Those HSE21 Shoes!

IMG_1721In traditional classrooms, character trait study likely consisted of a teacher lesson (read: lecture) to explain the term ‘character trait’, followed by individual seat work. Students would sit quietly at their desks, read a story alone, and then write a paragraph about the story’s characters and their traits. Students’ written work would be graded and sent home in a folder. The end.

Take a peek into HSE21 classrooms, though, and what you’ll see is completely different! HSE21 means that character study – indeed all academic content – is presented in active, student-centered ways that lead to deeper learning. What does does HSE21 look like in the classroom? Consider this recent HSE21 example of character trait study:

At Thorpe Creek Elementary, third grade teacher Mrs. Muegge introduced character traits to her students through  an HSE21 lens. Following her interactive mini-lesson, Muegge asked student pairs to choose books for their own character studies. Partners considered the characters in their stories and, with Muegge’s guidance and help, decided on traits that best exemplified each. Students then created, shared, and discussed presentations and what they’d learned. Here’s a final product, created and shared by Aariyah and Gabrielle:

While staying true to the academic standards, HSE21 teaching and learning turns the traditional quiet classroom into a vibrant learning lab.

  • Student Choice – Which book would you like to use for this project?
  • Collaboration – Let’s work with partners to analyze the characters; we can learn from each other!
  • Engagement and Creativity – Design a presentation to teach us what you learned!
  • Extension of Learning – We’ll post our presentations and share our learning with each other and those beyond our classroom walls!

In which type of classroom would you rather learn?


Reinventing School Libraries – Makerspace!

Makerspaces are a natural evolution for libraries. We need to make the resources available to our students that will help guide their inquiry and exploration. Who can predict what our students will create when given the space and tools necessary?

– Phil Goerner in School Library Journal

What is a makerspace? Essentially, a makerspace is a physical area, often in a library, that is set aside and laden with diverse materials for student exploration. Students are encouraged to create,  design, imagine and problem solve as they choose. Makerspaces provide a natural environment where creativity and critical thinking happen naturally.

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Many HSE school media centers are developing makerspaces. At Fishers Elementary, media specialist Cristie Ondrejack has designed a makerspace around three verbs: Create. Solve. Design.

In the Create area, students use a variety of art supplies to create whatever they can imagine. Solve challenges students to use their critical thinking skills to tackle puzzles, riddles, and logic problems. Perseverance is a goal here! Design encourages students to explore with Legos, K’Nex, Magnetix, Marble Maze and other building supplies. Students collaborate as they envision, plan and build.

Later in the year, HSE21 Shorts will bring you stories of makerspaces at other building levels in the district. Who knows what future inventions or discoveries will be found to have originated in an HSE makerspace!


Second Graders Tour the States!

Mrs. VanWynsberghe’s and Mrs. Philhower’s classes recently filmed a tour of the entire United States! The Fall Creek Elementary second graders have appreciated the music of The Brainbeats while learning about our fifty states. Enjoy their fifty states tour, based on the catchy Brainbeats song, Tour the States.



Here’s the official Tour the States video by the Brainbeats. And…here’s their new music video, Tour the World. (It’s a little longer!) One more…Brainbeats music is available for purchase here.

Jazzin’ It Up with Technology

photo (2)Chances are you grew up doing research by visiting encyclopedia pages. Also, chances are that you presented your learning by writing a research paper. And…(one more), chances are, you don’t remember anything you learned by doing that assignment!

Today’s digital tools make possible a plethora of multimedia information resources for research study; these same digital tools also enable new, highly creative ways for students to share their learning.

imageA project recently completed in Brandon Spidel’s, general music classes at Fishers Junior High offers a great example of how technology can unleash creativity to make learning fun and meaningful. Mr. Spidel’s general music classes are studying jazz–both the movement and the musicians. Instead of learning about jazz greats through likely outdated books, Spidel led his students to sites like The Radio Hour, where they could not only read, but also listen the work of the musician under study. All in one location.

photoThe eighth graders augmented their learning with key images, using these to create unique PicCollages of their chosen jazz musician. Through an app called ThingLink, the students were able to link segments of their PicCollages to music and information on the web–links that could easily be visited by others wishing to learn more about the particular musician. According to Spidel, the ability to research online has given students a much fuller picture of jazz music and jazz musicians. Being able to use their own creativity and digital apps to display their new-found knowledge…well, these eighth graders won’t be forgetting what they’ve learned any time soon! Sometimes you need to write a research paper. Sometimes you don’t.

iPads as Creation Tools

Meaningful technology integration deepens and enriches learning. Today’s post exemplifies this transformation, showing how this year’s fifth and sixth grade iPad roll out has enabled students to learn in active and inquiry-driven ways. As you read, notice that iPads are not used as expensive worksheets, but as creation tools.

image[1]Students in Stephanie Alig’s and MaryLynn Moore’s social studies classes at Riverside Intermediate learned about the Roman Empire this month through through a creative and interactive project. The students gathered in small groups to research an aspect of ancient Rome: clothing, government, war, games, architecture, religion, tools/weapons, or the fall of Rome.   The groups then wrote news skits, dressed in costume and acted out their interviews/skits. Skits were recorded using the camera on an iPad, and an app called Green Screen enabled the students to insert authentic Roman backgrounds into their image[2]new casts. Then skits were dropped into iMovie where each television news cast came together. Through this active learning process, historical Rome became real for the students, and understanding deepened. As a bonus, conversation was fostered at home, since it was easy for students to share their newscasts with their families.

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Pinterest: A Classroom Encyclopedia of Ideas

Thanks to Hamilton Southeastern High School Art Teacher Liz Clark for today’s post!

“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 11.24.48 PMArt is about the process as well as the product. As students become more sophisticated as artists, they need to understand the importance of devoting adequate time to research, planning, and idea generation. Most students want to breeze over this step and go straight to production. After they start, most students realize that they did not spend enough time thinking through the process. Often this realization comes after they have devoted a great deal of time to an idea that does not work. How could I get my classes to spend time planning and developing an idea before committing it to materials?

I discovered a great way to help students gather and connect relevant information in order to make well informed artistic decisions. My students started using a social network called Pinterest. Pinterest is like a virtual scrapbook. It is great for organizing information and visual brainstorming. I use it to collect resources for students about a topic. In the past, I checked out books from the library with examples. Often, the examples weren’t current. Now, students can see what I want them to see and create their own boards if they choose.

There are many great ideas on Pinterest. My students spend time on the site outside of the classroom. Many of them create their own pin boards. It inspires self-directed learning.

Hour of Code…Hour of COOL!

We continue our week-long focus on the many ways that HSE schools and classrooms have implemented the Hour of Code! Thanks to Lori Silbert for today’s post.

lre1At Lantern Road Elementary, students prepared for coding before Hour of Code officially kicked-off. The site offered lesson plans to get us thinking about programming techniques. We thought about the “small pieces of the puzzle” that would lead to creating the “big picture.” Together we gave “human robots” commands to move forward, move backward, ‘pick up cup’ and ‘put down cup’ in order to build a pattern of paper cups on a table. Students took turns being the robots and writing the code using left, right, up and down arrows. Now students were ready to program on-line!

lre2All K-4 LRE students are participating in Hour of Code this week. They have written codes to help Anna and Elsa skate across the frozen ice by using commands like move forward and turn right 90 degrees! Using the site, they created creatures and programmed them to maneuver along paths to find peppermint drops and lollipops. A poor little puppy lost his family and the students wrote the code to help him find them again – forward, turn left, jump, turn right, forward!!! Often, students have needed to figure out a pattern and have their characters repeat actions. We even decorated the national holiday tree in Washington DC at www.holidays.madewithcode/project/lights#.

lre3Hour of Code has provided each LRE student with sixty minutes of engaged learning that will take them down new paths of their own!! Our 21st century students need core subjects; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. This week we are blending all of these important areas in many cool activities!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, LRE Media Specialist

Hour of Code Kick-off

This week, many HSE students are  participating in Hour of Code – a global movement to stress the importance of computer science in education. Through computer programming activities, students practice skills that involve problem-solving, creativity and logic – important skills for 21st century learners. Last year over 15,000,000 students participated in Hour of Code in 180+ countries around the globe. This year organizers are hoping that more than 20,000,000 will experience the fun! For more background,check out this clip:


HSE21 Shorts plans to devote the remainder of this week to posts highlighting Hour of Code around our district. Stay tuned! Whether you are 4 or 104, you’ll soon see that computer coding…well, it’s just plain FUN!

Thanks to LRE media specialist Lori Silbert for today’s post!

‘Comical’ Monomyths

SUPER MAHEKWhen it was time for HSE Junior High’s Jeff Libey to teach the monomyth, aka, the ‘Hero’s Journey’, to his seventh grade English composition students last year, he didn’t even consider mere lecture. This key story structure, integral to much of classic and modern literature, begged for an interactive project–an activity in which the students could demonstrate understanding by constructing a narrative of their own. Libey’s answer: the monomyth comic book! This 2013 project was so successful that Mr. Libey recently encored it with this year’s seventh graders.

IMG_1531When HSE21 Shorts visited HSEJH last week, Libey had just finished covering introductory material–the Hero’s Journey cycle–with his students, and had shown examples of the hero’s journey in film and text. Then it was the students’ turn to show what they’d learned: HSE21 Shorts followed along as each student storyboarded their own monomyth, i.e., wrote the tale of a hero’s journey. Students acted out and photographed (with iPads and smartphones) their monomyths , and then edited the photos (comic-y filters!). Next would come layout and the addition of text, then peer-to-peer sharing to locate  hero’s journey elements in classmates’ myths.

Interacting with new concepts through creation and presentation aids in deep learning. Jeff Libey’s students will remember this creative and fun class project for years to come–even more, they’ll remember the Hero’s Journey cycle and recognize it as they approach literature in the future.


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