Animating Science with Scratch

One hallmark of true understanding is when students understand material well enough to reteach that information to others.  5th grade students have been doing just that by creating animations to teach science concepts to other students.  Students have created animations to share information about the scientific method, simple machines, electricity, meteorological instruments, astronomers, and ecosystems.  The students plan to share their creations with other students throughout the school as they learn about these scientific subjects.

 

    

Using Scratch to Create Learning Opportunities for Others

Students in Ms. Cosby’s class were given the task to create review materials using the Scratch program.   They learned how to use Scratch by self selecting video tutorials to learn new skills they could apply to their products.  Some students even taught skills based on request to the class using self-developed mini-lessons.  Students choose to create interactive games, a few created animations that included question and answer sections, and others created programs that resembled popular games like Jeopardy.

 

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iNACOL14

The vast majority of us have attended conferences on multiple topics throughout our career. I, for one, have attended ones ranging from the National Science Teachers to the most recent iNACOL. These conferences keep one up to date on the latest and greatest pedagogy and techniques alike. I have to say though that if it is the use of technology in the classroom, online and/or blended learning, iNACOL surpasses them all.

If we have ever sat down and had a conversation of where I think education is headed and needs to explore, then you know that blended and online learning are at the top of my list. We should have already mastered the simple tasks of integrating technology into the classroom following ISTE Standards, however, we have not. In fact, I would argue that most teachers have no idea what those standards contain. Many divisions have “jumped the gun” and placed technology into the hands of students and teachers, but very few have taken the time and money to effectively train teachers on how to successfully integrate these devices into the classroom. Too many are allowing the devices to substitute minor tasks that they would have used via paper rather than to use them through student-centered pedagogy.

Throughout the conference I continued to reflect on my past years and when it came to using the term blended learning I kept coming up with one comment from the Princess Bride, …”you keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” How many times have I heard or even used the term blended learning not truly knowing the effective meaning of the trendy term?

Horn and Staker (2013) define blended learning as: “a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace, at least in part in a supervised brick and-mortar location away from home, and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.”

It is this definition and my passion for technology in the classroom that I am creating a personal learning community (PLC) within Goochland High. Our mission will be to learn successful pedagogy that goes into effective blended learning and create such an environment. We will learn along with the students and get past the authoritarian and antiquated ways of teaching. Rather, we will create a learning environment that allows students to direct their own learning of the material.

Education is on the cusp of radical change and pedagogical shift. I want our teachers and students to continue to be ahead of the curve!

Virtual School Now Available Here in Goochland

We continue to be excited that Goochland County Public Schools (GCPS) is piloting an online, virtual school program for the 2014-2015 school year.  We know  a few of our homeschool parents have expressed an interest in online courses provided by GCPS recently due to rising costs from some of the current providers of online homeschool curriculum.  GCPS is utilizing an online education program, Edgenuity, to provide an appropriate education for 6th through 12th grade virtual school students.  Students can complete all core academics, foreign language, health & physical education, as well as elective courses online while at school or at home. Upon completion of diploma requirements including verified SOL credits, students can even be awarded a GCPS high school diploma.

Even as we begin the month of October, students may still be accepted into our new pilot program.  We are accepting students on a first-come, first-served basis this year only. We are starting with ten full-time and five part-time students. Those accepted into our virtual school are required to maintain grades of A’s or B’s each quarter and to report to the middle school or high school only for SOL testing as part of these courses. Students must enroll at least part-time through GMS or GHS and pass all SOL exams with a score of 500 or above to remain in the virtual school program.

GCPS staff will regularly monitor each student’s progress in Edgenuity and inform parents and appropriate staff if standards are not met each quarter.  If standards are not maintained, the child must return to a home school or public school setting.

If you and your child(ren) have an interest in the program, please contact Mr. Tom DeWeerd at 804-556-5627 for more information.

Follett Shelf

3rd, 4th & 5th grade students will be introduced to Follett Shelf this week during Library class.  Students will learn how to access their Follet Shelf accounts to borrow and read eBooks that have been purchased by Randolph Elementary School.  They will also be able to save notes, highlights, and bookmarks that they can access after returning the eBooks.

In addition to their regular library books, students will be able to check out one eBook at a time.  They will be automatically returned after a 14-day loan period.

Reading Olympics participants will find that we have many of this year’s titles available in this digital version as well as in print!

Once 5th graders receive their iPads, they will be given the opportunity to download an app to access Follett Shelf more easily.

Another way to practice fluency!

Students from Mrs. Adam’s class using Book Creator.

This year at Byrd all second graders have learned how to practice reading fluency using the iPads.  Each class learned this skill using a different app.  Mrs. Swift’s class learned to create recordings using iMovie.  Mrs. Nixon’s class learned to use a voice recording app, and finally Mrs. Adam’s class recently learned to use Book Creator.

 

iMovie allowed students to take a picture of their fluency passage, and record over top of the picture.  It took about three lessons that were forty-five minutes each until the students could use the app independently.  It was difficult for some students to match the length of the picture with the length of the recording.  Also, we could not turn off the Ken-Burns effect.

 

Mrs. Nixon’s class used a voice recording app.  They could easily capture their voice time and time again, however, with these types of apps they could not capture an image of their book or passage.  It took the students two lessons that were forty-five minutes each to use the software independently.  There are numerous free voice recording apps out there.  Here is a link to one example, Quick Voice Recorder.

 

Mrs. Adam’s class learned to use Book Creator to capture fluency practice.  The students learned how to use the app in one, hour-long lesson.  This has been my favorite method by far!  The students have created a fluency book. Using this app students can capture a picture of their reading passage.  Then they can add a recording of the passage.  Finally, we assigned the students a reading skill to illustrate with the drawing tools.  We had students illustrate the main idea of the passage, but we could have used just about any reading skill!  I love Book Creator allowed the students to have a multi-sensory experience with reading.  They were seeing the text, hearing themselves read, and drawing to deepen comprehension.

 

Have you used any other tools in your class to help students practice reading fluency?

eBooks for Others

This year Mrs. Demas and I have enjoyed bringing various writing activities into the classroom that promote writing for a variety of audiences.  Recently, the students finished up another authentic writing project that gave a new audience a chance to view and enjoy their published work.

The 4th grade students created eBooks using Book Creator for the GES and BES preschool students. To begin this activity the fourth graders had to spend some time investigating other children’s books. As a class we discussed different aspects of illustrations, text patterns, and the amount of text on a page. We also took a closer look at how children’s authors use vivid language and sensory words in their writing. Students had the opportunity to work together in groups to study children’s books.

The fourth graders had a choice to write a fiction or nonfiction book. They could pick any topic to write about, and were provided with a list of preschool interests – which were supplied by the preschool teachers.

Each week Mrs. Demas and myself were more and more amazed by the progress students made on their books. The quality of their writing was phenomenal, and their illustrations blew us away. Students could create their illustrations by using software on the iPad, or they could use paper and drawing tools. Some students chose to combine both art forms. There were even some students that used 3D models as the characters in their books. One student, for example, created her main character out of clay (it was a dinosaur!).

  

Book Creator (the app we used) allowed students to add text, independently create illustrations, and add audio files to their stories. Students were required to capture all text in an audio clip, thus turning all stories into audiobooks. Book Creator also allowed the students to easily share their work with Google Drive for easy transfer to our lesson website and to the preschool iPads.

Perhaps the most fun element of this project was the day the fourth graders walked over to the GES preschool to share their stories. The students shared stories that warmed our hearts, taught social lessons, and that taught facts to the preschool students. Our fourth graders at GES were admirably caring and patient as they taught the preschool students how to open the books, activate the audio clips, and turn the pages. Now the preschool students have over thirty new eBooks on their iPads to enjoy for the rest of the school year!

We commend the fourth grade students for their focus and enthusiasm throughout this project!

Check out our books on this link!  You will need to download the files on a device with eReader software (iPad and iPhone will work).  We have also posted the materials we used to implement and assess this project.

Watch as a fourth grader teaches a preschool student to use the audio buttons and to turn the pages.

Kindergarteners create digital stories

Teaching lessons involving heavy technology use to kindergarteners is always an adventure!  Sometimes it is difficult to anticipate the flow, timing, and outcome of the lesson.

 

I always love the opportunity to work with Ms. Burton’s kindergarten students at BES!  They are great listeners and eager to participate in any lesson utilizing technology.  For their most recent project the students learned to use a digital story telling app called 30 Hands.  Using this app the students could take pictures and record themselves reading a story.  First, the students created a character.  Then the students wrote a story about that character.  Students next had to take a picture of their character within the app, and practice reading their story.  The students were able to record their stories within the 30 Hands app.

 

The next day I returned to Ms. Burton’s class so the students could share their stories with one another.  Since it was our first time using this particular app, we also spent some time reflecting on the project via class discussion.  The students shared that next time they should speak a little louder or position themselves closer to the microphone.  The class unanimously agreed that they loved creating digital stories using 30 Hands!

 

Here are some examples of the students’ work!

 

 

Meet Miss Bune

Meet Hailey

Meet Jacob

Virtual Career Fair

Over the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to team up with a great group of teachers at Byrd Elementary School to help students learn about various career fields.   The school counselor, Mrs. Albert, initially developed this project.  She collaborated with the 4th grade team (Ms. Singh and Mrs. Johnston) to integrate the project across the curriculum.  Students spent time during guidance lessons to learn about their strengths in the multiple intelligences and to research career fields of interest.  Then teachers supported the students in writing class to further research careers of interest, and to create scripts for the final piece of the project.  The scripts included information about students’ current interests, a potential future career, and what the students need to do to prepare to work in the chosen field.

Finally, students used Voki to create messages to their future selves.  On the Voki site students created an avatar, and then recorded a reading of the script they wrote in writing class (using Google Docs).

 

 

You can read more about this project on a page Mrs. Albert created.  You can also view the virtual career fair.

 

It was obvious during this project that the students were engaged and enjoying learning!

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!

ePortfolio Class

We will use the site below as a guide to tonight’s class on using ePortfolios with students.

ePortfolio Class Site

 

We will also check out Nearpod by viewing a presentation made with the software.

 

If you are interested in using Google Docs more to help improve your students’ writing, then check out this great site!

Mrs. Moore

Walking by Mrs. Moore’s class, you notice a smell of sawdust in the air. It reminds me of my dad’s garage in the summer time: the buzzing of the saw, wood chips flying, and sawdust blowing in the breeze. This time, however, it isn’t my dad, but our eagles busy constructing!

Our eagles are amazing. They designed, planned, and engineered 125 wooden board games that were distributed through the Goochland Family Services in the Holiday Meal distributions.  What a way to tackle 21st century skills!

If you see Mrs. Moore, please thank her for affording our eagles the opportunity to help our community.

Payton and Kade cutting the game boards to size. Tyler finishing off a game board.

Want to find out more about Mrs. Moore’s classes? Click here.

What’s Trending at RES

There are always great things happening at RES, and I wish I had time each day to highlight them all!  The activities I do get to highlight are just snip-its of the wonderful things happening there every day.  Today I spent time with Cindy Edmonds, the art teacher, and 3rd graders in Ms. Gentry’s class.  Last week students read a story about the horses that live on Assateague Island in Virginia.  This week we brought to life one part of the story with a stop-motion project.  We used the camera app on the iPad, and merged the pictures together using iMovie.  Last month students spent time studying art work from the VMFA that included horses, and then they built their own 3D horses.

Here is the final movie!

 

Later the fourth grade team was busy preparing commercials to advertise the RES Fine Arts and Film Festival that will take place next Thursday night.  Students worked together in small teams to plan the commercials, write scripts, and use 30 Hands to create their projects.  Next week we will share their commercials with the entire school.  The commercials remind others of the time and location of the event.  Students also shared that we are encouraging everyone to bring a book to donate to Goochland Family Services.  I was impressed by how quickly and easily students learned to use the app.  In a matter of minutes they were taking pictures, annotating, integrating other pictures, and adding text to their projects.  Every student was engaged and hard at work in fourth grade today!

iPads and State Testing Review

This year GES teachers participating in the 1:1 pilot have done an excellent job experimenting with various ways to use the iPads for deeper learning.  The year has flow by, and we now find ourselves one month away from state testing season!  Throughout the next month teachers will finish teaching new content, and will begin to spend some time on review.  Although we always strive for deeper learning activities, sometimes it is important to provide students with review of material already learned.  Check out some of the options below for using the iPad to review content!  Some activities or sites you may have already used this year, but I hope you will find something new and helpful on the list!  Let me know if you would like support implementing any of these ideas or finding more sites.

 

Apps specifically for review:

Pass the Past – This app created by the VDOE houses past history SOL test questions.

 

Websites that work on the iPad:

All subjects

Mr. Nussbaum Mobile site – Houses numerous review games for all subject areas!  All are built with html5, and work on the iPads!  You can link individual games to your blog or post the links in Edmodo.

ThingLink – Teachers can sign up for an account, and create protected student accounts (the program provides teachers with student logins).  Students can create interactive pictures.  Students could add interactive features and information to a science diagram or a painting from history.  It takes a few minutes for a teacher to sign up his or her class, but the features of the site are worth it!

Flashcard Machine – Teachers can sign up for free and make flashcards for your class.  The site will give you a web address for each set of flashcards you make.  You could give students the address by posting in in Edmodo, on your blog, or by linking it to a QR code.

 

Math

Hooda Math - Practice games that will work on the iPad, that are grouped by grade level.  Teachers could post links to the games on their blogs or Edmodo.

Transum Math - Practice games that will work on the iPad.

 

Ideas using apps on the iPads

iMovie

1) Students can create videos in which they ask review questions (play for whole class).  Students can write their own questions, and film themselves asking it.

  • you could assign different units/topics to groups or individuals

2) Summarize a unit, or what you know about a topic.  Share movies on Edmodo.

 

Explain Everything

1) Create visual cues for science, social studies, or math vocabulary (drawing or taking pictures)

  • students can make an audio recording explaining each visual cue

2) Present student groups (or individuals) with word problems (could use QR codes).  Have them illustrate and verbally explain their work and solution.  Then share solutions with the class.

 

Edmodo

1) Post review quizzes on Edmodo for daily practice

2) Have students watch a video covering information from a content area.  Assign roles to students to review and post information from the video.  Teachers can show the video to the whole group, or post in Edmodo so students can easily re-watch it.  There are lots of great videos on Discovery Education!  This activity is similar to literature circles, but with videos rather than texts!

  • Role 1: define vocabulary
  • Role 2: summarize the information
  • Role 3:  illustrate concepts
  • Role 4: write questions from the video

 

Google Docs

1) Each student creates a practice quiz on Google Docs.  The teacher could set criteria, such as “must use multiple choice questions.”

2) Create a collaborative class document and have students write everything they know about a topic (could also do on Edmodo).  This would be like a mind dump.

  • Could also send collaborative documents with small groups for the same activity

 

Book Creator

1) Students could create vocabulary books for units of study (can incorporate video, pictures, drawing, and audio clips).

2) Teachers could assign different topics to groups or individuals, and then share books with class.

3) This app is great for challenging vocabulary or topics because of the easy access to multi-modal opportunities (pictures, video, drawing, audio clips).

4) In Language Arts class create short stories that incorporate facts from social studies or science (could also use Pages or Google Docs)

 

Pages

1) Students create trading cards for famous people.

  • Create a template on your computer, and send it to students using Google Docs.  Students open the template in Pages.  Within pages students can add pictures and text.

 

Comic Life

1) Students label science diagrams (plants, cells, waves, clouds, etc.).

2) Students create a comic that illustrates a historic event or fact, or students could make a timeline.

3) Students create comics that illustrate vocabulary (could create a page sized comic for math vocab.).

4) Students can create comics that reinforce reading skills (cause and effect, making inferences, illustrating literary elements, fact/opinion, compare and contrast).

 

Morfo

1) Create a project as someone from history explaining an event.  You can mash multiple Morfo projects using iMovie if students need more than 30 seconds of recording time.

 

Tellagami

1) Create a teacher character that teaches information from a science or social studies unit

  • Could also use some math concepts (especially geometry)

Transforming the Future, Apple Event

Recently I spent two days with other educators from the county at an event hosted by Apple called Transforming the Future of Learning.  This event was designed to support districts that have recently started a 1:1 program and also those that are preparing to begin one.  We covered a bundle of content that we will definitely use to improve our own 1:1 program.  It was also insightful to talk with teams from other districts that share similar experiences to the implementation of our 1:1 pilot program this year, both positive and negative!

 

http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2011/10/28/SAMR_TPCK_In_Action.pdf

Much time was dedicated to the SAMR model developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura.  Dr. Puentedura was even there as a speaker to show us how we can use SAMR to transform learning with digital devices.  SAMR describes varying levels of technology integration.  It was designed to help teachers with technology integration in the classroom.  The initial level of technology use is Substitution, followed by Augmentation, Modification, and finally Redefinition.   Next year we will place more emphasis on this model to support teachers in our effort to provide deeper learning experiences for students using mobile devices.   The plan is to provide both training and instructional support for teachers as they develop lessons in the M and R categories!  Dr. Puentedura emphasized that a teacher’s goal should not be to have every lesson in the modification and redefinition category, but to strive to develop a few quality lessons that fall into this category each year – and each year build upon your bank of lesson ideas.  He said that realistically, after a 1:1 implementation, a school could expect to see lessons in the substitution and augmentation categories within the first year to a year and a half.  Teachers will then begin to tackle lessons on the modification level after about another year.  Finally, teachers will begin to take on lessons at the redesign level within the third year.

 

I was also interested to hear Dr. Puentedura discuss methods for professional development in the use of 1:1 devices and in working with the SAMR model.  Dr. Puentedura stated that it is beneficial for teachers to work together to develop lessons as a collaborative team.  We have always known that through collaboration we can achieve great results.  Next year I would love to help find time for teachers to plan together.  There is an interesting method for collaborative lesson planning that has been used in Japan for years called Lesson Study.  This model has also been successfully used in some schools throughout the United States.  I would love to try it in our schools, as it would provide professional development and a chance for teachers to develop stellar lesson plans together.

 

I love this metaphor of the SAMR model!

http://setonict.blogspot.com/2013/09/samr-model.html

Technology Best Practice

Keeping up with the ever changing world of technology is very difficult.  When you are teaching, tutoring, coaching, and then going home, it is even more difficult.

Luckily, there is a site that brings many of the current sites for education all in one place.  Not only that, but it also contains presentations on the best ways to use technology in the classroom.

Whether you are a seasoned technology using teacher, or one that is dabbling into the 21st Century teaching, check this out.

 

VSRA Conference

Last week I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the VSRA Conference (Virginia State Reading Association) in Roanoke, VA.  As an ITRT I wouldn’t have initially thought to attend this conference, although I’ve never been let down attending as a classroom teacher.  I am thankful I did go, because I had the chance to spend two full days learning about methods other teachers are using to integrate technology into their Language Arts curriculum.  It will take me some time to sort through all of the ideas I jotted down as I listened to passionate educators share experiences from their classrooms.

 

I am especially excited to share ideas from the STEM Crazy Teachers, Alisa Downey and Tina Coffey, from Roanoke County Schools.  Their energetic presentation clearly demonstrated their passion for engaging learners.  I loved the way they integrate Language Arts curriculum with STEM.  They use technology in their lessons that we also have access to in Goochland County, so their ideas would be easy to replicate in a similar fashion in our buildings.

 

I attended this conference because our Reading Specialist at Byrd, Margaret Dickerson, convinced me to present with her.  The title of our session was, “Learning Mash-Up: Integrating Reading, Technology, and Service Learning.”   We shared some of the projects we have worked on at Byrd Elementary School over the last four years, which have used service-learning projects as a way to leverage curriculum and technology integration along with 21st century skills.  We also shared our methods for establishing and carrying out these projects (using the G21 framework).  Although we presented early Saturday morning, it was the most fun I have had presenting in a long time!   Margret and I both care deeply about the projects we’ve carried out at Byrd and the success we’ve had accomplishing goals with students.  It was great to get to know the teachers that attended our session.  They were receptive to our presentation, and as passionate about developing great citizens as we are!

 

Here is a link to the website we put together to share resources from our session (although it might not make as much sense without the presentation).

Student Learning Slam – Collaborative Writing

Students in Mrs. Dema’s 4th grade class at Goochland Elementary School have been hard at work on a collaborative research and writing project with Ms. Gill’s 5th grade class at Randolph Elementary School.  Listen to Kylie in our Student Learning Slam as she describes how she uses Google Docs to communicate with her partner, share research, and revise each other’s writing.

 

From this project students learned a lot about communication from afar, and the need to clarify when communicating with others digitally.  Students also had the opportunity to practice constructive critiquing techniques as they revised their partner’s writing.  In addition, students learned more about American history as they spent time delving into research!  Within the writing projects students tried to focus on three elements:  1)  writing good hooks/leads; 2)  focusing on one main idea in a paragraph; 3)  organization of information in a research paper.

 

 

Steps to complete this project:

1)  Teachers assigned students partners, and partners shared autobiographies to get to know each other better.

2)  Students in Mrs. Dema’s class choose a historical figure to write about from a list that was shown to the class.  They had to write a persuasive letter to their partner to convince him/her to use the selected person as their research focus.

3)  Writing partners selected specific topics they would research and write about.

4)  Writing partners shared a document in which they collected research, and began their writing.

5)  Students helped to revise each other’s writing and organize the research paper.

6)  Projects will be compiled into an ebook for all students to enjoy!