Students at OES and HSE will soon be tapping into their inner Steven Spielbergs and Sophia Coppolas as they begin creating their own short films in Brandon's new Elementary Movie Maker club. Each school will have a club with students making films around similar themes of positive choices and behaviors. Students will need to develop, film, and create all aspects of the movies.
I'm really looking forward to students writing stories, making story boards, and working together to create some awesome movies. I think the coolest thing will be that we get to share our films with the world! We will upload them to YouTube and the School District website. We're also planning on sharing our movies at a Brandon Elementary Film Festival! We're rolling out the red carpet for our students and families to come. Look for more information about that soon.
In Brandon we've been taking a look at our technology integration through the lens of the SAMR model. SAMR is essentially a ladder that helps reflect on the change to instruction technology is making. After many conversations at conferences with colleagues I respect, I do not consider the SAMR model as a spectrum from good to bad integration. It's a model used for observing and honestly reflecting about the way an instructor uses technology.
S is for substitution, which means the tech evenly switches out with the non tech. Did you do a worksheet on your iPad that could be done with paper and pencil just as easily? Then it's a substitution. I see teachers having students using their iPads with the Chalkboard app instead of whiteboards and markers. This is a great example of the substitution.
What's neat about substituting with tech is that a functional improvement is often just a few steps away. When using their iPad as a whiteboard, students can screenshot their response, and like magic their thinking is captured on the camera roll. Sometimes students will take that thinking and put it into a presentation with their voice and additional pictures. Now they've totally modified the task. On top of that students may share their video with others across the world, now students have redefined the task in a way that wouldn't have been possible before. Substitution is an OK way to integrate tech into day to day use, and it can lead to amazing projects at various levels on the SAMR scale when it meaningfully fits into instruction.
Image from: https://www.graphite.org/blog/samr-and-blooms-taxonomy-assembling-the-puzzle
I met a teacher and football coach at a conference a few Summers ago who didn't like the phrase "practice makes perfect." Instead, he argued that "practice makes permanent." I think about this a lot when we look at subscription services to help students independently practice. These services are generally self guided by the student. It is primarily used to enhance the learning that is happening at school, so it is very important that the services meet student need in a "just right" way.
Oakwood and Harvey Swanson have chosen a few subscription services to help foster independent practice. Study Island is a web based service that uses NWEA MAP scores to target a student's areas of need. iXL is an independent math facts and concepts practice that offers quick activities with feedback if questions are answered incorrectly. RazKids is an electronic library of books for students that includes quizzes.
I'd like to highlight RazKids as a tool, because all of our students will be using it. It allows teachers to customize book levels, assign specific assignments, and even assess students reading using some neat tools. RazKids is a web and app based service that is accessible from nearly any device. What teachers like about it is how it awards students for reading books and focuses on some general skills that help all students during quizzes. Students really like RazKids because it makes books accessible. There is usually an eyeball and ear button next to every book on the virtual shelf. The eyeball lets students read the book, and the ear lets students hear the book as it highlights the words. This can be really helpful for students struggling to understand or for students with different learning styles.
Ask your child to tell you about RazKids tonight! You can log in on a computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Part of my teaching each week involves organizing and running some after school learning clubs. The clubs have a specific focus, but students are also given the opportunity to work on homework and receive academic help too. Our first club this week at both Harvey Swanson and Oakwood is a Spanish language club. We are using a free service called Duolingo to help us learn Spanish in a fun way.
Duolingo is an interactive website and app that lets the user pick a language to learn in a dynamic way. It has vocabulary recognition with pictures, sentence creation by dragging words, and translation by typing or speaking. It's really neat and they claim 10-20 minutes a day will lead to some serious learning. Students have fun learning at home using an iPad or a personal device at home. As long as they are logged into an account, their progress syncs between devices.
We also do a lot of learning offline as well. Yesterday we wrote Spanish color words with chalk and did some Spanish dances like "Cabeza Hombros Rodillas y Pies" ("Head Shoulders Knees and Toes.") It's really fun and the kids can continue their learning independently using Duolingo well after the club is finished.
Something that is amazing about the world is how we connect with one another. Educators have an awesome opportunity right now to get connected and learn from each other. There are a multitude of ways to contribute to the educational community for educators, everything from virtual conferences, online learning, to Twitter chats.
As we expect kids to do great work and get connected, we should really become more connected ourselves. October is Connected Educators Month. A visit to http://connectededucators.org/ will provide an overwhelming amount of ways to connect. The coolest part of it is the daily events calendar, where you can find out how to connect any day. It may seem like a lot, but as some of my favorite advice goes: "You don't have to do everything, but do something."
Instructional Technology Coach