Technology Unit Plan

Technology Unit Plan

This is the unit plan for my 6th grade unit on the American Revolution.  I incorporated flipped lessons for each day of the unit.  Given how much time it takes to pull them together, I’m not sure if I would use one each day in my Social Studies class. I like that it provides more time for activities during the class so I would definitely give it a try for a unit.

Flipped Lesson on Boston Massacre

Flipped Lesson on Boston Massacre

I used knovio for my first attempt at a flipped lesson.  I thought that it was very user friendly.  I spent too much time re-recording certain slides and then realized that it sounded more natural to just let it go.  I had a lot of fun with this.  I’m not sure that I would use flipped lessons all the time but they’re definitely something that I would like to try to incorporate into my future classroom.

Brain Rules in the Classroom

Brain Rules in the Classroom

This week’s homework in ED554 included a review of John Medina’s Brain Rules.  I loved learning about these rules and thinking about how they can be applied to my future classroom.  The University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University conducted research with 10 classes of third graders on rule #5, Repeat to Remember.  This rule involves short term memory.  John Medina states that “the capacity of memory is initially less than 30 seconds.  If we don’t repeat the information, it disappears.”  He also states that we forget 90 percent of what we learn in a class within 30 days.  Much of what we learn disappears within the first few hours.  Effortful processing requires repetition and the space between repetitions is important.   Washington state educators checked out this rule as it applied to math facts in third grade.  Students were provided additional instruction within 120 minutes of the initial lesson.  Research showed that the time between the original instruction and repeat instruction matters. 

I especially liked a comment made by one of the teachers in the video.  She said that anything that she can do to understand how kids learn helps her to become a better teacher.  This is what I love about Medina’s brain rules.  If I can understand how my students brains work and make the connection between brain research and education, I’ll be a better teacher (hopefully) and my students will benefit.  For example, brain rule #1 is “Exercise boosts brain power.”  During my student teaching, I observed this in the classroom.  Students would lose focus if they sat for too long in the classroom.  Even a short break to stand up and “get the wiggles out” made a difference in attention spans and focus.  Brain rule #4 is “We don’t pay attention to boring things.”  That’s a great reminder to use hands on, relevant activities in my future classroom.  The kids in my classroom where I student taught gave me an advice book that included “make it fun.”  Kids who are engaged in meaningful activities pay attention.   Check out the other brain rules at and think about how you can apply them to your classroom.


Is a squirrel chewing on my internet?

One of the Ted Talks that I watched for my ED554 class was Andrew Blum’s What is the Internet Really?  Mr. Blum starts his talk with a photo of a “You are not connected to the internet” screen.  I could relate to this talk because 10 days ago, I saw the same dreaded “you are not connected to the internet” screen on my laptop.  His call to a repair technician led to the discovery that a squirrel was chewing on his internet, or at least the outside lines that represent the physical side of his internet.  My 10 days of waiting for repair technicians, trips to Best Buy to purchase a router and then a modem, finally led to a similar discovery.  Today I was told that my outside line is the problem and have yet another 1-3 day wait for the line repair.  I have had to confront the physical side of my internet at a time when I really need it to finish my last two graduate classes.  I decided it would be worth listening to the rest of Mr. Blum’s talk to find out just what the heck is on the other side of my laptop that suddenly is not working.

Mr. Blum talks about how the world inside our screens seems to have no physical image.  He likened it to an amorphous blog or a silly black box.  He wanted to find out more about the physical process of the internet.  He spent two years visiting places where networks physically connect, from a building in New York to ports around the world.  He noted the physical aspects of the global phenomenon – huge undersea cables that connect networks around the world.  He discussed ships having to go out to sea with grappling hooks to raise cables from the ocean bottom to repair them and showed photos of cable installations.  Finally he noted that “wired people should know something about wires”.  We should know what it is that physically connects us.

Overall I thought that this was an informative talk about the physical side of the internet.  I haven’t had to think much about the physical side of the net beyond my laptop until the last 10 days.  Now I have a better understanding of how the physical side of it works as well as how it connects us globally.  I just hope that the physical side of mine is repaired soon!!

Toolzeit and Flipped Learning Podcasts

I chose to review a Toolzeit podcast about a Google app called Field Trip.  This particular podcast included both audio and video.  The presenters discussed the pros and cons of the app, how it could be used by educators, and then rated the app.  I thought I would prefer a podcast with video but I found the constantly changing colored background to be distracting.  I decided to choose another podcast on flipped learning that only included audio.  I was also easily distracted with this one.  I wasn’t a fan of the NPR-like promotions and found myself not paying attention to it.  

Based on these two examples alone, I’m not sure that I am a fan of podcasts.   However, I remembered that my husband, who was a Chief Learning Officer, loved the use of them in the adult classroom.  I went back and read an article that he co-authored a few years ago on Chinese podcasts.  Since he was such a fan, I’ve decided that there must be more to podcasts than the two that I reviewed.  I also realize that I may not have chosen two of the better podcasts on the site.  I’m hopeful that I’ll have a better feeling for them after this week’s ED554 class.  I would be willing to try them in the classroom.

Flipped Classrooms

“The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture” by Jackie Gerstein provides a good overview of flipped classrooms.  Some of the blogs that I have read  only present the positive features of flipping your classroom.  Ms. Gerstein presents both the advantages and disadvantages in her blog.  She notes that flipping classrooms places control of interactions in the hands of the students.  It gives them the ability to go back and reread information that they don’t understand and can provide reinforcement of the learning.  She also notes that educators may not know what to do with the time in the classroom that was previously spent on lectures.  It requires planning to come up with hands on, authentic classroom experiences that take the place of classroom lectures and support the “at home” learning.  She portrays the flipped classroom as a cycle of learning and illustrates that cycle for the reader.  I particularly liked the examples that she provided in the learner-generated and educator-suggested phases of this cycle.  I love the idea of spending more time on hands on learning experiences in my classroom.  I’m interested in giving this a try in my technology integrated unit plan and in my future classroom.