Saturday, June 7, 2014

Genius Hour (post 4)

Materials for Teaching TED Talks:

I started introducing TED talks by showing a few in class. We used an analysis sheet that I found in Joy Kirr's live binder. I pretty much used exactly the same format but I think next  year I might add in some actual written reflection vs. just a point system.

I have also come up with a list of some of the school appropriate good examples. I did however task the kids to go out and find two of their own, which opened them up to finding topics of interest to them.

Here are both examples:

1. TED Talk Analysis simple
2. TED Talk Analysis with reflection & notes

After I had the students analyze some TED Talks I also put a discussion thread up on our LMS, Schoology and asked what they believed created the best TED talk. They had to submit their own ideas first before they could see anyone else's answers, and then they also had to respond to someone else. Either ask a question, post a link to a video, agree with someone, etc.
Here are some screen shots of those conversations:

I also provided them with a Planning sheet, again also tweaked from something I found in the Live Binder. Here is that example!







Grading Benchmarks

Now again, not many people believe in grading the genius hour projects, I do. I have created several benchmarks (things that I graded) for the students to complete as they go through the process of learning about their topics, they include:
  1. Video Pitch
  2. Essay Pitch
  3. Essential Questions
  4. Website/Blog Reflections
  5. Book to Guide Research
  6. Mentor Interview
  7. TED Talk 

Next year I am hoping to start sooner, I am thinking November. I will break up the grading pieces by grading the following items first semester:
  1. Video Pitch
  2. Essay Pitch
  3. Essential Questions
  4. (2) Blog Post Reflections
I will grade the following items second semester:
  1. Book to Guide Research
  2. (5) Blog Posts Reflections
  3. Book to Guide Research
  4. Mentor Interview
  5. Final Written Reflection
  6. TED Talk
This might need some revision as I look at modifying for ALL my students vs. just my honors students but I feel like these are all GREAT components! 

Autocrat Rubrics!

To grade the TED talk I have put together a rubric, using Google Docs, the original came from Mariana Garcia again from the Genius Hour Live Binder, I have added color (my kids are on iPads and I can add color and pictures- which believe me is a change from a year ago when I purposefully made everything in black and white because why bother?) as well as changing some- but not all- of the wording. I have also installed the autocrat script! If you haven't messed around with autocrat you should, it is one of the best things to come out of all my tinkering this year! I especially love using it with rubrics!

Basic Steps for Autocrat:
1. Create the rubric template on a doc
2. Create a google form that matches your tags on the doc
3. Install the script on the form response sheets (this step is a bit more complicated than just installing the script see the other post on how to do this).

It is working beautifully!


*Make copies in your own drive and install the script autocrat. See my post here, for a more detailed description on how to do this

So after I fill out this form:



The students are gifted with this beauty in their shared folder on their Google Drive! I keep rubrics to "view only" and sometimes I even include that they have a signature and turn in back in. Middle schoolers definitely need direct instruction on looking at the rubrics and reading all the feedback. I know we think they are devouring all of our feedback but I have found they just seek out the points unless you develop a culture in your classroom where they actually pause, take a few minutes, and look over the whole thing.





Hope this helps!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Genius Hour (post 2)

Loss of Interest Reflection


What do you do when you have students that lose interest in their project? 

Is there an ending culminating project that you could have them do instead of a TED talk? 

Or do you have them do a TED talk as they finish each time?

 I worry that I have some students that don't have enough time to finish their projects and then I have others that are already done or want to move on. I totally want them to move to a new topic and to continue to use their time wisely, but how do I end one project and start a new one and still feel like they understand the inquiry process? I feel like some sort of protocol needs to be in place.

Obviously you work on a student by student basis and that is where the whole "coaching" comes into play. But I can't help but wonder if there is something that can be done.

Beth Onig on twitter mentioned another teacher doesn't have a set time for Genius Hour presentations, it is just a revolving door. When students are done they present. This could work. I have to think of something though. Especially if I want the project to last longer throughout the year next year.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Genius Hour (post 3)

How to get started:

There are a lot of resources out there already, and most of the teachers that are embarking on this process are willing to share what they have or help you problem solve.


Twitter #geniushour

Google+



Practical tips:

1. Face to Face time is invaluable: 

While the students are working independently you are still there helping them focus and problem solve. The relationships you build with them come into play here. You will be using that genius hour time to work with them and conference with them and help them reflect on where they are at in the process.

2. Let Go: 

You have to learn to let go of the process at a certain point and be fine with letting the kids work at their own pace. Some get stuck in parts and take awhile to get over the hump; while others are zooming ahead. 

3. Think about your benchmarks: 

How do you want your students to show their mastery of their essential question? For me I had certain items due along the way to keep them on task. A video pitch, an interview, a book to guide their research, and finally a TED style talk to their peers.

4. To grade or not to grade? 

Some people don't agree with grading this project. They want this to be a project for the sake of learning, I do grade it. Where do you fall in the spectrum?

5. Utilize your own social network:

Use facebook, twitter, google+ to find mentors and/or people to help with interviews. 

6. Reflect

Constantly reflect on the process. What is working with your students, what isn't? Not all genius hour's will look the same and I think that is ok. It is about the engagement and creativity for your kids. 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Genius Hour

I haven't been very good about reflecting on this process, I am knew to it and it would be great to work on that. I have been collecting and "guinea pigging" Genius Hour with my honors classes. They have worked through:

  • Brainstorming
  • Reflecting on their websites
  • Developing an essential question
  • Writing an essay pitch (audience was me the teacher) 
  • Creating a video pitch (audience was their peers and beyond)
  • Watching the video pitches and giving critiques to their peers. 
So far there has been a wealth of resources and information out there to pull from and the teachers in my building are really liking the idea and trying to find ways to do their own version.

My question is this, how can we do it in a way that builds on the skills from grade to grade? What does it look like in the progression from 7th to 8th (in my school) for example? 

These questions I am pondering as I move forward, because so far the work with the kids seems to be going really well. 

I have a few stragglers that I need to have more time to give more attention to but so far we have been pretty high tech and have constant things to do as we continue moving. There is hardly ever enough time. 

Playlists for period 4:



Playlist for period 5:


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Updated Tech Thursdays

I had a colleague sitting in my department meeting make a comment about how she remembered learning new technology best back about 10 years ago while she was in another district. She said that she remembered that that district brought in someone that was on maternity leave and they would come in and teach one topic, provide a cheat sheet, and give some play time so that the staff could develop something.

This reminded me that that was originally what I wanted Tech Thursdays to be, low key, one idea at a time. and collaborative play time. At the beginning of the year with the iPad roll out, teachers were too stressed to see beyond the first day let alone completely revamping their curriculum and "trying something new" during that time, so my voluntary Tech Thursdays were poorly attended at best. That was when admin stepped in and made them mandatory. At that point they became much more "staff meeting" like and less about the tech, and not really a low key learning environment.

SAMR Model of Technology Use by Reuben R. Puentedura
After this colleague said this I marched down to my admin and proposed that we might want to try changing it back, that people might in fact be less stressed now and more willing to "teach above the line." At the beginning of the year the majority of the staff was still hovering in the substitution & augmentation stage. Now more and more are willing to branch out and try new things.

I have also tried to "advertise" the sessions ahead of time, work up some hype. There is now a section in our admin's Sunday newsletter that the staff is required to read. We also have been sending out e-mails throughout the week.

I have updated our page on our Tech Support site (see that here) so that it is easier to mail out the specifics to each Thursday session, I do this mid-morning on Thursday. I have also started introducing the staff to the idea of collaborative meeting notes. Hoping to get some good ideas going today with the larger turn out (we still have mandatory Tech Thursdays but I am hoping they will be coming less and less as we continue through the year and beyond).

I am finding that I am really liking the cheat sheet. While it is yet another thing for me to create at this point, I am thinking it is fairly easy and a good use of my tech coach period time. See the Tech Thursday posts for more of those as well as the example from today.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

New Script! FormMule for Teacher Feedback and Digital WSQ confirmation!

So I have recently been trying to look at the uses of a the script formMule.

The purpose behind the script is to set up automated e-mails on form response collections in Google Forms.

I have a colleague that has been using it to send e-mails with their summary and "HOT" question information from the Digital WSQ's.

You can also use it to send teacher comments, not automated but easier to give via the form collection than if you were to personally e-mail each one or send a message in your LMS.

My colleague sets up a blank multiple choice question titled "Teacher Comments" at the bottom of her form so that she can send this additional feedback.

I have taken it a step further if you add an additional page and add your multiple choice blank "Teacher Comments" question on the new page. Now you can then completely hide it from the students. You just have to select "submit form" on the page directions.
. I am testing this all out with my students this week and will gather data on if they like getting confirmation that they did their homework and it submitted correctly!

To set up the merge to happen manually just do not select the "Trigger this feature on the form submit" then you can send out after you fill in your blank teacher comment section on the response spreadsheet and then you can trigger the merge to send the e-mail to that one student. 

This is how I have filled in the e-mail template:





Friday, February 14, 2014

Student Created Content- Book Movie Trailers


Novel Book Trailer Project

After reading an article on Edutopia, Redefining the Writing Process with iPads, I decided to use some of the tips and ideas presented at the bottom of the article on something new to do and try with the iPads. I was currently looking for a way to revamp what the project would look like for my students once they were done with their novels so this was perfect timing. The playlist below contains some of the book trailers from ALL of my classes (honors and regular) the students were supposed to share what the novel was about, include the theme of the novel, include sound effects that correlated with the storyline, and cite their sources. 

To prepare for the project the students read the novels, then worked through a packet on: theme, setting, plot line, storyboards, and worked on brainstorming audio and visual elements to correspond with the story. They used iMovie and then had to problem solve on movie vs. trailer options, as well as adding in the background music and sound effects. Some used the sounds from iMovie, others even went so far as to use Garage band to make their own background music!