So my previous post says it all. The amount of awesomeness that happens in the classrooms around me is mind boggling. I got totally overwhelmed in November and December, and fell behind in writing my MiddSouth Innovates. As always, please remember to check out our #middsouthinnovates hashtag as well as our newly created #middsouthshines. MiddSouth Shines will showcase creative and innovative student work including interviews of the students explaining their learning and creation process. This site will cover as many areas as possible including, but not limited to film, art, poetry, journalism, Science, Business, and Foreign Language. While that will be up and running soon, please enjoy the latest issue of MiddSouth Innovates.
I had such a great time making Issue #7 of MiddSouth Innovates! I love getting the chance to sit down with passionate educators to talk about learning activities in their classroom. These world-class educators were so excited to talk about their students and their classrooms.
In our tech-related classroom highlight, I talked with a Journalism I class about LucidPress and how it helped them publish their class newspaper. In our non-tech related activity, I talk with an Art teacher about how she is using Perspective art with an Autistic class. Included at the bottom is a feedback form. If you are reading my MiddSouth Innovates, I would greatly appreciate you filling out the form so I can improve. Enjoy!
Another Monday, another issue of MiddSouth Innovates.
In this issue, we look at some of the classes that are using Google Expeditions to take students around the world to look at both the past and the present. We discuss storytelling and how it relates to giving good presentations. And we highlight some of the amazing work that’s being done in the Media Center.
My favorite part about writing each issue is getting to work with amazing educators and students, and helping them find awesome technology to enhance learning. I hope you enjoy all of the work the #middsouthnation is doing.
I apologize about forgetting to post our end of the year MiddSouth Innovates. One of the best parts about my new role as Educational Technology Specialist is going into classrooms all over the school and seeing how technology is being used. In this issue, I had a chance to join one of our math teachers in an Algebra I lesson using Desmos. In the last 2 years, Desmos has moved from simply being an online graphing calculator to a full activity hub for math teachers. As you will see below, this math teacher runs the entire lesson from Desmos using direct instruction, individualized feedback, and both individual and group responses. I was really impressed with both the lesson and tech application.
National Computer Science Week is upon us (December 4-10) which means it is time for the Hour Of Code!! I absolutely love the activities they have developed to get students solving complex problems. That’s right! Coding isn’t about typing words on a page. It is about figuring out how to put together a puzzle when you don’t know what the puzzle looks like. For the past couple of weeks, my students have been tackling simple and complex coding HW in an attempt to expose them to both Scratch and Python. First, they had to animate their name using Scratch. Now they are drawing snowflakes with Raspberry Pi Foundation.
I created the following Smore to remind my staff about the Hour Of Code. We are going to setup stations in our Media Center for students to participate, and have Certificates and 3D Printed badges for anyone who completes the full hour. Enjoy the Smore and check out #middsouthinnovates for pictures from our activities.
I am making an effort to write more as my way of engaging in the act of creation every day. I am not an artist so I won’t be doing the draw everyday challenge, but I can certainly write something every day. Today’s writing is about something one of my TED Ed Club members did and I am so, so proud of him for it.
First, some background. Remy is a sophomore in our TED Ed Club and was forced to attend a meeting by a senior who was on the soccer team with him. Remy’s parents are from France and he is fluent in both English and French. But, it didn’t take long for him to realize that this was the exact type of club he was looking for. As we have been talking this year, and especially after attending the TED Ed Weekend even in NYC, we realized that the thing that makes our club so unique from anything in the school and from other TED Ed Clubs is we don’t just have ideas we want to share, but we try to turn them into reality. The club has engaged in a variety of projects over the past few years, and Remy was insistent on making something big happen this year again.
After the event in NYC, Remy was talking with his grandfather (who still lives in France) about our club and his grandfather remarked that nothing like that exists in the school that he works with. His grandfather, who is like the Alumni President, said that he thought the students at the local schools would really benefit from this type of experience. So, Remy decided to start a TED Ed Club in France while still in the US. He wrote an email explaining his idea to the TED Ed people and they loved it! It turns out there are only 5 clubs in all of France, and nothing in this region. They sent him information on how to get started, are going to do a video call with him to discuss the idea further, and are going to feature his work in an upcoming newsletter they are sending to all of the clubs! If he is successful, this will be the first club whose Student Leader doesn’t even live in the same country as the club.
I am so proud of Remy for acting on his great ideas. Being a TED Ed Club Advisor is one of the best things I have had the opportunity to do in my career and I love working with amazing students like Remy.
If you are interested in starting your own TED Ed Club, just check out this link or contact me directly. You can also find us on Instagram and Twitter. Also, check out Remy’s other project, Humans of the Dog Park.
My school had the unbelievable good fortune to get selected for the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program and it was AMAZING! Here is how our day went.
First, it can never be a bad day when you go out to the parking lot and there is a Google car waiting for you.
Natasha was our Google Expeditions Coordinator for the day and she was fantastic. Energetic and quick on her feet; she was able to solve any problem we had throughout the day. She brought with her 3 sets of 30 Google Cardboard along with Asus phones, and a teacher tablet pre-loaded with all of the Expeditions. I arranged for classes to rotate throughout the day into each of the classes in 30 minute sections. While all of the teachers picked their Expedition in advance, they were free to change as the need arose because all of the locations were pre-loaded and we didn’t need an wifi connection.
The students took to Cardboard very, very fast, as was to be expected.
Of course, our Principal and Superintendent needed to get in on the action, too.
I think the best part of Expeditions is the material that’s pre-loaded for each location. As you can see in the following photo, if the teacher was unsure of what she was looking at, she could swipe to the left and all the information was right in front of her.
Included was an overall description of the location and some guiding questions for the teacher to ask the class. The teacher could tap on the photos and arrow would appear on the screen of the students’ devices to direct their attention to something specific. Smiley faces were on the screen of the teacher’s tablet showing where each student was currently looking so she could tell who was engaged in the lesson. The students loved going into the rainforests and any Expedition that brought them underwater, especially swimming with the sharks. Some of my personal favorites were seeing Jane Goodall’s home in Gombe, following the Museum Photographer from the Museum of Natural History, and standing on top of a building in Rome.
I think the best comment of the day was from a senior who said, “We’re in the freakin’ Colosseum but we’re really in a library in NJ!” I think that was the best part of this experience: showing the kids parts of the world that they have never or may never experience. We spent more of the day just having fun than actually linking it back to the curriculum, but I think that’s ok since we gave them an experience they will never forget.
So, where do we go from here? Actually, anywhere our imagination can take us. My Principal and I were talking and just in a couple of minutes we said: have teachers record vacations or locations from around the world and develop lessons with them, video ours of our school, walking tours of colleges, and a Google Street View walkthrough of our Art Show. Once the video and sound capabilities are included, Google Expeditions will become an amazing learning opportunity for students all over the world.