Hour of Code…to the Next Level

IMG_8955Media Specialist John Hochstetler has implemented the Hour of Code at Sand Creek Intermediate School for five years running, ever since the Code.org-sponsored computing event began. Last year, John noticed that some students were ready for more — they had mastered the basics of game-based block coding apps and needed a deeper challenge.

And a challenge he made! During Computer Science Education Week 2017, Mr. Hochstetler’s Media Center became a literal computing playground. Students could choose from twenty different coding-based activities –  Ozobot bowling,  Sphero basketball and miniature golf, and more! In preparation for the Winter Olympics, students could practice their curling skills with mini-Spheros, or program Dash, a code-able robot, to free Dot, Dash’s smaller ‘cousin’, from captivity.

For SCI’s musical students, there was the opportunity to code Dash to play tunes on a Dash-sized xylophone. Students interested in design could use Bloxels to create scenes that they could then embed into their very own game design on the Bloxel iPad app.

Said Hochstetler, “I received great reviews from both students and teachers, some even taking the time to share their appreciation through cards and signs. That was proof enough that I should continue with this event and continue to develop it as well.”

Mr. Hochstetler reports that his own next challenge is to leverage the enthusiasm his students have shown for coding through partnering with classroom teachers to integrate coding activities into the content areas. Connection opportunities abound, especially with the roll out of Indiana’s new computer science standards. Read more about the Hour of Code – Playground Style (and see more pictures) on Mr. Hochstetler’s blog at hselibrarydude.blogspot.com.

Writing About Technology…Teaching It, Too!

fullsizeoutput_e8eAt HSE Schools, we are sometimes asked how it’s possible to embed ‘soft skills’ (aka, 21st century skills) into traditional academic work for our youngest learners. We’re asked how we balance the importance of our little ones using real hands-on tools – pencils, paper, printed books, for example – with the incorporation of digital tools for learning. 

Teachers are creative souls. Designing cohesive learning experiences – it’s what they love to do! Here’s one example of how Standards, content, and skill development recently came together to make school relevant, meaningful, and fun for some novice readers and writers. Thank you to Mrs. Myers at New Britton Elementary for allowing HSE21 Shorts to learn how to use an Ozobot from your first graders!

Authors write about what they know.  Mrs. Myers used STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) inquiry to foster writing. Students explored the workings of Ozobots, then used a design process to create Ozobot mazes. Fresh with new knowledge, the first graders wrote “How-to” books for setting up an Ozobot and sending it through the maze. As students described their design experience in writing, connections were drawn between the recursive, iterative nature of both the design and writing processes. The best part, said the first graders, was sharing their “How-to” books with kindergarteners, so that they could learn to use Ozobots too!

Ozobots from HSE21 Media on Vimeo.

 

Standards, content, and skills. Mrs. Myers built this project based on her first grade Academic Standards. She chose Ozobots as content, since they were engaging for the students and provided a STEM-rich design experience. As for ‘soft’ skills — this cross-curricular endeavor fostered critical and visual thinking, problem solving and creativity, as well as both oral and written communication.

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Celebration Houses 2: Connected Community

Note: Don’t miss Celebration Houses 1: Connected Learning, as it provides background for the rich community connections described below. Thanks again to Mrs. Hudson and Mrs Keaffaber for allowing HSE21 Shorts to share their story of learning!

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The inquiry and collaboration embedded into project-based learning (PBL) make PBL experiences prime opportunities to build community, both within and beyond the classroom. Notice below how the Celebration Houses project helped foster learning and sharing that extended to students’ families and even into the Fishers community!

Q: Were there any ‘aha’ moments or fun surprises that came out of this experience for you guys as teachers?

A: Students’ level of interest and engagement was powerful!  Everyone seemed to enjoy the research and effort that went into the houses.  One particular night during the project will remain as one of our most memorable teaching experiences ever.  After a long day at BizTown (our 5th grade field trip), our students stayed after school to paint their newly constructed Celebration Houses.  Families helped as well.  It was truly humbling to see fifteen adults lending a hand and asking questions about the holidays while the students painted and answered questions. The ways in which students showed pride in their creations as they shared what they had learned is definitely a moment we will cherish.

Q: What are the benefits to students of this kind of learning? What did you notice as teachers?

A: We purposely did not give a holiday to those students who celebrated it.  However, we did make those who celebrate the holiday the Experts.  Therefore, if and when students had questions, they turned to the Experts for help and clarification.  For example, a Chinese-American student wrote the Chinese character for Good Fortune for that team to include on their door.  She also taught them how to make a sturdier lantern.

We also found our Experts learning more about their own holidays.  For example, when the Christmas group discussed the three wise men, a Christian student interjected, “Huh! I had no idea THAT’S why we give gifts to each other!”   Sometimes it takes learning about others and through others to better understand ourselves. This was great to witness!

Q: How are the students sharing their learning beyond the classroom?

A: All of the Celebration Houses are on display through New Year’s – most can be found in the lobby of the Fishers City Hall. Several additional houses are located in the children’s department of the Fishers library branch and at Launch Fishers. When you visit, make sure to scan the QR code hanging by each house! Each code will take you to a short video made by that student team – you’ll learn the history of the holiday as well as the significance of each element of the Celebration House. What holiday will you learn more about this season?

Celebration Houses 1 – Connected Learning

IMG_8995This two-part story is a wonderful example of how great teachers foster deep and meaningful learning. As you read about the Celebration Houses project, notice how Indiana’s Academic Standards are addressed in ways that are inquiry-based, engaging, and authentic. Notice how student teams collaborate towards a final creative product. One more…Notice how technology was employed purposefully as a cognitive learning tool!

HSE21 Shorts asked fifth grade teachers Amber Hudson and Lisa Keaffaber, from Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High, to take us into their ‘teacher brains’ to explain how this learning experience connected content from across the curriculum. In our next post, we’ll examine ways in which this project fostered community connections both within the classroom and throughout our city.

Q: How did this project come about?

A: It all started when Amber said, “Hey, I heard about this gingerbread house idea, and I think we should try it.”  After brainstorming some ideas on how to incorporate it into our curriculum, standards, and our students’ interests, the Gingerbread Celebration House Project was born.

Students returned from Thanksgiving break to find the classrooms transformed. In place of desks were heaps of cardboard and cardboard boxes. Hanging around the rooms were 31 QR codes with pictures, and huge sheets of paper with thought-provoking questions.

Before students could experience the room, we read two picture books: one on being an American and one on faith.  Both books focused on the beautiful differences that are among us and seen in our celebrations of faith.  After experiencing the songs, dances, videos, and pictures of the various holidays via the QR codes and pictures, each student uploaded a video to FlipGrid explaining which celebrations they found most interesting. This is how we determined which student would construct which house.

IMG_9008Q: What were your goals for the project?

A: Our goals were to give students an awareness and appreciation of cultural celebrations from around the world that occur throughout the year AND to have them share their understanding with the people of Fishers.

Though many families in our district do celebrate Christmas, other important holidays are celebrated by families in our classroom and around the world that are also significant and special.

Q: How did the learning experience align with academic standards? 

In humanities class, social studies is incorporated into reading and writing. Through reading, students discovered both similarities and differences they had with other students’ traditions.  For example, light (as in candles and strands of lights) are a common feature in holidays for Buddhists, Christians, Jews, and Muslims.

Here is a sample of Indiana Academic Standards for humanities subjects that were addressed in this project:

Reading standards

  • Determine two or more main ideas of a text.
  • Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more events, ideas, or concepts based on specific information in the text.
  • Combine information from several texts or digital sources on the same topic in order to demonstrate knowledge about the subject.
  • Determine the meaning of general academic and content-specific words and phrases in a nonfiction text relevant to a fifth grade topic or text.

Writing standards:

  •  Introduce a topic; organize sentences and paragraphs logically, using an organizational form that suits the topic.
  • Employ sufficient examples, facts, quotations, or other information from various sources and texts to give clear support for topics.
  • Connect ideas within and across categories using transition words (e.g., therefore, in addition).
  • Include text features (e.g., formatting, pictures, graphics) and multimedia when useful to aid comprehension.

In STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) class, math and science are interwoven for a more real world experience. Constructing and decorating the Celebration Houses became an authentic means through which students could practice STEM skills. Students used the engineering design process to develop a viable structure for their house; they then applied their skills to construct and decorate their houses.  Hands on.  The engagement was through the roof — literally!

Math standards:

  • Multiply multi-digit whole numbers fluently using a standard algorithmic approach.
  • Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using models or drawings and strategies based on place value or the properties of operations.  Describe the strategy and explain the reasoning.
  • Solve real-world problems involving multiplication and division of whole numbers and decimals
  • Find the area of a rectangle with fractional side lengths by modeling with unit squares of the appropriate unit fraction side lengths, and show that the area is the same as would be found by multiplying the side lengths.  Multiply fractional side lengths to find areas of rectangles, and represent fraction products as rectangular areas.

Enjoy the Celebration House photos below, and be on the lookout for Celebration Houses 2, as the Celebration Houses head out to the Fishers community!

 

Perspective-Taking Through the Global Read Aloud

The Diversity Committee at Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High recently led their entire community (teachers & students in grades 5-8) through a common book study that became a powerful perspective-taking experience for all. A big thanks to Media Specialist JoyAnn Boudreau for sharing their story! 

220px-ALongWalkToWaterA Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, a Global Read Aloud selection for 2017, was chosen for our book study. It was the perfect fit for our students, as it is accessible to all four of our 5-8 grade levels. A Long Walk to Water would provide a forum through which to address our Diversity Committee goals of global thinking/awareness and empathy-building. The book also lended itself to other HSE21 learning goals such as collaboration and inquiry.

We wanted the whole school to be on board! Our Diversity team leader worked persistently to figure out a way to make this work! Global Read Aloud officially kicked off October 2. When students came to the library, they got the chance to collaborate and work with others around the globe, activities encouraged by the Global Read Aloud. Students participated in global Flipgrid boards, Twitter chats, and global Padlet boards. They asked and answered questions of other students from around the world and shared information. They took virtual reality field trips to refugee homes and camps. They used water calculators to see how much water they were using and considered how they  might use less!

Though the ‘official’ Global Read Aloud wrapped up on November 10th, HIJH’s journey isn’t nearly over. We’re still developing next steps, exploring options for a water walk and for a fundraiser to help build a water well in Africa. Students are passionate; they want to help and make a difference. A few students have already begun bracelet sales to raise funds to go towards a water well. They told us, “This book raised our global awareness, and now we’re trying to raise money for a well.”

By reading in community — a few chapters each week from the right book —  and with teacher support, students’ eyes are a little more open to the world around them than they were before.

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Here are a few other favorite quotes from student responses:

  • “It’s fun to have the whole school reading the same book and everyone in the same chapters.”
  • “I have enjoyed so far in the book that all the characters have something different about them.”
  • “People take many things for granted, but we take our everyday needs for granted the most.”
  • “Do you have any books like A Long Walk to Water in the library?”

Investigation, Collaboration, and Chinese Dance…GES Does It All!

Thank you to Media Specialist Kelly Pidcock for sharing a few of the engaging and varied learning experiences happening at Geist Elementary this fall!

geist 3Have you ever wondered what makes a glow stick glow?  Erica Erickson’s 4th graders used that question as a springboard for an investigative process practicing the scientific method. First, students hypothesized and gathered materials. Following an intriguing demonstration by Mrs. Erickson, students wrote the steps to the procedure, formed observations, and drew conclusions. Through the experiment, students discovered that glow sticks have two chemicals.  In the large plastic tube is the diphenyl oxalate.  The plastic tube also contains a smaller glass tube which holds hydrogen peroixide and chemiluminescent dye.  When a glow stick is cracked, the shattering of the glass tube allows the chemicals to combine and form a reaction.  Now that’s a GLOWING experiment! #buddingscientists

Geist Elementary is very fortunate to be one of three pilot schools for Global Studies at HSE.  In this first rotation, children experienced Chinese language through educator Sandra Cao-Wilson’s instruction in Mandarin. Music educator Jen Koenig teamed with Cao-Wilson to provide tastes of Chinese customs and music.  Students sang “Happy Birthday” in Mandarin and learned about birthday celebrations in China.  The students also also had the opportunity to try out traditional Chinese instruments and dance —  students learned the Little Apple Dance and the Fan Dance.

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Designing with the Educreations app — using a sound shield to improve audio results

In a fun example of student-centered learning, Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Scott recently let their 4th graders drive instruction. The goal: to build visual and multimedia tools to showcase some strategies for solving multiplication problems. Students teams agreed upon a presentation mode then got to work creating.

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The “repeated addition” group using props to create a video

Collaboration and peer review helped the students to produce stellar learning tools to share. The final creations were posted on Canvas to reach a wider audience of parents and families. Now, classroom volunteers have some tools with which to assist during math block!

OER – What’s it Look Like in Practice?

If you missed our last post, Name That Initialism, we introduced OER or Open Educational Resource(s). If the concept of OER is new to you, you might want to start by scanning that post and watching the video clip Why Open Education Matters.

In practice, a course using OERs doesn’t necessarily look any different than a course in which the curriculum is driven by a traditional textbook corporation. The key distinction is cost. OER curriculum resources are free to retain, resuse, revise, remix, and redistribute — in other words, OER resources can be shared and adapted. 

Though a course designed around Open Educational Resources can still be taught traditionally (reading – worksheet – test – repeat), OER courses lend themselves to the incorporation of student-centered project work, hands-on activities and connected learning. Case in point: HSE High School’s astronomy class.

Megan Ewing, astronomy teacher at HSEHS, has been a part of the Indiana Department of Education’s OER Curation Team for several years; Megan teaches her astronomy classes completely through OERs. Course materials include text from Open Stax & CK-12, interwoven with projects, labs, Webquests, and multimedia: In The Martian unit, students chose various aspects of the Red Planet to virtually research and explore and share — one semester’s students even chatted virtually with Andy Weir about his popular novel! As part the Light and Sound unit, students participated in an Amplification Lab, in which they compared various amplification devices using their own mobile phones – class data was gathered and descriptive statistics were generated in order to draw conclusions (see slide show below).

 

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Though Ms. Ewing designs her entire course with Open Ed Resources, nearly all HSE Schools teachers use some open educational resources as curriculum supplements – examples are myriad, but here are two of the most popular OER portals right now! Visit Khan Academy and Code.org to learn more.

 

 

 

 

Name That Initialism

Much like other fields of practice, education owns its share of acronyms and initialisms. One that is relatively new to the K-12 scene is OER. In the past decade, the OER movement has trickled down from its higher education roots and is now transforming the world of curriculum resources in K-12 instruction. 

This embedded video (2:27 minutes) offers a fun 30,000 foot introduction to OERs – check it out. Then read on to learn what OER can mean for public school districts like HSE!

In a nutshell, an Open Educational Resource is any electronic educational content that has been specifically tagged (public domain or Creative Commons licensing) as free to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute. “Content” ranges from individual items (a video, an article, a quiz question) to grouped resources (an interactive textbook, a curated lesson or unit) to entire courses.

In Spring 2017, HSE Schools joined the federal #GoOpen movement as a #GoOpen Launch District. As a Launch District, HSE will be incorporating some openly licensed educational materials over the next several years. In fact, we’ve already begun! Khan Academy, CK-12, and the lessons plans from Try Engineering are all examples of open educational resources.

Next time, HSE21 Shorts will explore the transformation of Astronomy class — from static textbooks and worksheets to open education extraordinaire.

 

Want To Be My Book Buddy?

One benefit of the combined Hamilton Southeastern Intermediate & Junior High campus is the opportunity for students to partner across grade levels. Many thanks to HIJ English teacher Ashli Cooper for sharing an experience in which older students are encouraged to read through leadership incentive, and younger students have the chance to read and learn along with the ‘older kids’!

Nook BUddies 2017 Matthew RandolfStudents are our future leaders, and what better way to show them that by offering them chances to BE leaders now. This year my eighth graders were challenged to write an “About Me” paragraph — something that, by eighth grade, they have done several times. The difference? This paragraph could not include their name. In these “About Me” paragraphs, the eighth graders’ aim was showcase their best qualities in an effort to appeal to a 5th/6th grade audience. Without knowing names, the younger students read and selected buddies based solely on the power of the 8th graders’ writing.  

Book Buddies 2017 Joseph HoangAfter connecting with their buddies in the library, students were asked to discuss what they like to read and select a book that would inspire all members of the partnership. Students set reading goals, exchanged e-mail communication, and discussed characterization and plot development as they worked their way through the novel. Eighth graders walked in  to every meeting with a plan, and they were met with thoughtful and engaging questions from their buddies.

In the end, students made text-to-self and text-to-work connections that were much deeper and broader than an assignment. Students posed challenges to one another, tempting each other with spoilers of the next plot twist or sharing a connection that inspired the other student to read just a little bit more. It is true that my junior high students led the charge in reading a book, but in the process we learned that the most important part of the “Book Buddies” process was most definitely the BUDDIES.

Panthers lead because we read! #HIJHpanthers #bookbuddies

Soft Skills & Messy Learning

IMG_7853 2At first glance, nothing looked “messy” in Señora Eisinger’s junior high Spanish class. I had arrived to help students connect their Canvas (Learning Management System) accounts with Office365, in particular, to a OneNote Class Notebook through which Señora and her students would connect digitally and collaborate over the coming year. When I entered, students were seated and still, reviewing the day’s objectives. All was peaceful. All was traditional and comfortable. All was quiet.

Screen Shot 2017-09-26 at 9.33.57 AMDigital connection and collaboration, though, don’t lend themselves to quiet, traditional practice – and they are rarely peaceful to set up! There’s the matter of accounts – Are you logged into Canvas? Good. Now log into OneDrive on your iPad. Oops – No, that must be your personal account – you need to find your school account. What? You don’t see your Canvas course for Spanish class? Okay. Click here. Your page won’t load? Forget the wifi and sign in again.

Everyone had a different issue. Señora Eisinger and I ran from desk to desk, trying to troubleshoot each individual problem.

Then something beautiful happened. The first student to complete the process jumped out of her desk and began to help a neighbor. Pretty soon, students were huddled in small groups, helping one another with the connection process. The room was noisy; the desks were askew. And yet, 21st century learning was happening. In their troubleshooting to connect accounts, students were working together to solve a real classroom issue. These young teens were practicing the soft skills that today’s employers desire: the ability to work as a team, communicate clearly, and come up with creative solutions.

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By the end of class, 99% of students had opened their Spanish digital notebooks on their iPads, and were exploring content – thanks to the louder and messier process of teamwork and creative problem-solving. And now that the digital connections are made, these savvy students can move on to collaborating about more weighty issues. Now, about that earthquake in Mexico City last week…