Day Four Class Update: No Assignment

I recorded and uploaded this video before the District-wide announcement went out via email and phone…the written update is posted below the video, it is missing the weather forecast for today…

Good morning, I have a couple of updates for you today.  First off, if you responded to the first assignment, thank you.  I was receiving replies through yesterday. If you haven’t responded to the first assignment, you still can respond, there are only a couple of people I have not heard from yet.

Yesterday I pushed out the second assignment…almost immediately people started responding.  I have mixed responses from the group and that is okay. Some of you are ready to move on, some are a bit hesitant.  Again, that is okay. If you haven’t responded, you have plenty of time, no need to worry.

I want to address some of your concerns, especially the big one…a number of people are uncertain about starting back up, because they are unsure of where we left off.  Consider the new assignments as Day 1 of the course. I will not throw old material at you on a quiz or test, unless we cover from this day forward. So not being fully confident about the old material should not be an issue, please do not worry about it.  We are pretty much starting over…the only material you need to worry about is what will be coming out.

Also, I will not be quizzing you right away, we will be doing other various activities…not everyone has the same access to technology, which will make quizzes non-standard.  When we get to that stage, they will probably be open note writings, or something along those lines, but we are far from going down that path yet.

Back to technology, those of you that followed up with me, I passed that information on to Mr. Yates and Mr. Budacki.  If anyone’s situation changes or you start having technology issues, please let me or any of your other teachers know ASAP.  If you lose access, let a friend know and have them contact a staff member so we can address the situation.

Another concern was difficulty with topics or technology…once again, please do not worry.  We are going slowly for a reason, and we will continue to move at a comfortable pace until we are sure everyone can move forward without difficulty.  I will be posting video tutorials to help you remember how to use the various tools we use in class. I will also be posting tutorials and audio/video notes on the class content to help explain the topics.  It is important for you to give me feedback if you need more or different assistance. We have been doing that all year with the self-reflections, so you should be good and letting me know if we have to adjust things…zip me an email or message me in Edmodo, I am monitoring both.  Communication is important especially since we are no longer in the same room, but together we can successfully make this adjustment.

Staff is working on other forms of feedback to use with students, I will let you know about those once we have approval.

Thank you for the YouTube links, I am going through those and making playlists to share out.  Keep responding to the assignments, I am keeping track so we can use the information later. If we have any important updates in today’s virtual staff meeting, I will pass in forward to you.  If you have any questions, please email them to me or another one of your teachers.

Have a great day!

The Grand Experiment

So, during this quarantine I have been doing work for school, attending virtual staff meetings, working on family crafts, reading books, watching movies and shows on Netflix and Amazon Prime, and getting outside when the weather allows..  Today I came across an offer for THREE MONTHS OF FREE GUITAR LESSONS, I happened across this on Social Distortion’s Instagram page.  I will chronicle my travails here, please do not judge…I do not play well, but I play LOUD!  Self taught to play loud…now I will try to play well.  Stay tuned…we’ll see if I can even tune my guitar…

 

This post is currently under construction.

Wakelet Student Ambassador Optional Extra Credit

Hello, this is an optional extra credit assignment for my students.  The video below gives them a general overview of the assignment.  I will give them specific details later on each task.  Those details will be posted here on my blog as we move forward.

 

Spontaneous Review

This post was originally written many moons ago, but somehow got stuck in the iPad and I never noticed it was not published.  Well, better late than never…

My Period Four US History and Government II students have a test on Friday, it is based upon their presentations to the class on the 1950’s and vocabulary from the Civil Rights Unit. Actually all four of my US II classes have a test on Friday.

We created a Padlet from questions the student generated based upon their presentations. Student projects were posted on the class wiki and all of this information was wrapped up nicely and neatly in Edmodo for student access. Students were encouraged to use class time to collaborate and see if they could use their notes to answer the review questions. I used this method to study in college, I dislike studying in isolation.

As students worked together, I floated about to see if there were any questions they were having trouble with and if they were staying on task. We had mixed results, most students were on task and few had questions they could not answer. There were some students who were off task, redirected when I came by, and then went off task once I left. That happens, I did the same at their age.

Today, a couple of students started playing Hangman on the Interactive WhiteBoard in the front of the room. A number of other students jumped in and seemed to be enjoying themselves. I made a suggestion, which seemed to catch them a bit off guard. I did not tell them to get away from the board and study, I suggested that instead of playing Hangman with random words, why don’t they use the information from the class and use the game as a review.

They seemed to enjoy the effort, the majority of the class worked together and played in a large group. They assisted each other with the terms being asked and what some words meant as they were guessed. I had a few students who are not as social in class continue to study on their own. Overall, it seemed like a productive class. Students worked on their reviews, seemed to enjoy themselves, and it broke up the monotony of conducting the usual reviews. Sometimes going off the beaten path can be a good thing.

Student Realizations…

We had a “pop” quiz in my regular US History and Government II classes today, there are four sections for that course.  I usually change the quizzes in some fashion, either rearrange answer choices, vary the questions, change essay topics, there is USUALLY some difference between the classes.  Today was no different, I once again shifted questions between classes.

A student from one of my earlier classes came into a later class to collect homework for a friend who was absent.  From across the room I hear the comment, “You lied about that.”  Taken aback, I looked around the room to see what precipitated the comments and to whom they were directed. The comment came across again, “You lied about that.”  The student from the earlier class responded promptly, “No, I didn’t.”

Part of the situation was was now clear, I knew who had issues, but did not know what the issues were or why they existed. I stepped in verbally with a comment.  “It was ‘Axis’.” came from across the room.  “No, it was Allies.” replied the student standing next to me.

The picture snapped into focus and I relaxed and let the students “argue” for the next minute or so, with my sudden smile almost turning into laughter.  The quiz questions had been shared, either in person or through social media, and the difference had thrown students off.  This was the point of contention between the students.

I asked a few questions of the class and was amazed to find out that the students have been taking quizzes, tests, and answering open-note writing prompts since early September and had no idea that all of those exercises have been tweaked and adjusted between class periods.  I explained how the items are changed and saw many students with incredulous looks upon their faces.  Many seemed truly surprised that I would do such a thing.

I explained that way back in the dark ages of the 1970’s and 1980’s, my friends and I also exchanged information about tests, quizzes, and other random assignments, however we did not have social media to spread the word.  I also explained that switching up items on assignments is not new, I am fairly certain my teachers did it back in the dark ages, as did many teachers before them.  It was an interesting scene to watch and even more interesting fact to learn about my students.

 

Spontaneous Review

My Period 4 US History and Government has a test on Friday, it is based upon their presentations to the class and vocabulary on Civil Rights. Actually all four of my US II classes have a test this Friday.

A couple of students were in front of my room when I came in from hall duty. They were attempting to write on the Interactive WhiteBoard, (IWB),but were having difficulty. Other students attempted to explain what to do, but there was still some difficulty and disbelief in what to do on the part of the students at the IWB. I confirmed and re-explained the student directions on how to write on the board.

I was curious as to their intent, it just happened to be a game of Hangman on the IWB.  They started off and I just watched as the students became excited to play the game.  I made one suggestion after the second game; why not incorporate words from the class review into the game.  They seemed a bit surprised that I did not shut their game down.

They converted the game of Hangman into an animated class review.  Students continued to collaborate during the games, assisting with guessing letters and explaining what some of the words were.  Students used presentation topics, important people and terms for the game.

A few students did not play, but reviewed on their own.   That was fine, they have that freedom of choice to work in the way they are most comfortable with.

Overall the period flew by, most students engaged on the task They needed to focus on.  It was nice to be reminded that we can go off the beaten path and still reach our goal.

Initial History Vlog

This was originally created as a script for my History Class Vlog. I plan to use the Vlog as a resource for my classes. I will link to the Vlog later.

Welcome to the 1960’s.

We will be trying something new for this unit, information will be presented several different ways, you get to choose how you process it. More details will be forthcoming in the days ahead.

As was stated at the beginning, welcome to the 1960’s.

The decade Starts as a continuation of the 1950’s

We know there was the 1950’s we remember nostalgically and then there was the 1950’s for those not so fortunate.

We start with Camelot in DC and end with violence and protests throughout the US.

For those who loved the nostalgia, their country did not look the same. For those who wanted change so much hope was lost in the struggle.

We had three presidents, a slew of assassinations, a Cold War, a conflict, a War on Poverty, the splintering of music, including an English Invasion, along with many misc topics we will mention, not here, but in the course.

Hold on to your hats kiddies, the 1960’s were a chaotic time for many.

Anchor Podcasting App

Anchor, Dundee WaterfrontCreative Commons License dun_deagh via Compfight

A new and FREE podcasting app came across one of my networks and caught my attention, Anchor.  This FREE podcasting app is available for both Apple and Android devices.  I downloaded it right away, but had not tested it out until yesterday, when my daughter and I relaxed at National Grind, a coffee shop in Ellwood City, PA after school.

I was grading student work, essay tests and projects, while she played Cool Math Games, Snail Bob was the specific game.  After awhile we both needed a break and decided to enjoy our beverages, I had a mocha latte, she had a Smore Hot Chocolate.  During our respite from work, she jumoed back into her Edublogs account; she is participating in the Edublogs Student Challenge again this year.  She updated her About Me page, and created an avatar to place on her blog.

I thought this would be the perfect time to try out Anchor, it took seconds to set up the account on my phone, link it to my Twitter account and start recording.  After a couple of miscues with releasing the record button, we recorded the following podcast.

You can even invite others to join your podcast from remote locations, we will try that soon.  I will follow up with another post once we officially try that out.  We ran a quick test later last evening, it is super simple to do.

Want to Podcast, give Anchor a try.  This is an unpaid discussion of the app and in no way endorses the product…all said for legal reasons…

Student Choice

Lately, I have been researching student choice, differentiated learning, and hybrid learning. At the most basic levels they allow for students to claim some ownership over their learning by giving them a say in class tasks and assessments.

I have been expanding this concept in my classes, slowly but surely. My current goal is to build consistency into my classroom pedagogy, this will provide students with a comfort level necessary to adjust to the changes.

For this past assessment in my non-honors classes, we were prepping for an essay test, open notes, but essay. My students had posted some self-reflective answers in Edmodo and on paper, I was trying to gauge their comfort with the topic, “The Cold War” and the specifics cd that went with the general heading.

At first I received responses of: “I have all of my notes, I understand my notes, and I have no questions about the upcoming test.” Some students responded with, “How many questions on the test,” but all responses were fairly bland.

Students were given class time to form study groups and review and discuss their notes. I floated among the groups and pulled informal feedback by listening to their comments both on and off topic.

After reading their second reflections, I decided that it would not be fair to shift questions from period to period. Topics that were strengths for some students were weaknesses for others in the same class.; I wanted to avoid any appearance of favoritism or targeting students.

An option popped into my mind, make some questions mandatory and the rest offer students a choice to pull from. So the set up was as such: Fifteen total questions, two mandatory questions, all students had to answer, then a series of choices. There were seven ten point questions, from which students needed to answer two. Followed by four six point questions, students needed to answer one of these. And finally, two four point questions, one of which needed to be answered.

Students did not need to answer in order, they could break up their answers to give themselves a bit of a respite while working. Obviously, (channeling my inner Mike Tomlin here), the more points for the answer, the more details were needed.

One of the first comments I heard from my students, and actually ones who usually offer honest feedback even if it is critical of what I do was, “I really like this option.” They seemed to truly appreciate the ability to show what they understood from a menu of sorts. Through class discussions and reading their reflections I had an understanding of what most of them were comfortable with, so I was not worried about students only knowing one or two answers. I am certain there were some students who fit into this category, but the majority had an idea about the smorgasbord of topics, just not necessarily a strong sense of confidence in their knowledge.

This post is under construction from my iPhone.