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Firefox Add-ons I Find Useful for Education

August 17, 2010

Take this for what it’s worth, but here are some Firefox Add-ons that I have found really useful as a teacher and Firefox user.

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Creating Authentic Learning Work Products — Wikis in the Classroom

August 12, 2010

The Idea

Last year my Classical World (ancient Western Civilization) course was a 1:1 pilot class.  My idea for authentic learning was for the students to add content to a wiki which shows what one will learn and do in the course.  At the end of the course I was going to  give the URL to our Counseling Services personnel to be included in next year’s Course of Studies so that kids interested in Classical World can see what happens in the class.

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Project Based Learning — Historical Fiction

August 10, 2010

All last year the Humanities II PLC worked on revising our curriculum into project based learning.  My teaching partner Mary Woods (marymaypo on Twitter) and I developed a historical fiction project for our World War II Unit.  What we got back from the kids was really good!

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Digital Storytelling in Political Science

August 8, 2010

My colleague and I use a research paper in Political Science and Constitutional Law as a major course assessment, and as a way for our students to examine a currently unresolved Constitutional issue that interests them.  At the end of the paper the students must make an informed-by-research prediction of how the issue will be resolved.

Up until this past May and June the only two people in the class would see the papers and learn about the issue: the student and the instructor.  Clearly not a good situation, and a ton of educational opportunities missed.  So this year with the 1:1 pilot in my Political Science class I decided to organize this project into an opportunity for the students to share their labors, educate the class, and spark discussion

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Inquiry Based Project — Scripted Discussions

August 6, 2010

Toward the end of the 2009-’10 school year I was getting the hang of inquiry based learning and decided to try new projects in the two courses I was teaching — Humanities II (Grade 10) and Political Science & Constitutional Law (Grades 10-12).  What I am about to write about is not my original idea.  I tweaked others’ ideas, and much of the credit cannot and does not go to me.

First in our Humanities II PLC (professional learning committee of four members, 2 two-person teams composed of an English and social studies teacher) two of my colleagues suggested trying to implement the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance unit on Civil Discourse in the Classroom.  We were looking for a way to wrap up our study of the United States (course scope: 1920-present) as well as to have the kids work in inquiry based units.  We knew we wanted the students to examine current issues, to inform the class about differing viewpoints on these issues and to conduct a civil discussion while advocating these differing view points.  The Civil Discourse in the Classroom framework provided the method to achieve these goals.
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August 5, 2010

Yesterday was an awesome day at Hunterdon Central.  We are now about half way through the summer training of the next cohort of 1:1 pilot teachers, and it was our first chance as the instructors to hear from the cohort on their planned revisions to their curricula. They are all experimenting with at least one of the following:  inquiry based learning, project based learning, formative assessment and Web 2.o tools.  I’m really excited for THEIR students in September because I know that these cohort teachers’ classes are going to be awesome experiences.

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