Ideas, Thoughts, Things, & Awesome Things to Look Into - from the Computer Lab
SWRL to SWIRL to SCRAWL and DO
I am glad to know that research is bearing out strategies I learned to use with ELL and Gifted endorsements. SWRL is an ELL Strategy endorsed and used heavily in my school district. Some experts at Indian Creek ELementary School added the concept of Illustrating and the acronym turned into SWIRL. Students were to do the following tasks for each vocabulary word, in no particular order: Speak the work, Write the word, Illustrate the word, Read the word, and Listen to the word spoken or read aloud. I really liked this strategy when I learned it and implemented it immediately because it worked with all levels of the ELL students spectrum and it also worked with my Gifted students. I am for any strategy that works for multiple types of students.
SWIRL is one ELL specific strategy that works well with Gifted education. Acting, Collaborating, and Organizing were also strategies that I have used myself, a native English speaker, to learn and retain subject-specific vocabulary when I was in law school and graduate school.
I teach AP and upper level courses in computer science and programming, so, I don’t necessarily give word-lists to students, but I would have a word-wall of sorts. If the assignment is that they do “ASWIRL” for a particular vocabulary word, even if it is out of context, then those are made available to the rest of the students, then they can collaborate and use each other as well. hmmm….speak write illustrate read listen act collaborate — swirlac.
I will hereby give vocabulary and suggest students work with each word using “ASWIRL” or SCRAWL & DO, a little acronym that I cobbled for my AP students in particular.
COVID-19 caused some huge changes in education. I hope we learn some of the best lessons and return to a blended classroom with 1:1 technology from now on, especially at the secondary levels. Edutopia did a semi-scholarly evaluation of the academic research from the 2020-2021 school year and summarized them nicely and efficiently here:
The 10 Most Significant Education Studies of 2020
The outline of the article and a few of my thoughts on it:
1. TO TEACH VOCABULARY, LET KIDS BE THESPIANS
"When students are learning a new language, ask them to act out vocabulary words...nearly doubles their ability to remember the words months later." "It’s a simple reminder that if you want students to remember something, encourage them to learn it in a variety of ways—by drawing it, acting it out, or pairing it with relevant images, for example."
I am glad to know that research is bearing out strategies I learned to use with ELL and Gifted endorsements. SWIRL is one ELL specific strategy that works well with Gifted education as well. It basically involves a students Speaking, Writing, Illustrating, Reading, and Listening to new vocabulary and contextual words. One strategy that I always wondered if it was missing was the Acting. I will hereby give vocabulary and suggest students work with each word using “ASWIRL.” I teach AP and upper level courses in computer science and programming, so, I don’t necessarily give word-lists to students, but I would have a word-wall of sorts. If the assignment is that they do “ASWIRL” for a particular vocabulary word, even if it is out of context, then those are made available to the rest of the students, then they can collaborate and use each other as well. hmmm….speak write illustrate read listen act collaborate — swirlac.
How about? SCRAWL and DO -
Speak, Collaborate, Read, Act, Write, Listen, and Draw, Organize
2. NEUROSCIENTISTS DEFEND THE VALUE OF TEACHING HANDWRITING—AGAIN
Brain scans indicate that students learn best while handwriting and drawing, "handwriting and drawing produced telltale neural tracings indicative of deeper learning."
"It would be a mistake to replace typing with handwriting, though. All kids need to develop digital skills, and there’s evidence that technology helps children with dyslexia."
3. THE ACT TEST JUST GOT A NEGATIVE SCORE (FACE PALM)
"ACT test scores, which are often a key factor in college admissions, showed a weak—or even negative—relationship when it came to predicting how successful students would be in college."
4. A RUBRIC REDUCES RACIAL GRADING BIAS
" Articulate your standards clearly before you begin grading, and refer to the standards regularly during the assessment process."
"The reason? Four-year high school grades, the researchers asserted, are a better indicator of crucial skills like perseverance, time management, and the ability to avoid distractions. It’s most likely those skills, in the end, that keep kids in college."
5. WHAT DO COAL-FIRED POWER PLANTS HAVE TO DO WITH LEARNING? PLENTY
"When three coal-fired plants closed in the Chicago area, student absences in nearby schools dropped by 7 percent, a change largely driven by fewer emergency room visits for asthma-related problems."
I am all for fewer environmental factors impacting student achievement and even attendance.
6. STUDENTS WHO GENERATE GOOD QUESTIONS ARE BETTER LEARNERS
"In the study, students who studied a topic and then generated their own questions scored an average of 14 percentage points higher on a test than students who used passive strategies like studying their notes and rereading classroom material."
Ah, my students will find out that they are going to have to teach their "monsters" how to code.
7. DID A 2020 STUDY JUST END THE ‘READING WARS’?
The study sounded the death knell for practices that de-emphasize phonics in favor of having children use multiple sources of information—like story events or illustrations—to predict the meaning of unfamiliar words, an approach often associated with “balanced literacy.”
As a former reading specialist (with a heavy O-G phonics bias), I could have told you that Lucy Calkins "failed to explicitly and systematically teach young readers how to decode and encode written words." It was too hard for teachers to teach. There were too many parts to it that were unnecessary, with teacher resources stacking in the inches.
8. A SECRET TO HIGH-PERFORMING VIRTUAL CLASSROOMS
Remote teachers should use a single, dedicated hub for important documents like assignments; simplify communications and reminders by using one channel like email or text; and reduce visual clutter like hard-to-read fonts and unnecessary decorations throughout their virtual spaces.
9. LOVE TO LEARN LANGUAGES? SURPRISINGLY, CODING MAY BE RIGHT FOR YOU
The researchers discovered that mathematical skill accounted for only 2 percent of a person’s ability to learn how to code, while language skills were almost nine times more predictive, accounting for 17 percent of learning ability.
10. RESEARCHERS CAST DOUBT ON READING TASKS LIKE ‘FINDING THE MAIN IDEA’
"In effect, exposing kids to rich content in civics, history, and law appeared to teach reading more effectively than our current methods of teaching reading."
AP Courses & Project-Based Learning
AP courses are hard because they are college classes taught to high school students. For students, they can earn college credit which means they save money. The stakes are very high. AP Computer Science Principles and AP Computer Science A are both heavy on the project based learning because both courses are in the CTAE pathways.
This is a nice Edutopia video discussing the value of project based learning in AP courses.
Reinventing AP Courses With Rigorous Project-Based Learning
When we all went to asynchronous learning in March 2020, I began my research and this student-side of the website was born. Because my school district used so many platforms that were initially less than friendly for elementary and ELL students, I created this website to store my resources I used for asynchronous learning. I started with this article from Brown University, and built from there.
Asynchronous Strategies for Inclusive Teaching
Monsters vs Fractions
Monsters vs Fractions is a delightful little game that I came across when I was teaching technology at the elementary level. The story-line is cute, not babyish, and has an upper elementary to middle-school feel. There are many games that tie into math, specifically fraction reasoning.
Resources that I'm finding helpful
25 FREE Google Drawings graphic organizers — and how to make your own
This is a helpful site because it talks about how to create different graphic organizers specific to my content. These aren't just static templates but instructions on how to create my own. For example, the circular Venn-diagram are hard to write in for many students....so how about rectangle ones instead?
62 ways to check for understanding
These are a list of old and new ideas for checking for student understanding. Some are better geared toward some subjects versus others, but it's a list.
Heather M. Miller
This is a space where I post my thoughts on things and ideas in the Computer Lab. I am a K-12 certified Computer Science, Business Education, and Engineering and Technology teacher with ESOL and Gifted Endorsements.