By David Carroll
Each year, my students work on a final project that is centered on their goals for post-secondary transition. The project is their opportunity to articulate their vision for life after high school, as well as the steps they are taking or still need to take in order to achieve that vision. In the past, the project inevitably took the form of a PowerPoint, despite my half-hearted efforts to encourage students to branch out.
This year, I posed the project as a design problem to students: I explained that as teachers, we get stuck in our methods, that our intentions are good, but we need help staying current sometimes. I showed them the format of a visual transition plan (an excellent tool for one-on-one transition planning, but difficult to scale to whole-class work), and I asked them to help me redesign the transition plan process in a way that would be relevant to them and their lives. After brainstorming ideas that ranged as far as youtube mentor texts (e.g. “draw my life”), web comics, and of course, Snapchat, we settled on a list of formats that we wanted to explore further as a group. Then, I did my homework and came up with a menu of different presentation applications for students to play with. We had a “Sandbox Day,” in which students collaboratively fiddled and played with various tools grouped by theme into four Sandboxes that ranged from comics/animations to graphic design to stop-motion movies and web-based presentation apps. Students spent an entire block trying out tools, creating sample texts, and evaluating what they liked and disliked about each one. Finally they selected their preferred format and began a deep dive into composing the content for their presentations.
The content for each of their presentations was the product of teacher-created questions, storyboard templates, and action-plan templates that students completed over the course of two weeks. They reflected deeply on their goals in different domains of life and then analyzed the steps necessary to go from their present progress to the stated goal. Finally, after reviewing the rubric for evaluation criteria, the students took to the computers to design their final presentations using the apps they selected. The finished products ranged from a series of images designed for Instagram to short animated videos to powtoons, (And yes, there were even a few PowerPoints in the end, but they at least had multimedia components to them!). I am proud of the way my students pushed themselves to think critically about their futures and to collaborate using new tech tools in the process.
Spend some time “playing” in each sandbox to decide what form you want your transition presentation to take. Fill out the feedback form with reflection ?’s for your daily grade.Sandbox #1: Creating your own cartoon or comichttp://www.dvolver.com/moviemaker/index.html
Comic Life (App available on AISD Computers)
Sandbox #2: Creating a movie or stop-motion (Can you add to this list??)Stop Motion Café (free app for phone)
Frame x Frame by Joby (free app for phone)
iMovie (free app for iPhone or iPad)
Windows Movie Maker (free app on desktop computers)
Sandbox # 3: Creating images, infographics, or social media postshttps://www.canva.com/
Sandbox # 4: Creating a digital presentation:https://prezi.com/
Sway (Microsoft Office)
Power Point (Microsoft Office), [Does not count for sandbox activity]
EdPuzzle is a great tool for editing short video clips for classroom use. It is also a great place to find short videos on a topic you need to present. It can also be used like Edmodo, with classes and assignments and even add questions to the video at just the right moment. If you want more information or help with EdPuzzle, let me know.
I enjoy having my students use a variety of web tools, such as Smores or Quizlet, but the AISD email account they have will not accept emails from these sites, so they cannot be used to create an account. Here is a work-around.
Students in Mr. Carroll's Practicum II class are studying workplace safety. They used Animaniacs' "Good Idea/Bad Idea" as a mentor text and then thought of work scenarios that could be hazardous or safe depending on employee behavior. The students did a pre-write, a rough draft, and then used toondoo.com to create a final, two-panel Good Idea/Bad Idea comic.
This six weeks I am having my students do projects that cover the TEKS, using Google Slides and Docs. I created template Slide presentations, then share them with the students. While it takes a little work up front, it has benefits that make it worth the work.
For my first year students, I add more to the template each week. They are working in pairs, so I have created a presentation for each pair. When I want to add to it, I add to my template, then copy the new slides into each pair's copy. Some of the work is documented on the slide, and some in Google Docs that I share with them also. They paste a link from those docs into the slide. I included a slide for each week that lists the learning objectives and the tasks to be completed. If a student was absent, they could easily get caught up outside of class time.
For my second year students, they are working individually on a project on setting up a daycare. The template was complete with instructions for each task in the Notes section under the slide. One nice feature is the Comment option. This allows me to give feedback when I have time, and for them to make edits. They click Resolve on the comment when they have made the change, and I get an email that they resolved it.
The only thing I have had to watch out for is students using the Chat feature. However, since the documents they were working on were shared with me, I was also in the chat and so I just reminded them to get back to work if the chat was off task.
I encourage teachers to experiment with Google Drive tools, and I am here to help.
Hospitality teacher Lindy Hutton is using Alexa, the Amazon version of voice activated artificial intelligence assistant. Students can ask Alexa to open an app called Chefling, which has an inventory of what is in the pantry. They can find out what is about to expire, what they need to go shopping for, and then they can ask Alexa to find recipes with those ingredients in the Allrecipes app. She is also using the Kayak app for travel information. Students are enjoying asking Alexa to tell them a joke as well.
This kind of experimenting is exactly how we teach our students to be innovative and adventurous with technology. It will be fun to see where they take it from here.
There are many great extensions you can add to Chrome. One that we use in my class is SpeakIt! This extension reads highlighted text. One use of this extension is for administering the Student Climate Survey. This allows the student assistance in understanding the questions on the survey without compromising the anonymity of their responses. Here's a brief explaination of how to set up a Chrome extension.
I am currently playing with Symbaloo. This is a web-based program that allows you to curate links to websites and organize them. You can even set it as your home page. You can have multiple tabs for content. There are pre-made Symbaloo mixes as well.
I have created a home mix, for frequently used sites, Chrome extensions, and other web tools we use (Plickers, Quizlet, Trello). I have also started creating mixes for the way I organize our class topics: Infants, Toddlers, PreK, etc). Within a mix page, you can also highlight groupings of links with common themes.
While all of this is very exciting, I am torn. Yes, this would make it much easier for my students and myself to use the internet for research, it also creates a false environment that students will not have in the future. However, there is a Google Search bar in the middle of the home mix page, so they can break out of the mix if they want to. I think I will introduce this tool in the second semester to experiment and get student feedback. It isn't difficult to set up, and you can easily edit it.
EdCampATX is an un-conference. There is no agenda. Participants suggest topics they would like to explore, those ideas are aggregated and sorted into sessions without a leader. Anyone can share what they know about the topic. Anyone can ask questions.
This year's EdCamp was divided into four sessions. I attended Design Thinking Process, Special Ed, Google Classroom, and Google Tools. My favorite was Design Thinking Process. A few participants had experience using it in class at different grade levels, and some had used it as a tool with teachers for professional development. Questions from the group would elicit suggestions, resources, and more questions. You could almost see the lightbulbs going on over participants heads. Check out Design Thinking for Educators, Teachersguild.org, or DesignThinking Crash Course to get a feel for what it is all about.
The other session I found most enlightening was the Google Classroom tips and tricks. Varying levels of familiarity actually made the session more interesting, and I was convinced that I will be switching my classroom site over to Google Classroom because of all the efficient features.
I highly recommend EdCampATX. They will have an unconference at SXSWEdu, and again later next year.
Some students at Clifton struggle with reading and writing. We are teaching them to use Chrome extensions like SpeakIt! and VoiceNoteII to help them be more independent with technology. SpeakIt! is a text to speech program, and VoiceNoteII is a speech to text program. Once students can listen to the text, we have them put it in their own words.