Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Google Drive Classroom

Students in Mrs. Gierisch's 2nd grade class at Wayne A. Cox Elementary have turned their classroom inside out.  They were given the opportunity to test out a class set of Chromebooks.  The students had never logged into Google, and their teacher had only used Google Drive a little bit.  After 3 weeks these kids were on fire.  They are now using Google Drive daily.
  At first, they just practiced their Google log in, then slowly they explored adding folders, Docs, Slides, and Draw.  Mrs. Gierisch also taught them the importance of their email.  Through a shared Google Doc they can access a link straight to their NISD email.  They have practiced checking it daily.  Students have always come into the room each day and completed morning work, only now their work might be sent through email or even posted in a shared folder from their teacher.


Example of Morning Work

Students First Shot at Google Slides

Over the last month, these students have learned so much! For example in Science, they learned about Kiddle.co and researched different stages of a butterfly lifecycle. Then worked in groups to collaborate and create this google slide to present their learning. Last week they were even confident enough in their latest learning of Google Slides to present at our district's Night of No Limits.  Google Drive has changed the way these students learn!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Kid Created News

Teachers know the importance of communication from the classroom to the community.  Our teacher challenged the class to come up with ideas of new ways to send out monthly newsletters to our parents. Getting students involved and to take charge of this classroom task was quite a challenge.  Mrs. Degnan, 4th grade teacher, Nance Elementary had the students look at several options and once she picked her editors it became clear to use the subscription service called Smore.com.

The top editors were chosen by Mrs. Degnan and the class.  Redd, McKenzi, and Lexi where honored with this position.  All three students were chosen because of their leadership and their ability to get the job done.  The team begun to hire other students for the different jobs: photographers and writers.  Publications feature articles about each of our content area subjects, as well as the exciting happenings going on in 4th grade and around the building. Articles included, diagrams, fun facts, pictures and/or videos.  We used the classroom iPads at first for our choice of device, but sometimes quality was an issue.  We eventually hired a student who was a professional photographer/videographer who participated in the photography club at school. This made our pictures and videos much higher quality! We also borrowed laptops from 5th grade because they were more adept at meeting our needs and were easier to navigate than the ipads.

Over time we wanted to include student made video tutorials explaining how they did the problems in math (division, multiplication, etc.). We also added many science videos too. We had another great idea...interviews! It became our mission to feature all students in our classes.  It was easy to feature kids that stand out, but we found that some of our reluctant or shy students have loved having the opportunity to be highlighted.  Some of the students in our class were really good at interviewing people so we hired them. These students chose special people to interview and even formed their own questions. We interviewed people like Mrs. Chaney, the principal, PTA members, and teachers and they became part of our interactive newsletter. This exchange of information became a teaching/learning tool as well.  Students that missed concepts or did not understand a concept would ask for videos to made for better understanding.  Students led these informal tutoring sessions and parents were delighted to understand how their child was learning in school.

To engage our readers, we added an interesting piece called “Fun Facts”. Throughout the given school day students would walk around ask weird things like “How many teeth does a rhino have?” so we researched them and posted them on our newsletter. Our students here at Nance are extremely good writers so we have a section to showcase student work like essays and poems.  A LOT OF POEMS! Again, student work became the highlight of our newsletter.  We wanted to give all students a voice in our newsletter.

Our teacher nominated us to present our newsletters at TechnoExpo 2016.  We had a blast preparing our presentation and as luck would have it, one of our editors came down with Pneumonia.  McKenzi and Lexi brainstormed ways that Redd could still participate even though he had become very ill.  We called our campus IT Coach and she suggested why not use the web conferencing tool called Zoom?  With her help we ZOOMED Redd in and they presentation went as scheduled – the girls were at NHS and Redd was at home.  We felt empowered and our presentation was great! 

Nance Elementary, 4th Grade, Writing Across the Curriculum, Writing, Publishing, Smore, Newsletters, Collaboration, video conference, video editing, Image, Zoom, TechnoExpo, K-5, Digital Design, Digital Learning,

Our newsletter has sparked the interest of hundreds of followers around the world.  We have been delighted in the response.  Check us out!  We really are fabulous!

We hope to inspire students all across the world to use technology to present and share their work to others. 

This article was written by Redd, Lexi, and McKenzi in collaboration with Mrs. Egle
Click each image to view our newsletters


Monday, May 16, 2016

Mythical Mayhem: Learning Mythology via Student-Created Game

Athena, Hades, & Zeus... oh my! What's better than a fun online game? One that is fun, educational, and created by students. 

Eaton High School Computer Science and English students have been working together on a cross-curricular project to create an educational game to learn Greek Mythology. English students supplied details of several gods and goddesses they learned in class, including storylines, attributes, strengths, weakness, etc. to Computer Science students, who are using their Java programming skills to create an educational game. The goal of the game is for players to learn about Greek Mythology characters, advancing up multiple levels based on the players' demonstrated knowledge of each character.

Students are facilitating this project in Google Drive and used Google Folders to organize the content, planning documents, resources, graphics, and student-created video progress updates. As the "customers", English students and their teacher were able to collaborate in Google Docs to model a real-world game design contract to ensure all parties were in agreement on the details of the final product before any coding began. Now that the Computer Science students are in development phase, with a project manager, coding team leader, and graphics team leader, all ensuring the details of the project are progressing smoothly. One of the most powerful components of this project is the series of progress videos that students create. A portion of one of these videos is below:

This project is still ongoing, so the game is not yet complete. This short screencast shows the look and feel of the game thus far:

Not only is this project fun and educational, students are also demonstrating several technology skills they are expected to possess in order to be future ready learners, including:
  • Creativity & innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Critical thinking, problem solving, & decision making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems, and make informed decisions using appropriate digital tools and resources. 
  • Communication & collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

To learn more about Eaton's Computer Science program, follow them on Twitter: @EatonCompSci


Monday, May 9, 2016

Finger Snappin' Good

Seventh graders in Mrs. Davis and Ms. Brown’s ELA classes at Chisholm Trail Middle School recently took an in depth look at the various structures, styles and literary devices used in poetry. Students used their new knowledge of poetry to compose original narrative poems revolving around the concept of choice. Ava said, “I learned that poetry can take any moment and emphasize it to where it becomes bigger than it really is.”

By utilizing Google Drive, students were able to work both independently and in groups to write, revise, edit, publish, and present their original poems. Google was utilized as a platform for drafting, revising, editing, and publishing the poems. This platform allowed students to collaborate in composing the poems, authentically.

“The most challenging part of the project was trying to convey our message to the listener and/or reader in a way that could show what we had in our heads”, says Makeeda. After composing and rehearsing their poetry, students presented their narrative poems in a poetry slam with their respective classes. Using a traditional scoring method of a 1-10 scale, peer evaluation determined which students from each class would be moving on to the next round. Careful consideration was given to both the poem itself and the performance of the piece while scoring.

The winners from the in-class poetry slams went on to present their poems in the cross-district poetry slam held via Zoom Conference with Medlin Middle School. Students from both campuses were able to share their poems with students across the district through live-streaming. Classes were able to interact throughout the Poetry Slam by using Today’s Meet, as they discussed and provided feedback, while a Google Form was used to provide student presenters with more detailed feedback from their peers.

Ashton shared her thoughts on the poetry slam. “Google helped us by being able to have others edit our poem and add feedback. It also helped because my partner and I were both able to edit our poem at the same time. Zoom allowed us to present to Medlin and receive their feedback.” Students and teachers are hopeful this event can expand throughout the district next year.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Technology is Making a Big Impact

Google Sheet Learning Journal with Peer Feedback
How did technology influence, impact or change _______? 6th grade students in Mrs. Wilsie's Tech Apps class at Tidwell Middle School were tasked with this question and got to fill in the blank with the topic of their choice. They soon realized that keeping up with their ideas, sources, and summaries would be a big task!

The Tech Apps class has had many opportunities to utilize their Google Drive this year. This project, however, revealed that Google Sheets could be more than a place for numbers. Mrs. Wilsie found a resource to share with students that allowed them to organize their research and thoughts in different columns and tabs. After a few days of research, students shared their sheet with a small group to gather feedback on their progress. They then used the feedback to go back and fill in gaps.

Aryi wants to be a dermatologist, so she chose to research how technology has influenced the medical world. She's especially enjoying using Google Sheets for the learning journal. "The learning journal was very helpful. When I use technology for projects, it’s usually not very organized, so I go back to using paper. The learning journal showed me how to organize my information." She added, "I got to write out what I had learned in the different columns which was good because it kept me from just pasting a bunch of research in one place." Another student, Brody, points out, "I like using this because it’s an easy way to track your data. The sheet keeps up with the dates for us, so that we can go back and find them. I also like that I can have group members comment on my research." 
Students using a variety of tools from the
Tools That Make IT Click Blog to
create their final presentation

Another neat aspect of this project, is the amount of choice involved. Now that the research is complete, students are grouped based on their research topic. They will be putting together a presentation for the class on their research. Students are using the Tools That Make IT Click Database to get ideas. Brody comments, "We went through the tools and saw Emaze. I have used it once before and we chose it because we think that we can embed our different projects within the slides." 

Tatum is doing her research on Quantum Physics and is presenting her information in a Google Site. She wants to take something big and outside of the box and make it easier for others to understand. Another student LiLi is creating a PowToon video for her presentation. "I’ve never used it before, but it looks like a cartoon and I think my class would enjoy watching this." 

Students will be presenting their research presentations to the class this week. According to their research, technology has influenced many different areas of life, but it has also made a BIG impact on these Tech Apps students who get to try new tools and learn new skills daily!

Monday, April 25, 2016

EXTRA! EXTRA! Read All About IT Online!

The Byron Nelson High School newspaper The Paw Print has taken off this year and found themselves in the clouds, or rather, THE cloud. By utilizing Google Docs and Google Drive this year in the classroom they have streamlined their writing and editing process and allowed for better management of their newspaper. Their teacher, Tammy Litchfield, has pushed the students to adjust to using this digital method of data sharing and editing. "The best thing is the immediacy of it," says Tammy. "Editing is instant, feedback is instant, and everything is expedited. We can get things done quickly and in real time."

Oliver, one of the newspaper's co-editors in chief, breaks down the process the students use when creating a new article. "First, the author types his story into a Google Doc which is shared with the editors and teacher. The copy editor then suggests grammatical and formatting corrections in the doc by making comments or highlighting errors. The author is notified by the document that it has been edited, so they fix any errors after discussing them with the copy editor. Then they notify the editor in chief that it is ready for review.  The editor adds content comments and addition edits and collaborates with the author to finalize the article. Once this process is complete the doc is then accessed by the design editor who places the finished article into its proper place using Adobe InDesign." The teacher can go in at any point during this process and interact in the same way, using Google Drive's comment system to leave suggestions and notify contributors.  As Oliver said, "It's way better than using email, the comments in docs are amazing and have really streamlined our process.  We can edit and work in real time. It's really a step forward to go fully online and better facilitate the process."

Not only has Google Drive revolutionized the newspaper's creation process, but it is also helping to facilitate their plans for having a fully online print version of the newspaper next year. Sarah, the section editor, just finished designing and creating the new Paw Print website that will host the online version of the paper next year. "The online version will be checked more than print and give us the opportunity to stay on top of the news," said Sarah.  Thomas, the Social Media Director, says that the online version "will sync with our Twitter account, @thePawPrintBNHS, so we can tweet out new stories as they are added."

The newspaper team here at Byron Nelson High School envisions a more interactive and modern type of paper, one that will be highly visible to students, teachers, and parents alike.  They have made some huge leaps forward in taking the paper to the next level digitally, and those improvements will continue into next year. With the Paw Print now in the cloud, the sky's the limit on how far they can go.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Overcoming Challenges

Does a person's past determine their future success? That is the exact question 6th graders at Gene Pike Middle School had to answer while reading Holes by: Louis Sachar. After reading the book students did research on famous people that have overcome a difficult situation and still become successful. They then created a Haiku Deck presentation to demonstrate their perseverance. Hannah, a 6th grader at Pike said that she immediately thought of Stephen Hawking based on a film she had heard about. She didn't quite know what adversity he had overcome, but knew she wanted to do some research on him. Using Haiku Deck was also new to her, but she was able to collaborate with a classmate and share the things they had learned about this presentation tool so that they both could create a more dynamic product.

                                               Steven Hawking - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

                                                     Jay Z - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

                                                       Jim Carrey - Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires;

After creating the Haiku Decks, Mrs. Morrow had her students break up into groups to share their presentation. The group then needed to collaborate on the common character traits among each of their individual research subjects. These traits were combined with the rest of the groups in the classroom to create one consolidated list. To take it even deeper students did a personality analysis to really dig deep for the character traits that are the most important in overcoming adversity. These students will be able to carry this lesson with them through life as they themselves and/ or people they know are faced with tough times.