Monthly Archives: April 2012

A day in the life

Since the beginning of the school year Envision Academy has been piloting the use of Chromebooks in the classroom. We decided that we wanted all of the incoming 9th graders to have access to Chromebooks in every class. We wanted to instill a stong academic identity and sense of scholarship to start off their high school experience with a unique and transformative experience. As a result of these conditions we have noticed a couple of interesting things.

Firstly, the students have become fluent in accessing their emails, google docs, google sites, etc. They remember their passwords and use them both inside and outside of school hours. This is a big change from how other 9th graders perform who do not have access to these resources in all of their classes.

Secondly, the teacher’s practices, routines, and curriculum have changed to incorporate and integrate the technology in ways that support more diverse learning.

Following is a day in the life of a typical 9th grade student

1st Period – Math

I always use my Chromebook in math class. My teacher usually starts off the lesson with a warm up that is on the board, then she will teach a short lesson. This lesson usually relates to the Unit we are learning and could be one of the skills I am working on in class. Then we open our Khan Academy accounts and get to work. We each have a plan of the modules we need to complete and we work on this in small groups. I can get help from the people sitting at my table, or ask my teacher to check over my work. My teacher spends time with each table throughout the class and teaches us something that will help us understand the lessons on Khan Academy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Break

2nd Period – Academic Literacy

This class is fun because we are using our Chromebooks to work on our websites. We had to interview family members and turn these into narratives. Our teacher also has us do lots of research on the Internet, we have learned how to evaluate sources to make sure that they are reliable. Also my teacher often has me take short quizzes on Google forms. I think he likes to see if I have learned the lesson or not because sometimes he will reteach something that I was a little confused about.

3rd Period – Digital Literacy

This is the one class inwhich I rarely use a Chromebook because I am in the lab, here we work on imacs. This class is fun because I learn how to use all the programs on the computer like imovie, Keynote, and Photoshop. I also often have to work on projects that relate to what is happening in my other classes. For example, we learned how to make a good website so that our website in Academic Literacy were well designed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lunch

4th Period – Science

In my science class we built small gravity powered cars and used Google templates to open a spreadsheet to record our data and calculate the velocity or acceleration of our cars. This was a fun project because we got to incorporate many different skills. Our teacher also had us use the Chromebooks to create small visuals that compare and contrast different Physics concepts; for example the difference between elastic and inelastic collisions or showing different forms of heat transfer.

Also my teacher always gives us our Science quizzes on the Chromebooks.

5th Period – Language Arts

It is finally my last class of the day. My teacher has had us writing essay using Google docs, but luckily that is over for now. We will be watching short clips on Youtube that relate to the book we are reading. Then our teacher wants us to create a presentation using Google presentations or Prezi that shows the main themes of the book and specific pieces of evidence from the story that show the themes. This should be a good break from essay writing, but we still have to write our blogs of course.

Tools of the day

In the spirit of open source collaborative design-based experimentation in the service of learning, I want to share the tools I encountered today.

I watched a Webinar about differentiation that discussed how technology can support the need for more individualized approaches, and more specifically what. The presentation was given by two teachers so the suggestions that they make are really practical and you know that they will work.

Some ideas that I have been tossing around recently are using Voicethread for students to create digital stories. This could work well as an alternative assignment in any class. I have most often seen this used with Language Arts, but I also think it can be very powerful in Science and Math.

Googlelittrips has kmz files that can be overlaid into google earth and show the highlights of major works of literature. This seems like a great activity to support the reading of one of the books. Could also be applicable to historical analysis.

Educreations is great for making videos of your lesson, or encouraging students to create videos of their own. This can be used in any classroom and even outside.

animaps is a great way to create interactive informative maps. I love this idea. I have not had a chance to use this much yet and would love to hear how others have used this.

Google search stories is also a fun way for students to engage in a short project that captures the essence of any lesson, story, process. Could be a great way to teach the story arch and have students apply this knowledge.

I also recently found this interactive whiteboard site that is free to use. Although I have yet to really test it.

In the interest of sharing, I would love to hear from others who have used these resources. Also, if there are other tools that people have come across that are useful and you have had success with please feel free to share these as well.

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Envision Academy gets recognized

Last week I was approached by a journalist who was writing a short piece about blended learning and upside down academy. He was curious how the project had gone and wanted to hear about our take aways.

As part of this process I worked with 3 students to answer all of his questions, convey the essence of what we do at Envision Schools and what Upside Down Exhibition was all about. I was so blown away by the articulate nature of these students. They were so clear about what they had learned, why it was important, what they would do differently now as a result of this process, and what other students and teachers should know about making math videos. These students saw this project not only as an exercise in math, but as a forum for exploring creative video production and filming techniques, and a platform for showing the world their thoughts and capabilities. One student even reflected on the process of getting public feedback. She had re-filmed her video and in the end found that this critique made her work stronger.

I can’t say enough about how powerful this process was, and in general how amazing it is to see youth empowered by learning. Please take a moment to read about this mindshift and hear of the ripples this project made across the country.