Parent Connect Parent Connect

28Jun/120

iPads in Art

Our wonderful Art teacher, Shana Gutterman, has been a wonderful supporter

  • to collaboratively work with classroom teachers (I wrote about her collaboration with the Language Arts teacher in a previous post – Transliteracy- QR Codes and Art)
  • to test out iPads
  • to not only have students create analog artwork (water-colors, ceramics, etc.), but also to create a digital image to be able to share and disseminate her work on her Art Blog with the parent community and other Art teachers from around the world.

She is becoming (or maybe already is)  fluent in “upgrading” traditionally taught Art lessons to include much needed skill practice (communicate, collaborate, connect, create) with transliteracy methods. Shana is also growing as a reflective professional and blogger. It is a pleasure to read and follow along as she is expanding her curation, reflection and social networking arena to amplify her connections and learning.

If you are interested in Arts, check out shoshyart on her

Take a look at Shana’s first attempts in incorporating iPads, as she was expanding and upgrading a traditional lesson on contour lines with fourth graders.

Students started out with drawing their hands with a pencil and moved on to using the app “Brushes” for their self-portraits.

Shana’s reflection below:

I had my second lesson teaching iPads in art. Its so easy for me to teach an old fashioned art lesson, with paints. Teaching on the iPad will require some more practice.

We used an app called Brushes. The students learned about contour lines and created a self portrait.

I am still trying to figure out the best way to demonstrate the app- do I do it before the project or demonstrate as we do the project?

The first group of fifth graders  got a demonstration before and during the project- it seemed too lengthy.

The second group of fifth graders just got the step by step demonstration and that seemed to go better.

When they are drawing on paper its easier for me to scan to see if they need assistance. The iPads are harder to tell where everyone is at.

The students liked it and we will try it again next week now that they mastered Brushes.

22Nov/110

Transliteracy- QR Codes & Art

Transliteracy is defined on Wikipedia as

The ability to read, write and interact across a range of platforms, tools and media from signing and orality through handwriting, print, TV, radio and film, to digital social networks. The modern meaning of the term combines literacy with the prefix trans-, which means “across; through”, so a transliterate person is one who is literate across multiple media.

Ryan Nadel, in an interview on Spotlight on Digital Media and Learning, defines transliteracy even further:

“The most fundamental notion of transliteracy is the ability to adapt. It’s creating a literacy and fluidity between mediums that’s not tied to space or modality.”

I agree with Ryan: Transliteracy is closely related to “fluency“:

  • the ability to know when to use one media over another
  • the ability to move effortlessly between media
  • the ability to comprehend, build upon, and remix different kind of media
  • the ability to relate, communicate and connect via multiple forms of media
  • moving between media feels: intuitive, unconscious and smooth

Let me share a transliterate learning opportunity with you that I created (Art, iPads, QR codes, Language Arts and Digital Storytelling)  in collaboration with our Art teacher, Mrs. Gutterman and the 4th grade classroom teacher, Mrs. Teitelbaum?

During Art class, fourth graders adapted Vincent van Gogh’s chairs and placed things on and  around them that were important to them.

In Language Arts, students wrote a script, explaining their choices of what they drew and why it was important to them.

We all gathered in the library to record their script as an audio file on the iPad. We used the AudioMemos app (free) to record. Students then emailed the wav file to me.

We created QR Codes (Quick Response) to be attached to the original art work.

Now anyone with a QR scanner on their Smartphone, iTouch or iPad walking by the art work, can scan and listen to the student artist’s audio reflection. The next step was to create a poster to catch the attention of the visitors and parents walking by and give a short explanation of what to do with the QR code

 

Watch out for all the 4th grade Art work to be exhibited with their corresponding QR codes in the lobby!

 

15Nov/110

Working on iPad Fluency in First and Second Grade

We want our students to :

  • use apps on the iPad to create, not just consume
  • fluently pick apps that will serve a purpose
  • fluently switch between apps, then insert, embed, share and disseminate their creations

We have to expose students to a variety of apps to help them gain skills in iPad Fluency

By fluency I mean the ability to:

  • connect tasks effortless together (ex.creating and editing a video, then uploading, embedding and disseminating on several platforms)
  • CREATE and then being able to COMMUNICATE- the ability to create and communicate your creation is one of the main characteristics of fluency
  • record, edit and then publish a movie that automatically posts to my blog
  • take an image…edit…then automatically post to my photo stream as well as embed into a blog post
  • work within several apps, then remix content from each one by being able to import them from one app to another.

In the first few weeks after the iPad deployment, we are concentrating on allowing students to test and explore a variety of apps, as well as work on that fluency piece.

Here are a few examples of our lower elementary school students.

In first grade, students practiced their Hebrew letters in Doodle Buddy.

They then drew illustrations and learned about emailing the finished image to the teacher.

In second grade, we are helping students create an image, then saving it into the Photo Gallery (by an in-app function, via the built-in camera or taking a screenshot) and then edit and email that image to their teacher.

Second graders were learning to introduce themselves in Hebrew. We decided to create an eBook with each student contributing their own page.

The image can be created in a drawing app, such as Doodle Buddy, or being taken with the iPad’s built in camera, then imported into Doodle Buddy to write or type over it.

By adding an International keyboard to the iPad, we were able to easily switch between the English and Hebrew letters.

Here were the instructions for our students, which we modeled by mirroring the iPad display via projector:

  1. Take an image with the built-in camera
  2. Go to Photo Gallery and edit if needed
  3. Go to Doodle Buddy app by finding the app icon or by searching for app by name
  4. Import image from Photo Gallery as background
  5. Choose a marker, color, thickness and write your name in Hebrew on the image
  6. E-mail the image to your teacher

We are realizing that after a few run throughs of creating- saving- sending, our students are picking the sequence up easily.  (The hardest part for these early elementary school students is to spell my name in the email correctly :)

We are also making it a point to have students explore the apps we have loaded on our iPads. As we are discussing, at the beginning of class, WHAT we want to CREATE, we are asking for input from the students:

  1. What app would be best suited (any alternatives)?
  2. The sequence from creating to saving and then the best way to share it with others (email, publish, classroom blog, etc.)

It is crystallizing itself clearly, that the iPad lessons are building on each other. The best success, I have been able to observe, is when students had explored an app in one class, worked with the app to create, in another class and finally pulled the sequence together for a larger project by remixing, sharing and collaborating.

30Oct/110

Proud to Present Butterfly iPad Book by our First Graders

If you have been following the 21st century blog, you read about our First Graders First iPad Encounters. We are so proud to share their final product with you: The iPad Butterfly Book.

Mrs. O'Neill writes:

The conversion of our classroom into a Monarch Butterfly nursery happened by chance. We discovered a caterpillar while taking a nature walk and decided to bring it into the classroom to observe. Since I have raised Monarchs before, I knew exactly what the caterpillar needed to thrive. The students were so excited about our one caterpillar friend that we kept checking the milkweed leaves for more caterpillars and a butterfly unit was born. We studied the life cycle and were privileged to see each stage (egg, caterpillars of various sizes, chrysalis, and even several butterflies emerging during class!) The children complied everything they discovered about Monarchs into this book so they could share it with you. We hope you enjoy our eBook.

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

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

Please leave us a comment where you are from and maybe other interesting facts about Monarch butterflies for us to learn.

3Oct/110

First Graders- First iPad Encounters

ipad-bookcreator-slide

The iPads are finally set up and ready to go into the classrooms! It happened to be our first graders who were the first ones to get their hands on them!

Our first graders just finished a unit on butterflies. It was the perfect timing to work with them and create an ebook about the different stages of a butterfly and show their learning reflection as a culminating activity of that unit.

Students wrote a story, as a class, about the different stages of the butterfly. We shared their words with our Art teacher, Mrs. Gutterman, who is now working with our students to create the illustrations for the book.

The first time, I brought the iPads into the class, we spent time talking about the care and handle of the devices.

When picking the iPad up from the teacher we reminding them to

  • carry the iPad with two hands to their desk
  • set them down as quietly as possible
  • don’t hold the iPad from the SmartCover
  • don’t walk around the classroom with an iPad in your hand
  • no pulling, showing or tugging on someone else’s iPad

It was important to also introduce “iPad” vocabulary to our first graders, so we would all be able to use a common language when instructing or asking questions. We introduced this first time the following lingo:

  • Home button
  • screen
  • swiping
  • sliding
  • tap
  • apps
  • icons
  • pinch in/ pinch out
  • front camera
  • back camera

The introduction was done with the whole class. We then split into groups. These groups rotated in and out of the classroom to go to Art to start working on their watercolor illustrations. The rest stayed with us in the classroom to become familiar with the iPad.

We projected the iPad to the screen at the front of the room to show them the two apps we would be “playing” with that day: iBooks,  Doodle Buddy.

As we showed them a student created eBook , as an example,  it was the perfect opportunity to examine some of the similarities (author, illustrator, text, images) and differences (spine, turning pages vs. swiping pages) between a traditional printed book and an eBook.

Each student then was free to read the eBooks we had pre-loaded on the iPad, and then move on to Doodle Buddy. They discovered quickly the Tic-Tac-Toe and Maze backgrounds as well as the stickers with attached sounds. All in all it was a great way for students to get comfortable with touching, swiping, sliding, drawing and overall handling of the iPad.

 

By the second encounter, students were ready to learn to use the built-in camera app of the iPad2. We had the entire class together for this session. We showed them the location of each little camera on he front and back of the device and helped them locate the camera app. There were lots of giggles when they learned how to switch between the front and back facing camera. They then could practice taking their own picture. Not an easy task, when keeping in mind to LOOK at the camera lens, instead of the button to shoot the picture.

We showed them WHERE to find the pictures that they took (Photo Album) and how to swipe through the images.

The following time I came to the first grade classroom, it was time to introduce them to the Book Creator app. This time the iPads were part of a center that students rotated through.

We reviewed how to find and open an app. I then showed them how to insert the image that they took of themselves the previous day. They then practiced resizing and moving the image.

During journal time, first graders had written a short reflection about what they had learned about butterflies during their unit of study. They also included a sentence how they felt about it.  They brought their (paper) journal to the table and learned how to bring up the iPad keyboard and to type their text.

A hush fell over the center as all the students were busy :

  • sounding words out
  • finding the letters on the keyboard
  • inserting spaces
  • learning that the cursor will automatically advance to the next line, if they ran out of space
  • being amazed that the iPad will capitalize the first word after a period automatically, etc.

I kept a student as a “helper” from a previous center rotation when a new student rotated into the center in order to help me with pointing out the insert image or text icons or location of the space bar or delete button.

Looking back at these three “First Encounters with the iPad” sessions with our first graders, I am excited and thrilled. I can “feel” the potential, the engagement and motivation of the students. I can see how the devices will become a tool to bring instant information, growing collaboration, and creativity to the classroom.

Alan November’s powerful words on the motivating and empowering factor of “Leaving a Legacy“, in regards  to student learning, are ringing in my ears. We will be sharing the iPads among ALL of our students (K-8). I can  see how we can develop a cross grade level and cross subject area support center, media center, and library FOR and BY our students. My hope is that students will take ownership of these iPads to contribute their best work, knowing that they will be sharing it with the rest of the school.

The work students are doing with their “Butterfly Book”, will not only be seen by their current teacher and their parents, but will be part of research and background information for upcoming students in years to come.

Stay tuned as we will be sharing the final ePub version of the butterfly book for you to download to your own iPad, iPhone or Kindle.

3Jun/110

21st Century Upgrades from the Classroom

One of the creations that we had planned for students to show their research and knowledge about historic figures of the American Revolution was to create a fake facebook profile page. Since the students are under the age of 13, they created them offline in a PowerPoint slide, which we later uploaded to their classroom blog. There are quite a few few facebook templates floating around online for you to use. Thank you to the person (I am sorry that I can't give proper name credit), who created the following one that we ended with.

Kids were very excited about creating these pages, since at their age, "Facebook" represents something "cool" and "...when you are older..." for them. Once we got started, we ran into several hurdles though:

  • Platform Familiarity: Although some of them (11 year olds) seem to have already an account of their own, peek over the shoulder of an older sibling or family member, there were quiet a few who were not familiar with the entire structure and the connections between friends, posts, profile, comments, likes, etc. Many of them had to get a handle on the reverse chronological order of posts.
  • Process: After requiring a rough draft (paper version) of their facebook profile before they were able to start working on the electronic file, proved to be wise.
  • Language: The concept of going beyond a "cool", "awesome", "Yeah, kill the British" type comments was the hardest to get across. Not all of them succeeded. We explained again, that they had to put themselves into the shoes of their character. How would they have written, if a communication medium like Facebook would have been available.
  • Content: We had to repeat over and over again, that this page and its content had to SHOW their research and knowledge about the selected person. They needed to embed facts in the "conversation" between their character and their "fictitious" friends. We wanted them to show connections between events, characters and political point of view.
  • Logistics: Some students had difficulty working in the PowerPoint environment and got very frustrated with the formatting issue. Moving text boxes around, aligning them properly, resizing text and images to fit their allotted spaces, etc., was not as smooth as we anticipated. We allowed the students who became frustrated to fill out a paper-version of the

 

In addition to the Facebook pages, the class worked with Mrs. Hernandez to create a Snopes- Urban Legends inspired video. What myths about the American Revolution could they debunk? Students used the a range of programs (their choice) to produce a short intro video:

 

Here are a few examples of the Snopes movies.

Part of the planning and reflection was to use the "Upgrade to 21st Century Skills, Literacies, & Roles" template and fill in the skill and literacies addressed. The template helps teachers realize how many skills and literacies they are addressing with a single unit upgrade. Over the course of a year, it also helps to make sure that we rotate through all roles to empower learners, even if one upgrade does not address (and does not need to) all roles.

Please click on the individual images to see a larger version.

21st Century Skills Addressed

21st Century Literacies Addressed

Roles to Empower Learners

 

 

14Apr/110

The Official Scribe: It’s All About Learning Styles & Collaboration

Today I wanted to share our experimentation with different types of note taking as part of creating "Official Scribes" for the classroom while taking into account the students' different learning styles.

Students were starting a unit about the American Revolution by watching an introductory video clip. We discussed different ways to take notes and came up with:

  • individual note taking by paper and pencil
  • individual note taking on a word processor
  • collaborative backchanneling
  • visual note taking (on SmartBoard and paper)

As the video was playing, one student was in charge of pausing it when a visual was displayed that he felt was an important visual to describe what was happening.

Screenshooting on the Smartboard

Once paused we used the SmartBoard notebook tool of taking a screenshot and importing it into a notebook slide. After the movie was over, the class sorted through the images and discussed which ones would stay and which ones could be deleted.

Timeline Creation

We then used a timeline from the notebook gallery and copied and pasted the appropriate screenshots onto the timeline.

I had shown a few minutes of the RSAnimated TED talk "Changing Educational Paradigms" with Ken Robinson to the students. The reason for showing it was for the drawing technique used and how the illustrationist captured what Robinson was talking about in a visual way. I was very surprised to see how "into it" the students got. They did not want to stop watching it. I am pretty sure that these ten year olds were not interested in Robinson's message...

Drawing/Illustrating Notes

Visual Notes

Several students volunteered to wo(man) the backchannel on Today's Meet. They are pretty sufficient in the process by now. They set up their own room, summarize what it happening in the classroom and then "clean up" the backchannel log (which is then shared as a Google Doc).

Backchanneling

Several students were individually taking notes with the traditional paper and pencil method.

Paper & Pencil

Class Collaboration

We asked one of the "Paper & Pencil" note takers to come to the front of the class, after the video was over, to tell us what the movie was about. He could, of course, bring his notes with him and refer to them as he was summarizing the movie for the class. The students pretty much read the notes in bullet form to the rest of the class. Then we asked one of the illustrators to come forward and tell us what the movie was about. He could also refer to his drawing as he spoke. This student was able to stand in front of the class for about 10 minutes and re-tell a (general) story (in his own words) of the American Revolution.

14Apr/110

More on Digital Storytelling: Green Screen

I can't stop thinking about Digital Storytelling and its role in schools of the future. Digital Storytelling naturally weaves through so many 21st century upgrades to the curriculum. The importance of being able to tell a story, the skills to be able to tell a story digitally, is increasing with the need to

  • disseminate the story further and reach a wider audience
  • amplify our voice to an authentic audience
  • make our story available in different media channels

As the tools for digital storytelling are becoming more sophisticated and at the same time easier to use, in terms of mobility and price, the opportunity to produce a quality, professional looking story are within the reach of "even" elementary school students.

A few weeks ago, I purchased a Green Screen for under $20 (Chromakey muslin background) and pinned it to the wall in my room.

Students were naturally curious about the green screen and immediately got excited as I showed them what was possible with test recordings of them... sending them to the moon... making them stand in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris... all without even leaving our school campus.

Mrs. Rogo immediately jumped on board as she was preparing her Social Studies unit on "Our Community". We decided that students would create another episode of the Seminole Swamp Morning News Show.

In addition to creating a storyboard and writing the script for the show "Jacksonville for Kids by Kids", students had to think of an appropriate setting by choosing an image that would replace the green screen they would be filmed in front of. Their imagination was not limited by any field trip budgets or time constraints.

Collaborative Storyboarding with Screenshots

We practiced a few times in front of the green screen to show kids how to interact with the "not visible to them" background as I was filming them. They got the hang of it pretty quick.

Take a look at the final video and pay special attention to the Florida map and the alligator a the zoo.

Take a look at the finished story of our third graders (news show format) to teach others about the community they live in. Remember again, that the green screen and iMovie was just the tool to get the kids excited and motivated while at the same time supporting their creativity in script writing.

10Feb/110

Behind the Scenes of a “Quality Commenting” Video

Take a few minutes to watch the following "Quality Commenting on Blogs" video by third graders. Then follow along the description of the creation process and "behind the scenes" work that went into the production of the video. Let's dissect the video creation and look at the learning process itself.

We were inspired by Mrs. Yollis's 3rd grade "How to Compose a Quality Comment" Video...

...and watching our own 2nd grade class' tutorial "How to Navigate the Classroom Blog",...

..our third graders were ready to create their own video about "Quality Comments". For the ones that believe a 5 minute video takes about 5 minutes to produce... you are in for a surprise...

We started out by brainstorming what we already knew about commenting. What does quality even mean? What would a "quality comment" on the third grade classroom blog mean? We then compared what we came up with with Mrs. Yollis's advice.

Quality Commenting Brainstorming

We really liked how Mrs. Yollis' svideo had their Panda bear woven into the script. So our third graders came up with the idea of writing their scripts around being a newscast. It was a perfect timing, since one of our school's family had just been featured in our local news.

Watching a sample Newscast video clip

It was time to introduce the concept of storyboarding. How could we make sure that we were going to include all of the brainstormed ideas of what a quality comment was in our news show? What characters would we need in the show? Who would take what part?

Storyboarding as a Class

The class created a collaborative storyboard that everyone was happy with. The next part was for each student to write their script. What were they going to say in the movie? How could they teach others how to leave a quality comment?

Students wrote their scripts, had them peer edited and classroom teacher approved before they went into the computer lab to type the group scripts (anchors/reporters/interviewees) into a Google Doc, which they shared with me.

A tip I learned from Dean Shareski's K12Online Conference Keynote was to use my iPad as a teleprompter. I had downloaded the iPrompt Pro app, then copied and pasted each group's script from the shared Google Docs into the app and we were ready to start filming.

Students were reflecting, writing and drawing about their experiences during the process of creating the video in their (paper) journals.

Filming started and the kids were very enthusiastic and patient as we had to re- film several scenes over and over again. They started to be their own critics, wanting to do their best work.

As we filmed different scenes (out of order due to time challenges, illnesses and absences), the storyboard became even more important. Although students did not edit the video directly, I tried to involve them as much as possible in the process. By projecting the iMovie project onto the big screen, I asked them to use their previously created storyboard and "read" alongside as the movie played. I paused several times in between to have them help me "predict" the next scene and help me drag and drop the correct clip into place. They also helped suggest appropriate text titles placed onto the movie clips and had the final say in approving the movie before it was exported.

Extending the Classroom

We could have ended learning about quality commenting with the completion of the video... but... how do we make more connections for our students? How do we take learning off the pages off the book, open up the walls of our classroom and tear down the barriers of subject separation in the context of the school day? How can we extend the learning that took place during the production of the video?

It was a logical choice to try to connect with Mrs. Yollis's class from California. It was them who inspired us to start thinking about quality comments. After reaching out to Mrs. Yollis on Twitter, they immediately left us a comment on our blog.

Students could put their newly found "quality commenting" skills to use by responding to their California peers.

Mrs. Yollis's comment on our 3rd grade classroom blog

We arranged a skype call with Mrs. Yollis's class. The students loved recognizing their students (and Panda!) from the video. We learned a lot about their state and school community as well as shared facts about ours.

Take a look at Mrs. Yollis's blog post about our Skype connection or view this short video below.

The conversation between the two classes is continuing via the classroom blogs!

@Ben

Florida is two hours away from Orlando. How far is Los Angeles to Disneyland?

Evie, Jonah, Yoni

We had a wonderful time skyping with you! One thing we learned is that the highest point in Los Angeles is 14,000 feet. Thank you for letting us skype with you.

Your Friends
Ben, Drew, and Zoe

The differences between Florida and California are California has mountains and Florida is flat. California gets earth quakes and Florida gets hurricanes. California doesn't get much rain, Florida gets a lot!

your friends from Martin Jay Gottlieb Day School,

Jamie and Elior

Hi this is Liam,Itamar and Zachary from the 3rd grade we loved skyping with you we learned a lot.How long did it take to make your movie? What inspired you to make your movie? Did you get the idea of making your movie about quality comment from watching another video?We would like to skype with you again! The ocean here is very warm most of the year it's in the eighty's.

Dear Mrs. Yollis,

We enjoyed skyping because we learned new things about California.
We like skyping because you get to meet people around the world.
We think it is cool that you live 20 miles away from L.A. !

From,
Rebecca,Savonnie,Ethan :)

Lindsay and Adia said...

Warmly,
Lindsay♥ and Adia♥

Dear Rebecca, Savonnie, and Ethan,

This is Lindsay and Adia from Mrs. Yollis' class. We loved your comment! It doesn't seem as if you are beginners! You are amazing commenters!

We had a fun time skyping with you too! Have you ever been to Disneyland in L.A.? If you have been in Disneyland before, how did you like it? Did you meet any Disney characters? What was your favorite ride?

Both of us have been to Disneyworld in Florida. Adia loved meeting Minnie Mouse because she was so cute! Lindsay liked meeting Mickey. It was extremely fun!

P.S. Adia earned her own blog and she included the URL for you. It is above their greeting

Dear Ben, Drew, and Zoe,

We loved skyping with you. It was wonderful learning about your community, and sharing about our community. A similarity is we both live near the ocean. A difference is that we live across the country! We are very excited to be your blogging friends.

Warmly,
Jaden and T:-)cker

So, do you still think that creating a 5 minute video takes about 5 minutes? Do you still think that the only thing that students "got out of" filming the video was FUN? It was NOT about using the technologies and creating a movie.

It was about

  • the writing process: brainstorming, pre-writing, drafting, revising, proofreading and publishing
  • all the skills and literacies that students touched upon and practiced
  • extending the classroom and finding an authentic audience
  • making connections with experts and peers from outside of our local community
  • collaboratively working together

Take a look at the following template, I have been using with the teachers to plan and reflect when upgrading a lesson or unit to include 21st century skills, literacies and the roles to empower learners (based on Alan November)

The "X" indicates a role that we did not assign to anyone in this particular upgrade. It is not necessary to use all the roles all the time, but by documenting the roles that were used we, as planners and facilitators, become aware of what we might want to focus on the following upgrade.

Digital Storytelling is a wonderful and natural medium of the 21st century.

Digital Storytelling Skills

And here without further ado is the final product. The Seminole Swamp Morning Show:

Students are so proud of their work, they invited their parents into the classroom to present the story "Behind the Scenes" of the creation of their video.

By taking images of every step of the process, we created another storyboard. This time we used PowerPoint to show the scenes. Each student was responsible to tell about one step of the process with the appropriate slide being projected in the background.

7Feb/110

Professional Development Day- January 28th

On January 28th, while students had a day off, MJGDS teachers spent the day learning together, sharing ideas and resources and nurturing our professional learning community. We watched Adora Svitak's TED talk, "What adults can learn from kids." We discussed the importance of deep, reflective learning.

We then had the opportunity to practice using our blogs (on our faculty ning) for professional reflection by writing our individual philosophies or vision statements. Here is the wordle of our philosophies:

Through this exercise we were able to see clearly our common beliefs about teaching and learning. Connecting these beliefs with our standards and benchmarks puts us in the position to think critically about our curricular materials and strategize our next moves in upgrading content and curriculum. Stay tuned!

In the afternoon session, we watched two short videos about passion, one called "Finding Your Element" from the ImagineIt Project and another short video that our very own Mrs. Tolisano created, also about passion (this one shows footage from our school, and we enjoyed it so much that we watched it twice.)

Teachers were given the opportunity to search the creative commons images on flickr to find one image that represents their passion. It was fun and highly educational. Many teachers were unaware of the image resources on flickr; others learned the importance of searching for images within the creative commons. As always, discussion centered around how to use these new ideas and skills in their own classrooms with their students.

Finally, teachers took the time to share and discuss our individual plans for professional development. Each teacher has identified a specific area for professional growth and outlined a plan for the year. During this session we learned about our colleagues' goals and discussed the connection between our passions and our professional growth as teachers.