Friday, November 13, 2015

Tic Tac Toe?

I've been struggling with teaching my 4th graders about sharing documents using OneDrive. Their worlds were opened this year when we gave them email and OneDrive accounts.  Before then, their documents didn't go any further than a flash drive and a printed paper.

Things are different now. They can create, share, and collaborate online in the cloud, and this isn't an easy concept to teach them.

So, today we played Tic Tac Toe.  Half the students created a board (3x3 table) and shared with the other half class.  They had to play 3 games and tell me who won each game.  And it was a success. Everyone saw collaboration on their screen and got a feel for how the process works.

The best was hearing the collaboration in the air as students were cheering and jeering across the room and helping each other figure out the process. I'd call it a success.

Maybe next week we'll do something serious.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Observation Notes: Summit View Academy

Last week, I had the opportunity to observe at Summit View Academy, the school where my daughter attends.  When my principal announced that we needed to observe in another school in November, it only made sense to me to visit SVA to see how the STEAM conversion is coming along.


I blogged in the spring about their jump to becoming a STEAM academy and how I would love to be part of things going on there. It was a rare treat to get a "behind the scenes" look at the transition and meet with some of the key players.


I spent a couple hours in Mrs. Kidwell's 4th grade class. Mrs. Kidwell is the school's iPad expert.  A few years ago she wrote a grant to receive a cartful of iPads, and today hers is the only class with a collection of iPads.  

I was impressed by a few things in Mrs. Kidwell's room, not the least of which is that iPads were prevalent in every aspect of class.  Students used an app to report their attendance.  They used iPads during "bell ringer time" and as centers during reading group time.  

Mrs. Kidwell's students are also given student project choices.  Once a semester, she passes out STEAM Assignment Choice Boards with 8 project ideas.  During the course of the semester, students are required to do 3 of the projects on the handout.  These projects span various media and content areas, but they all reflect back on student learning and some sort of STEAM focus.


My next stop was the middle school library to see Mrs. Jones teach Digital Literacy, and I was pleasantly surprised to see her teaching a lesson from Common Sense Media that I have taught at my school numerous times. Seeing someone else teach the same lesson showed me a few tips how I can teach that lesson better and I'm looking forward to my next attempt soon.  

Mrs. Jones is tasked with starting up the school's maker space in the library, and you can see the excitement radiate on her face when she talks about it.  The 3D printer is set up, but the rest is still in the planning phases. In addition to planning out equipment and supplies, she also needs to figure out how to use a maker space, library, and digital literacy class in one room. I don't envy her.  Once a month, our local public library comes in to help with a Maker Club after school, which is a great way to get the idea started.

Mrs. Jones also oversees the morning announcements which are live-streamed to each class at the start of the day. I had the joy of watching the announcements in Mrs. Kidwell's room then seeing the room where the magic happens.  (Incidentally, my daughter would be jealous that I was in this room. She runs through the morning announcements often during her play time.)


I also had the chance to spend some time with Mr. Chavez, the district's STEAM Consultant.  

As a parent, when I heard about the STEAM initiative, I thought it would be an instantaneous change.  It turns out that they are planning on a three-year transition, and the biggest hurdle so far has been melding two schools into one.  That brought to mind when our school went from two principals to one, and we really started to think and act like one school. It takes a lot of work and great leadership to pull that off.  Now that the administrative aspects of this transition are wrapping up, the school is starting to focus more on STEAM and how to integrate it into their philosophy. 

This has been an arduous task because PreK-8 STEAM schools simply do not exist.  Mr. Chavez and others are gleaning whatever information they can from whatever source they can find to make the shift.  This includes talking to STEAM high schools and asking parents and other community members for help.  This is where it's been fun for me to share what I know of technology integration and give some tips to help out.  Our school is about two years ahead of them with OneDrive and all the subsequent applications, and I've been able to wow them with Teacher Dashboard

Mr. Chavez's enthusiasm for STEAM is contagious.  One of the best parts of my day was his tour of the school with an eye for STEAM change. He has studied the building and its physical space to see how rooms and courtyards can be better utilized to aide the transition. It's going to be great!


Overall, I love the exchange of ideas happening between schools.  I'm excited to see what's happening at SVA and love being able to share my knowledge with them. I'll be keeping an eye on how things progress over the months and years!