Friday, November 10, 2017

Showcase: A Westerville Teacher Discusses Blended Learning

Blended Learning and Personalized Learning are two of the more recent ways of visualizing instructional practices that meet the needs of all learners. While the theory behind these concepts - that all students should have content and activities that meet their needs available to them - is an easy one to grasp, the practice of setting up a classroom to differentiate for all students can be more than a little daunting. Heather Griffith, a 4th grade teacher at Fouse Elementary has been using Blended and Personalized learning techniques along with flexible seating to better meet the needs of her students. In this Showcase Video you will hear about:
- A typical day in the classroom
- How 2:1 Technology makes a difference
- Why set a class up this way? 
- How flexible seating helps these strategies
- Struggles and successes
- Recommended starting points for teachers looking to shift their teaching style



It is worth your time to watch the whole video, but if you are pressed for time you can skip to the points that most interest you by looking for the orange question bubbles in the video. 

Additionally, example materials are included below that were used to help organize the classroom and guide students in their activities. 



Schoology and Google Classroom continue to move closer together with what they are capable of. Schoology has added Classroom-like functionality this year. For more on anything you saw, contact your ed-tech coach!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Showcase: A Westerville Teacher Shares How She Uses Video Design

Our Westerville community has an abundance of creative, driven, and passionate teachers committed to engaging students and helping them grow as modern learners. We want to showcase the incredible work we see every day! In the attempt to do just this, each month we are going to showcase at least one impactful activity going on in our district. Introducing our first teacher...


Lori Searfoss, ESL Teacher at Blendon Middle School



Lori is continually seeking out ways to engage her ESL students in activities that boost their self-esteem while also helping them develop the four language skills of reading, writing, listening, and speaking. Recently, Lori decided to have her students create videos that incorporate their writing, reading and speaking skills. Her students used WeVideo, a user-friendly video creation and editing tool, to record themselves first reading from posters in their school and ultimately from their own work. In addition to practicing forming sentences,  reading and speaking in an engaging way, and learning how to operate a tool that they can use in the future, this activity got the students looking more closely at the decorations in their school, which also sparked conversation about why different posters exist and what the messages on the posters mean to different individuals in the building.  


Lori took her students through concrete steps to create the work they ultimately recorded. Listen as she takes you through the preliminary steps to help students create the content they ultimately used in their videos:



Below is an example of a student using WeVideo to practice reading signs in their classroom. The choice to not include music in the video allowed for the student's voice to shine. Allowing the students to choose the posters they read led to discussions about the content of the posters, reasons for the placement of the posters, and meanings of the posters to different students.




The following clip is an example of a student working on her reading and speaking skills by reading some of what she created during the preliminary activity discussed in Lori's video:


Video design is an engaging activity that can be incorporated into any aspect of a lesson or unit. Interested in designing lessons or projects for your students using video design? Contact your Ed Tech Coach!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Grow with Google

Recently, Google has released their "Grow with Google" programs that are designed to help people utilize Google resources for growing their digital skills. This program is for private use as well as education, and has comprehensive programs for many different purposes.

For teachers, Google has created resources and curriculum for:


These programs come complete with step by step guides to help you get going! Google also has a great education training center, which helps develop skills used in the classroom. Completing these programs can lead to a G Suite Certification if so desired!

Here is a snipit of how one of the programs is being used:


If you are interested in learning more about how you can utilize any of these free Google programs / training modules, click the links above or contact your Ed Tech Coach!

#WestervilleWay



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Jump Right In" to Coding in the Classroom

You may have heard of coding in the classroom and wonder what all the fuss is about. I’d like to show you two resources for engaging coding activities you could use in your K-12 classroom


But first, let’s take a quick look at why teachers are choosing coding as an activity to add to an already very full schedule! From Edutopia, “Coding in the classroom is linked to improved problem solving and analytical reasoning, and students who develop a mastery of coding have a natural ability and drive to construct, hypothesize, explore, experiment, evaluate, and draw conclusions." Coding is a natural fit for our older students in CS and math classrooms and it hits on many mathematical practices addressed in our Bridges math curriculum for the younger learners ( 1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. 2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively. 3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others. 4. Model with mathematics. 5. Use appropriate tools strategically. 6. Attend to precision. 7. Look for and make use of structure. 8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning).


Beyond the direct connections to curriculum, educators who are already using coding activities have seen additional benefits. They have seen coding used as a tool to improve equity, offer inclusion opportunities, create STEM proficiency with implications for career readiness, develop perseverance, and quite simply, its fun! From educators who are using coding in the class, “Best advice is to jump right in!”


Code.org


Westerville 4th graders using Code.org
Code.org makes “jumping right in” very easy to do.  Code.org is completely free and it is easy for your students to sign in to. If you use Clever it is included in the “More Apps” section, at the bottom of the page. The activities range from “block coding” meaning students manipulate blocks of pre-written code that they can alter and arrange to solve a puzzle or complete a task, to eventually writing lines of code using CSS and HTML. Students' progress is recorded and as the teacher, you can easily see what the students have worked on and completed.

Lessons are named after letters (A-F) which correspond with a grade level. Course A would be appropriate for most Kindergarten classes (designed for pre-readers) while Course F would be appropriate for grade 5. Middle and high school appropriate materials are found under the CS Discoveries and CS Principles Courses.  There are “ramp up” lessons to support students where needed and accelerated lessons for students that need more of a challenge. Many of the courses include “Unplugged Lessons” which are small group, hands-on activities that do not use a computer but expose students to concepts important to coding, problem solving, teamwork, and staying safe online using activities from Common Sense.




Hour of Code offers a one hour tutorial using some of the highest interest lessons for teachers looking for coding activities but do not have the time for a full course. There are also labs such as “App Lab” and “Creative Labs” which offer more of a project experience.

Vidcode

Westerville 4th graders using code.org
Vidcode offers many free activities suitable for grade levels 2-12. If you use BrainPop, vidcode recently integrated with some BrainPop activities which makes use of the best qualities of both products, including using code to create stop action animation, memes, and newscasts as a fun way to show students’ mastery.

I hope you may take a few minutes to look at these incredible resources and find a little something you might want to try with your classes!


As always, if you’d like additional support with coding in the classroom, please contact your Ed Tech Coach!



Additional Resources:



http://www.pbs.org/education/blog/bring-coding-to-your-classroom-tomorrow

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

5 Ways to Make Your Course More Clickable



You have probably run into at least one social media article that includes a ridiculous question like the one below:
Incidentally, Stop Clickbait is doing an important service…


These headlines and articles are written in ways that draw our attention because they (sometimes) pose an unbelievable or compelling question that we need an answer for. One of the hallmarks of media and advertising, particularly online is to capture attention through clear, attractive design, and giving viewers a compelling reason to engage with the content. For example, consider which of the advertisements below catches your eye:
Option 1:


Buy
Coke.


Option 2:
The second option is much more likely to catch your eye with varied fonts, pictures, color, and other features that set it apart from the rest of the writing on this page. The fact that the bottles are collectible adds to the cultural appeal. So what does this have to do with the content that you put online?


Websites, apps, and other media are built along the same principles. As teachers begin to move their course content to online systems like Schoology, it is important to remember that design is an important aspect of the online experience. Strong design can help students in their learning, while poor design can increase the barriers that they may have to work through to learn. Here are some best practices that you can use to make sure that your courses are providing students with a good user experience.

  1. Establish the goal of your course- is it just to serve as a place to hold assignments for students to access? A fully differentiated and built out course? Depended on the focus, your goals and organization will be different
  2. How can you help your students accomplish the goal? What will make it worth their time to interact with your content?
    • Pictures?
    • Video?
    • Color and varied font?
    • How the content is split up (folder and assignment design)save image
  3. What can explain to students where they are, what the goal is, and why they should care?
    • About this course section?
    • Introduction page?
    • Course Overview page?
    • Breakdown of standards?
  4. What is the compelling reason for them to click on folders, links, and other content? Do the clicks further the goal of the course or an assignment? How can you reduce the number of clicks while still presenting content in a manageable way?
    • Make each page, link, and folder intentional in its design and contents. Can content be presented within an assignment or does it need to be a separate page?
    • Do links need to be included separately or can they be embedded within the text?
  5. Use common layouts. Schoology is somewhat limited in the layout options that you have and Google classroom is even more limited, but even so, there are options that you can take advantage of to make sure that navigation is easy for students.
    • Pick a method of organizing content, assessments, and assignments and stick to it throughout the year.
    • Break text into sections so that eyes have a break between reading (look at different websites to see how this happens without you even noticing!
    • Video, photos, and other media can be a great way to do this.
If you are looking to spice up your Schoology Course, and want some more ideas, contact your Ed-Tech Coach for help!