The Importance of Exhibition

One of the new features of our G21 framework is the expectation for exhibition, so that students have the opportunity to share their work. But aside from G21 projects, it’s still a powerful and necessary component of instruction, especially when it comes to the creative process.

Today at GMS – I walked into a technology class with Mr. Herbert and encountered students working on creating robotic vehicles using LEGO Mindstorms software and intelligent LEGO parts. While not formal by any means, the exhibition of skills was on full display. Students were working in small groups, and they were able to test their work in real time, and I saw them working towards writing better scripts to control their vehicles. Sometimes in constructionist learning, exhibition is a part of the learning process by design.

When I visited Ms. Ferguson’s classroom at RES later in the day, a student was asked to share a short story she had been working on as part of her GRIP project. The fact that Ms. Ferguson paused the book study they were doing and gave this student the “stage” to share her work was significant. She realized the importance of exhibition and what ensued were a lot of positive comments and feedback from her peers. The story was awesome, but even better for me was the mood boost that student received in getting an audience of her peers to validate her strong storytelling.

Exhibition of work happens a lot in our schools, but here are some ways you can make it happen:

  • Have students share their work with just one peer, and charge the listening student to ask one or more questions…
  • Have students capture their work in a digital format and post it online…
  • Use volunteers to become an audience for student work…
  • Create a podcast series and train students on how to add and publish episodes…
  • Start the end or beginning of each day with an exhibition…
  • Ask students to reflect in writing about what they have been learning…
  • Ask one student a day to exhibit in a safe, virtual space like Schoology…
  • Use the Schoology media library and invite students to upload their work; spend class or homework time in reviewing peer work with praise and constructive feedback

The last idea today was in play in Ms. Gill’s 5th grade classroom, where a pair of students shared with me and their class their social studies project on Ecuador. The feedback allows the whole class to learn some tips on avoiding extraneous noise in their next recording.

What students will develop in the repeated opportunities to exhibit their work and their learning is confidence and hopefully some inspiration for their peers!

Collaborative Writing Project – the eBook is Finished!

Over the last few weeks, students in Goochland County have been working on an exciting collaborative writing project.  Students in Mrs. Demas’s 4th grade class at GES and students in Ms. Gill’s 5th grade class at RES worked together in a virtual environment to research and write biographies about historical figures, found in our Virginia SOL’s.


The planning process began over one of our many snow days earlier this winter (literally, we met at Panera to plan out the details)!  Mrs. Demas and Ms. Gill wanted students to work on a nonfiction-writing piece that involved a bit of research.  They also wanted students to focus on the editing and revision aspects of writing.  With the writing SOL test right around the corner, we couldn’t think of a more authentic way to get the students writing for a real audience and critically analyzing their own work as well as others.


The teachers assigned partners and provided students with guidelines and a rubric, but the students used Google Docs to communicate with their partners and complete the work involved with this project.  To start with, students wrote autobiographies to introduce themselves to their partners.  Next, students wrote persuasive letters to each other to convince one another to write about a specific historical figure.  Finally, the collaborative research began.  Partner pairs had to decide who would collect specific pieces of information.  Students began writing, and shared their work with one another.  During the writing process, students often left each other “glows” and “grows” to improve their shared writing piece.  The comment feature of Google Docs make it easy to share thoughts.  Students realized that it is a challenge to combine writing styles to make one cohesive paper.  They had to reorder each other’s work so that the essay could flow from one topic to another in an appropriate sequence.  Teachers enjoyed watching the students engage in an extremely active revision and editing process.


The teachers and I were impressed with the end result!  You can check out the students’ book on Google Docs here (if you do not have an e-reader), or the eBook here (if you are using a mobile device).

RES Fine Arts and Film Festival

In April I had the opportunity to participate in a community-minded event at Randolph Elementary School that blended curriculum and the arts with 21st century skills.   It was the RES Fine Arts and Film Festival!  Planning for this event took place over the course of a year and involved participation in our district’s G21 program.  Many teachers were involved, yet the end products were student driven.


The event showcased student artwork created in art classwith Mrs. Edmonds.  Students also had the opportunity to show off their musical talents with Mr. Snead, the music teacher.  In addition, attendees had the opportunity to view student-created films.  Some students wrote scripts and filmed their products with their classes.  Other students worked in small groups.  Individual students were invited to submit their work as well.   There were so many films submitted, that we were unable to show them all!  We created a gallery of QR codes for visitors to view the submitted films, and a website as well.


One of the best pieces of this project was the element to help our community.  All attendees were asked to bring a book to donate to Goochland Family Services.  RES fourth graders made commercials to advertise the event, and to encourage others to bring books to the festival.  You can check out the commercials here (created with 30 Hands on the iPads).


Check out the Kindergarteners singing a song in Spanish.  Their singing was beautiful (and loud :)

Kindergarteners Perform at the FAFF


I am lucky to be a part of such a caring and creative community at RES!

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Regarding Social Media

A Goochland Schools Hosted Roundtable for Awareness

  •  How aware are you about the impact social media has on your child? 
  • How aware are you about how to use these tools safely? 
  • Are you interested in knowing more about how your son or daughter is using their cell phone?
When:  April 10, 2014 at 6:30 p.m
Where: Community Room, Reynolds Community College, Goochland Campus. We’ll cover this and more in a roundtable event with guests that includes GCPS teachers, principals, the Goochland Sheriff’s Office, and GCPS students. This event is free with light refreshments served.  

Technology Abounds at RES!

Walk the halls of RES, and you will be reminded instantly of how the teachers are advocating for students to learn 21st century skills!  All in one day you will see technology used at every level from kindergarten through fifth!


Yesterday, students with Ms. Taylor were using Edmodo and posting fluency practice.  They used the site MP3 Record to record the reading of a leveled passage, which was differentiated for each student.  I loved seeing how excited the kids were to improve their time with each recording.  They wanted to keep reading to improve their times and reading expression.  These kind students posted encouraging words to each other about how wonderful their reading sounds.  Her students also used Educreations to practice writing and reading social studies vocabulary.  They used the record feature to share the meaning of each vocabulary word.  Students were illustrating the vocabulary using the app as well!


4th grade students in Mrs. Hadd’s class used Educreations to practice story retellings.  They used an image of a retelling bookmark to guide their own retellings, as they recorded using the app.


4th grade students also worked with partners to complete a Jamestown WebQuest.  Ms. Sprouse spent her lunch time working with students (even working on the floor :) ) to help make the activity a success!


3rd graders in Ms. Goodings class practiced using assessment tools using Interactive Achievement.  They are a fantastic group of listeners and students!


Kindergarteners in Mrs. Tysinger’s class practiced digital skills on the iPads.  They were reading e-books and spelling CVC pattern words in the books they were reading.  Students learned to drag the appropriate letters into the correct order to fill boxes and spell words found in the ebooks.


I had constructive planning sessions with  the 1st grade team, the art teacher (Ms. Edmonds), the music teacher (Mr. Snead), and the school counselor (Mrs. Zorger).  They are all planning exciting projects using digital tools.  Their students will have various opportunities to integrate 21st century skills across all curriculum areas!


The staff at RES is incredibly hard working and inspiring (both to other colleagues and students) each day!  It is a great place to be :) .

Tech Team Road Show

Every year our technology team visits each faculty to talk about the changes and updates in Technology. This year Aesop for substitute calling was discussed, the changes made over the summer were outlined, the new Schoolnet software for online testing was previewed, YouTube changes were shown, the new AUP was highlighted, new blogging software, as well as, Edmodo and Twitter options were offered.  Finally, staff development was provided for WordPress and PowerSchool.