Monday, May 22, 2017

Extra Work for Extra Curricular? Leaders Make It Worth It

This school year, 7 Hills Elementary embarked on their journey as a  Leader in Me campus. The Leader in Me program cultivates leadership skills in students and encourages a culture of shared responsibility.  Students have taken their new title of “Leader” very seriously and often seek out ways to improve their own school.  Recently, leaders noticed that while there were several opportunities to be involved across campus, most parents were unaware of these options.  With the help of school librarian (Melissa Quisenberry) and student leaders (Kate, Cami, and Haylyn) the group was able to solve this problem.  

After careful consideration as to the ways parents seek out information about their child’s school, leaders decided the best option would be to design a website showcasing all the extra-curricular activities available at 7 Hills.  Leaders quickly got to work researching the different clubs and snapping pictures of each club in action.  Once they had gathered everything they needed, it was time to start designing a website.  Ms. Q was able to meet with the girls and discuss their options for website creation tools.  As a team, they decided Google Sites would serve their purpose well.  Student leader Kate was impressed with how easy it is to use Google Sites.  “I learned how to create websites.  Which is something I don’t do a lot.  I liked that it was simple and easy.”  

Students “Put First Things First” and chose to use their own lunchtime to complete the project.  Ms. Q allowed students to take the reigns on the website and provided only minimal support throughout the process.  The freedom Ms. Q granted her students allowed them to take ownership in the content.  Since Google Sites allows multiple users to work on a website simultaneously, students even worked on the project from home.  Haylyn and Kate both shared how much they enjoyed being able to “Synergize” on the project even when away from school.  Kate stated, “I liked that I could work on it with friends anywhere.”  One of the greatest benefits of utilizing Apps available in the Google Suite is the ability to collaborate on tasks remotely.  The dedication these leaders had paid off with a user friendly and informative website.  Ms. Q linked their website to the school’s main website so parents could easily access it.  Click here to take a look!

In the future, these leaders plan to update club information and add additional pictures.  They also hope to provide a way for other students to sign up for a club through a form on their Site.  With this student driven activity, Ms. Q inspired students to create a valuable tool that will serve their campus for years to come.  Throughout the process, students gained valuable skills in Communication and Collaboration as outlined in the ISTE standards 6 A, C, D.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

Peer Feedback on the Rise!

Third Graders in Mrs. Carpenter's Class at Clara Love Elementary recently began conversations on Main Idea.  Students spent three days learning about what a main idea was and how to determine the main idea of a piece of text.  In order to get a temperature  check on her students to determine their level of understanding, Mrs. Carpenter set up a Collaborative Google Slide. Together as a class, they focused on an article and then students found the main idea of any paragraph or section that they chose.

Mrs. Carpenter created a slide template with 2 colored boxes: something I've learned and something I'm still confused about.  She took some time with the class to model how to add a new slide using the template. They had to complete one green box about something they learned, one red box about a misconceptions, and then comment on at least 2 others red boxes.

Students went right to work discovering main ideas, determining the new material they had learned, questioning their understanding to take it deeper and helping others find answers to the questions they still had.  This assignment not only held students accountable for their own learning, but also allowed them to give and receive immediate feedback.  The teacher was able to gage where everyone's understanding was not only on their own new learning and misconceptions, but also on the feedback they were able to give.

Following this activity, Mrs. Carpenter also set up collaborative Google Slides for poetry. Check back to see how they advanced in their understanding of the templates and commenting feature of Slides.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Interactive Periodic Table of Elements Using #GAFE

Sixth graders at Wilson Middle School were challenged to design and create digital posters of a chosen element from The Periodic Table of Elements using Google Draw.  Google Draw allows its’ users to collaboratively design their element posters. Students were advised of the rubric and each element poster was shared. 
6th grade, GAFE, Wilson Middle School, Science, Periodic Table of Elements, Google Drawings, Google Sites, Mrs. Lindsay Warren, creativity, QR Codes, Digital Design, Digital Learning,

After creating their own unique QR Code for each element, the students were able to embed them on the digital table. 

 Mrs. Warren not only wanted a very large model of the project in her classroom, but she also wanted to create a website for the students to use and share as to prepare for the upcoming assessments.  After reviewing options for showcasing their elements, students chose the website application Google Sites. With Sites, text and images come alive!. The teacher was able to create the original site and then let the students take it from there. Sites allows the creator to grant editing accesses to other users. Mrs. Warren added the students and supported them as they made decisions regarding design and organization.  The group editors consisted of Jenna, Gilbert, Carson, Sydney, Reese, Owen, and Gabriel.  Group editors provided feedback to others by editing content for errors in spelling and punctuation. Gilbert and Owen stated, “We improved all punctuation and were able to move things around to make things organized and readable.” 

Sydney and Reese both said, “This surely wasn't an individual project. We had a team that worked hard together and completed this project as fast and precisely as we could.” Gabriel and Jenna summed it up well, "We loved this project because we got to learn facts about the Periodic Table of Elements in a fun way. We didn’t just have to listen to the teacher talk, we got to create and learn at the same time." They both agreed that next year's class should do this project. "I think they’ll have fun," said Carson.

Mrs. Lindsey loves how Google tools make quick, effective collaboration and communication a snap.  “It frees more time to spend on teaching and learning which makes this an ideal environment for the 21st century classroom,” she stated. This completed site was posted onto Mrs. Warren’s Moodle page to allow students to access 24/7 for reflection and review. 

These activities are aligned with ISTE Student Standards:
1. Empowered Learner - Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students: a. Build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
b. Use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

2. Digital Citizen
- Students recognize the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of living, learning and working in an interconnected digital world, and they act and model in ways that are safe, legal and ethical. Students:a. Engage in positive, safe, legal and ethical behavior when using technology, including social interactions online or when using networked devices.
b. Demonstrate an understanding of and respect for the rights and obligations of using and sharing intellectual property.

3. Knowledge Constructor
- Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.  Students:
a. Plan and employ effective research strategies to locate information and other resources for their intellectual or creative pursuits.

b. Curate information form digital resources using a variety of tools that methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.

4. Innovative Designer
- Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students:
a. Select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.

 6. Creative Communicator - Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students:
a. Choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
b. Create original works or responsibly re purpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
c. Communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations. 
d. Publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

7. Global Collaborator
- Students use digital tools to broaden their perspectives and enrich their learning by collaborating with others and working effectively in teams locally and globally. Students:          
a. Use digital tools to connect with learners from a variety of backgrounds and cultures, engaging with them in ways that broaden mutual understanding and learning.
b. Use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.
c.  Contribute constructively to project teams, assuming various roles and responsibilities to work effectively toward a common goal.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Annotation Videos for the Win

Eaton High School students are using features on their Chromebooks to take an active role in their learning. One method to capture their understanding is video; examples include students recording themselves talking through their thinking, recording each other conducting interviews, creating screencasts, and so much more. This article features a unique method of using digital tools to explain their understanding of processes: a digital whiteboard combined with a screencast recorder. Two classes, Geometry and Chemistry, use this strategy to enable students to collaborate on how to solve a problem and then verbally explain the solution while annotating to show details step-by-step.

In Geometry class, students work in groups to create their own word problem to solve a missing component of a right triangle using trigonometry functions. Each group rolled dice to find two numerical components and drew a playing card to determine if the trig function is basic trig or inverse trig. Given just these three simple components, students constructed a unique word problem to introduce a scenario with a missing piece that needed to be solved. Students then worked through solving the problem, each group member providing part of the solution in the video. Once complete, each group submitted their video in Moodle and the next day each class watched all the videos to verify accuracy and vote on the winning video of the class. This activity provided an opportunity for students to be creative in their learning and provide peer feedback on their work.

Geometry Video #1

Geometry Video #2

In Chemistry class, students work together to predict the products of a chemical reaction. Each group is given only the chemical reactants and must combine several steps: identify the type of reaction, predict the chemical products that will be formed, and balance the equation. After first working through the chemical reaction on paper and getting it verified by the teacher, students then recorded their solution using the whiteboard and screencast tools, each student explaining a portion of the solution with their reasoning. Once complete, each group added their video to a shared class Google Slide, in which each slide represented one chemical reaction. This activity provided students the opportunity to work through several steps of a solution from beginning to end, demonstrate their understanding, and contribute to a class set of video explanations. This collective document was then available to all students as a review to help them work through similar problems while preparing for an upcoming exam.

Chemistry Video #1

Chemistry Video #2

These activities are aligned with ISTE Student Standards:

1. Empowered Learner: Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences.
1a. Articulate and set personal learning goals, develop strategies leveraging technology to achieve them and reflect on the learning process itself to improve learning outcomes.
1c. Students use technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and to demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways.

6. Creative Communicator: Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals.
6a. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.
6b. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
6d. Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

Visit to learn more about the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)

Monday, April 24, 2017

A Digitized Novel Study

Third graders at Beck Elementary recently completed their reading of The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo. Throughout the reading of this novel, students were tasked with maintaining a digital notebook that would document their discussions, experiences, and learning. 

Students responded to the text in a variety of ways. Getting to know the key characters in the book provided students with the opportunity to analyze character traits that could be supported with text evidence. Beckett, in Mrs. Bell’s class, said, “using different apps, like the whiteboard app, helped us have evidence for our thoughts and allows us show response in pictures and drawing.” Digital tools, such as, the Aww App and Tagul were introduced to students as a way for them to share their thinking about the novel’s characters. 

Mrs. Phillips’ student, Wyatt, felt challenged throughout his work on his digital notebook and his Recap responses. “The most challenging part of our digital novel study was the questions were really tricky and you had to really think and deeply analyze the novel to understand it.” Responding to their reading verbally, using Recap, encouraged students to think deeply about their responses. It was especially empowering for their voices to be heard by their peers as they shared their recorded responses.

An extension menu was also provided to students to access throughout the study. This menu provided students with choice as they responded to their reading in a variety of ways. Support for completing the tasks on the extension menu was provided by the teachers via Screencastify. Instructional videos created by the teacher allowed students to work independently, at their own pace. The extension menu exposed students to new tech tools and provided differentiated learning experiences to students based on their strengths and needs.

On any given day, throughout the novel study, students within their classrooms could be found working on projects of their choice in response to their reading using Buncee, Google Docs, Google Slides and a variety of other digital tools. With choices on the extension menu such as: creating a personal intriguing word wall from each chapter, keeping a summary journal from their reading, publishing a “must read” newspaper article and designing a digital poster to represent a character, it was no surprise that student engagement was through the roof. 

As their reading of the novel came to a close, students had choice again in their final product. Options included creating a book trailer, writing a reader’s theater script or creating an interview with the main character, Edward. These risk-free tasks provided students with a platform to create and collaborate on their learning from the novel study. Some of these tools used to complete these projects were Animoto, DoInk and Canva. Students added their final product as a slide to their digital journal. 

Loseli, also in Mrs. Bell’s classroom, found this project to be good preparation for future learning. “The digital notebook enhanced my learning by introducing me to new websites that can help me with more of my extension projects or more of my learning throughout the year.”

Additional student notebooks can be viewed HERE.

Monday, April 17, 2017

From Note Taking to Site Creating

Students work on their Science Sites
Tidwell Middle School 6th grade students are taking ownership of their learning as web designers in science. Mr. Anderson and Mr. Tate's classes were asked to create their own Google Site recapping learning from the year. This process allowed students to reflect on learned information, organize their thoughts within pages/sub pages, make their learning visual with pictures and GIFs, and share with others. Using a list of topics from the year, students got to choose which topics they wanted to explore in more detail. 

Two students, Yune and Kayla, learned a lot throughout this process and went above and beyond to make their site unique and effective. Yune points out, "I’ve learned a lot more about energy during this unit, because I have had to do my own research. It has opened my mind up to things that I haven’t thought about before." Kayla adds, “This was really fun because I got to learn how to design a website while I was reviewing the science I had learned." She adds, "I love keeping things organized, so this project helped me do that."

One aspect that both of these students learned was how to organize information in an effective way. Kayla states, "I had never heard of sub pages before. Sub pages are really helpful when you have a lot of information to put together." Students also learned about the importance of visuals and the impact that they can have. Mr. Anderson sent a Google Slides template to students to encourage them to identify types of energy and include a GIF or image that would show that specific energy type. "The GIFs are important for energy types because you can actually see the motion," claims Kayla.

When asked what was unique about their site, Yune responded, "I included a Google Form in my website for visitors to quiz themselves. At first I just listed questions, but during this project, Mr. Tate showed me how to create a Google Form." Kayla's site is unique in that she created it to look like a school yearbook. She even disguised her definitions page to resemble student quotes.

Designing a website requires research, organized thinking, visual learning, and allows students to personalize their work. "The plan is for students to take these sites with them as a living document that they can easily access, even after this year," stated Mr. Tate. He added, "I would have liked for students to leave each other feedback and expand their audience." Mr. Anderson showed the students how to add a feedback form to their site, so that they can start helping each other during the process later in the year. The Google Sites that have been created are only the beginning for these students!

Check out a few more student examples here: 
Student ISTE Standards:

  • 1b: Students build networks and customize their learning environments in ways that support the learning process.
  • 3c: Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizationsmodels or simulations.
  • 6b: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • 6cStudents communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizationsmodels or simulations.