Got An Itch? Try my SCRATCH Program!

On my first day at the conference, I built a program that quizzes students on division concepts.“>Check it out!

Here’s the presenter’s notes, as well as the shared resources from other attendees.

Teaching as Art: Sparking Curiosity and Facilitating the Hero’s Journey

This is the 3rd session I’ve sat in today at the 2015 Illinois Computing Educators Conference.  Ramsey Musallam is the presenter.

Educator vs. Entertainer…which one are we, or is there a choice?  As educators, we often put information before application. We need to flip those two, and draw a two-way arrow between them.  It’s a constant exchange of application and information. In movies with great teachers (Good Will Hunting, The Karate Kid), the teacher does not appear until 25 minutes into the movie or greater.  We do not need to come first for learning to take place.  Think of ways to get students to develop questions before lecture/teaching takes place.  Issuing challenges is one method of doing this.  And…you do not have to provide the answer!  It’s ok to leave things open-ended.  That adds curiosity.

Cognitive load theory of multimedia learning focuses on motivation and cognitive focus.  It helps teachers to find ways to organize task to maximize learning.  It explores ways to balance curiosity and information.  Withholding just the right amount of information can peak curiosity and increase learning.

Use Google Docs to allow students to anonymously evaluate your class.

Global Collaboration: 2nd Workshop of Day 2

Before I begin, I want to share that ICE has created Google Docs that are being updated all day with notes from the presenters as well as attendees from the many sessions each day.  Be sure to check them out!

Global Collaboration deals with our favorite C-word: collaboration.  We’re always trying to find ways to work together, be it teacher-to-teacher, student-to-student, or a combination of ways.  The purposes for collaboration are varied, as our its outcomes.  Begin the process by reflecting on what your desired outcome is.  Discuss what it means to collaborate, and foster opportunities for students to collaborate within the classroom before going global.  This includes establishing student-created classroom norms.  Use of circling, an aspect of restorative justice, can be useful in collaborative reflecting as it relates to student behavior after a collaborative moment.

We don’t necessarily need more technology in our classrooms.  Let’s explore ways to use what me do have more efficiently and effectively.  Don’t always feel like you as the teacher have to be the expert.  It is perfectly o.k. to let the students use technology they are most comfortable with and knowledgeable of.

Tackk allows students to collaborate in the creation of a single-page website.

Animoto for educators is another collaborative animation tool.

Kidblog is great for student collaboration on a classroom blog.

Looking for ways to get started?  Check out Projects by Jen, The Global Read Aloud, The Traveling Rhinos, The Digital Human Library, Skype in the Classroom, a hashtag collaboration on Twitter.

What can collaboration be used for?

  • An open-ended question
  • Discussion around a common topic
  • A challenge
  • A presentation
  • A contest
  • A community
  • Create your own way

Build your own network of administrators and teachers.  There’s tons of existing groups on social media.  Share ideas/opportunities for collaboration.  Be vulnerable yourself.  Try the activities you want your students to try, and share your successes and failures.

Day 4 – Motivating Students with Engaging Tasks

Today is the last day of the conference.  My workshop today is Engaging Students with Engaging Tasks. Mike Muir is the presenter.

The great thing about today’s workshop is that technology is not a requirement.

Here’s the link to the resources we’re using today.  Scroll down to Motivating Students with Engaging Tasks.

P.S.  If you teach middle school, Mike is a member of  the Association for Middle Level Education.  Membership is FREE.  Consider joining.

5 Resources for Every Teacher

From Jamie Kanas’s workshop at the 2014 ICE Conference

#5: Padlet – post-it notes for digital collaboraration.

#4: – graphic organizers.

#3: Vocabulary, Spelling City – spelling and vocabulary review.

#2: Weebly – classroom website templates and hosting.

#1: Tagxedo – word clouds.


Visit these and share in “comments” how you plan to incorporate these in your classrooms.

Why Teach?

When I initially created this post, its purpose was to solicit feedback from teachers to include in on open letter to pre-service and first-year teachers.  I still encourage that feedback:  

However, as I was scrolling through Facebook today, I ran across this Washington Post article/editorial.  Many can relate to the teacher’s frustrations, which prompts me to ask another question beyond “why teach?”  Why should teachers remain in the field?  Please e-mail your encouragement for teachers to:

My Students Need Your Help!

My Students Need Your Help!

What do you remember about 6th grade Social Studies.  Chances are, if you’re not a history buff, you don’t remember much.  Why?  Because if the lessons were not made to be exciting and relevant, we remember just what we need to in order to past test and quizzes, and then forget it.

Scholastic News helps makes Social Studies exciting and relevant.  It’s an excellent resource that is aligned to Common Core standards.  However, it’s a resource my school can no longer afford due to budget cuts.  As a result, our subscription has been cancelled.

I’ve created a DonorsChoose proposal to obtain the magazine again.  I now need donors.  Won’t you consider donating?  Will you share it with your friends and family so they can donate?

Help bring Social Studies to life for my students.


Mrs. Richardson

Leadership in Action: Kimberly Henderson

In 2012, I completed the requirements for a General Administrative endorsement to be added to my Illinois Teaching Certificate.  The program, through National-Louis University, focused its coursework around the 7-domains of teacher leadership.

When I finished my program, I sought out various people with administrative licenses to mentor me as I tried to decide what area(s) I would like to utilize my new license/degree in.  One of the people I was led to was Kimberly Henderson.

Kimberly Henderson is the principal of Mollison Elementary School on the South Side of Chicago.  I follow Kimberly on Facebook and her posts about the wonderful activities that occur at Mollison always inspire me.

I plan to interview Principal Henderson in the very near future to share some of the fabulous programs Mollison has that are helping to met the rigor of Common Core, but today, I want to share this story:

“…My 1st interaction with [the student] was when I suspended her in SEPTEMBER for throwing a rock and cursing at a teacher. After keeping her in my office and talking to her and her dad for about an hour, I learned that her mom died when she was about 4. I checked in on her regularly when she returned, and asked her teachers if her attitude was improving. I told her if I kept getting [good] reports, I would take her with me to my salon for a day of beauty together. Today, I kept my promise. I will continue to bring her once a month, but now it’s based on improving her grades. I look forward to our future salon days together…”

Kudos to Kimberly Henderson for not only advocating for student learning and the profession, but for being a living example of leadership in action!