Maker Class Update – Earth Day Project

gauntlet

Check out the prototype of a “gauntlet” made by a 7th grader. Version 2 will be made of recycled metal.

So far in Maker Class, Allendale Columbia School middle school students have been working on collaboration skills, completed a few creative design challenges, and started to design and repurpose desks to be used by classes in the new middle school space (aka The Scrum Room). I have been asking each student in class to reflect on their experiences and here a few random thoughts they have shared with me…

“Working in groups was very difficult because everyone had different opinions on everything.”

“I feel like this class is a new experience for me. I liked taking apart the tables because I’ve never taken furniture apart before.”

“What surprised me is how many talents other people have and how good they are in a group.”

“Sketching ideas before starting was new for me because every time I would work on a project, I would start without sketching an idea of what I would want it to look like. I liked doing this because if you sketch an idea, you already know how to start the project.”

After recess students will be working in small groups to create something using primarily recycled materials. This project will be displayed during the Earth Day celebration on 4/22 and possibly during Evening of the Arts. The project needs to be completed by no later than 4/21.

Starting an iPad 1:1 program

We started our iPad 1:1 program with our middle school students 4 years ago. If given the chance to reset and do it all over again, here are the top five things that I would make sure to do.

  1. Know why you are going 1:1 before you get to far into the process.

If you are going 1:1 to replace textbooks or as a direct substitute for existing educational technology tools, then you are wasting your time and money. iPads, and any 1:1 initiative, should transform your learning environment. It should also change the way teachers teach. Which leads me to #2.

  1.  Provide teachers planning, and professional development time.

When we first started, we gave our teachers about 5 months to prepare. It just wasn’t enough time. At that time, were one of the first schools to go with iPads in a 1:1 environment, so there were hardly any resources available. I would make sure to provide teachers with a good base of understanding of how the iPad works, with time for them to play and meet with each other on a semi-regular basis. I would introduce teachers to the SAMR model of technology integration. I would  have faculty meetings to brainstorm and rework curriculum based on using the SAMR model.  Send a few teachers to some conference or training that specifically covers iPad integration. There is so much more available to schools and teachers now.

  1. Establish a “program”.iPad program

Meaning, set up rules and guidelines that everyone adheres to. This should cover everything from etiquette to appropriate time for usage both in and out of the classroom.  The image to the right has our our current iPad policies. We review this at the end of every school year or sooner if needed. Establishing a program should also include a learning management system (LMS). An LMS will help you with consistent delivery of information to your students. We currently use Google Classroom, but there are a ton of great LMS options to choose from. Schoology, Haiku and Canvas are a few that we have tried.

  1.  Include parents and students in the process.

I am not suggesting that parents or students should make the decisions when it comes to implementing changes at your school. However, they are voices that need to be heard. If you can’t reasonably answer most of the parental concerns then you might want to rethink what your are doing. The student voice is also important, since they will be the ones carrying around these little powerhouse devices. They should be part of how the devices are going to be used at school. There is no better way to get student buy in than to have them be part of the process. Our student government plays a major role in establishing the policies that were created for our iPad program.

  1. Establish a Digital Literacy class for both teachers, students and parents.

Contrary to popular belief, young people are not digital natives. If they were, then they wouldn’t make so many mistakes in online spaces. This class will help you establish a baseline of skills that the teachers all know and can expect the students to be able to use in their classroom. The skills can range from how to manage the storage on your device to what is the best workflow for turning in work to digital citizenship.

I could go on for days. What do you think are vital and important for establishing a 1:1 program? What am I missing?

Edcamp Rochester

On January 17th, Allendale Columbia School will host the first Edcamp Rochester. The most common question; what is edcamprocedcamp?

“Edcamp is a form of unconference designed specifically for teachers and their needs.

What makes Edcamp an unconference? Unlike traditional conferences which have schedules set months in advance by the people running the conference, Edcamp has an agenda that’s created by the participants at the start of the event. Instead of one person standing in front of the room talking for an hour, people are encouraged to have discussions and hands-on sessions. Sponsors don’t have their own special sessions or tables, all of the space and time are reserved for the things the people there want to talk about. People could pay hundreds of dollars to attend another conference, or they could go to Edcamp for free.

Built on principles of connected and participatory learning, Edcamp strives to bring teachers together to talk about the things that matter most to them: their interests, passions, and questions. Teachers who attend Edcamp can choose to lead sessions on those things that matter, with an expectation that the people in the room will work together to build understanding by sharing their own knowledge and questions.”

Edcamp Founation

I was fortunate enough to attend Edcamp Philly two years ago, and it was a transformative experience for me professionally. It was one of the few times as a professional that I was able to have some control of my learning. The structure of edcamp allowed me to choose or create sessions that were of value to me. I was able to bring something back and implement it right away into my curriculum. You can read more about how I used this edcamp experience in my classroom here, “Inspiration from Edcamp Philly”. You will get out of edcamp what you put into it. It is an experience that requires participation and collaboration. Come with an open mind and be ready to learn and share!

For more information and to register for Edcamp Rochester, on January 17th,  go to the website. I hope to see you there!

Tech Tool of Week – Notability

I would like to recommend an app that our middle school students use that improves productivity. The app that stands out for our students is Notability. Here are some reasons why they like using Notability:

“It is a good note taking app. You can draw diagrams, doodle, insert pictures.” -Kyla

“You can put worksheets into it and you can do your homework without printing.” -Kyla

“You can move information back and forth between Google Drive very easily, and then you can turn in work using Google Classroom.” -Cassandra and Cameron

“You can write on (annotate) worksheets and pictures that you insert.” -Cameron

“It has a left handed mode for writing.” -Cameron

“It’s really awesome. You have a lot of options, and it’s really simple. It has a bar at the top that has all of the things you can do and it’s really simple to navigate.”  -Middy

“You can control how you want to organize the information that you put into it.” -Cameron 

image1

Cameron’s organized Notability files

What are some other productivity and note taking apps that you like?

The Rochester Mini Maker Faire

Rochester_MMF_logos_GooglePlusI am excited to be a part of the upcoming Rochester Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, November 22nd at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. I will be showing off some Allendale Columbia student projects from the Makey Makey May Term class from last school year.  AC students will also be on-site to demonstrate how Makey Makey works. This is going to be a great event! Read below to find out more!

“Ever wonder what you could make with a 3D printer, how to build your own robot at home, or design your own game? Rochester is hosting it’s first Mini Maker Faire. Mini Maker Faires celebrate everyone who loves to make, create, craft, build and anything DIY. The inaugural Rochester event takes place on Saturday November 22nd, from 10am to 4pm at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. The day will be filled with exciting exhibitions, demonstrations, and hands-on activities for all ages. In addition, there will be interesting presentations, speakers, live music, and visual and performing arts.”
-The text above is from The Rochester Mini Maker Faire press release.
For more information check out the links below:
Rochester Mini Maker Faire – rochesterfaireinfo@gmail.com

Connected Educator Month

October is Connected Educator Month. I have put together some resources about being a connected educator for teachers to explore. Click here for Connected Educator Resources.

Check out some older posts that I have written about being a Connected Educator.

Connected Educator Month Post 1 – Overview

Connected Educator Month Post 2 – Edutopia Connected Educator Resources

Connected Educator Month Post 3 – Connected Educators to follow

Connected Educator Month Post 4 – Twitter Chats

Tech Tool of The Week – Class Dojo

Last year, Allendale Columbia School art teacher Amy Oliveri introduced me to Class Dojo. It has been a staple in my classes ever since. Here is how I use it:

Attendance – We don’t have a centralized method for taking attendance at our school. I love the simple, fun interface. It’s quick and easy to mark everyone present. It also lets me view the data a variety of ways, both as a visual chart or a downloadable file.

Attendance

Tracking in-class behavior for effort grades – I use an effort scale (see previous post) with my classes. I set up Class Dojo to help me evaluate components of the students’ effort grades during class. It’s hard to keep track of class participation and disruptions while you are teaching. This simple tool lets me give students points based on criteria that I preset. So, if students contribute to the discussion or ask great questions, I can give them participation points or other kinds of points. It’s very customizable. I can also check the data for each week, each day or go back as far as I want.AssessmentReports

Class Dojo has some great easy-to-use features for teachers. Best of all, it’s completely free!

Do you use Class Dojo? If yes, how do you use it with your students? Do you use any other tools to keep track of classroom behaviors?