Archive for November, 2007

A Speech Final/Portfolio

I’m doing a portfolio in my Speech/Oral Presentations class. The students are redoing three of the speeches from during the semester. I specify the categories (outcomes) and they select which ones speeches within those categories. For each of the major categories they have done two speeches such as two informational speeches. I did ask  students which of their persuasion speeches they would use and why.  Their reasoning demonstrated that they understand what makes a good speech and that they know how to improve.  They will give an improved version of each speech. They will print out the original speech, the revision speech, and reflect on their changes. It is my expectation that their speeches will be stellar.  They have noted their areas of self-improvements throughout the semester. We have done peer-review of the speeches and suggested techniques to improve them. The students  can add these speeches to their final portfolio for the college.  I plan  on recording some to use as exemplars next semester.

What type final are you giving in your course and how does it show the students’ depth of learning?

Portfolios Think Alouds

I was listening to my students as they decided what to put in their end of the semester portfolio. I had given them the outcomes (standards) and they could select from any of the work they had done within each outcome. I listened as one student thought through her five previously done “bad news” letters. She decided that one was too simple (That’s just an job refusal; I used the book’s pattern.) She explained that another was a letter that gave the results of overspending so it was a list of procedures to reduce costs. She settled on the letter that was the most challenging for her to write, a person giving the bad news that he could not speak at a certain event. She looked at her original letter that I had put plus signs (+) to indicate a part was done well and minus “–” or comments for improvements. She looked back at the book description of “bad news” letters. She carefully revised her letter to incorporate my feedback and to produce an exemplary letter. (I never said I won’t do it, I snuck around it.). While listening to her, I learned more about the learning experiences I had given and about her thinking.

Concept Maps – Yours or the Students’ Learning

Some high school teachers were sharing the success of using concept maps in their classes. These teachers had created their concept maps in Inspiration. They were proud that their students could complete the concept maps.

I wonder if they had their students create their own concept map from scratch. Do they allow students to select which type concept map they will use to display their learning? Do they allow their students the growth opportunity to decide what to include on the map? Do they allow students to work through the creation of the concept map as they learn information or concepts over time? Do they allow students to own their own learning instead of doing a “fill-in-the-blank” type of teacher given concept map?

What experiences have you had with your students creating their own concept maps?

Changing the student grade paradigm

I taught an English honors class in high school where the constant question was “What is my grade?” The students were much more focused on their grades than on their learning.

How do we help students to focus on their learning and not their grades?  Even if we give them their grades for each homework, test, and project as soon as possible though an online program such as Blackboard, they still are focused on the grade.  To change the paradigm, we can use standards or goals checklists with the “grades” of AP -advanced,  P-proficient, B-basic, and S-starting. We  word process the checklist and give them a copy either physically or digitally.  Students can check off their goals as they achieve them. They can see their progression. We can conference with them about their progress and what they need to close the learning gap. These students know their “grades”.

How do help students to see their progress in learning goals?

Transforming an Icebreaker into a Standards-Based Formative Pre-Assessment



I have modified the usual Find Someone icebreaker as a way of pre-assessing who knows what about the topic or has had experiences with various aspects of a course or a unit. For the course of Oral Presentations, I look at the course outcomes and then create a list of the major performance tasks that they will do in the class. These tasks become the who has… statements. Students interview each other to find someone who has….. Not only does the asking student write down the name of the person who has done the activity but the asker also writes down what she or he has specifically done. I collect the icebreakers as a quick class analysis. I begin to plan what specific activities or suggestions will help the students to close the gap between where they are and the desired outcome.

Mini-version of Oral Presentations Standards-Based Find-Someone

Persuaded/convinced another person to do something or think in a different way Taught a small group how to do something Presented new information to a small group of people (2-5)

Discussed an issue with a large group of people (10+) who disagreed with your point of view

Create a Find Someone Who for your next unit to canvass what your students know and what areas they need assistance with. By structuring it around your standard(s) for that unit, you can learn much about the present status of your students and begin to determine what you can do to help them grow in the standard.

Harry Grover Tuttle, 2007



Simulation Possibilities For Education


Someone I know is responsible for a weapons simulation that mimics the real life experience of shooting fire arms. The simulation gun fires virtual bullets; the simulation gun weighs the same as the real weapon and even has the exact kickback that the real weapon has. The shooters can find out if they are proficient in their weapon. Weapons people can practice their shooting regardless of the weather. They do not waste millions of dollars of ammunition.

How do we put our students in simulations that allow them to experience a real-life situation with all of its complex variables? How do have our students take on tasks that enable them to combine many skills to solve a problem? Or do we present them with simple stripped down problems that are not real-world? We can find a real simulation like those in Social Studies or we can begin to create ones based on real-life problems in our community, state, nation or world.

How do you engage students in powerful simulations that promote higher level thinking of many skills?

Using iGoogle


I’ve tried using many browser pages as my home page/starting page for when my browser opens.  They have been disappointing in their inflexibility.  iGoogle is very flexible and has a multitude of gadgets that you can use.

You can click on the “Add stuff” on the upper right side of the screen.  I would suggest that instead of scrolling through all the possible  gadgets, you do a search for your favorite topic such as calendar, maps, clock, etc. – see the upper right side.  Once you find something you want, you click on Add it now. When you go back to iGoogle home, you’ll see it in the upper left. You can click on the top bar of any  gadget to move it around- drag and drop. I’ve added a to-do list, calendar, timer, gmail (to mention a few) so that I can use this as my portal.  If you try out a gadget and it does not help you to be more efficient or productive, you can click on the X to remove it.  You can even add a theme to the top of your page. There are so many gadgets available that you can truly use iGoogle as your starting page.

If find any great educational gadgets, share them.

RSS Education with Technology

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