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.
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.
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.
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.
As you can see by the date it is the beginning of a new calendar year and I head back to school tomorrow to get ready for the second semester. Second semester for me means a new set of students. I've been thinking of these students a lot during break. I've been wondering how I can improve my lessons to engage all students, how to improve my classroom management, and how to do a better job at keeping balance in my life between school and home. As my colleagues know, my first semester was very difficult and I am not satisfied with how it went because I never felt like I was an effective teacher. So this semester I resolve to do better for myself and my students. Here are my resolutions:
Thanks to Gilder Lehrman I got to go to a workshop in New York this past summer. The workshop was called "Empire City" and was led by two distinguished professors, Dr. Karen Markoe and Dr. Kenneth Jackson. At the end of the weeklong workshop I was expected to have a lesson plan designed around a primary source document and my experiences of the week.
I had an amazing week at the workshop. I met some really great teachers, enjoyed the walking tours with the professors, and bounced some lesson plan ideas off of the master teacher assigned to our workshop. I struggled a little to align the Common Core standards with my lesson ideas. I also struggled to settle on a lesson plan. By Friday morning I had a lesson, it was pretty rough and I was a little embarrassed to present it. The master teacher gave us until the following Tuesday morning to put the lesson into the proper template (Note to self, take your laptop to workshops, NOT your iPad.) It also gave me a couple of days to make it better. Still I did not turn in my best lesson plan because it needs lessons to explain the circumstances around it.
This lesson plan has been sitting in my Google.docs waiting for me to make it more user friendly for my students. I decided it needs an upgrade. I am going to make it into a website with lessons that build up to it. It will sit in the middle of this website and students will look at the documents and activities and be able to see it as it should be--part of the big picture. This lesson will be getting an upgrade. I will resubmit it to Gilder Lehrman as something I can be proud of.
I saw this on Twitter today and thought it was appropriate to why I need to upgrade the lesson.
I created my first video quiz with edpuzzle.com Monday night. I found a video on Learn360 that provided some good information about the Populist Party. I uploaded it to edpuzzle then cropped it by a few minutes then inserted questions for students to answer as they watched the video.
I directed the students to the edpuzzle.com website and then they logged in with their google account and class code I gave them. They plugged headphones into their iPads and then found some place in the room to watch and answer the questions. Many of them sat on the floor to watch the video. I could see on my computer which questions they had answered, if it was the correct answer, and how many times they had watched the video segment associated with the question.
I included open ended questions and multiple choice questions in the video quiz. The website grades the multiple choice questions, lets me quickly grade the open ended questions, and then I can see their percentages in a spreadsheet.
One of the quirks that I came across this first time in using the program was that a couple of students were able to skip a question even though I chose in the settings to disable the skip questions feature. But since I was on the website monitoring their progress, I could check with the student to see where they were at in the video and redirect them back to the skipped question.
I am planning on using this method of video quizzes more often. I would like to avoid showing a video to the whole class on the overhead projector because the edpuzzle method allowed students to go at their own pace and re-watch segments if needed.
In June, Tech Integration Specialist Mr. Badura (@mrbadura) sent me a website link on gamification in the classroom. <http://www.mrmatera.com/category/blog/podcasts/gamification/> I finally sat down to read it the last week of August. Gamification was totally different than what I thought it was. After reading the website I pulled out some paper (I compose better with paper) and started planning my Homesteading "game." The ideas were flying out of my brain and on to the paper. The next morning I excitedly showed Craig my plans. His supportively said "go for it." It sat on my desk for a couple of days, I shuffled it around on my desk and then back and forth from school to home. I kept planning to get it into Google forms but never found time to do anything with it. Finally, I realized I could make this Homesteading game a website. It was Labor Day weekend and I had three days to work on it. It took three days to finish it. When I finished it Monday evening it consisted of eleven webpages and the integration of embedded Google forms, photo analysis activities, surveys, links to other websites, iTunesU video, canva.com for Homesteading Points graphics, a Puppet Pals video, and a puzzle maker.
My new website <hamiltonhomesteader.weebly.com> was launched in my classroom Tuesday, September 2. Students' answers are submitted by email or in a Google form response spreadsheet. I tried to keep up grading answers while they were working but when I fell behind I spent my time after class checking answers and tracking their HPs (homesteading points). Students are finishing up their homesteading game this week. I will share the answer spreadsheets with them and then I will give them a test over the entire Shifting Power of the Plains unit. Overall, even though it was a lot of work, I liked having the students be able to work at their pace and it feels like they are more responsible for their learning. It is also something they can access outside of school.
Something else that Mr. Badura showed me after school today was the assessment feature in eBackpack. This conversation started with me asking him about websites or apps that would grade my objective questions on the Homesteading website and then moved on to trying out this new feature. I had a test in Exam View already to go so we played around with how to upload the questions to eBackpack. I see a lot of potential for this assessment feature.
I am a Social Science instructor at Aurora High School. I am currently teaching College/Honors American History and American History.