Monday, September 26, 2016

Remixing the Retake

When students do not perform as well as they would have liked on their first attempt of an assessment, they can request a "reteach-retake" for another opportunity to learn the content and demonstrate their understanding. Traditionally, quiz and test retakes are modified forms of the original assessments, either on paper or as a Moodle quiz. As future ready creative communicators, we want students to (1) choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication and (2) create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations (ISTE Student Standards 6a & 6b). What if students were given the option to decide how they demonstrate their learning, using any tool available?

Math students at Eaton HS are taking this approach. Instead of repeating the assessment in a similar format as the original assessment, students are utilizing technology to demonstrate their learning, given the grading rubric and a deadline. These constraints dictate the destination; students decide their own path how they get there, with great success.

Student quiz retake sample 1:

"My mom recorded the video as I talked through it and showed what I was doing. The video retakes makes it easier because you don't have to be at school to do it; you can do it anywhere. I feel like I learned it better than a paper retake because I was able to explain it; to explain it you have to know what you're doing." ~Algebra II student

Student quiz retake sample 2:
"We didn't have to do every single problem, so we worked them together. Each student separated their own problems in a box and worked through the problems and answers. We used the drawing tool to insert boxes and lines, including a number line. I felt like I understood the problems better than when I do a normal quiz retake because we helped each other work though the problems."
~Algebra II Student

Student quiz retake sample 3:

"You get your paper test back and all the questions you got wrong are marked wrong. So I went to the sketchpad website with a stylus and wrote the problem I got wrong, showed how to work the problem, and showed the right answer at the bottom. At the same time, I recorded myself speaking through the Chromebook what I did wrong, why I got it wrong, and how to do it correctly. So I know in the future how to do it correctly." ~Algebra II Student

Using their choice of technology to demonstrate their understanding in a different way has resulted in increased engagement and understanding, meanwhile building skills students need to become creative communicators.

Tools used in the student samples above:

Other resources:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Math, Virtually Anywhere

Students at Lakeview, Peterson, Sendera Ranch, and Nance are taking part in their very first virtual classroom. These 4th and 5th graders are taking an Advanced Math course with Lakeview’s GATES teacher, Mrs. Andrews. Each morning, students arrive at their designated location and connect with their teacher and classmates via Zoom on their Chromebooks.

Students are able to access all course content through Google Classroom. This can include instructional videos, presentations, links to resources, and so much more. Together they have been able to experience the world of online learning and discover what it means to be part of an online community.

forblog.pngActually working together to complete a task in their virtual classroom has been a new experience for them all. While being connected through Zoom, students have used Google Slides to collaborate during the work period. Zachary shared how that process works, “Since there's a chat button we chat to each other to share our ideas with each other.” Braylen goes on to say his collaboration in Google Slides is primarily done through the commenting feature. He and his partner are able to compare their answers and discuss any differences by leaving each other a comment. Both boys see great value in working collaboratively with their peers, both in person and virtually.

When asked what Zachary has enjoyed most about his experience in a virtual classroom, he said, “I like this because we get to connect with other people, learn new ideas from them, and work together with new classmates who have different math skills than everyone else in the classroom”.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Making Our First Debut via YouTube

When Tidwell MS students signed up for theater, they didn't realize that they'd also be video stars! On the first day of school, student's in Mr Savell's Theater Class were tasked with a challenge. After watching a short video of a young girl explaining how to do Elsa make up, groups of students were given the choice of creating a YouTube video or Wiki How page on a concept related to theater. Their target audience was sixth grade students who needed to know more about theater tips. Submissions ranged from theater make-up and hair dos to rules of theater and stage fights. 

Mr. Savell wanted to assess student's prior knowledge with this activy, so created a few simple expectations. Students had to show:   

  • A clear understanding of what they already knew
  • That they could teach others in a clear manner
  • An organized and clear video
  • A Peer Evaluation

Karis, Trevor, and Mike created their video on how to do theater make up. This was fun for Karis becuase she got to show the right way to put on make up, while the boys showed the incorrect way. "We had to cooperate and step out of our comfort zone to get the video done," commented Mike. We were a little nervous about doing the video at first becuase it's hard to put yourself out there." Trevor added, "I learned that you can't be scared of your voice."

The group wanted to make sure that they taught their audience in a clear, but fun way. "As nervous as we were to do the video, it felt really good when everyone laughed as they watched our tutorial. They weren't laughing at us, they were laughing because our video was informative and funny. When we saw other's react, we realized that we had accomplished our goal." This was also a great way for students to get to know each other. Karis and Trevor mentioned that they didn't know Mike before this project, but they had a lot of fun getting to work together.

Karis was the video editor of the group and added, "I had used iMovie a little before, but I didn't really know that I could zoom, switch music tracks, and voice over." She explored details within the app in order to make sure that their video portrayed the right message.  

Mallory, Ashleigh, Kamille, and Madi created their video on how to create the Cinderella look. "I never thought I’d make a video in theater, but I loved it" commented Mallory. When asked what they learned through this process, Madi points out, "When we watched the YouTube video, it looked really simple, but when we started making one, we realized that we really had to think about the setting, props, and what we were going to say so that others would understand it."

All four girls had a different role in the video making process. Mallory did most of the editing and used iMovie on her iPhone. "I used iMovie so that I could mute out background noise and add voice over." Mallory mentioned that she has used iMovie with her friends before, but it was fun using it for an actual school project. "I also showed the video to my brother before turning it in to make sure that he could understand our steps," added Mallory.

Students filled out a peer evulation sheet that held everyone accountable to their video contributions. Kamille concluded, "Students should do this next year, because it was a great way to get to know each other, see what we had in common, and learn about communication."

Mallory, Madi, Kamille, and Ashleigh's Video

Karis, Trevor, and Mike's Video

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Student Profiling for STEM Success

Students at the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Academy at Northwest High School started this school year with a project where their goal was to further define what it is to be a STEM student.  The project, Profile of a STEM Student, utilized NISD's own Profile of a Graduate as a starting point, but then elaborated and transformed the profile to their own definition for STEM students.  According to Jayden, a student in Mrs. Garrett's engineering class, "the NISD Profile of a Graduate was too broad for us, so this project helped us design one for STEM that was more specific to what we need to learn for college and our careers."
Project Notebooks

The project consisted of multiple parts: gathering information, generating categories for the profile, building their profile, designing a presentation, and giving the presentation in class.  "We documented every step of the process in our Project Notebooks," said Jayden, "including brainstorming, our presentation notes, and our categories that we designed for the profile."

The greatest part of the project was the opportunity for students to choose their own categories that they thought best exemplified the profile of a STEM student.  While some categories were required by the project instructions (core beliefs, mission, college and career readiness), the students got to choose three of their own, such as work-ethic, relationships, responsibilities, or anything else they thought was most important for them.  Chris and Matt, two students from the same group, explained to me some of their group's choices.  "STEM Academy classes use lots of Project Based Learning, so we chose what we thought was best for that."  For example, "we chose work-ethic as one of our categories because time management and working as a team on a project is important for getting things done, just like in a job."

Mrs. Garrett's class
After assembling their profiles, the groups presented their work to the class.  They also got to choose their presentation medium, as long as it was an online presentation.  Most groups chose to use Google Slides for their presentation.  "It's just easier to use and access," said Mark.  "Collaboration was important, and Slides allowed us to all work on the presentation at the same time."  All the presentations were judged by student peers, with senior students judging freshman projects, in order to give constructive feedback on their first ever STEM presentations.

For students, choice is important.  This project gave them a choice, not only in the project itself, but in creating the ideal profile for the rest of their school career as a STEM student.  Check out the links below to see the project instructions, the grading rubric, and some examples of the visual portion of the student presentations.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Google Drive Classroom

Students in Mrs. Gierisch's 2nd grade class at Wayne A. Cox Elementary have turned their classroom inside out.  They were given the opportunity to test out a class set of Chromebooks.  The students had never logged into Google, and their teacher had only used Google Drive a little bit.  After 3 weeks these kids were on fire.  They are now using Google Drive daily.
  At first, they just practiced their Google log in, then slowly they explored adding folders, Docs, Slides, and Draw.  Mrs. Gierisch also taught them the importance of their email.  Through a shared Google Doc they can access a link straight to their NISD email.  They have practiced checking it daily.  Students have always come into the room each day and completed morning work, only now their work might be sent through email or even posted in a shared folder from their teacher.


Example of Morning Work

Students First Shot at Google Slides

Over the last month, these students have learned so much! For example in Science, they learned about and researched different stages of a butterfly lifecycle. Then worked in groups to collaborate and create this google slide to present their learning. Last week they were even confident enough in their latest learning of Google Slides to present at our district's Night of No Limits.  Google Drive has changed the way these students learn!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kid Created News

Teachers know the importance of communication from the classroom to the community. Our teacher challenged the class to come up with ideas of new ways to send out monthly newsletters to our parents. Getting students involved and to take charge of this classroom task was quite a challenge. Mrs. Degnan, 4th grade teacher, Nance Elementary had the students look at several options and once she picked her editors it became clear to use the subscription service called

The top editors were chosen by Mrs. Degnan and the class. Redd, McKenzi, and Lexi where honored with this position. All three students were chosen because of their leadership and their ability to get the job done. The team begun to hire other students for the different jobs: photographers and writers. Publications feature articles about each of our content area subjects, as well as the exciting happenings going on in 4th grade and around the building. Articles included, diagrams, fun facts, pictures and/or videos. We used the classroom iPads at first for our choice of device, but sometimes quality was an issue. We eventually hired a student who was a professional photographer/videographer who participated in the photography club at school. This made our pictures and videos much higher quality! We also borrowed laptops from 5th grade because they were more adept at meeting our needs and were easier to navigate than the ipads.

Over time we wanted to include student made video tutorials explaining how they did the problems in math (division, multiplication, etc.). We also added many science videos too. We had another great idea...interviews! It became our mission to feature all students in our classes. It was easy to feature kids that stand out, but we found that some of our reluctant or shy students have loved having the opportunity to be highlighted. Some of the students in our class were really good at interviewing people so we hired them. These students chose special people to interview and even formed their own questions. We interviewed people like Mrs. Chaney, the principal, PTA members, and teachers and they became part of our interactive newsletter. This exchange of information became a teaching/learning tool as well. Students that missed concepts or did not understand a concept would ask for videos to made for better understanding. Students led these informal tutoring sessions and parents were delighted to understand how their child was learning in school.

To engage our readers, we added an interesting piece called “Fun Facts”. Throughout the given school day students would walk around ask weird things like “How many teeth does a rhino have?” so we researched them and posted them on our newsletter. Our students here at Nance are extremely good writers so we have a section to showcase student work like essays and poems. A LOT OF POEMS! Again, student work became the highlight of our newsletter. We wanted to give all students a voice in our newsletter.

Our teacher nominated us to present our newsletters at TechnoExpo 2016. We had a blast preparing our presentation and as luck would have it, one of our editors came down with Pneumonia. McKenzi and Lexi brainstormed ways that Redd could still participate even though he had become very ill. We called our campus IT Coach and she suggested why not use the web conferencing tool called Zoom? With her help we ZOOMED Redd in and they presentation went as scheduled – the girls were at NHS and Redd was at home. We felt empowered and our presentation was great!

Our newsletter has sparked the interest of hundreds of followers around the world. We have been delighted in the response. Check us out! We really are fabulous!

We hope to inspire students all across the world to use technology to present and share their work to others.

This article was written by Redd, Lexi, and McKenzi in collaboration with Mrs. Egle

Click each image to view our newsletters

Monday, May 16, 2016

Mythical Mayhem: Learning Mythology via Student-Created Game

Athena, Hades, & Zeus... oh my! What's better than a fun online game? One that is fun, educational, and created by students. 

Eaton High School Computer Science and English students have been working together on a cross-curricular project to create an educational game to learn Greek Mythology. English students supplied details of several gods and goddesses they learned in class, including storylines, attributes, strengths, weakness, etc. to Computer Science students, who are using their Java programming skills to create an educational game. The goal of the game is for players to learn about Greek Mythology characters, advancing up multiple levels based on the players' demonstrated knowledge of each character.

Students are facilitating this project in Google Drive and used Google Folders to organize the content, planning documents, resources, graphics, and student-created video progress updates. As the "customers", English students and their teacher were able to collaborate in Google Docs to model a real-world game design contract to ensure all parties were in agreement on the details of the final product before any coding began. Now that the Computer Science students are in development phase, with a project manager, coding team leader, and graphics team leader, all ensuring the details of the project are progressing smoothly. One of the most powerful components of this project is the series of progress videos that students create. A portion of one of these videos is below:

This project is still ongoing, so the game is not yet complete. This short screencast shows the look and feel of the game thus far:

Not only is this project fun and educational, students are also demonstrating several technology skills they are expected to possess in order to be future ready learners, including:
  • Creativity & innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, & decision making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. 
  • Communication & collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

To learn more about Eaton's Computer Science program, follow them on Twitter: @EatonCompSci