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.