Welcome to Jennie Magiera's Technology in Education Blog:

Redefining the (digital) Classroom

Friday, May 25, 2012

CBL iMovie Grant Trailers

Our class is continuing to explore essential issues in our school and write grants to resolve them as part of our Challenge Based Learning project.

Students created teacher surveys on Google Forms, Skyped with professional grant experts and other classrooms, and determined essential issues in their school. They then began to collaborate to write grants to address these issues.

See these previous posts to learn more about our Challenge Based Learning grant projectour unit planusing QR codes to explore prices/budgeting and how students share their thoughts with an authentic audience (through Twitter).

Students are still working hard to complete their grants and craft budget spreadsheets. However, to whet the appetites of their grant evaluators (peers and school teaching staff), they have created iMovie trailers about their essential issues. This is their first stab at this app, and are still working out some kinks (i.e., how to add in still photos and how to credit pictures they find on the Internet). We will explore these questions as we continue, but they wanted to share what they have now!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

My Kids are So Smart

On Tuesday, one of my students came to me, frustrated with their iPad. He said, "My iPad is messed up." Upon further prodding, it turned out that "messed up" meant that the keyboard was floating randomly in the middle of their screen and they could no longer see their text box. I tried for a few minutes to fix this problem. In vain.

Luckily, my good friend and tech whiz Sue Gorman was visiting my class that day. So I asked her to come over and see if she could fix it. Before she could make it the few steps over to the table, another student called out, "Oh I know how to fix that. It's so easy." She jumped up and tapped-held the keyboard button. Lo and behold the option came up to split the keyboard or dock it. Wow. Another great example of our students, when left to their own devices, can be surprisingly perceptive and self-sufficient. More reason to give up the power struggle and release control.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tweeting with Tweens

As part of our Challenge Based Learning project, my students are sharing their reflections on each activity or segment of their challenge with the world. While they are posting their thoughts in Kidblogs, I also wanted to try to get their thinking out via Twitter. One big problem with that: they're 4th and 5th graders; the Twitter age minimum is 13. Well that can't stop us!

I created a twitter account for my entire class to use: @NTAStudents1. I made sure the account made clear that the words were my students' but I was reviewing all tweets back and forth.

Then I gave my students a quick overview of Twitter. We discussed what social media is, what it is used for. The students explored Internet safety and why Twitter and other forms of social media can be potentially dangerous. The next day - Tuesday - we declared to be Twitter Tuesday. We talked about how Twitter is a special form of social media, and discussed the 140 character limit. I explained that when students tweet through the Twitter website, it has a handy gadget that keeps track of your characters so you don't have to.

However, since my students are too young to have direct access to this site, they are tweeting through a Google Form. They respond to prompts aimed at helping them focus their thoughts and tweets (based on our learning experience that day) and then submit single sentences responding to that prompt. I explained that they are welcome to attempt to limit their sentences to 140 characters, but I could help cut it down for them.

I then tweeted their thoughts through our class Twitter handle and invited educator friends to respond. I posted all of the class' tweets and responses to those tweets on our class page so that my students could experience the interaction. Then, they had a chance to respond to direct messages, tweet replies, etc. as I put up a new Google Form for this purpose.

So far we've gone through one cycle of this process, and it has worked well. The students are so excited to share their thoughts with the world and were amazed by how quickly people responded. See some of the interactions below. (Note: The prompt was to reflect on the exploration described in the previous blog post.)

The Price is Right & QR Codes

As part of our Challenge Based Learning Unit exploring the essential question, "Can funding equalize our education system?", today my students played The Price is Right. Before the kids write a grant to improve their school, I want them to understand the relative costs that go into their classroom. I had a feeling that they did not have a solid understand of prices and boy was I right about that.

First, I gave them a Numbers spreadsheet (see right) to use as a template. I scaffolded this between my different levels of students based on the number of classroom items listed. They downloaded this file from my class page and opened it in the Numbers app on their iPads.

Their first task was to work in their groups to estimate the price of each item. The, they wrote a number sentence to find the total cost of all of those items. For example, if they estimated that the Headphones were each $10, then they would write $10 x 35 (quantity) = $350. I had them do these calculations by hand because later in this unit we will learn how to input formulas into the Numbers spreadsheet, but I want them first to understand why this is an important and helpful tool. After calculating 40 equations by hand, I think they will better appreciate this. Moreover, as their math teacher, I want them to think carefully about the number sentences they write - so when they are inputting formulas into the spreadsheet, they understand what they are doing.

After they had completed the red columns, they walked around the room and scanned QR codes to find the actual price of each item.
Following this, they once again calculated the total costs of items and then found the sum of that column to determine the "total actual cost of our classroom."

Their reactions were quite interesting... we talked at length about what surprised them and what how their reactions shaped their thinking about school spending and equity. As a reflection activity, they tweeted their thoughts to share with the world. See this post about how we got 9 and 10 year olds to tweet, and read some of their tweets.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

We're on iTunes U! Digital Differentiation with Screencasting

Last summer, as part of the Apple Distinguished Educator summer institute, Chad Kafka, Cindy Hart, John Shoemaker and I spent many hours creating an iTunes U collection about digital differentiation with screencasting. It was finally published yesterday!

This collection will teach you how to leverage screencasting for flipping your classroom, student creation, and differentiation. There are video guides, ePubs and PDF how-tos.

Tip: Download #2 - the ePub (iBook) - on your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, iPod). It contains all of the text, videos and PDFs in the course. It also has a helpful video we made (not shown in the episode listing on iTunes) that gives you a guide for how to implement this in your classroom.

Please take a look - it's free! We'd be so grateful for a 5-star rating! Thanks everyone!
P.S. Please disregard my goofy eyes as I read the teleprompter at the beginning of one video... I need to practice how to not look cross eyed while doing that :).