Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Painter at the Chalkboard: "Old School Tools" in the Classroom | Edutopia

"It's not about the tool -- it's about how you use the tools you have that makes the difference in the learning you share with your students."  

Enjoy this very thoughtful posting from Edutopia.

A Painter at the Chalkboard: "Old School Tools" in the Classroom | Edutopia


A Painter at the Chalkboard: "Old School Tools" in the Classroom

A few weeks ago I was listening to one of my favorite classical radio stations and heard the DJ mention that a famous pianist likes to say he is a "painter at the piano." I thought it was a great metaphor to describe the way many artists and professionals feel about the tools of their work. For example, a carpenter could be a painter with a hammer, a potter could be a painter with a wheel . . . I could go on and on.
It made me think about our profession, education, and the tools we use in the classroom to passionately share our content with our students. I say "passionately" because, in my humble opinion, there can be no other way to use those tools, if not with passion.

New Uses for "Old School Tools"

How important are technology tools in the classroom? And what if I don't have access to them to use with my students? How can I possibly keep up with the rest of my colleagues around the country that do? I get asked those questions a lot when I’m consulting or in webinars. There really isn't an easy answer. What I like to say, however, is that it's not about the tool, it's about how you support your pedagogy with the tools you have, based on principles of good practice.
This got me thinking about the days when I was a teacher and didn't have access to the shiny new tech or web 2.0 tools that are available now. Heck, they weren't even around yet! So what does this mean? Was I a less able teacher because I didn't have those tools? Were my students less successful? Did I hinder their future academic success because I didn't have an interactive whiteboard or iPad? No! I used the tools at my disposal in vibrant and (here's that word again) passionate ways. I'd like to say that I was a painter at the chalkboard.
That said, whether you're a new teacher or an experienced teacher that doesn't have access to all the tech bells and whistles, let's look at three ways that you can still teach great content using some "old school tools."

1) Use Paper to Teach Blogging

Many teachers have their students blogging worldwide. Why? Because it's such a powerful way for them to access their passion for writing and improve their skills in the process. But many other teachers are concerned about the confidentiality of blog platforms and web posting, or don't have access to the technology. Fear not! Take a minute to read this great blog post by my friendKaren McMillan, a seventh grade teacher in Northern California: Learning to Blog Using Paper. You will be so inspired by this process using old school tools, specifically paper and a sticky note, that I know you will want to share it with your students.

2) Use Folders as Apps

As a teacher, I always had access to folders at my school or could find them inexpensively at the stationery store. I had folders for everything and every content area you could think of. Not to mention that I relied heavily on them as a way to store and curate my students' work. Fast forward many years, and folders are still a choice old school tool that teachers are using in surprisingly fresh ways. You only have to type the word "folder" in Pinterest to access literally hundreds of ways that educators are taking this low-tech tool to new levels. From reading to math content, from social studies to science, folders are in active use wherever there are students. Angela Watson is an educational consultant and amazing former teacher who has a site full of tremendous resources. Take a visit to see how she is sharing great ways for teachers to use folders in classroom with students. Her What Are Fun Folders? post includes ways of teaching with this tool that I had not even dreamed of!

3) Use the Chalkboard as Social Media

I know what you're thinking -- the chalkboard? But hold on. Surprisingly to those of us immersed in all things tech, some schools just don't have the financial resources to equip all classrooms with an interactive whiteboard. I know this for a fact, as I've personally worked in many schools in So Cal that have yet to be able to transition away from the chalkboard. So how can we use it effectively? Remember how I shared earlier that I believed myself to be a painter at the chalkboard? This website, How to Use the Chalkboard as an Effective Teaching Tool, offers some great ideas that I think are deserving of your time. You’ll be surprised at how a fresh perspective can help to bring an old school tool to life. (I especially like #5!)

It's the User, Not the Tool

Now that we’ve looked at new ways to use familiar tools, check out this recent Edutopia video that shows how a rural Missouri school is supporting its teachers through professional development opportunities with tools that support learning:
I hope you'll indulge me when I repeat that it's not about the tool -- it's about how you use the tools you have that makes the difference in the learning you share with your students. If we learn to use our tools, no matter what they are, in vibrant ways to support our practice, we will have a major impact on the success of the students in our care.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

New England Aquarium Teacher Resource Center

Teacher Resource Center Newsletter
September 2012
Dear Educators,

We hope that you had a relaxing summer and are feeling rejuvenated for a new school year! Here at the New England Aquarium Teacher Resource Center, we are excited for some very special events coming up this Fall. Read on to learn all about them, and as always feel free to contact us if you have any questions!  

The Teacher Resource Center Team
In This Issue
Educator Appreciation Saturdays
Boston Harbor Educators Conference
NOAA 'How Do We Explore?' Workshop
2012-2013 School Programs
Educator Appreciation Saturdays 

  Dates:  Saturdays - September 22, October 13 and October 20
  Check-In Time9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
  Pre-Registration Required. 
: New England Aquarium 
  Cost: Free admission for educator and 1 guest
  (regular admission rates apply for additional
Every year the New England Aquarium likes to do something special to show its appreciation for all the hard work that teachers do for their students! This year, we will be renovating our central exhibit to make Myrtle's house better than ever! Learn more about this exciting project.Because of the ongoing construction, we are changing the format of our teacher appreciation event this time around. Instead of one evening event, we will be hosting three Educator Appreciation Saturdays.   

These special events include: 
  • Educator and guest complimentary admission to the Aquarium
  • Educator and guest complimentary tickets to a film at our IMAX Theater 
  • Information about our exhibits with various demonstrations and presentations throughout the day by our staff 
  • Information about our programs, field trips and classroom resources
Space is limited. Pre-registration is required.  
For more information and to register, click here or visit us

For questions, contact the Teacher Resource Center at 617-973-6590 or

Boston Harbor Educator's Conference

Stellwagen Bank Science and Education Symposium

Join the Massachusetts Marine Educators (MME) and fellow marine educators to celebrate Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary's 20-year anniversary! Events will include the latest updates on sanctuary science, interdisciplinary educational workshops (K-12), a special showing of Ocean Frontiersdocumentary and presentations by keynote speakers, Dr. David Wiley (whale scientist) and Brian Skerry (photographer).  

Date: September 29, 2012
Location: UMass/Boston
Cost: $35 for MME members, $45 for non-MME members, $25 for students. 
Pre-registrants will receive free parking pass or travel reimbursement with MBTA receipt.

For more information, view the flyer or visit the MME website.  For a detailed schedule and to register, click here. 


NOAA 'How Do We Explore?' Workshop 

NOAA workshop

DateSaturday, October 20, 2012 
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 
Location: New England Aquarium
For: Educators, Grades 5-12 
Cost: FREE ($50 stipend) 
Application Deadline:
September 28, 2012

This professional development workshop introduces Volume 2 of theOkeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection: How Do We Explore? The NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer is the Nation's first ship dedicated solely to exploring the world's ocean. Participants will learn how to use standards-based lessons and other online resources that guide classroom investigations into the innovative exploration strategies, sophisticated instrumentation and equipment used onboard the ship to explore our largely unknown oceans. 

Educators who attend the full day will receive a $50 stipend. Each participant will receive Volume 2 of the Okeanos Explorer Education Materials Collection: How Do We Explore? materials related to activities presented during the workshop, a NOAA Ocean Exploration Certificate of Participation, continental breakfast and lunch.

Registration opens on September 10, 2012,  
and ends on September 28, 2012.
Space is limited.

For more information, please consult the flyer. To register, please email and put "NOAA Workshop" in the subject line.
2012-2013 School Programs 

schooling 2012-13 cover
With a new school year just under way, you are sure to be looking for ways to engage your students, and what better way than to study the ocean and all its exciting inhabitants!  

The New England Aquarium takes pride in being able to support learning at the Aquarium, in the field and at schools. We can help you prepare for an upcoming field trip to the Aquarium or provide a guided field visit to a local outdoor habitat. And, of course, if you can't make it to us, we can come to you!  We offer a variety of programs at schools for all age groups.  

For a full listing of the programs and services that we offer, please consult our Schooling Catalog.  

And of course, the Teacher Resource Center staff is available year-round to help educators. If you need ideas on how to incorporate the ocean into your curriculum or resources to support your teaching, please feel free to contact us!  
For Students
Marine Biologist in Training Program
girls dissecting 
Explore science at the New England Aquarium! Do you want to dive deeper into the world of marine science? From studying fish, jellies and fur seals to becoming a better scientist as you contribute to a global research project, you will join researchers and educators as we investigate the world around us in a bid to better understand and protect our blue planet.

For: Students in
grades 8 -10 


Application Deadline:September 28, 2012   
Class Schedule: Classes are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 
6 Saturdays: October 13, 20, 27, November 3, 1017

For more information clickhere

hawksbill turtle
2012 Fall Aquarium Lecture Series
What do dolphins, coral reefs and glaciers have in common? The 2012 Fall Aquarium Lecture Series!

This long-running program is free and open to the public with the generous support of the Lowell Institute. Join marine educators, environmental writers, artists, photographers and many more as they share their incredible passion for our marine habitats.  

Click here to see the full schedule and to register for an upcoming lecture. Everyone is welcome!
Walden Forum
The Walden Forum is a free, public series that in pursuit of innovative thinking and creative endeavor invites experts to present their ideas and engage the community.  

This fall, be sure not to miss Dr. Greg Stone as he talks to the Forum about the importance of the oceans to our survival. Dr. Stone is an ocean scientist widely known for his work with mammals and ice ecology in Antarctica, as well as with undersea technology and exploration.  

Date & Time:
September 13, 2012 
7:30 pm

First Parish Meeting House 
50 Cochituate Rd.
Wayland, MA 01778

For more information or questions, visit the Walden Forum website or contact Tom Liszewski

Association of American Educators Classroom Grant
AAE's classroom grants can be used for a variety of projects and materials, including but not limited to books, software, calculators, math manipulatives, art supplies, audiovisual equipment and lab materials. 

All educators

Deadline to apply: 
October 1 and March 1

For more information and to apply, visit the website.
Classroom Contests
Keep America Beautifulpresents 
Recycle-Bowl Competition

Help protect the planet while building your school's morale - compete with other schools in your state and nationwide to see who recycles the most over a four-week period. 

Grades K-12 

$1,000 for your school

For more information and to register your school, visit the contest website.


From the Bow Seat  
Ocean Awareness  
Essay Contest 

Do you have a student passionate about the environment and our ocean? From the Bow Seatis launching their second essay-writing contest!  

For more information and details, click here

                                                 National Grid  

The Teacher Resource Center would like to thank National Grid, our 
2009 - 2012 Corporate Sponsor, for its support of our services!

Check out the materials of the Teacher Resource Center to find activities to enhance an Aquarium field trip or to use as stand-alone activities in your classroom. You'll also find teacher guides on topics including penguinsjellies and observation and literacy skills, and the latest IMAX offerings.

You can also browse our extensive collection of videos and kits, learn more about our school programs and find out about the discounts and benefits we offer to teachers like you!
Contact Information   
Teacher Resource Center or  617-973-6590 

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