Have you heard of the Word Masters program?
I was introduced to this program a few years ago by Joanne Kyle (Whitewater Middle School). This was an opportunity that she offered to her advanced middle school students. It is a competition/challenge that happens three times a year. Students are given lists of words to get to know well. For the challenges, the words are used in deeper-level thinking analogies. Local high scorers receive a medal and top scores are also sent on to the national level.
This program is especially useful because it can be used as a pre-packaged enrichment opportunity for students. In addition, there are two levels of competition: blue (regular) and gold (advanced), thus making it easy to choose the right level of challenge.
In my district, we’ve taken this a step farther to make it a true extension activity: Students study nuances of the words and the root words behind them so that they have a broader knowledge base that can be called on in the future, and with similar words. When competitions come around, scores have been higher than we’d expect, and there is a lot of buy-in from students.
Word Masters is not free, but the pricing structure can be found on their website at https://www.wordmasterschallenge.com/.
WATG Board Member
This month’s Tools You Can Use focuses on riddles put forth by TED-Ed. This blog post features five logic puzzles that will help students practice the Mathematical Practice Standards. All five are highly engaging for students in about 2nd grade or higher, leaving them begging for more.
The blog post is located at https://blog.ed.ted.com/2016/02/02/can-you-solve-these-5-ted-ed-riddles/
This month's technology tool will help those of you who are hands-on with students, and is designed to make watching educational videos interactive. It's called EdPuzzle, and it will take a video from YouTube, National Geographic, Khan Academy, etc. and let you get rid of all the advertisements, add in questions, and ensure that students don't skip parts of the video. Students can then watch it on their own (at home or in school) and respond, and you can see their answers. What a great direct instruction/formative assessment tool!
The neat thing is that you can use your school Gmail (Google) account to log in, so you don't even need to remember a new username and password. In addition, if you use Google Classroom, it will let you "plunk" your EdPuzzle video directly into any Google Classroom you have without extra steps!
If you'd like to see a video tutorial, you can view that at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibRw6TR9iV8.
EdPuzzle itself can be found at https://edpuzzle.com/.
New From Smithsonian! TweenTribune provides daily AP news articles (in English and Spanish), available in multiple Lexile® levels for K-12, self-scoring quizzes customized by Lexile® level, critical thinking questions, and opportunities for student commenting. Teachers who register get access to weekly newsletters, lesson plans, apps to assign articles to students, a dashboard to access quiz results and writing assignments.
And it’s all available at no cost! Find out more at https://www.tweentribune.com/free/
Contributed by by Heidi Erstad, WATG Board member
PERTS is an applied research center based out of Stanford University. The center has developed a free, evidence-based program designed to increase ninth graders' engagement, motivation, and ultimately success by laying the foundation for a growth mindset.
The online program delivered in two 30-minute sessions. Includes survey questions, short reading passages, and brief reflection exercises. Students will learn scientific evidence showing that the brain is malleable and specific behaviors that can rewire the brain and increase one’s intellectual abilities.
High schools can enroll in this free course at https://www.perts.net/orientation/hg to help freshmen navigate this often-fragile transition in a strengths-based way.
This month’s featured resource comes as a result of a question posed to the WISGIFT listserv about advanced learning in the teaching of history. (Thank you to WISGIFT listserv subscriber Andrea Lorenz for this resource!)
Stanford’s History Education Group provides field-tested materials for teaching students to be critical consumers of history. Resources include:
A toolkit of powerful tools for extending learning and creating informed and critical-thinking adult citizens.
Strong relationships between teachers and students have been shown to be a powerful tool to foster student engagement and learning and ensure that ALL learners have equal access to learning opportunities in the classroom.
This set of five online learning modules (based on the research of some very smart people!) helps teachers pay close attention to the different factors influencing their relationships, which in turn will help them form stronger and more positive connections with students. Each module includes video presentations, reflective questions, and interactive components.
Teachers can use the modules independently or as a team. Requires FREE registration to access learning modules. Visit: http://www.corclassrooms.org/
Speak Out, Listen Up! Tools for using student perspectives and local data for school improvement - Heidi Erstad, WATG Board MemberRead Now
This year’s WATG Conference will feature sessions around engaging student voice. This IES document offers guideline for using three tools that educators can use to gather and analyze local data to listen to students on school-related topics or problems:
Download a copy of this document here
Some students with gifts and talents struggle with learning and attention issues. The Understood.org site was designed for parents, but can also be used by educators to better help understand and navigate learner issues such as attention, organization, time management, social skills, motor skills, and more.
Resources in “Your Parent Toolkit” include, for example, the fascinating “Through Your Child’s Eyes”: simulations and videos to experience firsthand what it’s like to complete tasks when you have trouble focusing or experience other learning / attention obstacles; the practical Tech Finder identifies expert-selected assistive technology targeted toward helping learners manage a range of issues.
Interested? See https://www.understood.org
Tools to Use Today
Note: WATG neither endorses nor recommends specific products and programs. This column is for informational purposes only.