Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Wednesday, May 29, 2013
Part way through the school year, Pam McDowell, high school math teacher, started using iTunes U to flip her Algebra II classroom. In the past, Mrs. McDowell used mimeo lessons when explaining new math concepts to her classes. She now uses those same lessons, but records herself working through the problems, just as she would have done on the whiteboard, using QuickTime on her MacBook. The videos are then uploaded to her course in iTunes U for her students to use. Videos are also available from the textbook publisher, but students prefer Mrs. McDowell’s explanations.
Students no longer do “homework” at home, but watch the video and take notes. When they come to class the next day, they ask questions about steps or concepts they didn’t understand, and Mrs. McDowell highlights certain areas where students usually have difficulty. After a short discussion, students are then given the “homework” and use the class time to work through the problems. “I have a lot more time to work one-on-one with students by using this model,” Mrs. McDowell said. Many of the students choose to work in small groups, a skill they will need for college and the work force. As they work, students are on task and talk mostly about the math problems. They can also work at their own pace, which is an advantage over the traditional classroom model.
When asked about this model, students stated more positives than negatives. Having the time to understand the lesson was the main benefit students expressed. They liked being able to pause, rewind, or rewatch the video until they understood it. There is less frustration at home. Rather than spending hours trying to answer problems they don’t understand, they spend time just introducing themselves to the lesson. This “more free time at home” was a comment repeated by many students. When they are in class, they said they are able to ask more questions and get their friend's explanation of the lesson, allowing them to comprehend the material better. Students also liked that when they were absent, they didn’t miss a lesson. They were able to watch the video and catch up to the class much easier.
After being pressed for any negatives in the flipped classroom model, one student did mention that there was less social interaction when the teacher explained the material. Rather than interacting with Mrs. McDowell as she explained it, the interaction was left for the next day. Students also mentioned that if they forgot or chose not to watch a video, it was more difficult to do the problems the next day in class.
Mrs. McDowell said the preliminary test scores seem to be improving, enough that she is committed to continuing the flipped classroom for Algebra II next year. Her goal is to prepare the videos, for the beginning of the year, over the summer. In the future, she would also like to start flipping her Geometry course.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Dan Polleys’ sixth grade language arts students just finished their unit on personal narrative essays. At the beginning of the unit, students helped to create the grading rubric, which was broken into three categories, writing process, author’s craft, and writing conventions. The writing process included at least two drafts, evidence of editing and revision, and brainstorming. Some of the objectives graded in the author’s craft were correct dialogue use, clear beginning and ending, developed middle, and unique style (voice). Correct spelling, use of end punctuation and capitalization, no run on sentences, and no “and” or “but” were a few of the grading criteria in writing conventions. Using the criteria developed, both the student and Mr. Polleys assessed their essay.
To begin their essays, students brainstormed events that have occurred in their lives, and then created a timeline. The events were a compilation of emotional times that made up who they are. Many of the students cited this part of the project as something they enjoyed most. After creating the timeline, students choose a particular event from it to write about in their personal narrative essay. Events ranged from sad to funny to excited. The students showed bravery in exposing their emotions and lives in these events, such as deaths of loved ones and pets, moving or finding a foster home, spending recreational time with family, playing sports, and having parties. They displayed a unique vulnerability of sharing of themselves that many of us lose as we age.
Some students started the writing process with paper and pencil. Others created their first draft in Pages. As they edited and revised their essays, all students made a digital copy so that it could be published. Once students finalized their essay, they moved onto the final part of the unit, which was creating a digital story. In creating their digital story, students used 10 or more sentences from their personal essay. They demonstrated their creativity through iMovie, Stop Motion Studios, drawings made in Sketchbook Express, family photos, using theme music, or creating their own music in Garage Band. Students then shared their digital stories through a film festival. At the festival, students paired off or formed small groups to share their story with others. At the end, the class gathered to view some of the stories over Apple TV. You can view a couple of their stories below.
When asked, students said they enjoyed this unit. Not only the part of expressing themselves, but they liked using their iPads and learning more about the apps on them. Being able to choose how they would share their story with others was a highlight for them also. Overall, using the iPads has allowed Boyne to teach something that has been taught for years, in this case personal narrative essays, in a new and exciting way for students.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Laura Houser’s second grade class has been hard at work on their iPads. They have been learning about informational text, research skills, accuracy of information, summarizing, main ideas, teamwork, and much more. To learn these skills, Mrs. Houser presented a topic to the students while reading a book and then worked with the students as they researched and prepared a presentation to demonstrate what they learned.
The first project the students worked on, in their informational text unit, was an individual lighthouse report. Mrs. Houser provided a paper copy of an idea web to the students and explained how to use it to organize their information. Students chose a lighthouse and started researching it using the K-9 Safe Browser. They searched for information such as location of the lighthouse, cost to build it, the parts of the lighthouse, what color it is, and what it is made of. As students researched, they started learning how to summarize information they found by entering it onto the idea web. Once they completed their web, that information was entered into a Keynote presentation along with pictures about their lighthouse. In addition to the presentation, students used the information collected to built a replica of the lighthouse in art class.
The next step in learning about informational text was a group project on sea creatures. Students were assigned groups who then chose a topic, which included lobster, tuna fish, jelly fish, and sea anemone. Before researching, all the students met with Mrs. Houser on the rug to talk about the project. She asked questions about information they would be looking for and how to behave when researching and in groups. Students were attentive and participated in the discussion, and seemed eager to get started. One of the objectives was to learn to work in groups. In most groups, each student looked for any required fact they could find about their sea creature. But one group learned how to divide and conquer. They assigned one question to each group member. The member found the answer, shared it with the group, and then looked for the rest of the facts. Again, students used the K-9 browser to collect their data and pictures. They used the popplet app to organize their information into an idea web, similar to the paper copy Mrs. Houser gave them for the lighthouse project. Mrs. Houser walked around the room asking questions about their research, keeping students on task, and helping with technology issues. After some research time, Mrs. Houser brought the students back together on the rug to discuss facts they found, asked questions to help them find more information, and encouraged them to look for facts when they had a question or assumed incorrectly about their sea creature.
Learning about informational text may have always been part of the second grade curriculum, but students today have a new way to learn it. With the ability for each student to have a device in the classroom to research, organize, collaborate, and present using technology, student are learning these skills much differently than five or ten years ago. These skills will benefit our students as they grow and mature to become adult lifelong learners.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Boyne City Middle School students participated in a Walk to School Day today. The goal is to promote a healthy lifestyle by encouraging students to increase their activity while having a good time. Walk to School Days have been organized in the Fall and Spring. About 75% of the student body participated today.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
With any 1:1 implementation, collection of the devices is inevitable. Since the iPads are a school issued tool like a textbook or graphing calculator, they eventually return to school inventory. As plans are made for this to happen, many questions arise. Who will collect them? Where will they be collected? What will be checked? Who will inspect them? Do they need to be cleaned? Where will they be stored? These discussions vary in each building (elementary, middle, or high). While the discussions and answers in each building may differ, there are some similarities.
Students who remain in a building for the next school year will be getting the same iPad they used this year. This rewards students for taking care of their equipment. Students will be required to turn in their iPad (in the case) and charger. If a charger is missing or damaged, the student will be billed. Also billed will be damages done to the iPads themselves, like a cracked screen. Parents may choose not to repair an iPad that has minor damage until the student leaves the building to move to the next level. Cleaning of the devices will be the responsibility of the students. iPads from fourth, eighth, and twelfth grades will follow a little different process because they will be given to second, fifth, and ninth graders, respectively, next school year. These iPads will be inspected for damage, repaired (with the bill going to the student), and cleaned before being issued to students next year.
iPads will be stored in secure areas in each building. Over the summer, they will be prepared with the apps needed for next year. In order to have the iPads ready for next year, teachers have been determining which apps students will use. Appropriate licenses are being purchased and profiles are being created to load onto the iPads. When students return in the fall, they will be issued their iPad and the cycle will begin again.
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Boyne City’s eighth grade students have been learning about public speaking for many years, but this year’s students added a new twist. Amelia Ryan, their language arts teacher, required the students to record themselves using their iPads and then complete a self-evaluation about their speech. Once students chose a topic, they were instructed to prepare notes on an index card. Helpful hints were provided to students on how to practice for their 3-5 minute speech such as practicing in front of a mirror or an adult. After the students recorded themselves, they filled out a self-evaluation form which helped them to prepare for their final presentation before the class.
As students reviewed their videos, they realized areas where they could improve. Here are some comments that they made regarding their self-evaluations.
- I found out that my tones are dull and I have a weak intro and ending. Also, as I watched I noticed I kind of rocked back and forth and played with my card. Watching the video helped me correct these things.
- I'm a shy girl but after I did this and I did it more then once I was more confident. Doing this video helped me realize what I could work on and what I did good on.
- The speech videos helped me to see the areas where I needed to practice more. I noticed that I used "um" as a filler too much and that I was messing around with my card too much.
- I noticed that I had good posture and good eye contact but it wasn't long enough so I had to go back and add some detail.
Here are clips from some of the student self-evaluation videos. Overall, students felt the experience of evaluating themselves from a video was worth their time.
Public speaking is just one communication skill that the eighth graders learn in language arts. They also learn how to communicate face-to-face as well as online. Edmodo is being used for online class discussion. Students may be asked to give their opinion about a topic being discussed, share what they know about a particular topic, or state three facts. Mrs. Ryan said the online discussions allows her shier students to participate, but she still encourages them to practice talking in class to “build their personal interactions.”
Another way Mrs. Ryan has used the iPad in her language arts classes is when reading books. When reading Tom Sawyer and The Giver, students had the option of reading the book on their iPad or a traditional book. In the past, there were only enough books for the classroom, so students were unable to take them home. Mrs. Ryan said about 50% of the students used their iPads to read the books. One benefit of reading a book on the iPad is that a student can tap on a word and it pronounces it for them. Students also use Google Earth to find the settings of the books they read, and the internet to research about the authors. The iPad is also helpful for other reasons. There is only one classroom set of literature textbooks. Students take pictures of the pages they need so they have the information or can complete assignments at home.
As Mrs. Ryan has incorporated the iPads into her classroom this year, she has spent time on management issues. Students need to keep their iPads flat on the desk when working on them, and she walks around the room. Because of these strategies, she believes that students are more on task and it minimizes the number of unnecessary pictures that students take. Using the iPads has allowed students to keep track of weekly work. While some students enter the information into a calendar-type app, many students take a picture of the weekly schedule posted on the board. They are also taking pictures of work they do in class to share with their parents. “The iPad has been a benefit in class. It is quick and easy for spontaneous research, and it has saved time and materials.” said Mrs. Ryan.
As we go forward with our 1:1 devices, we continue to search for new ways to connect students with their learning. The self-evaluation videos are one example of how this is being accomplished.