Sunday, March 19, 2017

Students Teaching Students

According to instructional technology Guru Alice Keeler, "The person doing the work is the person doing the learning." At the end of the day, are you tired or are your students?  Yari Kemp, math teacher at Chisholm Trail Middle School, makes sure she sends her kids home each day exhausted from learning!  As a math teacher, Mrs. Kemp works tirelessly to provide students opportunities to think deeply and reflect on their learning.  Recently, students and teacher traded roles when students were asked to create “How-To” style tutorials teaching a classmate about Volume.

7th grade PreAP and 8th grade On-Level classes studied Volume for several weeks.  At the conclusion of the unit, students were challenged with the task of utilizing a digital tool to create a tutorial for classmates still struggling with the topic.  Students could choose from Canva, Google Draw, WeVideo, Adobe Spark, or Piktochart to complete the assignment.  Since students were encouraged to select their own tool, this project allowed for limitless creativity, evident in the completed products.  Take a look at a few examples below.

Kasey, an 8th grade student in Mrs. Kemp’s class, transferred to CTMS from another district and says he is enjoying math so much more.  He shared he loves the technology integration and working on his Chromebook in math helps keep him engaged.  Kasey used Piktochart to create the tutorial anchor chart shown below.

In this activity, students were empowered by the opportunity to be instructional leaders to their fellow classmates.  According to the ISTE standards, 21st Century learners should “contribute to the learning of others.”  In this powerful classroom example, Mrs. Kemp’s students learned a valuable lesson in communication, collaboration, and supporting others.  

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Fit for the FUTURE

Professional coaches have long been using innovative technology to train athletes. Mobile devices now make it possible for anyone to access these kinds of tools at a fraction or even free of cost and with much greater ease.  Fifth-grade students in Coach Bates' and Coach Bossert's PE class at Justin Elementary, were asked to develop fitness videos using the new student issued Chromebooks.

Ella stated, "We enjoyed being able to pick our groups because they were good partners.  Everyone got along which enabled us to get a 100% for a grade."  "The project began by researching information to distinguish the differences between aerobic and anaerobic activities, cardio and core exercises, so we could personalize the workouts," said Aleigh.

Before the Chromebooks arrived, students would customize their workouts in PE to an iOS App call SWORKIT. SWORKIT is your own personal iPad app, trainer.  You simply select the part of the body you want to exercise and by choosing from over 20 pre-built workouts, you can personalize your activities. "Staying healthy allows you to do many other things you enjoy in your life," said Bethany. 

Ella collaborated with her group using Google Docs and came up with a checklist to share the plan for the project.  PE teachers are advocating the push to use more technology in the classroom and it is great to see that more resources and opportunities are opening up to them. The students Bethany, Ella, Kimora, and Aleigh did an outstanding job not only developing their own personal workout videos, but they even developed some activities that could help those who needed modifications due to injury or pregnancy.

3-5, 5th Grade, Chromebooks, Collaboration, iPad, Justin Elementary, PE, Video, Workout,
The students used the application called WeVideo to produce their videos to share. The coaches gave the students a rubric and choice.  The project turned out so well it was chosen to be showcased at TechnoExpo 2017. Coach Bates asked Kimora, " How did using the technology make it easier to do this type of project?"  Kimora stated, “I am a technology person and I really enjoyed using the Chromebook and iPad.  It was easier to make sure our form was correct for the exercise.”  Their finished workout video is below.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Cabeza de Vaca Goes Digital!

Who is Cabeza de Vaca?

Schluter 4th grade students created an authentic game-based learning platform to show depth and mastery of knowledge on the DBQ study on Cabeza de Vaca. This fun project supports Social Studies and History skills in which students demonstrate communication skills by creating written and visual material, as well as identifying the accomplishments and explaining the impact of significant explorers on the settlement of Texas. (TEKS SS 4.2B & 4.22D)

Using the game platform Kahoot! each student created their own questions about Cabeza de Vaca with answer choices, identifying the correct answer. Students chose either multiple choice or true/false questions, and they could upload visuals to accompany the question. Students received feedback from classmates and their teacher as they developed and tested their questions. As one student describes, "We were testing each other to see if we really knew the information."

Students collaborate & discuss accuracy of other students' questions

To provide peer feedback, students play each other's game to see who "wins" by correctly answering the questions.

Multiple classes worked on this project, which provided a unique opportunity. After students completed their assessment questions, a set of questions was created for each class and then... they switched classes! Each class played another class' game to provide not only a review of the material but also to experience how other students created unique questions covering the same material.  

The excitement shown by students who get the correct answer says it all!

In addition to demonstrating content-specific skills, this project utilized technology in a way that enabled students to demonstrate how they are empowered learners and creative communicators, crucial skills for being future-ready. (ISTE Student Standards)

Some students will be presenting their Cabeza de Vaca Kahoot! project at Techno Expo on February 23, including the opportunity for audience members to play a sample game to test their knowledge of the impact of Cabeza de Vaca on Texas history!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Striking It Up: Innovator's Day

Eighth graders in Mrs. Nolan’s Communication Applications class at Medlin Middle School recently explored what it meant to be an innovator. As part of this process, students participated in activities that would lead them to develop an original business, charity, or product that would culminate into a formal professional presentation in front of their class.

To begin, using Genius Hour concepts and Thinking Maps, students brainstormed their passions. This process helped guide them through decisions for which passions they would move forward with in developing their business, charity, or product. After narrowing their list down to their two best ideas, they began doing some in class market research by conducting survey interviews with their peers. This enabled them to see how their idea fit with the need in the market. They also did research online to ensure the idea was unique, yet still directly related to their passion.

Using the Organizational piece from WICOR, students kept their ideas in a booklet provided to them by Mrs. Nolan. This booklet was an integral part to the process and it contained everything they needed to know about their business, charity or product as they moved it towards a digital presentation.

Their next step to building this concept would be designing a logo, slogan, and jingle that would represent their idea. Their jingle would need to be an original tune, or it could be a tune that already existed with new original lyrics. It was especially neat to hear Mrs. Nolan featured as the voice behind several jingles. Tess says, “My favorite part was getting to design my logo for my company that would go into my commercial. It let me express my own artistic skills and it was fun to do.”

Although each student was tasked with coming up with their own ideas, during the process of building their concept, the students sat with the same group of peers each day in class. They collaborated with their peers and were encouraged throughout the process to get feedback from their groups in many of the decisions made about their business, concept or charity. When it came time for their formal presentation in front of the class, students shared about their journey and the development of their idea. Their peer group also stood with the presenter and reported what they contributed during the developmental process.

“Technology helped me learn what a realistic commercial looks like and it gave me a chance to learn about making my own commercial by giving me the resources to do so”. (Tess)

The majority of the class decided to use PowToon to create their commercial. The commercial had to include their logo, jingle, a voiceover, and a minimum of four advertising techniques studied throughout the semester. Student discovered various web tools to tie things together. Many of them are credited for teaching their peers how to try something new on the Chromebook.

When asked about using technology in class, Serena said, “I love using technology in class because it's not boring to learn about different subjects. I get really excited when teachers say we can use technology to do projects or research things because I really enjoy learning online and using my technology. Also, its easier to understand things online than it is in real life." Both Serena and Tess will be presenting their commercials at this year's Techno Expo event.

Additional projects that will be presented at Techno Expo:

Monday, February 6, 2017

Learn, Experience, Explain: Kindergarten Jumping Into The Frog Life Cycle

Working on the Popplet Flow Map
Students in Mrs. Slimmer's Kindergarten class at Hughes elementary recently learned about the life cycle of a frog. Rather than simply reading about the process in a book, these students got to create their own frog habitat, take care of their own class frogs, and create a collaborative flow map explaining what they've learned. This project allowed the students to explain their learning through visuals and voice over using SeeSaw and Popplet. Popplet gave students the opportunity to draw their learning and connect different parts of the life cycle, which is great for visual learners. Mrs Slimmer pointed out, “This project gave my students exposure to the technology in a very meaningful and purposeful way. They are used to playing games on the iPad, but this project allowed them to create and be producers rather than consumers.”

Owen, Kalynn, Mason, and Alliah had a lot to say about this experience. When asked what they learned throughout the project Kalynn's face lit up as she stated, "I learned that frogs actually live in land and in water." Owen quickly added, "And they need food. They need lots of crickets." Mason adds, "Did you know that frog's eggs look like eyes? They start as eggs and then turn into tadpoles." The group all agreed that their favorite part of the experience was taking pictures of their frog habitat and drawing each step on the iPad. They especially liked drawing the frog eggs and the tadpoles. They also enjoyed being able to use SeeSaw to explain their learning with voice over.

When asked what the most challenging part of the project was, Alliah comments, "I had a hard time drawing the water and finding the best picture of eggs to take from our book." At a young age these students are learning how to gather, organize and sequence their information. They are also able to explain their learning, and work together to create a published product.

Students Take Pictures of Their Frog Habitat
for Their Flow Map

Primary Student ISTE Standards:
  • 3C: Students curate information from digital resources using a variety of tools and methods to create collections of artifacts that demonstrate meaningful connections or conclusions.
  • 6B: Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
  • 6C: Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizationsmodels or simulations.