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.