Thursday, December 18, 2014

Self-Paced Learning

Today our 5th Grade Math block consisted of each student on a laptop. It was funny cause as we were getting the laptops from the cart, some of the kids were like, "This isnt an iPad, does that still count as technology??" I had to explain to them that technology comes in many forms and not always just an iPad. Anyways, the past few days, I have been working on creating screencasts that students can watch and then apply. They have been learning about Scatter Plots, Spot Plots and Stem and Leaf. I created one for each and today was the day that the students were to work them out. Going into this project, the teacher wanted to incorporate technology into these areas. I told her that I would make the screencasts if she would introduce them to the students. It was a mutual agreement and also big stretch for her because of the fact that she had never let a screen-cast teach her students before. On top of that, students were not only doing one assignment but three!

Again our process for making this a success included:
-Logging each student in T's Google Drive account.
-Creating 25 copies of a spreadsheet and numbering them 1-25. (There is a "make a copy" tool in Google.)
-Assigning each student a number 1-25. (Students will then match their given number with the proper spreadsheet number- this way students wont cross work.)
-Having students put their names in the top left hand corner.
-Having a place to pull data from. In this case, the student website.
-Constantly reassuring students that their work is "always saved" via the cloud.

I also suggest giving students breaks in between assignments. Each project lasted about 20 minutes and although they wanted to jump in to the next one right away, we made them go get water or stretch so they could go into the next lesson with a fresh mindset.

Again, as simple as the work samples may look, there were many steps involved in doing this. These were students teaching themselves from a screencast with minimal teacher assistance.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unfamiliar Waters

Today I had the chance to team up with last year's "Teacher of the Year" to do a technology integrated lesson using Explain Everything with a custom made fraction strip along with a graphing-paper template as the background. This teacher had been eager to integrate technology somehow into her lessons, however I wanted to make sure that whatever was prepared was high impact, engaging and meaningful. I had walked by this teacher's classroom a few times before and noticed that they were using fraction manipulatives, so I thought this activity would be great! As I walked in, the kids immediately were like, "Yes! It's the iPad man!" It was great to see their overall excitement level increase just at the sight of the iPads.

As I got started, I explained how we had to download a file from Google Drive and so we had to log in each device as the teacher. This didn't take as long as I thought which was a huge plus! Once we were logged in I showed the students how the file worked. I showed them how to duplicate an image to help expedite the problem solving process. Ie: They had to make four copies of the 1/4th piece in order to make a whole. Once they were comfortable doing that, I turned it over to the teacher so that she could explain her lesson to the students. Basically the students had to create equivalent fractions from a fraction that was given on the board. They could either use the multiplication or division methods.

I have to give major props to this teacher for trying this! I know it was out of her comfort zone and she even admitted to the students that she was learning how to utilize technology in the classroom. Her students were awesome and were like, "We got ya!" How awesome is that?! To make this day even sweeter, when it was time to transition to go to another class, she had let her students know that it was time to put the iPads away. Immediately their response was, "Noooooo!" That melted my heart! I am glad these kids embrace a different way of doing something so routine! From the looks and sounds of it, I think I am going to be invited to come back to this class and do another lesson in a few weeks!

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Hey, I Really Like it When Students Can Research Real Life Info!"

Ok, so this activity was 2 weeks in the making and I really wanted the teacher to hit it out of the park with her kids on this one! About a week prior to me writing this post, the teacher and I sat down and talked about what she wanted to do. She told me that students were learning about bar charts and needed to create one and wondered if there was any way to incorporate technology into this lesson. Immediately I had flashbacks to my ITS days in which we had to show the kids how to create pie charts, bar graphs, etc in the computer lab!  I told her of the idea that I had in which kids could go research the number of wins of their favorite basketball team and graph them. (We had done this in the past years and the kids had loved it!) However, she was like, "No, I just want to keep it simple." Resisting the urge to pursue my idea, I had respectfully listened to her and helped plan out the activity her way. We had talked about taking a survey on "Student Transportation" (car riders, walkers, bikers, and bus riders.) She had drawn a T-Chart on the board and students had to place a sticky note for their category.

Now the technology piece! Even though I had worked with bar charts before, I wanted it to be easy for the teacher to get back the student work. In the past, I have always used Excel to make spreadsheets. I actually started creating a screencast using Screencast-O-Matic which used Excel as the tool to create them. As I was wrapping up making this screencast I thought to myself, "Students are going to create one, and do what with it? How are they going to get it off the laptop and printed so that the teacher can grade them?" I then shunned the idea of Excel and looked at iPad apps. The first one that I looked at was Google Sheets. Upon playing with it, I found it very easy to use, however there was no way to actually create a graph! I then looked at Numbers- Apple's version of Excel. This one again was user friendly, and actually let me create a graph, but then again there was no easy way for me to get them off of the device. I could use photo stream, and then email the graphs to her, but that would have taken a lot of time. Finally, I wanted check out Google's version of Sheets on the Laptop to see what it had to offer. Sure enough, I played with it and it was everything I wanted and MORE!  Here is what I did to ensure ease for the teacher and student:

-Created about 25 blank spreadsheets and labeled them 1-25. (Use the "duplicate" tool- it makes life much more simple.)
-As students walked in the door I assigned them a number 1-25.
-Once students were given a number, then they found their number in Sheets and changed it from the number to their name. (This would greatly help the T when it came to grading.)
-I created a screencast for this teacher that explained to the student step by step on what to do.
-I manually showed the student how to navigate the screencast (pause as needed, and apply using their own data.)
-Explain to the student that their work is automatically saved in "the cloud" (this baffled them!)
-Showed the teacher how to view student work.

As students were finishing up their first bar graph I asked the teacher how much time they had left. She was like, "Oh they still have plenty of time." I had asked her if we could do the Sports project (as talked about earlier.) She was more than willing this time!  For this part of the project, students would go to and click on "Basketball" and then "Standings." I told them to pick their 5 favorite basketball teams and create bar charts on their! Talk about engaged!

I am proud of this teacher! I think this was a big step for her and her class. She has something similar coming up next week and we plan to use the same approach. We agreed that I create the screencast if she (on her own) uses the laptops as means to do this activity. I as more than happy with that deal!

Click the image to take you to the screen cast:

Student Work Sample:

Socrative in 1st Grade

One of our First Grade teachers created her first Socrative Quiz and used it with her students today! This was an activity that this teacher designed all on her own which was great! We did run into a few network related issues but there's not much we can do to control those.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A FLIPPING Great Way to Enhance Math Skills!

One of my 4th Grade teachers is in the process of adding a new station for her centers. While planning this particular station, we talked about the need to identify how to reach students who are low in various areas. One of the stations we have planned out was a "Self Learning" station. It really isn't called that, but basically that is how it works. Twice a week, my teacher records a strategy on how to solve a problem via the iPad. She breaks it down step-by-step just as if she was teaching it to her class. Once she is done recording it in Explain Everything, she then exports it into Google Drive in which I then grab the link so that I can embed it. The teacher also writes out two similar problems so that the student can go back and work out using the same strategies as they had seen on the video. The goal of this center is for students to be able to learn at their own pace and master things that they had missed before.

Here is a sample of how the station works:

Student watch a tutorial like shown in link below:
Click this link to view the tutorial.

Student then tries to work a similar math problem:
Click here to view math problem

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Worms, Rain, Soil and Google Hangouts.... in 1st Grade! (Part 1)

Don't you just love it when something doesn't go according to plan? Well today the plan was set, but things sure did change on us quickly! However, the end results were still AWESOME and the kids were in awe of their discoveries! Let's rewind a bit so that I set the stage...

A few weeks ago one of my 1st Grade teachers connected with a 1st Grade teacher that I used to work with at a different campus. I was always hoping their paths would cross because they have very similar classroom management styles. During their conversation they had talked about possibly one day collaborating on a project together. Well soon enough, the emails start coming talking about analyzing soil samples across campuses. Sure enough, their 1st Grade teacher mails us a sample of their soil along with a letter requesting some soil from our campus. Once we have swapped soil samples then we plan on hosting a Google Hangout On Air with a total of 4 classes simultaneously so that we can discuss how the soil samples were different on each campus. Today was the day that we broke ground (see what I did there??) on the project.  Students were told by the teacher that they had to find various items such as soil, rocks, grass and mystery items such as worms, buried trash or bugs.
Once they found the items, they would use pic collage to identify it and create a graphic organizer out of it.  Once we told the students what was expected of them, students went outside to dig for soil. However, only having one shovel we let students take turns using it which turned out to be a long process. We ended up helping students dig a little deeper into the ground since it was kind of tough for them.

Our first big scoop resulted in a piece of trash that was buried under ground, so this was collected as an artifact. On our next scoop, we found a really large worm. Students were beyond excited in this find! Once we found the first worm, we dug a few more holes before it started to rain. Once it started raining, we had went inside and worked in a large common area to analyze what we found as well as to start our Pic Collage project. Students rotated stations to see what each sample had to offer. They had a blast taking pictures of various things! Our next step is to get our sample to those schools for analyzing. We are supposed to do the Google On Air Hangout next week, so be on the look out for "Part 2" later next week!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Student to Student Feedback, IT can happen!

This week one of my 5th grade teachers started on a long term project. This project has a lot of components to it, but for the sake of time, I am going to focus on the technology piece of it. This week students started using background knowledge to make inferences. The app of choice was Explain Everything. This app is relatively new to this teacher, so she is still learning about all it can do and basically getting comfortable with it. Anyways, students worked on this all task all week and today was the day that they were introduced to peer feedback. We were a bit hesitant at first, because normally when students are critiquing, conversations have the quick tendency of turning negative. However, to guard against this, we talked about the proper ways of how to leave both a positive response as well as a suggestion. The example that you see below is a "Student A's" work. "Student B" is the person leaving the feedback.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Let It Go!

So within the next few days I am planning on rolling out 100 iPads to our campus. As crazy as it seems, I have had a very tough time "letting them go." I am nervous, excited, and confident about my staff using them on their own. One of the things that I have been working on these past few weeks is planning. As previous posts explain, I normally just create lessons "on the fly." However, that's not really building the teacher's ability to gain confidence using technology on their own. Today I had 6 planning meetings which was the first time I had ever had that many in one day! Each teacher was excited about bringing ideas to the table in return boosted my confidence in their ability to "take it and run with it."

These past two days my 2nd Grade Teacher asked me for a class set of iPads so that he could do an assignment on his own. We honestly didnt plan it out, so it didnt go too well with the students because of minor tech issues. However, after school we talked about what went wrong and how we could tweak a few things in order to make it a success for the next day. Sure enough, my teacher knocked it out of the park with his lesson! The crazy thing is that he was doing the screencast a totally different way than I would normally do it but the kids really enjoyed his way too! Typically when I do a screencast, I have the students work out the problem as they are recording it. However, he had the Ss create a new slide for each step- when they were done, they would go back and record each slide. Different? Yes! Kids engaged? ABSOLUTELY!