Tuesday, November 26, 2019

For Thanksgiving, thank a teacher

students-teacher by me
Teaching during the days up to and right after the holidays can be a challenge. Try having your students compose hand-written Thank You notes to a former teacher if you're looking for a quick activity around Thanksgiving and other holidays.

Here's a link to the activity

We did this in class today, and within a half hour my students wrote honest, poignant missives which of course is good in and of itself. But there's research to back it up why it's good for the people who receive the notes. In an article in Psychological Science, Kumar and Epley (2018) found that the people who received gratitude letters, "significantly underestimated how surprised recipients would be about why expressers were grateful, overestimated how awkward recipients would feel, and underestimated how positive recipients would feel."

Most of the notes were to people who were still teaching in our city, so my administration agreed to hand deliver them to those schools. Looking forward to what my students hear back from their former teachers.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Two online annotation tools - NowComment and Hypothes.is

Conversation via annotations in NowComment
In the book Words Onscreen, author Naomi Baron cites research that might surprise you: When it comes to reading for school, today’s students prefer reading on paper over reading onscreen. According to Baron, our students may compose copious amounts of digital writing on their personal devices, but when it comes to close reading, students still prefer printing a PDF and annotating it with a pencil in hand.

Baron cites a study from late 2013 whose findings show that 84% of U.S. college students say they prefer print over digital text because it’s easier to bookmark and highlight. Baron readily admits this may change with time: “Annotation becomes easier on digital devices, especially for those who practice” (p. 30).

There’s no doubt that our students will get a lot more practice annotating online. In fact, annotating the Web is nothing new. The developers of Mosaic, one of the earliest browsers from the ’90s, envisioned a Web that anyone could annotate. And there’s no shortage of web annotation tools—Bounce, Diigo, and Genius, to name a few.
Hypothes.is screenshot

But over the past couple of years the two annotation tools that I've used most in my teaching areNowComment and Hypothes.is.

I use NowComment most frequently now. Here's an article I wrote that discusses NowComment's affordances and constraints.

And here's another article I wrote about Hypothes.is.