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As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I have the wonderful opportunity to work with small groups of third and fourth graders on a rotating basis throughout the year. We focus on various topics under the realm of digital citizenship. We meet once a week for 6 weeks.

During the first 4 weeks, we learn about the topics of:

  • Keeping Private Information Private
  • Strong Passwords
  • Copyright and Giving Credit
  • Cyberbullying and the Power of Words

I use a variety of materials with students, the bulk of which from Common Sense Media. The final two weeks are devoted to creating a product to help others learn and get some tips about these topics. Earlier this year, groups used BookCreator and HaikuDeck on iPads to create a product.

Most recently, we use AdobeVoice to share our stories about Digital Citizenship. Each student made their own story, and then I used WeVideo to string them all together into one video for each group. The stories have become more powerful and serious as the year progressed.

Here’s one example.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback, as always.

Who Is Coaching Whom?

I’ve come across two things recently that caused me to pause and reflect. One was a post on Edutopia’s site, 8 Skills to Look for in a Director of Technology by Heather Wolpert-Gawron (@wolpertsclass) and the other was the graphic seen below. That one is based on work by Lee Araoz (@LeeAraoz) and illustrated by Sylvia Duckworth (@sylviaduckworth) using Sketchnote.

coach1

While my official title is not that of director or coach, I connect with many of the attributes described in both examples. I know that educators in my school, fully immersed in the day-to-day of classroom teaching, may wonder what I do all day. When I was a classroom teacher, I certainly pondered that of my predecessor. And believe me, no one works harder than a classroom teacher.

I believe that I subtly demonstrate the qualities listed in the graphic as well as in the Edutopia post. I try to respect teachers and how busy they are, while also providing vision, support, encouragement, and the necessary knowledge to keep us moving forward. However, I also learn every day from my colleagues and they keep me grounded in the realities of classroom work, student lives, and the daily challenges they face.

As we often say, it’s all about relationships. It’s a team effort and we’re winning the game. I’m extremely thankful to work in this district and with this amazing group of professionals.

 

GAFE, PD, and Me

I have the amazing opportunity to facilitate a meeting 4-5 times a year with our PreK-2 faculty. I thought I’d share what we did yesterday. Some of this stemmed from an observation in both of our schools that sometimes teachers ask students to do tasks that they themselves can’t do or haven’t tried. Plus, we’ll be adding Chromebooks to the mix at our PreK-2 building next year and it was time to highlight a few things that our youngest students might do with Google Apps. It resembled one of those “9 Things Teachers Should Be Able to do with GAFE” posts that I’ve seen, but I designed this one myself.

Teachers were asked to join a Google Classroom for the meeting, mostly as a way to distribute the doc to them, but also to model using Classroom. We talked later about how it helps to organize things in Drive; something that the teachers might find useful in the future.

Once they joined the Classroom, they each got a copy of a doc with directions and a Tic Tac Toe board. Here’s a link to a copy of the doc. The board looked like this:

GAFE for PreK-2

As you can see on the doc, teachers were asked to make Tic Tac Toe by completing at least 3 of the tasks. They needed to change the background color of the cell to indicate which tasks were completed. Underlined elements above took them to other links, sheets, drawings, etc that were collaborative. (not linked on the copy provided here)

There was a lot of energy in the room (we were in a computer lab) and a quick visual assessment showed everyone on task. There were not doing other work or things of a personal nature which is often the case at faculty meetings. Yay!

Near the end of our time together, we not only shared, but also completed surveys for one another that had been created, and provided the process for how things were accomplished. With Google Apps, there’s often more than one way to do things.

Finally, the group helped me by playing guinea pig while we tried out a new tool I had read about earlier in the week from Richard Byrne via Practical Ed Tech. It’s called dotstorming. Not only did teachers share thoughts on how they might move forward with ideas generated during our time together, but they also ‘voted’ on the ones they felt they’d actually try themselves. It was a great exit card. Here’s a link to the final board that was completed, ranked by votes.

All in all, we packed in a lot, but it was a very positive gathering, generated practical ideas that could be put into motion right away, and provided respite from work on report cards.

I have the wonderful opportunity to work with third and fourth graders on a rotating basis. I meet with a group of about 12 students once a week for 6 weeks, and then they rotate to another activity with another teacher (librarian, school counselor, etc.)  Over the course of they year I’ll work with all of the third and fourth graders in our school.

My  focus with them is on digital citizenship. We use many of the Common Sense Media lessons, either as stand-alone lessons or using the Nearpod version of them. Other activities are included as well, from making paper chains to illustrate the speed at which chain emails spread to designing comic strips to share a message.

Our culminating activity recently was for each student to create a small book (about 3 pages) using the BookCreator app. BookCreator has many great features that make this exciting. They have added a comic book layout with great fonts, stickers, and panel designs and students can incorporate audio, photos, drawings, video and more. They also allow you to export a completed book as a video.

I’ll share one example of the books that students created below. I took all of the books from one group and uploaded them to WeVideo to string them together in one video. The students are highly motivated by this project, though we all wish we had more time!

#oneword2016

I’ve started to see, once again, members of my PLN on Twitter sharing their one word for 2016. They’re awesome and inspiring and got me thinking. I’m seeing words like #be and #empower. I imagine over the next few days as we near and enter 2016 that we’ll see more.

As educators, we’re often asked about that one teacher we remember. Or the one experience in a classroom we never forgot. Once I became a teacher, I wanted to be one of those teachers for my students. I imagined, as we followed the Iditarod live in the early days of utilizing the Internet for such things (around 1995), that my first and second grade students would always remember me as the teacher who guided them through that experience. Then we started creating websites and blogging, and I thought perhaps that was it.

But when I do run into students from the past, they often bring up what I shared as my ‘favorite word’ and how they never forgot that. Long ago, my students cut out 4 foot letters that spelled out the word TRY, decorated each of them, and helped me affix them to the wall.

Whenever a student was stuck or said, “I’m finished” after very little effort, I just pointed up to the word on the wall. As I thought about this post, I realized that my favorite word was a harbinger of times to come- before #grit and #mindset hit the scene.

That’s my word for 2016, as it has been for many, many years. I’m only sorry that I couldn’t find a photograph of the original.

try

We Are Coding, 2015

This year’s effort in our two schools for the Hour of Code surpassed last year’s. Thanks to the support and energy of a number of adults in our buildings, more of our students were exposed to plugged and unplugged activities!

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In the Allen Brook library, Denise set up a grid and engaged students in a physical coding activity.

robot turtlesWith our enrichment STEAM teacher, Julie, students programmed BeeBots and also played Robot Turtles, a fabulous board game to build coding skills.

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Special thanks to Linda for supporting the effort both in the computer lab with the Minecraft code.org activity and in kindergarten classrooms with Daisy the Dinosaur on the iPads.

Benoit

 

 

 

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One of our kindergarten teachers, Sharon, invited parents to come in after the students had already been introduced to coding. They kept it going throughout the rest of the week and plan to continue those efforts. Here’s her blog post about the week.

 

 

 

 


 

Over at Williston Central School, many of our third/fourth grade students had support from Colin, an 8th grader. Our school requires that all 8th graders complete an 8th Grade Challenge, a capstone project. Colin’s focus was on Hour of Code and helping younger students get on board. Both he and Sagui worked with most of the 3rd/4th grade classes.

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Colin K Helps Out - Dec 2015

Colin K Helps Out – Dec 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the WCS library, Ellen set up Drop In and Code times, along with coaches to support fellow students.

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Many of our middle school teams incorporated the Hour of Code last week and others continue this week. Thanks to Sterling, Swift, and Full House for getting on board!

IMG_2327       sterling1

Leah, our Design/Tech educator hosted an arcade at the end of the week for other adults and classrooms to visit. Throughout the trimester, students were coding using Scratch to create games. Then they used any materials (and they were varied!) to create controllers for the games, and finally they utilized Makey-Makeys to connect the two.

starwars

In addition, 10 of our middle school girls were treated to a Hangout with Marguerite Dibble, founder of Game Theory, a Vermont company. They asked questions, learned about her path, and got a glimpse of real life. Here’s a link to the recording of the Hangout. A special thanks to Lucie deLaBruere for her help in making this happen.

dibble

Of course, the work and fun continues Beyond the Code. Students and teachers are inspired and motivated. We’re hearing that it’s extending at home too! Thank you to everyone that made this possible.

I’ve put these photos, along with many more, together in a short video to showcase some of the highlights from last week. I know it doesn’t capture everything and everyone, but it’s a glimpse into the wonderful events that transpired.

 

 

 

Twitter, Again?

I’ve written quite a few posts that are about the power or usefulness of Twitter. Recently, I’ve noticed discussion on Twitter and in other forums about Twitter’s future. That has caused me to stop, pause, and reflect.

As an educator, I can’t think of a more perfect tool.

US ON TWITTER

I could share the many ways our teachers utilize Twitter as professionals and/or with their students. I could share how they’ve connected to experts, authors, other classes, and joined collaborative projects. I could share so many more things. But let’s keep this simple. I think Twitter provides us with something that other tools and sites do not – a quick way to share with, connect with, and access the world.

I saw this post yesterday, and hope that others will consider how we can use Twitter for GOOD. Let’s harness the power of this great tool, help one another, and move forward positively.

 

 

 

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