Monday, October 29, 2012

Teaching Channel

This past weekend I attended the Fall CUE (Computer Using Educators) conference in the Bay Area. One of the sessions I participated in was on the topic of the Common Core Standards. One of the presenters mentioned an excellent online resource to help you and the teachers at your school prepare for the shift to the Common Core: Teaching Channel. The website is full of video lessons and tutorials along with the teacher handouts and resources mentioned in each video. In essence, it is a free professional development library totally devoted to the Common Core Standards.

If you click on any video, you are immediately taken to a separate page where you can view the lesson or tutorial of your choice. Along with the video player, each video lists the lesson objective, length, questions to consider, and the Common Core Standard related to the resource. Below the video player you will find any supporting materials mentioned and a discussion thread about the video. Currently users are not allowed to download videos, but you can share them via popular social networks, embed them on other websites, or send a link to the video through email.

One of the best features of Teaching Channel is the ability to sort the videos by subject, grade, and topic. As a middle school English Language Arts teacher, I was able to find fifty videos related to my subject and grade level. The videos range in length from two minutes for quick lesson tips or up to thirty minutes for larger topics.

Teaching Channel is a great resource for department collaboration time. The video lessons and tutorials are not presented in a "this-is-how-to-teach-it-correctly" tone, but instead are starters for discussion and fuel for your own ideas. If you are looking for a way to learn more about the Common Core or want to view lessons in action, visit this feature and content rich online professional development resource.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Quizlet: Creating Amazing Flashcards

Quizlet is a flashcard site that makes it easy to study any subject for free. This web tool allows a user to create a flashcard set for any subject and immediately begin studying terms and definitions. The power of Quizlet is how easy it is to create a flashcard set and the features available once the set is created.

To begin with, you don't even have to create an account to preview Quizlet's features. On the front page of the website you can test drive its features using one of the sample sets. The most basic mode allows the user to quickly flip through the terms and definitions and begin learning the content. Each set gives you the option of viewing the term first, or both sides at the same time if you are running through the cards for the first time.

But it is the other features that make Quizlet such a powerful tool for teachers and students. The first feature is a "Speller" mode, which allows the user to listen to a term and then type in the correct spelling. Next is the "Test' mode which assesses the users knowledge of the set with fill in the blank, multiple choice, or True and False formats. "Learn" mode is similar to "Speller" mode without the audio pronunciation. Finally, there are two game modes called "Scatter" and "Space Race." The first game scatters the terms and definitions across the screen and the user has to drag the correct term to its corresponding definition. The second game is a timed race where the user has to type in the term before the definition moves across the screen. The amazing thing is that all of these modes are available as soon as a set is created.

Creating a flashcard set is dead simple. Type the term in the first box and Quizlet will even offer to provide a list of definitions to choose from. Flashcard sets can be created in a variety of different languages and foreign language study is one of the top uses of the website. If you are studying a very common topic, such as SAT vocabulary prep, you search for sets created by other users. Frequently other users have already created a set for the topic that the user needs to master.

Quizlet has a few advanced features. You can add images to a flashcard set by searching through the free images available on the site, or you can upload your own images by signing up for a Plus account for fifteen dollars a year. Quizlet also allows you to create different classes and share flashcard sets with particular groups of students. User created sets can also be embedded on a website or blog.

I have used Quizlet for many years and I am constantly finding new uses for it. I have included a sample set I created for my students. So sign up for a free account and have fun creating flashcard sets for you or your students.