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Vivid Vocabulary, Common Core, & Tech Integration Tools

Research shows that vocabulary acquisition plays a huge role in student learning, therefore requires attention in the classroom. With the shifts of the Common Core, students need to spend time learning both Tier 2 and Tier 3 words in a variety of ways.


Reading more text exposes students to more words and phrases. Students learn vocabulary in multiple contexts through multiple connections. By interacting with vocabulary, students absorb the word's meaning and learn to appropriately use it in a variety of contexts (Common Core Appendix A).

Below are a few ways to promote active engagement while interacting with vocabulary.

Increasing word choice or Tier 2 words with word clouds

Word Clouds are fantastic for checking word choice and targeting Tier 2 words. Students can copy and paste their written work into a word cloud maker such as Wordle or Tagul. Words used most frequently are larger than words used less often.
Students can check their word choice easily with this tool. If the…

Voting for Edublog Awards

It's an honor to announce four of our AJUSD members and several of those I nominated have been shortlisted as finalists for several Edublog Awards.
Voting is open until 11:59 pm (USA Eastern Standard Time) on Sunday, December 9th.
You can vote once a day, for as many categories as you want.Only one vote will count per day, per IP address. For those at AJUSD, that means only one vote counts from the district network, so please vote from home.Here's how to vote: 1) Go to the Edublog Awards Voting Page. 2) Use the drop down menu to select your category and choice. Then press vote.

Below are the voting categories and blogs of our AJUSD people and friends. Take some time to explore their blogs and what they contribute to education.

Best Class Blog: Fraher's Class and Friends(AJUSD teacher); Mrs. Yollis' Class Blog; 4km and 4kj; Mr. Salsich's Class Blog; and Mr. Avery's Classroom Blog.Best Student Blog: Thinking About(AJUSD student) and BB's Awesome Blog.Best Li…

Nominations for 2012 Edublogs Awards

I love awards because it's a chance to recognize and share those who inspire me. Likewise, I hear from others their list of educators and students who inspire them, and therefore expand my PLN.

Thank you, Edublogs, for providing this opportunity to acknowledge amazing educators around the globe, and for raising the awareness of the awesome impact social media and web 2.0 can have on our learning and our learners.

Here are my nominations for 2012: 

Best individual blog:Dare to Care by Denise Krebs

Denise is a passionate educator who I learn so much from. Her blog, Dare to Care, focuses on the 6 Cs she puts in her tag line, "Creating, Contributing, Communicating, Connecting, Collaborating & Curating." Her genuine love for learning is apparent in all she does.

Best group blog: 1 to 1 Schools
1 to 1 Schools is a group blog for one-to-one learning. Each contributor takes a slightly different perspective, which creates an all-star team for one-to-one implementation as w…

Effective Learning: Rigor, Engagement, Student-Centered Task, & Tech

What is effective learning?

Having a common understanding of effective learning is key. The research done by the Peer-Ed Team shows that “school-wide improvement in student achievement occurs only in schools where teachers and administrators have explicitly created a shared norm about effective learning."

Effective student learning includes:
critical and creative thinking; a student-centered task, that is clearly aligned with the objectives and a matching assessment that looks for evidence of learning from the task;communication of learning;collaboration (this does not need to be the entire time);an authentic, engaging problem;empowering and engaging students in their learning, thereby enabling them to own their learning;technology integration that enhances learning (and teaching) throughout the lesson;creating meaning by connecting to what they already know (a constructivist approach);receiving feedback;and, reflection. Some questions and discussions to ponder about effective …

Common Core: Addressing Text Complexity through Digital Resources

The Internet is a key resource for text complexity. We are in a day and age where information and resources are at our fingertips.

I frequently see people use the Internet to look up recipes, movie listings, and news; however, I still don't see it as a natural source for engaging rigorous learning in the classroom. Why? Maybe it's a matter of understanding what text complexity is really asking us, or how to create rigorous and deeper engaging tasks associated with the text.

Those of us who are transitioning to Common Core standards know that text complexity will affect the rigor in our classrooms. The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) issued a letter informing us they will increase the text complexity as well as higher Lexile levels on the current AIMS test this year to help transition to the PARCC assessment. This means we need to understand what text complexity is and how to address it right now, regardless of what grade/subject we teach.

What is Text Complexity?

Text com…

Tips for iPads in Classroom

We are starting our second year of having iPads in our elementary classrooms, our Title I CCJH classrooms, and some of our AJHS classrooms. We've created a list of tips for managing the equipment in our classrooms.


Tip 1: Team decisions regarding equity
Will you break the cart up across your grade level? If so, who will host the cart in their room?Or, will you rotate the cart from class to class? If so, will you do it on a daily schedule or by time slots during the day?Whatever you choose, revisit those choices every quarter or every month. After reflecting, you may come up with a better solution, or decide to try a different system, or a hybrid of both. Be flexible and work together as a team. 
Tip 2: Marry the devices with the cart, and return them to their homes
Each of our carts has its own MacBook Air computers dedicated to your iPads. Once you place the iPads in the cart, it'll sync with what's on the MacBook Air using Apple Configurator.Make sure you only use the cart…

My #ISTE12 Reflection, Part 2

In my last post, I shared some of the big takeaways I had from #ISTE12. This is a continuation of that post, with the focus on these questions:
What had the most impact on me at ISTE, and what memories will be most prominent from that week? What new goals would I set as a result of #ISTE12?
6. While ISTE was filled with amazing training, there was something unique about ISTE that I've never experienced from any other conference, and that's the continued learning once the official sessions were over. The continued learning occured during conversations with others.

Hanging out at the Bloggers' Cafe was one of my favorites because of the amazing conversations with others.

My goal: I intend on hanging out virtually with some of my blogging buddies.

7. I appreciated the resources from the Common Core and PBL poster session by Diane Midness, iEARN-USA with Losira Okelo and BIE's David Ross

iEARN's projects were aligned with Common Core and sorted by grades, and they'…

My #ISTE12 Reflection, Part 1

What had the most impact on me this past week, and what memories will be most prominent from this week? What new goals will I set as a result of this week? Here they are, not in any particular order.

1. Educational Blogging: Flattening Classroom Walls by Linda Yollis and Kathleen Morris I am always inspired and in awe of these two women. They have made such an impact on me, so to see them present together live was absolutely incredible, especially since this week was the first time they had met face to face! Their stellar session was filled with powerful tips, incredible resources, while providing powerful examples of what can evolve out of blogging.

To highlight a few tips:
Start small. Blogging is a journey.Use your content objectives to focus your posts. This way blogging doesn't become an add-on to try to fit in, but rather part of your literacy block.Make connections with other classes by leaving quality comments. Be genuine, and go back and visit those classes again. QuadBlog…