Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Make them the experts!

Problem

At the beginning of the third trimester, I had no idea that my team partner was going to be gone for our last field trip. You may ask: It's a field trip, where's the problem? This particular field trip was a bus tour about the history of Waukesha. It is a celebration about what we have learned. \

The teacher lead the tour providing the rich history found in Waukesha. Students would follow the tour utilizing an ibook that was created using ibook author. Here is where I had my problem occur. I had never lead this tour and was more than nervous!


ibook Author

At first, I decided not to worry about the tour. Students had a few weeks of research before they were ready to participate in the tour. The previous year we had work extensively on uploading materials into our BB9 course. 

I mean hours, when I say extensively. We put together all of our articles, videos, links, and book titles. Then, we spent a few afternoons uploading these resources into a pre-selected list of questions.
If there is so much work, why did we do it? The truth is that like in many other areas there were very few resources. Getting a copy to each student was not easy. We loved the idea of having BB9 warehouse and distribute the resources. And when you are ready for it, adaptive release can make sure your students get just enough material. 


Problem Solved!

After students began their research, I became more and more concerned with the tour. Then, I had one of those "lightbulb" moments. Students were already researching the material I would be summing up. Why not have them lead the tour? The truth is that this ended up being one of the most memorable tours, I have ever planned. 

Students not only summarized their learning for me to assess, but they now had the responsibility to be the experts. It brought everything together. Students were able to see their classmates learning and celebrate besides them!
 

Friday, June 2, 2017

Prescription for May Headaches: Technology

MAYDAY! MAYDAY! 

It's May, which means "Get ready to not see your juniors!"


Below is an update that I sent out to the governance board, WAHP teachers, and professionals in the beginning of May. It tells the general story of what was going on in my PLTW class called 'Medical Interventions.'


As we get into the busy month of May, Waukesha Academy of Health Professional juniors find themselves increasingly busy with AP exams, field trips, forums, and an overall hectic nature as their year comes to an end. Because of this along with preparing students for an increase in responsibility, we enter a completely self-paced unit in Medical Interventions looking into designing alternative treatments for cancer.
Similar to online portions of college classes, we will be utilizing technology via BB9 and Google Apps to complete this unit. ​BB9 will act as a means for students not only to receive direction and information, but a place for them to complete formative check ins in the form of conclusion questions and discussion boards. Students will showcase their collaboration skills through this self-paced unit via Google Classroom and Google Slides. The entire unit will culminate in a scientific poster presentation where they research a nanotechnology, connect it with a specific cancer case study, create a treatment plan that follows ethical board regulations, and present their plan to their classmates.
This flexibility of pace allows students to practice their higher executive processing skills as they must schedule their time and effort properly as they are in and out of class frequently during this busy May schedule.

What isn't seen in this update is just how successful this unit was because of my work with technology. I attempted this self-paced, free-flowing class structure last year, but I saw a wide variety of challenges and successes amongst the different types of learners. This year, though, I saw many more successes than failures! Some of my work included:
  • Adaptive release on BB9, pushing students towards work completion in order to gain access to the next step
  • Better formatting of the online pages, alluring student interest in the most simple yet psychological way
  • Test questions on BB9 serving as formative practice instead of conclusion questions they would answer in their notebooks, which I would never see. This also allowed me to grade and give feedback immediately upon submission.
  • Discussion blogs between their classmates on topics throughout the unit
  • Collaborative work with Google Slides
All of this made my expectations crystal clear as students progressed on their own pace throughout the unit, and as my post implies, it was the best medicine for that May Headache!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Adventures in Thoughtful Logs

Along with my SLO for 3rd grade students, I decided to adapt the idea of thoughtful logs into the music room.  I had been to a session at the Waukesha One conference presented by the specialists at Bethesda in which they used Google Docs. This session really got me thinking about how I could make this work in my own classroom. I decided to use Book Creator as I felt that this app allowed students more options and tools to organize their thinking and record their learning. We worked together to document their learning using writing, drawings, photos, recordings, and screen shots from other apps like Brain Pop.  Students are also super savvy with this app!

Getting started was pretty easy. I created a simple template based off a note value worksheet I had used with students in the past as a "Vocabulary" section and then added the oh so important "My Thinking" section by just labeling empty entry pages not knowing what we might need to add as the year progressed. Then, I  Airdropped it to my students.

By the end of the year, the thoughtful logs were an awesome collection of their learning. Take a look at some samples of their work:
Students were able to screenshot their work from the Brain Pop writing activity to add to their "My Thinking" section

Students took pictures of measures they created. They were asked to think about what time signature they were composing in and then had to choose the one they wanted to play in our drum circle.

A view of our vocabulary section


Students created a new rhythm based off a song called "Tennessee".
How would we get our state to fit into a song written in 4/4 time?
How do you know your solution would work?

Monday, May 22, 2017

Kahoot! ... well gesundheit (bless you)


To those of you who are reading these wonderful reflections of goals that I have set for myself in my new role as model tech classroom, I thank you. I appreciate having an audience that I know is going through the same journey as I am during these last crazy weeks of school. With only 12 days closing in on the last day, I am looking for ways to engage my students even more now since they are becoming restless.
 My next goal that I am reflecting on came about when I went to a Waukesha One session one year that dealt with a neat little site called Kahoot! This session looked intriguing to me because it was so interactive for the students. It allowed them to instantly receive feedback on their answer and me to see who still needed to work on a certain skill. However, like many of us at the beginning of the year that quickly took a back burner to all the academic things I needed to accomplish. Little did I know that those academics could be easily incorporated into Kahoot!, but in an awesome game based way.
 Speed forward to this past week when I actually used Kahoot! in my Literacy classes. I wanted to do word study with them, but not with them cutting stuff out that results in scraps everywhere (no good for a type A person).  ;-) Yes, I understand the importance of paper and pencil at times when students need to engage in that. However, this word study allowed me to combine so many skills that I had already taught but wanted to review with them. I was so excited to have found Kahoots related to the early literacy skills I wanted to review. With my Kahoot! set and ready to go off we went to review our word study skills. Even with preparation and warning, the students were still obsessed that it was a game and there was a winner. I guess my words meant nothing to them when I said I didn't turn off the points because I didn't know how at the time. Well, lesson learned for sure those points students can get really hinder their learning. I now know (after the third time) that the points need to be turned off before we start playing.
 If you are looking for an interactive and game based learning opportunity for your students, I highly recommend Kahoot! It's so easy to search for Kahoots that are already created you just have to tweak to your needs to create your own. The website is very user friendly and hopefully this blog inspires you to try it out. I used it with my K/1 students, however there are so many options for older students. I see so much potential in using this that I even considered having my high flyers who need extension to create a quiz of their own to use on other students. Kahoot! is a limitless resource that be used in so many creative ways. Just try it!

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Wow!  What a year it has been.  Since the beginning of the year, I have been developing my knowledge around a new content and thinking about ways to deliver it that incorporates technology, allows for student independence and provides built-in collaboration for students.  Through various trials, mistakes and wins, we have worked out a system that is a win-win for students and teacher, and the results of student surveys throughout the year indicate that students are becoming increasingly receptive to this style of learning here at Horning.  

During the beginning of the year, I sent out a survey that asked students about their level of engagement in class, with the content and if they liked how the technology was being used in the class.  During the very first survey, about half of students considered themselves somewhat engaged in the content, most did not like how technology was being used and many felt like they were not interested in the content of world geography.  After changing to a hybrid model where students have ownership over the content, how they present their learning, the chance to talk to others and to have a dialogue with other students and teacher, the increase in engagement has been dramatic.  

In our most recent survey, only ten percent of students disagreed or strongly disagreed that they were not engaged in their learning.  That means about 90 percent of students felt some level of engagement and a similar number enjoyed the hybrid station model.  Students gave feedback that they enjoyed working with others, creating something by applying their knowledge and having opportunities to think outside of the box.  These skills will certainly come in handy and will make our students college and career ready after high school.  

After thinking through all of this information, I decided with our district technology coordinator that it was important to have some baseline data to determine if there was a real difference in the results of hybrid learning.  Turns out, there is a major difference.  Most students in a more traditional classroom felt much more neutral in terms of engagement and in terms of how they felt about their ownership in the classroom.  

As I continue this work next year, I believe that what we are doing will make an impact on student outcomes, and we can only continue to improve and refine what is happening.  

Thursday, May 4, 2017

We Have Takeoff...



Going digital in anything is a scary process and sometimes people feel (including me) that they are moving at a snail pace with integrating technology. There is so much information out there and so many resources for integrating technology so some feel like being the snail is the way to get around that overwhelming feeling. This opportunity has really helped me pick up my pace of incorporating technology. I am so excited to have this experience and time to bring my classroom to life with technology.
 My first experience with implementing my goal went successfully and no I am not joking. When I signed up for this opportunity I knew it would sometimes being challenging, however this goal went amazing. Being a Literacy teacher, thoughtful logs are a huge part of our teaching and of course ESAIL ;-). With this, I wanted to focus on students using the thoughtful logs independently during their read to self time.
 My main goal with my K/1 students is to help them learn independence and give them resources to meet their academic goals. Kids are in LOVE with their iPads so any chance they can get to use them is a bonus in their eyes. What better way to motivate them to use their thoughtful logs than with QR codes and scanning with their iPads. So in came my awesome tech coach who helped me create QR codes for all my anchor charts that we had co-created during Language Workshop. Then each student had their own set of anchor charts at their fingertips ready to be scanned when they needed a refresher on how to use a strategy. This started when I would teach a mini-lesson about one of the strategies. Sometimes it was a refresher on the strategy we have learned about and adding on more ideas or a new strategy with a new anchor chart. I would ask the students to try out the strategy in their thoughtful logs and they would have that resource to use.
 Students were already so engaged in their books when reading, however I wanted to give them more purpose when we didn't have a mini-lesson to connect to their read to self time. So these QR Codes gave the students a way to show their understanding of the books. It has really helped them think critically about their books and slow down to understand the important parts of their book. Each time we create a new anchor chart they ask me if there is going to be a QR code that goes with it which makes me smile as a teacher. So now all the anchor charts that I have squished into my limited wall space are easily accessible to students! I highly suggest going digital with parts of your thoughtful log.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Don’t Stop Believing… Technology is a Good Thing



My teaching journey began six years ago when I started in this school district. I was excited to join a district that was moving forward with technology and personalized learning. However, I started full time teaching five years ago at the Waukesha STEM Academy-Randall Campus. When I first started at Randall STEM, we didn’t have 1:1 technology for the students. My technology journey began with the old school laptops that took a full day to start-up and then lost power within 1 hour of using them. However, I was determined to integrate the 14 of them I had into my Math classes. When I reflected on my teaching practice, I wanted to have the students more involved in their learning, so I decided to flip my mini lessons (I use the term flip lightly). I recorded and then put them on bb9 for students to access. Well, many long stories short those laptops started becoming my friend allowing the students to be able to go back to the lesson for further investigation, help, or resource.

Now having been a 1:1 school with iPads for 3 years now, I am still learning new ways to integrate technology into my classroom. When my coach, mentor, tech guru approached me about being the anchor technology classroom with her, I was a bit nervous. She had me pinpointed on my thoughts, “What am I doing that makes me the tech expert?” I learned very early on that it’s not about doing everything perfectly or even correctly especially on the first try. That made me confident I was going to be ok because many days I have looked back just to think, “WOW, that was a swing and miss for that tech lesson…”
What I am looking forward to on this journey is bringing to life all my crazy ideas about how to integrate technology. The ideas I receive from those wonderful Waukesha One conferences can actually be a reality now. I will have a resource to help me kick start my resurgence into technology integration with my students as the guinea pigs-hope they are ready too!