Tag Archives: Learning

Seamless Teaching : Navigating the Inclusion Spectrum

23 Jan

Seamless Teaching : Navigating the Inclusion Spectrum | Teaching Tolerance.

One of the many items to consider when planning lessons is how to accommodate students with IEPs.  This is a good article with many thoughts to consider.

In schools across the country, students in special education and general education are increasingly learning together in inclusive classrooms. This is a significant civil-rights achievement, but it also means students in special education are being taught by general education teachers who may not have the training and skills to best serve them.

Click on the link to find out more under these headings:

What General Education Teachers Should Know

Teaching to All Learners

The Inclusion Spectrum


Cheating: It will happen (Centers & Groupwork)

13 Jul

Dealing with cheating is one of my least favorite things to do.  I am not sure if it is the confrontation with the student or the student not valuing their education.  It’s a toss up.

There is a great section in Nooks, Crannies & Corners dealing with cheating in center work.

Forte and Mackenzie give this advice:

When dealing with cheating, they have observed the following strategies and the results associated with them:

1.  Students will hide cheating better

2.Students feels punctures ego & guilt.

3. Can be positive depending on rapport. Conference centers on leading student to see cheating as a deterrent to goals

4. Lazy day cheating is born.  Cheating because of anxiety remains.

5. “Hopefully” symptoms disappear.
6. Student learns something from copying that he may not have learned at all.


7. Students learn to work cooperatively. If partners are weak/strong-require they alternate days of who leads the work.




1. “Cheating is Cheating!”
Declare it loudly

2.”I can’t believe you would do such a thing!”

3. Private conference with student(s) caught cheating.


4. Ignore it



5. Pretend to ignore it


6. Encourage it



7. Require it (design carefully)







I have searched the Internet for suggestions for teachers to deal with cheating.  I didn’t find much.  Do you know of any resources?

In other discipline advice, the authors say the following:

**Rules should be developed by the group.  Form “Thou shalls” instead of “Thou Shalt Nots”.

** Unacceptable behavior should be re-directed.  Present them with an alternate activity.

**Behavior discrepancies should be viewed as challenges, not threats.”

Some students may lack the independence and self-direction necessary to work in centers or groups.  They may require more structure.  If this is the case, their work should be planned to operate concurrently and not interfere with the centers.
More great advice!  That concludes the center based posts as far as what to consider when creating them.  I promise future posts on specific activities that I assign at centers.  I look forward to hearing about some great activities from all of you too.

Gracias, Penny

Centers: How to keep track of who’s where when & evaluating center work

12 Jul

Again, great information from Nooks, Crannies and Corners.  The authors explain how to keep track of student movement and how to handle evaluating their work.  I may throw in a few of my own ideas inspired by reading the book.

Keeping track of Student Movement:

1. Give each student a checklist.  The checklist will not only point the student to the center they visit next, but will allow the teacher to see if a center was skipped.  I envision the checklist not only including the name of the center, but a sub-checklist for each center of which activities need to be completed.  If differentiation is required, alter the assignment on the checklist as a reminder to the student and yourself.

2. Use a typed chart.  This could be just sitting at the center.  Students would refer to it to see what the next center was.  This works if the students stay together as a group.

3. Give a creative invitation.  Make the activity sound like a quest maybe.

4. Make your checklist a graphic.  Imagine a picture of a house:
On the roof is typed “Week of March 17-21” along with a space for the student’s name.
The second story windows are labeled: “Art: Peruvian artists”, “Video: Sports in Peru
Answer questions 1-5″, “Sports: Create a graph based on the survey you have given”.
The door says “Write 5 sentences about the last sporting event you attended or participated in”.
The first floor window says “Complete activity 12 on page 231”.
Each window and door represents a center they must complete that week or day.  You could even have the students color each part as they finish.  My high school students would love that…

Considerations for assigning centers:

1. The student must know exactly what course to follow and the teacher must be able to tell at a glance exactly what tasks have been completed.

2.  Exemplary systems offer choice and alternative assignments.

3. Have an “Open center” that students can visit at any time. Provides freedom and a safety valve.

Evaluating & Grading:

** Discuss grading system with students

** Talk about “failure”.  Why and how it happens and how to avoid it.

**Give a grade every day.

I will definitely be sharing what specific centers I use in my classroom for two reasons (or more): to get feedback from all of you, and to have a reference for later.  I have found blogging to be rewarding in both instances.

The following are types of centers that Nooks, Crannies and Corners suggest as evaluative measures:

suggestion box
record of observation

Open ended questions

I am leaning toward a daily journal.  I think it is important for students to be able to refer back to their work and reflect on it in writing.  It is always very cool to see the difference between the first few pages of the term and the end of the term.

I hope you got some ideas.  Remember to share your ideas and thoughts.

Gracias, Penny

Student developed activities

11 Jul

I continue to look forward to implementing the Flipped Classroom and incorporating centers in the classroom.  The following is advice from Nooks, Crannies and Corners about how to allow students to develop activities and how to shift responsibility to learners.  I am looking forward to developing center activities, I have lots of ideas.  If you use centers, I would love to hear what works for you.  Please also share any activities that you do that would be great in centers.

Steps to Students Developing Activities:

1. Teach students to plan:

a) Make a short list of the kinds of decisions your students are capable of making right now (attendance, # of students per center, arranging materials).
b) Make a list of responsibilities that can be absorbed more gradually and how they can be accomplished.


-Dependable student “checker at each center.
-Students individually record progress

Appoint a committee
-Each student gives an item (suggestion, question, picture, etc.)
-Committee organizes information, materials and evaluative measures.

1. Keep record of daily progress

2. Setting up one center

3. Choosing student guide or resource for center

-Teachers determines duties of guide & criteria to choose guide
-Students decide how to select guide






I am not positive about what a student guide does…  Any ideas?

Considerations for shifting responsibility to learners:

A) Decide what decisions students can make now.

B) Assign responsibilities gradually

C) What do you want students to do in an ideal situation.

That is what I have to share about student responsibilities from the book.
I picture that
there will be a need for peer tutoring.  I am looking into the Flipped Mastery concept from Flip Your Classroom.  I am not to that chapter yet but am assuming that peer tutoring could be involved.
The record keeping process in a center based classroom intrigues me.  It will be the focus of my next blog.

As usual, let me know what you think, share any ideas you have.

Gracias, Penny

Centers: Determine Learner Needs

10 Jul

Continuing with my research on using centers in my classroom, Nooks, Crannies and Corners suggested to determine the needs of the learners.

They gave a few suggestions on how to do this:

**Battery tests – short tests, one in each major area.  Test in several ways: matching, writing, listening, etc.
**Student created tests
**Student’s personal preference/interests (questionnaire)

I did some research and found a couple of web sites to refer to when creating Learner Needs Assessments:

Learning Needs Analysis

Identifying Learner Needs

At our school, it is preferred that we give a pre-test and post-test.  We do this to show growth, but I can see the value in assessing student’s needs as well.

What are your thoughts?

Gracias, Penny

Centers – What to Consider

9 Jul

This is Part 3 of my string of Centers posts.  I am thinking it should have been #1, but that is the great thing about blogging, order doesn’t matter if you tag well…  Again, it is all a part of my plans to Flip my Classroom this school year.  I just received the Flip Your Classroom book in the mail.  I can’t wait to read it.

This great information is from Nooks, Crannies and Corners.  A book that I just read.

When considering and creating centers, think about these items:

1. What do I want the student to be able to do in order to show that he understands the idea or concept taught?

2. What tools and materials will I need to provide in order for him to do this?

3. What directions, guidelines and explanations are necessary for him to be able to accomplish this task.  How can I simply and efficiently help him go about it.

4. How will I know if and how well he has accomplished the task?  How will he know when he has been successful?

Remember, in centers, the student should be able to complete the task with little assistance from the teacher.  The teacher will be busy catching up with students who are struggling or have been absent.

Two types of Centers:

Uni-disciplinary center: Teaches one or more specific concepts related to one content area.  Examples: Word Box – write one descriptive word for each object in the box.  Substitution – For each sentence below with the word “Say”,  substitute say with another word that means the same thing.

Multi-disciplinary center:  Activity is related to one topic but provides for integration of several content areas.  Examples: letter writing, estimating, comparing, art projects.

Great Stuff!  Still to come: Students developing activities; determining the needs of each learner;  shifting responsibility to the learner; how to keep track of who is where when; evaluating and grading; cheating (copying, etc); and discipline.  Stay tuned!

Please let me now your thoughts and ideas!

Gracias, Penny

Centers – Set Up Considerations

8 Jul

This is my second post in a row about centers.  I plan to use centers as a part of the Flipped Classroom concept next year.   

I recently read Nooks, Crannies and Corners by Imogene Forte given to me by my mother-in-law when she retired from teaching.  I learned a lot about centers reading it.  It will takke several posts to share the great tips.  Today I will share her ideas for setting up centers.

** Make sure there is free trafic flow.

** Centers (and classroom in general) must be clean, neat and attractive.

** Distance quiet & noisy centers.  Yesterday I mentioned that she suggests having days with quiet  centers and days with active centers…

** Centers have clearly marked areas.

** Centers must utilize optimum use with least amount of teacher direction.  I believe this is very important so the teacher canbe free to assist in a certain center or to assist students who are struggling, were absent, etc.

** Include specific plans regarding putting things away.

Although these may seem like common sense suggestions.  I have found that it is easy to try to focus on the task and worry too little about details.

I hope you find these helpful.  Keep sending me your tips for using centers or inncorporating the Flipped Classroom concept.

Gracias, Penny

Flipped Classroom & Centers in the WL Classroom

7 Jul

I have shifted my gears from a technology focus to my full pedagogy for next year.  I am still working with technology…

I am planning to implement the Flipped Classroom method.  I have just ordered Flip Your Classroom by Jonathan Bergmann.  I have also been attending webinars and reading many blogs about the topic.

Flipping the class of course means that the students will get direct instruction through video.  A great idea since they can watch it over and over…  I (usually) only lecture one time.  For practice, I believe that using centers is going to work well for my World Language and Flipped Classroom.   I would appreciate any advice from anyone who is using the Flipped Approach.  

This post will concentrate on planning centers.  I write this not only to share what I have learned, but because I have found that blogging (and tagging posts well) has allowed me to group similar ideas and resources.  It’s like creating my own reference guide!!

I read a very old book (1972) called Nooks Crannies and Corners: Learning Centers for Creative Classrooms by Imogene Forte and Joy Mackenzie It was given to me by my mother-in-law who was a fabulous elementary teacher before retiring.  It was very informational!  It started with planning centers and discussed individualizing curriculum.  It  was thorough about how the role of the teacher changes.  All of the practicalities were discussed:  measuring the learner’s abilities; shifting responsibility to the learner; materials; and evaluating and record keeping.

I took lots of notes.  Today I would like to share with you what I have learned about developing centers.  These are my favorite tips from the book:

**Centers must be carefully explained with clear directions.  Use modeling, place written directions also at center.   Seems like a no-brainer, right?  I got to thinking about it and there have been times when I have assumed that directions would be easy enough without explanation….

**Exemplary systems offer choice and alternative assignments.

** Offer an “Open Center”.  This center can be visited at any time by any student.  It provides freedom and a safety valve.

**Award “Excellence badges” sparingly for noteworthy achievements.

** Begin each day with goal setting.  End the day with evaluation.

** The move to centers must be gradual.  Familiar practices must still be in use.  Begin with one center and add new centers gradually.

**Provide a balance of Active and Quiet periods.

**Each center has open ended and varying expectations.

**Each center has a finished product.

Those are great concepts to think about when designing a center.  My future posts concerning centers will include:  Set Up, Student developed activities, Determining the needs of the learner, Keeping track of where students are; Cheating, and evaluation.  All of these topics are in the book.  I suggest anyone who intends to use centers buy it.  They are less than $4 used at Amazon.

I will also share the many types of centers I have designed so far (at least in my head).

As always, I appreciate any of your thoughts.

Gracias, Penny

Flipped Classroom links

22 Jun

I have my mind & heart set on using the Flipped Classroom model this coming school year.  With that in mind I am blogging to consolidate and categorize all of the links & resources I have found so far.  I really do appreciate when all of you share what you have with me too!

The idea that the students spend so much more time in the classroom practicing is what is driving me to try this concept.

What I am really lacking so far is deciding where to host the video tutorials and what to include with each video as far as extra practice and links to outside information.

Here is what I have:

Flipped Class Networks:

The Flipped Class Network: Ning, lots of teachers


Presentations by teachers already Flipping:

Crystal Kirch:  Great presentation in Prezi.


Articles concerning Flipped Learning:

The Truth about Flipped Learning from eSchool News

Do Flipped Classrooms get a Pass or Fail? from The Globe and Mail

Flipping My Spanish Classroom:  Things to consider

The Flipped Classroom is Hot Hot Hot! 15 stories Emerging Ed Tech

Flipped Classroom: Response to 5 Common Criticisms: eSchool News

Flipped Classroom: Mentor Mob Playlist

What is the Flipped Classroom: from TechSmith

Answers to Flipped School questions: from CNN


Tools to create or host tutorials:

ShowMe for the iPad

Go Class

Article: 18 free screencasting tools to create video tutorials

MarkUp: Draw on a webpage.  Similar to telestrators on TV.

Three Ring App: Take pictures of student work

Side Vibe


Thank you in advance for sharing your ideas, thoughts and resources with me!



Chez Renée: Puppet Shows & the iPad

29 Apr

Chez Renée: Puppet Shows & the iPad.

This was truly a success!  Using Audio Memos instead of having students read their lines while performing accomplished the following:
  1. Improved pronunciation  Students were able to focus better on their pronunciation while recording themselves on their iPads than they would have if they’d been trying to read their lines from paper while also working their puppets.  Many of them listened to the recording and then re-recorded in order to fix mistakes they’d heard.
  2. Everyone was able to hear better because the conversation was projected throughout the classroom over the speakers.
  3. Shy students felt less intimidated about speaking French because they only had to worry about working their puppets in front of the class when all eyes were focused on them.
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