Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Student Audio Recordings in World Languages

World languages has started utilizing the audio feature in eBackpack to record and submit oral assessments. Scott Gardner, WHS World Languages Department Chair and German teacher, notes that the process saves class time and affords more instructional time with students as teachers do not need to devote an entire class period to interviewing individual students.

He went on to say that the technology improves the accuracy of the assessment,

"I find it easier to assess the student's speaking because I am listening with headphones, and can rewind." - Scott Gardner

The feature not only benefits the teachers, but the students as well. The recording process simulates AP exam testing procedures and prepares students to feel more comfortable with the process of recording themselves. The procedure also meets the needs of different learners as the live interviews oftentimes prove stressful for some students.

While students and teachers are still troubleshooting minor technical difficulties form time to time, the students enjoy the digital recording process. 

Though the electronic approach does afford multiple benefits, it is important to note that live interviews will not disappear all together as it is still important that the student be able to carry on a conversation in a live setting.

The instructions for recording in eBackpack are posted on the WHS WIFI Tutorials page.

Stay tuned for info about future updates to this project. As we progress through this year, we will also continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Friday, October 18, 2013

WHS student Builds ASL Finger-Spelling app to fill an Educational Need

As we continue to dive into our 1:1 iPad implementation at the HS, we find more and more students using the iPad as a creation tool (see last post for more examples). While some students create content ON the iPad, others opt to create content FOR the iPad. And this is where our story begins...

ASL 2 WHS Student practices finger spelling with Michael's app

At the end of his Sophomore year, Michael found that there was no iOS friendly fingerspelling app that truly met the needs of a secondary student  (e.g. vocabulary, speed, age-appropraite graphics and feedback) and/or was reasonable in cost. So what does a High School Computer Science student taking American Sign Language classes do to fill the void? With a little help from fellow WHS students (hand model images from Maddie Bitting for each letter of the alphabet and background graphics from Akash Thaker), Michael went to work over the summer to code his first app using Objective C, ASL Finger-Spelling and released it October 3rd.

ASL Finger-Spelling app by WHS student Michael Bartmess

Rather than using a default batch of dictionary words, Michael's fingerspelling app uses over 5,000 of the most commonly used words. He also has plans to add ASL 1-4 lists of words in an upcoming release or upgrade. The current features of the app are listed below:

-Over 5,000 words built in
-Three adjustable speeds
-Control over the maximum length of words
-Keeps score of number missed and correct
-Replay button
-Easy to use interface

Multiple students currently enrolled in WHS's ASL classes truly appreciated Michael's lend-a-hand approach to filling a need for this resource and note that the app was "the only way we can practice and recognize finger-spelling (short of) standing in front of a mirror" and that the practice the app provides allows them to "catch up with someone that fingerspells really fast."

Mrs. Vinson's ASL classes are even providing valuable user feedback to Michael so he can polish the app for the next update.

WHS ASL class feedback for Michael

Stay tuned for info about future updates to this project. As we progress through this year, we will also continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

What Do Student Projects Look Like in a 1:1?

Over the past two weeks, students in Natalie Cannon's Latin 2 classes have been working on a Roman Bath Project. While one might think that being in a 1:1 ultimately dictates that every project will be completed on an iPad, many teachers are opting to design projects that offer differentiation and choice of media and allow students to showcase their creativity.

Student hand drawing scenes to be used in a stop-motion film

Students were provided with 5 options ranging from cartoon storyboards and multi-media publicity campaigns for the Aquae Sulis to travel brochures and building models of hypocaust systems and ancient Roman Bath complexes.

"If they weren't using it (the iPad) to create, they were using it to be able to create." - Natalie Cannon

While some students utilized the iPad for research and outlining, others opted to create their projects on the iPad using apps like Designs for Pages to compose a travel brochure, Strip Designer to create a multi-panel cartoon, or Minecraft to virtually model a Roman Bath complex.

Student creating a Roman Bath complex in Minecraft

Truly the project was not about the tool, but the ability to create something that thoughtfully represented and showcased a deeper understanding and analysis of the content. Completed projects poured in ranging from multiple modes of digital media to Roman Bath complexes built of cake and household items to poster boards of multi-paneled cartoons.

Student presents her hand built model of a hypocaust system
using her iPad so the class can see the detail.

A presentation piece was also added to the project. Natalie Cannon is piloting a Justand in her room and found the tool to be very useful for this portion of the assignment. Students could project their iPad and use the stand as a podium or tilt it to share their project using the video camera on their iPad.

Student presents his model of a Roman Bath complex created in Minecraft
Student presents her multi-panel hand-drawn cartoon storyboard detailing
how ancient Romans used the bath-house
Student presents her digital multi-panel cartoon storyboard detailing
how ancient Romans used the bath-house
Student used Google SketchUp on a computer to create his models
and then presented the images in a keynote off of his iPad

Prior to the submission date, students also conferenced with Mrs. Cannon to document their progress and receive formative feedback.

Student sharing his presentation for teacher review

While most projects were submitted digitally via eBackpack (our district's online classroom product that allows students to submit work via and iPad or computer), others were submitted by hand to the teacher. A few of the students even posted their projects on an online video server for ease of sharing.

As we progress through this year, we will continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mobile-Friendly Classrooms

As we enter our third year of 1:1 implementation at the HS, 3 classrooms began piloting mobile furniture. The desks selected for the pilot are Steelcase's Nodes. After collecting some preliminary anecdotal feedback on these mobile friendly classroom solutions, the results are in.

Steelcase Nodes in Mrs. Taylor's room

Limited Desktop Real-Estate: Multiple students did report that the desktop itself is a little "small for their liking"when trying to display iPad, binder/notebook, and textbook. It is important to note that the iPad itself can be removed from the case and placed in a special inset on the desk to free up space. This innovation makes it a little easier to include a keyboard or multiple pieces of media as necessary.

While the desktop itself may be smaller than its earlier counterpart, the features and nuances of the desk itself make up for the limited desktop real estate.

Groups Collaborate in Mrs. Dupre's class

Ease of Collaboration and Self Regulation: When students shift in to groups and collaborative situations, they reported the desks were much easier to move rather than picking up or dragging a metal desk. One student even noted that he could regulate his learning environment as he could easily scoot up to the front or side to see the board or hear the instruction better without drawing attention or disrupting other students. Another student mentioned that the swivel capability "helps me think." And one more commented, "I have no complaints... think they should go in every classroom."

Groups Collaborate in Mrs. Victor's class

Grouping and Classroom Configurations: Each of the 3 classrooms is set up a little differently. Typically students select their seat and are reorganized throughout the class period. All 3 classrooms have 4 colored desks (e.g. picasso, blue, red, and element). The beauty of having different colors in one setting is the ability to have flexible grouping. One teacher may say, "I need a chair of each color in your group of 4" or "meet with a student in a red chair and then a blue chair to review your essay". At the end of class chairs can be moved back in to an original configuration. Mrs. Victor uses masking tape in vertical angles to make it easier for students to place two chairs in a group before leaving for the day. Mrs. Taylor mentioned that these strips of tape are also useful when strategically placed to assist students in moving into particular spots for quiz and test situations.

Collaborative Groups in Mrs. Victor's Class
Mrs. Dupre found drawings on the board to be helpful for students to duplicate with the chairs (e.g. three horseshoes, a circle, or rows). She even mentioned that the current desks actually take up less space than there former counterparts.
Desk Configurations in Mrs. Dupre's Class

Whatever the configuration or procedure, clearly from the pictures and student reports, these chairs aid in collaboration and self regulation while supporting ease of flexible grouping.

Steelcase Nodes in Mrs. Victor's room

As we progress through this year, we will continue to reflect upon the changes to classroom, pedagogy, and instruction throughout our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Back to School

August 26th marked the first day of school of the 2013-2014 school year for Westlake HS students. Students entered the halls with devices and determination... ready to learn. Many paid a visit to the Juice Bar to get their iPads in top performance.

WHS Juice Bar Open During A and B Lunch

Some had the opportunity to explore new classroom configurations in a few of our classrooms piloting new seating options from Steelcase.

Steelcase Nodes Piloted

Others got a taste for guided inquiry using POGIL (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning)
"POGIL is a learning cycle of exploration, concept invention and application... to guide students to construct new knowledge." 
This student-centered strategy is the basis for Denise DeMartino's Organic Chemistry classes this year. And all Chemistry classes are incorporating at least 2-3 POGIL lessons into each 9 week grading period.

Denise cleverly shared the 4 student roles (e.g. Spokesperson, Facilitator, Quality Control, and Process Analyst) for this student-centered interactive process of refining one's understanding and developing one's skills using the Tellagami app:

For more information on POGIL and discovery-based teams, visit this video. And check back regularly this year to the WIFI blog for more updates on our 1:1 iPad implementation.

Friday, April 19, 2013

The story progresses....

Throughout this second year of the Westlake High School iPad 1:1, we've begun to wrestle with more complex challenges and assignments that are enabled by the entire school having 1:1 tablets.
Teachers are using iPads in a myriad of ways, whether improving student workflows to using programs that allow them to extend the learning in the classroom.

One app that the campus has integrated into the workflow is eBackpack, which allows our teachers to post assignments electronically, students to retrieve them and return them electronically from their iPads, and teachers to grade them online.   The eBackpack app and website have allowed a smoother process than the campus utilized last year (which involved using WebDavNav and also filters in Gmail to sort assignments).

iMovie has become an important part of some courses like American Sign Language.  ASL Teacher Barbara Vinson uses a combination of iMovie and the new Google Drive app to have her students film video assignments and texts and then submit them to her via Google Drive where she can retrieve or download them.

Junior English teachers are currently working with a new and interesting app, Subtext, which can be used for closer reading of texts.  Teachers or students can embed questions within the text of a work, or have a discussion, tag passages with keywords, and even take polls.    Subtext can either utilize copyright free or public domain materials, or books can be purchased and be imported into the app.
There is a learning curve, but it has interesting possibilities because students can be grouped and share comments within their group or teachers can embed questions into the work.

webinar with Subtext tech support
As part of a Professional Learning Community Project, two of our science teachers experimented with trying a flipped classroom model (using a control group class that didn't flip.)   Because the students have iPads, it was much easier to try that model.  The teacher found that the students in general scored similarly to previous years, but the lower grades were higher than in the past.  And she felt like students benefitted from the increased class time and personal interaction with her as she was able to carve out more time to spend with individual students asking questions and working with them.
And Pre-ap Chemistry teachers have been experimenting with using the Socrative app to informally assess student learning and progress.

English teachers have begun using student blogs for passion-based research and writing now that every student has a device, as well.  Wikis, blogs, Edmodo--all sites where students having continuous access to a device makes teaching with them much more effective because access doesn't have to be "scheduled" when the computer lab is available.  Similarly, the art/ceramics teacher Dawn Delgado is able to incorporate Pinterest into her classroom on a daily basis because students have the device with them--she can build collections of ceramics and technique examples to share with students, organize online collections of student work, etc. and students can either access her collections for examples or create their own boards with examples of pottery and techniques.

Below are just a few of the other apps which teachers have been using or experimenting with this spring:

Prompt Anywhere Plus--turns the iPad into a teleprompter
Geometry Pad--sketching and working with geometrical figures
Texas Reality Check--financial costs throughout Texas
Sketchbook Express--used for mindmapping, for overlaying text over images, etc.
Snapseed--basic Photoshop-like tools for photo editing and color effects
Yahoodash--for economics, stock portfolio app
Shakespeare in Bits--definitions, videoclips to supplement reading of plays
Splashtop--Allows you to remotely access your desktop; making it easy to circulate around room while teaching or while students are presenting
Nearpod--can push out a slideshow to students, but they can write responses which teacher can see and share back out to class via the ipad app
Color Uncovered--science of color for nterior design classes and art classes
iTunes U--teachers are starting to develop some sample iTunes U courses for their classes

Students of course have come up with a variety of creative uses for their iPads as well, from filming their drill team practice dances to photographing their textbooks that aren't online to storyboarding videos to writing their own apps.

It isn't really about the apps used, but about the intentionality of the assignments and how access to information or the functionality of a particular app allows students to work with information in new ways.   What it is ultimately about is teachers willing to investigate, to be learners, and who understand their curriculum and teaching deeply.   That knowledge and experience enriches the use of any software they might engage students with.  

Onward to the remainder of year Two....