EverFi Experiment

Recently I encountered the opportunity to try out EverFi, a free website/program that offer courses in Digital Citizenship and STEAM Activities.  Digital Citizenship fits nicely into my curriculum, so I am giving it a try.

I started out the pilot project today with several of my classes; our school’s Winter Semi-Formal is tonight and many students had early releases to prep for the dance.  I thought it best to work with start with small groups and see how things work.

Overall it was a fairly painless experience, I will post a bit later on how to set up classes and how to sign up students for the lessons.

I learned a new game today…

I learned a new game today, well I heard of it Saturday at EdCampPGH, but I tried it out with my students in class today.  The game is QuizletLive.  Students are broken into random teams and must communicate and collaborate to answer questions correctly.  My students loved it and I was able to use my existing Quizlet flashcards as the basis of the game.  There was no need to build new material, which a a HUGE time saver.  QuizletLive motivated my students, the vocabulary review grew into a repeated competition for class supremacy.

There is a brief tutorial video embedded in the site so there is no need to repeat instructions here.  You see live tracking of student progress while the students are playing.

In my not so humble opinion, the random grouping of students is probably one of the biggest benefits of this tool, along with using pre-existing resources.  Having students step out of their comfort zone to work with new group members is important.  They can no longer become complacent and work with their usual band of cohorts.

If you get the chance check it out…SOON.

#satchat March 5 2015

It has been a long time since I participated in a Saturday morning educational Twitter chat, called #satchat.  I thoroughly enjoyed today’s on Digital Citizenship, I archived most of it via Storify.com. The hashtag #satchat was either continued or highjacked after our conversation, so I had to manually create the Storify today.  It took almost 2 hours of work on my part…from now on, I will create my Storifys as the #satchat ends.

 

#Sal308 Volume I

I am still sifting through information from PETE & C 2016 and implementing ideas into my professional self.  One idea that I especially liked was from George Couros, whom I follow on Twitter and via his blog, Connected Principals.

The idea was to daily Tweet something you or your students do in your classroom, adding a hashtag so you can easily track your Tweets.  I have started that process, which is not very difficult to accomplish; there should be tons of ideas that can be promoted in your day if you just pay attention to what is going on…I am using the hashtag #Sal308.

This is my first weeks’ effort archived via Storify.com.

 

Book Study The Jungle: Let the Adventure Begin

Today I rolled out a new concept for my Honors US History and Government I class, a semi-independent book study.

The project has evolved from numerous ideas. After reading over my archived Tweets from PETE & C, a #KTIchat, and a #PAedchat on Twitter, I am intent on fostering a culture of learning in my class, not a system of work and grading. I want my students to be motivated to learn instead of just wanting to earn a score.

At first, I wanted them to become Muckrakers and find things about town and school that could be improved. However they will be my students again next year and I want them to have a meaningful Summer Reading Experience, this new project will be a test run for that adventure. On a side note, we may still do the Muckraker project later time permitting.

Anyway, I chose The Jungle by Upton Sinclair since we are studying the Progressive Era AND we have enough copies of the books for my class. (The Pennsylvania budget impasse has our district on a purchasing freeze.).  School finances are a major inhibitor of new things this year.

I borrowed a study guide from a colleague who used to teach the book in her class and adapted it towards student publishing.  Only the first 20 chapters are used in the book study, the last 10 can be completed for Accelerated Reader enrichment points.   The reading is grouped into four project sections, with each section needing some sort of published project to explain the discussion questions.  Students must create a blog post, a podcast, a video, and then have one project of their own design.  The project styles can be created in any order of their choosing.  The final aspect would be to create some sort of Book Trailer we would publish.  I created a very open-ended rubric of expectations, more to keep me somewhat objective in my grading than for restricting student creativity.  Students are not required to be on video in my class, they may have “Special Guest Actors” in their stead, but they must create on multiple medias.

When I explained the project to my students, they were not phased by the reading and the questions.  When explaining the project sections, some were nervous about the technology.  When I explained that the rubric leaves much room for THEIR creativity, I saw shear terror in some students eyes, and much trepidation in most eyes.

I asked the question, “Truthfully, how many of you are nervous or scared about this project?”  All students raised their hands, I joined in too.  I explained that it was okay to be nervous, we have not done something this open-ended yet this year.  I was even nervous because I was not sure how smoothly things would run.  But I tried to reassure them that we will adjust to any “bumps in the road” that we may encounter and we will work together for success.  This seemed to calm most of the students’ fears, some will take longer to calm down.

My goal is to get them to learn, create, and share as a second nature.  I want my students to be able to express themselves well and gain their voice on a public platform.  I want them to want to learn and be inquisitive, not just perform for a number or grade.  Hopefully this project in a step in that direction.  As we move forward I plan to record our progress, our missteps, our adventures, and my reflections on the journey here.

Hour of Code: March 2 2016

My students participated in another Hour of Code today after school. I had to cover Senior Interviews so I let my students in the volunteer Hour of Code group work independently with another teacher as a monitor. The started using the Ozobots while I covered the interviews. One of my students had worked with the Ozobots in our last session, so he was given the role of chief facilitator for the session; he seemed to enjoy the role.

After Interviews were over I crossed the hall to the library and saw four intrepid students working intently on creating their ow pathways for the Ozobots to follow.

We moved back to my room and continued working on various endeavors.  One of our computer teachers came in while the students were working.  They explained to her in detail and with a lot of enthusiasm as to how the Ozobots worked.

Our Hour of Code evolved into setting up our Class Internet Radio Station on BlogTalkRadio.com.  One of my students created a music file on JamStudio for the show’s intro, other students looked over the BlogTalkRadio dashboard and our class site.  We ran out of time before we could run a broadcast.  I am hoping next Monday will be our first broadcast.