Friday, May 5, 2017

Backwards Design - PBL

Here are some of my ideas around Project Based Learning and the Backwards-Design Process:

I use the backwards design template (attached) to provide students with Project Based Learning opportunities within my library program. With the planning process, I consider the learning objectives for each day but also consider the goals students set for themselves during each Project Based Learning opportunity. Many of the projects I create have a component where students are setting daily goals for themselves and reflecting on those goals at the end of the lesson. It allows for students to make choices about their learning, and I find it raises engagement and provides an opportunity for students to advocate for themselves. The Project Based learning opportunities provides meaningful and authentic learning for students because they have a voice and a choice in what they learn, while exit tickets give me the opportunity to reflect on what the students have learned to engage them even more.

Here's a Backwards-Design Unit I used with my 5th graders to design a tiny house:



 I came up with the design from one of John Spencer's Design Challenges:

Exit tickets allow me the opportunity to check in with my students and reflect on how well the lesson went. More often than not, the data I receive from the exit ticket at the end of each lesson informs and drives the learning for the next day. The data collection after each lesson allows me to differentiate the next day’s lesson. I creates screencasts of the rigorous tasks based on the feedback (exit tickets) I received from students. The screencasts are made from the questions students ask or from tasks the students didn’t understand. I host each screencast on my website to allow the students the opportunity to choose which video they need to watch each day. Exit tickets are what start the differentiated instruction process. They inform me of where the students are, what their needs are, and what might be causing them confusion. I use this information to create videos (screencasts) for the next day for them to choose which videos they need to watch to complete the daily objective.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

SAMR - Redefinition

We are officially back from Spring Break!! It was a much needed break and I'm feeling ready to finish the year strong.

As I've stated in prior blog posts, I'm on the hunt for examples of how educators have used the SAMR model with educational technology to change their practice.

I stumbled upon Matt Miller, educator and famed author of Ditch That Textbook, discussing the importance of using technology to transform the learning in the classroom in a blog post, 10 Ways to Reach SAMR Redefinition.

To start, it's difficult to reach the transformative stage of Redefinition with technology where everything the students produce is a "new task, previously inconceivable." I know many teachers, myself included, who use Google Apps to have students type an essay and turn it in using Google Classroom. Although, the task of typing an essay online is really just substitution on the SAMR model, but I would also argue the ability to provide instant feedback on a permanently saved document has real value and couldn't be done before this type of technology. We could also take the task one step further by sharing the student's essay to a wider audience through a blog or podcast. Then we're moving towards the redefinition stage.

Here are some of my favorite "Redefinition" ideas from Matt Miller that I hadn't thought about before reading his blog:

 “Aid the community” competition: Students from various countries engage in a project to tackle an issue in their communities (i.e. reducing the carbon footprint of their communities). Students share ideas on a wiki, discuss ideas together via video chat on Skype/Adobe Connect/Google Hangout, and partner with researchers at local universities or companies. They share the findings of their yearlong endeavor in a documentary on YouTube. (Source: ECISD Technology)

 Global perspectives: Students connect with a class in another part of the world to discuss a historical event — preferably one that affects both their own countries. Students write — in shared Google Documents, blogs, wikis or any other writing tool — factually about the event and then share opinions about it. They can compare how it’s perceived in different parts of the world. (Inspired by this post.)

Read more from Matt Miller's blog:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Virtual Reality Videos

I've recently been exploring ideas on how to implement virtual reality videos into the classroom. There are actually plenty of 360 videos on Youtube right now (you can just search 360 videos to find them), but I was struggling to find how educators have put them to use until I discovered Monica Burns' blog post about virtual reality.

According to Monica Burns, here our some great places to start with virtual reality videos:

1) The New York Times Virtual Reality App -- they provide content and news resources through the app

2) Nearpod Virtual Reality Lessons --  My students love Nearpod! They have a large selection of interactive lessons

3) CNN Virtual Reality Videos

I find engagement to be high through these lessons. Students love the feeling of being in the action and these virtual reality videos (especially with the VR cardboard or other VR equipment) allow students to move within the world they are studying. It's truly a powerful tool.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

InnEdCO Conference

The great Paige Dersham and I are officially on the books for this summer's InnEdCO Conference from June 12-15 in Keystone, CO. Our session is on Tuesday, June 13 from 8-10 am.

During our workshop session, we'll present how our students use TinkerCAD to design 3D objects, how we print those objects using a 3D printer, and how other educators can fund this through Donor's Choose. We want educators leaving our workshop with the ability to create a 3D object using TinkerCAD and to create a project on Donor's Choose to start funding their own 3D printer.

Session Title: 3D Designing, Printing, and Making
Date: 06/13/2017
Start Time: 8:00
End Time: 10:00
Location: Crestone 3

Monday, February 13, 2017

SAMR -- integrating technology

Over the next few weeks, I'll be digging to find ways teachers are integrating technology into their classrooms. Specifically, I'm looking for activities and ideas teachers implement to move from "Subsituting" technology for paper to a "Re-definition" of their classroom. The SAMR model is a great way to see whether or not your activities or assignments either Substitute, Augment, Modify, or Re-Define the activity with the use of technology:

Image credit: Sylvia Duckworth, via @DavidGuerin

Alice  Keeler has some excellent ideas on how to re-define your classroom using technology. She suggests using a classroom website (I use According to Alice Keeler, this allows for:
  • students who are absent to access the work
  • differentiating directions and tasks
  • making information accessible anytime anywhere
  • helping parents to support their children in their learning
  • collaborating with other teachers
  • consistency between class sections
  • the near elimination of downtime in class
  • the teacher to work one on one with students or in small groups
  • the teacher to provide more high-quality feedback
I'll be continuing to gather ideas for the next couple of weeks to see how others have integrated technology and re-defined their classrooms with it.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

EdCamp Denver -- Session 3 -- Genius Hour

How do students have voice/choice in their learning? Have we set up time for students to choose what they learn?

Genius Hour: students have an hour each week to learn what they want to learn and present it in a way they choose.

How it's been implemented?
-"I Wonder" day: students create a higher level question, research it, share it at the end of class
-Bad Idea box -- share out all the bad ideas you can think of (gets students to be comfortable sharing their ideas
-Project Based Learning: create higher level questions to drive research, research their question, create a presentation to share through podcasts, videos, slide presentations, etc.

Bloxels: video game creation with an app
-build a map of the video game with actual blocks & take a picture of the blocks in the app
-set the rules of the game: how to jump, shoot, run, etc.
-similar to Minecraft
-students can create and share their game boards

20 Times: 
Launch Book: 
Project ideas:
Google expeditions: 

EdCamp -- Session 2 -- Audience for Kids

I'm attending my 2nd session of the day at EdCamp Denver:

How do students share their ideas and reach an authentic audience?

Sharing platforms:
-Kid Blog
-Seesaw -- this can be used as a digital portfolio as well

Ways students can use blogging:
-sharing essays beyond 4 walls (parents, community, etc)
-sharing their understanding of the daily goal and what they learned
-sharing resources they've discovered
-answering prompts
-sharing anything they've created (podcasts, 

Importance of students reaching an authentic audience:

Teaching how to blog:
-Citizenship -- how to share and respond appropriately
    -practice on paper --> write a post on paper; gallery walk w/ sticky notes
    -provide exemplars for responses
-Peer review & feedback -- have students use a rubric to guide their responses
-Writing in short, concise paragraphs