Sunday, February 26, 2017

Curiosity in the Classroom - HyperDocs & The 5th C

You cannot be a life-long learner if you are not curious.

If you've ever spent time with a child you know that their curiosity is almost endless. They will bombard you with question after question as they seek to understand the world around them. This is an incredible aspect of our human intellect that must be nurtured and encouraged into adulthood by teachers.
Too often we get so caught up in content and testing, that we lose site of the bigger picture. We must actively encourage our students to never stop asking questions and pursuing the answers. We must find ways to encourage and inspire curiosity in our classrooms. We've created a HyperDoc for students to explore the power of curiosity.

We've also created a Staff Development HyperDoc based on the classroom Curiosity HyperDoc
Today's classroom has unprecedented access to a range of digital resources to encourage and support curiosity and we've also put together a collection of resources connected to curiosity.
  • Curiosity - Resources and websites to support creative exploration and student choice.
  • Activities - Activities and ideas connected to student choice and curiosity in the classroom.
  • Explore - Books, videos, and websites connected to curiosity and inquiry.
What lessons, resources, or ideas can you share connected to curiosity?

Thursday, February 23, 2017

GSuiteEDU Resources to Support Productivity and Efficient Workflow

"Modern technology has become a total phenomenon for civilization, the defining force of a new social order in which efficiency is no longer an option but a necessity imposed on all human activity." - Jacques Ellul

Teachers can't use yesterday's pedagogy combined with today's technology to effectively teach and learn. Educators must grow and adapt to meet the needs of all learners in a digital world. Teachers need to become the facilitators of learning. 
Technology is a tool that can help personalize and differentiate education for all learners. Today's technology provides teachers and students with unprecedented access to a world of resources and ideas. Technology should be used to inspire life-long learners in student-centered classrooms.
There are many incredible Chrome Extensions, Google Apps, and Drive Add-ons that can help teachers and students save time. We've put together a document with some of our favorites connected to education. The primary purpose of this document is to connect teachers and students to GSuiteEDU resources that will enhance workflow and save time. Our secondary purpose is to connect learners to apps, add-ons, and extensions that enhance the learning experience using the Chrome Browser and Google Drive.
Apps and Extensions to Support Productivity & Workflow
Not Everybody Takes the Same Path to the Same Place, but Technology is a Powerful Resource That Can Enhance the Journey. 

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Chromebook Essentials - Getting to Know Chromebooks for Education

Chromebooks are great devices to support communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking in future ready classrooms. Teachers and students benefit from quick access to the web, interactive apps, creation tools, workflow extensions, formative assessments, and so much more . . . 

In and effort to get learners started with Chromebooks, we've crowdsourced a list of essential questions for exploration.
To support these essential questions for Chromebook exploration we've created the Chromebook Essentials Site. This site will help teachers, students, and parents learn more about the essential characteristics of these devices. 
The site focuses more on "How do I use a Chromebook?" and less on "Why use Chromebooks for Learning?". We plan to build additional resources that support instructional practices and pedagogy in a 1 to 1 classroom in the near future.

Here are the sections of the site:

  • Chromebooks - Learn about the device. This page includes resources connected to The Chrome Desktop, The Keyboard, The Touchpad, Quick Keys, and Chromebook Settings.
  • Chrome OS - Learn about the Chrome Operating System. This page includes resources connected to The Omnibox, Chrome Tabs, Chrome Bookmarks, Chrome Extensions, and Chrome Apps.
  • Help - Quick tips and tricks to troubleshoot common issues with Chromebooks. 
  • Explore - Learn more about Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education.
Let us know what you think or if you have any suggestions?

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Exploring & Reflecting - The Learner-Centered Classroom with Chromebooks

Student-centered learning, also known as learner-centered education, broadly encompasses methods of teaching that shift the focus of instruction from the teacher to the student. Source
I have always believed that the more I can involve the students in the learning process the greater the experience. I think I learn best by doing and I carried this mindset into my classroom from day 1.

Before EdTech, I was the primary source of knowledge in my classroom. My classroom was very teacher-centric and I enjoyed talking at my students. We had fun, but it was often difficult to know what my students understood at any given moment. This led to my students waiting for me to distribute the content knowledge. They would happily copy stuff down, often with too little understanding and no critical thinking. If my students didn't understand something they either asked me or they didn't learn it. When the students took ownership with a project or creation it typically only demonstrated what I already told them what they need to know. We did not focus the skills connected to learning. 

I have been fortunate this year to pilot Chromebooks with my students. This has been a game changer for me. I now consider myself less of a teacher and more of a facilitator. I am still learning, but here are some of my takeaways from my experiences in a learner-centered classroom this year. 
  1. ISTE Standards for Students - The concepts and vocabulary in these standards have helped me engage students in skills and concepts beyond our content. 
  2. Collaboration - Students need the opportunity to work with their peers in both the physical and digital workspace. A classroom full of students with headphones in front of their screens is a dull place no matter how engaging the activity might be. Students also need to learn that collaboration is more than divide and conquer. 
  3. Communication - Personal and digital communication are essential skills that must be developed in a learner-centered classroom. It is also important for students to understand best practices as a "digital citizens" connected to their modes of communication. 
  4. Critical Thinking - If the students can "Google" the answer, did I really need to be asking it? Being connected is more than just access to answers. Students also need to develop the skills needed to evaluate and personalize information. Connected learners should be inspired to discover and explore new questions not just search for answers.
  5. Creativity - Creativity in a 1 to 1 classroom is not just creating artistic works. Creativity is using digital tools to find new ways of doing something. Students need to find and explore new ways of learning and creating connected to digital resources.
  6. Organize - HyperDocs are a great framework to facilitate learning. They have shifted the focus from me as a distributor of knowledge to the students. Students can become the seekers of knowledge with me as the facilitator of learning. 
  7. Enhance - Formative Assessments can be powerful tools to engage students in their own learning. Frequent and varied formative assessments are powerful drivers for learning and relearning. 
  8. Choice - Not everyone starts at the same point. It is important to remember that students need the option grow as they move from their own Point A to Point B. They also need options to best express creativity and critical thinking.
  9. Pace - Learner-centered activities need more time. Teachers need more time to prepare and students need more time to engage. Students also work at different paces. A flexible schedule is essential. 
  10. Engagement - It is important to remember the power of a good lesson hook. Students need to understand not just how to complete a digital activity, they need to know why they are completing the activity.
  11. Homework - Many students do their best work in the classroom. Too often homework is something to get done and it is often not done well. Engaging students in the classroom and allowing for optional extended learning is important. 
What are your takeaways in a student-centered 1 to 1 classroom?

Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless. – Thomas Edison


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Exploring Mastery Learning with Quizlet Live

We are working through an Energy PBL Unit in my AP Environmental Science class. I am mixing in a variety of formative assessment tools to help my students and myself evaluate our learning. Some of these formative assessments are graded for points, but I try to find ways to maximize the points earned for every student.

Today I tried something different with Quizlet Live. The students and I enjoyed the experience and I think we all learned something. Our goal was to make sure each group was able to master the key terms connected to Nuclear Energy. Here is a brief outline of the process we used today.

  1. Create a 12 question Quizlet. The Quizlet for this activity was primarily a vocabulary checkpoint.  I've also done Quizlet Live with definitions, quotes, and general concepts. If you are creative Quizlet can be more than a vocabulary tool. Quizlet has a great collection of searchable Public Quizlets that can definitely save teachers time
  2. Create a new Game and display the code for the class.
  3. Once all the students have joined it is time to create the groups. I prefer random groups, but you can also manually create the groups. The students get up, move around, and join their new groups. I do set one rule at this point, students cannot look at each other screens. They need to talk to each other and share what is on their screen. (If you've never done a Quizlet Live, it is important to know that each student has the same question at the same time, but they all have different answers. Only one member of the group has the correct answer for each question. If you've never used Quizlet Live you can learn more here.)
  4. Start the game. The first team to complete all 12 correctly wins the round. This is normally the end of the game. You can review missed terms with the class after the game is completed. You also have the option of playing again.
  5. So far nothing different than what my class has done multiple times with Quizlet. This is where I chose to do something different. The team that 'won' the first round was now done. They were free to get back to work on their PBL activities. The rest of the class would play again. We kept the same groups and the questions were the same.
  6. We did this for points, so the students were pretty competitive. The winners of the first round earned a 12 out 12 on the quiz. The second round winners earned a 11.5 out of 12. Third place earned a 11 . . . and so on. Get the picture? If this was true mastery learning, all students would eventually master the material and theoretically earn the same point total. (I should note that points in my classroom are a piece of data, but I am fairly flexible about what gets connected to the final report card grades.) 
  7. We repeated the process until we were down to two teams for one last round. The last place team earned a 9.5 out of 12. (We struggled a bit with this part. There was some evident stress on the last two groups to not finish last. The majority of the rest of the class was focused on their own work so I think we all survived. I will probably give both teams in the last round 10 / 12. I will also offer an alternative activity if anyone wants to earn any missed points back.)
  8. Learning was definitely evident. Each time we completed a round there were fewer wrong answers in the next round. The final two rounds were less about mistakes and more about which groups could collaborate to process and submit the answers the quickest.
  9. I realize that I don't know if all students master the vocabulary in these type of group assessments, but I think the students learn what they do and don't know. I do wish Quizlet Live provided me with a better view of this, but this is not a deal breaker. In my classroom it is more about the process for students than about the data.
  10. If I do this in the future with a larger Quizlet set, I might have each group need to win two before they moved out. 

Explore more 


Teachers can explore Quizlet Live through a "Live Demo"

Upgrading to Quizlet Teacher gives you great extra features for you and your students!

With Quizlet Teacher you can view Class Progress, use Voice Recording, upload your own images to sets, and create unlimited classes. You will also see a Teacher badge next to your username, receive faster support, and your students won't see ads on the sets you create.


If you try something like this, I'd love to learn how it went? Please share your experience in the comments below?




Thursday, February 9, 2017

Digital Mapping Resources for Teachers and Students


Maps are a useful tool for many of us in our day to day lives, but many classrooms don't take advantage of some of the incredible digital resources that are connected to maps.

Maps can provide classrooms with some incredible opportunities to create lessons based on creativity, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Here are a few resources connected to Digital Maps that classroom teachers may find useful find useful:
  • Geoguessr
    Game using Street View images that drops the player in a random location and challenges them to work out where they are.
  • Smarty Pins
    A fun and interactive game that tests players’ trivia and geography knowledge
  • My Maps
    Create custom maps to share online with Google My Maps We recently used My Maps as part of our Biome Unit.
  • Google Arts & Culture - Places
    The World Wonders Project is a valuable resource for students and scholars who can now virtually discover some of the most famous sites on earth.
  • Street View Treks
    Trek the world with Google Maps. Travel with the team as they collect Street View imagery cultural, historical and geographical wonders.
  • Google Tour Builder
    Tour Builder is a way to show people places visited and the experiences you had along the way using Google Earth. It lets you pick the locations right on the map, add in photos, text, and video, and then share your creation.
  • Google Drawings
    While not a mapping tool, a map can be inserted and manipulated using the drawing tools. Click here for a few tips about using Google Drawings in the classroom.
  • Google ExpeditionsImagine exploring coral reefs or the surface of Mars in an afternoon. With Expeditions, teachers can take students on immersive, virtual journeys.
  • Google Earth for the Web
    It’s everything you love about Google Earth, plus new ways for you to explore, learn and share. Zoom in and see what adventures await you in the new Google Earth.
Explore More
How could you incorporate these into your student's learning? What other digital mapping resources do you use? 


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Putting the Fun into Formative Assessment - Engaging Learners

Student engagement is the product of motivation and active learning. It is a product rather than a sum because it will not occur if either element is missing.” - Elizabeth Barkly

Learning should be exciting and fun. Assessments can also be fun? All types of assessments have a place in a classroom, but relying on only a few traditional types of assessments makes the classroom a dull place for both the teacher and the students. 

Engage students with fun game-based assessments. Students are more engaged when they are active learners in the process and the assessment. Game based assessments can enhance engagement and boost excitement for both students and teachers. There are many great formative assessment tools that can bring a competitive game show experience to your classroom.


One of my favorite formative assessment tools is Kahoot. (While I love Kahoot, I do think that using a mix of formative resources is important. Too much of anything good is not always a good thing. Be sure to check out some of the other assessment tools later in this post.)





Kahoot Jumbles
If you have not used Kahoot for a while, be sure to check out the Kahoot Jumble Game. Jumble questions challenge players to place answers in the correct order rather than selecting a single correct answer.

Creating a Kahoot
Kahoot allows a teacher or student to create a learning game made from a series of multiple choice questions. Creators can add videos, images, and diagrams to the questions. Kahoots are easy to quickly set up. There are also "Public Kahoots" that can be copied and modified for your students. At last count, there were over 9.7 million Kahoots for almost every subject under the sun. 
Learn how to get started with Kahoot: Kahoot Professional Development & Teacher Resources

Engagement
Kahoots can be played in class or outside of the classroom. There are more than 9 different ways to play. Students love competing with each other in a classroom setting. There are many built-in tools that encourage students to engage in the questions.
Learn more about the 9 Ways to Play Kahoot
Assessment
When Kahoots are done in the classroom each question is followed by a view breaking down the responses. This is a great opportunity to clarify misconceptions and answer questions.. The results from a completed Kahoot can also be saved to Google Drive. 

Additional Game Based Learning Resources
  • Quizlet Live
    Quizlet Live is an in-class, team-based learning game. Students work together to correctly match a Quizlet set of terms and definitions.
  • Quizizz
    Quizizz allows you to create and play awesome multiplayer quiz games, both in class and at home.
  • Quizalize
    Quizalize lets you engage your class and deliver instant assessments for personalized learning on any computer, tablet or smartphone.
  • Socrative
    Socrative has both traditional assessment tools and some game based resources.
  • Triventy
    Triventy is a collaborative game-based learning platform, which allows teachers & students to co-author and play quizzes in class.
For even more formative assessment fun, visit the Recharge Learning Site Page on Assessment.