As you sit at your desk, staring at your tablet and the array of lessons coloring your virtual planner, trying to figure out “What next?” for the week’s lessons you feel…tired. Not just tired – exhausted, frustrated, and stressed. You’re this close to walking to the Principal’s office and turning in your classroom keys. You’re not alone. The first year of teaching can be HARD. No amount of teacher PDs, staff meetings, and conference goodies can seem to make it better. The IDEAS ARE AWESOME but it can be overwhelming. What really is the focus?
The consensus of many educators is that it is essential that our students must have 21st century skills that will help them in the future job market. In a practical sense, these skills will help them thrive in an environment that is technologically advancing daily. What are some of these 21st century skills?
- Critical Thinking involves problem-solving, which is vital to improvement and progress and builds on students’ cognitive development (from knowledge to evaluation).
- Collaboration, or working with others, helps students to learn to make compromises and reach better outcomes to problems posed.
- Communication is an important skill because students need to be able to convey their ideas with others who have different personality types and thinking ability.
- Creativity encourages thinking unconventionally, or ‘out-of-the-box’, so that students adapt to different situations versus sticking to traditional ways of doing things.
- Flexibility requires that although students have developed a plan, things happen, and they need to know how to adapt and when to make changes.
- Information Literacy is a skill that students need in order to recognize fact from fiction when presented with data.
- Initiative is one of the more challenging skills to master because it necessitates that students start projects and plans, incorporating strategies learned, and practice this skill often.
- Productivity is getting things done in a set amount of time, but with the many distractions that abound, focusing on tasks can be a challenge and this skill is crucial for a future in the work force.
- Social Skills can be strengthened during collaborative group activities because etiquette, manners, and conversation (initiating, participating in, sustaining) are necessary to make progress.
- Technology Literacy seems like an obvious skill, but the more students are taught how to use different forms of technology, the more adept they will be with performing various tasks.
Considering the importance of these skills, the time needed to plan a unit and/or lessons integrating these skills, and the actual time needed to support these skills, it can seem like there isn’t a planner large enough to squeeze everything in. But what if there was a tool that could be used to combine many of these skills at once? Qwizdom recognizes the need to incorporate technology while integrating many of the skills previously described. Both the Qwizdom Student Response System and Qwizdom OKTOPUS software help students build on these 21st century skills through their collaboration features, subject-specific lessons, and gaming components. Here’s an example of what a typical day can be with Qwizdom:
|8:30 – 8:45 A.M.||Attendance and Homework check using Answer Key in self-paced mode|
|8:45 – 9:30 A.M.||Language Arts using Qwizdom/OKTOPUS lessons such as “Main Idea — Implied vs. Stated” or “Parts of Speech”|
|9:30 – 10:15 A.M.||Learning Centers using GameZones; pull small groups for reteach using Qwizdom/OKTOPUS lessons and/or OKTOPUS subject-specific tools|
|10:15 – 10:35 A.M.||Recess|
|10:35 – 10:45 A.M.||Transition activity using GameZones — game or Teaching Tool|
|10:45 – 11:30 A.M.||Math using Qwizdom/OKTOPUS lessons such as “Fractions on a Number Line” or “Addition Word Problems”|
|11:30 – 12:15 P.M.||Lunch and recess|
|12:15 – 12:30 P.M.||K.B.A.R. = Kick Back and Read|
|12:30 – 1:30 P.M.||Social Studies or Science using Qwizdom/OKTOPUS lessons such as “Communities and Government” or “Water Cycle”|
|1:30 – 2:15 P.M.||Computer Lab or Library|
|2:15 – 3:00 P.M.||Music or P.E.|
|3:00 – 3:20 P.M.||Closing and dismissal|
For any lesson using the Qwizdom SRS, you can present activities that include questions for your students to answer using a remote, a.k.a. clicker, or the QVR app. You can also pose original questions during a lesson to better gauge student understanding and address any challenges immediately. This encourages flexibility and adaptability for both you and your students (i.e., Where should I go from here? What skill needs more time for understanding? How can I understand this better? Is there another way to look at this?).
For lessons using OKTOPUS software, students can collaborate using laptops or tablets with the Qwizdom Notes+ App, sharing out annotations as you present. The versatility of an interactive whiteboard allows you to provide a dynamic learning experience for everyone. For example, use Glass Mode in OKTOPUS to explore a website or view a video, saving annotations for later use. Or, while introducing new vocabulary, use Word Vault to create and pose simple drag-drop/matching questions. Lesson questions can be answered via a polling function providing you and your students with valuable feedback.
Both Qwizdom SRS and OKTOPUS software include game features to boost motivation and increase positive collaboration, communication, and social skills when played in teams. When setting up a presentation, simply select a game type — Baseball, Fast Track, or Mission to Mars.
If you have an interactive display with OKTOPUS, the GameZones section includes games and Teaching Tools for direct and guided instruction, or to use independently at learning centers. For example, the “Teaching Base Ten” activity allows you to create different numbers using base-ten blocks, helping students understand place value. Students can take the initiative to choose activities that will help them improve their understanding of newly acquired concepts and skills. This can motivate them to take responsibility for their learning progress, leading to better outcomes. For more on how GameZones is a great addition to creating and using learning centers, read Learning Centers Made Easy.
With greater incorporation of technology, students become more engaged in learning, and your role changes from lecturer to coach, encourager, and supporter. You may even discover that the stress that overwhelmed you in the beginning has shifted to the anticipation of watching your students take their learning progress in their own hands, becoming more and more adept at the 21st century skills essential for success.
With our quickly changing world, technology has become a major part of our children’s day. Whether at home, school, or even during extracurricular activities, our children are interacting with some type of technology such as smart phones, laptops, and interactive boards. These interactions tend to mostly engage their mental ability, but is that all they need? To help our children be balanced and healthy individuals, we need to also engage them in physical activities, thus the need for National Child Health Day. Child Health Day is observed the first Monday in October and this year, it’s today – October 7, 2019.
To help you observe this day with your students, we are providing FREE activities to use with your interactive displays. Activities include lessons and questions focused on exercise and physical health, keeping healthy, and nutrition. Click on the link to get your activities: Child Health Day.
Use OKTOPUS annotation and collaboration software to present activities, which can give you insight in what your students are understanding via immediate feedback. Redirect, reteach, or review the lessons after today to keep your students thinking about their physical activity and the need to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle.
“You can’t educate a child who isn’t healthy, and you can’t keep a child healthy who isn’t educated.” –
Explore and experience OKTOPUS today, starting with your free lessons for National Child Health Day. Go to www.qwizdomoktopus.com.
Walk into most elementary classrooms, and you will probably find learning centers strategically placed in the environment. Why learning centers? They are set up to reinforce concepts and skills, engage students in collaboration, as well as provide them with a sense of autonomy and responsibility over their learning. Combine this with learning tech, such as interactive displays, and the possibilities for increased progress are enhanced.
My earliest memories of school were the learning centers in my kindergarten class. We rotated between puzzles, kitchen area, guided reading with the teacher, playing with blocks, class library, and coloring pages. I LOVED learning center time! I had no idea that each center’s activity had a purpose. For example, the puzzles were used to help us develop problem-solving and memory skills (“Where does this piece go?”, “Didn’t I see a piece that could go here?”), the kitchen area reinforced real-life skills such as preparing a meal and tidying up, and the library gave us the opportunity to choose what to read in a comfortable space. So many skills in seemingly simple centers.
Most likely from your own experiences as a student and teacher, learning centers have multiple purposes and goals. Some of these may include:
- Providing differentiated learning experiences for the varied levels (i.e. of learner, English-language ability, learning style, etc.) in the classroom
- Introducing, reinforcing, and extending concepts and skills that students are expected to master over the course of the year
- Giving students multiple opportunities to work with others, including collaboration tasks with a common goal
- Building self-confidence by allowing students to work on activities individually and at their own pace
- Offering students opportunities to actively participate in their learning versus a “sit and listen”-style of learning where engagement is minimal
With the emphasis on today’s learners becoming 21st century proficient, the use of technology has become commonplace in many classrooms. Combining the innovation of interactive touch panels and the importance of learning centers, GameZones provides learning activities in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies that can be played in up to four different areas of a board. You can assign up to four different games, with any number of players per game. A typical learning rotation using GameZones could look like this:
- Social Studies: States Memory Game – There is a choice of three different activities:
- Matching the state flag and shape with its name
- Matching the state shape with its capital
- Matching the state flag with the state shape
- Math: Math Race Story Problems – One to four students “race” to answer short word problems by selecting the correct answer from four choices.
- Language Arts: Adverb Balloons – There is a choice of five different adverbs to identify:
- How Adverbs
- When Adverbs
- How often Adverbs
- Where Adverbs
- How much Adverbs
- Science: Water Cycle – Label the graphic to show the different stages of the water cycle.
Of course, the flexibility of GameZones makes it perfect for any classroom setting. A game can be used to help introduce, reinforce, and reteach a new concept or skill. They can be played independently, with a partner or in small groups, or directed by a paraprofessional to provide supplemental instruction according to students’ needs. GameZones supports the value of differentiated instruction for the different levels and capabilities in a classroom. This video explains how:
Create new “learning center” memories for your students by incorporating innovative collaboration tech, which includes games that support and enhance what students are learning, encourage cooperation and responsibility, and boost active learning and engagement. Get your free trial of OKTOPUS annotation and collaboration software with GameZones and explore the potential for your classroom. Learn more by going to www.qwizdomoktopus.com.
Change can, at times, be a challenge especially if we’ve become used to doing things a certain way or using a specific program or tool for years. But change can also lead to a “reinvigoration” of strategies and techniques we’ve grown accustomed to. Remember the first time you used an interactive whiteboard? You may have been unsure if you would learn to use it successfully and quickly, but you got the hang of it and have experienced the benefits of using interactive boards for classroom instruction. Over time, you have accumulated a valuable treasure trove of interactive lessons and have an action plan for their uses this school year. Did you know that OKTOPUS software for interactive boards makes it easy for you to use your prized materials, including SMART Notebook and Promethean ActivInspire activities? Incorporate your favorite lessons with OKTOPUS annotation tools and games for a truly interactive learning experience.
To import your favorite interactive lessons within OKTOPUS is as easy as 1-2-3:
No need to recreate the wheel! Use your existing interactive lessons to engage your students and keep them focused. OKTOPUS converts the file contents for use within our application and supports annotation, shapes, lines, text, and images.
Watch this short video to see how simple it can be:
Of course, besides using your tried and true favorites, OKTOPUS also has hundreds of activities and lessons in Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies that are available for your use. Easily annotate over premade OKTOPUS lessons, imported lessons, or any document, image, web app, or video using Glass Mode. Use the Voting Tool for immediate feedback and quickly view what needs to be retaught or reviewed. OKTOPUS collaboration software also comes with GameZones, a multi-touch and multi-player games feature. Students can play individually or as teams on up to four different games at the same time! To learn more about what OKTOPUS can do, go to www.qwizdomoktopus.com.
So, if the thought of having to learn something new sounds like it would take too much time (and possibly tax your nerves), no worries because OKTOPUS makes the process of using your favorite lessons simple. Who knows? Maybe you’ll discover that OKTOPUS is the perfect package – subject-specific lessons, annotation tools, polling features, and learning games.
“Have you started planning yet?”
This is a common question heard on many a school campus about this time of year. Yet, planning for the new school year involves more than laying out the units and lessons for the year. Planning also involves the strategies that will be used to effectively explain the concepts and skills students need to learn (dare I say, master?) by the end of the school year. Of course, the ultimate goal is that your students have learned enough of the concepts and skills required that they can apply them independently in life. So, what can you do to help? What strategies have proven effective?
Effective Teaching Strategies
“Education is what survives when what has been learned has been forgotten.” — BF Skinner
- Using visual aids such as pictures, models, and graphs are powerful support tools for learners of different abilities and levels. Students manipulate objects and tools to deepen their understanding of the why’s and how’s of a new concept or skill. Through animation and videos, they can also visualize the learning experience.
- Differentiating the learning to meet the needs of your students who may have unique learning needs and/or are at different levels in their learning. Providing students choice in how they can reinforce the learning of new concepts, as well as giving them time to explore and experience new learning, can boost their confidence and be willing to try new ways of learning.
- Having students explain their thinking, the process and strategies they took to work through a problem, and how they felt approaching the problem. This can be done as a think-pair-share, in small groups, or as a class, possibly incorporating interactive white boards to keep everyone actively engaged in the explanation.
- Providing feedback to your students helps them see what they are doing right and what they need to work on. Through feedback, they will have a clearer understanding of missteps or misunderstandings that they will improve on for the next time. Feedback also gives you an opportunity to plan for next steps with instruction and/or review.
- Incorporating games can do wonders for boosting the motivation to learn, as well as increasing active participation in the instruction. Games can be as a simple as a “race” (or timed test) to more complex, with multiple levels, similar to what many students already experience with games they play at home.
“Our job is to teach the students we have. Not the ones we would like to have. Not the ones we used to have. Those we have right now. All of them.” – Dr. Kevin Maxwell
You may find yourself inundated with products and resources that can help make your teaching experience simpler and more efficient. After all, you are limited in the number of instructional minutes in the day so one product that can help you incorporate the effective strategies described is optimal. Also, finding a resource that speaks to your students’ differing needs can be a challenge but there are easy-to-use products on the market that that can support your instructional goals. One such resource is OKTOPUS GameZones for interactive displays. GameZones is a multi-touch, multi-player collaborative learning software that includes Teacher Tools for introducing, scaffolding, or reviewing concepts and skills such as counting money, addition and subtraction facts, and reading sight words. One such teacher tool is “Teaching Time” wherein students learn and practice how to read time with different intervals using an analog clock. A follow-up game that can be introduced as a whole class activity, then played in teams or individually, is “Time” in which students match the time to the analog clock. Watch the video to learn more.
“Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” – George Couros
Your role as teacher does not change – one who helps students learn and apply new concepts and skills through classroom instruction and supplemental activities. But, the tools and resources you use can change and adapt to your students’ individual abilities. Why not try a tool that not only helps support your role, but can boost the confidence, participation, and learning progress of your students? To learn more about GameZones, or any of the Qwizdom OKTOPUS features, go to www.qwizdomoktopus.com.
The summer is quickly coming to an end, and this means professional development days! The excitement of setting up your classrooms, designing your reading corner (Thank you, Pinterest!), color-coding your lesson plans by subject (oh, that could just be me), and making sure you have all the supplies ready for your students is priority. But, at the beginning of every school year is a list of PD sessions and workshops that are mandatory and supposed to help you become a “better” teacher. The goal of professional development is ultimately for students to benefit from new instructional strategies, which all educators want to see. But considering the limited time that teachers have available to prepare for the new year, it’s especially important that all PD offerings provide effective instruction as efficiently as possible.
First, let’s agree on what effective PD should include:
- focus on content that includes strategies for using specialized curriculum or instructional tools within classroom contexts, providing multiple access points for students in language arts, mathematics, and science.
- active learning. The strongest way to support active learning in the classroom is to practice and model the strategies and methods you want your students to use. To better meet the needs of diverse learners, it’s important to understand the why’s and how’s of hands-on, collaborative, “get-your-hands-dirty” learning for all.
- expert support and coaching that focuses on individual needs. Dealing with an increasingly diverse student population requires consistent and long-term support for each teacher, at every level of their professional career.
More and more PD companies are offering on-demand, self-paced online training that supports active learning via practical application of new methods and techniques. With the push for fostering a 21st century classroom environment, digital tools are becoming the norm for delivering instruction, and a teacher’s ability to reinforce tech concepts and skills for their students is dependent on their own comfort with technology.
OKTOPUS is a simple-to-use teaching and learning package, with annotation and collaboration tools, premade lessons, and learning games that can engage even the most reticent learner. But with limited planning time, how can you learn to effectively incorporate this software? OKTOPUS offers online training modules to help you successfully integrate technology, boost your confidence with using tech in the classroom, and improve learning outcomes.
Why worry about squeezing in professional development when OKTOPUS provides effective PD on your time? The OKTOPUS Educator online PD is focused on content you will use with your students, incorporates active learning, and includes expert coaching and support. To learn more, go to www.qwizdomoktopus.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Collaboration divides the task and multiplies the success.”
With the right attitude, motivation, and tools, members of a company can discuss matters that affect and produce growth, increase productivity while fostering unity, and measure success. How has your company worked to support and enhance collaboration among stakeholders?
To enhance company collaboration, tech tools are used to communicate and exchange ideas, disseminate information to key members and gauge customer interest and satisfaction. Qwizdom OKTOPUS is a collaboration and annotation tool that allows any team member to create, capture, and share ideas. Benefits of collaboration include:
- sharing new discoveries, fresh ideas, and vital information that could inspire the team (“brainstorming”)
- making new connections with those that could positively impact the company’s direction
- learning opportunities caused by different experiences, personalities, strengths, and talents
- solving problems and working through difficult challenges with others who may have a different view or take on the issues
OKTOPUS is a simple-to-use software that can quickly switch between documents, PDFs, websites, videos, and more. Collaborate with team members near and far (even across oceans) to measure the understanding of new policies and resolutions, provide training on new products, strategies, and techniques, and survey consumers on the overall satisfaction of company products. To learn more about how your company can benefit from OKTOPUS, watch this video: OKTOPUS Annotation Software.
Your company will not only see but feel the value of collaborating to reach common goals, creating a sense of purpose. Each member of the team will also experience true collaboration with OKTOPUS. This easy-to-use collaboration tool will support company growth and cohesiveness, raising the possibility of business increase and profitability. Qwizdom knows that collaboration takes place in multiple environments so try OKTOPUS and watch your success multiply.
It’s the end of the school year and testing is OVER! That’s right…O-V-E-R, OVER. So, now what? For most, this time of the year means cleaning out desks, taking down bulletin boards, and trying to keep your students focused on something education-related. With just a couple of weeks left, how about wrapping up the academic year with free OKTOPUS lessons? The lessons are ready to present on your interactive board and are perfect for both collaboration and 1:1 interaction.
Grades K-2 Wrap-Up:
The K-2 Wrap-Up Math and Language Arts lessons in this package touch on many of the concepts and skills taught throughout the year. Many are aligned to learning standards that you’ve most likely focused on this year:
Click here to access the free lesson package: K-2 Wrap Up
Grades 3-5 Wrap-Up:
The Gr 3-5 Wrap-Up has lessons that deal with Language Arts, Math, and Science topics and skills you have worked hard to tackle during the year. Many are aligned to learning standards that you’ve most likely focused on:
Click here to access the free lesson package: Gr 3-5 Wrap Up
For increased review and work towards mastery, try OKTOPUS GameZones. You or your students can choose up to four different games from different subjects to play as a class, with a partner, or individually. Click and watch this video — GameZones – to learn how this feature works with your interactive panel.
So, as another year draws to a close, keep the learning going with OKTOPUS premade lessons. You can generate data reports for each lesson, including viewing data by question, and see how far your students have come. Go into the summer break knowing that your students progressed and are ready for the next school year. Enjoy!
Choose the best answer to the following question:
On a Wednesday afternoon, a math teacher asks his class of 6th graders, “Who wants to play a game?” What is the most likely response from the class of students?
- A few students raise their hands while the rest of the class shrugs their shoulders with indifference.
- About half the class raise their hands enthusiastically, and the other half of the class nod their heads in resignation.
- About half the class raise their hands straight up, a fourth of the class raise their hands with some enthusiasm, and the rest of the class shrug with indifference.
- The entire class raise their hands so high that their bodies are practically ejected from their chairs, all while yelling, “Me! Me!”
- None of the above. You teach a classroom of robots.
Playing games in the classroom has often been seen as a reward for great behavior or completing classwork on time, a keep-‘em-busy activity for rainy days inside, or as a time-filler on a Friday afternoon when the weekend is this close. How do you use games in the classroom? Do you use games?
Incorporating games in an educational context can be tricky, especially when considering video games. How will the game work with a class of 30 students? Will the younger students understand how to play? What is the time investment in using video games to learn a new concept or skill? Is it even necessary to do so?
There are the adventurous few who use video games as an integral part of their teaching day and have found success in doing so. These educators find that there are incredible benefits to incorporating game play, such as:
- Increased student motivation and engagement
- Greater variety of active learning opportunities
- Immediate feedback reinforces learning
- Repeated practice with new skills for mastery
But, are all video games conducive to learning? Besides research (search “What games do 5th grade math teachers use?”) and reading through user reviews, it is important that you play the video games yourself. As you do, reflect on the following questions:
- What is the goal of the game?
- Is the game simple to understand?
- What is the purpose of the game?
- Are there different levels to the game?
- Which students would benefit from the game?
- Will students get feedback on their game play?
- Is this a game my students would want to play?
You may have other questions depending on the makeup of your class, such as language and maturity level of the game, game support that students can independently access (i.e. a Help link or FAQs page for general game play information), and student accessibility during the school day (i.e. Can the video game only be played as a whole class? Can it be played in small groups on one device?). It is clear that the use of a game played on an interactive board, laptop, or tablet needs more research than simply, “What looks fun and is free?”
There are features of a video game that can answer many of the questions you may have about a game, especially its relationship to effective learning:*
- Motivation: Does the game motivate students because they are able to work through and solve a problem? Once the problem is solved, are there more to solve so that they feel a level of mastery? Playing a game that motivates a student to continue through learning and advancement is certainly a plus.
- Competition: Is there a degree of healthy competition involved? Gamers tend to enjoy the competitive piece of video games and this can be appealing in the classroom setting.
While, yes, there are many aspects of a video game to consider before including it as a learning resource, it could ultimately be the change needed to engage even the most reticent learner. Again, a simple search of the internet can lead you to research articles and white papers on the benefits of game play for learning, including those that explain how this can be done successfully.
Read more about how games can be incorporated into a traditional multi-step lesson plan in the blog Learn Using Games for Interactive Whiteboards. If you’re still unsure, a number of education-focused companies offer free trials of software that include learning games, such as Qwizdom OKTOPUS. OKTOPUS has Math and Language Arts games as a collaboration feature of their software. Watch this video to learn more:
OKTOPUS also has the GameZones app for interactive boards, with subject-specific games for practicing concepts and skills learned in the classroom. To learn more, watch this video to learn more:
The next time you ask your class, “Who wants to play a game?” do so with the assurance that the games you’ve chosen are the ones they need to boost their confidence, increase active learning, support collaboration with peers, and motivate them to keep trying. Who knows? You just might see 100% hands up in the air.
*Gee, James Paul (August, 2006). Are video games good for learning? [article]. Retrieved from http://cmslive.curriculum.edu.au/leader/default.asp?id=16866&issueID=10696