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Kathleen Ralf  ‏@DeutscheKath

Kathleen Ralf ‏@DeutscheKath

Kathleen Ralf teaches Humanities & English at Frankfurt International School in Oberursel, Germany. She is also an instructor for Global Online Academy where she teaches a course on Genocide and Human Rights. As a teacher she works to create a classroom that is active, hands on, and full of creativity. She has been an active leader in technology integration on her 1:1 campus as well as an advocate of the Blended Learning model.  Kathleen has presented at the European League of Middle Level Education (ELMLE) Conference in 2015, 2016 and 2017 as well as the University of Rhode Island's Summer Institute for Digital Literacy.  Kathleen has a BA in History from the University of Washington and an MS in Educational Technology from Walden University. She enjoys traveling around Europe with her family and experiencing out of the way spots as a local.  You can find me on Twitter @Deutschekath.

Posted by on in Blended Learning

It has been a long time since I have had to take a day off for illness.  In fact, I think the last time I was out sick was in 2011.  I eat right, exercise, and take care of myself.  My job comes with some stress, but usually not enough to wear me down.

Like most teachers, if I have a cold, I go to school.  It is way easier to sniffle through a week than to write out detailed sub plans for each individual course for 5 days.  So, imagine my horror at being told to stay home for 2 weeks.

What is a teacher to do?  Luckily, I had some strong antibiotics and a strong online toolkit that helped me get through the hardship of being away from the classroom.  PowerSchool Learning, Loom, FlipGrid, Kahoot, and EdPuzzle allowed me and my students to interact and learn together, even though I wasn’t on campus.

Have a good foundation. I would be lost without the use of a learning management system (LMS).  I have used many in my time, but it wasn’t until I started teaching online with Global Online Academy that I really got a grasp of how to make an LMS a dynamic space for my students to interact with course content and each other.

As some of you have read in my blog a few years ago, I make the most of my PowerSchool Learning pages (aka Haiku Learning).  I put all of my units, lesson by lesson, on my pages within the LMS.  Students can see a calendar of lessons, they can see the individual lessons, and they can access all lessons resources: video tutorials, documentaries, links to other online activities, text, worksheets, or whatever was handed out in class.

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Posted by on in Assessment

Giving students opportunities to express their knowledge is important. But students are sometimes limited in their capabilities to show understanding if they are only given the opportunity to just write out their ideas.

Some children are better speakers. Some children struggle with the language of instruction. Some children need visuals, not just words to express their ideas.

This semester we decided to try something new with our sixth graders. Now that they all have their own laptops, we wanted to design new avenues for students to document their understanding. And we were also looking for ways for students to share their understanding with the greater community at school: the entire Sixth Grade.

There are students who will do their best to make great work for their teachers. This does not however motivate all students. After all, no one will see the finished product besides the teacher. If they fail or make silly mistakes, only the student and the teacher will know. If students are sharing something with their peers, it better be good. They want their peers to see them shine.

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Posted by on in Education Resources

Professional Development can be the most maddening hours you spend as a teacher or it can lift you to new heights, make your head explode, and completely change the way you think about your classroom.

Recently, I was exposed to the head exploding/change the way you think about your classroom type of PD. I learned new ways to teach Google search skills to my students, added helpful apps to my Chrome browser, and created an online textbook for my students to use and add to right away.

The biggest mind shift though came from a discussion I had with Jeff Utecht about Wikipedia. For a long time I have been torn about this resource. It is the largest encyclopedia in the world. It is written in all the languages that my students speak. It has pictures and excellent maps they can legally use in their projects and presentations. It is sometimes the only article they read that makes clear sense to them.

But Wikipedia is bad, right? Any crazy person can edit it, right? Kids should never EVER use it, right?

Well maybe Wikipedia isn’t so bad after all. Amy Antonio, from the Australian Digital Futures Institute, in her article “Is Wikipedia Really Such a Bad Research Tool for Students?” states,

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Posted by on in Assessment


b2ap3_thumbnail_cups.jpgRecently I attended a training on Formative Assessment with Dylan Wiliam. He is well-known in educational  circles as THE guru of Formative Assessment. So I was pretty excited to spend a weekend learning from him.

What he said was nothing new. What he said was no educational rocket science. Yet he had some great, easy to implement, suggestions on how to give formative feedback to students.

Beyond the idea of feedback, many of his suggestions are essentially about classroom management. When students aren’t engaged in your classroom, they are going to make their presence known in ways you won’t really enjoy.

One way of gauging who in the room is on track and who needs help is by using the traffic light technique. Each student uses a set of colored cups to indicate the level of help they need.

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