Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 3 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private to protect students’ identities.

musicroom2musicroom

Connect to ES #music classes!

Our elementary music teachers have started a blog in order to connect classrooms around the world. I LOVE it! If I haven’t mentioned it before, my favorite use of technology is the connections it allows. I had no hand in the idea for this blog and I’m so proud of our teachers for their initiative and drive. As an IB World school, this is a great opportunity for students to become open-minded, inquirers and communicators.

From their About page:

This blog is an attempt to connect music classrooms all around the world, with the overarching goal of helping students realize that they have something in common with students all over the world. This is a place for questions to be asked and answered, performances shared, and music to be celebrated!

They have had 2 posts from other schools so far and are hoping for many more! If you’re interested in participating (or want more information), email Nick & Stacey. The blog is currently private.

musicroom2musicroom

Language B Final Exam Review

When I brainstormed with the Language B department (Arabic & French) about how they could meaningfully integrate technology (SAMR prof development), they were eager to talk about the (quickly approaching) end of the year. Reviewing with students can be frustrating for both students and teachers. They wanted a way to put the responsibility of the review on their students while also engaging them. Although we came up with several ideas, they were most intrigued by Popplet (some of them had already seen it) and two of our French teachers (MYP & DP) gave it a try.

The teachers signed up for free Popplet accounts. For homework, the students signed up for accounts. Amel, the DP French teacher, created a popplet for each unit. She then created popples for grammar, vocabulary, and sub-topics. Once the structure was set, she invited students to the popplet. It was the students’ responsibility to fill in the popplet with grammer concepts, vocabulary words and sub-topics.
Tronc commun  Relations sociales

The middle school MYP teacher also used Popplet in a similar way with her students.
FRENCH REVIEW GRADE7

It was fun to hear the oohs and aahs from the students when I added a popple from the desktop and it showed up on their screens. The teachers liked that their students could collaborate and that each popple automatically included the creator’s name. Although only the creator can edit a popple, the teachers liked the comment function to help guide students. The ease of adding students to popplets was beneficial for the teachers. The ability to share links to popplets (on their class Edmodo pages) and create images was incredibly useful. The biggest negative? We’re an iPad school – the fully functional free website is flash-based and the app (with ability to collaborate) costs money. Also, you can only create a limited number of popplets (easily solved by saving the image when done and deleting the popplet).

Although this isn’t a “redefined” use of technology, the ability to simultaneously collaborate on a brainstorm with students gives it more oomph than “substitution.” It was a little taster for our teachers and hopefully they’ll be able to build on their experiences next year.

Use Google Story Builder in your classroom! #gonegoogle

The last week and a half has been a whirlwind! Last Monday I was asked to take over two French classes (again) for an undetermined period of time. I spent a couple days trying to wrap my brain around that. On my way out of the building on last Thursday, I ran into our superintendent. He informed that they had hired a French teacher…and that she would be taking over classes this week! I taught Sunday and Monday…and now I’m free again! From thinking that I would teach French for the rest of the school year to knowing it was only a couple of days – it’s been crazy. I do have to say I’m relieved that they were able to hire a qualified teacher (she’s from France AND has teaching experience in the Middle East) and that I’ll be able to continue focusing on my job as Technology Coach.

Last week I saw a post on the Google Drive Blog about the Gone Google Story Builder. Google suggested using the Story Builder to write songs or a story. My mind immediately went to the possibilities for education. This looks like a great tool for language teachers! The Story Builder is exclusively for dialogue which seriously restricts students…but that might be a good thing. This could be an option for students in English classes who are focusing solely on dialogue. Students in World Language classes could turn in the text to skits using the Story Builder. In Social Studies, students could create dialogues between historical (or present day) figures.

I played around with it myself a little for a French class. There are two important things to know – you can only create 10 characters and 10 exchanges (2 characters could each speak 5 times, 10 characters could each speak once). This does limit dialogues a bit, but I think it would be ideal for quick in class assignments. Once the story is built, you can choose music (or not) and share the link. Click here to view my story. Enjoy! 🙂

Finally back!

There have been 23 nights in October. I have spent 13 of them somewhere besides Columbia, SC. It feels good to be back and I’m ready to stay put for a little while!

About a month ago one of my administrators approached me and asked if I wanted to go to a Working on the Work Conference (WoW) in Columbus, GA put on by the Schlechty Center. I’m a young, enthusiastic teacher with no children…how could I say no? The conference started on Sunday and went until Wednesday. It was a 6 hour drive but another teacher drove with me and it was a great to get to know her!

My district has a new superintendent (in her 2nd year) whose ideas and spending have created some controversy in the community. WoW and the idea of changing the work students do in order to engage them and cause true learning is one of her major priorities. Our district has been sending teachers, administrators and staff members to training since she started. We have also hosted a fair amount of training for our staff. After hearing about the training I can’t say I had a super positive outlook on the conference. However, I reminded myself that you get out of it what you put it. I opted to attend the Design 3 session – Teacher as Guide to Instruction. This session drew me in because of the promise of the use of technology.

We got to hear from Phil Schlechty himself about engagement and standards. I was able to identify with the different levels of engagement – engagement, strategic compliance, ritual compliance, retreatism and rebellion. I also found his distinction between performance standards (what students are able to do) and curriculum standards (what students should know) to be very helpful. He believes that government should give curriculum standards, but that performance standards should be determined by the teachers. I agree that the idea of standards is essential, but we (as a nation) have taken it to the extreme and instituted mass amounts of standardized testing. When I moved to South Carolina I was astonished at the number of tests high school students must take (per the State Department of Education). Are multiple choice tests a true reflection of student learning? Phil Schlechty (and most people I follow on twitter) would tell you absolutely not.

The main take-aways from the conference were:
1) Teachers must get to know their students (their WHO). This is the first and most important thing all teachers should do.
2) Based on their WHO, teachers should create work that allows student choice, reflects their interests and shows that they have truly learned and understood the concepts.

This is usually more project and problem solving based. Students are actually learning to think, not just focus on useless facts. This is not really new (most good teachers already believe this), but it was nice to be around like-minded educators who are ready to do something more than just complain. I also liked being given the verbage and the tools to start designing work for my students as opposed to ‘planning’ lessons. In my specific session we focused on being a guide to instruction, not the sole content expert in the classroom. Collaborating with other experts and creating experiences for students is key.

I know all this training costs money and takes teachers out of the classroom, however if my district & superintendent believe in teaching students how to think and want to reform education, I can get on board. Even if I got nothing else from the 4 days (which I did!), I had the opportunity to experiment with Prezi for the first time! I loved it and I’m excited to play with it more. I Our assignment was to create a stand-alone tutorial for other educators teaching them about and demonstrating one of the design qualities. Enjoy my final product!