We are going through a period of time when educators around the world are learning to understand that the more voice, choice, and ownership students have over their learning, the deeper the understanding. Educators are experimenting with the idea of allowing for as much agency as they can within their constructs. As George Couros puts it, in this blog post, "innovating inside the box." The Enhanced PYP Documents support these beliefs. The results I see from my students also support these beliefs. However, there are still concerns from many people involved. Leadership teams worry about standards, parents worry that it doesn't look the same as when they went to school, teachers worry that they aren't "covering" what they used to cover. I feel like this is a natural step as we venture in to these unknown realms of "teaching" or advising students.
As conceptual units develop and students are choosing what to dive deeper into, I find myself wondering about math. Let's say a student is "above expected grade level" in multiplying and dividing. Yes, of course they can still take this learning further. They could even explore "backwards" a little bit, with concrete items and materials to make sure they really understand the concept and are not just computing rote numbers, yes. But I am wondering if that is more important than the other areas of math that they are weaker in. This same student is not going to have some areas of math that they are weaker at. Maybe their understanding of shape and space is incredibly low, or they don't understand how to convert ml to L, or they can't convert fractions into decimals or percentages. Why should ALL students be working on the same math strand at the same time? I understand that differentiation helps with this, but still don't whole heartedly believe that this is the way forward.
Students need to know how to evaluate their areas for growth and their strengths. They need to know what to do about that. Set goals. Implement strategies to reach those goals independently, collaboratively with peers, and cooperatively with advisors. They need to know who to go to for help, and when. What is available to them, and how do they use these resources to get to a point where they can pivot towards a different goal.
Now that I work at a much larger school, International School Ho Chi Minh City, my team has more opportunities to take this a step further. We have 5 homeroom teachers, an EAL teacher, and 3 TA's available to the students. At the beginning of the year I pitched an idea to my team to run all 5 math strands at one time. They liked the idea but it never really went forward. A big reason for this was a lack of a system for students to self-asses their needs for development. We did not have Mathletics logins at the time, so waited and did some more traditional inquiry-based integrated math units.
After the Winter break, we finally had Mathletics logins and our team felt ready to take a more personalized approach, but slowly. Over a few months we made sure students were acquainted with the Mathletics platform. Here is our process from there. The Mathletics curriculum they are following on the app is "PYP Phase 4" (which includes up to the end of grade 5, theoretically).
3. Teachers emailed students a screenshot of their results from the "Reports" tab.
4. Students identified for themselves what area they are low in and would like to improve first. Of course in most cases this was the clear lowest percentage. But not in all. Sometimes the lowest score was tied, and sometimes the student decided to choose their second or third lowest to work on, because that's what they wanted to improve first.
6. Students committed to a math group for at least one week.
This could look different within each math group. Personally, I made further groups/workshops within the group I was dealing with that week. For example, the first week I was leading the "Measurement - Time" group. There was too many students in "Measurement" overall, so we split it. Within the Time group I had workshops for elapsed time, time taken (time = distance/speed), and time zones. We played some games together, we talked about what is easy, what they are unsure about, and what they find confusing within the time activities. They told me what their math goal for the week was and from this I created workshops for the week. Students signed up for at least one math workshop in the week but were expected to use our math shelf, their iPad, our TA's (who are great at teaching math methods), peers, etc. to reach their math goal for the week. We have two specific math times during the week where all students working on the same math strand meet with a teacher to discuss goals like this and do some group activities or learning strategies.
6. Every Friday students fill in a Google Form confirming what their math goal will be for the following week. This is where, as a teacher, things start to get tricky. Yes, each of the five of us have chosen a strand to organize and lead. However, we all know that student needs, wants, and numbers never magically work out into 5 equal groups. The Google Form is to be filled out after meeting with their teacher to talk about their how weekly goals went that week and decide whether they are pivoting or persevering the next week.
In the beginning of this process, a lot of the goals were very limited and concrete. "I only have 30% on the time test, and my goal is to get at least 70% before I pivot." We are now at the point where the wording of these goals is too limited for them. They understand that having success criteria helps them reach the goal, but this test result should now be one of those success criteria, not the actual goal itself. This is the next step. A more open-ended goal that they can still measure success against.
The email finally came! I was in a morning meeting at school and saw on Twitter that the #ADE2019 hashtag was starting to blow up. The alumni were receiving their emails and the applicants were eagerly refreshing their email accounts. The meeting ended and I went back to my classroom, and saw that teachers in North America were starting to get their emails. Getting closer! 2 minutes before our school-wide mindfulness was about to start, I finally got the email... written in Vietnamese (I work in Vietnam)!! I called my TA over, quite noisily, and I think she only got one word out (congratulations) before the excitement came out of my mouth, ruining any hope of 10 minutes of mindfulness. I was in!
I am so excited to be going to Australia this summer to participate in the Asia-Pacific institute! I am still in shock that this day has finally come. Below is a bit of a recount of my journey to get here, as well as my application video.
A couple of years ago I was working in the UAE at a school that was applying to become an Apple Distinguished School. Because of this experience I saw huge potential in the products and programs Apple have to offer for students today. I found out about the Apple Distinguished Educator program and immediately set it as a goal. The ADE class of 2017 had just been announced and I was excited to get going. I read all of the details and promised myself to prepare to apply for the class of 2019.
As I read, I found out about the three main areas to focus on for the video application.
I started collecting screenshots, photos, and videos of student work. I set up this blog, joined Twitter, and really focused on transforming the learning experiences for my students. Extending my reach in this way gave me connections I never thought possible. This alone was already helping me become a better teacher. Collaborations, new ideas, conversations and questions all helped me push the boundaries in what I was offering to my students. It made me aware of innovative schools around the world and even helped me land a job in a school that had quickly become my dream school.
My application video below shows many of these ideas. Having the bank of videos and photos to work from not only helped me create the video but also helped me to reflect on how far I have already come as an educator. Piecing it all together was a great reflective experience. Blogging helps me to reflect in smaller steps along the way, but really looking at the past few years of my teaching in one 2 minute video was powerful. I cannot wait for the journey that still lays ahead of me. I don't know what that is yet, but I know it will be fantastic.
Identity, creativity, commitment, oh my!
Studio 4 are currently working on their How We Express Ourselves (HWEO) unit, combined with our year long Who We Are (WWA) unit.
Due to holidays, camp, and a number of other things, this unit is lasting from January until March. I cannot wait that long to write a blog post about this process so along the way I will be writing about each phase of what we do. It was a bit of a complicated process to plan out, but even from the beginning it felt right!
Week 1 - Tuning In - Identity Workshops
We felt that the students needed a bit of an understanding of their identity before starting (their why?) to get creative with it. We did this by first looking at the HWEO descriptor from the PYP.
"An inquiry into the ways in which we discover and express ideas, feelings, nature, culture, beliefs, and values' the ways in which we reflect on, extend, and enjoy our creativity' our appreciation of the aesthetic."
As you can see, it also links well with WWA, which happens to be our year long unit.
We took that descriptor and created 6 workshops to help students tune in to the pieces of their own identities. Here is a gallery of work that came from each of those workshops (Ideas, Feelings, Nature, Culture, Beliefs, and Values).
Each morning, students signed up for a new workshop they had not attended yet. By the end of 6 days they had worked through each of the pieces in their HWEO journal with a variety of different students in each of their workshops.
Week 2/3 - Finding Out and Sorting out - Creativity Workshops
January 17 - 24th
This was an amazing time in the studio. Teachers loved it and so did the students. It felt so incredibly RIGHT. Our timetable for the week was nothing short of amazing. I am truly jealous of the education these students are being exposed to.
I'll admit it. I was weary when I looked at my first list of students. We all know the ones who are not well known for listening particularly well or possibly taking instructions well either.
However, the "why" of all of this shone through and proved my weariness completely wrong. The beauty of this method is that these students wanted to be there. They had ownership over that decision. They were excited. They wanted to learn. They listened to my every word, even when I had to cut them off because movie making is an incredibly long process. They reflected with purpose and attention about how they could use movie making to show their identity later in the unit when they have more time.
Not only were they feeling good about their choices, but so was I. I was teaching something I was passionate about, that I have loved doing since middle school. They loved hearing that I won awards in high school at student film festivals. They soaked in my tips and experience. I showed them how to improve their shots and after repositioning one videographer to capture something from a better angle, he even exclaimed, "wow, you really ARE an expert at this!" It was so much fun to get out of the studio and spend time with students, exposing them to one of my passions and seeing their interests flicker and spark.
I cannot speak for the other Studio 4 Teachers, but this is what has been my experience. Here is a gallery of some of the other photos and work students accomplished in these amazing Creativity Workshops.
Week 4/5/6/7 - Going Further - Commitment Groups
January 28 - March 8
Students committed to one area for at least a week. In reality this turned into a two week commitment, I believe for all students.
The plan was to have the following groups as a week long choice to commit to. However, we noticed that some areas have more interest than others. We listened to student voice and choice during this time, meaning some of these groups were combined.
I led the Digital Creation 1 group. The following slides assisted students students to build their purpose/why, to do lists, planning/scheduling, reflections, progress, and final pivot/persevere.
Come back to see how this goes!
Week 8 - Making Conclusions - Preparation for Mini-X
This week was an interesting one. We collapsed our timetable with most of our specialists. This means that they did not have to go to music or art class, but the teachers were available for ANY of the Studio 4 students to go to them and discuss their work, goals, and next steps to be ready for the exhibition.
This is what that timetable looked like
With so many open times, students needed constant reminders of who was available at what times for them to check in with. A must for every day was to check in with at least ONE advisor, any time throughout the day.
Near the end of the week it felt like a bit much. I am weary that this was a bit of a "trial" of a collapsed timetable, because it was for a different purpose than what I envision as a fantastic opportunity for the future. For the future I see a collapsed time table to be extremely useful for students. Just not in this way (meeting with teachers to finish things up, as opposed to learning new things). For the future I see specialist teachers offering multiple different workshops throughout the week and all students choose which of those art or music classes they want to attend. Something to still have discussions about.
Week 9 - Taking Action - Mini-X
What a night!
Students practiced throughout the day and other classes and year groups came up to have a look. We got loads of fantastic feedback and the students took that afternoon SO seriously after realizing what they needed to change or add to their own display/presentation to be ready for the evening.
There was a great buzz in the evening and students were confident presenters of their identity and creativity.
For some reason Weebly is not allowing me to add other photos at the moment, so here is one for now, showcasing the live performances (including a rap about studio 4 teachers!)
In my last post, I wrote a little about the changing structures and routines we are going through on our Studio 4 journey at #ishcmcIB. In this post I will reflect a little on how that went.
After a How We Organise Ourselves unit with the central idea "Economic Systems Impact..." students had to finish the central idea and justify their answers. We felt that though the workshops we were offering were great, there was little continuation on things. Because of this, students didn't have as deep of an understanding of the unit as we would have liked. We decided to take our Sharing the Planet unit one step further.
These inquiry groups met for 2 periods every day. We had a math line of inquiry in our unit, which helped us to stay accountable for all subject areas within the inquiry groups. Using infographics was a fantastic way to improve mathematical abilities while continuing to deepen our knowledge of our interest area.
Having these inquiry groups helped students to have voice and choice about how they wanted to learn about the unit, and also what they wanted to learn. It worked well because students met every day, creating a continuous unit of work and inquiries for them to work on. It also left time throughout the rest of the day for a variety of other workshops for them to attend (or continue to work on their inquiry group projects). Simply, they had time to deepen their understanding while staying true to our Studio approach.
Overall, I feel that it was a great success. Their presentations were fantastic, and students enjoyed the process. Student's wrote their own Evaluations of Learning at the end of the unit. Teachers were all impressed at how well they reflected on their learning, mistakes, and ideas for their future. When we put this responsibility on the students they have the opportunity to really show us how capable they area.
My first term working at ISHCMC has come to a close. And I cannot believe that my last post was after week 1! It has been hard work, but I wouldn't change it for anything. I am still so happy and grateful to be here.
I love blogging to help me reflect on the process of what is happening. I just have not had as much time to do it here. I really need to make more time for it. Here are a few things I have been pondering. I will try to keep them short.
1. Structures change
One huge learning curve we knew was going to happen is the structures of Studio 4 at ISHCMC. I went through similar things last year at ISBerne with my grade 3 class. But this year there are 5 classes, 6 teachers, and 3 TAs in our studio. Plus learning coaches and coordinators. There are a lot of fantastic voices and ideas going in to what we are doing. But things change a lot. This makes me think of Ken Montgomery's speech I heard the other week at Edutech Asia. He works at Design Tech High and reminded us all that "everything has an expiration date. Just because we do something and then change our practices later doesn't mean we were wrong the first time."
A few things we have tried:
- In the first couple of weeks we had our own classes, but knew this was not the approach we wanted.
- 15 common "star" times where ALL studio 4 students are in the studio at the same time, and students choose what goals to work on/workshops to attend. The rest of the time is with specialists or your own studio.
- 6 dedicated math times, 6 dedicated literacy times where students are still choosing what to do, but must be related to that subject area (trying to create more balance)
- We are now going to try inquiry groups 3-4 times a week for the next unit... more on this in section 4 below.
Although it can be draining, these changes are all a good thing, of course, as we iterate how Studio 4 actually functions. When it comes down to it, our Studio 4 'why' is to provide opportunities for every learner. As long as we keep that in mind, we're good.
2. Smaller routines still matter
We are trying some smaller routine changes that are also making big differences. It doesn't all have to be large, structural changes to make the impact.
- CAR Time (Choose, Act, Reflect) for 40 minutes in the morning and 40 minutes in the afternoon... this sometimes has felt too long and often gets cut to 20 minutes so that we have more time to explicitly explore our UOI
- Reading CAFE - every day after recess everyone (including teachers) read for 25 minutes. This has been a great calm down and focus time for students.
- Mindfulness choices - Every morning ISHCMC has mindfuness times. In Studio 4, students have 6 choices of types of mindfulness that they commit to for the week. This has ranged from guided meditations to yoga, listening to stories, singing, colouring, or tae kwan do.
- Planning digitally has helped students stay organised and have their schedules handy when they need them. They also use Google Keep as a checklist tool.
- We are thinking of using QR codes and digital sign ups for workshops to decrease traffic in our town hall
- Town Hall meetings are a great place for Studio 4 students to receive needed information from teachers and express new ideas.
- Unfinished Central Ideas... Our HWOO central idea was "Economic systems impact..." and the students needed to finish the sentence and justify why this is what they believe. We are still in this process but it has really helped them think for themselves. Our STP unit is carrying on from this, as you can see in section 4 of this post.
3. Math is hard
I am currently working with our Math Coach Tiffany Eaton. We are going through different ideas to figure out how math learning looks in Studio 4. Time is an issue, as it always seems to be... but again, we are tweaking our designs. We want math to be taught/learned conceptually.. but then always have this fighting battle about standards... or at least I do. We have tried to set some challenges in different ways, and implement more manipulatives into our learning. Students also have personalised goals based off of our initial data, so everyone is working on what they really need to work on. We have a few ideas on how to bring this forward even more, which I may blog about in a later post.
4. Moving forward with inquiry groups
This is our next big step for structure changes. Our HWOO unit is flowing into STP. We are looking at this a little bit like how exhibition is typically run. We will have 8 groups of students who will each be lead by a Studio 4 adult. Each of these groups will be researching a central idea with a different ending to "Economic systems impact..." (which was our HWOO central idea). Lines of inquiry are based off of the Sharing the Planet descriptor and have written one line of inquiry to specifically include how math can be used to provide evidence for their central idea. I think this will help us be more accountable for authentically integrating math into the unit. Students have not chosen groups yet, but I am sure I will post more about this as it happens.
What shifts in structures have you gone through? What were the positives and negatives about them?
What small routines do you find helpful in building student agency and ownership?
Do you have examples of teaching math conceptually? I would love to hear them!!
Have you tried smaller inquiry groups like this before? Any tips? Even tips from exhibition groups that may be useful for us?
After a short summer and a big move... I am feeling incredibly welcomed into my new home in Ho Chi Minh City. The employees at my new school have such a fantastic vision for education. Accepting a job at a "dream school" is scary. What bubbles will be burst? Can I keep up with what is happening around me? Will I like it as much as I want to?
So far... so good. That doesn't even seem to cover it. Everyone is open. Everyone is willing. Everyone cares. "Energized, engaged, and empowered" is truly lived here. My colleagues are amazing, and I couldn't ask for a more supportive group of people to work with.
After their success last year beginning #Studio5, the school decided to expand this model, and I am officially part of the #Studio4 team at #ISHCMCib. With different students, we are still not 100% sure what this looks like yet. We are proposing different things and still having discussions about what is best for this group of students as they arise. I envision things changing and growing as we go, just as they did for me last year with my grade 3's in Switzerland.
After a few conversations of what it might look like, last Wednesday we finally met our students! From day 1 we began fostering agency. The returning students had some familiarity with these ideas from their grade 3 experiences last year, but we also have a lot of growth in the school and our grade level.
A few things we have done to try to build a "Studio" atmosphere so far (embracing voice, choice, and ownership from the start).
1. Planning our day as a group. Each teacher wrote a variety of things on one of our moveable whiteboard walls. Some options were more traditional first day things, some were not. Some I had not planned for (and then had to find something at the last minute because they wanted it. Fair!) Each student then decided whether these items should be a must, should, or could for the day by using different colored check marks. Then we talked about them as a group and sorted them into the chart and placed them into our blank (kind of) timetable for the day. Already things have come up where we have had to be flexible and change the schedule. I love that the real world is affecting us and they are learning to make changes as needed. It is teaching them how to become more decisive and flexible, as well as giving my brain a break by taking away a couple of those thousands of decisions we make daily as teachers. We did this every day last week, adding new things. I can see it lasting maybe another week but it is time consuming doing this as a large class group... so wheels are turning about the next step with this.
2. Goal setting. I wanted to get them into this habit right away. I asked them to think of a small, achievable goal that they could complete in one day. For example, learning one new name, being kind to someone new, or making good choices in the playground. At the end of the day they thought about whether they achieved this goal (and put a check mark if they did) and/or if they wanted to keep working on this goal (added a +). Each morning we thought about our goals for the day.
3. Mindfulness. ISHCMC truly lives and breathes mindfulness. It is also embedded in our Who We Are unit as part of making choices and having a clear head when dealing with our day. I am exploring options with the students but love their passion for it, and their routine of calming down when needed.
4. Reflection. As with Studio 5, we have CAR time (Choose, Act, Reflect) in the mornings and afternoons to get this routine into place. I am again showing them a number of ways right now so that later on they can choose the tool they like the best. We have done free writing, drawing, answering specific questions, and walking through our day in our minds. Beginning to think about the next day's goals can also be useful during this time.
5. Collaboration. Our moveable walls are fantastic. A few times now, students have met in the town hall while a collaborative activity is explained, and the teachers open these walls. Then the whole studio has had the chance to feel open and work together. I love the atmosphere that happens when we do this! So far we have had a scavenger hunt within the studio and a marshmallow building challenge. I am excited to see what these open walls will bring us!
6. Exploration. My students explored their studio and wrote an I see, I think, I wonder about it. Then we explored other spaces in school for more inspiration to add to the I think and I wonder parts because of what they saw. This was a great way to see what they are already wanting and seeing in their future studio.
I am excited to see how this year unfolds with these new inquirers. What have you done/plan to do in the first week of school to make students feel welcomed and have ownership over their new space?
My classroom is a place of ownership. My students have a voice in what happens with our daily routines, and have choice within that.
Lately I have really noticed a divide between the students who have been here throughout our changing routines and the ones who have joined late or were away for significant portions of time when we made these changes. The "latecomers," as I will call them, seem to be lacking the sense of ownership that the rest of the class have. They are sticking together and avoiding the "musts" that the rest of the class is working so hard to strive for. It is obvious to me, as an observer, that they do not feel ownership over these routines. And it makes sense, because they were not here when we established them.
This leads me to an important understanding and a couple of important (though confusing) questions...
My new understanding:
Agency in the classroom is working, and ownership is an extremely important aspect of this. I knew agency was an important piece of learning authentically and have been working towards this all year. This gap between my students is really outlining just how important voice and ownership is to ensure the learners are using their agency well. These girls didn't really have a voice, and therefore don't feel ownership. All they have is choice. This is not enough.
My new questions:
- Do I need to be thinking of ways to consistently renew this sense of ownership?
- Should we be creating a new set of Musts, Shoulds, and Coulds at the beginning of every unit? Would they change much? They might....
- At the end of the school year, does our focus change? Would new lists help them focus on what they really need to do to tie the year together and finish it off well rounded? Is that important? Is that important to them?
- Does everyone's musts, shoulds, and coulds lists have to be the same? It makes it easier for me, but is that the most important thing?
- Could our lists be more vague? Eg. Must work on your math focus area/weekly goal, Should work on time management skills, Should be more organised, etc.
I believe that next week, on a day that I have 100% attendance, we will delete all of our current musts, shoulds, and coulds. I plan to discuss with them what is important for our final unit. Then create new lists. Maybe these lists will be more vague, maybe they will all be different, maybe they will be different every week. I really don't know yet... But my gut tells me that these two students might finally feel ownership because their voice is being heard and they are part of the new process.
How do you deal with latecomers/absentees in your class? How do you make sure they are owning the process just as much as everyone else?
Watch this space...
I am currently embarking on a few Google related missions. I have recently completed my Level 2 certification and am looking at my next steps. I am looking at some Google Summits next year and am debating whether or not to become a Google Trainer and/or maybe Google Innovator in the future. This week I have organised a training with some staff at my current school, where the following information will be available to them.
I want to show how my grade 3's use multiple Google Apps in our classroom. The apps have allowed them more voice, choice, and ownership of their learning (#StudentAgency). In each section I have added a slideshow of photos. Click the tabs at the top of each slideshow for different examples.
1. Google Forms Unit Review (or multi-unit review)
Before report writing time came, I sent a form to my students regarding the three units we had completed. I asked them two questions per unit, based off of our central ideas. Because it wasn't straight after the unit finished, it was really telling about what content stuck with them. This could also be done as a unit-by-unit reflection. Students have voice and ownership in their reviews.
2. Google Forms Check in
Every now and then I send my students a check in form to see how they are feeling about our classroom and if they have any ideas they or concerns they might not have been comfortable enough to say out loud. Students have voice here, because I do not share their personal results with their name on them. Usually I hold a class discussion after all of the results are in, hiding the names on the document. We talk about how we can fix some of the concerns and what we are good at doing to create positives. Student voice is strongly recognised in these forms.
3. Google Forms Reflection
Before reports I also sent out a reflection Form for my students to fill out. This was very helpful in report writing to show how each student feels about their own learning, and the degree to which I agree with their statements. Students have voice and ownership of their learning (and reports) while reflecting in these forms.
1. Google Sheets Planning and Goal-Setting
We have begun to move our weekly/daily planning to a digital version. Students are liking this because they don't lose it, we use less paper, and they are seeing the benefits of collaboration - how easily it is shared with me and I can quickly add things to their template if needed. Each week, students are also writing 4 goals they would like to work towards. This is keeping them focused. They post these to Seesaw at the beginning of the week and comment a reflection on the same post every day to share how they worked towards one or more of those goals. Students have ownership over their week, planning how, when, and where to get tasks done.
2. Google Sheets Collaboration
We have worked together to complete elements of one document. This is an anonymous way for students to give their ideas. They also authentically wanted to edit their peers' spelling mistakes which was a good example of collaborating to edit. All students have voice and also choice of content areas they are more comfortable with/know more about.
3. Google Sheets Responses from Google Forms
When you collect responses from Google Forms you can also view them in Google Sheets. This can make it easier to search or use other functions in Sheets with the data. Student voice is stored easily for you to access.
1. Google Keep Checklists
We have moved our Musts, Shoulds, and Coulds lists to Google Keep. This is easy for me to check how much students have accomplished during the week. They can easily add or remove items and at the end of the week they can uncheck and reset. I have tagged each student in their lists so it is easy for me to search. I made and shared each list with them so that we both have access. Students can use the split-screen function on the iPad to view their checklist at the same time they are doing their daily planning in Sheets. Students have ownership over their work and prioritise what is important to them, and when to work on it. It also shows the choices they have throughout the week in an organised way.
1. Digital and Collaborative I See, I Think, I Wonder
For the last two units we have experimented with this. I set up the template and students practiced using slides as a collaborative environment. All students have voice, and those with physical writing insecurities can confidently contribute to the same document as their peers.
2. Google Slides Self Marking
Instead of printing multiple copies or having students try to share one copy, we have used Google Slides to post answers. I changed their rights to "view only" so that images can't be erased, etc. Students have ownership over their learning because they are getting feedback on areas they need to work on in mathematics.
3. Google Slides Reflections
We are in the very beginning stages of using Google Slides to reflect on a variety of ATLs/Skills. This is still a work in progress. Students have ownership of what they still need to work on and how they can improve.
1. Google Docs Reading
We have not used Docs much yet, but some other teachers have sent us things to read.
2. Google Docs Writing and Editing
We have not done this yet, but it is a logical next step. I would like to show them the comment mode, and how I use it in my own life when writing and sharing with friends/colleagues to edit with me.
3. Google Docs HyperDocs for PD
I am currently experimenting with a HyperDoc format from https://hyperdocs.co. It goes through the lesson/PD session with links to videos, blogs, websites, examples, etc. Typically it would also include links to collaborative working documents for people to add their work and ideas to. This is my first attempt at a HyperDoc and this blog post is partially inspired by the desire to show examples of GoogleEDU products for this PD. Learners have voice, choice, and ownership through this process.
1. Self-paced steps for writing.
We are learning to write how-to pieces right now. Usually we use Pobble for our weekly writing, but it was harder for me to find a how-to specific one for them to work through. Instead, I emailed them a link to 5 videos to help guide them through this writing process. We watched the first two together, and by that point they were all at different stages. These videos helped them work at their own pace and make their best first draft possible.
This week we took another leap forward. Version 6 of our planning, if you will(here is the post about our previous iterations with resources).
We began using Google Sheets and Google Keep to help us stay organised - and couldn't be happier with the week 1 results! I have been looking for a way to do this in a meaningful way since the beginning of the school year, and think we have found the answer... for now at least!
First I moved all of our musts, shoulds, and coulds onto Google Keep. This was a good learning process. I have shared individual lists with students, and also tagged their names on my end so I can search for them easily to check in with what they have done so far.
Then I made a Google Sheet for each of them, with a template for planning 3 acts a day, as well as an "if I have extra time" section. I have taken away the timetable aspect of this in hopes that they will be more focused on their weekly goals as opposed to WHEN they are doing things in the week. But it is still timetable related, in reality.
As before, on Mondays they plan their workshops for the week. Then every morning they plan what else they will do with their day, keeping a responsible balance of technology in mind.
This could eventually be shared with parents as well, if we want to. Individual weekly goals are at the top as a reminder of what they are working on this week. Originally I left room for a reflection, but we have been doing that on Seesaw instead (with a screen shot of their weekly goals as the main post, and reflections as a comment each day).
Students made some PicCollages with reasons why digital planning is better than paper planning.
I would like to add to this that on the iPad as well as on the computer they can have Google Sheets open to see their planning at the same time as having Google Keep open on the side. This makes multi-tasking super easy for them to inform their daily/weekly planning.
So far, this seems to be a great advance for us. Do you do anything similar?
Until recently (like, last week) backwards design felt right. I always tried to have the end in sight and figure out with the students what learning engagements they could encounter to get to that end. "Best practice," right?
On my path for more agency with my students I am beginning to question this. Our new unit is really what is making me think more about it. Here is some background information about the unit, if you are interested.
How We Organise Ourselves
CI: Technology is an integral element of our lives
LOI1: Responsible consumption of technology (Responsibility)
LOI2: The positive and negative aspects of current technology (Reflection)
LOI3: The advances that technology has enabled (Function)
We keep trying to think of a summative assessment for this unit... where are we going with this? What do we want them to accomplish or know? How can they show this?
We have had multiple thoughts from "how to" videos showing online safety, to blogs with comments and questions from students safely and positively interacting with each other, to a "show what you know" type thing where they can just tell us (in any form) what they know about the central idea and lines of inquiry. We are also toying with the idea of bringing in the Sustainable Development Goals and having the central idea and lines of inquiry be the driver/lens for it.
Of course formative assessment is key. I don't want to ignore that fact. We need to be monitoring student actions and knowledge of all lines of inquiry as we go. But if students with agency are choosing their own paths for their learning, should we be contriving a summative assessment for them based on what we think is best? Is this fitting student needs or ours?
I suppose the "backwards design" is starting with the why. Why is this unit important... For us this means why do we need students to know about how technology is an integral element of our lives? Why do we need students to know how to consume technology responsibly? Why do we need students to know the positive and negative aspects of technology? Why do we need students to know the advances technology has enabled? It is a hard one because really it is for their current and future use of technology in their own lives inside and outside of school. The real summative assessment is if they are actually using technology safely and positively as they get older, after they leave our classrooms.
Maybe the "show what you know" is the best option for now? Maybe a mini portfolio of examples of their positive tech use and knowledge in the unit? Aren't the central idea and lines of inquiry what we want them to accomplish or know? Should we use that for our backwards design thinking instead of a summative? I'm not sure where we are headed, but if students reflections along the way show their knowledge, I am not sure we need to contrive a fake summative for them. Do we?
Passionate Canadian PYP Teacher in Vietnam