Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘classroom’ Category

I met with our kindergarten teachers earlier this week. We’ve got some changes underway for next year and we met to talk about what that looks like for kindergarten. We’re expanding the use of Chromebooks with first and second graders and dismantling our computer lab. Where does that leave the 6 kindergarten classes? Also joining us was my colleague who does a lot (most!) of the technology integration work at our preK-2 building. She provides amazing knowledge and insight.

The kindergarten team will have access to two carts of shared iPads next year. They’ve had that, but without a computer lab there will be a greater focus on using the iPads. We talked about the apps we have and what else we might potentially want. Then I remembered something that one of our first/second grade colleagues said at a recent gathering. She shared that with all of the flashy new tools, apps, and devices, she chooses to focus on one thing each year and do that one thing well.

do one thing wellWith that in mind we thought about the one thing they might choose to do well for the next school year in terms of technology integration in kindergarten.

After some great dialogue, they decided that they’d use the SeeSaw app, and other apps as well. We focus on apps that help students demonstrate learning and that work well on shared iPads. Was using SeeSaw the one thing? Maybe, but the discussion continued!

We also talked about old checklists we used to have to illustrate basic technology skills (students can log in, open an application, right click, etc.) and how that’s gone by the wayside. Instead, we took a close look at the ISTE Standards for Students. What if we focused on some of those as our one thing?

Keeping our focus on kindergarten students, we discussed the Digital Citizen, Innovative Designer, and Creative Communicator standards and they felt like a good fit. There was agreement that of course they could work on more than that, potentially adding the Global Collaborator standard to the mix. We brainstormed what that might look like for a sample unit of study about plants. Students might take photos of plants in different stages of growth, draw a diagram of a plant with labels, or record a short video explaining the life cycle of a seed, all within SeeSaw and possibly incorporating other apps for creation. Students will demonstrate learning and their work toward those standards and share with one another and parents.

It’s evolving and feeling good. The team of technology integration specialists in my school district have been developing learning targets for the ISTE Student Standards. I’ll be sharing those with our faculty when they’re complete.

These kindergarten teachers are starting with curriculum and then determining how best to integrate technology to support and enhance learning with students. SeeSaw allows them to document, share, and grow a portfolio of their work. This powerful team of kindergarten teachers is on the road to their one thing.

 

 

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

After filling out the form multiple times earlier this year to bring the Google Expeditions Pilot Project to our school and getting multiple responses that they weren’t coming to Vermont, that finally changed. We were honored to have the opportunity to engage our students with Expeditions at the end of April.

IMG_2948Throughout the course of that day, 15 of our educators and their students traveled to the Himalayas, the Galapagos Islands, National Parks, Monuments, under the sea to coral reefs, and explored careers in STEM to name a few.

Teachers were happy to guide students on these expeditions that so closely connected with and supported the learning that was already happening in the classroom. Since then, I’ve heard both students and teachers referring to it, taking it further, and repeatedly stopping to tell me that it was a valuable day. IMG_2949

One Humanities teacher, Lauren Wesnak, works with 7th and 8th graders, had approached me even before this came to be a reality (yes, that’s a pun) about obtaining some cardboard viewers for another virtual reality (VR) project. We ran it by our principals and got the nod to move forward. We purchased eight Cardboard viewers and when they arrived, I recruited some students to help assemble them. They told me that this was the best thing we’ve ever done in our school.

Here’s a quote from Lauren about this experience:

As each student put the Google Cardboard to their face and the video began, you could see a smile stretch across each student’s face! This happened with every single student. Students were also saying “WOAH!” or “NO WAY!” while watching. There were also a few moments when students actually waved back to scuba divers they saw or reached out to touch the elephant or giraffe that was in the video. These reactions alone made the experience not only worth it, but alerted me to how powerful of a teaching tool Google Cardboard really, truly is. To see students reacting with such true emotion to a learning experience is something you hope to have happen in every class, but unfortunately due to time restraints or curriculum needs this can’t always happen. Google Cardboard is allowing you to create these emotionally charged and connected learning experiences EVEN IF you have limited time. Today we used Discovery Channel VR to view a video of endangered species in their habitats in order for us to gain a greater understanding of their environment and their life. This is in direct connection to our Endangered Places Project which is our final project for our Global Geography Unit.

IMG_3012I observed the students as they saw elephants up close and saw them physically jump back when it seemed like they were too close!

Lauren gave her students this prompt: How did using a VR experience change or enhance the way you feel about the importance of protecting endangered environments and animals?

 

Here are some of their responses:

It was cool cause I could see what things looked like close up. If you have only ever seen pictures then this really helps your understanding process of how they act in their natural environment.
Using the VR headset you really realize how amazing and how special these animals are which you can’t experience anywhere else besides actually going there. It gave me a new perspective on these animals.
It just made me think like wow, now I know what it’s like to have these In the same environment as these endangered species. I notice how the Rhinos tusk was cut off. These animals were so beautiful now I really want to help protecting them.
Whilst I was watching VR I realized what these environments really are like. How bare they can look and how the animals have to survive. Its really cool showing all these different animals and how they interact with people who aren’t harming them. They all act peaceful and kind towards the human.

Next steps… we hope to make our own 360 videos to view using the Cardboard viewers!

 

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Post 20 on the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeHow do you curate student work–or help them do it themselves?


 

spinningThe prompt for this post has my head spinning in a variety of directions. I’ll share some examples of how I curate student work in my role as Technology Integration Specialist. I also have ideas for what I’d do if I were a classroom teacher.

We have carts of shared iPads in our two school buildings. Students create a variety of projects that they then want to share with others. We created YouTube accounts for the carts and use the YouTube channels as a location to upload and store video-based projects. From there, students can get the link or embed code to share their projects with others in blogs or via email.

Last year we did an integrated project around the time of the Olympics. Students created short videos and then linked to them using the Aurasma app and augmented reality. That was tons of fun and a new way to share our learning. I wrote about that here.

If I were a classroom teacher, I’d definitely suggest that students share their work via their own blogs. It’s a perfect place to curate and share, as well as receive feedback and comments from others. Another tool that would be highly effective for curating and sharing their work would be ePortfolios. We have a few teams exploring different models and tools for ePortfolios this year and I am excited to with them and support that effort.

Finally, the arrival of Google Classroom has positively impacted how teachers and students curate work. I’ve already received very positive feedback from teachers using Classroom and from parents as well. I look forward to seeing how it evolves.


 

Image: creative commons licensed (BY-NC-ND) flickr photo by krissen: http://flickr.com/photos/krissen/8689944802

Read Full Post »

Post 14 in the TeachThought 30-Day Blogging ChallengeWhat is feedback for learning and how well do you give it as an educator?


 

feedback

Feedback is critical for learning. However, there are some important elements that must be in place for feedback to be effective.

1. First we need to build community. Whether adopting and implementing the principles of Responsive Classroom or building community in other ways, students need to feel safe, trusted, and respected. They need to know how to communicate and collaborate.

2. We need to develop a culture in which students know making mistakes is part of the learning process. Edutopia shared this post a few years ago that still resonates with me, The Role of Mistakes in the Classroom.

3. We need a growth mindset and clear definitions of how we grow and learn. I’ve been revisiting Jackie Gerstein’s post, The Educator with a Growth Mindset, a few times in recent weeks.

4. We need an audience. It can’t only be the teacher and classmates. Here’s a quote from How Digital Writing is Making Kids Smarter, that illustrates the value of a larger audience.

“Academic studies have found that whenever students write for other actual, live people, they throw their back into the work -– producing writing with better organization and content, and nearly 40 percent longer than when they write for just their instructor,” Thompson writes.

5. We need to learn about feedback and commenting. This is something we intentionally teach. What are the parts of a good comment? How do we give one another feedback? How will it help us and impact our work? How do we interact with others in person and online?

I rely on the classroom teachers with whom I work to establish these elements in the culture of their classrooms. When I get the privilege of working with them, I see the impact that learning feedback has on their experience in school. When these elements are in place, the real learning happens. Feedback truly is for learning.


Image: creative commons licensed (BY-SA) flickr photo by Karl Horton: http://flickr.com/photos/karlhorton/1903050006

 

Read Full Post »

Post #5 from the 30-Day Blogging Challenge: “Post a picture of your classroom and describe what you see and what you don’t see that you’d like to.”


 

Since I’m not a classroom teacher, I can’t compose this post the same way that others might. I work in two computer labs, an office, a hub-closet that I use as an office, online, and in many classrooms. Rather than post a picture of my classroom, I’m going to post a picture of our new Chromebooks. Read on…

As I mentioned in this post, we are about to take off with our first 1:1 pilot with Chromebooks. Our amazing technical staff has come up with an ingenious way to store, charge, and secure the Chromebooks. The Chromebooks are not going home with students, thus the need to figure that out. Also, since this is a pilot, we didn’t want to invest in carts just yet.chromebooks

Take a look at what they came up with!

The Chromebooks will reside in dish racks. Each teacher has two dish racks filled with the devices.  They’ll come in each morning to their team office area and take the two dish racks out of the closets and into their classrooms for the day.

They plug in to power strips that have timers. We plan to have them charge for 2 hours during the wee hours of the night, at less peak power times. We can’t thank the technicians, network administrators, and maintenance staff enough for their hard work and perseverance.

What’s missing in this photo? The students! Students will get their Chromebooks early next week. Teachers are starting immediately with the Digital Passport site created by Common Sense Media. Digital Citizenship comes first.

This is all very exciting and there’s a lot of work ahead of us. My “classroom” has grown!

 

Read Full Post »