Ideas & Innovations

from the DISD Curriculum & Instruction Department, Dec 2016

DISD's students have the advantage of the single greatest resource for success - YOU, their teachers! Because of you, our students are thinking, reading, writing, talking, asking, exploring, designing, engaging, constructing, competing,...smiling, laughing and LEARNING!

Below are some of the ways we see YOUR impact as teachers. Keep up the great work!

Strategies for Increasing Student Focus & Engagement

First-Five-Minutes Focusing Activities

As teachers, we know that the first five minutes of instructional time are crucial. Establishing a daily routine that includes a variety of Focusing Activities allows us to minimize distractions, maintain smooth transitions, and maximize instructional time. Also, using Focusing Activities at the beginning of class helps set the academic expectations and learning environment in your classroom.

Here are three different ideas to begin class with focusing activities of varying levels of advanced teacher-prep work.

1. Looping Slide Deck - High level of advanced prep work.

Think of the running advertisements and previews when you go to the movies. Use this same concept to create a focusing activity for your lesson with interesting images, ideas, questions, etc. Prepare a PowerPoint slide deck of 5-10 slides featuring content-related material for the day's lesson. You can post multiple choice or open ended response questions, quotes from the day's reading, fill-in-the-blank sentences, images, etc. You can also include reminders for upcoming events, due dates, field trips or other announcements. This activity has been spotted in use at DHS as teachers post reminders about daily routines, homework procedures and the day's learning objective.

2. Ordering Exercise - Medium level of advanced prep work.

If you have a list of processes or procedures that must be completed in a certain order, you might want to try this Focusing Activity. Post the list of steps or procedures on the screen, making sure the list is out of order. As students enter, ask them to start putting the list in correct sequence. You can use this strategy for for almost any kind of list or categories.

3. Drawing Exercise - Low level of advanced prep work.

Prompt your students to draw a process, create a diagram, or illustrate a main point. A drawing might include creating a mind-map of the main points of this week's lesson, a graph set of data points, or student interpretations of what is happening in a story. Or, on the other hand, you can display an existing illustration or image and ask students to relate it to your course material.

Each of these Focusing Activities can be a great way for students to begin conversations with each other or write about the material they are "previewing" before the lesson. Each activity supports critical thinking and higher student engagement - and isn't that our instructional goal?

adapted from B. Honeycutt's "Three Focusing Activities to Engage Students in the First Five Minutes of Class", Best of the 2016 Teaching professor Conference.

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Does Your Lesson Plan include Search?

When is the last time you were in a social situation that someone did not look something up? Looking things up is part of the culture. One way that technology changes what we do in the classroom is to take advantage of Search.

Lesson Planning

Include a section in your lesson plan that indicates what things the students will look up. Be intentional, what are you planning on having students search?

If It Can Be Searched, it Should Be

When I first started teaching asking the class “What is the quadratic formula” would have returned a lot of blank stares. Now, within seconds students would be able to raise their hand to tell me even if they have never heard of it before.

Instead of “The quadratic formula is” ask “What is the quadratic formula?”

Small Groups

One way to start a lesson is to have students work in small groups to look up questions that can be looked up. Ask students questions they can discuss in a small group. This starts the lesson with students thinking about the topic. Shifting to whole class instruction can be more around critical thinking since students have familiarity with some of the basic vocabulary and instructions.

Teach Like Google and YouTube exist.

from Alice Keeler, "Teacher Tech"

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Non-Stress Success - Teacher Advice 101

For the next few issues, we will give 3-4 tips for easy to implement ideas that yield high-benefit returns for both students and teachers. We hope that this advice increases your classroom success while it also decreases your classroom stress!

#1. Be Firm, Fair, and Consistent. Everyday.

#2. Build Relationships - get to know your students. Ask them about their weekend, have them journal about something fun. Greet them with a smile and friendly words when they enter your room and acknowledge them as they exit.

#3. Be Positive. Studies have shown that punitive policies for students are ineffective motivation; particularly for at-risk students. Encourage and support your students, smile and invest time in each individual. Look for the good.

#4. Build Students Up. Focus on the good things students are doing in your class. Acknowledge hard work and effort and give praise and recognition to those who deserve it.

#5. Have Fun! Remember why you chose this profession and enjoy your time with the kiddos!

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Need Holiday Help?

Just in Time! G Suite Holiday Tools

1. Santa Tracker

Play games with elves in jetpacks, rolling

gumballs, sleighs powered by rockets and

Google Cardboard on the Android app.

Once the 24th arrives, follow Santa in his

journey around the world.

Play on the web >

Google Play:

2. Google Flights

Use Google Flights to book your travel.

See and compare flight costs and options for the best deals.

Learn more >

3. Holiday Slides

Use Google Slides for some holiday fun! Tell stories, share intros, learn about adjectives, and more... all while learning how to collaborate, use the order, colors, and other features in Slides. See examples by @preimers below.

Make your copy and share!

Halloween Jack >

Grateful Turkey >

Holiday Sheep >

4. You Tube Capture

Movies on the go! Record, edit and share your holiday videos to YouTube.

> iTunes:

5. Movies and Collages- Google Photos

Easily create your holiday collages and movies from your mobile app. Open the app > Assistant > Select Collage or Movie > Select your photos

> iTunes:

> Google Play:

6. Special Delivery- VR Story

Just in time for Santa’s big night, Google Spotlight Stories gives you a 360-degree view of the big man in action. Special Delivery, an original short film is available on YouTube and can be viewed in 360 on Google Cardboard.

> iTunes

> Android:

> YouTube:

7. Chrome Webstore Goodies

MyWeb New Tab Holiday

Holiday Feeling Countdown

Holiday Snowflake Theme

Holiday Theme

Zombie Holiday

Christmas Snow

Countdown to Fav Holidays

8. Snapseed

Retouch, crop and add frames to your holiday pix!

> iTunes:

> Google Play:

9. Plan Your Holiday Vacation

Google Trips makes exploring the world easier by organizing essential info in one place and making it available offline.

> iTunes:

> Google Play:

> Google Play:

10. Holidays with Art and Culture

> Christmas through the Post

> British Music Collection

> A Christmas Carol

from the EdTechTeam

Thank you for your gifts of love, leadership and learning. Happy Holidays from the DISD C&I Department!

We'd LOVE to hear from you!

Click this link to access our feedback form. Give us your suggestions for topics to include next time. Want to know more about strategies or practices you would like to try? Looking for something new to add variety?

Share your ideas or ask to see what others are doing.

No question is too tough, no suggestion too lame.