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.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Transition from Analog to Digital Portfolios...

Within a 1:1 iPad initiative, the natural progression of student work often transitions from analog to digital or a hybrid of the two. Asked to deliver a session on resumes and online portfolios to this year's Mentorship classes, I developed a Smore of some useful resources. One of the tools shared during this initial time with students was bulb. A few students really latched on to the tool as way to create a professional looking portfolio that could travel with them beyond high school and a means to present their experience and findings throughout the semester on their field of study.  

Chelsea Capezutti, mentorship teacher provides a little more insight in to the final semester product: 
"Each year students in these classes present a final presentation summarizing their experience throughout the semester of their professional mentorship. Yasmeen chose to create an online portfolio through bulb. This was an amazing example of creativity and truly exceeded my expectations in so many ways."

Visual Portfolios

Yasmeen Tizani, a WHS Senior, gravitated to bulb and created an exceptional portfolio of her work. Her bulb includes three collections: Art, Architecture Mentorship, and Architecture at UT

Yasmeen found that the tool was very easy to use and navigate and plans to, "add (additional) artworks, other architecture projects, and collections about internships so that future employers and people inquiring about (her) abilities and work can see what (she is) capable of quickly and easily."


This bulb site is truly a fluid visual portfolio. Yasmeen popped in a few times over the semester to get my feedback on the layout and any ideas for improvement of the content. We discussed adding blurbs on each art piece that highlighted both the inspiration for the work as well as the process and media used to create it. 

Design Tips

  • Custom Images: Yasmeen noticed that when working with bulb, you have to "make sure to pay attention to the size of the pictures and what gets cut out" of the tiles. She began using the tool Canva to create some of the custom images for her tiles. 
  • Hybrid Collections: Yasmeen created a mentorship portfolio that combined a unique blend of analog and digital work from scanned log sheets and journal entries, photographs of hand-drawn sketchbooks, to images of Sketch Up designs and photographs of the final product.

Future Planning

Yasmeen even included a collection of her work from the UT Architecture Program. The collection seamlessly blends photos from her presentations as well as the evolution of her final product through multiple iterations. 

While this bulb was ultimately created as a means to collect and present reflections and findings for the semester course, Chelse Capezutti hopes that it will: 

"be something that (Yasmeen) can continue to build upon as her experiences get deeper."

Bulb is a free tool available to students and teachers. Check out Yasmeen's bulb portfolio HERE.

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.

If interested in ePortfolios or Visible Thinking Portfolios, visit this collection of resources.

Friday, May 30, 2014

The Future of Student Projects is Books...

Gone are the days of limited tools for students to demonstrate understanding. Today we have an infinite pallet of ways to support students in displaying their application of a concept or skill.

A growing trend in classrooms is the ability for students to create and author their own content... many times in the form of a book. What better way to reinvent student performance tasks than with a tool that allows publishing and sharing!

ASL 3: 

Little Kitten Visits the Zoo

Inspired by a collaborative book project designed by HCMS Ed Tech Tanna Fiske involving vertical alignment and collaboration between 8th grade and 3rd grade History classes, Barbra Vinson's ASL (American Sign Language) class scripted an original children's story for TSD (Texas School for the Deaf). Once the story was composed, descriptions for all of the illustrations needed for the book were sent to Carilynne Gay's 1st grade class at TSD. Upon receiving the completed illustrations, the HS ASL class eagerly incorporated them in to their book and added their video interpretations... each student signing different portions of the text in the book. The entire project was compiled using the Book Creator app for iPad.

Original Text by ASL 3 and Original Art Work by TSD students

The ePub version is available for download here and will open in iBooks. The final product has been screen recorded over using Quicktime and been given an audio track for those that would like to peruse the book without downloading it.


The Princess and the Pea

Students also had an opportunity to sign a classic fairy tale. In the interest of time, they did not include it in book format. However, the final video, to be included in the book with the original text, is shared below. The multi-layered process involved signing the tale in front of a green screen using the iPad camera, creating animations using the Puppet Pals app, and combining both of the videos using Doink's Green Screen app.

The final product has given an audio track (using copyright-free music from the YouTube audio library) for those that would like to enjoy a little whimsical music to accompany this tale.

Chinese III:

As a final project in Lichy Chang's Chinese III class students translated original and classic children's stories using the Book Creator app.

Chinese Carrot: This student used the Chinese keyboard on the iPad, included original images, and recorded themselves narrating using two whimsical vegetables. ePub can be downloaded here.

Three Little Pigs: This student used the Chinese keyboard on the iPad, photos from the internet, and a combination of audio narration and stop-motion animation to create this translation of the Three Little Pigs. ePub can be downloaded here.

Chinese Class: This student used the Chinese keyboard on the iPad, included images they found on the internet, and then recorded themselves acting out the text using puppets in Chinese. ePub can be downloaded here.

Chinese II:

Lichy's Chinese II class engaged in a similar final project where they chose a topic or set of common phrases to translate and prepared short vignettes to accompany them in Book Creator. ePub can be downloaded here

Book Integration K-12 District Wide: 

Book creation and publishing is a growing trend K-12. Download Eanes Elementary's first published book "The Life of an Eanes Pioneer Child", in iBooks and explore what students can do with Book Creator in Math from Cathy Yenca and in History from Tanna Fiske at Hill Country Middle School.

If you are interested in learning more about the World Language department and iPad integration, visit some of the past posts:

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

Friday, February 21, 2014

World Language Embraces Technology

From formative and summative assessment to student projects, World Languages has incorporated the iPad in a variety of instructional settings and situations to best meet students needs.

Mari Albright offers an acronym, i.P.a.d., for how iPads are used in World Language Lessons:

  • i: Inquiry/Discovery-Learning
  • P: Presentations
  • a: Authentic practice (native speakers - music videos, songs, commercials)
  • d: Developing/Supporting Study Habits

She has also collected apps and tools from the department that support each element of the acronym (see image below or download the PDF version).

Below are few of the more recent examples of how these devices are being integrated into all facets of listening, speaking, reading, and writing World Languages.

Latin: Translations with iMovie and Google Drive 

Natalie Cannon's class uses the Google Drive app to collaboratively translate a document.

An additional spin on translating Latin passages is to create an iMovie trailer based on the translation using the iMovie app.

Truly, the iPad allows students to creatively translate the passages in a variety of ways.

German: Explain Everything Presentations

Scott Gardner's class uses the Explain Everything app to address the speaking and presenting component of a shopping assignment.

They also utilize the app to provide a German weather report with their own audio narration.

American Sign Language: Video Assessments and Green Screen Movies

Barbara Vinson uses iPads to assess student's sign language translations using the iPad video camera and eBackpack.

Vinson's class also uses a combination of iPads and laptops to prepare their Green Screen Dream Home ASL project. Their iPad serves as a teleprompter.

Spanish 1-3: Projects & Formative Assessment with Nearpod

Margaret Ellis' Spanish 1 class tackles a family tree project using Popplet...

... and Spanish 2 summarize their winter break using Bill Atkinson PhotoCard.

Margaret also uses Nearpod with her Spanish 2 and 3 as a way to get real time language assessments. Each student receives the photo prompt and offers their own text response. 

With this instantaneous student input, she is able to address misconceptions and errors in real time with the class.

Spanish 3: Projects & Choice

Mari Albright's Spanish 3 classes research an Olympian and create a multimedia presentation that includes, text, images, and a speaking component. 

Students are given the option to orally present live in front of the class or embed videos and/or audio narration within their presentation that effectively explains the information while also addressing tense, speaking fluency, and presentation skills.

If you are interested in learning more about the World Language department and iPad integration, visit some of the past posts:
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.

Monday, February 10, 2014

iPad Site Visit -- Students and teachers Sharing "What Works"

Twice a year, we host site visits for educators in other districts who are interested in the details of our iPad implementation the last few years.   Today we had the opportunity to share the point of view of students in the classroom, staff involved with implementation (the Information Services department, administrators, instructional tech, and librarian) and of teachers with visitors from other districts.

Part of the advantage of inviting these site visits is that not only do we make contact with other school districts, but we are able to see our own school in action.  Always most fascinating is hearing our student and teacher panels and hearing what comments students make informally during the classroom visits.

Today the group first visited Melissa Dupre's English IVAP class.

 Recently, the students have been reading novels in small groups, and collaboratively discussing their reading in Google Docs.  Visitors were invited to mingle with the students and ask them questions individually about their learning.

The visitors to the classroom were particularly interested in how student use has evolved over the last two or three years.   One student commented on the fact that his initial "playing" with the device has now turned into very purposeful educational use for classes.  Another student commented on the way she uses the tool to stay more organized.  Several mentioned using Google tools or eBackpack as efficient methods for doing their work. When asked about how they cope without a mouse, two students mentioned how innate that sort of touch technology was to them and demonstrated the ease with which they use it.  Students were also fans of doing their work paperlessly and suggested that future apps that allow side by side reading and note-taking would be helpful.  The visitors also saw a CTE Child development classroom, Latin classroom and AP statistics class all using the iPad as a normal part of their lessons.

Later in the morning we held a teacher panel where five teachers shared the impacts of 1:1 on their classrooms and how the iPad's technology has been helpful.  In general, teachers commented on the increase in students' "academic talk" in the hallways, in class during free time, etc. --  sharing the device to pore over details from their classes.   All of the teachers commented on the richness of experiences that students can have when they have access 24/7.   Additionally, they commented that the iPads afford students opportunities they might not otherwise have.  In line with Ruben Puentedara's SAMR model, they noted ways the technology can be used to perform tasks they previously could not conceive of doing.

For example, English teacher Lee Bergen shared the power of the Subtext app which allows for 'in-text' conversations, polls, questions, etc. in a collaborative reading climate.   AP History teacher Cathy Cluck shared how she has implemented iTunesU as a gathering place for all of her classroom materials for students.  And recently, she commented, that she realized how transformative a tool like Facetime was when she was able to bring students who were not physically in the building into her classroom so they could still participate.    Band director Kerry Taylor shared some of the transformative apps being used in the music department, like Tonal Energy, which allows students to hear the tone of an instrument, then play their own and try to match that tone, and also the ability to record themselves so they can hear the difference..   Apps like Coaches Eye allows athletics and band to direct and choreograph movements.   Environmental science teacher Bob Murphy uses Nearpod after instruction as a way to gather input from students by posing questions to them via the app and reviewing their responses.   Cathy Cluck reflected her openness to being a learner in her first experience using the Nearpod app--"I told my class we are all learning this together."  It's an important mindset  to see teachers and students as co-learners.

One of the things that the visitors were interested in is the process teachers worked through in their adoption of technology.   Teachers on the panel represented a variety of levels of adoption, but shared how much they rely on their subject area colleagues (either at their campus or contacts they have at other schools) for input into apps and instruction.   Spanish teacher Mari Albright shared an acronym she developed in concert with the World Languages teachers to represent the ways apps can be utilized in the study of foreign languages, from immersion to presentation to authentic immersion.  The model helps her in her own implementation of apps in her classroom.

There are structures within the campus that help support the implementation of 1:1 as well.   Lisa Johnson, instructional edtech, pointed out that common planning times help improve the ability for on campus staff to provide training and assistance to teachers in a timely fashion, for example.  This is an important consideration when planning any 1:1 implementation -- how will ongoing sorts of learning opportunities be enabled by manipulating the schedule so that there is more "teacher learning time?"

Overall, what came across most significantly in the classroom visit and teacher panel is that the willingness of educators and students to share their journey with others is important.  Not only do the teachers involved learn from and inspire one another, but on our campus, the instructional technology department and library also benefit from these sharing opportunities because it helps improve our intracampus collaboration.  One of the most powerful parts of this implementation has been a transformation of educators into learners--willing to learn from students and one another.  Because so many apps and practices are constantly emerging, (unlike the somewhat static set of software that most of us have used on our PCs for years), there is an invitation to keep experimenting and learning from students and from one another.

The takeaways from today:
Talk to students about their thoughts/processes/experiences
Create opportunities for teachers to learn with/share with one another
Create a climate where risk and experimentation are encouraged/allowed
Trust your staff as professionals
Visitors ask good questions--be open
Open up your school doors and be a part of the larger learning community
Seeing teachers and students blooming, growing, and experimenting is inspiring