Thursday, May 14, 2015

We Are Approaching Lift Off!!!

First off, I must apologize for not blogging consistently like I have asked my students.  It's not that I didn't have time, I have been helping students with their projects that I began postponing part of mine.  However, now I am back on track and I am planning for the presentations in our school's cafeteria, theater foyer, and theater.  I won't be able to get all of my students on the stage so a few days ago, I asked for senior and junior volunteers.  For my presentations, seniors will be presenting on May 21st and juniors on May 26th.  Students who are not presenting on stage, will be presenting their projects in a science fair-style presentation.  They have been asked to use a tri-fold display and to bring any technology that they will need to enhance their presentation.

So what have I planned...

1.  I have talked to a student in theater who will be running the sound and lighting for the theater.  I have requested 3 wireless microphones.
2.  I have talked to our technology person and asked him about being able to plug in a laptop on stage and have it project onto the screen behind the students.  In order to do this, I need to borrow a school laptop, a VGA cable, and an onstage portable speaker.
3.  I need to purchase a remote mouse, extension cords, and power strips.  I was looking at circular red rugs, but they are expensive and I might hold off on that.
4.  I will be bringing a flex cam so that students who have a product can present their product on stage through the laptop.  Again, I asked our technology person if he had a USB male-female extension cord.

So who have I contacted...

1.  I sent an email invitation to the assistant superintendents.
2.  Administration
3.  Staff
4.  The local Newspaper- The Signal
5.  Parents (Flyer is being sent home with the students)

My next steps are to plan the layout of the cafeteria and theater foyer.  I have the specifications of each location, along with the lengths of the rectangular tables that I will need.  I also need to do a "dry run" of the sound and video in the theater.  Nothing would be more frustrating if technology did not work.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Moving Right Along

Last Thursday and Friday was our 4th meeting of 20% Time.  Students published their second blog post, watched and evaluated the second TED talk, and conferenced with me about their project.  This time, I had to institute a deadline for all blog posts and comments.  After the first blog post, several students took awhile to publish a blog, which didn't allow some students to complete their comments. Some students still have not commented yet on their assigned people's blogs. We will see how this works and see if I need to further regulate posting and commenting.  For the most part, most students finish publishing and commenting in a timely manner.  Of all of the things that we did these days, the one that I enjoyed the most was conferencing with the students.  I got a chance to find out how things were going with their projects, find out where they were stumbling, and offer advice to them to help them achieve their goals.

I spoke with one student, whom I usually conference with on a regular basis, to find out how organizing an art show for the local high schools was going.  Savannah's 20% Time Project is to organize an art show for the seven high schools in our valley at our local mall.  A few weeks ago, she met with the director of our Westfield Mall to look at vacant stores where she could have her art show.  Savannah has decided on a spot and is currently working on a calendar for the art show.  She has decided to, not just have one art show, but have 4 art shows spanning 4 weekends.  She will have our high school go first and by themselves that she can work out any "kinks" that may arise.  The next 3 weeks, she will pair 2 high schools at a time.  Savannah will be sending out an email to the other high school teachers about the art show and getting their students pieces in the show.  She has sought out the help and mentoring from her AP art studio teacher.  All-in-all, Savannah is doing a wonderful job and it just shows that if a student is PASSIONATE about something, they will put their heart and soul into it.  I am extremely proud of her.

I spoke with another student, Jared, about his project, in which he wants to create an entire music album.  At first, I thought, this was a very lofty idea and then I come to find out, after conferencing with him, that he has 6 out of the 10 songs written; music and lyrics.  He also has the introduction written.  Jared intends to play every instrument and provide the vocals to his album.  He then shared and showed me the lyrics to some of his songs and all I can say is "WOW!!"  The inspiration for some of his songs come from personal experience, which you can feel the emotion in his words.  It was truly amazing!!

TED Talk #2- Birke Baehr
"What's Wrong With Our Food System?"

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

In the wind comes the PITCH!!!

My classes finished the "real' first 20% Time Day and it was a success.  During class I had students go into the computer core and post their first blog along with beginning commenting on each other's ideas.  I must say, I was surprised.  When I view my students I have only seen them or spoken to them within the context of my classes.  The dialogue that we have is mostly content or questions and answers.  After reading their blog posts and comments, my view of my students has changed.  These kids are filled with wonderful ideas and full of insight.  The ideas that I read were truly outside the box and would stretch them intellectually.  The comments that I read were amazing.  The feedback and the questions that the students asked of each other were very intuitive.  I am absolutely enjoying reading the comments because you can see the students really engaging in dialogue and making connections with other students.  It is a joy to watch.  I did, however, run into a slight problem.  Some students were unable to access other students blogs for a variety of reasons.  So what I ended up doing is creating a Google Sites page for each class and only inviting the students in that class.  Then I made all of the students' blogs public, but kept them unsearchable.  This will be the route I take next year.

The next activity of 20% Time Day were the pitches.  Students were given 30 seconds to pitch their idea. They also were allowed to use, if they wanted to, a maximum of 3 slides and 1- 3 x 5 note card.  Again, having them fill out the Pitch Planning Guide and condensing their idea really made the pitches enjoyable to watch. The creativity that students had with their delivery was amazing.  I used a  Pitch Presentation Rubric to evaluate their presentations that my English teacher colleague created.

Finally, I had students watch and evaluate a TED Talk by Jack Andraka.  The TED Talk presentations that I chose to have students evaluate are presentations given by kids their own age.  I felt it was necessary for my students to see that kids can stand up in front of a large crowd and deliver an amazing presentation.  My students were given a TED Talk Rubric for the presentation and were asked to rate the speaker on given criteria on a scale of 1 to 5.  They were then asked to justify the score they gave the speaker.  Our next step will be to discuss the TED Talk and determine what made it a good presentation so that students will know what to emulate when it is time for them to present in May.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Think Like an Engineer- "How to Generate 20% Time Ideas"

Last night I was listing the steps on creating ideas that +Kevin Brookhouser detailed in his book and then I thought to myself why not generate ideas the way an engineer would.  Since I am on my school district's NGSS implementation team, I have become well versed with the Science and Engineering Practices in the NGSS.  So I decided to create a different way to generate student ideas based on the first engineering practice of "Identifying a problem or human need."

(I have included in this post the Google Presentation that I used today with all of the steps that I will be describing.)

To have students identify a problem or human need I had them answer the following questions on a white board.

  What problems exist...

  on campus?
  in the community?
  in the state?
  in the country?
  for teens?
  for veterans?
  for the elderly?
  for kids?
  for you?

Next, I had students do a gallery walk around the classroom looking at the problems other groups of students came up with and I had them add these new problems to their own list.

Once every group had a large list of problems, I had them create prompts, such as "I would like to raise awareness about..."

Finally, I had students create ideas by combining the prompts and ideas that they came up with.  There ideas needed to address a specific problem, who there audience was, and how they were planning on implementing their idea.

This worked out well considering I thought about it and created the steps in one night.  Today, was a good day!!

Monday, January 26, 2015

In The Beginning...Part 2

Today was an "odd" day.  In other words, today I introduced the 20% Time Project to Periods 3 and 5 (odd days).  Last Friday when I introduced 20% Time to my even periods,  I had students skip the step of adding blog readers during their blog set up.  The reason?  I didn't have all of the students' student Gmail addresses organized by period.  I was going to do this through a Google form the next 20% Time day.  However, I didn't want to wait that long.  So over the weekend I organized all of the student emails by period by putting them on a Google Sheet and creating tabs for each period.  Then I shared the Google Sheet with all of the students.  Today, I had my odd periods perform the step of adding blog readers by copying the student Gmail addresses from their period's list and pasting them into the "Add Blog Readers" box.  I then told them that each of them would have to go into their student Gmails and accept all of the invitations to be blog readers for their peers.  I even demonstrated what to do using a student as an example.  Seems easy.  No I thought.  During the period several students came up to me and told me that they were trying to accept invitations but kept getting a "Blog Invitation Error."  Then another student made the connection that only the Gmail invitations that had a second repeating message created an error message after the invitation was accepted.

I couldn't figure out why.  I had the all of the students double check their student Gmail addresses to make sure they were correct.  They were.  I had students re-copy and paste student Gmail addresses in the "Add Blog Reader" box and still students kept getting an error message when trying to accept student invitations.  Next, I had students delete all Gmail invitations that had a second repeating message and then re-copy and paste student Gmail addresses.  This time there were no second repeating messages and students were able to accept invitations.  I am not sure what the problem was.  Needless to say, we figured out a solution together.

After going through the introduction and the process of setting up blogs, I was short on time to do the thing that I felt was most important in the implementation of 20% Time, which is generating ideas.  Part of me was glad that I ran out of time.  Why you ask?  Because on Saturday, I received +Kevin Brookhouser's book titled "The 20Time Project: How educators can launch Google's formula for future-ready innovation."

I began reading the book immediately and I wasn't disappointed.  It was worth the wait.  The book provided me with insight on how to generate ideas.  I already knew about the "Bad Idea Factory," but didn't know how it was run.  Because of this, I have decided that my next 20% Time day will not be pitch day.  Instead, it will be the day we go through the process of generating ideas, along with showing them some elevator pitches to prepare them for their own pitches.  Not sure how pushing things back one day and losing one conference day will effect the outcome.  However, I felt that in order to get projects off on the "right foot" I needed to make sure that, not only do students have a project, but that they have a project that they are passionate about and willing to research.  When I have finished reading the book, I anticipate making some modifications to my implementation of 20% Time.  

These are just some of the sites that I have searched that have ideas.

Friday, January 23, 2015

In The Beginning...

Today was my first day introducing the 20% Time Project to my Honors Anatomy students.  Before I begin talking about today's events, I would like to talk about what has gotten me to this point.

March 2014 
I went to a GIEWCS where I signed up for a session taught by +Kate Petty .  The subject was something that I had never heard about (ever) and was curious.  The subject was 20% Time/ Genius Hour.  During her presentation, she introduced us to her website TheTechClassroom.  Here she had resources to help those of us interested get started.  Also, in her presentation, she talked about +Joy Kirr and her Live Binder, another great place for resources. In short, I left inspired and wanting to try 20% Time in my classroom.

When I got back to school, at our April faculty meeting, I sat with a colleague who teaches English and I shared what I had learned about 20% Time with her.  She got excited and that day we decided that we would collaborate and launch 20% Time in the Fall.

Summer 2014
I began researching more about 20% Time and came across the names of +AJ Juliani  and +Kevin Brookhouser.  As I read more about how these 2 men were implementing 20% Time in their classrooms, I became more intrigued and started looking to see if they were authors of books on 20% Time.  Sure enough, I found AJ Juliani's book and read it.  Those of you who know me, know that I am not a reader, but I read this book!!!  I began searching to see if Kevin Brookhouser had a book, and at that time, he did not.  However, it just so happened that in one of my Google + Communities, I found out that Kevin had started a Kickstarter fund  for a book on 20% Time.  I did not hesitate to contribute to his project (I just got an email last night saying that my book had been mailed out...I am so excited; it's like Christmas all over again).

July 2014
I attended a CUE Rockstar Event in Las Vegas.  At this event, I signed up for a session about 20% Time taught by Trisha Sanchez (@techishtrish).  During her presentation she talked about her experiences in the classroom, shared her resources, and showed us a student example of how creative kids could be if given a chance.  Again, I left inspired and eager to start 20% Time in my class.

Another session that I went to that I knew would be valuable was a "How to Use Blogger" session taught by +Sam Patterson Ed.D. .  During this session, he showed us how to set up parameters for Blogger, along with showing us how he uses blogger in his classroom.  I signed up for this because at GIEWCS, Kate Petty mentioned how her students blog during their 20% Time projects and how blogging met Common Core Standards.

August 2014
The first day of teacher meetings, I met up with my English teacher colleague and we began planning out what we wanted to do for 20% Time.  We both decided that trying to start it in the Fall would be too soon since we had not met during the summer to discuss the topic.

September-December 2014
Once a month my colleague and I would meet and we would write down what we thought the 20% Time project would entail.  Again, using the resources that I knew about, this part was pretty easy.  In our December meeting we split up the work.  I was to work on the student handouts and my colleague would work on the rubrics.  The handouts that I created (using resources from Kate Petty, Joy Kirr, Trisha Sanchez, AJ Juliani, Kevin Brookhouser, and Sam Patterson) can be found on my class website.

These are my original notes and ideas from my collaboration time with my colleague.

Today (1/23/15) I introduced 20% Time Project to my even day periods.  I am on a block schedule that is 90 minutes long.  I teach, at most, 3 periods a day.  Today was an even day, Periods 2, 4, and 6.  After introducing 20% Time, I showed students how to set up their blogs.  At first, I originally was going to attempt this in our computer core and I would have to give direct instruction from the handouts with no visual aid for the students.  I knew this was going to be difficult, so I asked the English Department if I could borrow one of their chromebook carts and they let me.  I was able to show students step by step how to set up most of their blogs.  The part that we still need to finish is the addition of blog readers.  For this, I need to collect their student Gmail information from a Google Form.  On this form I will also collect their blog URL's and their blog titles.  From these I will set up, on my class website, a "one-stop shop" for all student blogs so that it is easier for them to search their period.  During 2nd period as students were adding me as Blog Authors, I began accepting their requests.  THIS TOOK TOO LONG TO DO I N CLASS.  This took time away from other things that I wanted to do.  Needless to say, for 4th period and 6th period I will be accepting their requests outside of class.  The reason I accepted requests during 2nd period was because I wanted students to change my Blog Author status from Author to Admin, which would give me control of their blogs.  The only reason why I would want any control of their blogs at this point in time was for those "OOPS I don't know what I did or how to fix it" moments.

By being a Blog Author, "My Blogs" is a large number because they now include student blogs.  My question is this..."Is there a different way of accessing student blogs, without "My Blogs" being cluttered with student blogs?"  In other words, I don't think I like having a long list of student blogs.  Maybe I shouldn't be a Blog Author.

In my 6th period class, I was able to show them a Kid President Video.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to do this in 2nd or 4th periods.  The students seemed to get excited and motivated after the "Pep Talk."

Kid President- "Pep Talk"

For all of my periods, I was able to walk around the classroom and talk to the students who had ideas.  All students will be conferencing with me next week, especially those students who were struggling with their ideas.  Conferencing will allow me to check on their progress and to make sure they are headed in the right direction.