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 Instead of learning about jazz greats through likely outdated books, Spidel led his students to sites like The Radio Hour, where they could not only read, but also listen the work of the musician under study.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.

HSE Schools Spoke Up!

Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 9.11.57 PMEarlier in the year, HSE21 Shorts noted our district’s participation in SpeakUp, a national educational technology research study. Since 2003, the Speak Up National Research Project has provided “participating schools, districts and non-profit organizations with a suite of online surveys and reports to collect authentic feedback from students, educators and parents.” SpeakUp and its parent organization, Project Tomorrow, also summarize and share the national findings with education and policy leaders in Washington DC.

In the coming days, Shorts will be highlighting Hamilton Southeastern’s SpeakUp data. For today, we want to acknowledge the stellar participation and follow-through of our district buildings in this endeavor. The screenshot above is taken from the SpeakUp website. You’ll note that our district placed fifth in worldwide participation, and that our high schools were both top five individual schools. Quite an accomplishment–one that will give us important local data to drive decision-making in the area of educational technology!

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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HSE is a GAFE district. Start with the word GIRAFFE, now take out the IR and one F. There you have it. GAFE. That’s short for Google Apps for Education. What does this mean for our teachers and students? Read on!

What is GAFE?

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.47.50 AMThe Google corporation offers school districts the opportunity to create customized domain(s) within the Google universe (See: Google for Education) . Being a GAFE district means that HSE can assign each teacher and student a Google account, i.e., access to all Google apps and features, within the safe confines of a district’s own network. And it’s all for free.

What are the features of GAFE?

For starters, cloud storage. Each member of the HSE Google domain has a personal Google Drive with unlimited storage. Whether it’s video, images, presentations, spreadsheets, or documents, teachers and students can upload all of their files to their Google Drive for 24/7 access on any web-enabled device. And we never have to worry about running out of space!

Google owns YouTube. With every Google account comes a YouTube channel where teachers can upload and share student projects and presentations, building video portfolios of learning. Teachers can create lessons and tutorial videos for their students as well (sometimes called ‘flipping the classroom’). They can create playlists of educational videos for their students to watch…all without the ‘comments’ and ‘ads’ seen on public YouTube sites.

Inside Drive, Google has productivity tools: Google Docs, Slides, and Sheets. Through the ‘sharing’ feature, these apps allow for real time collaboration between multiple users. Between teacher and student, ‘sharing’ means that a teacher can provide input on a project, or edit a paper, before it’s handed in for a final grade. Amongst student teams, Google’s collaborative features foster teamwork and efficiency.

There are many other ways that Google tools complement 21st-century instruction. In future posts, HSE21 will highlight ways teachers are using Google apps to enrich and deepen learning in the classroom.

Image Source: Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata” by brookenovak – Flickr. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Giraffa_camelopardalis_reticulata.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Giraffa_camelopardalis_reticulata.jpg

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.

Coding in the Real World

sce1Students at Sand Creek Elementary participated in Hour of Code during their library time with Mrs. Collier, SCE’s media specialist. After the students understood the meaning of ‘coding’ and had gotten a chance to practice, it was time to make it real, and third-grade teacher Lorena Forbes, had just the connection that was needed!

sce2Mrs. Forbes brought her husband, Randy Forbes, to school for the day! Mr. Forbes is a software engineer with Salesforce, and is experienced in all types of coding. Mr. Forbes traveled to several classes to give students some background on what computer programmers do in the real world. The biggest surprise for students was that Mr. Forbes’ job isn’t all about gaming! Mr. Forbes also worked with some students to finish an Hour of Code in the computer lab.

sce3Through taking part in fun coding activities and through hearing about the amazing things grown-up programers do, SCE students are now hooked on coding!

-Submitted by Laura Collier, SCE Media Specialist

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 www.tinkersmith.org 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 www.tynker.com/hour-of-code, 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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