October 11, 2020

4 Effective Instructional Strategies That You Can Use This Week

Effective instructional strategies withstand the test of time, and even some learned in my college years remain useful. While I can be quite sure that Dr. Green never imagined how far technology would advance or that students would need to continue learning during a pandemic, her course introduced me to the ways students experience the world and learn. The best of these strategies involve giving students time to manipulate and process new information.

1. Graphic Organizers 

Graphic organizers range from Venn diagrams to timelines and can help students make connections and remember information. I once asked my class to complete a rather simple writing assignment. A student asked, "But where is our organizer?" Even though I neglected to provide a writing organizer with this lesson, the students clearly knew that this tool helped them do their best work.


2. Movement

Research shows that kinesthetic activities have many benefits to learning. When it comes to movement activities, we tend to think about preschool and early elementary age students. However, movement activities continue to benefit learners at any level. One way to add movement to a lesson is to incorporate an educational brain break during a lesson. For example, in the middle of a geometry lesson, you could play Simon Says Geometry. Students use their hands and arms to show right angles, acute angles, obtuse angles, parallel lines, intersecting lines, points, lines, line segments, and rays. If you try this game with your kiddos, remember to throw in some sillies and enjoy the laughter! 


3. The Anticipatory Set 

An anticipatory set is a set of prompts that get students ready to learn. The goal is to activate prior knowledge, build background, or make connections. An anticipatory set can be set up as a gallery walk, mystery bags, or simply a series of questions. Considered to be somewhat time-consuming, their importance is sometimes overlooked. Perhaps adding an anticipatory set to one lesson per day or a couple per week to build your library of this effective strategy would prevent overwhelm. 


4. Sorting Activities 


Young children sort physical objects by color, shape, size, etc. School-age students can sort pictures, words, phrases, and sentences into appropriate categories as they process information and build upon prior knowledge.  Sorting activities can be used for individual assignments, partner work, small group activities, or assessments. 



The art of teaching includes the selection of instructional strategies to use in each lesson. Have you incorporated any of these strategies into your lessons recently? 

October 3, 2020

5 Virtual Field Trips Worth Checking Out

My first virtual field trip with my class was with a geologist at the University of Maine. Virtual field trips were just beginning to emerge, and as part of my district's technology grant, I was lucky enough to be a pioneer on the virtual playground. This early experience took an IT tech to set up on the school's best TV located in our media room. Even in this low tech set up, the kids and I were amazed that we could connect and interact live with someone in another part of the country and become "certified" rock hounds. 

With amazing tech advances, standards with greater rigor, and increasing opportunities, finding just the right virtual experiences for students can be overwhelming. Unlike those earlier days when there were only a few hundred virtual field trips floating around, now teachers can choose experiences that match standards in any content area. 

If you are looking to add virtual field trips or experiences to your lessons, the sites listed below may be worth a look. To save you time, the links should take you directly to the virtual experience page of each site. As always, make sure to preview the tours and webinars to ensure that they are appropriate for your students!


1. Yellowstone National Park

Topics include animals, winter adaptations, ecology, geysers, volcanoes, and the night sky to name a few.

https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/education-videos.htm


2. The National Zoo

Live virtual events are free and require advanced sign-up. Topics include habitats, life cycles, and a zoo walk. 

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/education/virtual-programs-calendar

Check out the live animal cams! Why is that panda always sleeping and where is the elephant hiding?

https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams


3. Ellis Island

This virtual experience is run by Scholastic and is prerecorded. Park rangers explain the history of Ellis Island and take questions from classrooms. The virtual tour may help you meet the immigration standards in your curriculum.

https://www.nps.gov/elis/learn/education/classrooms/virtual-learning.htm


4. Museum of the American Revolution

Allow plenty of time for this one! Rather than simply viewing old stuff, this museum's virtual (and in-person) experience revolves around 4 questions that will encourage you and your students to ponder The American Revolution on a deeper level.

https://museumvirtualtour.org/


5. Access Mars

Don't skip the intro!

https://accessmars.withgoogle.com/


Please note that 4th Grade Frenzy is not affiliated with any of the websites or companies listed above. They are noted for informational and educational purposes to be used at your discretion. 


What virtual experiences have you tried in your classroom? Feel free to share your best recommendations in the comments below!