, tips from experienced practitioners, planning tools and online resources plus project-ready rubrics and handouts.'

'This exciting new book describes how PBL fosters 21st century skills and innovative thinking. The author provides instructional strategies, assessment methods, and detailed instruction on how to: Design projects for various content areas across all grade levels; Integrate technology throughout the learning process; Use Khan Academy, webquests, wikis, and more to foster deeper conceptual learning; Build social learning networks; Differentiate instruction by scaffolding supports for the learning process'

4- Setting the Standard for Project Based Learning: A Proven Approach to Rigorous Classroom Instruction by Buck Institute for Education (Author), John Larmer (Author), John Mergendoller (Author), Suzie Boss (Author)

'The authors leaders at the respected Buck Institute for Education take readers through the step-by-step process of how to create, implement, and assess PBL using a classroom-tested framework. Also included are chapters for school leaders on implementing PBL systemwide and the use of PBL in informal settings.'

5- Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards by Bob Lenz (Author), Justin Wells (Author), Sally Kingston (Author)

'It's not what students know, but what they do with what they know that is important
Schools are changing in response to this reality, and in Transforming Schools Using Project-Based Learning, Performance Assessment, and Common Core Standards, Bob Lenz, Justin Wells, and Sally Kingston draw on the example of the Envision Education schools, as well as other leading schools around the country, to show how the concept of deeper learning can meet the need for students who are both college and career ready and engaged in their own education.'

'Deepen learning experiences in every classroom. Project-based learning (PBL) has the potential to fully engage students of the digital age, changing student-teacher dynamics and giving students greater influence and agency in their learning. Discover user-friendly strategies for implementing PBL to equip students with essential 21st century skills, strengthen their problem-solving abilities, and prepare them for college and careers.'

Two Handy Google Docs Rubrics for Evaluating Educational Apps

July 5, 2015
Here are two  interestingly simple app evaluation rubric you can use with your students to assess the educational apps you want to use in your class.  The first one is a rubric we learned through Kathy Schlock’s iPad4teaching page. This is basically a Google sheets template available for free in Drive Template Gallery. The second one is a template we discovered through running a search query with the key phrase 'app evaluation' in Template Gallery. These are probably the only two app evaluation templates available in the Gallery so far.

1-App Evaluation
The rubric features several criteria for assessing apps. These include: the intuitivity of the app’s interface, content sharing options within the app, privacy related issues with the app’s settings, quality of multimedia, accessibility/inaccessibility of inappropriate content through the app, flexibility in use within the app and many more.

2- iPad App Evaluation
This is another handy and down-to-earth simple document to help you assess educational apps. It is particularly useful for ‘groups to try, report, recommend individual apps for student/teacher use’.

For a list of some excellent app evaluation rubrics and resources, Kathy Schrock has this wonderful page packed full of everything you need. Enjoy

Good Collaborative Tools to Help Students with Group Projects

July 4, 2015
Working on a group project? Or organizing your students for group projects? Here are some tools that can manage the collaboration process for everyone.

1- GroupMap 
Create your own digital graphic organizers easily. Capture student response and give feedback on the group's response. One to try!

2- Slack 
Made by a cofounder of Flickr, this popular team communication tool can be used by groups of any size.

3- GroupMe 
 Host free group chats over your phone using this mobile app.

4- Papaly 
 Store all of the URLs your group is using on this website and share them easily.

5- Digizen 
 Learn how to be a good digital citizen, which can be especially important for young students.

Want more? Check out these shelves of tools.

6- Collaborative Tools 
This is curated by Masters in Teaching & Learning student Cassandra Johnson.
This one is curated by professional development facilitator Joseph Page.

By : Mike Lee, Co-founder of edshelf

Google Offers A Free Online Computational Thinking Course for Educators

July 4, 2015
Several students confound computational thinking with computer science when, in fact, the two refers to two different concepts. Computer science is the corpus of knowledge and studies that deal with computation and the ways computers function. Computational thinking is a cognitive process that involves the use of different skills and ways of thinking to solve computational problems and to write  computer programs.

As a method of thinking, computational thinking  is not restricted solely to computer applications but applies to any other discipline or content area that requires thinking and problem solving. In this sense, computational thinking is ‘a problem solving process that includes a number of characteristics and dispositions. Students who learn CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between academic subjects, as well as between life inside and outside of the classroom.’

In this regard, Google in collaboration with representatives from leading educational and scientific platforms have put together this free online course entitled 'Computational Thinking for Educators' introducing teachers to the importance of computational thinking. The course is particularly intended for educators working with students between the ages of 13 and 18 who are interested in enhancing their teaching with creative thinking and problem solving.’

Watch the video below to learn more about Computational Thinking for Educators.

New- You Can Now Create Custom Maps in Google Drive

July 4, 2015
A couple of days ago, Google announced that Google Apps users can now access Google My Maps right from their Google Drive account. This means that you can seamlessly create, manage and share your custom maps directly from your Drive. To locate My Maps in your Drive, Click on ’New’ then select ‘more’ and click on ‘ Google My Maps’ as shown in the screenshot below.

My Maps by Google allows you to create custom maps to share and publish on the web. You can easily visualize and map data, search places to add to your map, draw lines and shapes, add colors, marker icons and labels,  and customize your maps the way you want. As a teacher, you can use My Maps for a variety of educational purposes from giving directions to students and parents for next field trip to organizing virtual trips to world museums and art exhibition.

Some advanced features provided by My Maps include: creating  layers to group various parts of your map enabling you to choose the ones you want to display or hide. And if you have data stored somewhere else, you can import it in the form of a CSV, TSV, KML, or XLSX file or as a sheet from Google Drive. We are planning to post a detailed guide featuring a wide variety of resources and tutorials on how to use Google My Maps in your class. Stay tuned.

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Citelighter- An Indispensable Tool for Academics and Student Researchers

June 3, 2015
Cite lighter is a very good web tool for student researchers, teachers and academics. It combines both the features of an academic search engine and an organizational framework for helping students with their research papers writing. Citeligther allows you to easily search for facts and information to back your arguments and it automatically cites your sources using different citation styles: MLA, APA, and Chicago).

To start using Citelighter, you will need to sign up. Once registered you can then download Citelighter toolbar to help you manage and organize your materials. Using the different functionalities of your toolbar, you will be able to start on writing your own paper. You can search for and capture important information to add to your paper, Citelighter takes care of the bibliograhic work for you. Watch the video below to learn more about how Citelighter works and what you can do with it. Cite lighter offers both a free basic account with limited features and a premium account with more advanced features.

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