Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Wading in with NearPod App

So, I don't normally do this...but, I just can't help myself on this one!

***I don't usually recommend an app before I have used it successfully many times with students. Typically, I test apps with my two kids, a small group of students, and many classes before I sing it's praise (or trash it) publicly.

But, the NearPod iPad app has me enthralled! Thanks to @trendingedtech I decided to test out this app with a small group of students yesterday in class. As students were finishing their Educreation videos on science vocabulary, I asked them to "pilot" a new app with me. (They love doing this!)

This is a great graphic describing the app:

This is a great video explaining the app:

The feedback from the kids (as we explored together) was awesome! They loved the sample presentation we were working with, and they kept asking if I was going to make my own presentations AND if THEY could make presentations to share with each other. :)

What I did was pull a sample nearpod presentation already created and run with it. The presentation/lesson was created about scale of the solar system. This one lesson included the following features:

  • Gorgeous graphics and solid science information
  • Place for students to log in (so I could see them show up on my screen)
  • AMAZING video showing objects in scale mode (small to large)
  • Intermittent content checks that students respond to (scores and shows you results)
  • Asks students to draw an answer to a question on their ipad (sends to can share then with other students)
  • A final test
Right now, I'm just playing with the free version of the app. I'm building presentations from previous smart board slides and old power points and keynotes. I'm starting with my older materials and adding the interactive features, like students' drawing/submitting ideas, answering questions, and completing polls. The full version adds a couple more features that I can see as I wade into the program I will likely want to buy! I'm just now exploring information on the School Edition...

I would LOVE to connect with others that have used this program in the classroom. Please retweet and pass this post on...would love to work with someone on this!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Jeopardy vs. The Amazing Race

What's the difference between Jeopardy and The Amazing Race...

While running today, I started thinking of how learning has changed since my time in elementary, middle, and high school as a student. I think education was approached a little like Jeopardy...memorization, drill, right/wrong, and maybe some creativity in there. The right answer and smartest kid in the room was celebrated. I didn't do poorly in this environment. I managed to be an A/B student, and I worked to connect what I was learning to what I perceived to be the "real world". I looked for the connection in the literature and physics to the world around me. I didn't always see these connections. And, my husband will tell you that while I was book smart, I didn't necessarily flourish in the practical smarts area! Years of teaching has since helped me grow into a more balanced learner.

I like to think that we've begun the transition into an educational model that celebrates the learning process a little like The Amazing Race. We value resourcefulness, problem-solving, intelligence, and ingenuity. We give students problems that have some foundation in the "Real World", and we try to connect them to the challenges around them. The exciting nature of life, challenges, and working as a community has become the springboard for our learning. At least in the classroom...I can't say much for those standardized tests.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

What Works For You?

Working with teachers in 4, 5, and 6th grade science on Friday proved to be a whole lot of frustrating, exciting, and promising (depending on the time frame). Frequently, meetings scheduled for a couple hours at a time leave us teachers looking at our watches, wondering about our students, and anticipating the ability to work. So, I wanted to explore one part of this meeting...the exciting and promising part...

My building has 2 really great science teachers in 4th grade. They both use various hands-on methods to explore the content with their students. On any given day, you could see them ripping apart flowers for identifying plant parts or wiring up some simple circuits or planting vegetables to teach science & health. This hands-on learning...they both can rock that out! They are also both getting more and more comfortable blending the textbook, online resources (like BrainPop), and SmartBoard technologies. So, they are doing great things.

However, after talking to our 6th grade science teacher about the fantastic interactive books he is creating on the iPad using CreativeBookBuilder

, and after digging into some methodology with me, both teachers were ready to start. Anywhere. Somewhere. Where? Time? Who has it? Familiarity? Not there yet. So, how do you start? This was my approach.

Start with the CONTENT-
What are you exploring with your students? What do you normally do?
One culminating project for the students is to create an ecosystem mural. Love it! Art,!
I tell them, "Do that!"
One teacher asks, "How do I use the iPad for it?"
"You don't. You will not use the iPad to make that ecosystem mural. Keep that process. The students will use chalk, pictures...whatever. But, let's get them to talk about the science. Let them continue the conversation about their work by utilizing the iPad."
So, we explored using the camera on the iPad and the ShowMe app

for having students trace the energy flow in their ecosystem (who eats who). We did a quick intro to the ShowMe app and discussed setting up an account.

(From here, the 6th grade science teacher partnered up with one of the 4th grade teachers, and I kept working with the other.)

Now...she's hooked. "I can do that. It's just take a picture and use it in the ShowMe app to have the kids talk science." Yep!

What else can we do?
Start with the CONTENT-
What are you exploring with your students? What do you normally do?
We next looked at a concept that is new to their standards this year. She is struggling with this content because it is new, and she doesn't have any go to activities.
So, we GOOGLED THAT SHIT! (Sorry...that's my new phrase...)
But, we did. She was surprised that we didn't start in the app store. My thought process that I explained was...before we go to the store (grocery or app), we do some research and make a shopping list! Let's get the best...not be an impulse shopper. (That is what lands you with CRAPTASTIC apps and ridiculous food in the cart.)

We found the Dinosaurs: American Museum of Natural History Collections app.

Next question was what do I do with that? Hmmmmm. This is where it gets tricky. My first thought is put it back in her court. Don't do the thinking for her. But, she looked completely lost!
So, I scaffolded it.
I described how I had just used the ISS Vook (an interactive book) with my students. Basically, worked from an exploration perspective with that app because there is JUST SO MUCH COOL STUFF in it. Students completed a box chart set of notes...
What did I view? (Tell me a little about the videos you watched.)
What did I read? (What sections were really interesting to you?)
What did I learn?
What do I wonder?
This activity doesn't require a tremendous amount of support. It is being completed with high interest content. And, each child came back to the group and shared what they discovered in a whole class setting.

Using the 4th grade teacher's time constraints and resources, we developed a pretty similar activity using the app.

From here, I took her to our her set up with an iPad to take home and practice with!

Here's my dilemma:
The conversation and hunt for more is still racing through my head. With a couple of quick searches, I was able to find even more...

Webquest with Fossils For Kids site?
The Magic School Bus: Dinosaurs interactive book?

Or, do I just show her how to pull pics from internet in to create slideshow in the Photos? That is a wicked cool way to display content while exploring a hands-on lab!

I'm not sure how much support to give...I don't want momentum to slow. I want our conversation to continue!

What works for you?

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Setting up my young scientists up to succeed!

Our latest lab in 5th grade science was a HOOT! Seriously, we dissected owl pellets, and it was a phenomenal experience for the kids. While I knew the lab would be a great experience, I wanted to set my young scientists up to have the most success possible. Here's how we did it...

Flip that learning! Giving the students a chance to develop prior knowledge for the lab was really important. So, I gave them a homework assignment that would get them ready. They were given the week to watch a 2 minute video that described the procedure for dissecting owl pellets.

I loaded the video from KidWings Website to our Edmodo site for students to view.

While watching, they were asked to write the steps of the lab, 2-3 safety concerns, and 2-3 ways they could share their results after the lab. They also had the data recording sheet ahead of time to get prepared for the big day!

Out of 100 students, 2 were not prepared for the lab. How's that for homework completion! Given an assignment that they were genuinely interested in, I was able to get a GREAT percentage of students to complete their work, and they were READY to learn with me on Friday!

And...did we ever learn!

Students were so ready to go! As they entered, they rolled up their sleeves and jumped right into the lab. I didn't have to waste time with directions or explanations. With a quick review of safety concerns and a quick overview of where materials were located, we were into the lab.

While working with the students, I was able to dip into the BEST conversations! They were comparing the pellet bones to many other animals (including themselves). They were sorting, classifying, and TALKING science all period. No disruptions, no arguments, no short cuts! Just great questions, great discussions, and solid science work.

Some of my favorite conversations were related to:
*soft tissue vs. bone and fur
*how the ball and socket worked together
*how the bones around the eye were SO big that must mean large eyes...which must mean night time animals
*how hands on was the MOST fun
*comparing this dissection to the fish dissection at Stone Lab
*energy transfer from the food to the owl

Setting my students up to succeed was as simple as front loading the content with a short, descriptive video. We didn't waste time...we were ready to learn!

***FYI- some kids still misunderstood...some thought I killed the owls to get the pellets!

YouTube Video

YouTube Video

YouTube Video