Lights! Camera! Action!
Movie Making Club has started for our 4th -6th graders here in Brandon. They are already on a role doing some serious movie work. This week we started collaboratively working on Scripts using Google Docs and lessons from Learnzillion. We started learning filming and editing techniques using the incredible film-making tool that is the iPad. We've even started doing some great drama lessons from Beat by Beat, a website I found that has fun drama games for kids.
There is nothing like seeing students creatively work together to design a movie. You can see their passions come through, and watch them work through challenges. Having a product that's so professional at the end really motivates them to work hard and persevere. I'm very excited to see the iPad and iMovie in the hands of our 4th-6th grade students. They are able to record, edit, splice, and enhance their movies very intuitively with the device. Mr. Phillips is basically an iMovie pro with his long history of making HAWK Talk videos.
We're just getting started, and I'm looking forward to seeing how the groups work together, using tools that allow them to take their thinking and turn it into a reality.
A tool I've used in the past, but only really recently started digging into is Quizizz. Quizizz is a fun assessment tool that has a signature of using Memes to keep kids engaged. It has great potential for giving feedback to your whole class. I was in a classroom recently where we used Quizizz. It gives you some quick data about questions that kids have mastered and concepts that are students still need practice with. What we did is stop, do a quick lesson about the most missed questions, then retook the assessment. Quizizz jumbles questions and answers which is really nice for reassessing. You can immediately see who did better because of the reteaching, and those who may need additional support or intervention after the second go around.
I think there is some great potential for doing this regularly as a way to quickly assess specific small topics in classrooms. Quizizz works well on tablets and Chromebooks.
"Something that technology allows for is a really easy way to practice skills. Although using technology for ONLY drill and practice is definitely not a good thing, using it for quick bursts of practice can be really beneficial to learners.
Imagine anything you used flashcards to practice before. Technology can enhance that kind of practice with things like progress monitoring, content connections, and even gamification. It's probably not great to look for a site or tool that imitates flashcards exactly, I can't imagine any benefit to it besides maybe ease of setting up or not losing the cards. If you can add some progress monitoring that allows for goal setting, now we're talking.
A popular site among our elementary math teachers is Xtramath.org. It's a site with a very straightforward goal- to make math facts practice better. From their about page:
"Our goal is to develop effective, efficient, adaptive, and intrinsically rewarding supplemental math activities."
It adds goal setting, challenges, progress monitoring, and some game elements to math facts practice. What I like about it too is that it isn't too flashy. The math is there and it's hard work, but rewarding. Kids can work on all four operations and test in to their "just right" practice level. It's a tool our teachers really enjoy, and a great example of how a practice website should be.
One of the neat things about working in Google Docs is the unique “web” feel of it. Some teachers here BFIS have been experimenting with writer’s notebooks in Google Docs. It’s fun to have access to a log of edits, great content, and web resources that can be linked right within.
Students can quickly pull in pictures and resources from the web, and teachers can add in anchor charts or links to videos. It creates a very flexible multimedia rich experience for our writers. It also offers a unique way for a student to access resources. Often students keep things in folders that live at school in their desk. Now, having access to their reference materials (like anchor charts) through hyperlinks in their documents, students can access those resources from anywhere with an internet connection.
It’s also a huge benefit for students to become familiar with organizing resources on digital platforms. As they begin to link resources themselves, they’ll become more familiar with how the web works, and even begin some foundational website building skills.
This has been a busy, but awesome, start to the year! Our 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students have been equipped with Chromebooks to enhance and deepen their learning. Our teachers have been implementing amazing tools for managing the flow of classroom work, communicating with students and families, and adding more authenticity to their work.
One of the neatest things our students are learning to do is work collaboratively with Google Apps for Education and Google Classroom. Our students have been creating projects, sharing them with friends, and their teachers in a meaningful way. Sharing is often something people associate with online tools. People share photos and experiences, stories and opinions. Our students are learning to share in a totally different way. They are sharing back and forth, making changes and editing work. It's really powerful to watch kids problem solve and collaborate in this way.
I'm looking forward to the many good things coming this year! I'm excited to learn from the teachers and students as they explore our new technology.
A colleague talked to me today of opening up her classroom to some more STEAM based learning. I have some LittleBits from a generous grant from our local Rotary and a set of MaKey MaKeys from our parent group a couple years ago. She brought up setting up these tools and some more opportunities at a table in her room that will be available all the time before integrating them directly into curriculum.
This is an excellent plan.
It allows for students to explore tools, engage in learning, generate inquiry, and be prepared for activities. How often as an adult has someone said, "you just need to play with it to figure it out." A lot of time this is pretty sound advice. To grasp basic function of what something does, spending time with it is often the best way to learn. Now, going deeper with learning goes beyond just playing. It needs a mentor or coach, guidance, and scaffolding. This is why her idea is so solid. Kids will explore technology through ways meaningful to them and gain some prior knowledge. They'll make discoveries and create things that a planned lesson would have never thought of. Then when it comes to a more structured task- students will be primed to exceed expectations.
I'm really looking forward to being part of implementing this inquiry based STEAM learning in her classroom. Kids are going to be learning, building, and problem solving together. What an awesome project and plan for learning.
When we started implementing iPads a few years ago, the world was our oyster. Every app was new and every use of the iPad required some learning from our teachers and students. Now that all of our students have iPads in hand for two years, app learning isn't as important as it was. It's a neat spot to be in, because most of our students are familiar and comfortable with apps. They are even able to generalize settings, buttons, and functions between apps. They are becoming excellent at trouble shooting and helping each other too.
I've been focusing a lot with classes lately in extending the application of the technology. We've been smashing apps like ChatterKids, Popplet, and SeeSaw in order to create something really unique. Teachers are really experimenting using multiple apps to accomplish a task as opposed to being restricted by the functionality of one. Yesterday I worked with a first grade class who worked through many steps, which would have been tricky not too long ago, to create a talking image about earth day. To go from start to finish with the process took 30 minutes. They were only able to do it this quickly because of their base knowledge of apps; smashing them together was the new learning.
Opening the doors for new opportunities for our students to show their learning is a really big deal. Also, using apps in different combinations enhances creative thinking and offers endless possibilities in project based learning.
Probably my favorite part of my role as a technology coach is that I am able to visit many different classrooms. I've said in the past, "I wish all teachers had an opportunity to visit the classroom of everyone else." With all of this awesome work happening all over the place, it's important to find time to share. Even though everyone can't be everywhere, teachers have been carving some time before school to meet together at what we call "Learn and Shares." These events are times when teachers can come together and share what kind of awesome things are happening for others to learn from, and to learn from others.
We mainly focus on technology work. Teachers are doing some amazing things to integrate technology into education to truly engage and lift students. One kindergarten teacher at this morning's learn and share is beginning digital journals to capture pictures, drawings, and writing about the upcoming caterpillar to butterfly unit. A third grade teacher is finding ways to use video and screen casts to explain "workplaces" and math games to kids in order to more efficiently use time and help more students learn. I was tasked with trying to find an assessment app that has the ability for a teacher to include picture answers instead of only a picture with the question.
Learning and challenging each other is what makes for more opportunities for our students. Learn and shares are a great way to have colleagues work together in a way that really leads to some great outcomes.
Returning to school from MACUL means returning with so many ideas it can feel like a freshman-sized backpack full of books. Maybe that analogy doesn't work anymore with everything fitting on an 11" Chromebook or iPad, but it certainly can feel overwhelming.
Part of going to these conferences is returning to your district with some new knowledge to share. One of my colleagues I was fortunate of attending with this year gave an awesome presentation to the staff of Oakwood about some of the takeaways she had. She was so positive and picked a few that she knew would work in her classroom, and that she could start right away.
Her favorite quote is "You don't have to do everything, but do try something." This is a great mantra after MACUL. There are really amazing things going on in education, and technology transforms and revolutionizes that every day. We are fortunate to have the amazing amount of resources available to us through modern technology, but integrating it in a meaningful way is where a teacher can really shine. Teachers strive all the time to provide their kids with the best learning possible, and teachers are really digging deep in to educational technology as a resource for that.
Sometimes it gets tricky to stretch the few precious hours we get with our kids during the day. Something that I'm trying out is extending my efforts using Google Classroom.
We wanted to start a lunchtime coding club for a few grades using Scratch. I've scheduled grade levels to meet on alternating weeks, with some Google Classroom communication in between. We had our first day, and we got set up on Google Classroom. I was able to post some information about Scratch easily. Google Classroom will serve as a central location for our clubs. Before logging into Scratch, I've just asked kids to log into Google Classroom first. I plan on posting challenges, tips, and new learning each week onto classroom and having students check it out.
I really think Classroom will end up being a forum for individualizing learning, even in a club setting. Students will be able to check in easily and go at a pace that they feel good about and interests them. It's going to break down the walls to the the club, and make sure that their coding doesn't start and stop during lunch time every other week. I'm really excited about the way things are shaping up, and I can't wait to see how it unfolds.