Friday, April 10, 2015

Historic Use of Books

The beauty of sharing things in district and beyond is the impact that these projects have. Three years ago Tanna Fiske's 8th grade students used Book Creator to create children's book versions of historical events...

What Starts Here Impacts the World!

This model of collaboration and creativity has since then been revisited in HS ASL when Barbara Vinson's ASL classes reached out to the TSD (Texas School for the Deaf) to script original collaborative children's stories (see full project and book here). This particular ASL project was so inspiring that Book Creator caught wind of it and decided to do cover it (see article here). When Sam Gliksman, author of iPads in Education for Dummies saw the Book Creator post, he found this creation to be the perfect example of student created media to include in his upcoming book. One project three years ago has reverberated throughout the district and beyond.

Boring Power Points Have Been Transformed!

Needless to say that when Sal Ramirez asked what application would be best to use with his Gunpowder Empires Project... the resounding answer was... Book Creator. Rather than have students do "boring power points", students were to create a children's book that incorporated maps, dates, descriptions, important rulers, vocabulary, infrastructure, and types of government relating to the Ottomans, Safavids, and Mughals.

Digital Designers:

Most of the projects also included original art work. The images below, excluding the map, were hand-drawn in Book Creator to give the finished project a child-like quality and appeal.

Digital Archival:

Truly not everything has to be digital in nature to convey the instructional merit of the project. One group opted to hand draw their book and then capture it with Book Creator so it could be easily archived and distributed.

Seussical Safavids...

Another group took a slightly different approach to this project and not only wrote the entire book in rhyme but incorporated a Seussical font.

While all of these projects differ in theme, delivery, and design, they all met (and even exceeded) the project requirements. Sal even notes that the technology provided more avenues for students to be successful in an efficient time frame:

"The creativity in this project was definitely enhanced by the technology available to the students. I have done these types of projects before with the traditional method (paper, glue, scissors, etc...) and although students still create great projects, the ease and versatility of the iPads helped with a faster moving project-process and more options for original ideas" 

Thinking Ahead...

Though Sal was pleased with the results of this project, he did mention that next year he would include:

  • Team-Building Activities before the project to help students build a rapport with one another when grouping are random.
  • Emphasis on Best Practices for Collaboration and Communication and how to stay in contact with one another outside of class to ensure project deadlines are met.

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

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Formative Assessment Can Be Fun

With a 1:1, formative assessment is at the forefront of many classrooms. Kahoot has popped up across the curriculum as a fun way to glean real-time information from students and make impactful decisions about instruction based on this feedback.

Science Concepts Review

Eric Martin used Kahoot to review organelles with his classes and used a mixture of images and clever answer choices. To address misconceptions, he utilized the "reshow image" functionality within Kahoot to review each image prior to moving on to the next question. Eric also infused humor in a clever way by adding the "RAGE" option as an answer choice which essentially narrowed four choices down to three.

Based on my observation of his class, I assembled a few best practices for using Kahoot in the classroom:

  • Include Images (and re-show images after responses)
  • Add NOT and “Choose the Best Answer"
  • Include multiple right answers (A, B, and A & B) and change the order of right answers - Consider the benefits for students that rush through reading the question and responses
  • Add Humor (yes, no, maybe, RAGE)
  • Use as a fun way to review or grade HW

Science Collaborative Review

Bob Murphy used a blend of Google Forms and Kahoot in Conceptual Physics to allow student groups to contribute questions and answer choices to the assessment. 

Bob noted, 
"It provided a collaborative process to develop the questions, dividing up the chapter (in this case) among the group members, and allowing discussion and group assistance with questions and answers."
Groups would then submit their questions and answer choices using the Google form. Mr. Murphy had them submit the question, the correct answer, and alternate answers on the Google Form. By jigsawing the activity, it allowed more individuals to be working simultaneously to get the forms completed. After students had submitted their questions, Mr. Murphy would weed through them and select the best ones to build the Kahoot.

German Vocabulary Review

Scott Gardner used Kahoot as a vocabulary review. He infused his assessment with a mixture of images, phrases, definitive articles, and conjugated verbs.

Scott also provided students with Quizlet decks and and a PDF review that could be annotated as ancillary review support resources within eBackpack.

While each teacher took a slightly different approach to utilizing Kahoot within the classroom, they all had success with integrating this flavor of formative assessment with their students.

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

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Creative Risk Taking in the Form of a Final Exam...

This past semester a few of the English II Pre-AP teachers offered a hybrid exam meshing both a paper as well as a digital presentation. As the presentation was not to be longer than a minute and to focus more on socio-emotional self-analysis rather than the bells and whistles of a high end video production app, students selected the FREE Shadow Puppet EDU app to create their final product.

Digital Discoveries

Some of the discoveries that came to light with a project of this nature:

  • Deeper Awareness of the Socio-Emotional: Meeting student's socio-emotional needs has been a focus with all content areas this year. While the video projects were all created using the same application, each one personally touched on a socio-emotional self analysis with a text to self approach to Catcher in the Rye (the novel they had just finished). Many times we have students complete assignments but they don't have ample time to reflect. As reflection and self-analysis were at the heart of this assignment, students had built-in time for students for self awareness. Within this forum, I noticed topical trends like transitioning, worry, future goals, stress, anxiety, lying, depression, isolation, introversion, bullying, perfectionism, adaptability, perseverance, performance anxiety, unrealistic expectations, responsibility, coping with change and death etc... and the coping mechanisms that many use to overcome these struggles. In a HS where these emotions and issues can seem heightened, I felt like this assignment really validated these sensitive issues. Some of the more poignant quotes were:
    • "Being a teenager is like testing the waters"
    • "You can't change the future unless you change the now."
  • The Power of Audience: Both Michele Benage and Lee Bergen mentioned that the power of sharing these projects with their classmates allowed for bonding and empathy (e.g. some students realized that they were not alone in their feelings and struggles and others felt like they had initially misjudged their peers without knowing the full story).
  • Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners: Due to the hybrid approach of this project (e.g. both an essay and a video), learners had the opportunity to articulate their voice in both written and visual form. I felt like this really met the needs of our group of learners. Some may be more articulate with words and others with visuals and this gave each student an opportunity to be successful in their own way. Additionally, those that suffered from performance anxiety - that would rather record their thoughts rather than stand and deliver had a venue to successfully convey their ideas behind the scenes rather than in the spotlight.
  • Polishing Presentations: With any project, some presentations were better than others (both visually and content-wise). Truly, if we don't give our students these types of presentations, they will never have an opportunity to improve in this arena. Additionally, by seeing their peer's presentations, this allows students to note best practices for this form of content delivery. I also think there is power in providing an assignment that can not be easily pulled and replicated from an online source - a task that requires both self-analysis and the ability to create something that doesn’t already exist.

Student Exemplars
While observing the presentations during finals week, three students presentation stood out to share as exemplars for poignancy and creativity. Each of these students not only completed a thoughtful self-analysis but took a creative approach in the delivery... as they all included original artwork. Before I shared the examples I made sure that I permission from all 3 students as the content was of a personal nature:

  • Catcher in the Rye: I loved that this student created all of their own illustrations in Adobe Illustrator and then incorporated them within his video.
  • It Takes a Listener: This student used a very creative and poignant approach to blending hand- drawn original images with 2D and 3D environments. 
  • Hello Classmates: I enjoyed the questions that this one raised and the hand-drawn images.

Creative Commons Image Search
Though most of the exemplars featured above include original art work, I did want to mention the power of the built-in Creative Commons image search available within the app. It includes maps, landmarks, Library of Congress, Met Museum of Art, The British Library, NASA, NOAA, Web Images, Flickr Creative Commons, Wikimedia, and Open Clipart. When images are selected from the the built-in image search to be used within a project, Shadow Puppet automatically cites all of the images used within the work at the end of the video.

Collection and Submission Logistics
Since Shadow Puppet publishes to a url, the easiest way to collect, organize, and view all of the student submissions proved to be a Google Form (see example posted below). As this was the first year using this hybrid approach to a final exam, students had the option to allow permission of their project to be shared so future classes could have a possible model for the assignment.

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