Sunday, September 30, 2012

What it looks like...Part 2

The boat engine sounds have faded. The muddy socks have been washed. The exhausted feeling is gone. Another amazing trip at Stone Lab for my fifth graders has passed. But, with so much content, so much science, so much learning...I can't let it go! I want to know just how much my students got from the trip and what they are now curious about.

So, back in the classroom, we have some great conversations!

The students are talking about the food, the fun, the dissections. But, I'm much science did they pick up? They keep saying it was amazing, they want to go back. But, what about the science? It was hands-on and fun, but...

So, I decided to have them SHOW me what they learned. I could have given a multiple choice test, throw in a short answer or two, maybe an extended response questions. But, I decided to do a slightly different method. We would make a class book with each student contributing to the text and illustrations with various iPad projects. We would pull it all together with the PHENOMENAL app, ScribblePress. Each science class' book would have a link for parents to read. We could save the book in iBooks on our iPads for later review. And, I would be purchasing a couple copies of each book (from ScribblePress) for give away drawings. And, each class could get to read the other classes books. Heck...we could even share our books with our Edmodo, Twitter, and Skype partner classes. Woo hoo! Yep. Very cool. So, "here's what it looks like".

1. Brainstorm the WHAT of the book. (Great conversation here with students while listing ideas on the smart board.)

2. Discuss the HOW of the book. (Students have plenty of ideas. Those students that were in my Summer Learning Camp session were definitely in the know on this one!)

3. Discuss INDIVIDUAL contributions. (We decide to have 2 wordles created on our classroom computers by 2 students while others are creating iPad projects. Projects include drawings in DrawingPad app, TypeDrawing app pictures, cartoon strips using StripDesign app, Popplets.)

4. Discuss TRANSFER to my iPad. (Students suggest emailing...fine. I suggest using our twitter account...that works. We throw in Dropbox as well. Dropbox is where they access the photos from the trip that I took. Some students want to add photos into their projects...imagine that!)


The students do a great job with the tech. They help each other. I rotated around to ask questions, give feedback, and LISTEN. I was amazed with the very cool conversations. Students were discussing the science behind the trip. They were usually trying to "one up" the person with their story, or what they learned. But, the science was there! I did have some students that needed to be redirected to the task, but I expected a little of that!

While the projects themselves didn't show a ton of science (with vocabulary or specific content), the conversations were very helpful in my assessment of the learning that occurred. Topics ranging from invasive species to adaptations to science equipment and! We had it all.

The projects were starting to roll in, and now...enter ScribblePress!
This app is such a user friendly, creative too. LOVE IT!

After students mailed, tweeted, and dropped their projects to me, I had my iPad mirroring to the projector, using Apple TV. The students watched and assisted ;) me as I pulled the projects to my iPad. (Never underestimate the value of thinking and talking aloud your tech processes with the students. This modeling is so desperately needed. We don't just throw our hands in the air and put in a help desk ticket to tech department. We THINK it through. Then, contact help...if needed.)

As projects piled up, we started to build the book. Still mirroring to the big screen, the students guided my writing. They recognized the book needed a beginning, middle, and end. And, they knew it had to be well written to accompany all their fun projects! I prompted in areas such as transitions, grammar, run-on sentences, etc. (to the best of my ability) We discussed how informational the text needed to be to share ALL THE COOL SCIENCE we learned.

Now, we are creating, discussing, and sharing. SCIENCE! Talk of plankton and energy transfer through ecosystems (state standards). Talk of long term investigations and data collection (state standards). Talk of interconnectedness and disruption of food webs with invasive species (state standards). Talk of delicious corn dogs and pudding (NOT state standard...but all agreed to be yummy).

So, to wrap this EPICALLY long post...
part 3 will be shared Monday as we polish up those class book masterpieces! The work is fifth grade. The science is wicked cool, and stay tuned. :)

What it looks like...Part 1

Just this weekend, I worked with a phenomenal group of educators in using technology in the classroom. The session was hosted by A+ Educators, and it was professional development that was continuing from previous work. It was also going to be a continued support and collaboration. I was there to help set up MacBooks, Apple TVs, projectors, and camera equipment, as well as give instructional ideas and answer questions from the teachers perspective. As expected, it was a fun time! The teachers were excited about the materials and the possibilities that were coming with them.

My part in the training was mostly supportive with only a small section officially dedicated to discussing the process of using Apple TV as a conduit for iPads and MacBooks, as well as the very cool ways to explore content with Apple TV. So, I did my section of the training and also worked with the teachers in a rotation fashion. As conversations developed about iPads, Apple TV, and more, I heard myself saying over and over again..."So, this is what it looks like." In describing my students using iPads, or in a lesson utilizing the Apple TV, or even in managing technology in the classroom, I was trying to set the stage for understanding. I was trying to paint a picture of the classroom while stressing three main points- collaboration, content, and creativity.

Not to belabor the point...but, I really believe that a teacher wanting to use technology in the classroom will be most successful when the tone is one of collaboration, and not instructor-driven. I want to collaborate with my students on the technology piece, and not make it a management issue. The content is my specialty, and if I design challenging, engaging lessons that allow students to explore that content, then the technology isn't a management issue. Which leads into the creativity puzzle pieces, it will fit together. (Not perfectly at times. Just like a real puzzle, you sometimes have a piece with a rough edge.)