The past few weeks have been a whirlwind but here we are. I really enjoyed this collaboration with Shalene and Julija and I learned a lot from both of them. We chose Option 1 this time around as, previously, we had all worked on other options. My personal goal was to create an authentic learning experience that would help students make progress towards their literacy goals.
I did far better this time around with finding other members of my cohort to work with. We set up four meetings over four weeks to discuss ideas and develop our plan over Zoom. The most difficult part with connecting this time around was the time difference. I am currently five hours ahead of my teammates. With that said, I thought we worked well at remaining flexible with each other and rearranging meeting times when needed.
I have not yet started this plan with students but I will this week. I am really looking forward to seeing their creations in a few weeks. I think that both Thinglink and Book Creator are excellent tools for our lesson and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to learn about them. In students, I hope to see gains in confidence with literacy. The video blog entries on Flipgrid will be useful for monitoring the student’s own feelings towards their progress and, I hope, a meaningful record for them to look back on.
Relating to Course 3
While my main goal for students working through this unit would be to see growth in their literacy skills I think that it also provides an opportunity for them to take on the role of designers. The rubric requires the students to select images that are related to their stories. Last year I used Storybird as part of our poetry unit. While many students enjoyed the experience my school did not have a subscription so we were limited by the choice of images available to us. This led to some students choosing images that had little to do with their final written pieces. I believe that Book Creator would allow students more agency when choosing images that helped bring their stories to life and so make the experience even more meaningful.
It had been a while since I last posted anything on Flipgrid and boy did this week’s activity take me back to distance learning. During the Global Read Aloud last year, my class connected with a school in the United States and students had the opportunity to share reflections and opinions of The Front Desk by Kelly Yang. This provided a great opportunity for students to share insights into what lives were like in their respective countries and helped provide a deeper understanding of how the protagonist, a Chinese immigrant, felt.
While I love the app and the possibilities it allows for collaboration, unfortunately, it has become more unreliable in China. There are times when both myself and the other students could not access our grids or those shared by others, which was frustrating. I would be really excited to hear from anyone who knew of alternatives to Flipgrid just in case we have to return to distance learning in the future.
Flippin’ the script
This was my first time working through a text rendering protocol and I thought it was brilliant. I am already thinking of how to use this strategy with my students to help with reading comprehension and allow for deeper discussions about a text. Flipgrid was a perfect tool for this as it helped bring other educator’s ideas to life and it really helped me think deeper about what I had read about The Cycle of Socialization.
This week’s reading really hit me hard. Last week I was watching a documentary that included sketches from Not the 9 O’ Clock News, a British comedy show that ran from 1979 – 1982. Some of the shots from 1980’s Britain looked remarkable similar to scenes we are seeing played out on current BBC news reports. More than ever I think teaching students how to ask questions and reflect is important if we want to avoid being stuck in the same cycle.
Our Lower School student council was recently presented with some social issues from our school. They immediately began to discuss what could be done to make changes happen and independently emailed our admin team to arrange a meeting regarding school-wide expectations. Change is possible and we need to encourage students to question systems as well as find solutions.
Last week I gave a presentation on how to set goals for struggling students. That presentation involved the use of a certain, popular Microsoft presentation software. The picture above is a slide I actually used with my colleagues. Today I showed it to a friend of mine whose responses included, “Wordy,” and “Lacking clear structure,” although my favorite was “Your definitions are just examples and they’re jammed right in there, aren’t they?” I am planning on giving the same presentation again to a different group of teachers in a weeks’ time. Clearly, something has to change.
The purpose of this slide was to review the different ways we can measure students’ growth. This is a slide designed to remind and jog memory after having previously covred different ways of measuring progress with definitions. After she looked at it for around 2 minutes and delivered her all-too-honest assessment, I turned my laptop away and asked my friend what the slide was about. She looked at me as though I were a fool and said, “Well I didn’t read your title because it was just, like, a lot of words at the top.” Clearly what David JP Phillips was talking about Working Memory in his TEDX presentation, How to avoid death By PowerPoint, is all too true.
I tried my best to simplify and streamline all that I was trying to convey before. I am yet to receive feedback but I feel as though my ego can handle the assuradly tough love my friend likes to give. I am still finding it difficult to analyse my own work and apply all of the design principles. I find myself staring for far too long at a single images and thinking, “Does this work?” The first tip in 10 tips for Improving Your Presentations Today Presentation Zen is to turn off the computer and sketch an idea. This may be a good starting place in the future, trying to have a clear idea of what I want the final product to look like before starting.
I used Piktochart to create my infographic and I was surprised with just how easy it was to use. I really wanted this to be meaningful but I struggled at first with who my audience was going to be and what I wanted to share with them. Each year students from Grade 2 and up take the NWEA MAP test in reading, language usage, and maths. As a school we do not teach to these tests nor is there pressure put on teachers or students to achieve highly. To be honest, many teachers (myself included) often ask why the students take these tests when the overwhelming opinion is that we do not use the data.
I decided to try and make the data mean something, or at the very least put it to some use.
When I was designing my infographic I really wanted to give as much information as I could that could be viewed at a glance. I took data from our recent MAP tests and wanted to show each grade level the areas that the largest percentage of students struggled with. I felt that by limiting the information teachers were looking at they wouldn’t feel overwhelmed, and instead might actually use this as a tool.
I found that Design Secrets Revealed (Keri-Lee Beasley) was really useful as a starting point. One part that really resonated with me was the importance of inclusing repetition. The colors I chose to illustrate each bar are the same as those used in the MAP reports so that if teachers wanted to cross reference the infographic or dig deeper into data then my hope was to build familiarity.
Asking for feedback
I finally asked a coworker for feedback yesterday. We have been asked to do a presentation on the NWEA test for parents in a couple of weeks and it seemed like the perfect opportunity to show my infographic. My coworker’s response was positive although in our discussion we decided to delay using it with teachers just yet. We are going to use the data from May’s NWEA test in order to help teachers identify the areas of their curriculum that may need developing for the 2021 school year. We have had a lot of changes this year in both Upper and Lower School and we don’t want teachers to feel as though they are having yet another thing forced upon them.
Ice ain’t back with a brand new invention (thankfully)
This week I wanted to set up a collaborative approach to editing written work in the classroom. I have two emergent writers who I am helping support at the moment, one of whom is in Fifth Grade and the other in Third. I decided it would be beneficial to have the older student act as a mentor to the younger student, in order to build confidence and help him to see the progress he has made.
The goal of this lesson was to help students notice the differences between spoken and written English. I wanted to provide an opportunity for discussion in which students justify the changes they made to a text. Both students have been working on biographies over the past few weeks. Now that they had completed a draft, I wanted to help support them as they moved onto the next stage of the writing process.
Benefits and drawbacks to using technology
While both students have demonstrated that they are willing to work for longer periods of time, when typing their work, editing and redrafting can be frustrating for them, when using the computer. This is particularly true for my younger student, as he is working towards extending his writing stamina. Both students planned and drafted their work using Microsoft Word and were able to edit synchronously using two devices.
A great benefit to using technology was that students could see edits that were being made in front of them. I asked the students to highlight parts of the text I wanted them to edit before making changes so that they could go through our chosen thinking routine. I had to help support my Third Grade student in locating the different tools in Microsoft Word as he is still familiarizing himself with how everything works.
Throughout this activity, both students were in the classroom discussing changes made face to face. If we were forced to return to distance learning, however, I would feel confident that the students would be able to follow the same protocol online using either Zoom or Teams to communicate.
Making thinking visible
In order to help support the students’ rationale for their changes, we made use of the What makes you say that? visible thinking routine. I felt this worked well as it required both students to work on editing the document whilst simultaneously ensuring that they were giving justification for the changes they made. One of the reasons I felt that this protocol was so useful was that once my Third Grade student started to hear the reasons for edits to his work, he began to make them himself and provided good reasons for making the changes.