Hour of Code 2016

It’s time for Hour of Code 2016! Computer Science Education Week is December 5-11 when the whole world participates in an Hour or more of Computer Coding. There are many ways to experience computer programming for every age group. Listed below are some of the Apps and Websites showcasing Hour of Code and coding apps. The Fletcher School EdTech Team encourages all grade levels to explore these age appropriate coding programs. Teachers: Contact EdTech if you would like us to help you plan a coding lesson. Resources will be posted in Monday Memo. Mac Users can click on the Hour of Code button in Self Service. #kidscancode #socanadults!

Apps of the Day

11/18  Many coding apps have been pushed to all Fletcher School iPads.The Swift Playgrounds app is one of them. Swift Playgrounds is a new app for iPad that teaches you to write Swift code in a fun, interactive way. “Swift code is a programming language developed by Apple to build apps.”  Check out the Hour of Code Swift Playgrounds challenge in the app. Learn the code developers use to build apps. Another great coding app for lower school is ScratchJr and Scratch can be used by grades 5-12 students on a Mac.

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11/21  Check out Code.org, the headquarters for Hour of Code. Code.org has a diverse set of modules and tutorials of varying length and topics that appeal to all ages. Work with code in Star Wars or Minecraft settings or create unique artistic designs using coding commands. CodeAcademy, “teaching the world how to code” is a higher level interface with many options to take coding the next and real world level. Learn HTML, Java, or Sass or learn to make a website. It can be accessed by iPad or Mac users.

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Professional Development Spotlight: Tech Tuesdays

Ongoing, high-quality professional development is a key component of any successful educational institution.  Students benefit when teachers are presented with opportunities to learn new techniques, be inspired by creative lesson ideas, and collaborate with colleagues.  The Fletcher School’s robust collection of professional development opportunities include a particularly unique and popular offering:  Tech Tuesdays.img_1

Launched and developed by Fletcher’s Technology Director, Jenny Grabiec, in 2013, Tech Tuesdays are one-hour weekly professional development sessions, allowing staff to sharpen their technology skills in completely customized ways.  Offered in-house after school, Tech Tuesdays are optional, so teachers can sign up for topics which match their professional goals.  Based on a universal staff understanding of SAMR and TPACK frameworks, Tech Tuesdays allow teachers to transform their learning environments with technology.

Like everything else we do, The Fletcher School’s professional development offerings reflect our mission:

The Fletcher School creates bright futures for students with specific learning disabilities and/or attention deficit disorders by offering a structured, individualized, college preparatory curriculum that prepares them to reach their full potential.   

Our Tech Tuesday sessions provide teachers pathways to reach these goals, with sessions to support student learning. 

Tech Tuesday topics include:img_0388

  • Orton-Gillingham and Technology
  • iCan with iOS: Accessibility for iPad Users
  • Personalize Learning with Mac and Chrome Accessibility
  • Improving Executive Functioning with Tech Tools
  • Using iPad to Enhance Multisensory Instruction
  • Create your own Textbooks with iBooks Author

Teachers learn how to use a wide variety of apps and web tools to accomplish their goals, including iPad and MacBook apps and Google Apps for Education.  Sessions offer engaging, trending ideas, including green screening, using QR codes and augmented reality. Each year, teachers are surveyed to obtain feedback on sessions, and gather ideas and suggestions.  Fletcher’s EdTech team select topics which include the best current ideas and apps, so staff is always kept up to date.  Since its inception in 2013, Tech Tuesdays have evolved to include many more Fletcher teachers leading the sessions, demonstrating their own research and learning.  The format has also changed over time, improving the conversation between teachers and presenters.

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BreakoutEDU: A platform for immersive learning games

Ever heard of the “escape room?” Our very own Fletcher faculty participated in a team building activity a year or so ago by visiting Exit Strategy, the country’s largest escape room location, right here in Charlotte. According to Wikipedia, “an escape room is a physical adventure game in which players are locked in a room and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles and escape within a set time limit.” It is a fun way to work collaboratively, while using critical thinking skills to solve problems, and ultimately, escape from the room!

The smart creators of BreakoutEDU decided to bring the idea of the escape room into the educational world by creating curriculum related breakout challenges! They thought, why not allow our students to get out of their seats, work together to solve puzzles, all while learning about key themes related to their areas of study. Brilliant! Here is a great clip describing how BreakoutEDU works and why it is a great addition to any school setting.

This past summer, I had the opportunity to attend the ISTE conference in Denver, CO with a group of Fletcher teachers. The creators of BreakoutEDU positioned a school bus in front of the conference center, to introduce educators to the idea. The school bus had been redesigned as an escape bus! Working with a small group of educators (I only knew one of them), we uncovered various clues, such as a hidden key in a beaker full of colored liquid and magic letters on a map, exposed only with a special UV flashlight. We had a guide in the session with us and we were able to get up to two hints from her, if we got stuck. We had to get a few hints and we relied on a high school student to help us with many of the challenges – This challenge was right up his alley! We ended up breaking out of the bus in 14 minutes and 57 seconds and then proceeded to our photo op station.

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img_1256I knew that our students would LOVE the opportunity to try something like this, so I purchased a special BreakoutEDU box for our school. The box came with a hasp, combination locks, key locks, pencil lock boxes, a disappearing ink pen, UV flashlight and blank hint cards.  I also found a huge following for this idea on a BreakoutEDU Facebook group and on BreakoutEDU.com. On this site, teachers can find tons of games that have been designed by educators around the country. The games include helpful resources, such as lesson plans, video clips, printable game materials, combinations and so much more. Several of the games even include video tutorials so that teachers can set up the game exactly right in their own classrooms. All of the games include an age group suggestion and a direct link to subject area content – math, science, social studies, language arts and more are represented!

Stephaportable-network-graphics-image-fb7684c9796f-1nie Sanders, a fifth grade teacher at Fletcher, was planning to introduce her students to the book, Pax by Sara Pennypacker, when she stumbled across the BreakoutEDU idea. Thankfully, a teacher had already designed a BreakoutEDU challenge for the book and Stephanie decided to put the book in the box, locked with key locks and combination locks, that could only be unlocked by solving the related challenges. The students worked together to solve the challenges, breaking into the locks and retrieving the book from the box. The students used Google searches to find answers to some of the questions, which were needed to determine combinations. What a fun way to begin a new novel in the classroom! The kids loved it!

Mrs. Poe used the box last week and set up a Minecraft challenge for her elective class and computer fun club. Again, the students worked together to break into the box and one student asked, “When can we do this again?”

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We can’t wait to see what other BreakoutEDU challenges await for our students!

Using Flubaroo

Teachers, if you are not using the add-on Flubaroo, you are missing out!  Flubaroo automatically grades a Google Form, freeing up time for lesson planning.  Interested? Here’s how to do it:

  1. Create a Google Form
  2. You, the teacher, complete the Google Form
  3. Students complete the Google Form
  4. Teacher then uses Flubaroo to grade the quiz:
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Open the Google Form you want to grade. At the top of the form, click on “Responses.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Then click on the green Google Sheet icon to put all the responses into spreadsheet form.

 

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A spreadsheet is automatically then created, with “Responses” added to the title.

 

I find it best to change your username to ANSWERS, that is easier to identify in a spreadsheet of multiple usernames. (For security reasons, student Usernames have been covered.)

I find it best to change your username to ANSWERS, making it easier to identify in a spreadsheet of multiple usernames. (For security reasons, student usernames have been covered.)

 

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If you have not done so yet, get the Flubaroo Add-on.

 

Click on Add-ons in the menu bar and select Flubaroo, Grade Assignment.

Click on Add-ons in the menu bar and select Flubaroo, Grade Assignment.

 

A menu will pop up asking about grading options. This is the place you can tell Flubaroo to leave out a particular question when grading, or to give questions different weights. After making your choices, click on continue.

A menu will pop up asking about grading options. This is the place you can tell Flubaroo to leave out a particular question when grading, or to give questions different weights. After making your choices, click on continue.

 

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You will then be asked to select the username which is the answer key. Select your own username, or if you changed your username to ANSWERS, select that.

 

Then watch Flubaroo work its magic!

Then watch Flubaroo work its magic!

 

You will then have a spreadsheet with grades, as well as which answers they selected.

You will then have a spreadsheet with grades, as well as which answers they selected.

 

You then have the option to email the students their grades

You then have the option to email the students their grades.

 

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Make your selections and grades will be emailed to your students.

 

Enjoy your free time!

Many thanks to Marialice Hilt for showing me how to use Flubaroo and making grading so much easier for me!

Studying Communities Through Global Collaboration

Studying Communities Through Global Collaboration

The 3rd Grade curriculum includes a study of communities. In 2015, our 3rd grade students Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 4.43.20 PMparticipated in a global collaboration project titled “If You Learned Here.”  This was the first year the project was offered. Eighty schools from around the world were involved, including the Fletcher School. The coordinators, Carolyn Skibba and Mary Morgan Ryan, were inspired by the book If You Lived Here: Houses of the World. They have created a wonderful project in which students share in a global dialogue about our learning communities. The project culminated with each school writing pages for a published online eBook titled If You Learned Here:  Schools of the World.

Each of the first four weeks, we created videos which we shared using the app Flipgrid.  We were able to view all of the other schools videos to learn about their school communities. Every week had a different theme:

  1. Our School and Community was the first week’s theme. Together we wrote a script to introduce The Fletcher School and Charlotte to our new cohorts.
  2. Our Day at School allowed us to share each part of our school day from the ride to school to our after school activities.
  3. Our Learning was a fun time for us to teach a lesson. We noticed that none of the other schools had Social Skills classes and it just happened to be The International Day of Happiness, so our main lesson was about how to stay happy.
  4. Our Reading was a chance for us to create our own Reading Rainbow style videos reviewing our favorite books.

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The global collaboration videos were enlightening. The students gained confidence and self-esteem as they watched kids from around the world share similar stories. This year, our 3rd grade students are enjoying the If You Learned Here videos from both 2015 and 2016 and discussing the various communities.

The link below will take you to the videos and our book “If You Learned Here: Schools of the World.” Our Flipgrid videos are labeled Orange Cohort.

If You Learned Here 2015

Map of Schools

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Students-Created Instructional Videos with Do Ink

“While we teach, we learn,” said the Roman philosopher Seneca.  Mr. Elliott’s 7th grade science classes recently put this ancient wisdom into action by creating amazing instructional videos detailing their knowledge of the circulatory system.

Part of a larger study of the human body, 7th graders covered the circulatory system content using their Discovery Ed Science Techbooks, with the guidance of a teacher-provided outline and other select resources.  In past years, Mr. Elliott would have then assigned students a final culminating project, such as an oral report, or slide presentation.  But this year, he wanted his students to utilize audio/visual-rich technology tools to demonstrate their expert status on specific elements of the circulatory system.  So Mr. Elliott charged his 7th graders with the task of creating interesting and unique, narrated instructional videos.

Working in pairs, the 7th graders began by reviewing a selection of copyright-friendly, editable Discovery Ed videos.  Each student group was asked to present a specific areas of the circulatory system, such as the heart, blood vessels, or blood cell types.  Once the students had selected some interesting video, they transferred clips into iMovie to do some initial editing.  Each group then wrote a detailed script to accompany their video.  Excitement and anticipation about the project grew as students prepared for their Green Screen Studio appointment slots by practicing script narration timing with their custom videos.  Mr. Elliott observed that enthusiasm for this project drove students to be quite independent while completing their work.

IMG_0459Once everything was prepared, each student group arrived at Fletcher’s Green Screen Studio and began downloading their scripts into the PromptSmart teleprompter app.  They next set up their edited iMovie in the Green Screen by Do Ink app, which enabled the student experts to see their video playing behind them while they read their script. Classmates volunteered to run the iPad camera and teleprompter, creating a positive, collaborative atmosphere.  The experts donned their lab coats and enjoyed filming their creations, resulting in exceptional videos.

Poetry Podcast

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.11.27 PMBy Kathy Poe and Shannon Nichols

Mrs. Nichols’ classes developed a poem based on a famous person that has made a difference. She had her students create a poster of their poem with photos. Mrs. Poe extended the project by having the students make a podcast of the poems.

This Written Expression project was twofold. First the students studied the style of Narrative Poetry. We listened to, read, and dissected three infamous narrative poems: Casey at Bat, Harriet Tubman, and Caged Bird. After closely reading each poem, students determined that narrative poetry tells a story, uses repetition as a tool, and often contains symbolism. In the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, the students identified and researched a person that has been a champion of human rights. They applied the knowledge learned about their chosen role model to create a narrative poem for the second piece of this assignment. The poem was presented as a poster with illustrations.

Screen Shot 2016-04-22 at 1.19.53 PMWith the poem written our students turned their poetry into a Podcast. They watched videos of champion poetry readers from Poetry Out Loud to see how other students deliver a poem in a dramatic way. To make them come alive our students practiced recording their poems working on diction, fluency, timing and presentation. They used GarageBand to record their poems and added music that fit the time period. Recording their poems brought them to life beyond the bulletin board. Finally, we created a QR code to listen to each one.

Click here or use the QR code to listen to all our Poetry Podcasts!

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The Industrial Revolution and Child Labor

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 11.11.48 AM There are many events and topics throughout US History that I love to study.  The Industrial Revolution is one of my favorites and child labor during that time is a special interest.  I wanted to create a project gave the students the feeling of being in the factories with the children of the time.  

Then I thought, what if the students could truly be in the factories?  Could I use Lewis W. Hine and Jacob Riis’ pictures to put the students in the factories?

Students were told they were about to become true, child laborers.  Each student created a Google Doc, and once they changed the setting to “free to use, share or modify, even commercially”, students used the Google Research tool find a picture of child labor from the Industrial Revolution.  This was a great opportunity to review the photo citation process.  After finding the picture, students took a screenshot of it and saved it to their desktop.

During one class period students brought in clothes that best matched the children in the picture, they were not required to purchase anything.  Most of the boys brought in a button down shirt, while many girls found dresses in their moms’ closets.  Some students even brought in props.  We then dirtied them up a bit with some potting soil, to give them an authentic look fo the  working conditions in the factories.

After taking their pictures we put them into iMovie in order to change them to black and white, or in some cases, sepia.  Students then took a screenshot of the altered picture and using the cropping tools removed all surrounding background.  

The altered screenshot was then copied and pasted onto the screenshot of the original picture.  That allowed us to size the student to fit in with the original.

The finished products are outstanding.  The students are always amazed at their completed “photographs” and are anxious to see pictures from other classes.  This project is a perfect combination of history and technology.

Digital Literacy and Creative Projects

Blog Post - April (2)Nowadays, we live in a digital world where students spend a large portion of each day utilizing computers as a tool both in and out of the classroom. At the Fletcher School, our goal is to develop Digital Literacy and Citizenship in our students. Using Common Sense Media’s Digital Literacy and Citizenship curriculum in our computer classes, students discuss and learn how to be responsible and safe while online.

Two of the many aspects of Digital Literacy from Common Sense Media that are taught in 6th Grade are Strategic Searching and A Creator’s Rights. These two components give students an introduction to online researching and the importance of citing sources used to obtain information. Strategic Searching, shows students how to effectively and efficiently conduct research on the internet using a variety of strategies such as using keywords, synonyms, quotations marks around specific words, and different domain types. A five-step method (S. E. A. R. C. H.) is introduced as a tool to assist in planning and carrying out online searches. The 5 letters stand for: select questions, extract keywords and terms, apply search strategies, run your research and chart your search.

A Creator’s Rights teaches students about copyrights, fair use, public domains, licensing, piracy and plagiarism. Through videos and class discussions, students come to understand these terms so they can follow the rules of copyright laws, protect their own creative work and be respectful of how they use others work.

Blog Post - April (1)After studying these two Digital Literacy components, the 6th Graders complete a four part culminating project entitled, “My Birthday in History”. The project incorporates the Digital Literacy curriculum, as well as various technology tools. For the first part, students are required to apply the five-step method and strategies for searching to research events and birthdays that happened on their birth date in history. Students are always amazed at what they discover when doing this research. Many times they have heard of an event or person, but it adds an exciting element when they find out it happened on their birth date. My classroom comes alive with chatter as everyone shares their discoveries. I often have to remind them to save some “surprises” for their actual paper. Once the information is gathered, it is used to write a six paragraph paper Students must include a “Works Cited” list to give credit to the people’s work used as resources. For the second part, pictures are collected that correlate to the events and birthdays chosen. The pictures are utilized three ways, as an attachment to the written paper, incorporated into an iMovie, and to design a poster using one of two websites: Canva www.canva.com or Buncee www.edu.buncee.com.

Blog Post - AprilThe completed posters are put together as a bulletin board. For the third part, an iMovie is produced. Using our green screen room, students record and edit a video depicting one historical event and one birthday from their written work. The video and pictures are assembled to create an iMovie which has to include transitions and music. Lastly, in order to share our completed project with our school community and visitors, students use Blippbuilder to create “blipps.” These “blipps” turn the posters into interactive images that can be used with Blippar, an augmented reality app, to scan them. Anyone who has the app downloaded on a digital device can see the students’ movies “come to life,” just by scanning it. All are welcome to come see our work!

KAPOW! Students Get Creative with Comics in Spanish Class

Screen Shot 2016-03-18 at 10.29.44 AMStudents often struggle to find creativity and relevance in their Spanish writing assignments.  Often, the textbook vocabulary can be dry, unrelatable or “boring”. Additional challenges include not knowing enough supplemental vocabulary to truly tell an interesting story in their own words. Which results in students turning to online translations tools to “fill in those blanks” and typically I am left with a lovely essay written by Google Translate. So how does a teacher get students to bring to life their textbook vocabulary while staying true to their own abilities??? A comic!

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Teachers often struggle with how to use technology to encourage storytelling. Typically a new app or website can be everything from exciting to terrifying…and time consuming. Many teachers want to find ways to grow their projects using the SAMR model. SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse technology into teaching and learning. Pixton Comic Maker is an easy to use website that really allows students to design, develop and infuse digital learning. To make an amazing project, teachers and students do not need to access another site (i.e: students do not need to use Quicktime to record voices, Pixton provides all tools needed within its site). There are also many helpful “how-to” videos provided by the website. I was very impressed with how quickly my students learned the website and their final projects were really incredible!

The Pixton Comic Website is both a teacher and student friendly website that not only allows students to write and create their own stories, but allows them to fully bring them to life by providing the technology needed to record student voices directly into the project!

The end result is a narrated slideshow that tells the students story in their own words. I believe that this a a website that can teachers, regardless of content area, can use to create individualized and innovative projects.

Student Example

Pixton Comic

We then used http://www.qrstuff.com/ to link our pixton comic to a QR that allows everyone

We used a simple QR code to allow others to share in our assignments! Try it! 

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