The official opening of NAISAC14 was filled with excitement and energy. John Chubb’s first remarks as President were critically analyzed by everyone in the room. I was impressed with his tone and enthusiasm and liked what he had to say. And while I felt Lyn Heward’s (COO and Creative Content Division Director for Cirque du Soleil) talk went on a bit too long, she offered some inspiring words on creativity and risk-taking. Both helped set the tone for the conference opening. I was a little disappointed, given the theme was “Dare to Explore and Discover” and we were so close to the Kennedy Space Center, that an inspiring talk from an astronaut was not on the opening agenda.
Here are my notes:
Although I couldn’t stay for this entire session because I needed to set up for my presentation, Alex’s talk was intriguing and I didn’t want to leave. His book is now on my “to read” list. Being that I consider myself a self-proclaimed “multi-tasker,” I really had a lot to listen to. I also admit that, since this session, I am more aware of the fact that I do hold my breath when my email is loading… and I know that I look at my phone more than 150 times a day. #beinghonest
Here are my tweets from this session:
Session leaders Jenni Swanson Voorhees, Chris Bigenho, Jill Brown, Liz Davis, Sophie Halliday and Linda Swarlis led us in an amazing conversation where WE got to choose the topics!
“Connect with colleagues and join innovative conversations in this new participant-driven session for teachers. Based on the “unconference” format, this session offers you the opportunity to drive discussion topics, share knowledge and passions, and find solutions to problems. Learn from colleagues and share your expertise with others. After a fun introduction to the open session format, join conversations on topics that you choose.”
The round table discussion I was involved in was entitled: “How to stop doing what we know we should not be doing.” I have very few tweets from this session because it was hard to tweet, talk. and listen at the same time. I didn’t want to miss anything that anyone in this circle was saying! We were all noting that we wished that there were more sessions of this type throughout the conference– as opposed to a “sage on the stage” model. Our own professional development should model what we want our classroom to look like!
My favorite tweet is the first one in this list! As a new person to the Lower School world, I couldn’t agree with it more!
Here are my notes from Friday Morning’s General Session with NAIS President, John Chubb, and Featured Speaker, John Quinones from ABC News. John Chubb shared the vision of NAIS and talked about the importance of quality teachers. John Quinones gave a heartfelt reflection on the impact of teachers in his life and the power of making mistakes and learning from them.
Justine Fellows (Greens Farms Academy) and I presented at the Speed Innovating Session at NAIS (Disney World!). The session is set up much like “Speed Dating.” Attendees pre-register for three topics they want to learn more about and presenters have 15 minutes to share their topic. When the 15 minutes is up, participants move to their next topic of choice. There’s a large, (very intimidating) stop watch on the screen at the front to keep everyone on schedule.
We started with a 3 minute description of augmented reality and then let our participants “play” for 5-7 minutes. We had iPads (yes, we lugged them from CT), headphones, and our trigger images all ready to go. We spent the next 5 minutes sharing ideas we had for using Augmented Reality to promote our school’s message, and we ended with a “share” of ideas that participants offered. It’s high energy, a lot of fun, and attendees learn just enough to figure out whether they want to learn more about the topic. They now have a contact person at another school to reach out to so they can. We had a blast!
Here is our presentation along with handouts.
Here are my notes from this amazing session led by Peggy Campbell-Rush, Director of Lower School at Gill St. Bernard School (Gladstone, NJ). Every minute of this session was filled with great advice!
My favorite tweet from this session:
Here are the rest of my tweets:
Here’s a project that I plan to complete with my Math 7 Honors class this week. It is based on a terrific activity from YummyMath. If you teach math, this site is worth a visit (and is well worth the $16 for membership for advanced features)!
From the creators:
“We’ve created Yummy Math to provide teachers with an easy way to bring real-life into their math classrooms. It is our belief that when math is explored in contexts that are familiar and of interest to students, students will be more engaged to do math, reason, think critically, question and communicate. “
I must admit that I often struggle with the fact that I want to bring more relevance to my classroom but do not have a lot of time to build quality projects. I am so grateful that YummyMath has provided some great opportunities for my students to make connections.
Olympic Scoring: Is it fair?
Math 7H Project
After completing the activity: Scoring Olympic Ski Jumping, you and a partner are tasked with researching another Olympic event that requires judges to score based on multiple factors. You are to create a 5 slide Google Presentation to present your findings on whether you think the scoring is fair.
Slide 1: Title of Event (with appropriate graphic), Group Members
Slide 2: Short Video of event (under 3 minutes) of event (I will teach students how to search for short videos)
Slide 3: Explanation of Scoring (include number of judges, scoring categories, how score is calculated)
Slide 4: Is it fair? Why or why not?
Slide 5: Sources
This project will introduce/reinforce the following skills:
- advanced google searches
- copyright/ creative commons
- using features of google presentations (embedding pictures/ videos/ slide formatting)
- critical thinking skills
- analyzing data
- oral presentation skills
Here is a link to the full project explanation, including the grading rubric.
Here is a link to other Olympic resources and activities I have been collecting in my Diigo Library.
I hope my students enjoy this project. They have certainly had a lot of time to watch the Olympics with all the snow days we have had since the Opening Ceremony. I will post pics and some final projects when we are done!
Although last year’s Algebra 1B review library was successful for students as they created their own screencasts using Educreations, 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:
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!
So, 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.