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Empowering Writers

Dea2 Dea Auray, Co-Founder of Empowering Writers shares some K12 writing philosophy with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Teaching students the skills they need to be great writers just doesn't happen without strategies for an organized game plan. Auray shares how you can empower your classroom of writers, as well as become a better teacher of writing across the grades and curriculum. In this year of Common Core changes, you can't afford to miss listening to this episode.

Listen to Empowering Writers (Embedded player requires Flash) :

MP3 Listening Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/323/show_2323443.mp3

iTunes Listening: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Education UnConferences

Education UnConferences shares what an UnConference is, as well as what one can do for a district. Hear about a specific UnConference for new teachers called ntcamp. Guests are Principal Patrick Larkin, Burlington High School, Burlington, Mass, Principal Eric Sheninger, New Milford High School, NJ, and Professor Andrew Marcinek Montgomery Co. Community College Instructional Technology Specialist. Listen to the discussion:

Shmoop Resources: Literature to Math

Shmoop1 Shmoop is an educator’s free resource dream. Oh yes, librarians love them, too. Shmoop has been around since 2008, and have racked up quite a few Internet awards. The name still makes me smile.

Its Learning Guides are digital, and you can search literature titles by number, alphabetical order, and author, too. Shakespeare has his own link, so he’d be happy about that—I’m sure. Other category breakdowns include Poetry, Best Sellers, Biography, U.S. History, Civics, Economics, and Music. It even has overviews in Spanish. All are accessible from an easy-to-use link menu.

Educators, who are PhD students from Stamford, Harvard and UC Berkeley, write Shmoop learning guides. They’re very well done, and fun, too. The resources are available as iPhone Apps, for Android devices, and eBook readers.

Note: Getting graduate students to do this type of work has been common practice elsewhere, especially in start-ups developed at universities. In Connecticut, UCONN has been quite successful launching businesses in this way.

What’s New Shmoop?

Shmoop Does the Math is a free online pre-algebra curriculum—just launched. Yep, the literature and humanities barrier has been breeched, and according to Ellen Siminoff, CEO of Shmoop, “We’ll do whatever it takes to make math understandable and fun for students.” My suspicion is that Shmoop will continue to expand its middle school curriculum. In my book, that’s good for educators and great for kids. Wonder if a line of Shmoop characters will be next!

Check out Shmoop at http://www.shmoop.com.

Twitter, Twitter ICT Stars

ICT Stars International

This is the first in a series of technology spotlights on educators who are making a difference. Today, I’m sharing 5 people I’ve watched work as I lurked on Twitter (Twit-lurking is acceptable behavior). They are International Information and Communication Technology (ICT) stars—with language expertise working toward Modern Foreign Language (MFL) classrooms, but for me, they exemplify educators using technology in their classroom, and sharing how it's done with educators and staff locally and globally.

Jose José Picardo is Head of Modern Foreign Languages at Nottingham High School, England, where he teaches Spanish and German. His blog about technology and education is an amazing work—just click an image and learn. It can be found at http://www.boxoftricks.net “I believe that the effective use of technology in our schools ensures that education remains relevant to our students in their increasingly digital lives,” says Picardo. He is also a consultant and speaks regularly about integrating new technologies into the curriculum in order to enhance both teaching and learning. José believes in taking advantage of available technology, and that it is—“an essential skill for teachers to acquire in an age where pupils’ learning expectations are changing radically.” 

IJ Isabelle Jones is a Head of Languages with a personality. She not only uses technology with her classes, but also presents and writes about it. Jones is a qualified translator and interpreter with 16 years of experience teaching French and Spanish. She has been a Head of Modern Foreign Languages, presently working at The Radclyffe School, Oldham, UK, and she has also taught French and Spanish in primary schools. Her experience and interests lie in how to use ICT to motivate students, social media and Continuing Professional Development (CPD). She promotes accelerated learning, English as a second language (EAL), as well as thinking skills with international dimensions. Jones has recently taken on the role of Regional Secondary Adviser for the new MFL secondary National Curriculum and has been leading her local Strategic Learning Network for Languages. Check her blog posts at http://isabellejones.blogspot.com (Note: Cancel the login to view Isabelle’s pages.) Conferences Show and Tell and Networking are specifically interesting posts to check.

Joe1 Joe Dale is a technology-sharing sage, and I’m not sure there’s anything that he can’t figure out. I’ve gone to his blog www.joedale.typepad.com many times to get my own technology lessons. I doubt there is a day that goes by that Joe doesn’t try to help an educator, stuck with tech, find a solution. Joe Dale is a Center for Innovative Learning Technologies (CILT) language Teaching Adviser, BBC languages consultant, Links into Languages trainer, eTwinning Ambassador, host of the TES MFL forum, former SSAT Languages Lead Practitioner, and regular conference speaker. Joe has appeared in the Education Guardian, helped to update the ICT elements of the QCA SoW for KS2 Primary French, written for the Times Educational Supplement (TES) ICT blog and CILT 14-19 website, and designed games for Heinemann's new course 'Expo'. Joe also starred on a Teachers TV program, and recently spoke about the Rose Review proposals on BBC Radio 4. His blog has been nominated for three Edublog Awards in the last three years. 

Asalt2 Amanda Salt is Head of Spanish in Grosvenor Grammar School, an 11-18 secondary school in Belfast.  “Pupils are embracing the opportunity to use their language in a more creative way and are keen to show their end product off to a wider audience,” says Salt. Amanda has discovered like so many educators that sharing ideas, writing about them and experimenting with classroom technology takes a bit of work, but is well worth the effort. Her reflections can be read at her blog http://amandasalt.blogspot.com.
All of Salt's students study French, German and Spanish from Form 1 (age 11-12) for two years, then they can choose to drop one if they want, and at the end of Form 3 (age 13-14) they can choose to do 1, 2 or 3 languages for General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). “The whole department is very active in their use of ICT although I think it's fair to say that I am the most pro-active,” says Salt. Amanda believes the use of ICT—“greatly encourages enthusiasm for subjects and this in turn leads to a desire to improve.”

MaryCoochPackt2 Mary Cooch, nicknamed Moodle Fairy, is a Moodle expert. She has taught languages for over 20 years in Preston, UK, and currently specializes in training and inspiring teachers in high schools and primary schools to use the Moodle Learning Management System (LMS) alongside another program called Hot Potatoes. An Moodle Certified Course Creator and Accredited Hot Potatoes trainer, Mary is the author of Moodle for Teaching 7-14 Year Olds, runs a Moodle blog http://www.moodleblog.org, and is also administrator of several geography teaching websites including Geography At the Movies. You can check out Mary’s recent interview by Open Source Schools at BETT 2010.

Sitting on the Education-Tech 50-yard line

Most of us don’t usually get to sit on the 50-yard line at a sporting event, but you can place yourself on the education-technology equivalent. One of the easiest ways today is by using Twitter, or other social media, as well as other ways that allow you to meet and interact with educators beyond your local environment. Finding the right people is a wonderful challenge, as well as a personal achievement—and it isn’t that difficult. Begin with a small group, or Professional Learning Network (PLN). The real message here is that you’ll meet, and participate in education learning and change beyond your school or district. If you’re teaching students to think globally—there's nothing better than a bit of modeling.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.