Making Civil War videos like Ken Burns

Narrating WW Isaac Robbins’ letters home

making Civil War videos like Ken BurnsKen Burns’ epic nine-part documentary on The U.S. Civil War ranks among the most powerful teaching videos available to explain the unexplainable to middle schoolers.

At Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, Vermont, students in grades 7 and 8 had the opportunity for making Civil War videos like Ken Burns when a trove of authentic Civil War letters turned up at their school one day…

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Separate Science in New Zealand

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonKia ora! You may (or may not) have noticed that the semi-regularly occurring Science Saturdays column has been off the radar for a little bit. This was due to my inability to keep up with my writing duties while travelling in New Zealand. I was there with a group of UVM graduate students, travelling and visiting schools. I visited five different public schools and two of their brand new charter schools. One thing that really struck me was the model of how they incorporate science into their middle schools, which is what I would like to share with you today. I think seeing how other systems do things can help us look at our own practices and assumptions with fresh eyes. Continue reading

Digital Display: add Credly badges to Google Sites

100 years of Girl Scouts can’t be wrong

Add Credly badges to Google SitesDigital badges have potential to serve as both markers of achievement and as a vehicle for those of us who assess students’ learning for a living to think differently about our current practices.

Many students do the work of examining their own learning through collecting artifacts, reflecting on evidence of learning, and displaying the results of that learning on their digital portfolios.  As Act 77 in Vermont encourages us to open multiple avenues for learning opportunities, it also demands of us multiple ways for students to capture, reflect upon, and display their achievements.

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Storing digital badges for portfolios

What are some mechanisms for keeping track of digital credentials?

storing digital badgesAs we work with schools who are piloting digital badge programs on the BadgeOS platform, we need to start thinking through what some options are for students to store, keep track of, and display the digital credentials they earn.

What does it look like to use to create and manage a portfolio of digital badges? How does this differ from other Mozilla Backpack solutions?

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3 tools for interactive timelines

Find new uses for data visualization

3 tools for interactive timelinesFree, online timeline tools allow students to break free of the traditional two-dimensional timeline and create highly customizable multimedia projects to showcase research, serve as digital portfolios, manage projects, guide gallery walks or form study guides.

And yes, they can also be used for book reports.

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Encouraging Conversations with EdPuzzle

Make active video viewing a social activity

encouraging conversations with EdPuzzle

encouraging conversations with EdPuzzle

Edpuzzle opens up the possibility for both students and teachers to encourage a two-way exchange, a conversation, if you will, during video viewing.  Any video can be uploaded into Edpuzzle including your own, and they make it convenient to do so with this comprehensive side bar access to multiple video-based resources.

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A flipped classroom in Thailand

Comparing achievement in an economics classroom

flipped classroom in ThailandThe flipped classroom is a new teaching method that reverses the traditional homework model. In the flipped classroom, students watch video as homework and then use valuable class time to complete assignments when teachers are available to provide one-on-one assistance and discuss deeper into a concept.

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Technology in the math classroom

technology in the classroom

A 1958 illustration of “the push-button classroom” by Radebaugh. (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

When we first started our work with the Tarrant Institute I was hesitant. I am a math teacher; unless using innovative technology in the classroom means a graphing calculator I had no idea where to start. Everything was new to me, and I have to admit, I was overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of how I could embrace technology in my room.

With the support of Tarrant and our technology specialist I took baby steps.

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Active video viewing

active video viewing

 Encourage critical thinking & discussion with note-taking

I have been excited lately with the potential of using in blended classrooms to support active participation in video viewing. is a web-based tool that allows users to take notes while watching a video.  Here is an example of some notes I took while watching  Robert Duke’s video “Why Students Don’t Learn What We Think We Teach

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