Gadgets and Goals: Fluency, Accuracy and Confidence in Reading

Download Outline as of 10/20/2013, subject to change CUEFall2013Zykanov

Use digital voice recorders to build reading fluency and accuracy.  This fun and practical project raises student confidence and independence. Student work samples and reflections will be shared.

Image      Continue reading

Miss Nelda the Architect Visits our Class

Subtitle: Geometry in the Real World

Draftsperson works on a drawingGeometric figures and concepts such as lines, line segments, rays, right angles, and parallel are difficult for my fourth grade students to recall.  Students have difficulty with measurement problems. They use measurement tools incorrectly and do not have a basic sense of centimeters, inches, meters, feet, yards.   I wanted my students to get more experience with real measurement, and develop a sense of why it is important to measure correctly in the real world.  I decided to invite my sister, Nelda Braver, who is a professional architect, to visit our class.  She generously agreed to come show my students some of her work, and some of the tools she used back before computers were used to generate design drawings. Continue reading

An Experiment in Flipping a Lesson

An experiment in flipping a math lesson.  Most of my students would not be able to access flipped content at home, but they would be able to preview and review class lessons at school on our classroom computers or in the computer lab.

It’s worth a little test drive! Continue reading

Game Based Learning – Is it only “Drill and Kill”?

Games are one way to provide math practice to students.  I have used math games for about sixteen years with students.  In the past, these games were applications installed on our computers, but today, there are many games available on the Internet that will allow your students a chance to practice their math skills.  In the past, I have cringed at some games  either because they were boring drill and kill games, or because they were so flashy that students enjoyed getting wrong answers to see what kind of explosion would happen on the screen. Today however as I observe students playing, I believe that designers are doing a much better job of encouraging the conceptual understanding of math, while also giving students a fun way to practice and master important math skills. Continue reading

Facebook for Teachers

This post is a revised version of a post I wrote in January of 2010.

Though there may be some positive outcomes from connecting with your students online, there are also hazards. Every teacher should consider the potential unintended consequences carefully, before becoming online “friends” with any student.  I offer one warning and three suggestions asking you to keep in mind that this blog represents my own professional research, experience and opinion.  Teachers should be aware of their district’s policies on employee and student Internet Use.
Facebook is an example of a popular website for social networking.  Many high school students are regular users, and since 2009, many other Americans also discovered the site.  The site provides a place to connect and share information and photos with relatives and friends. Though the age limit for Facebook use is 14 years, many students in the elementary grades have set up accounts for themselves.  Parents should be aware of their child(ren)’s Internet use and have ongoing conversations with them about Internet Safety, privacy, kind and courteous online conversations (netiquette) and digital reputation creation and maintenance.

But this post is meant to address issues teachers face as they consider the use of Facebook or similar social networking sites with students. (more…)


Use of digital photography and video in elementary classrooms is a habit every teacher should develop.  When teaching kindergarten I took photos of students doing math and science activities.  I used the camera on my iPhone which I kept handy through the day.  I posted the photos (after ensuring I had full parent permission) on our class website.  I would show these photos to the students and we would have a second  chance to think and talk about the activities in the photos.  This practice built language and academic vocabulary in my students by allowing them to revisit and review with engaging visuals. (more…)

The Challenge of Change

Courtesy of TypCut

I have titled this post, “The Challenge of Change,” in reference to the difficulty of creating sustainable change in instructional practice.  In my experience, as a teacher and support teacher in elementary schools, there are many factors that make changes to instructional practice difficult to foster.  I believe the path to real change and adaptation will come from building our faith in practicing teachers, teacher expertise and encouraging and supporting teachers to share expertise.  This approach is not commonly embraced by politicians, academics and some administrators.  There is often a thinly disguised anti-teacher sentiment, a sense that teachers are stubborn and unwilling or unable to accept guidance to improve instructional practice.  These people tend to believe that outside consultants and professional developers should guide instructional improvement. Continue reading

Document Camera

Document Camera

Document Camera

Document Cameras are becoming more common in schools.  The document camera adds usefulness to a digital projector and classroom computer. The document camera, quite simply, is a camera that captures and displays whatever is placed underneath it onto the class projection screen. It quickly makes the overhead projector a thing of the past.  In my classroom I use this device in nearly every lesson. In fact, if it were to fail, I would have to quickly rethink how I present material to my class.  It is very useful. Continue reading