Live and Learn: A post- project assessment

My geometry students just finished their second quarter project “Geometry: Brought to you by Hamden Hall”. Having a post-project review and assessment is all part of learning. So, here goes:

Earlier this year, I happened upon this video on Twitter and it gave me an idea! Using Windows MovieMaker or iMovie, I wanted my students to create a video, “Geometry: Brought to you by Hamden Hall”, with illustrations of geometry concepts around campus. It needed to include a title slide,  definition of each of 12 chosen concepts, followed by the two unique images illustrating it. Students then had to add appropriate background music from an approved website. I presented the project and the students seemed really excited. Here are the guidelines I gave to them.  Here is the rubric. We had a great discussion on piracy and we talked about using sites like Jamendo  or ccMixter for digital music.  I sent the students off around campus to begin their quest!

Working during class time, students gathered their photos each day and checked off the concepts on their list. I gave them a deadline to have all 24 photos taken. Some students didn’t meet this deadline and had to take additional photos on their own time. The students were excited to show me the great images they were taking a long the way. The kids worked hard at importing their pictures, and after explaining that I didn’t want them to google each of the definitions of the geometry concepts and copy/paste them into their video (I wanted them to use the definitions we learned in class), things seemed to be on the right track.

I answered some individual questions about MovieMaker and about importing the music, but otherwise, the students worked on their projects independently. I circulated the room looking over their shoulders talking about some of the images and definitions. We even had an admissions visitor to our classroom one day who remarked about how intensely the students were working!

The due date arrives… all projects were submitted on time.

Here they are:
(I know, I am spoiled with a very small section of geometry.)

What I was happy about:

1) Students found some very creative examples of geometric concepts.

2) Students seemed to enjoy the project and be able to apply some of the geometry concepts we studied.

3) This was a good review for the midyear exam.

4) We had a great discussion about music piracy.

5) Students were very comfortable working with digital images, adding text and editing video.

6) All projects were submitted on time.

What I was disappointed about:

1) Spelling Errors! ARG!

2) Some photos didn’t illustrate the concept defined.

3) It was sometimes unclear what part of the photo was illustrating the concept. In George’s presentation above, he took the initiative to outline some of the concepts in MS Paint and THEN import the photos. I will DEFINITELY include this as part of the requirement next time.

4) Students used the same photo multiple times, even though I asked them to find unique examples.

5) Some students did not include the required number of concepts or images.

6) Music didn’t work out for all students. Some songs were too long for the video or some songs ended before the images were done.

I must take some of the responsibility for some of the things that went wrong.

SO… Here’s what I will do differently next time:

1) Have students show me intermediate progress of video creation, checking the definitions, spelling and illustrations along the way. How great would it have been if I sent the student back out of the classroom to find an example of “vertical angles” after the image they selected was incorrect?

2) As I said above, I’d make sure students used a photo editing tool to outline the concept they were illustrating in the photo.

3) Maybe giving the students the choice of too many concepts was overwhelming to them. The students had a hard time keeping track of the ones they had taken photos of, and they kept losing their list.

4) Before publishing the movie, I’d have each student assess themselves with the rubric. This might have helped them see what they needed to change or improve.

5) Before publishing the movie, I’d also have each student have a peer “reviewer”. Then, their classmate could help them articulate what needed clarifying and students would have the opportunity to edit before submitting.

6) Spend a little more time on figuring out timing with the music… what math less that would have been! I won’t miss that opportunity again 😦

You know what they say…live and learn.  I would definitely do this project again, with some adjustments.

If you have any additional feedback, please share!

A Day of Learning

Our jam-packed professional development day yesterday began with a full school faculty meeting where our Head of School gave an update on various areas of the school. It was great to hear how the admissions season is progressing and to hear the positive college news coming in from our seniors.

The next part of our PD day included a stimulating, thought-provoking presentation on 21st Century Schools/ 21st Century Learning from Doug Lyons, Executive Director of CAIS and Andrew Niblock, Head of our Lower School. We skyped with Kevin Ruth, Director of the Tower Hill e-school to learn more about the exciting opportunity of e-learning and how it can enrich and enhance independent schools. We also learned of Doug and Andrew’s experiences visiting the Science Leadership Academy and Microsoft School of the Future. Their presentation was riveting, validating and exciting all at the same time. I wished we had more time for discussion and questions!

After a short break, faculty attended 1 hour mini workshops offered by other faculty and administrators at Hamden Hall. From the chatter at lunch, everyone seemed excited about what they had learned!  These sessions included: Exploring GoogleDocs, How Your Students Do Research, Red Flags of Students in Need, Ed Apps on the iPad,  Making the Most of Field Trips, Beyond our Classroom Walls Using Skype, Classroom Climate and I offered a session on The Flipped Classroom.

This is my presentation, but it does not tell of the true learning and sharing that happened in the room. While people’s interpretation of  the flipped classroom differed, we all agreed that the value of the flip really stems from the fact that the students are in charge of their own learning; they are DOING more in class, instead of being passive receivers of information.

(A special thanks to @jrsowash for his shared slides on this topic. I also thank @jonbergmann, one of the “Fathers of the Flip”, who answered my tweet about resources and also offered to look at my presentation. SO COOL! One of the many reasons I love Twitter!)

After lunch, we all gathered back in the theater for a presentation from Mike Fazio of CareerTeam. His enthusiastic and energetic talk was entitled “Selling Not Telling”.

“Whether you work in Administration, Education, Management or Counseling, SELLING SKILLS are needed.  And therein lies the catch word—–skills.  To me, a skill is something that can be improved upon with practice.  How?  Through better BRANDING and CONNECTING, so everyone can increase the effectiveness of communicating messages.  Whether delivering a lesson, giving a student advice, discussing an issue with a parent or even talking to the Head of School——–Selling, Not Telling produces better results.”

Mike added a different perspective to the day, speaking about the impact of 21st century skills in the work force. One slide is still resonating with me… it was a side by side comparison of the 2oth century worker vs. the 21st century worker. He promised to share it, and I really hope he does!

Our day concluded with a very nice wine and cheese reception in the library.

My head hurt (in a good way) with all that I had to think about after a GREAT day of learning!