Last Friday, I attended my third EdCamp. Having truly enjoyed the first two #edcampNYC events I attended, I was really looking forward to this one. And, on the train heading home from #edcampnyc, I set a goal for myself that I would “give back” and do a presentation at the next edcamp I attended. D-day was here!
Sharing the ride with one of my long time CAIS COT buddies, Nikki (@ncingiser), set the day off on the right foot, and then it just got better from there! Ethel Walker was a beautiful venue for the event and the organizers did a nice job explaining the day’s plan. I was really looking forward to meeting some of my twitter “friends” face to face (especially @mytakeonit !), and also making some additional connections to other public and private school educators.
Now came the dilemma… the board starts to fill up. Within each time block, there are at least two (sometimes three!) places that I want to be at the SAME TIME. And… because I committed (to myself) to present in a session, this would mean that during one of the time slots, I couldn’t attend ANY other sessions. EEK! Decisions, decisions… I put my presentation in the first time slot thinking that I could share first, and then begin to absorb as much as I could from others. Maybe I could split a few sessions, or maybe some of the sessions wouldn’t be what I was expecting and I could move to another… time would tell.
I headed off to set up for my presentation, feeling good that I was achieving a personal goal that I had set for myself . To be honest, a small part of me was very nervous that no one would show up. Too late, though. It was a risk that I had taken when I wrote my name on the card! Turns out, before long, there was standing room only, and I was off sharing something that I am so passionate about- being a connected educator. Another of my CAIS COT friends, Cheryl Costello- Academic Tech at Cheshire Academy, attended my session. That calmed me down a bit. She even tweeted: “I always learn something new from @
lcarroll94 . Can’t wait to check out the indep educators Ning and Diigo groups! #edcampct #isedchat“ Thanks @cherylcostello!
Here’s my presentation: “Learning Never Stops When You’re Connected”
Once my presentation ended, I was forced to continue dealing with my dilemma of the day… where to go next!
For the second session, I chose ”Managing Writing Assessment & Teaching with Digital Texts & Tools”. This was not a “natural” pick for me, as a math teacher, but the title intrigued me and I figured I would share what I learned with others back at Hamden Hall. Greg McVerry was a terrific presenter and offered some very sound advice for managing student’s digital work. I often use Twitter to take public, sharable notes… here are some of mine during Greg’s presentation:
- Learning about Targeted Areas of Growth approach. Pick 3 goals of areas for improvement with @jgmac1106
- TAG TEAM approach…vary writing assignments btw individual/ collaborative.
#edcampctstudents HIGHLIGHT their targeted areas of growth…. use curation tools, let kids play! #edcampct
- You don’t need to assess every online discussion. Look for ways students are using multi-modal features… assess it!
- Screencast-o-matic to assess writing. teacher provides oral feedback, students comment. cuts grading time in 1/2 via @jgmac1106
- disciplinary specific goals… writing like a scientist, writing like a historian, share examples… “I do, we do, you do”
- In @
thomasdaccord ’s session: Building iPad PD (5 mistakes schools are making & ways to avoid them) #edcampct
- Mistake: “failure to compose and deliver a clear vision of why iPads ?”develop a consistent, clear message on value added
- iPads cannot be a replacement for everything a computer can do… shouldn’t be either/ OR. use the tool that fits!
- Mistake: “failure to distinguish the difference between what an iPad can do and what a computer can do”… stress the intrinsic benefits
- ”Technology should be in the service of learning” via
@thomasdaccord #edcampct #isedchat
- Mistake: PD is often an after thought w/ iPads. Teachers need to learn HOW to work with ipads, have a comfort level.
- “iPad As” from edtechteacher…. http://diigo.com/0o0up Learning goals FIRST! via
- iPad is meant to be a single user device… need to consider how “shared iPads” will impact the classroom workflow.
- Workflow is often overlooked. It is something really important to consider.
- common mistake: Misguided focus on apps!
- clear/ thoughtful policy re: apps… teacher autonomy is good but can become an “apps festival” Have conversations first.
- Look for the 4 apps that cross a wide range of possibilities. exhaust the creative possibilities.
#edcampct <— YES!
- don’t focus on subject specific apps… most are lower order bloom, drill/ kill. Focus on screencast, annotation, audio/ video.
GREAT advice here…and, when Tom said to focus on 4 or 5 apps instead of trying to figure out what everyone will need for each age group and subject area, it was like a wave of calm came over me … have you seen how many apps are out there??!! And although I wanted to be in two other places at the same time: “Using Evernote to organize & share materials & as an e-portfolio (@daveandcori)” and “Ethical Issues Around Social Networking in class. A conversation. Privacy? Access? Soical Fabric? Jeff Weitz @scienceteacher1″, I made another GREAT choice.
Off to lunch to catch up with some twitter friends that I could finally meet in person. Always fun to pick up a conversation as if I have “known” them for a long time. (well, I sorta have!) Lunch was delicious and the potato chips that everyone was talking about did not disappoint.
After lunch, I decided to be bold and hit a session that would probably put me out of my comfort zone, but I knew I needed to get an idea of what my network manager and help desk tech are up against with the 18 shared iPads. I chose “Managing shared iPads (hurdles & solutions) with @mlevesqueoi and @mytakeonit“. It was a very informative question and answer session, and I did get a bit uncomfortable and overwhelmed. I even had to back off Twitter because I couldn’t grasp the magnitude of managing multiple users on a single user device. Here is the document that Michael and Jeremy shared. Again… wished I could have been in “iPad Apps for Middle School/High School Math” AND “Game Theory in the Classroom? A “curiosity” discussion (@thalesdream)”, but GREAT session and I learned A LOT!
For the last session of the day, I chose ”Flipping (after a year of semi-flipped classroom) How to? Pitfalls? Structure! Management with @docjessm“. Hard choice because I wanted to also be in her husband’s session of “Schoology (and other class manage systems) taking a look at the blended learning class. Better? Not just more? @thalesdream” and also “Supporting School Values/Goals. More than just a poster on the wall. @WillyB“. CRAZY! While I have flipped with mixed success, I felt that this would be the most practical choice for me with school starting in 3 weeks. I got a lot of tips and very good advice from Jess. She was a dynamic speaker, full of energy and enthusiasm. It was a good choice to end the day!
We finished up in the Common Room with some raffles and an app SMACKDOWN! Here is a link to the sites/ apps shared.
I have to say… my two biggest takeaways:
Although it was a day filled with dilemmas (if only all dilemmas could be like this!), I made all good choices, learned SO MUCH and leveraged Twitter (Yay for Twitter!) to try to fill in the gaps! Here is the archive of tweets in a google spreadsheet format and here they are in storify format!
And..if you haven’t been to an EdCamp, you really should get to one… soon!
Ok- I admit it. I had “bloggers block”. I started a few posts since school ended, but they lacked spark and never really came together. They mostly focused on some frustrations that I had at the end of the school year. It felt good to write about them, but I just didn’t see the point in trying to flush them out to publish them. So, after a few weeks of rest and relaxation, and a few hours with some students, I am inspired to write again.
Yesterday was the start of our 2nd Annual Engineering and Science Academy at Hamden Hall. Over 150 students applied for the 32 spots we had in the camp… WOW! Last year was an amazing teaching experience for me (see post here) and I was looking forward to getting started.
This year, my plan was to work with one of the science teachers on the first day, guiding students in some research on bridges, and then to complete some kind of computer activity (possibly using Google Sketchup) where students could work on a preliminary design of a truss bridge they would eventually create out of linguine and test for its strength. The remainder of the week, I would work with Sarah Ludwig, helping the students to design computer games using Scratch.
In preparation, I began looking around for websites on bridge design that were appropriate for students in grades 6 – 8. I found some good ones, but struggled with how I would share the links. Typing individual URLs is so burdensome. I couldn’t share them via email and I thought of creating a wiki and posting the links there, but I didn’t have one set up already.
Then, as luck would have it, this past week’s #isedchat topic was “What are effective ways to curate resources for students and faculty?” Scoop.it was mentioned as an easy, interesting, very user-friendly way to share. So, I decided to give it a try. Literally, within 5 minutes of signing up, I had this page ready to share.
SO EASY! YAY! and the URL was very easy for students to type. Part one of the plan was done!
After watching a YouTube video on creating a bridge using Google Sketchup, I realized it would be WAY too hard to do in the 25 minutes I had. So, I went to google and typed in “bridge simulator” and up popped “West Point Bridge Builder“. I had heard of this program a while ago, but I didn’t make the connection until now. Within minutes, I downloaded it, and was designing my own truss bridge.
This is exactly the type of bridge that students would be creating for the rest of the week! It even allowed users to test their design, and learn how to strengthen the weak areas using different materials and supports. How perfect was this?!
Students arrived in class and things went EXACTLY as planned. We watched the Tacoma Bridge Collapse, talked about different types of bridges, and the students dove into their research. After 20 minutes, they were ready to start designing. This was amazing to watch! With about 3 minutes of instruction, the students were designing and simulating and correcting and re-trying their designs, learning all along the way. It was a blast!
To quote John “Hannibal” Smith from the 80′s TV classic, The A-Team, ”I love it when a plan comes together!” What a great day!
….and I can’t wait to see the linguine truss bridges to their completion!
As our final assessment of the year in Geometry, I was originally planning to do a screencast, similar to my Algebra 1 class. Since the topic was segments and angles in a circle, I quickly realized that it would be very difficult and labor intensive for my students to accurately draw the diagrams necessary. I was looking for a way to have the diagrams already saved and to have the students spend their time explaining how to solve them. After talking through the issue with Sarah Ludwig, Academic Technology Coordinator, she suggested trying VoiceThread. I had used VoiceThread before, but never as an assessment tool. I decided to give it a try!
We scanned the final assessment for the chapter, and broke each problem into an individual powerpoint slide. I uploaded this to VoiceThread and shared it with my students. Each student needed to complete 12 problems correctly (out of 20) on paper, submit them to me for grading. Once they completed all of them correctly, they could begin recording their solutions in VoiceThread.
Even though we had a small issue with “disappearing ink” in the drawing tool on VoiceThread, the students found it extremely easy to record. I loved seeing these students record and then re-record the problems until they got the solutions just right. Is there any better way to practice solving problems?
I used this rubric for grading and found that the biggest issue was the fact that, while students did record the solutions correctly, they did not always fully explain WHY they were solving them… the geometric concepts. When I do this project next year, I will be sure to stress the explanation as a key component to the project. Live and learn!
Overall, using VoiceThread as an assessment tool was extremely successful. The students were fully engaged and I was able to get a very clear picture of what they understood. In many ways, it was the most authentic assessment of the year!
Here is our final project:
Last Friday, we completed our screencast project in Algebra 1. Things went extremely well! Screencast-o-matic was very reliable and the students enjoyed choosing their own color/style/ background to write out their problems using Paint. It was like music to my ears hearing them explain how to add/ subtract/ multiply and divide radicals expressions. The students were completely engaged for all three days in the lab and the entire process forced them to think about how to simplify radical expressions. YAY!
Each student downloaded the screencasts as .avi files and the students were able to easily import the video files into Windows MovieMaker, and add a title, transitions and credits. I uploaded the final projects to my YouTube channel and really enjoyed grading them. Although I had students submit problems ahead of time for checking, some of the students made some errors in explaining the problems and I noted them on their grading rubric. It was the ultimate assessment of whether students knew WHAT to do and WHY they were doing it. Overall, the project turned out great and I will definitely do this again next year!
Here are a few of the screencasts:
For last tech project of the year, my Algebra class is going to create our very own version of Khan Academy!
a.k.a. “Algebra 1B Academy”
Students will create a screencast explaining 4 different examples from Chapter 11(Rational and Irrational Numbers).
• 1 example must be from 11- 5 (Square Roots of Variable Expressions)
• 1 example must be from 11- 7 (Multiplying/ Dividing/ Simplifying Radicals)
• 1 example must be from 11 – 8 (Adding/ Subtracting Radicals)
• 1 example is free choice of anything from chapter 11.
All 4 problems must be worked out, step-by-step, and submitted for approval. Students will then use the website “Screencast-o-matic“, along with Microsoft Paint, to record their writing. Next, students will save and convert these screencasts and import them to Windows MovieMaker. In MovieMaker, students will add a title slide and an ending slide and appropriate transitions. Students will then record your voice over the video explaining each of the problems. (I tested a few online movie making websites but they didn’t allow for a narration of an existing clip.) Students will save and export as movie file and upload to our conference.
Here is the rubric.
The students seemed excited when I announced this today! I am looking forward to the final results. This assessment replaces the chapter test.
For the past seven years, amidst the craziness and mad dash to the end of the school year, there is a bright light. This light is called the CAIS Academic Tech Retreat and it is the most amazing, relaxing, and rejuvenating 2 days for me, both professionally and personally. It is held at the Trinity Conference Center in West Cornwall, CT. The setting is beautiful, the food is spectacular and the company is second to none. (I wrote about this last year too!) The retreat is an “un-conference“, which lends itself nicely to attendees getting exactly what they need/want out of the two days.
We always begin with a keynote. This year’s was fabulous thanks to Ann Befroy from Miss Porter’s School!
|Keynote: A Communicative Approach to the Flipped Classroom
Ann Befroy, Miss Porter’s School
How do current technologies allow teachers to structure a flipped classroom that promotes effective language learning both in and out of the classroom? Can students really learn grammar on their own outside of class? What critical thinking skills are encouraged by using the flipped classroom? Watch as Ann Befroy teaches us how the flipped classroom can enhance best practices for language instruction, then take some time to figure out how this approach might work best with your faculty.
Here are some of my notes/ tweets from her talk.
Up next was a Web 2.0/ App SMACKDOWN. Here is the list we came up with for recommended, must-have apps and web tools. Some great resources here curated in under an hour. Feel free to add to it if you have any to share!
Then… on to the unconference. Here is our session board. As you can see, there was a wide variety of topics and a lot of learning/ sharing / exploration took place. I love the fact that we could put a topic up on the board, with no “expert” in the room, and have time to dig into it. We did this with QR codes, Google+, Pinterest among others. One group even had a session to explore Garage Band. They created an original song using a blend of traditional and digital instruments. Check it out! LMAO BYOD Hysterical!!!
Other highlights of the retreat include academic technology guitarists having a jam session, learning how to play the ocarina and tech charades/ pictionary. This year, it was a little chilly so, instead of sitting on the porch, we sat by a roaring fire. Here are some photo highlights. (and check out this iCade– use your iPad to create an arcade!) COOL!
Thanks to everyone who attended, shared and learned with me. It’s just what I needed to get to the finish line!
About a month ago, I launched a project with my geometry class to redesign our school library. In trying to keep this project as authentic as possible, Sarah Ludwig, our school’s Academic Coordinator/ Librarian presented the library’s needs gleaned from a student/ faculty survey and from her own observations. I also asked our school’s Facilities Director, Jim Hunter, come to class to present the original architectural drawings of the building. He was very excited to share those with us. We also were extremely fortunate to have Christiaan Dinkeloo, our school’s consulting architect, meet with the class several times over the course of the project.
Here is the info presented to students:
You are trying to win the architectural bid for the Swain Library redesign project. You must use Google Sketchup to meet the requests from the school’s librarian.
- Your design must include an accurate, to scale, 3D model of Swain Library. Be sure to include windows, doors, fire exits.
- Your library design includes room for 5000 books.
- Your library design includes a creative, well planned space for quiet, individual study
- Your library design includes a creative, well planned space for group study/ collaboration.
- Your library design includes a creative space for class visits (with the potential for technology)
- Your library design includes a creative space for reading for pleasure.
- There is a space for a more prominent and central display of the young adult collection.
- Your design includes at least 2 of the following wishes.
- Wish list:
- Remove all high shelving and put shelving along the walls and in low shelves (might be used to divide up space)
- Accommodate technology everywhere – more outlets, etc.
- A librarian station that is central, visible, and accessible to students, which allows for student/faculty conferencing
- A second classroom that can also serve as a meeting room or technology lab
- Your library design is adaptable and can accommodate occasional events without changing the design of the library.
- Your design was submitted by the deadline agreed upon by the team.
We began with a day of measuring the dimensions of the library and talking about how the symmetry of the building could make the measuring even easier. We also calculated the number of books (on average) that would fit on a shelf. (Our designs needed to fit 5000). We compared our actual measurements to the architectural drawing and learned about scale. What a perfect tie in to a lesson on ratio and proportion!
With only one student having prior experience with SketchUp (and with having little experience myself), we all watched videos together, helped each other and worked through all of our issues as they arose. There were many days I couldn’t get students out of the classroom at the end of the period… they were INTO it!
Mr. Dinkeloo came to class weekly to answer questions, to help students with design challenges and to show us what a presentation to potential clients actually looked like. What an amazing resource he was to our class. You added a dimension to the project that could not have otherwise been achieved. Thanks Mr. Dinkeloo!
I have to be honest, I was a little scared when we started this… was this project going to be too much for us to handle? With having little “expertise” in the room with SketchUp, would we be able to figure it all out? How much time was this all going to take? So many questions… I’m a planner, so this was a little uncomfortable for me. I decided to just let it ride and see what happened.
Last Friday, the class presented their amazing library redesign models to me, Ms. Ludwig and Mr. Dinkeloo.
Here are some photos of their presentations:
The student’s designs were creative, thoughtful, accurate and solved many of the problems articulated in our original discussion. Mr. Dinkeloo, Ms. Ludwig and I all gave feedback to the students and the students had a chance to ask and answer questions of each other. It was a truly authentic experience and the icing on the cake was that I got to announce today that the school has received a major gift to fund the actual redesign! Mr. Dinkeloo will begin work very soon on the project. Our class looks forward to hearing about his progress and to seeing if he uses any of our ideas!
Here’s the rubric for the project.
Click here for article in Hamden Hall Happenings
Ms. Ludwig’s notes from presentation about the Middle/ Upper School Library
Beauty and the Book: Libraries in the digital age raise the question about the place of books
School Library Redesign from the National Institute of Building Science