Parent Connect Parent Connect

2Apr/140

Parent Connect: Personalized Learning

Slide and Resources from March 31st Parent Connect with Andrea and Karin:

Personalized Learning: Meeting the Needs of Each Individual

WhatPL

WhyPL

HowPL

ObstaclesPL

Want to learn more?

EdTechworkshop: "Personalized Learning in a 1:1 Classroom: A Tour Through My Inbox"

Star Sackstein: "One Size Never Fits All"

Creative Educator (Tech4Learning): "Creative Personalized Learning"

28Jan/140

Parent Connect: Authentic Literacy

Slides and Resources from January 27th Parent Connect with Karin and Andrea:

Authentic Literacy: What is it and why does it matter?

Authentic literacy from Andrea Hernandez
Notes:

Want to learn more?

Don't Underestimate The Power of Pleasure Reading

Why Students Hate Reading- And Often Aren't Very Good at It

How to Get Students to Love Reading

The Most Important Lesson Schools Can Teach Kids About Reading: It's Fun

How a Reading Promise Can Forge Families and Shape Lives ( reading aloud at home)

26Jan/140

1:1 iPad Learning Showcase

Thank you to all who were able to attend our learning showcase. The purpose of this was for our students to share some of the ways that the iPads are being used for learning in 4th/5th grade.

 Our current 4th grade graphic designer created the flyer.

 4th and 5th graders, working in groups of three, shared the following apps or groups of apps:

 Pixie
Word Work Apps (the students chose to show Free Rice and Words With Friends)
Math Apps (QuentoMy Script CalculatorKhan Academy and Splash Math)
iMovie
Pic Collage
Notes and Sketchbook
Tellegami
Hachtavah (an app used for learning Hebrew spelling)
Explain Everything
Google Drive and WordPress

 Using a "speed-geeking" format, each group of student experts had five minutes to present to a small audience. After five minutes the audience rotated to another table. The goal was to keep the focus on how the app was used for learning.

 As part of the student's preparation, each group of three was responsible for:

  • a learning flyer explaining how the app is used for learning
  • a "how-to" flyer, showing some basic steps for
  • using the tool
  • quality examples from the classroom
 

 

Feedback and Reflection
The feedback on the learning showcase was tremendously positive.

Some comments from teachers who attended:
"Experiencing our students teaching the apps to their parents and to others, like me, made me want to learn more about the subject that they were teaching.  It shows how much they know and how much confidence they have in their skills.  It was so impressive that some of the participants were asking for more. "

"...it was really impressive . The students were well prepared, enthusiastic, respectful and joyful."

Parents loved learning from their children. One grandmother said she was so excited that she is now planning to buy an iPad for her younger grandson.There were some really wonderful examples of partnership and teamwork. Overall, the students shined.

7Nov/130

Empowering Students With Meaningful Classroom Jobs

Alan November's "Digital Learning Farm" was the inspiration for my classroom jobs. The idea couldn't be more simple: people are empowered through meaningful work. Children used to be, in the times of farming, useful and necessary contributors to their families' farms and other livelihoods. Once children's work became going to school full-time, that feeling of usefulness and importance faded. Most teachers understand the importance of giving kids jobs to do, and many traditional classrooms do designate roles such as "line leader" and "pencil sharpener"to fulfill these needs. Digital tools offer the possibility of exciting upgrades to these jobs, allowing students to learn through doing while making authentic contributions to their communities.

I am experimenting with how to best structure this so that it becomes a deep learning experience for students. I introduced the jobs to 5th grade a few weeks ago, then introduced and started with 4th grade. I decided that students would need to apply for the job and, once "hired" would have a tenure of about one month.

Available Positions:
Global Connectors:
Tweet, look for and organize possible learning connections, manage maps
Researchers: Research information in response to questions that arise
Official Scribes: Take notes, write weekly summary post on classroom blog
Documentarians: Photo and video documentation of the week’s activities
Kindness Ambassadors: Make sure that all community members are included at lunch and recess, remind community members of habit of the month, model and recognize kindness, give appreciations and remind others to do so
Librarians: Keep classroom and virtual library shelves in order. Add books to class GoodReads shelves, keep GoodRead-Alouds wall updated, set appointments with Mrs. Hallett
Graphic Artist/Designers: Design things for the classroom and class blog- graphics, bulletin boards, displays, etc.

Job Requirements:
Previous experience is helpful but not required. You will be able to learn on the job. Most important qualities: proactive, self-motivated, desire to learn.
All classroom work must be up to date in order to be considered for a job.

9May/130

The Sunflower Project

One of the requirements of being a Google Certified Teacher, is to develop a "personal action plan." The idea for mine came during a discussion with our middle school language arts teacher, Deb Kuhr. Deb told me that she had been reading and discussing Simon Wiesenthal's book, The Sunflower, with her 8th graders. The Sunflower recounts Wiesenthal's personal dilemma (whether partially fiction or entirely non-fiction is apparently the source of some debate) around "the possibilities and limits of forgiveness."

The Sunflower is a book in two parts. Part one is the story of Wiesenthal's experience in a concentration camp as well as a request for forgiveness from a dying Nazi soldier. Part two is a symposium of responses."

"Among respondents to the question are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, former Nazis and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. " (Wikipedia)

In our meeting I learned that the students, moved by the deathbed scene, wanted to create a video re-enactment of that part of the story. I thought it would be interesting to crowdsource the symposium, also through video. We shared the idea with the students, showing them the It Gets Better Project as an example.

 

Next we created the "Would You Forgive?" Google site as a home for the project. The students worked on writing the descriptions for the various pages of the site. They continued working, as part of their language arts class, on the script for the reenactment which was filmed after school and edited by one of the students over spring break. The students also wrote essays articulating their personal responses to the dilemma. Additionally, they video- reflected on the meaning of the entire project.

 

The Sunflower- Student Reflections from MJGDS Classrooms on Vimeo.

At the recent edJEWcon conference Mrs. Kuhr and the 8th graders shared the project and the re-enactment with educators from other Jewish schools, requesting that these teachers show the video to their students and solicit video responses. It was impressive to hear the students speak so articulately about their work.

 

 

From my perspective, working with a small class of "seniors" has had its highs and lows. There have been some real "blah" moments, some confusion around project management and productivity, even some questions as to "why are we bothering to do this?"

The edJEWcon session was a high point. The students watched others watch their video. They were able to see and hear outside appreciation for their quality work. This had an impact that surpassed any amount of teacher feedback.

 We still have a lot left to do and not much time left in the school year. The students are excited to promote the site and the re-enactment, to receive and review responses. It is our hope that this work will reach people, touch them and inspire them to think.

 

 

8Mar/130

The Possibilities of Student Blogging

Andrea, Silvia and some students reflect on student blogging.

This video will be used as part of a free, online course for teachers.

5Feb/130

Learning in the Modern Classroom

I have seen learning in the 21st Century modern classroom!

The learning just oozes through the cracks of the physical classroom walls.

Learning is amplified by the amount of people who are collaborating, participating, communicating and creating. The learning is NOT about the technology tools, but what students can DO with them to learn in new ways. The learning is about an authentic tasks, that allows students to contribute in a individualized and personalized manner to make them realize that their work matters in the real world.

It all started out with a conversation between Mike Fisher and me. He had written over 40 children poems and was in the process of wondering what to do with them? I was looking for an authentic task for 9-11 year old students. We felt we had a perfect match! How about getting the students Language Arts and Art teacher involved? The initial idea was to make a unit of poetry come alive, study Mike's poems and visualize the poems by creating illustrations.

Great plan... it snowballed from there...

A quick Skype call between Mike and the teachers, helped flesh out each of our expectations and a timeline for the "project". A critical component was the participants' willingness to be flexible and see where the students would take "the project".

What if...

  • ...Mike allowed students to alter his original poems if they felt inspired to remix them, making the creation process fluid and embedding new ways of looking at forms of copyright?
  • ... Mike offered to write a new poem to additionally created illustrations by students, flipping the collaboration roles?
  • ...we published a poetry book on various platforms? (hard cover/eBook)
  • ...we had student run a marketing and advertisement campaign?
  • ...we involved the Math teacher to support students in calculating how much the book should cost, what would the profit be, how would a profit be split?
  • ...allowed the class to handle the entire business venture?
  • ...we incorporated Alan November's concept of the Digital Learning Farm and leaving a legacy?

Each student was "given" a poem from Mike to be responsible for. We set up a first Skype call with Mike, the author, for students to meet him, ask questions about "their" poem.

skype

Part of our job as teachers was to observe students as they were taking on the roles outlined in the Digital Learning Farm. We were/are looking to identify NEW FORMS of assessment, since our "project" was not to be an add-on to traditional assessment tools.

The Digital Learning Farm

 

As I was watching students talk to Mike Fisher via Skype, Will Richardson's call for Thinking Differently About Learning, which includes Learning to Talk to Strangers came to mind. As students interacted, I was watching their body language, paying attention to their vocabulary, ability to articulate an idea, their conversation etiquette and ability to follow a conversation and interaction. Stay tuned for the publication of a Taxonomy of Skype Conversation to facilitate assessment of video conferencing.

skype-taxonomy

As the Skype conversation was happening in the foreground, other students were busy documenting and collaborating in backchannels. A Google Doc was opened and shared among all students, teachers and Mike Fisher. The multi-tasker Mike is, allowed students to Google Chat at the same time as he was talking to students via Skype.

googledoc

Other students had taken on the task to tweet the Skype call

twitter

Take a look at the 4th and 5th grade Twitter feed, documenting the skype call. Students are exhibiting understanding of Twitter grammar, syntax and etiquette. They are showing progression by starting to add value, links, citations and they own thoughts. They are summarizing and articulating thoughts in 140 characters or less. They are directly communicating, disseminating, collaborating and connecting via social networking. We are using Twitter and HOTS as a way to assess these skills.

4th-twitter-2

4th-twitter-1

4th-twitter

5thmjgds-twitter

5thmjgds-twitter-1

5thmjgds-twitter-2

5thmjgds-twitter-3

5thmjgds-twitter-4

We had other students use different tools to take notes too. The notes app on their iPad or traditional paper and pen

notes

notes2

One student chose to summarize what he heard during the Skype call by mindmap doodling. He was able to re-tell the different poems that were discussed between his classmates and the author.

mindmapping

mindmap

Take a few minutes to peek into the classroom as students were debriefing from the Skype experience.

Poetry Book Skype from langwitches on Vimeo.

So, where do we go from here? The students are very excited and are taking ownership. There is no talk about what kind of grade they will be receiving for their work. An authentic audience will decide if they were successful. Students will volunteer to take on different roles in the publishing, marketing, finance, communication department. We will allow them to take the lead, consulting, coaching and modeling if needed.

Stay tuned as this "school project" unfolds.

.

 

22Nov/120

The Making of a Story in Kindergarten and Amplification Thoughts

Kindergarten time is storytelling time: Listening to stories, telling stories, acting stories out, learning how to read your own stories and creating your own stories!

Learning about a holiday, like Thanksgiving in the USA, is the perfect time to cloak the historical origin into a fascinating story for five and six year olds. Who is not excited about a story with Indians, interesting people named "Pilgrims", a ship named Mayflower and a huge feast with "yummy" food?

Our Kindergarten teacher upgraded a traditionally created paper bound class booklet of the students illustrations and text of a Thanksgiving story to creating a TechnoTale. What is a techno-tale? A techno-tale is a digitally told story

By creating a movie, the teacher AMPLIFIED

  • the original reach her students' work had
    ...by embedding the video on the classroom blog, allowing family and friends to watch the movie, regardless of their geographic location and the amount of physical booklets that were available.
  • the learning style
    ...by allowing students to learn through and express themselves in a variety of forms.
  • using different communication media
    ...by giving students the opportunity, not only draw illustrations and add text, but by recording their voices over the illustrations.
  • home-school connection
    ...by allowing students to share something created in the classroom with their families at home, opening doors to further conversation about school and classroom happenings.
  • repetition
    ...The video is personalized (student's voice, student's illustrations) and motivates students to watch over and over again.
  • dissemination
    ...by using different strategies, we actively and strategically share and disseminate our students' work. We blog, tweet, promote and talk about their work with others.

In addition to the TechnoTale video you see above, the Kindergarten class also created a bilingual iPad eBook (Hebrew/English) of their book.

By creating an eBook version, we further AMPLIFIED the original paper booklet and technotale movie by:

  • adding language tracks
    ...by adding a second voice recording in the target language.
  • classroom learning time
    ...by giving students the opportunity to read and practice the target language (Hebrew) beyond the contact time in the classroom.
  • parent-school connection
    ...parents or grandparents, who are native target language speakers are included and encouraged to read the eBook with their children.
  • accessibility
    ....by making the eBook available to download on the classroom blog, we allowed more family and friends to read and listen to the story.
  • distribution
    ...duplication of the book does not cost anything extra, distribution is easy and instant.
  • reach a global audience
    ...by making the file available for download and sharing the created eBook freely, we are encouraging a greater world wide audience for our students.
  • students' legacy (definition of legacy: Something handed down from an ancestor or a predecessor or from the past)
    ...by creating an eBook, which is saved in the school's iTunes account and available on all school iPad iBook shelves for years to come, students in subsequent years, can read, listen and learn from this year's Kindergarten class.

If you own an iPad or iPhone, you can download the ePub file and directly drop it into your iTunes library. Once you sync your device with iTunes, you are able to read our ebook.

If you are reading this post on your iPad or iPhone, simply click on the ePub file and choose to open in iBook.

The above can give you a pretty good idea of the amplification possibilities, a "traditional" analog project, "upgraded" to a digital version can bring. I do want to close, not with more transformative skills or goals for further amplification, but with the LEARNING behind the scenes that went into the production of the TechnoTale and eBook. Take a look...

18Nov/120

Learning About Communities…Not From Textbooks

I recently wrote about Thinking About Learning Differently- Talking to Strangers, where I mentioned our third graders journey of skyping around the world to learn about different communities.

They have spoken via Skype with classes from a suburb of Los Angeles, CA , an rural community in Missouri and a city, Weatherford, TX. The latest connection was with Anna Faridaku, a teacher and children’s book author from Indonesia. Students took turns speaking with Anna, who was just amazing in connecting (via the screen) to the kids, answering and asking questions. She engaged them and pushed them to deeper thinking about similarities and differences about our communities.

They have now also spoken to a class from Prague, Czech Republic and we are working on our next connections with Argentina and New Zealand.

The goal is not to only collect cold data, but to:

  • make connections between the different locations and communities
  • learn about geography
  • talk "to strangers", practicing speaking skills and conversation skills, be aware of body language...
  • reflect on how and what we are learning
  • invite a global audience (including parents and grandparents) to continue a conversation via the classroom blog
  • continuously becoming better at asking questions and learning that questions don't stop at the end of a lesson, day, Skype call

Overcoming geographic boundaries

Conversations about Alligators in Florida and Prague :)

Two native Hebrew speakers meet across the Ocean

Documenting through various lenses

Documenting

Using tools for synchronous and asynchronous collaboration

Formulating questions and collecting data

The comments on the classroom blog below came from family and friends of our students who continued to contribute to students learning after the call ended.

Family continues a conversation after the call ended

It is time to THINK DIFFERENTLY about learning!

1Nov/120

Thinking About Learning Differently- Talking to Strangers

Our third graders are learning about different communities.They have spoken via Skype with classes from a suburb of Los Angeles, CA , an rural community in Missouri and a city, Weatherford, TX. The latest connection was with Anna Faridaku, a teacher and children's book author from Indonesia. Students took turns speaking with Anna, who was just amazing in connecting (via the screen) to the kids, answering and asking questions. She engaged them and pushed them to deeper thinking about similarities and differences about our communities.

Will Richardson talks about Three starting points to think differently about "Learning. In addition to "Thinning the Classroom Wall" and "Being Transparent", he lists "Talking to Strangers" as one of the starting point!

Being able to connect and learn with strangers is an important skill for all of us, and especially for a generation that will be learning online for the rest of their lives.

The above image visualizes how we are taking learning about a country from only looking at a map and reading about it in a book to talking to a "stranger "who lives in that country. We still used the map and books for background knowledge and preparation, but information is amplified:

  • Information comes from a primary source
  • Information is fluid, not rigid, it will adjust to the questions the students have (a book will only hold the information that editors have decided on including and will not magically switch in front of your eyes :))
  • Information can take on directions, tailored to your students' interests
  • Information can

"Talking to Strangers" is a critical skill to possess. It contributes to information fluency. It so dramatically contrasts the drill we heard over and over again from our parents. We used to be taught "DON'T talk to strangers" and now need the skills to do precisely that.

Disclaimer: I am not talking about talking to a stranger in a dark alley at night! :)