Digital Breakout.edu: My first attempt

At this past February’s PETE and C  in Hershey, PA, I learned more about a concept called Breakout.edu.  The premise is that students or adults solves a series of puzzles and/or problems to achieve a predetermined learning goal.  Breakout.edu allows for critical thinking,  collaboration, and creativity.

These lessons can be either digital in nature or actual physical lock and puzzle boxes.  There is a growing and strong support network for teachers online, with numerous resources, but that is a topic for another blog post.

I chose to work with a digital breakout to start, it is free and I have access to all of the necessary online resources.

This post is currently under construction.

Lucky 2013 Class Expectations

Well, it is a new school year and time for a new set of class expectations for 2013/2014.  Every year my students begin blogging and I attempt to blog more; sometimes with success sometimes without.   I have several goals that I have been unofficially building towards the last several years.  They cover course content and classroom technology use.

My expectations for class content and topics is to cover as much of the 20th Century with my history class as possible.  I am also in the process of flipping all of my classes, so I must continue to build and revise the class resources.  These goals dovetail nicely together, creating a dynamic that should play out well into the future. As our department builds towards expanding 20th Century US History into a two year course, the resources we use need to grow and adapt.  No longer will we need to rely on textbooks, but rather primary sources for the students to interact with.  The focus also needs to be pushed for more higher level activities to be completed in class, while the more basic tasks can be done on the students’ own time.  This reversal of tasks will give students more support for actually understanding the concepts we will cover.  By refining and adding to my resource library there will be more options for students to pull from when comes to finding the right type of material to work with.  We need resources that fit every type of learners needs and ability.

When it comes to new technology and tools this year, I plan to learn and teach the tools we use more in depth.  I also hope you o get my students more involved with collaborative projects outside of my classroom.  I have been using many tools for many years with my classes.  It does sound trite, but it is what it is…true.  The students need to see these tools integrated with each other and see how powerful they can be when used together.  I can start the process through modeling, but my hope is that the students’ imaginations will run with the concepts.  My students collaborate well within the class and within the school.  They now need to collaborate and participate outside of that small sphere.  I am hoping to have a number of students voluntarily participate in either the Flat Classroom Project or the Edublogs Challenges.  I will offer full support, but the goal is for them to want to participate in this new realm.

I will keep blogging about the progress of these goals and expectations as the school year plays out.  Hopefully they will be success stories, or learning experiences at the minimum.

New Brighton Story Walk 2011

This past Saturday, March 5, 2001, the New Brighton Elementary School had it’s annual story walk.  The story walk has been going on for about five or six years.  I have taken my daughter the last two years, she thoroughly enjoys the day.  The staff from several of our schools, and in some cases their families and former staff, come in school and create a family reading, craft, and fun day for several hours.  Laura Fryer, our Elementary Librarian organizes the event and works on getting the funding through various grants.

The story walk itself consists of a number of areas where students are read stories and get to create crafts related to those stories.  There are several other stations where they can make a healthy snack, play in the gymnasium, or listen to music.  Every child in attendance gets to choose a free book to take home and keep forever.  It seemed like many of the children remember this fact, because the books were rushed right off the bat.  For awhile we were unsure if we would have enough books, but the demand evened out and we did have a number to keep for next year’s event.  This year there were 5 or 6 stations with the event having on overall open theme.  Last year, the theme was a story from every continent.

This year over 260 children and their families attended the event, a marked increase over the past couple of years.  A number of parents gave unsolicited feedback about how they enjoy the event and their kids look forward to it every year.  It would be nice to think that the numbers will continue to improve, bringing the community together with the school and strengthening the overall relationship.

With budgets shrinking or being gutted, we are already brainstorming ways to fund the endeavor next year. The goal is to ensure that we can meet the growing demand and allow all the children to participate fully in the event.  We believe we can make it happen with some help from the community and others in our personal networks.  Hopefully next year’s post will talk about how the numbers continue to increase and have more success stories of collaboration between our schools and the community.