Thursday, June 7, 2012

"Como la Luna encantada" - an example from Mr. Jose Luis Mejia Spanish 10 Class

Dear friends and colleagues,

As part of the end of the year work in the Spanish 4 class (10th grade), we devoted one week to a 1:1 project.  We were exploring the possibilities of the MAC in a Spanish class environment.

The task was to "give your own perspective of a poem written in Spanish using your laptops".  Because was easy to have the author near in order to clarify any doubt and to work with a corpus that they were able to handle, I gave them a non-published (yet) book of poems for children that I has been working on.  The students chose among different poems and try to understand the main idea and create a video.  There were no previous conditions for the work and they had absolute freedom to develop the project as they wish.  Finally they presented the video with a previous explanation of what they did and how (objective and procedure).

Out of all the videos my students voted, this was the winner.  The producers are Vidya Giri (she is leaving next year to ISB) and Sanjana Canumalla.

 In this case they did all the work using their MACs (Illustrator, Garage Band, etc.), all the illustration was digital made and the sound (my voice and the music that they played) was record directly into the machines.

As far as I observed, it was a joyful way to learn Languages and to explore the possibilities of the 1:1 program.

Hope you enjoy the video. 


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Inspiring Creativity with Green Screen Technology

by Matthew Schafer- HS Media Specialist

Allowing students access to a green screen multimedia studio can inspire all sorts of creativity and imaginative ideas.  Students can easily use preloaded videos and images in PhotoBooth to brighten their projects, or they can kick it up a level in iMovie to bring unlimited digital background content to their films.  With only a few trackpad clicks, students can discuss Shakespeare while standing in the Globe Theater, lead a tour through the streets of Paris, or demonstrate understanding of the circulatory system standing beside intricate diagrams of the human heart and lungs.  A digital storytelling project demands even more passion when students insert themselves into the images and become a vital part of the narration.  Because using a green screen is so easy, the possibilities are endless no matter the division, discipline, or department.

Faculty and students will find the high school green screen room on the second floor of the high school library.  It is, of course, open to anyone and may be booked in advance by contacting Matt Schafer or any member of the high school library team.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Google Apps and Grade Four Students

A Collaborative Class Presentation on Landforms
By:Russell Downs

With the induction of the JIS Google platform, I have been eager to provide our upper elementary students with meaningful and productive exposure activities using Google Docs tools. The grade four year-end unit of inquiry is entitled LANDFORMS. In general, the students learn about the Earth’s many landforms and how they change over time. After reviewing the unit, our grade four team agreed that the G-docs integration option that I proposed was relevant to our learners and could meet both the curriculum and technology expectations. In addition, the team enthusiastically agreed that we wanted this fist time activity to be a little more than just creating a Google document and sharing it with a peer and or their teacher. With a bit more discussion we came up with the following project.

Project Overview
In relationship to technology standards and grade level expectations, our objective was to have all of our grade four students use the JIS Google (Web 2.0) environment to communicate, work collaboratively, support individual learning, and contribute to the learning of others. In addition, by incorporating Google Earth, we felt that we had a wonderful opportunity to use a virtual model and simulation tool to explore a complex system such as planet Earth.

Each grade four class was asked to create one Google Doc Presentation (GDP) on Landforms, which will recognize and describe planet Earth’s unique visible features. Each student will be responsible for at least one individual slide and will partner-up with a classmate on a second slide.

Each slide must contain the following..
      Slide Title: Landform type and student name.
      3D or a unique perspective image retrieved from Google Earth of a well-known landmark representing the landform type.
      A synthesized paragraph of information derived from relevant research on both the specific type of landform and landmark being represented. The landmark information should include name, location, and key facts.
      Creatively developed with theme, balance, and transition.

1.   In the beginning of the school year, all grade four students had changed their Gmail “language” setting to English. I had assumed that this would change the language setting for all of the tools found within the JIS Google platform. However, that is not the case; the language setting may also need to be changed for other individual tools such as Documents, Sites, and Groups.
2.   Collaborative editing in with Google Docs Presentation would not work with the browsers we had installed – both Firefox and Explorer were not up-to-date with the latest releases.
·      Win XP machines will not work.
·      Win 97: IE9 and FF11
·      MacBook (Leopard & Lion): Firefox 11
3.   When exploring collaborative editing with the kids, we found that we were having big problems with so many student-editors trying to edit on one slide at the same time. Real-time editing with so many people was most effective when the students were working on their individual page(s) within the presentation, practically seamless. After reflecting on the first classes related issue, I prepped the next classes presentation with 20+ slides and had assigned slide numbers to the student’s before I had shared it with them. This approach worked very well, all 20+ students editing simultaneously throughout the presentation.
  1. It didn’t take long for me to realize that using the G-Docs collaborative tools was going to be an extremely positive experience but one that should not be initiated without revisiting our JIS Student: Technology User Agreement with the student’s.

In the end, this was a relevant, fun, and productive activity for our students. Their pride of accomplishment was obvious as one of the classes just recently presented their work to parents during their quarterly student-parent work share gathering.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Expansive, expressing understanding in new ways

Have you seen the Infographics produced by the JIS HS Graphics/Multimedia class?  If not, I encourage you to check them out here.  Go ahead, it’s really worth the click; the images are informative and engaging and so very contemporary.   Here’s an example – and there are many more interesting ones to explore.

Infographics seem to be cropping up everywhere now, and even though Wikipedia uses such a broad definition of the term Infographic that cave paintings qualify as their earliest example,  the modern Infographic owes some of its current visibility to folks like Nicholas Feltron, Edward Tufte, , Richard Saul Wurman, and Hans Rosling.  Infographics are even transforming the traditional resume. This compelling form of communication seems to have found new relevance in the digital age, offering a way to transform the proverbial fire-hose of online data into a striking information fountain to admire.

The Secret Life of Drinking Water from CNN
From HS Graphics to Multmedia Class

See what I mean?

Viewing the HS infographics as a unique and inspiring example of expanding the way our students communicate their understanding beyond the realm of text-only, I wanted to learn more about this project, so I arranged a conversation with the creator, teacher Wendi Ewbank. 

Several years ago, inspired by an infographic published in Newsweek Magazine, Wendi saw the format as a perfect fit for the Graphics/Multimedia class, one that would allow students to develop sophisticated technical skills with valuable Adobe publishing tools and to apply them to a powerful, 21st century form of communication.    Wendi’s unique combination of experience -- teaching in a 1:1 class when that meant one student to a desktop instead of a laptop, using mentor texts in Asian Studies, exploring the possibilities of Moodle, and working with a dynamic and collaborative team (T. Bartlett, O. Jones, and J. Holmes) – provided the perfect foundation for introducing this new project. 

As she described how the project has evolved over the past few years, some highlights emerged that I believe are instructive as we expand 1:1 at JIS:

  • Students can produce sophisticated products with technology. At first many students doubted their ability to generate anything like the mentor graphics (JIS faculty only access) Wendi shared.  By the end, they surprised themselves.  The confidence they gained was as important as the important technical, design and visual communication skills they developed.
  • Quality improves when students learn to give critical feedback.  Students used Moodle forums to share their work and gather specific feedback that enabled them to strengthen their communication.  This feedback can extend across classes and even beyond JIS.
  • Giving students the chance to personalize their work, as well as time to play and experiment then share with others, generates energy and creativity.  When learning a new skill, students would start with a basic foundation, but then add personal flourishes as they explored new ideas and possibilities with the digital tools they were learning.  Wendi held regular “walkarounds” in class, where students would choose their favorite outcome of this play/experiment period then place it on the screen for others to view as they walked about the classroom.  In Wendi’s words, “play time is when students learn the most.”

When you view the HS Graphics/Multimedia Class Infographics (really, click if you haven’t already!), you will see how they are now used to reflect students’ passions for an important global issue.  The global issue is now a thematic component for the course, and the infographic, along with other graphic and multimedia products are combined into a compelling personal portfolio of work by semester’s end.    Wendi also encourages to “double dip,” applying their technical and visual communications skills to projects in other classes.

The Infographics project also helped influence a recent workshop Wendi offered on the PD day.  If you want to learn how to incorporate this kind of work into your own classes, check out the resources here, on her Moodle PD course.  I definitely encourage you to explore infographics with your students. Wendi sees her role in her classes as “giver of possibilities,” a natural stance for a teacher in a contemporary learning environment.

One of those possibilities turned out to be participating in the Student News Action Network, a place for student-driven global issues journalism.  Perhaps some of the Graphics to Multimedia class work will appear there in the future.  

For more Infographics resources, see:

Thanks, Wendi!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Creating and Sharing Media Center Resource Lists

by Matt Schafer- HS Media Specialist

Examples of
1.  Expanding the walls of the classroom with technology.
2.  Being able to use technology purposefully within the classroom.

Not too long ago, I sat down with David While, a photography instructor at JIS, as he wanted to share some supplementary texts and websites with students in his IB photography course.  In the past, teachers have simply given students paper handouts and/or PDFs and distributed these through email.  Instead, Mr. White and I used Follett's Destiny software to quickly create a list that integrates with the high school library's resources.  Students are able to access all the bibliographical information, reserve the book, and see if it is available or checked out.  In addition, the websites Follett Destiny displays are prescreened by information professionals and deemed solid for formal, academic research.  Once Mr. White completed his list, he simply created a link to the resource list and shared with students on his course Moodle page.

The following pictures serve as an easy, step-by-step guide to building one's own resource lists.   

It really is that easy.  As always, feel free to hit me up with comments, ideas, and questions.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Stages of Movement in a G9 PE class

Examples of:
  1. Personalizing learning through the use of technology 
  2. Being able to use technology purposefully within my curriculum
  3. Managing a classroom where every student has a computer 

Last week I was invited to Kyle’s PE class where students were identifying the various stages of movement in sports. Kyle had video taped his colleague Jake performing a T-Ball swing. In class, Kyle and his students watched the video and discussed the stages of movement, connecting these to any sport. To show their understanding, students were then given a document (distributed through Moodle) with key images from the video and using correct vocabulary they had to describe the movement depicted in each image. 

Next, students were given the task to video themselves with PhotoBooth while they served a volleyball underhand. Using the key stages of movement and the video, they had to reflect on their own performance in terms of the movement stages they had learned. 
Students only spent the first 30 minutes on their MacBooks to accomplish the above. The rest of the time was dedicated to PE activities.

Thank you Kyle for sharing this lesson. Student feedback was very positive.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

1:1 Increases Student Responsibility?

I feel like I should give some context to this video.  These two students are in a 6th Grade Science classroom where Kristen DePass and I have been experimenting with the "Flipped Classroom", and then using the Moodle Forums as blogs for students to talk about their learning.  We also use Google Forms to get feedback/advice from the students on what helps them learn or what might be hindering their learning.   We have been very surprised to say the least about the results we have been getting from the students both in the learning of the content and having them think about what helps them learn.

These two students seem to hit on two positive points (possibly more) about the effects on learning that 1:1 has had on them.

1.  Increased responsibility for their learning.   It seemed to me as I interview them and spoke with them afterwards that they felt the added pressure of making sure what they are writing or communicating is good, because as they put it, "it's out there to the world and you can't take it back".   (I have to say I am feeling the same right now.)   It's not good enough to do mediocre work when you know that more than just your teacher will be reading it... a bunch of people will.  They will be judging you by what you say and how you can communicate what you know and think. 

2.  The teacher knows what they have learned before coming into the classroom and knows what they still need to learn upon entering the start of each lesson.   This really seems like it should be a no brainier, but it isn't.   I believe what they are saying is that they feel like they are learning more by getting the lesson that a teacher would normally give in the classroom, outside the classroom, and then use the classroom time to try to learn what they didn't understand.   This is totally "flipped" if you think about what we traditionally do.  We usually tell/teach them what they need to they need to in the classroom and then let them practice it outside the classroom, which we all know that's when they struggle with what they don't know from the lesson.   This also leads me to think this is why many of the students get frustrated or don't even bother with doing the homework.

So I would have to say that this is a good example of: purposeful, enriching our understanding of how and what we learn.

I would love to hear what people think about these 2 points.   Dan

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Blogging…. it's Elementary

As challenging as it is to keep up with personal or professions blog, kids take to it quite naturally.

The kids find blogging fun and easy and it’s exciting for them to have their own webpage that they can share with family, friends and teachers.

We are using extensity at the third and fifth grades and we are about to introduce blogging to our second grade students. Our fifth grade students are using their blogs to reflect on their learning and our third grade students are presenting their unit research via their blogs. They will play an important role in our third grade Wellness Clinics coming up soon.

As our elementary students continue blogging they will start middle school with well-established blogs and blogging skills. This is a great life skill that will encourage our students to be active participants in online discourse.

Below are a few fifth grade students commenting on their experience with blogging.