Monday, August 11, 2014

Instructional Practice

Many times I think about what an ideal classroom looks like and what would students be working on in this learning environment?  I think back to when I was in the classroom and the transformation for web 1.0 to web 2.0.  For the record 1.0 web tools are linear, app based, isolated, singular and focused on copy right content and web 2.0 is a more fluid learning opportunity that is web based, collaborative work and shared content.

Real world first thought as a former avid gamer is the evolution of the game Zelda to World of Warcraft.  Zelda is a task by task game that is based on the designers of the game controlling the order we played the game at our house. Fast forward to the World of Warcraft where you create your character, decide the tasks that you want to play, join other people across the world on-line and is collaborative in nature.  Another example is the change in the stuffed animal to the Webkinz.  Children moved from playing with dolls in isolation or with one friend to moving to an online site where you can create your animal and play with others.

How does all of this apply to a school's learning environment?  In literacy we have seen the change from the basal readers reading together and having pre-created questions that are discussed as a whole class to guided reading groups that have leveled text written responses that are shared with the teacher or oral responses shared with the group.  The goal would be to expand that to sharing out within a collaborative school.  This can be done via a Voki or VoiceThread, students can write their information via a blog (EduBlog and Edmodo), or you can take a picture of the written responses and post them. It is important after this is posted that the students converse about their responses and have continued conversations about their responses and reflections. 

In math it is a move from rote numeration using apps or sites such as Pop Math to students' communication such as math talks and explanations both oral and written.  As mentioned by Tony Wagner "its not what you know, it's what you do with what you know".

Other suggestions for science and social studies include changing from students memorizing items such as information about North Carolina or landforms to utilizing project based learning and active learning working with teams.  Some of the best examples involve students creating essential questions and being given the opportunity to use these essential questions to create presentations and products within a student group.

We will need to continue to move our instructional practice and assignments to opportunities that require students to collaborate, communicate, problem solve and think critically. No easy task, but what in life comes easy?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Engagement during learning

At the end of this post you will receive a prize if you can answer the questions correctly... Do I have your attention now, are you more willing to be engaged in the post?

Engagement is explained by Newmann, F. (1992) as "students make a psychological investment in learning. They try hard to learn what school offers. They take pride not simply in earning the formal indicators of success (grades), but in understanding the material and incorporating or internalizing it in their lives". There is ritualized engagement, because I am taught to pay attention and give eye contact. Then there is authentic engagement, which means that I am tuned in without distractions and truly want to be there.  How does one create an environment that is engaging and thriving with learning?

There are a couple of factors that I think are important in creating a learning environment that supports students' engagement and interest. There needs to be clear expectations for the working process and end product or results.  Without purpose or clarity it is easy to lose students and become disengaged in the learning environment. As learners we need and are driven by feedback as shown in many articles and sites such as 7 keys to feedback and 20 ways to provide feedback.  The common theme is that specific, timely and attainable feedback leads to growth.  

How does technology support learners' engagement whether it is a child or an adult? For my learning, it opens up a world that I would not have been able to access if it weren't for the internet and the many places that it would take me.  I also would not be able to create products due to inability from a lack of knowledge or equipment.  This could be a laptop, camera, app, or any other device that allows me to do something more than I can do with a pen and pencil. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Morning News Program

We are very excited about our Morning News Show. In previous years we had a morning show that was a live broadcast with our fifth grade students that required a lot of prepping by adults prior to the viewing of the show.  As our equipment aged out and staffing changed we need to rethink how we did things and as the students said "make it more fun and exciting".  We moved to a prerecorded show that had many different segments, anchors/reporters, and added some more "fun" to our show.

Our Morning News Crew Leaders --

Jean Monroe and Emily Harkey have done a great job of providing students with the opportunities to create the morning news.

Created by Green Cloth and Screen
- Our morning news shows are compiled through iMovie using videos of recorded segments by the students and Mrs. Monroe.
Mac using iMovie

On site recording using iPads...We use three to rotate throughout the week.
at the lake
Meet Ms. Pakes
In Admin office

We use a computer as our teleprompter with all of our information stored into the Drive Account set up for the Morning News Crew.

Apps Needed:
Green Screen by Do Ink ($2.99)

Safe Share via You Tube link --