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?

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?”

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…

 

 

 

Web Safety at School

GES12On top of the powerful web filters that HSE Schools has in place to protect our students, our schools use many additional strategies to streamline web access in order to keep our students safe. Thanks to Geist Elementary School for sharing these tips!

As we begin our second year with iPads in the elementary schools, the GES staff is more dedicated than ever to keeping students safe as they use the web. One way we do this is through the use of QR codes.

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QR Code to San Diego Zoo Kids  

Teachers create QR codes often to provide students with a way to go directly to one particular web page – no ‘searching’ necessary. For example, Krista Beck’s first grade students recently used QR codes to travel directly and link to two websites they’ll be visiting all year.

The students first scanned a QR code that took them directly to the GES Student Links web page; then they created a shortcut to this page for their iPad home screens. The first graders will use this shortcut to directly access approved sites throughout the year. Next, Mrs. Beck’s class used a QR code to connect to the GES Library’s Symbaloo, an icon-based collection of curated web links that students will also use in first grade. A shortcut to the Symbaloo was added to iPad home screens for future reference as well.

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The GES Symbaloo provides safe access to approved websites.

QR codes and Symbaloos are two easy safeguards to make it less likely that a student will arrive at the wrong destination, and they eliminate the need to enter long or complicated web addresses – sometimes time-consuming with our youngest learners. With less time spent on typing addresses and finding particular websites, more time is devoted to the real task at hand: learning!

QR codes can be created through sites like www.the-qrcode-generator.com or www.qrstuff.com and then printed or projected on to a screen for easy access. Symbaloos can be built by anyone. A free account is available at www.symbalooedu.com .

Surgeon General

Dr. AdamsWelcome back, HSE21 Shorts readers! We begin the new school year with a timely real world connection. A member of our community, Dr. Jerome Adams, was recently confirmed as the new Surgeon General of the United States! Before Dr. Adams is sworn in next week in Washington, D.C., he graciously took time to interact with students at Geist Elementary and HSE High Schools.

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At Geist, Dr. Adams spoke with second, third and fourth grade students about components of healthy living. There’s something especially powerful when the nation’s top doctor talks about turning off the TV and getting outside in the sunshine! And if the nation’s Top Doc does push ups…

In the high school setting, Dr. Adams spoke to students from Biomedical Project Lead the Way courses as well as the Black Student Union, We the People, and several government classes.  In preparation for his visit, Dr. Adams had teachers and students read this CDC article on recent public health achievements – these achievements, as well as continuing public health challenges, provided the basis for great discussion between Dr. Adams and the students.

Screen Shot 2017-09-01 at 2.49.26 PMHSE21 Shorts asked teachers to describe Dr. Adams’ impact. Here are responses from Biomedical Innovations teacher Ashly Heckly:

Aside from just having a ‘title’, Dr. Adams seems to speak to significant pressing issues. What will you be able to tie in to your curriculum from his talk?
In Biomedical Innovations we are currently studying public health at the local, national, and global levels. We have been discussing the top five health issues of the 21st century, what the solution would be to these issues, and what would have to happen in order to make these solutions a reality. During this unit, we will also be studying the work of epidemiologists and how they analyze patient symptoms, test results, and other clues to successfully pinpoint the specific nature of the disease and the source. Students will end the unit by writing and presenting a grant proposal outlining an intervention plan for a particular disease, illness, or injury. Dr. Adams gave students a ‘from the field’ perspective that help them see how applicable what they are studying is to real life!

What was the reaction of the students to Dr. Adams?
Dr. Adams discussed the opiod epidemic and his conversations with high school students that are addicted to heroin. It shocked the students to hear of high school students being addicted because that is not the face that comes to mind when they think of drug addicts. They also didn’t realize that they could become addicted after only doing a drug one time and that many people are becoming addicted after taking prescription medication prescribed to them by their doctor.

The students appreciated that Dr. Adams offered them multiple view points when discussing different issues. It helped them realize that these issues are very complex and that the answers aren’t always black and white.

Dr Adams GeistThe students also admired Dr. Adams’ outstanding character traits. They were so grateful that he stayed to talk and take a picture with each student that waited in line. They were also amazed at how humble he is even though he has many great achievements.

Thank you, Dr. Adams, for your generosity of time and talents in our community. We wish you much success as you lead the charge to find solutions to our nation’s most serious and pressing health issues.

Final Exam…In the OR?

HeckleyFinalcollageCramming for finals. Memorizing hundreds of useless (now Google-able) facts that were promptly forgotten. Most all of us can recount at least one nightmarish exam saga in our high school or college past!

Assessment of learning is changing, though. It’s becoming more authentic, more reflective of the real world, and much, much more meaningful. Consider the final exam that Hamilton Southeastern High School science teacher Ashley Heckly designed for the seniors in her Biomedical Innovations class this week. In Mrs. Heckly’s own words…

fullsizeoutput_7b6Biomedical Innovations is designed for students to work through open-ended problems focused on health challenges of the 21st century. After having students work in groups throughout the year, an independent paper and pencil type of final did not feel right. Instead, I decided to transform the presentation lab into six operating rooms where students would work through the final as a group. The final was composed of six “surgeries” based on problems we studied throughout the year. The students recorded their answers to each problem on the paper body. To complete the experience, students dressed in their lab coats and received hospital ID badges, scrub hats, masks, booties, and gloves.

To get the full exam experience, don’t miss this one minute video recap!

ISTEP Breakout!?!

Round two of ISTEP, Indiana’s version of a state-wide, high stakes test, occurs this week. Across Indiana’s 300+ public school districts, classrooms have reviewed through all sorts of methods. Here in Fishers, skills are reviewed through collaborative, interactive and fun ways. One teacher in particular recently found a way to make skill review a fun and engaging learning experience: ISTEP BREAKOUT!

Similar to the trendy sites around town where teams of friends (or strangers) can embark on an ‘escape’ journey for a fee, Breakout in the classroom is a team activity. Student groups solve their breakout puzzle through collaborative problem solving. In the case of Mrs. Porzuczek’s class, breaking out meant solving math problems with puzzling clues – problems that reviewed important fourth grade math concepts!

Breakout kits can be purchased for classrooms now, but Mrs. P., a fourth grade teacher at Brooks School Elementary, designed her own Breakout experiences and bought her own supplies. I visited Mrs. P.’s class to ask how they liked the new review style – and, no surprise, the students loved Breakout. Just look at a few of their comments following the experience. (You can pause the slide show to read each comment fully!)

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An Eagle’s Nest is HOW big???

How does a first grade class come to understand literally how big a bald eagle’s nest really is? Build a nest in the classroom, of course!

If you’ve been following HSE21 Shorts, you’ll know that Mrs. Vogel’s first grade class at Sand Creek Elementary began watching the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam in December 2016, right as eaglet E-9 was making his/her entry to the world. Watching the Eagle Cam led to lots of eagle questions – which led to research, the creation of some very authentic projects, and the sharing of learning!

How did the project unfold?  The class spent several days observing and monitoring the nest – as questions arose, the students wrote them on post-it notes. With Mrs. Vogel’s help, the class categorized their post-its and created four research groups.  Each student joined a group and became an expert on one area of eagle life. The students consulted library books, digital resources (like World Book Online), and even visited with experts from the Indianapolis Zoo via Skype to find reliable answers to their research questions.

HSE21 Shorts was thrilled to receive this invitation recently from Mrs. Vogel:

We have been researching and creating and are ready to share our learning.  We
have a life sized nest, 3D models, a video, and much more!  On Friday we are hosting
an open house for classes to come and see our project and learn about eagles. 

Check out the image gallery and video below of eagle projects and scenes from this awesome open house of learning. Mrs. Vogel’s students shared with kindergarteners and fourth graders, with administrators, parents, and teachers. All the while, of course, E-9 was on the big screen. As of this writing, E-9 has gone from a fuzz ball to feathered bird and is growing fast! He’s testing out his wings often, and should be fledging very soon. You, too, can live stream the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam here.

Thanks to the students who have taught HSE21 Shorts a great deal about bald eagles! First graders CAN, and DO!

E-9, Online!

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Shot from the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, 1/27/17.

Penguin research has become a staple for many first grade classrooms in our district. Why penguins?

“Kids love penguins. They’re cute.”
“It’s what we’ve always done. It works.”

“Our libraries have penguin books.”

You get the idea. Penguins are a high-interest topic through which young students can learn about the inquiry process. There’s nothing wrong with penguins.

But what if a more interactive research opportunity presents itself…

Check out the narrative and video snippets below to learn how Mrs. Vogel of Sand Creek Elementary took advantage of digital access to provide a connected research opportunity for her first graders! It all started when she discovered the Southwest Florida Eagle Cam, a 24-hour live stream feed of Harriet, a mama eagle, and E-9, her newborn eaglet. Mrs. Vogel continues…

…[instead of penguins] I switched [our inquiry project] to eagles so we could use the web cam as a provocation.  It’s going really well.  We’ve learned the history of Harriet and her families; we watch the web cam everyday (all day), have started researching, and have Skyped with the Indianapolis Zoo to learn more about bald eagles.  We have also started following several other eagle cams that are at different stages in their mating cycle. The students are working in groups (according to their interests) to answer some class questions and then they will decide how they want to share their learning.