Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Digital Portfolios in HHS Wellness

Students in HHS Wellness courses are using a digital portfolio system to keep track of their fitness goals and successes.

At the beginning of 9th grade Wellness, students create their portfolio using a template of a Google Site. This template contains record sheets, self-assessments, questions and goals, and file storage for FitnessGram reports and other documents.

As students progress through Wellness classes in grades 9-12, they track their fitness progress, and include additional information related to their Wellness elective courses and other important data. Students and teachers can look back on their portfolio data to reflect on their growth.

At the end of their 12th grade year, students can copy the portfolio to a personal Google account for their continued use after high school.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Coding for Kids

   In a packed Holliston Technology Lab, students were tirelessly working through and correcting code on their computers.  Holliston High School?  Adams School? Miller?  No! These were Placetntino students in Kindergarten and Grades one, two and Montessori!  If you asked the students to give a definition of coding they would reply "telling the computer what to do, step-by-step".

   Placentino students participated in The Hour of Code, a global initiative by CSEdWeek and to introduce computer science and programming to over 100 million students worldwide..  The Hour of Code is a one-hour introduction to computer programming, designed to demystify code and show that anyone can learn.

In an effort to make use of all the new technology Placentino has received, the Computer lab was set up into four different Learning Centers.  A group of five to six students rotated to each station for a coding activity.

  • Nexus 7 Tablets : Students went to the educational app,  The Foos.  They participated in several increasingly challenging drag-and-drop coding puzzles that introduce kids to the logic of programming using visual blocks of code.

  • Interactive White Board:  At this fully engaging and multi-sensory station, students collaborated to complete some online, interactive coding challenges. The website Tynker  is more about teaching kids how to think like a programmer, than it is about writing out long lines of code.  It’s a great introductory lesson.

  • Code a Friend:  In this technology-less station, students had the challenge of coding each other to walk around the room using paper arrows and no verbal directions.

  • Computers/Chromebooks: In this free choice activity students were directed to Placentino’s Hour of Code Symbaloo.   Students could select from a variety of coding activities including, Code.orgKodable,  Lightbot, Tynker and Kahn Academy. The students were enrolled in classes so that they could progress at their own rate in subsequent sessions

Even if you don't have a classroom full of future computer programmers, learning the fundamentals of coding provides students with skills that will serve them well in virtually any career they choose. Plus, there are few things that ignite and excite a room full of learners like a coding class!

Ms. Roy's Students Repurposed Overhead Carts as Stand-up Desks

This activity from Ms. Roy's technology education courses at RAMS may be the ultimate in authentic stem education. Rather than a purely digital assignment or one focused on a theoretical challenge, students were given the task to use their design skills to create a practical project for the use of Adams teachers.

Students had discovered that surplus overhead projector carts in the school building were an appropriate size and design to be repurposed as a stand-up desk with essential customization. The use of ceiling-mounted LCD projectors had eliminated any need for the carts in their original purpose. Therefore, students interviewed interested teachers for their individual needs for the desk including additional shelving, storage, and other stylistic changes.

Students then used the information gathered as the basis of a computer-aided design process in order to develop a plan for modifications. Over several weeks, students then used classroom supplies and those provided by Ms. Roy to individualize the  desks to match the design. Teachers are now being presented with these student-designed and engineered projects - and loving them!

Fifth Grade Students Create and Broadcast Daily Weather Shows

Students and staff at Miller School have access to the latest weather information thanks to the Timothy Cornely Weather Station.  In addition, Holliston Cable Access Television, who provided  the broadcasting equipment and Green Screen technology, make  it possible for families and community members to have access as well. Using the data from Miller's weather equipment, Mrs. Carey and Mrs. Forber teach the students how to investigate and report on current weather conditions first hand.   This data is used in the daily broadcasts.  The weather station is truly innovative and supports improved learning and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) concept connections and skills development for students.
The vision Mrs. Carey and Mrs. forber  have for their students is to learn for a lifetime through authentic experiences.  Students learn how to research weather conditions  and they must perform daily tasks to put the weather program together.  They also research weather topics to share with the school and the Holliston community.  After researching their topics, they create videos using an iPad and green screen technology, which are aired on the daily Weather Broadcast.  Researching and broadcasting the weather and creating special interest videos allow students to experience public speaking, collaborate with peers, create videos using green screen technology, demonstrate meteorology knowledge, gain confidence, and provide a service to their school and community.
Advisors:  Mrs. Winnie Carey and Mrs. Rosiland Forber

Monday, February 22, 2016

Mrs. Soto's students created review videos using Educreations

One of the challenges with meeting the needs of a diverse group of students is insuring that classroom lessons don't leave anyone behind, in particular when students need extra help, have missed school due to illness, or have trouble with recall over extended periods of time. This is especially important with preparation for assessments that cover a wide range of skill sets and sources of information.

One way that Mrs. Soto's 7th grade classroom has overcome this challenge is with student-created review videos that are made available to others to video. This activity has benefits for all students. First, the creation of the video helps to develop deeper understanding for the student-producers. Second, those who benefit from additional review are able to watch the videos at the best pace for that individual student and pause and continue when necessary. Finally, students who missed certain lessons are able to experience class content at any time and place.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Mrs. Schmid's Class Used Fake Tweets to Tell the Story of Odysseus and Eurydice

Students in Mrs. Schmid's 7th  grade English class used a shared Google doc to retell and react to the story of Orpheus and Eurydice through tweets and hashtags. In addition to sharing their knowledge of the story (paraphrasing), students could also question, reflect, and – at the end – synthesize what they've learned.  Other guidelines included:
  • Use your initials and a colon before each tweet.
  • Each partner should write between 5-10 entries. 
  • Check length - be sure it is 140 characters or less.
  • Hashtags must be abstract adjectives or abstract nouns which directly relate to the concrete actions and characters just mentioned in the part of the story you are paraphrasing.
  • Put all hashtags in bold.
This lesson took the traditional book report and made it relevant and engaging for students by connecting it with a popular form of social media. In addition, Twitter's 140 character limit reinforces students' skills with condensed and impactful writing.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Mr. Cotter's Class Using Google Maps for Collaborative Geography

Mr. Cotter's 7th grade classes have been researching country information for each unit this year and are sharing what they found on a collaborative online map. The students research some basic facts such as imports and exports, find an important historical site and explain its significance, document and share a cultural experience from their country, and analyze one current event from that country. By the end of the year, Mr. Cotter hopes to have all countries from South America, Africa, and most of Asia represented.

In this case, the use of technology improved on traditional map activities in a number of ways. First, students were able to share multimedia  content related to their assigned countries that helped to bring that country to life. Second, students created a collaborative map that capitalized on students' individual work to bring an entire region to life. Lastly, as a cloud-based resource, classes' finished maps were then available to use throughout the year as the foundation for discussion.