Monday, November 25, 2013

International Relations ... Visual Notetaking Strategies Braintorm

The idea of taking visual notes is spreading on the Internet. Sunny Brown has called it the Doodle Revolution, and it is supported by brain research that highlights the importance of images in learning. Students in International Relations, with Ms LaFrance, have been assigned different articles for reading and becoming experts on.  In order to share and contribute to the learning of others, students will produce Visual Notes in RSA animation or screencasting format. Ideas for applications for laptop and iPads are given at the Visual Thinking page within the HS Academic Tech Support site.

Students were introduced to visual note taking strategies through a MODIFICATION level activity (SAMR Model by Rueben Puentedura). So instead of the traditional approach, students were actively engaged while the video was played in class, by collaboratively creating a Google Spreadsheet with main keywords from the video. Each student or group of students typed keywords in one column of the spreadsheet. At the end of the video, they had to "clean up" the keywords list by deleting or renaming keywords in agreement with peers, so we could have as many similar keywords as possible. The keywords were directly copied from the Google spreadsheet to Wordle, to create the class list of visual note taking strategies.

We are now looking forward to the student created visual notes videos! This work was a collaboration between Ms LaFrance and the HS Academic Technology Coordinator, Mrs Meneghini.

Visual Note Taking Strategies Wordle - from International relation class

Class keywords brainstorm during video presentation

Monday, September 9, 2013

Integrated Math I ..... Blogfolios

This is a cross post from Moving Up the SAMR Model.

Ms Ange in Grade 9 Integrated Math I, has taken the challenge of having student create individual blogfolios to reflect on their math learning. As all students in Grade 9 have already created a Google Site Digital Portfolio that is being used in English and Visual Arts, so the students were taught how to link their Math blogfolio directly from the ePortfolio site under "Mathemathics". In this way, all their learning reflections are connected to a central hub.

The challenge in a blogfolio is to create appropriate "labels" that will allow retrieval of posts according to learning goals. The thoughtful creation and use of labels is a great support to reflection, which is a Modification stage on the SAMR model.

In the figure below you will see stages in the use of blogs for learning in Math. Those stages are described in more detailed below with emphasis on "Modification", which is the example described on this post. You can also see our ICT Standards associated with each stage.

SAMR Augmentation

If the students were sharing problem solutions on a blog, it would already be a great step as they could learn from each other's problem solving. This type of activity would be under the Augmentation stage of the SAMR Model (see entire model on the figure below). This is because students would be able to add visuals to support explanations and of course make those visible to others, as an augmented approach to solving problems individually. But the idea that is central on a blogfolio ( or ePortfolio) is reflection, which then takes us to the Modification stage as explained below, which is the adopted at the integrated Math I class.

SAMR Modification

One step further on posting in a blog is the reflection on learning that not only happens along the way but also happens as students are able to retrieve blog posts under a certain learning goal and evaluate progress according to goals. The definition of labels was a crucial discussion between the teacher and the Academic Tech in order to guarantee labels that would  live through all the grades in the HS and that could also link to previous grades.

Labels for Learning Goals
The conversation started with my suggestion of the use of Graded's core values, as well as the grade and class name as labels. Then, the teacher explored possible labels to indicate learning progress in Math. After some discussion on how to use main ideas from the Math AERO standards that would add subject related specificity , here are the final labels that covered core values and math specific goals. An initial task for the students was to create a post where all labels were copied from the teacher's template, so the whole class had the same labels to work on during the year:

Long term learning goals
The first post created by the students involved their learning goal(s) for Math associated with Graded's Core Values. As they wrote their posts, students also selected the core value labels that corresponded to their goal as shown in the example below:

This is Ms Ange's comment on the students's goal setting exercise on the blog:

SAMR Redefinition

At  the Redefinition stage, students would get input from experts on their blog posts and also connect with students from different cultures who may see and use mathematics in different ways.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

PE 10... Fitness Portfolios for Lifelong Learning

In PE 10, Ms Arcenas' class is taking the learning outside of the classroom and also outside of the "Unit" by recording fitness workout every week along the entire school year. Students will reflect on their own fitness plan and also on how it should be adjusted to provide the desired results and support other activities like basketball or soccer practice.

In order to make this record viable, students will enter the weekly workout on a Google Form that feeds a spreadsheet where they will collect all the information to be used as a basis for reflection and review.

The images below show how the Form looks like on a cellphone, and how the filled out spreadsheet looks like.

Such use of cellphones to enter fitness data is interpreted at the Augmentation stage of the SAMR model. This is because the cellphone offers clear advantages to paper record. It allows better organization and more importantly, it allows easy record on the spot, avoiding imprecise recording at a later time.

SAMR Augmentation

Cellphone Form

Spreadsheet View

Challenges on this Stage
There are several challenges in this activity, which already start at the Augmentation stage they are in. so to move to Modification we need to make sure the following is guaranteed:

Paradigm Shift for Students - Fitness for Life
Students will have to keep a record of fitness workout outside class and outside the Unit timeframe to learn fitness for life. Usually students tend to think that when a Unit is over, all activities related to it are over as well. Reflection will also focus on challenges in the process.

Recording Habits
The habit of recording on the place they do the workout will be a challenge, because students are not used to recording workout (which includes heart rates). The use of the cellphone in the gym is supposed to help record on the spot , so it will have to become a habit.

SAMR Modification

The chart below shows what moving up the SMAR model would look like for this activity.  The SAMR model has been developed by Rueben R. Puentedura and its image is being used to support the analysis of the PE Fitness Unit associated with our ICT Standards, An initial level in Modification would be having students share their reflection on the portfolio through a blog. A next level to complete Modification would be to have students comment on each other's posts, in this way learning together.
SAMR Model Image developed by Rueben R. Puentedura - adapated to analyze PE Fitness
Challenges on this Stage

Continuous reflection on a blog as an extra step
Students will have to show their reflection along the way, and not just as an after thought at the end of the year. Then they will need to look at some of their peer reflections to learn from them and offer suggestions.

Teacher Check Points
Another important strategy will be to check student worksheets through Teacher Dashboard from time to time to avoid students filling out a "fake" worksheet only at the end of the school year. Those checkpoints can help with student reflections and connection to other Units like Basketball, for example, so students can analyze their fitness log to see if the workout plan is effective for that sport , what needs to change.

SAMR Redefinition
Redefinition would then happen when students make connections with experts and other students around the world to open up their learning and reflection about fitness.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

ePortfolios talk in the Brazilian Studies Department

This is a cross post from ePortfolios Development Spirals.

Today we had a great meeting with the Brazilian Studies Department where Geoff and Jennifer Carpenter shared their experience with ePortfolios. Their presentation can be seen at Digital Portfolio Workshop, where the Reflect page was particularly emphasized. Other teachers in the audience have already started publishing student work in different formats like showcase portfolio webpages, student product page in a class site or even class blogs. Middle School has in fact started a focus on Blogfolios and 5th Grade students are creating blog posts with labels based on Graded's Core Values.  So in order to provide some context for ePortfolio experiences already happening and possibilities for growth, I created and shared the following Infographic describing ePortfolio development spirals as seen from different perspectives. Silvia Tolisano and Jennifer Peterson, representing Middle and Elementary School Academic Technology were also there.

Thinking about "Learning", ePortfolios can start by showcasing best work, or in other words, the final product of a learning experience. As evidence of student progress and development is also presented, the ePortfolio becomes a richer window into the student as a learner, enriching formative assessment. Reflections are then crucial as those create meaning and provide the "glue" that holds together all the artifacts of the learning experience. Reflection as a metacognitive process should be central to the ePortfolio.  As students connect with others by sharing their ePortfolios, learning from the experience of others and helping others on their learning path, then the ePortfolio grows. The ultimate connection is the global one, where different cultural perspectives and different learning contexts are used as a basis for learning about others, learning about yourself and learning about learning.

 In terms of  "Content", ePortfolios can start as a class showcase, then move on to student individual portfolios separated by subject area. Here you can see student pages inside class sites or subject specific blogs.  Growth from this point implies "general" student ePortfolios that include all subject areas, plus any other activities and learning that happens outside school. Here you would see Blogfolios with labels being used to organize subject areas and learning goals. The final step would be to develop a "progressive" ePortfolio that would cover a long period of time, or many grade levels (ideally from K-12 and beyond).  In this way it would be possible to see progress across many years for very different learning targets.

 The "SAMR model" can also help understand a development spiral for ePortfolios. In the "Substitution" stage we have the showcase of student product, so the ePortfolio acts a substitute venue for sharing the work.  "Augmentation" happens when multimedia is incorporated. We start to move towards "Modification" when process is represented. But it is only when we incorporate reflection that the "task" of collecting work is truly modified to become a metacognitive exercise.  "Modification" also happens when students start making connections with other student ePortfolios.  A final "redefinition" then emerges from a global connection where the individual learning path is influenced by and also influences other very different learning paths.

Finally, in terms of "Platforms", our school has been using both Google Sites and Blogs, as the ePortfolio central hub. We notice that blogging as a paradigm for ePortfolios grows as we approach reflection and connection, particularly global connections. This is because, first of all, a blog offers the flexibility of different labels assigned to the same post, so the same learning experience can be reviewed under different lenses. On a site, a learning experience tends to be categorized in a more fixed way. Then a blog allows for easy RSS feeds and other ways to follow the posts, so it is a more easily dynamic environment which fosters the connections we want to make. The comment feature is also crucial on those connections and those are very specific to the post and encourage a two way feedback.

Friday, May 3, 2013

PFL .... Student cultural expression

 PFL IV - Projeto Sua Cidade e Seu País
As part of learning Portuguese as a foreign language, students often create products that provide an insight into the culture that they bring to Graded. 

There is therefore an untapped richness  of resources that relate to the idea of "intercultural competence" indicated in our mission statement. I believe that access to such products  can help our community better understand the different cultural experiences at Graded.

PFL II - Projeto Roupas do Mundo
Take a look at some of these projects below:

Projeto Cidade

Projeto Roupas Tradicionais

Thursday, March 28, 2013

PFL V ...Peer Critique for an eMagazine

After publishing online newspapers, the PFL V class has now made available to the wider audience an online magazine with fictional news articles. The magazine is called "A Tela" which means "screen" in English, as a way to represent the different news you may see on TV or computer screens. The magazine has three separate sections:  Recent Events, Science & Technology, Culture & Travel. Anyone can read the articles and make comments by accessing the publication at the Issuu site shown below.

The class worked collaboratively to develop the design style of the magazine and some students created the cover. A Google Presentation file was used to house all the articles under the same design, so each student was responsible for copying a master slide and adding his o her own content. A PDF version of this Google Presentation was then uploaded into Issuu, making the online magazine very easy to do.

You can access the magazine below. A snapshot of students'comments is also shown at the end of this post.

eMagazine: A TELA

Commenting on each other's articles was an important part of the project, as the goal is to use peer critique as a means of constant improvement.  In order to provide constructive feedback, students learned in class about  peer critique. They also debated about how to provide feedback after watching the video Critique and Feedback - The story of Austin's butterfly


Kind but Honest:
  • Depersonalize comments, rephrasing as "it should have ..."
  • Phrase advice in the form of a question.
  • Explain why the the advice is helpful using "so that..."
  • Zoom in on details and offer specific advice for improvement
(Source: Improving Peer Feedback with Critique. The Learning Soy. Feb 2013)

A sample of peer feedback is seen on the image below. Keep in mind that these are Portuguese as Foreign Language students.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Ceramics ... Reflection Journal with Blogger

In Ceramics, a reflection journal practice that has been done on paper is now transferred to the online world. Ms Ariani asked her students to create individual blogs to host their journal reflections. The advantage of an online reflection journal is first of all to the students, as they will collect an easily accessible and shareable portfolio of their progress as artists. There is also the advantage of being able to easily illustrate their reflections with pictures of their final work and work in progress. Students can also add links to resources and research they may have done for the work, making such background information easily available not only for the reader but also for the student. The power of seeing one's own work nicely displayed and easily accessible cannot be underestimated. Apart from that, the fact that students can start to see each other's journals can be a powerful way to encourage more reflection and also positive critique. So we will be looking forward to student reactions at the end of this process.

You can see an example of student reflection blog posts for the coil pot project at the images below: Creative Clay Pot; Failure, Improvisation and Success; Finishing Touches. In this reflection journal it is possible to follow the student's difficulties with fitting different parts of the pot and the creative solution to the problem, which resulted in a funny face jar. Such problem solving and creative process would not have been easily available or even so well illustrated on paper.

Productive discussions regarding the use of blogging as a tool for journal reflection happened between the teacher, Ms Ariani, and the Technology Coordinator, Ms Meneghini, leading to the following decisions:

Teacher feedback and student revision: The teacher can provide feedback that will imply minor corrections on the student blog post or a major addition of a requirement not covered for example. The idea is that the teacher will check the blogs often. The students will edit the post for minor changes but he or she will create a new blog post for major additions as a published blog post is somewhat of a final product. The comments themselves represent the story of student progress so it makes sense that the student blogger responds with a new post indicating stages of work.

Retrieving different blog posts for the same project: The use of labels was reinforced with the students to help retrieve blog posts for the same project. This is necessary not only to help the teacher but also for the student and anyone else who may be interested in following progress. Usually, posts for the same project will be sequential in time, but it may be that a research post for a new project starts while at the same time a teacher feedback requires adding more details to a previous project. Nevertheless, labels will help easy retrieval of project posts after they are long gone from the list of top posts.

Teacher follow up of all student posts: The teacher who follows many student blogs needs a way to easily check work and see who has posted recently. On Blogger, it is possible to use Google Reader, Reading List or Follow By Email to follow up new blog posts. But corrections to an already published post do not appear on those environments. So the decision for the time being is that students will send an email to the teacher to inform of new posts or corrections, facilitating the teacher's management.

Finishing Touches Post

Teacher Comments

Failure, Improvisation and Success Post

Ceramics Clay Post

The ICT Standards that support learning in this project are:

2. Communication and Collaboration:
Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
    b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media formats.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Biology 9 .... Gamification of DNA Genetics Unit

Gamification means applying certain gaming elements to the teaching and learning process. It appears at the Horizon Report 2013 as one of the technologies that will have a strong impact in higher education in the near future. Graded's Innovate 2013 Conference hosted some gamification sessions and our Biology 9 teacher, Ms. Beck, was excited with the concept therefore deciding to apply it in her DNA Genetics Unit.

Two elements of gaming that are very important and actually mix together involve "storytelling" and "challenge".  In a game, a fantasy aspect is key to transport the player to another world where a challenge will take place. Below, you will see the storytelling and the challenge for the DNA Genetics Unit. It involves groups of students trying to unlock the secrets of DNA, which takes us to other elements of gaming which are "cooperation" and "competition". The competition element in the DNA unit involves cooperation within groups to come up with the first DNA model. This process actually mimicked the real life challenge among different scientific groups around the world when the DNA structure was actually unveiled by Watson and Crick, who won the Nobel Prize. The students watched a movie about the real world DNA scientific competition at the end of the Unit.

At the video in the end of this post you can hear Ms Beck describing the whole gamification process in the DNA Unit. While at the beginning the teacher reports a concern about the competition element, as the unit progressed, the students were described as being on task and engaged. Students who were not so much into science before became more interested. The idea was to use gamification to encourage students to move along the material and activities in a more independent way.  In order to encourage such independence, the challenge was combined with another important element of gaming which is a "reward system". That involved the use of bagdes and a leaderboard. The badges were created by the teacher and assigned to students as they achieved levels, built vocabulary, found facts, created concept maps, etc. So they were associated with achievement in terms of covering the material/activities. Below you can see the badges that were assigned through Edmodo.

A similar principle was applied to the use of a "coin leaderboard", which indicated the top 20 students with more "coins" collected. The coins were actually physical "bingo"coins that students would get as they completed tasks and levels. The leaderboad is therefore not based on who is smarter, but based on an incentive to cover the material and activities (collect coins). Students could then exchange some coins for "prizes" such as taking a 5 minute break, going to the snack bar, etc. The teacher reports how students became engaged with the whole "coin"gathering. She described the class as being more focused on providing individualized attention than on being teacher directed. So students worked at their own pace and there was more differentiation. The overall feedback from Ms beck is very positive, and while she will not use gamification for all her Units, the DNA Unit seemed very appropriate for this approach. Enjoy Ms. Beck's full description and feedback at the video below!

The ideas about gamification in this post came from the following sources, which you can check for more information:

Kapp, K.M. The Gamification of Learning and Instruction. 2012. John Wiley & Sons. Pfeiffer.

"The Rules of Gamification". Razorfish Outlook Report. <>