Friday, February 10, 2017

Differentiation & Bb9

This week at our Vertical PLC the focus was sentence stems and frames for students that need a little extra support responding to Language Workshop prompts.

Screenshot of the Groups feature in Blackboard
I immediately thought of the group function on Blackboard since our students already have Digital Thoughtful Logs. Setting up the groups in Blackboard was quick and easy!

After the item has been created, the adaptive release feature in Blackboard allows the assignment to only be visible to the selected group.  After a few trial and errors, we figured out how to assign the sentence frames to only the selected group.  The final step in the setup in Blackboard groups was moving the group from the left box to the right box, and that took us a few tries to figure out.
Thanks to my teaching partner, Ryan, for figuring out this final step.

 I love that this feature allows students to get extra support without the entire class knowing that they are getting something different.  In 5th grade, the last thing they want is to stand out for needing support!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Into the Lion's Den, Welcome to the District, Ms. Bauknecht


I'm Cassie Bauknecht. I teach science at South High School. This is my 2nd year with the district and 2.5th year as a teacher. I've taught Special Ed Chemistry, Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Medical Interventions. 

2 years ago in mid-August, I got hired with Waukesha School District. I upended myself from my Madison residency and moved to Waukesha in the blink of an eye to officially start my full-time career. I had 2 brand new classes along with a 3rd that I was familiar with. I was new to Ipads, new to Apple, and never had taught at a 1-to-1 school before. 


With the bustle of the new school year, I was tossed into the lion's den and told "good luck!" in all senses, technology included. It took me a few months before I even touched my own Ipad, knew what BB9 stood for, or climbed off of the ground, which felt like I was experiencing at least a 7 on the Richter scale daily anyway with all the newness of my life, onto the SAMR ladder.

In cliff notes, my tech journey has looked like this:

1. Stare nervously at my tech collecting dust, worrying about how to even start.
2. Join the Vanguard team because someone at some point in time told me to join some sort of professional group.
3. Go to Google Summit.
4. Stare nervously at all my notes from the Summit, worrying about how to even start.
5. START! Google Apps for Education was my clarity.

Since my actual inception into the tech world, I've become an advocate revolving around the philosophy that technology is an integral part of our current world and we need to learn how to use it for good, not evil. 

Leading me into today. I am 2 months into my Model Technology Classroom journey, 1 presentation at Waukesha One in the books, and while I still stare nervously at the idea of learning about the vast amount of tech out in the world today, I am excited to start advocating for tech use in the classroom!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Gaming in the Classroom and Pushing Further with Bb9

A big success that I had with technology integration in the classroom was with a game called Win the Whitehouse from iCivic.  After students had learned about the election process they had to apply their knowledge to try and win a presidential election.  They had to learn different components of how to campaign such as raising funds, giving speeches, and selecting TV and radio spots.  Students had to decide which states would be the most beneficial to make appearances in, and learned quickly how the Electoral College works.  My students were highly engaged in the game and the election process.  They not only played the game at school, but would go home and play it, for fun!  After attending a session at the One Conference, I heard another teacher also talk about the game and how she created BINGO cards for the game, with each square representing a different outcome they had to accomplish.  I'm very excited to try this idea next year.  

I am about to launch a new unit on Blackboard.  My students are well versed in Bb9 as a location to grab materials and content from as this is their second year using it.  I had my students last year as 4th graders, and again as 5th graders.  Last year I used Bb9 mostly at the Substitution level, with students going to Bb9 to grab a document to open in Notability.  This year I wanted to use more of the features available.  In science I have used Bb9 to link virtual investigations for students to get extra practice, or use when I have a substitute teacher.  I like the virtual investigations to reinforce concepts after the students have already completed the investigation hands-on, not replace them.  This week I will be using the adaptive release feature as students begin to learn about the Civil War.  To ensure that students are taking away the important concepts, to move on, students will have to answer a few questions about the content before moving onto to the next item.  I used the test feature to create the questions.  I like that students won't be able to move on with their  learning with misconceptions.  After all the students learn the general information about the Civil War, I will be using the group feature on Bb9 to assign multiple perspectives to different students.  I am hoping that the adaptive release feature goes smoothly on the student end.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

Delayed Launch...Instant Reward!

Where I left off last, I had made my first so-so attempt of a math unit on Blackboard, but I missed one crucial step: enrolling my students in the course.  In my defense, I only took the Blackboard 101 TDP course, and Wendy told me that enrolling students in a class was covered in the 102 class.  Anyways, Wendy helped me enroll my students in the class, and the next day I got the students going in Blackboard!

It was so awesome!  They were watching the videos I found IN SPANISH from Youtube (Dual Language teachers know that that is no small feat), and they were even starting to explore some of the activities.  

Was it perfect?  No, but the kids didn't mind.

Did everything work?  No, the kids couldn't figure out how to get 2 files to open (nor could I) and one activity didn't work because it required Flash.

Was my entire math unit all on Blackboard?  Definitely no, but it was a definitely a good start for using Blackboard as the Can Do part of my math as I am now using Must Do/Can Do.

Were the kids learning?  YES!  They were learning all about telling time and hearing it from a native Spanish speaker, which despite my fluency, is something that is HIGHLY important.

The best part about it?  The kids were all working independently, or in the case of my overly social group, interdependently.  I got to meet with 3 guided groups that day, and I even had time to show an advanced group a hack that involved app smashing to differentiate an activity to challenge themselves more.  (*I received no compensation from the ONE Conference Keynote Speaker for that reference)

It felt so great!  I went right back to work that night to try to fix some of the things that didn't work and tried to figure out more ways to build in more activities on Blackboard.