Something that worked...
I've really been struggling with one of my classes. I tried to do activities and students would get out of control. I would end the day with a headache. Out of frustration I went back to more traditional teaching methods. Even I was bored by the end of class. Today I had a small victory. I paired my students up and they partner read three pages to get an overview. After that I assigned them a topic and a slide in a class presentation. They had to do a little research and create an Adobe Voice to add to the slide. They had 55 minutes to work on the slide and video. Tomorrow I will have them present and I am going to assign them a different slide to write a quiz question. Today was a good class day.
My Dog Thinks its a Game....
This is not school related except that I am working on creating clues for a BreakoutEDU game for my class tomorrow.
My dog, Izzy, was bored a few weeks ago when I was trying to get some school work done. I had given her a Nylabone treat but that took her 3 minutes to eat. Then I played fetch with her and her duck, I held on to one end of her pull rope and I took her outside to check for rabbits and snakes. But I really needed to get some work done so I grabbed a plastic butter container with a lid from the recycle bin. I put some of her dog food from her bowl into it and shook it like a toy. She grabbed it out of my hand and ran off it to the living room where she eats her treats. She threw it on the floor, she batted it around, then she picked it up and laid down on the floor and put it between her paws. She worked at getting the container open and when she did she happily ate her food. I've done this with her food a couple of more times since and now she won't eat her food out of her regular food dish because she likes the container game better.
Lesson learned: Dogs and people like games.
Reconstruction & Community
Here is a sampling of projects my students created using Adobe Voice.
Students were tasked with taking the list of characteristics of a successful community and compare Reconstruction to 6 characteristics. They used Adobe Voice to create their projects.
We are starting a unit titled "Shifting Power of the Plains." I assigned the chapter, "Signs of English Possession" from the book Ceremonies of Possession in Europe's Conquest of the New World by Patricia Seed. As they read, students were to fill in a graphic organizer to show the English perspective of English land ownership through houses, fences, and gardens. For a reading "quiz" today I took my students outside, across the street from school and put them into groups. Each group got a town block for their quiz. They were to use their iPads to take pictures of the English signs of possession that they saw on their block in 7 minutes. Total student engagement.
Back in the classroom, each group looked through their pictures to check for duplicates and to make sure they fit the definitions of houses, gardens, and fences, Then they counted their pictures (using an honor system here). The group with the most original pictures got a candy prize. More total student engagement.
They reflected some of their pictures on the screen and these pictures led to further class discussion.
What is a Community?
My students and I explored the concept of what is a community this past week. Their assignment was to take a minimum of 6 pictures in the classroom, 6 pictures in the school, 6 pictures at home, and 6 pictures around town that represented their ideas of community. After they collected 24 pictures they shared them with each other in small groups. In the groups they talked about why they took the picture and how it represented community. After that they were to pick four of their pictures from their collection and create a poster with written explanations answering the question, "What is a community?" Below are four examples of their work.
Starting a new year
I decided this year instead of doing the usual get to know you activities I would focus on community building. Yesterday I showed students some examples of communities and then had my students in groups define community. Then they answered these questions:
They were to take a minimum of 6 pictures in the classroom that represented their sense of community. A minimum of 6 pictures around school. A minimum of 6 pictures around home/family and today while on a walking tour of Aurora, a minimum of 6 pictures of the town.
Tomorrow they will look at their camera roll and pick 4 pictures to print, explain, and display in the front lobby of the school.
Bringing ISTE back to my classroom
I originally wrote this for a NETA newsletter but I also thought I would post it here.
I went to the ISTE conference focused on three areas of interest; chrome extensions, gamification, and augmented reality. I came home with three ideas that have me fired up and ready to incorporate into my classroom.
My second session into the conference was “Gamification: Instructional Scaffolding to Empower Learner Autonomy, Critical Thinking and Collaboration” led by Philip Vinogradov and he showed me how easy gamification in my classroom could be. I had been looking at Minecraft, creating my own website game and apps but in this session I learned to think about gamification differently. While I still think that Minecraft and “video” type games have a purpose in teaching lessons Mr. Vinogradov showed me that a pair of dice, post-it notes, and a Google doc can add a game element as well. His game with these simple tools did just what the title of the session said. We were placed in groups and told to roll the dice. He gave us a question to think about and our job was to come up with the same number of answers that equalled the number on the dice. Someone in our group recorded our answers in the shared Google doc. When it was time to share our answers to the whole group we then rolled one die and the group with the highest number got to share one of their answers. In a matter of minutes we had used critical thinking to come up with answers, we had collaborated to get the desired number of answers and we had fun and were engaged in the learning. This is the type of gamification that can be easily adapted into my classroom and I can’t wait to try it with my students.
Augmented reality was another area that I was interested in and I was introduced to its possibilities while at the ISTE conference. Both Soledad O’Brien’s keynote address and Mr. Vinogradov’s website led me to the new world of Google Cardboard. Remember the Viewfinders when you were a kid? Now take that concept of cardboard viewing glasses and a smartphone with the Cardboard app and you can take your students on a virtual fieldtrip. A teacher with an iPad can give their students access to places like the Eiffel Tower or a national park. The students place the smartphones in the cardboard viewing glasses and then by moving their head around they can examine these places in 3D. This is still a very new application that we will see more information about later this fall but I plan to figure out a way to apply it in my classroom as quickly as possible. This wasn’t my only brush with augmented reality.
On the last day of the ISTE conference I took part in the session, “Walking the Augmented Reality Line, Philly Style!” Our leader, James Kapptie, took us to three places in historic Philadelphia where we could see how the Aurasma app worked. At our first stop in the Independence Hall visitor center thirty attendees stood before a painting and used the Aurasma app to gain access to a video pertaining to the scene in the picture. We also learned the dos and don’ts of using the app in outdoor places at the next two stops. After the last stop outside of Betsy Ross’ house, Mr. Kapptie quickly showed us how we could make our own Aurasma hotspots. As a I saw how easy it was to make these augmented reality hotspots with the app, my mind turned to how I was going to use this in my classroom. My students could easily create something to add to a poster, wall, or door throughout the school and it wasn’t a complicated process that could take days to complete. Making the augmented reality was short, easy and painless.
In my ever changing role as an educator these ideas from ISTE will help me provide collaborative and relevant experiences for my students.
Week in Review
Friday after school I looked at my whiteboard and thought about activities we had done throughout the week. So I sat down at my computer and created this Thinglink to highlight what we had done.
I measured my classroom and did the math to find out that 2 tenement apartments would fit into my classroom. I set up a simulation and recorded the activity. This video is 10 minutes and just part of the activity.
I did a little measuring in my classroom and discovered that I could fit 2 tenement apartments into the room. I thought this would be a great visual for my students and after discussing it with my student teacher we developed an activity where they would have to furnish their apartment. Each apartment had 8-11 students in it and they each had to have a place to sit and sleep. They also had to have a work space for either garment workers or cigar makers. My classroom has 2 windows on one wall and it was perfect for the apartment setup. I turned off the lights to simulate the amount of light in the turn-of-the-century apartments. I also rounded up a few teachers, students, and a custodian to be extra renters in the apartments after we read about a family of 8 that had to take in 6 renters to pay the rent. Overall, we had some great discussions about living and working in 325 sq feet.
I am a Social Science instructor at Aurora High School. I am currently teaching College/Honors American History and American History.