Friday, September 1, 2017

Badges FTW!

Last year when I was completing my Apple Teacher certification, I was a little addicted to the badges. Not sure why, but I was.  Same with the Apple Watch...especially the special badges that only exist on certain days, like the National Park Challenge.  I wondered if my kids would be as geeked out about badges as I was so at the end of last year, I tried it out using Schoology's badging system.

At first I thought they would laugh and blow it off, but I was very wrong.  Their interest in the badges was quite hilarious.  We invented random badges like "Class Shhh-er" and "Winner Winner Chicken Dinner".  They continually asked when the next badge was going to be up for grabs so I started using some that were a little more challenging.  I used a badge called Coder to try to convince them to use coding for a class project.  I did a SMASH badge for kids who app smashed a project.  

The end of the year feedback was so positive, I knew I needed to continue this year with the badges. Here are mine so far -  I printed this out and had kids use it to keep up with their badge collection on paper as well as in Schoology. I would love to know what badges you use and how you use them in your classes. 



Yesterday I posted an update to Schoology 10 minutes before school was out to see if anyone wanted to earn their clean up badge by helping me take down a super messy lab we did.  Eight kids showed up  - EIGHT!  I had six more reply and ask if there would be another opportunity for that badge because they had practice after school.

I love trying new things in the classroom and seeing kids engaged.  As silly as most think badges are, it makes my kids laugh and get excited - so its totally worth it.

Special thanks to my friend Mrs. Perkins for the ideas on some of these badges! :)

Friday, July 21, 2017

1st 5 Days

I decided to add a new 1st 5 Days post since it has changed so much over the last two years.

Several years ago I heard Alan November share on the importance of "The First Five Days" and how we need to build a culture the first week. Share and discuss what is possible instead of telling them what they can't do. 

I have used "The First Five Days" philosophy every year since then. Here is an updated version of how my first week of science looks in 7th grade. 

Day 1: Welcome
We rotate through 8 interactive stations that help plan the year and reflect on the previous one. Here is the link to the folder that contains directions for each table. 

Day 2: There is no “I” in team
Time for a team challenge! This year we are going to see how quickly they can work as a team to problem solve. Each group will be given a Sphero and will take one of the challenges listed HERE. (Ideas from Sphero) They will have a photographer that will document their Sphero journey using Clips to share their story of struggle.

Few of my students have any prior experience using these devices. Our focus is on trial and error and celebrating failed attempts. 

Day 3/4 - Purpose
On day 3, I bring out the poster from the first day station on world problems. The poster is typically covered in words like equality, poverty, malnutrition, pollution, etc. As a class we look at the UN Goals for a Sustainable Development and make connections. Students determine which goal they feel most passionate about and dig a little deeper. Next we divide up by goal and they pick a partner who thinks similarly. 

With their partner they design an invention that could address that problem. They sketch it out in Paper53 or a drawing app and then develop a 45-60 second pitch speech about their invention. They record the pitch in Flipgrid to share with our global classroom partners. 

This gives us the opportunity to discuss digital citizenship and online etiquette. Students will reply to other students in the grid with questions and follow up ideas.  (You can join us on Flipgrid and have your class participate too.)

We will come back to these ideas in a another week or so as we begin to plan our year and determine our plan to make a positive impact on our community and environment.


Day 5 - Critical Thinking
Students first are given a square piece of paper and they have to define creativity using only one word (thanks to the idea by The Tech Rabbi!) We will discuss perspective and opinions and how everyone thinks differently.  I will use these to papers make a mosaic on the wall.

Next, we play a game of Hero or Villain (this idea is from Sunny Richardson).  We discuss a few scientists that created something or developed an idea that ended up not being such a great thing for the planet.  

Students then choose a controversial scientist and dig deeper.  We talk about credible searches and that not everything we read is true. Each group shares out and we debate if they would be considered a hero or a villain or neither. Students then "Tweet Like a Scientist" into a Today's Meet to share with the other classes.

We also discuss qualities and characteristics of a good scientist and connect that to being good classmates, lab partners, and citizens.  


Finally, students discuss a time they epically failed at something and what they learned from their failure. This will be added to our FlipGrid conversation next week.

This folder will contain all the resources for my #1st5Days as I create them over the next few weeks.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Teach SDGs

When I was first introduced to the Goals for a Sustainable Development by the United Nations, I was hooked. I knew this was just what my class needed for focus and purpose.  For the last four years I have started each year in the same way - asking my students what they want to learn.  


What big problems can we identify in our community or globally and what can we do to address those issues?

Here is an overview of how our projects have gone. All of these projects were designed, created, and completely driven by students. As the teacher, I only guide and give suggestions.

Year 1: 2014
Students selected Global Goal #3: Good Health and Well Being.  
We decided that our focus would be on helping children make better decisions on how to take care of their bodies and why it was important to do so.  Students decided to create a free online course in iTunes U to teach kids healthy habits.

Final Product: Health Without Borders
This can be subscribed to for free on an iOS device. As of 2017, this course has over 56,000 subscribers worldwide.

Year 2: 2015
Students selected Global Goal #4: Quality Education.
This year students partnered with a non-profit out of South Africa that was giving teachers in low income areas an iPad for their school. My students decided to develop a free multi-touch book to accompany Health Without Borders to add science education to the course.  

Final Product: Health Inside Out
This can be subscribed to for free on an iOS device or Mac. As of 2017, this book has been downloaded over 55,000 times.

Year 3: 2016
Students selected Global Goal #15: Life on Land.
This year, 7th graders partnered with the Dallas Zoo to learn more on conservation efforts to protect endangered species. Students developed a multi-touch book that highlights 8 different endangered or threatened species.  Working with experts around the world, students showcased ways we can help protect these species from extinction.

Final Product: Through Their Eyes
This can be subscribed to for free on an iOS device or Mac. As of 2017, this book has been downloaded over 10,000 times.

Year 4: 2017
This year students couldn't decide on one goal, so we covered several. Their original idea was to create educational materials to make society understand the importance of protecting our planet. We focused on climate change, pollution, recycling, and protecting our water. Students developed a multi-touch book for children to share our story of helping in our community and to encourage others to take small steps for big changes. 

Final Product: Saving Earth
This can be subscribed to for free on an iOS device or Mac. As of 2017, this book has been downloaded over 12,000 times.

So what's next? I actually have no idea! Thats the best part. Start each year with a blank slate and find out what students are passionate about. They have great ideas for improving our world, we just have to encourage them to think big. It makes my job much more fun -- I let them lead the way and I find ways to connect our content and state objectives to their interests and ideas.



Tuesday, June 13, 2017

#GoOutside

One of the big reasons I wanted our district to go 1:1 iPad was the mobility of the device.  As much as I love my MacBook, I can't really take it outside and capture pictures and video with it easily.  The mobility of the iPad allows us to have class wherever we want, whenever we want.

Here are some ways that we take learning outdoors:

1. Citizen Science:  Using the app iNaturalist, our kids can become citizen scientists.  They can capture images of living things around them and upload to document nature.  There are so many projects in iNaturalist you can join, or you can create you own.


2. InfoPics: One vocabulary word, one picture, and a five word or less definition. This is a great way to review vocabulary with each student taking one word and creating their infopic using Moldiv or PicCollage.  Once everyone is done, students can upload them to a common space (we use Schoology media albums) and comment on each others pictures.  We use the "Yes, and.." format when commenting. See the example below.



3. Walk and Talk:  Get with your project group and plan your project while taking a lap around the school. Discuss goals for the day, who is doing what, any supplies or materials needed.  

4. Nature Walk: Test the soil pH or temperature, find seeds, collect specimens for viewing under the microscope, etc.  Several of our labs could be completed outside - measuring heart rate, calculating jump distance to compare to height, etc. We also use the Pro-Scope iPad camera attachments to get macro images of nature.  Everything looks cooler magnified by 40X.

5. Flipgrid Reflections:  Using the app FlipGrid, have students reflect on their learning or answer a question prompt.  Going outside allows them to spread out and have better sound quality on their recordings.  You can also join FlipGrid Friday and discuss some science hot topics with us! If you follow the grid, you will notified as new questions are added.  

6. Sidewalk Chalk: Want to see 7th graders get super excited? Hand them some sidewalk chalk!  Once we left Earth Day messages in the car loop, but my favorite is having them draw a structure, capture an image of it and then annotate it on the iPad.  Now with the Clips app, the could put together a short video that explains the particular topic we are focused on.

Share ways that you take learning outdoors!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saving Earth

This year my 7th graders focused on ways to improve our planet.  They began by looking at the United Nations Goals for Sustainable Development and figured out ways we could help in our community.  At the end of our first semester, they presented their plans to their peers and we voted on which projects we could accomplish in the spring semester.

The culminating project was to create a book, Saving Earth, to help kids better understand how they could help.  The book is completely student created including animations, illustrations, photography, and text.  We were able to collaborate with other schools on some of the chapters and share the voices of students from around the world.

Download their book and see what you think!


Monday, April 10, 2017

Earth Day 2017

This year for Earth Day, we will partner with schools around the world to conduct a BioBlitz and compare our communities.  Join us as we capture nature, become citizen scientists, debate, challenge others, and create art!

1.  SAY HI: Introduce your team. Share where you are from and why Earth Day is important to your group.  What are your team goals?

2. EXPERIMENT: Conduct a bioblitz (a quick survey of living things) in your neighborhood or community.  Create a quick video slideshow of your images of living things using an app such as Clips or iMovie and share your environment by uploading it on FlipGrid.  You can also upload your images to our iNaturalist project and become citizen scientists!


You can read more about the BioBlitz from Apple Education.  There are several really awesome lessons here to celebrate Earth Day.

3. DEBATE: As a group, decide if you think we should be concerned with climate change. Share your opinion here and make sure to defend your thoughts and opinions with reputable science.

4. CHALLENGE: Come up with a challenge to pose to our audience to encourage them to make a difference and protect our planet.  What can you say in under a minute that would convince someone to make every day Earth Day? Give them a specific challenge, such as meatless Monday. Start your challenge with "I will..." as your commitment and encourage them to do the same.

5. CREATE: Using only recycled material you find on campus or at home, create an original art piece.  Share your art and explain the materials you used and why it is helpful to keep them out of the landfill.

6. REFLECT: What did you learn? What surprised you the most? What questions do you still have? This room will open at the conclusion of the project.



So far schools in Ohio, Texas, New York, Virginia, and Bangladesh have joined this project.  If you want to join us, SIGN UP HERE!



Download the FlipGrid App and use the code earthday or use https://flipgrid.com/earthday on your computer.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

World Water Day

World Water Day is March 22.  Our class is looking to connect with schools around the world to compare our water sources.  We plan to look at creeks, streams, lakes, rivers, and oceans. Here is our outline:

1. Have a few students introduce your class HERE.  
(The grid code is worldwaterday)
Tell us where you are from, what local water source you are going to look at, and what the biggest water threat is where you live.

2. Have your students analyze the water.
You can do this anyway that works for your classroom.  You can talk about the color and smell, you could record the temperature or pH, you could look at it under a microscope and tell us what you found.  You can use any equipment you might have or just make qualitative observations. 

We will do this in stations. Here are the STATION SIGNS
Here are the directions for each STATION.  These are written for 7th grade students so feel free to edit away!  Both are shared as a PDF.  If you want an editable Pages version, contact me and I will send that directly.

Have your students submit their results HERE and also share their thoughts to the FlipGrid that will be opened on Wednesday, March 22.

After results are posted, I would encourage you to have your kids ask questions of other students results.  I will share a Numbers document with each teacher that has the shared data in it so your students can compare the different results. They could create charts, graphs, or just look at the results.

3. Have your students come up with an "I Can..." statement. 
Their statement should share how they can conserve or protect water.  We will open another room on our Flipgrid for this statement on Thursday, March 23. Example: "I can reduce the amount of water I waste by not watering my lawn during the warmest parts of the day"  

4. Develop a plan to spread the word and make a difference.
Think Ice Bucket Challenge, but without wasting water. :)
We will open this FlipGrid room for this Friday, March 24.

5. Reflect
Have your students reflect on their learning in our last FlipGrid room (opens next week).  What did they learn? What surprised them? What questions do they still have?


So far we are connecting schools in Texas, California, Maine, Ohio, Turkey, India, Bangladesh, Canada, and New Zealand.  Feel free to share this with anyone you think might want to join. 


Sign up HERE to participate in our World Water Day project for 2017.