Monday, October 24, 2016

Stop, Collaborate, and Listen

Byron Nelson 9th Grader Zooming with Lakeview 2nd Graders

Second through Fifth Grade students at Lakeview Elementary began setting up their ePortfolios and requested "experts in the field" to showcase its capabilities and uses. Who better to ask than our very own high school students! iSchool Advocates and student leaders from Byron Nelson High School and Eaton High School had the opportunity to discuss their own ePortfolio in 20 minute segments with a designated grade level using Zoom, a free video conferencing tool. During each presentation time, the HS students were asked to discuss their ePortfolio as a whole, explain the importance of having an ePortfolio, and share a specific piece of work in the ePortfolio that makes them most proud. Each segment concluded with a Q&A session in which Lakeview students were able to ask questions to the high school students regarding creation and design of the ePortfolio.

During each video conference, students utilized the "Share Screen" feature of Zoom which enabled the Lakeview students to see how their ePortfolio may be organized and designed once content was added over the years. It was especially helpful that many HS students discussed things that they wanted to add or change in their ePortolios which models self-reflection and evaluation of content since ePortfolios are constant work in progress rather than a finished product.
Utilizing Share Screen feature to discuss exemplar work

This Zoom experience supported students' growth towards being a global collaborator in the expectation that students 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. Additionally, the high school students gained insight as an empowered learner in which they used technology to seek feedback that informs and improves their practice and [demonstrated] their learning in a variety of ways. (ISTE Student Standards 7a and 1c)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Writing Process Gone Digital

Teachers and students would easily agree revision is an important part of the writing process; however it is often cumbersome and difficult to accomplish within the constraints of a 45 minute class period.  Students in Mrs. Davis’ 8th grade GT class have taken this mundane task to the next level with a little help from Google.  

A structured process has been created in order for students to successfully collaborate with their peers as they work through the writing process digitally.  Students begin by drafting their original essay in Google Docs and then “share” their document with a classmate for feedback.  The partner is able to access the essay and provide “real-time” feedback by utilizing the comment feature available in Google Docs. The student writer is then able to view the feedback and reflect on their own work before progressing to the next stage.  As students analyze the comments received, they are able to evaluate changes they should make to their essay.  This allows students to take full advantage of the peer revision technique, while maintaining ownership of their writing. Once students are ready to share their published piece of writing with an authentic audience, they can feel confident in knowing their work is polished.  

In the example above, Anna and John were partners for the revision of their Definition of a Hero Essay.  Anna says one of the greatest benefits of this experience is, "Not having to stop to write on a sticky note or separate piece of paper. Often the comments on paper are unclear. This makes it easier to see the person's feedback and reply." John also expressed his appreciation for the ease of use associated with digital feedback, "The instantaneous collaboration is great! You and your partner can work from anywhere and you can both see what the other is doing."

Research supports the value of peer collaboration and discussion across all content areas and concepts. By providing students the opportunity for peer feedback on their writing, students were able to offer one another constructive critique in order to improve their own communication skills.  Extending, receiving, and evaluating feedback is a critical skill for all 21st Century Learners.  

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Riddle Me This

Second Graders at Clara Love Elementary are pros at justifying the number riddles that they wrote. The students in Mrs. Melbourn's class have been working on ways to represent numbers.  They have spent time working on whole number representation and relationships such as: odd, even, place value, comparing, and ordering.

To demonstrate their understanding of a whole number's position, they created Number Puzzle Flip Books.  After creating their flip book, students took a picture of a blank hundreds chart and created a voice over in Seesaw as they justified their thinking about the position of their number within the hundreds chart.

After adding their videos to their Seesaw Class, they spent time creating QR codes for their video to be placed with the Flip Book. Linking their work to a QR code allowed students to share with their authentic reasoning with an audience.

Alex, a student in Mrs. Melbourn's Class, shared that having an opportunity to record his voice to explain his thinking helped him really think through exactly what he was telling his audience. He went on to say, "It helped me kinda count and cross them out and helped other people kinda to learn. Then they know that 50 is an even number, because its 25 and 25."

Monday, October 3, 2016

No Markers, Map Colors, or Crayons Here

6th grade science students at Wilson Middle School were given the opportunity to not only read about Mars, but experience it visually through creation. Mr. Jason Deardorff and Mrs. Lindsey Warren challenged students to build a civilization on Mars digitally. Their final product had to solve at least 2 of the problems below and demonstrate solutions to the problems both of which strengthens the critical thinking skills. Students were given the Product Rubric at the beginning of the project to set the expectations high.

Topics of Choice:

1. How can humans live on Mars with the atmosphere? How can you change the atmosphere to be more like Earth’s? How can you invent a way that we can breathe the air on Mars?
2. What kind of accommodations would a vehicle need to be able to provide transportation on Mars with its terrain and gravity? Can you design a vehicle with the necessary components to navigate the surface of Mars safely and efficiently?
3. How can you provide food for your colony? Will you be able to grow food as in vegetables and other edible animals? How will you accommodate for the differences in the weather, minerals, atmosphere, soil quality, irrigation?
4. How will you stay safe on Mars? What will your shelter need to provide in order to protect your colony from the harsh conditions of Mars? (atmosphere, weather, terrain)
5. What is the difference in gravity between Earth and Mars? What are the effects of the different amount gravity on the human body? How will you design a way to cope with the different amount of gravity?

Several students chose the website which made this learning fun and interactive while allowing for collaboration and sharing of ideas while on the new school issued Dell Chromebook. Callie Summers, Christopher Papa, Natalie Herrera not only created great products, but came away from the lesson with a deep knowledge of how to create an atmosphere that would provide living on another planet such as Mars. Click on the picture below to view their projects.

Ava Coughron, Maggie Cowen, and Emma Hawkins stated, “We were given a PBA to civilize Mars. We then had to pick to real problems astronauts would have to face when going on Mars which is normal food and shelter. Our project shows how we solved this problem with an audio recording, a video, 4 images, 1 video, and lots of text boxes.” Check out their product below.

To showcase the student products, the teachers created a GALAXY WALK in order for students to visually interact and with each group product in one class period.

During the walk students would leave reflective feedback posts at each station. All of the students stated how much they enjoyed learning about Mars this way.

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