Reaching the Visual Learner: Software to Create Digital Posters or Infographics

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Ever find yourself drawing incomprehensible doodles as you attempt to explain an idea to a student? I do all the time.

There is no doubt in my mind that I am a visual learner. I see this come out in my teaching, as I break down complicated ideas for my students in the same way I did to make sense of it for myself. Taking large amounts of text and synthesizing those ideas to create an aesthetically pleasing, symbol-saturated visual representation is something I truly enjoy doing. 

See my Pinterest board for resources to make digital posters or infographics as well as editing programs for photo manipulation:
Follow Cris's board Digital Posters/Infographics on Pinterest.

Reaching the Auditory Learner: Text-to-Speech Software and Voice Comments

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It's undeniable that students learn best in different ways. So much time is spent classifying learners as auditory, visual, or kinesthetic yet often I find students are a combination of various learning styles - I know this is true for myself. 


Sometimes it's not enough to have the voice in your head reading along with you; sometimes it's just easier to have accompanying audio to text you are reading. Text-to-speech software is a great teaching tools for ELL students, struggling readers, students with learning disabilities like dyslexia or auditory learners. The following are my top text-to-speech tools:

See link to the slides here.

Some of my students this past year requested I leave them audio comments on their work instead of written text. Perhaps this was due to the high ESL population at my school who find speaking and listening to the English language much easier to understand than reading and writing. Or perhaps these students truly did identify with being auditory learners.

Sometimes students just prefer to receive feedback in a certain way. As an educator who is a strong believer in differentiating my instruction, I am open to leaving comments in a form most useful for my students. 
Technology can be utilized to support various feedback mediums. Here are various ways to give audio feedback on your students' work:
See link to the slides here. How do you reach your auditory learners?

Learning Skills and Work Habits: Tech Tools for Tracking Student Behaviours

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The first statement of the Learning Skills section of the Ontario Ministry of Education’s publication Growing Success: Assessment, Evaluation, and Reporting in Ontario Schools states, “The development of learning skills and work habits is an integral part of a student’s learning” (p. 10).
Teachers are expected to report on six categories:
            • Responsibility
            • Organization
            • Independence 
            • Collaboration
            • Initiative 
            • Self-Regulation
Learning Skills should not be considered in the determination of a student’s grades. Instead, the assessing, evaluating, and reporting on the achievement of curriculum expectations and on the demonstration of learning skills should be done separately.
Though some may identify other skills as being crucial to student success, it is clear that a student’s work habits significantly contribute to their success in school and for life beyond the classroom. 
The Definition and Selection of Competencies (DeSeCo) Project, sponsored by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has underlined the importance of identifying and developing key competencies as follows:
Globalisation and modernisation are creating an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. To make sense of and function well in this world, individuals need, for example, to master changing technologies and to make sense of large amounts of available information. They also face collective challenges as societies – such as balancing economic growth with environmental sustainability, and prosperity with social equity. In these contexts, the competencies that individuals need to meet their goals have become more complex, requiring more than the mastery of certain narrowly defined skills.  
(OECD, p. 4)
We are preparing students for an information saturated world where they will need to be self-directed learners with the skills to collaborate with others, are organized, have initiative, and set and monitor personal goals. As educators it is our responsibility to foster and help develop these skills in our students.
When it comes time for report card data entry, our tracking should be consistent and accountable to result in accurate reporting of students’ learning skills and work habits. 
The following are three simple tools for tracking students behaviours for the reporting of learning skills:
See the slides here.