Thursday, November 13, 2014

This Is My New Google Plus Page Link-please add me to your CIRCLE

After many moves....Blogger, Weebly, I have settled onto a Google Plus page:

Here is my Google + PBL Project Page: Please add me to your circle to see it.
My Google + Project Based Learning Page

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Find Your Role Model-Powerful Driving Question

No printed word, nor spoken plea can teach young minds what they should be. Not all the books on all the shelves – but what the teachers are themselves.
Rudyard Kipling

Find Your Role Model-Powerful Driving Question
HOTS-Driving Question

What can we learn from people who stand out as role models?

Possible answers:
-How to survive life's hardships
-Ways to meet goals
-To understand and embrace the vision 
-To see what is possible
-To energize and empower
-They can function as a springboard
-Anyone can be a role model:
They can be anyone, from a NBA star to a, child, to a regular man or woman in your neighborhood....

Image source:

Saturday, November 1, 2014

PBL-Find Your Role Model

Find Your Role Model-PBL
Identify your goals
What is your purpose?
My purposes are twofold. First, I want students to be connected to their research and project choice. Secondly, I want that connection to drive their ‘quest’ to learn, research, note take, write, and present. Students who reside in my class are not naturally avid inquiring learners. Some never follow the news and do not know anything about the world around them. My attempts when I design any instruction, is to engage them to a topic that they can connect with ‘emotionally’ and also stretch their knowledge and interest in the world outside of Lebanon, NH.
What are your goals?
To enhance and develop a zest for learning. To enhance and develop research skills. To develop and enhance 21st century skills. To develop and enhance the value and joy of reading. To develop and enhance the search and find elements of research-like a hunter finding her prey.
What student outcomes would you like to see?
1. enhanced engagement
2. improved writing skills
3. Broader view of the world around them
4. Identify with a real past/present role model who speaks to them
5.Using reading/writing/research skills taught fluidly throughout the year to connect and be used in this project, as a natural offshoot of their skill set

Why did you choose this particular topic?
I am spinning off of two ideas. First, the Who Am I and the memoir connection in the PBL project I found and reported on last week, the webquest. Secondly, I am spinning off of a mini activity of Malala Yousafzi who won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. I created a reading exploration which has evolved into a reading of Malala’s story, the Taliban’s story, the memoir “I Am Malala”, a video documentary 20/20 “I Am Malala” and many student discussions related to this complex but news and relevant topic. My students are engaged and emotionally connected to this true story and present day happenings across the world from their seats in Lebanon. Now, they can find other role models who speak to them and touch their hearts and minds in the same way.Here after reading the packet and 2 articles related to Malala and another on the Taliban, they are watching a 20/20 Diane Sawyer presentation “I Am Malala”.
20141027_134606.jpg 20141029_121029.jpg

  • Select the standards you plan to address:
ISTE Standards:
1. Creativity and innovation
b. Create original works as a means of personal or group expression

2. Communication and collaboration
a. Interact, collaborate, and publish with peers, experts, or others employing a variety of digital environments and media

4. Critical thinking, problem solving, and decision making
b. Plan and manage activities to develop a solution or complete a project

6. Technology operations and concepts
b. Select and use applications effectively and productively


Conduct short research projects to answer a question, drawing on several sources and generating additional related, focused questions for further research and investigation.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, using search terms effectively; assess the credibility and accuracy of each source; and quote or paraphrase the data and conclusions of others while avoiding plagiarism and following a standard format for citation.

  • Identify your audience:
    • Who is your audience?I am teaching middle school struggling learners. They are between 2-4 years below grade level on the Newa/Necap reading tests. They rarely ever choose to read in their free time. They are bored in school and function in production on the marginal edges of success. Some have IEPs others have 504 Plans and some have no distinction other than low test scores and are considered by many as ‘at risk’.
    • What grade(s) are they in? My students are in grades 7 and 8.
    • What is their technology literacy level? Many are in the middle range of understanding how to use technology. Most have computers and the internet access at home.
    • What are they supposed to know and do with technology? In this project, students will need to do basic research for a role model they connect with. They will need to be able to do a Google Search. I will remind them, and/or instruct them on doing research in Google Docs where they can add links and cite their sources.
    • What kind of project is best for your situation? I am going to design a Project Based Learning project where it is highly structured, but allows for students some choice in who they ultimately choose as a role model to read more about. They will research and find 3 people they are interested in, and then narrow it down to one. There will be student choice, student collaboration-discussion on their topic, their writing, and a chance for another student to offer them suggestions-in writing.

  • Survey the technology and human resources you have available so you can implement it successfully with your audience and answer the problem you have identified.
I have ipads and netbooks and my students will be working on their projects in my classroom time. Many of my students don’t complete homework for their core classes and that is a struggle, so the work will be completed in class.

  • Identify the genre of inquiry-based technology project you will use: project, problem, inquiry, telecommunications project,  webquest, design challenge, experiential learning project, simulation, virtual museum...or other kind of investigation.
This will be a PBL project where students will use the learning packet  that we are presently reading about Malala Yousafzi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, as a jumping point-What Are Role Models? Who can be role Models? How does a role model come into being? What is a hero/herione? Who is a hero/heroine whom you can identify with?

  • Determine how much time can you spend on this project to create it and how much time it will take to conduct it with your participants?
This is a complex part for me to address. My students function at such different levels of performance. Their ‘learning profiles’ each so distinctively different, poses issues.
I would design this to be 3 months in design and structure, as we move in and out of this project and into their novels they are reading. My students function best when the instructional model varies, and I mix the informational reading with their fictional reading novels. This way, they do not get bored with just one element for days or weeks at a time.

  • Next consider how available are technology tools to your students/teachers?  Create a resource list. (Consider using Diigo for your resource list.  Check out the LIST feature in Diigo.  They can be easily published and distributed.
I have enough laptops/netbooks and ipads to serve for my students’ digital needs.  
  • Ask yourself:  How will students present and share their learning?  Who is the audience for the students' work?
Students will choose their platform: Google Slides, Padlet, powerpoint, wiki, blogger, present. The audience will be their parents, their peers….
Possible Essential Questions:

What is a role model?
How can finding a role model help you ?
What do role models provide us?
Why are role models important?


Here are some ideas to present-still needs to be refined...but a list to offer students as possible role model choices. I will add more like images and refine this information to be more succint. My students do best with options, understanding they will be able to search on their own, identifying their own role model not on any list I provide. This 'sampling' is just that-a list of possibilities....
  1. Another mother who continues to inspire us even after her death is Elizabeth Glaser. “She contracted AIDS through a tainted post-pregnancy blood transfusion and unwittingly passed the virus to her daughter through breast milk in 1981, and to her son in utero in 1984,” shared ForbesWoman reader Lindy Brown. Unaware of her own infection until her daughter became sick (and eventually died of AIDS-related illness in 1988), Glaser, who passed away in 1994, turned her family’s tragedy into a national awareness campaign that eventually became the Pediatric AIDS Foundation.
  2. In the sports arena, race car driver Danica Patrick shows girls and women that females are just as fast as men, while Williams sisters Venus and Serena set examples of athleticism and power on and off the court.
  3. As a single mother, J.K. Rowling took writing stories about a young wizard in a coffee shop and built one of the top-earning literary franchises ever, inspiring movies that have grossed more than $5 billion, spin-off books, theme parks and more.
  4. Our readers call Winfrey a “modern successful woman of the times,” and there’s no disagreeing. As a businesswoman and owner of Harpo Productions she has earned $315 million between June 2009 and June 2010 and she was named the Most Powerful Celebrity by Forbes last month. She has also launched the careers of many people, including Rachael Ray, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Phil McGraw–now celebrities in their own right. She’s currently preparing to launch her own television network, keeping her influence at an all-time high. It’s no wonder so many women look to her as a beacon of success.
  5. Meanwhile, mother of two and former supermodel Waris Dirie was born in nomadic Somalia but by her 20s was modeling in Paris for Chanel and landing on the pages of Vogue and Elle magazines. Since 1997 Dirie has been one of the most outspoken advocates against female genital mutilation, a dangerous and violent practice affecting more than 150 million girls and women worldwide, the majority in African nations.
  6. Condoleezza Rice-Politician

  7. Indra Nooyi-CEO, PepsiCo

  8. Laura Ling and Euna Lee-Journalists

  9. Maya Angelou-Poet

  10. Mother Teresa-Saint

  11. ‘The boy who harnessed the wind’, William Kamkwamba - See more at:
  12. Green entrepreneur from India, documentary maker and journalist Ekta Kothari - See more at:
  13. Shaman from Greenland, Angaangaq-is a shaman from Greenland who travels the world to raise people’s awareness of the melting polar ice caps. The title of his book ‘Let the ice melt in your heart’ - See more at:
  14. Champion of the animal kingdom Jane Goodall
Some More Everyday Hero-Role Models

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sometimes the Ideas Come To Me in Waves....

The topics I explore are those things that I believe my students will ultimately connect to. I know that initally, they won't. They won't understand the how and why the topics we explore connects to them. I design topics that will illicit some kind of an emotional response. For example, the exploration of GMO foods did not inspire them at all in the beginning. The Prior Knowledge activity yielded that none of my students know the term or what the term GMO stood for. As we read and explored 3 articles, they began to connect emotionally. Sometimes, a few got upset that they were eating foods with GMO products and there was no research or indication on the package. Some others, said they didn't worry. We explored the concept of bias. We saw two short video clips discussing two sides of the GMO issue. They learned what crops were primarily almost always GMO crops and Monsanto was the company who controlled the GMO crops and seeds and prevented research. They explored some food packages and found the products inside of 'prepared foods' most of which had corn, corn syrup or corn starch in them. They knew this meant it was most probably GMO, even though nothing on the label indicated that, as in the US there is no labeling of GMO. Select states, Vermont as one of them, are now legislating that there must be GMO labeling on food products, but the issue is way more complex than we can ever imagine. 

The point is that my informational articles must bring out at least a little emotion in them for them to be inspired to continue to read and connect to the information. When you teach learners who are not wholly inspired to read and learn, it can be a battle. Reading novels is always much easier to get them to do when they can choose the novels, which they do in my class. However, the informational reading and associated thinking skills I drive that bus and design that instruction from news web articles, choosing topics that are age appropriate and somehow relevant to their lives. It's a constant job to find, design, and implement without them really being aware that they moved from hating the topic to relaxing into the topic and quite possibly learning along the way. 

Image source:


This blog site will 'host' my PBL/IBL project for my graduate class, however it can also serve to live beyond that purpose for other awesome PBL/IBL projects I design. I've been creating these types of lessons for years. I love creating projects that pull students in. Since I've always worked with students who are 'reluctuant or bored learners', I have always been challenged myself to create dynamic and engaging lessons. You must understand that my educational backgroud and history was not dissimilar to their educational profiles, so "I Get Them" and where they are coming from. This one personal connection, drives me to create.....

Literature Box-My own creation. Connecting students to their learning in ways that they choose. They create and design their box. They write and create examples of Metaphors, Similes, 10 word poems..etc..connected to topics we study and their novels. 

Students studied Colony Collapse Disorder-they read and created notes. They watched a video documentary. They wrote paragraphs. Then they created their own very different artistic images representing this topic. 

Each one very different from the others.