Adding accountability

Although last year’s Algebra 1B review library was successful for students as they created their own screencasts using AutumsScreencastEducreations, I felt that there was something missing. Sure, a few high achieving students appreciated having the videos to brush up on skills before the exam; the rest didn’t really engage. I noticed the same thing with my own flipped lessons early on. Unless I added some “activity” to hold students accountable for watching, the students seemed to watch the videos less and less as the weeks went on. That is, until I added a little 5 question assessment!

I decided to add the same “accountability” to the student screencasts. The students needed to include and “assign” 5 problems for their classmates to complete. Additionally, needed to submit the answer key for these problems in their script.

Here’s the screencast project rubric.

The students LOVED watching their classmates screencasts and were incredibly focused watching and completing the assigned problems. I corrected them and counted it as an optional quiz. It was a win-win for everyone! 

Here are some student projects:

Autumn’s Screencast

Ava’s Screencast

Luke’s Screencast


Hamden Hall’s #HourofCode

There is nothing like the expression on a students face when they solve a problem or achieve a goal they have been striving for. This is one of the many reasons I was very excited and proud that Hamden Hall participated in Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code!

I presented this video

 at a Technology Committee meeting earlier in the fall and we unanimously decided that participating in the Hour of Code would be an exciting experience to offer our students.  After digging a little deeper and exploring the wide range of coding apps and programming options out there, we were eager to begin to organize the event across all three divisions. (I need to be honest– we were also a bit overwhelmed). Thankfully, our librarians took the bull by the horns. We scheduled a follow- up meeting, and decided that weekly library class would be the best place for our Lower School students to have a coding experience.  Martha Djang, our Lower School Librarian, researched many options and decided to focus on two apps–  Kodable and Cargo-Bot . Kathy McNeiece, our Head Librarian, worked on the plan for our Middle and Upper Schools.   The librarians worked with the tech department to organize optional times (during lunch and study hall)  in the library for students to code with Light Bot and Scratch. We got the kids excited to sign up by showing a video at assembly and by pushing out messages through OnCampus and via email. Some classroom teachers even jumped in to give it a try.  There was definitely a buzz around campus and it caught on even more as the week unfolded!

I took the opportunity to utilize two days of my pre-algebra class to explore Hopscotch. We used our school set of iPads and followed along with this video:

Having had experience flipping the classroom, I know that students usually stop watching after about 7 or 8 minutes. I have to admit, I was a little concerned that this was 25 minutes. I went for it anyway… and sure enough, the kids were completely engaged and didn’t want to leave when class was over. Many students who had their own iPads downloaded the hopscotch app and completed the project that we were slated to work on the following day without being asked! I thankfully had some of these additional projects to challenge those students. We had a blast!

According to Computing in the Core

Computer science develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create, not simply use, new technologies. This fundamental knowledge is needed to prepare students for the 21st century, regardless of their ultimate field of study or occupation.

Anyone with personal experience in coding at any level can completely agree with this. And can also agree with the indescribable feeling you get when your program finally works. 

So, even though the official week is over, there’s plenty of projects and ready-made lessons waiting for you. I encourage you– give coding a try — whatever discipline or grade you teach! Why would you not want to provide an authentic learning experience where students are excited, creative and collaborative?    

Note: If you don’t have technology readily available in your classroom, you could even try some “unplugged” options listed on this page.

Here’s a photo gallery from our Hour of Code week!


Getting the (blog) monkey off my back

photoSo, my last post on this blog was on June 8th and it has been hanging over my head ever since. It’s not as if I haven’t thought about blogging. Believe me. I have thought about it. A LOT. I even have a list in my phone of things I have wanted to blog about. I just never got to it. I strongly dislike (don’t really like to use the word “hate”) the fact that one of my New Year’s Resolutions in 2013 was to blog at least twice a month. And I didn’t do it.

I’m not here to make excuses but life has been a little busy since June 8th. Well… a lot busy. Never have I had to deal with so many changes at the same time. On July 1st,  I began a new job at Hamden Hall– Acting Director of Lower School. We sold our house of 14 years, and we moved to a house on campus. All the while we tried to keep life as “normal” as possible for our two teenage daughters. Moving was tough, but purging unnecessary “stuff” was definitely liberating. And I really enjoyed reliving many amazing memories as I packed each box. But, I’m glad it’s done. I finally feel settled and somewhat organized in my work and home life. I had a relaxing and restful Thanksgiving Break. I even read a book… for pleasure – “The Other Wes Moore”. I highly recommend it.

And I also committed to “treating” myself to getting the (blog) monkey off my back! Now that I’ve admitted it publicly, the weight is lifted. I’m moving on.

 

 

 

 


Always sad to say goodbye…

I’ve been in a bit of denial for the past few months that my colleague and friend, Sarah Ludwig, will be moving on to a different school next year. In three short years, Sarah has inspired me, challenged me and made me smarter! I will miss her terribly. She has made a lasting impact on me personally and professionally, and on our entire school community.

Here’s the presentation I made to honor and celebrate her. I shared it with our school’s Technology Committee and with Upper School students.   Sarah- you will be missed :(

Here is the link  to the original video I created on Sliderocket.


2013 CAIS Academic Tech Retreat: The best yet!

Each year, the CAIS Academic Technology Retreat is the “prize” and we keep our eye on it the whole year.  It’s a time to sharecheryl tweet the great things that are happening, to learn from others, and to dive into some new technologies that can enhance teaching and learning at our schools.  Cheryl Costello summed up the feeling with this tweet:
guesthouse

After hearing that our longstanding venue, Trinity Conference Center in Cornwall, CT, was closing, we got a little down. It was a space we were familiar with; it was charted “territory”. Guest House in Chester, CT was recommended as a replacement, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint.  This new venue forced us to rethink (and improve) the conference on the whole, and, because the place could accommodate more guests , new and different people were able to attend. We loved the spaces for break out sessions and the common areas were very flexible, allowing for the unconference model to work even better!

 
Dirk DeLo from Avenues: World School was our keynote. In his presentation, “Classroom in the Cloud”, he shared his technology journey, and Avenues’ journey, and offered inspiring words about moving our schools forward. Here are some quotes that have stuck with me:

  • “Best way to predict your future is to invent it”
  • “It’s no longer about IT it’s about TI (technology integration).”
  • On digital content creation …. “Teachers need to make their own”playlists” using tools to create their own digital resources. “Teachers should be curators of content”.
  • “iPad is the new Trapper Keeper”
  • Digital Diet. Choose a few tools. Classroom in the cloud: Stick w/ core tools. Evernote, iTunes U, Subtext, GDocs, Dropbox, Showbie
  • You have the tech tools, how do you get the teachers to accept this ‘invasive species’?
  • “You have to get the teachers to take the bait”
  • “Technology should not drive the curriculum, curriculum should drive technology . IT needs to “retool”
  • Challenge Based Learning… not about technology. Tech is the tool. What is the big idea? Essential Questions?
  • “Substitution”, “Augmentation”,, “Modification”, “Redefinition”
  • The goal of tech integration is REDEFINITION: Tech for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable!

Phenomenal!

Following Dirk, we had an “App Smackdown”, where each person attending shared their favorite website or app.  Here is this year’s list of recommendations from colleagues at CAIS schools. The second tab in the spreadsheet are twitter handles from other CAIS educators. The third tab includes resources from a session called “Bleeding Edge: Where do you hear about the next big thing? Come and share your favorite reliable sources.”

Our sessions for the remainder of the unconference were impressive! Check out the board!

I led a few sessions, including: photo 4

Twitter Maniacs (w/ fellow twitter addicts Sharon Plante and Cheryl Costello)“If you aren’t on Twitter you should be! Come talk about how being a Twitter Maniac will help you be a Connected Educator.”  The session was PACKED and we all have many new connections to continue our learning 24/7! We had a blast!
and
How to Poke the Sleeping Dragon: Implementing Change & Tips to Manage from the Middle (w/ Justine Fellows) A great discussion implementing change in our schools.

Instead of a “normal” social hour,  we really geeked out. Some were trying to program a robot and another group was learning how to “augment reality” with an iPad app called “Aurasma”. Awesome to think of the many ways this can be used at our schools. COOL STUFF!  In keeping with our tradition, some of our colleagues provided musical accompaniment.

We also played techie charades/ pictionary, once again.

Here
is the archive of tweets from the conference.

Thanks to everyone who attended, shared, inspired, collaborated, and learned with me these two amazing days. It’s what true professional development is all about! 

Here are some more pics:


If these mathematicians were on Facebook…

For the third year in a row, my Algebra 1 class researched mathematicians and created a Fake Facebook wall for him/ her. einstein(See projects from 2011 and 2012 here and here.)  Each year, I reassess the project and make some changes and improvements. This year, given the number of snow days we had, I decided that introducing Diigo would be too much. I still wanted students to have a place to organize their research, and I wanted to be able to monitor it and give feedback. So, I created a googledoc Planning Sheet for their research, instead.

Here is the rubric for this year’s version of the project. 

Here is a link to the planning sheet, which included the justification of all of their photos, wall posts, friends, etc. Turns out, this was even better than Diigo. I was able to see their progress very easily using the history of the document, and I was able to have an online dialog with them about their research using “comments”. I know Diigo could have done some of this, but the kids hit the ground running with a tool they were already familiar with.

Since the online fake Facebook sites were so unstable last year, I used this JFK template I found online and taught students how to edit this to reflect their own mathematician. Even though the updated Facebook interface is different, students still were able to make this template work.

We spent a few days working through the research. Students still needed to be reminded that they would not be able to find a list of friends of their mathematicians. (See I Can’t Find Blaise Pascal’s Friends) After some one-on-one discussions as I circulated the class, students were able to figure out friends, photos, wall posts and comments for their page. They seemed to have a blast with it.

Here is a link to the peer assessment. This worked really well for us and students were able to make some connections between the mathematicians that were contemporaries of each other. That was cool!

Here are some of our final projects:
Carl Gauss
Rene Descartes
Isaac Newton


Whipple Hill’s Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat

Follow Friday

I am honored to have been chosen to kick off Whipple Hill’s new blog #Follow Friday.  I really enjoyed sharing the story of #ISEDchat! Please join us on Thursday night’s at 9pm EST.

Follow Friday: The Evolution of #ISEDchat – a Q&A with Lorri Carroll

 

 


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