Each year, we host a Making/Tinkering event for all Grade 5 students and their families. Last night, students completed Catalyst challenges, built circuits using littleBits, showcased their Scratch games with Makey Makeys, and programmed Sphero robots! The Grade 5 teachers and the tech team worked together to create a wonderful learning experience and an engaging community event for our Grade 5 families.
Project Based Learning pedagogy states that the project is focused on real world problems and that important knowledge, concepts, and skills are taught within the project. Here at Hamlin girls integrate their learning of technology to support solving problems.
In these clips see how lower school girls use technology to interview community members, create podcasts, use green screens in their newscasts, and sharing their work with the entire lower school:
We’re 3/4 of the way through the first trimester in 2D Digital Art, and we’ve been working on a number of projects including:
- Drawing/tracing in photoshop
- Photo retouching
- Face swap (taking one person’s face and seamlessly merging it with another person’s face)
- My Favorite Things (iMovie video)
- Recovering the classics contest
Many of the projects require 7-8 45 minute classes to complete, including at least one session of in-class instruction and ongoing support. This semester, on average, each project took 5-6 classes to complete. Over 80% of the students had little to no experience using Photoshop before this class. How is it that learning was able to be sped up while accounting for the various levels of expertise? By using blended learning!
How it works in the 2D Digital Art Classroom:
- The assignment is posted on the 2D Digital Art online class page (HamliNet)
- The assignment includes at least one tutorial video, and the rubric:
- As students begin completing the project, a new project is added, so those students can move ahead in their work.
- Teacher time in the classroom is mainly spent checking in with students 1:1 or in small groups, reviewing how the project is going, troubleshooting, brainstorming, and providing feedback.
When I read about Ed Tech solutions for the classroom I often get the impression that the concepts are only applicable to older students. Lower School students sometimes get left out, and the more interesting Ed Tech work is integrated in the upper school levels.
This is partially because many lessons are designed to integrate multiple basic concepts, which are taught in the younger grades. But, there are lots of tech tasks that younger students are capable of managing if given the ability. For example, even the youngest students can use an iPad to record a video. However, posting that video for private classroom display is a challenge – most media sharing apps (YouTube, Vimeo, etc…) will only allow users 13+ years to register. This means that either the teacher needs to make an account, which she then shares with the students, or the teacher collects all the videos and posts them herself…not an ideal solution.
We’ve come up with a pretty nifty solution here at Hamlin! WordPress + the Jetpack plugin + VideoPress upgrade.
Hamlin’s WordPress.org Set-Up
- Our Learning Management System (LMS), Blackbaud K-12 (aka Whipple Hill), offers a version of WordPress.org called SchoolPress.
- SchoolPress allows the school to create blogs and assign the Author role based on the class rosters. In other words, if I create a blog for the Grade 2 class, I can simply import the Grade 2 class roster and easily make each student a blog editor (and the teacher the blog admin).
- The blog is also tied to our LMS, so if the blog is password protected (which all our classroom blogs are), there is a single sign on feature – the students must log into our LMS before taken to the blog.
WordPress.org Integration via the Jetpack plugin – VideoPress
- The Jetpack plugin is available to all WordPress.org sites (i.e.: a self-hosted WordPress site).
- Jetpack requires that you have a WordPress.com login. Once this is created, you can connect your .org site to your .com account, and get access to several features and upgrades available through WordPress.com.
- Enabling Jetpack, allows you to purchase and upgraded version of Jetpack that includes VideoPress.
- VideoPress allows anyone with an Author, Editor, or Admin role to post videos to their blog from their computer, tablet or mobile device. Since students (no matter what age) can be assigned any role, students can independently post their work to the class blog!
Note: you can attach your WordPress.com account (upgrade and all!) to multiple .org sites. This is a HUGE money saver!
Success story from the classroom, written by Ms. Andrews (Grade 2 teacher)
Background: The girls started their Family Field Trips around San Francisco. For this project, the girls create a presentation using PowerPoint/Keynote/Google Slides etc…, which they present to the class.
After A. presented her slides to the class, she went home and: took a screenshot of each slide to input the images into the Book Creator app, cropped each photo in Photos prior to putting it into Book Creator, and made a new book in Book Creator of her slide images. She used the sound recording tool to record herself reading her slides saved her project as a video. Then, she uploaded the recorded version as a video to the Blog and wrote a description about her work…all on her own! 🙂
A. said she did this because, “I wanted to be able to share it with my grandparents and other people who live far away, and with people that came over to my house. The steps just seemed to make sense to me, so I did it and it worked.”
I love how confident she felt to problem solve and explore these tech tools in order to create a project that fit her needs for communication, despite it not being a requirement of the project. She shows ownership of her learning and pride in the work she has done on this project!
The ability for the girls to connect school to home and home to school via the Blog, is so exciting and gives me ideas about future projects/uses! To see the girls take what we have done in class and use it independently to communicate their work highlights the value of this tool and why I love having a Class Blog!
You’ve been asked to create a 1.5 hour ed tech training for teachers.
That training will take place on a Friday afternoon, the first week back from winter break.
Wait. Why so confident? What can you possibly do to keep teachers engaged and excited to learn about educational technology on the Friday afternoon after break?
– MaKey MaKey, of course!
- Introduce staff to the new making resources in the library
- Have fun!
- Encourage teachers to try something new and get out of their comfort zone.
- Spark excitement, enthusiasm and creativity
Training Roll Out
- Mark Picketts, our Director of Technology and Innovation, gave an introduction to MaKey MaKey, including a short video of various MaKey Makey projects:
- We asked teachers to self select into small groups, and sit together at a table that included:
- A laptop
- A MaKey MaKey
- Various materials, such as play dough, bananas, tin foil, cardboard, markers, etc…
- Each group was asked to read through the quick start guide, and demo the bongos or piano software (found in the Try Out of Software section of the page.)
- Once this was achieved, users selected one of three challenges to work on:
The ‘Hour of Code‘ is a nationwide initiative, introducing computer programming to 10 million students and encouraging them to learn how to code. Hamlin is both proud and excited to use this week, once again, to highlight the incredible coding that is already happening on our campus. We believe that coding continues to be essential for our girls to meet the challenges of their times.
Hour of Code Events: Monday, December 8 – Friday, December 12, 2014
In the Lower School, every class has been scheduled for at least an hour worth of coding instruction with Ms. Windell. Girls will use a variety of coding apps that have been selected to be developmentally appropriate for their age/skill level. These apps include Kodable, Scratch Jr., LightBot, HopScotch, Blockly Maze, as well as resources from the Code.org website.
In the Middle School, we are excited to offer the girls the opportunity to come in before school and code together. It is our goal that the girls’ interest in coding will be sparked and they will complete at least an hour of code between home and school during the week. From 7:50-8:25 am, Grades 5 and 6 will code under the guidance of Mr. Lengel on the first floor of Stanwood, while Grades 7 and 8 will code with Ms. Davis in the Great Hall. Special alumni guests will be popping by during these morning coding sessions and on Thursday, December 11, Middle School parents are encouraged to join the girls to see what they have learned and how exciting coding can be. The girls will explore a combination of Scratch, Lightbot, RoboLogic, CargoBot, CodeAcademy, and Code.org.
Girls in Grades 4 through 8 are encouraged to join us in the East Dining Room on Tuesday, December 9 at 7:50 am to hear from the founder of Task Rabbit, Leah Busque, an entrepreneur, innovator, and coder. Leah will talk about coding and its effect on her learning, as well as how coding has shaped her career.
Administrators and all staff members are being encouraged to join in the fun! Join us and make the commitment to try something new – and to learn to code throughout the week!