Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Building Organizational Capacity with Tech

In mid September, the Middle School faculty were asked to fill out a survey indicating some of their technology needs. The following statment was presented to them:

Under Dream 5 in the MS Destiny Plans "Expanding organizational capacity" please think of one tool or area with regards to technology that you would like to learn or improve upon that will benefit your teaching and/or your student's learning.

The data collected clearly indicated the "what" and "how" the 68 MS faculty  like to learn.

Next steps include individual, PLC or department follow up to provide the PD needed to build said capacity.  When we understand and meet the needs of our learners, everyone wins.

English 9LE Authentic Authors - A Transformational Experience

"During the writing process I felt I am a professional author."
                                                                                                    - English 9LE Student

The tradition in Mrs. M’s class, aka Beata’s, continues with her English 9 LE students becoming authors and illustrators of their own short stories and sharing these with an authentic audience. This year Emily’s Grade 3 class at PIE participated in the story share.

The journey begins with the writing process, let us take you through some highlights.

First a bullet point plan...

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.37.36 AM.png

Which is then expanded to a plot, a list of events, and shared via Google docs...

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.37.50 AM.png

Then the first draft is written and shared via Google docs with the teacher for feedback...

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.42.26 AM.png

When the story is re-drafted, it is read and commented on by classmates. Using Google forms, students write reflections on how the peer editing session has helped them move forward.  

Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 10.15.48 PM.png

Subsequent to more drafting, the stories are made ready for publication. Original illustrations are drawn, scanned with an App such as CamScanner using iPhones, iPads or iPods. Students copy and paste their text in iBooks Author, insert their scanned illustrations, prepare a cover page for the digital book, and include an "About the Author" section. The short stories are previewed in iBooks either on MacBook Airs or an iPad.
Back-up PDFs are uploaded to to be viewed as interactive “flippy books” just in case of technical glitches. Here are some of these books (you might need to set up an account to view these): Hayoon’s heart-gripping “May I go inside your heart?” , Riwa’s comical “Tee hee” , and Kunqi’s competitive “Who’s worth it?”.

You can see Susan read her story " Dream to the Sky" in this 45 second video:

The magical moment this year came towards the end of the hour when we were watching the interaction between the students that were done, as they relaxed and Grade 9 and Grade 3 students started talking to each other, asking each other questions. The younger students proudly took out their work to share with the older students, they started reading their poems to them, they took out their research posters to show off. It was truly touching.

Before leaving the G3 students were asked what they liked about the short stories they had just read. They highlighted the interesting vocabulary words used to describe “thunder”, they referred to a metaphor presented in a story,  they were impressed with the “About the Author” page as well as the artistic illustrations that were included. See here what they had to offer:

After a few high fives and goodbyes and promises to visit each other’s classes again, the English 9 LE students left feeling a wonderful sense of accomplishment and excitement. There was a buzz in the air on the long walk back to class.

Upon arriving to class, the students wrote reflections about their experience and their learning:

* What did you learn?

A / I learnt how to use literary devices to make the story more interesting and I learnt how to apply variable verbs and adjectives to the sentences.

B / I learnt the technique of layout and how to preview iBook on iPad.

C / I learnt that children’s understanding skills are impressive and they can learn from the story 
quickly. If I have more illustrations, that would be better.

* The most important thing I learned was …

A / If I am writing my essay or story, I need to revise a lot of times to make a perfect draft.

B / The world is changing with new technology and I have the right to use it wisely.

C / Grade 3 children respected my story and listened carefully, even if it was boring.

* What got in the way of your learning? ( What I found difficult was … )

What I found difficult was to write an interesting but simple story, I am still not satisfied with my story. I tried to make a sad and touching story, but the conversation and descriptions could not send messages to the readers, not very well.

* I might have learned better if … I need more help with...

I might have learned better if I had more help with revising the draft a lot of times, and tried to read more books to get inspired on descriptions to touch the readers’ feeling.

* How did you feel?  ( During the writing process I felt… After the visit I felt….)

A / During the writing process I felt I am a professional author.

B /  During the publishing process, I felt proud of myself that I made the story and published it with the lovely pictures in iBook.

C / After the visit I regretted - what if I made the story more interesting for Grade 3 kids?

3E and HS reading.JPG

Through the students thoughtful reflections of their journey as authors it is clear that this experience was transformational on many levels.

A big thank you to Emily Dixon-Ryan's Grade 3 Class!

Beata Mirecka-Jakubowska and Pia Druggan

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Invigilating a HS Math Honors 1 Semester Exam

Today I had the privilege of invigilating the Math 1 Honors Semester Exam. This was the very first high school exam experience for our 9th graders. They were very nervous when they first arrived in class, so we did some breathing exercises and some stretches to relax.

Why do I call this invigilating moment a privilege?  Running the first part of the test was indeed a treat for me. I directed students to their Moodle course page where they downloaded two Geogebra files containing spreadsheets and one Word document file. They turned their Wi-Fi off and set to work on the statistics portion of their exam, and that is when the magic happened. Students entered the zone and started creating box-plot diagrams and scatter plot graphs from the data given which they then copied over to their Word document, providing tables, answers and explanations. The ease with which they manipulated the digital content was a testament to our 1:1 environment and to our math teachers for using contemporary tools to better understand math. When done, students turned their Wi-Fi back on and emailed their respective teachers their file, then closed their lids started the more traditional second part of the exam.

The students reminded me of young professional engineers preparing their semester reports to close the year. Thank you Brenda, Kat and Kelli for inviting me into your world.

Monday, December 1, 2014

PIE Teachers Piloting Google Classroom

In August Google officially launched “Classroom”, an innovative teaching and learning management tool. Google Classroom is a seamless add-on to the Google Apps for Education platform; a tool that allows teachers to efficiently share resources and improve workflow for assignments and collaborative projects. Positive news and reviews about Classroom generated faculty interest in exploring the new tool. At PIE, we currently have six grade three, four and five teachers, as well as, some specialists piloting Google Classroom. 

Andrew Davis, one of our grade five teachers reflects on his experience using Google Classroom with his students………
This year I have had the opportunity to introduce Google Classroom in my classroom and it has been incredibly successful. I have been using Google Drive for the past four years and with the addition of Google Classroom, Drive has become even easier to integrate and much more user friendly for my students. 

The ease of creating an assignment or project for my class has made my prep much less stressful. The ability to add resources to an assignment for the students to use eliminates their research time and allows them to begin working right away. Also, the steps of having to share a document with the students, them having to make a copy, rename it and then share it with me is no longer necessary. Google Classroom has the option of creating a copy of the document for each student that is automatically shared with you once they open it. This allows you to view their progress as they work on an assignment and eliminates having to track down the work from those students that tend to forget to share their work with you.

Once the students have completed an assignment they simply hit the submit button and it is ready for the teacher to review. Teachers can then easily return it to the students if they need to make any changes or they can write comments for the student to view. Google Classroom makes it quite easy to organize your students work and to store it safely for future needs…………..

It’s obvious that Andrew is very excited about Google Classroom but what about our student? Below are a few student responses gathered from a Google Form (survey) that I sent to our upper elementary students.

What do you like best about Google Classroom?

…..That all of us can be on the classroom at once and talk about the assignment. I also like that all of us know what we need to do and when to finish that assignment.  

…..I like how the teacher who keeps it organised and it tell you what you are doing today and you can share things to the teacher and the teacher can share things to us.

…..we use it in Bahasa class so its much easier to see what to do next instead of asking the teacher several times.

…..The best thing about it is that you get to know what assignments we have and that really helps! :-)

…..when the teacher sends you your work you don't have to go to through JISNet (email), with Google Classroom you can get to your work very fast.

What improvements would you like to see in the next updated version of Google Classroom?

…..I wish we could make separate rooms-groups for team work.

….I think it is pretty good right now, maybe a button on the homepage to say you are done with a project right away! 

…..Being able to go make changes to your work after you submit it.

Andrew Davies (PIE G5 Teacher)
Russell Downs (PIE TIS @russdowns)