This post was written in mid-Sept, however somehow I forgot to post. Sorry:(
Open house happens about three weeks into school. Open house runs like a mini-day, with parents traveling around the building for 10 minute classes while following the students daily schedule. It does not allow time for question and answers but more of a "overview" of your class. I tend to focus on philosophy and why I do what I do. The keynote presentation is below that I use, but several cool things happened last night.
1. A parent from last year came in to tell me how my class had changed her daughter. She is a "history Junky" now and the the mom credits the middle age webquest
as having the largest impact. I even got a hug:)
2. A student last year came and told me, "every unit starting with Digital Footprints, was the best unit I have had in school up to that point. I just loved everything about your class" --See her "What was 7th grade like?"
3. Three parents came up after my presentation and talked with me how they have had 20-30 minute conservations with their children about open, closed and essential questions. One mom explained how she used these questions as a HR person. She was so happy her daughter was learning life skills.
4. One parent, new to the USA, came up and told me how her son came home after the first day of school and said that my lecture on How we study history
(post on this lesson), was the best lecture he had every heard and how he keeps talking about it three weeks later.
Not to mention many, many short comments on the ideas I was presenting and positive things students are saying at home. So, what's the point. These are middle schoolers. They are not college freshman, and content is not the only goal. I talk a great deal about the rounding of the child, that few if any of my students will become professional historians, and that memorization (for most) just does not create long term learning. Most parents want to hear this, but more importantly they want their kids to grow as people, not just as test subjects (I know I do as a father of a 7th grader right now). They want their child to grow up with character and concern for others. They want to raise "good kids" not "good test takers". I was excited after I left open house. I often question my own ideas and methods, as the pressure to conform to "state" standards, methods, and pace pushes me down. Last night was a night to rejoice as my consumers made it clear that what I am doing is what they want and they love the results they are seeing.
As the saying goes, "Party on Garth". Cheers, Garth
Students in Cleveland reaching out to the world
Mike and I have tried to take on the global classroom head on. Over the last few years we have used skype, meeting.io, google hangouts and more to open a window from our rooms to experts far beyond Cleveland Ohio. We have visited, Paris, Stockholm, London, West Africa, and many many parts of the United States.
Last year, we made a decision it was time to really send our students out into the real world. Several students, during the Middle Ages Webquest, came up with questions on topics neither Mike or I could answer; so we turned to our PLN. We tweeted, sent emails on listeservs and within two days, had 20 PhD's around the world who were willing to be interviewed by our students for the online book
. The rest of this post will explain one of these interviews (iMovie below) and the challenges we faced.
Two students became deeply engaged in Quest 10 of the Middle Ages WebQuest
on the Black Death and the end of the MIddle Ages. In their independent work, they found several references to the Decameron
by Giovanni Boccaccio (1353). Now, I know of the Decameron and I might have read parts of it years ago, but I don't really know
about it. Regardless of what I knew or didn't know, my students still wanted answers. They were curious. As their teacher, it is my job to guide them towards greater understanding and to encourage their curiosity. They had finished the quest before others, so I turned them lose on finding out more. They created a GoogleDoc, found online copies of the text and began to read and share insights and questions they had with me. I was quickly getting lost in their summaries and questions; with no idea what to tell them. I could guess. Or try and provide educated ideas on what they wanted to know, but I did not know and did not have time to do the required research myself. So, I tweeted....
In steps Dr. Hutton, from University of California Davis. She is an expert on the medieval ages (PhD in medieval history), author about medieval times, and teaches about the Decameron. She agreed to be interviewed by the student via skype. It took several weeks and two attempts, but the final product is below. What an experience for these students. At 12 they are interviewing a world expert, 3000 miles away and captured that experience forever. They raised the bar for kids this year. What a LEGACY to leave behind. Truly digital footprints worth following.
Problems did arise: First, we had two PhD's who wanted to do the interviews, but did not have skype or know how to use it. I did arrange --long distance-- to have someone set him up with skype and be with him during the interview. We also had a major problem with our interviews in West Africa. We had images, but they could not send images back...so we ended up with only a PODCAST interview. Another problem, was setting up times. California is a few hours behind us, and West Africa a few hours ahead of us. Thankfully, individuals were able to find time in their schedules (some at 8:00 pm at night) so our students could interview them during school. We also, had to find somewhere for the whole class to go during interviews. We could not have 23 kids (12-13 years old) sit in silence for 40 minutes while we recorded. Other people in the building gave a helping hand:) thanks!!!
We also experienced two problems with Dr. Hutton. She was in her office in Davis, CA and we in Ohio, but I thought I hit record on the screencapture software (ISHOUWU
--cost for this other free example to come later.), but at the end of a 40 minute interview, my "old" computer had frozen and only the first three minutes had recorded. Dr. Hutton, a great person, offer to do it again the same time on the next day....THANKS. It worked. The second problem can be seen in the film...a fuzzy side to the skpye window. The students were upset with the "quality" of the filming, but I explained to them the quality was the clearly outstanding...It's not about the image, but the thought and work that went into the process. They excelled.
Overall, it was pretty simple to get 20 plus PhD's that were willing to be interviewed by our students. We plan this year to get back in touch with a few of them we did not get a chance to interview last year, so we can add to our collection and hope to find more willing to join in the fun. If you know anyone willing to help, shot Mike
an email with contact information.
Comment and suggestions are always welcome.
I have taken a break from blogging. It has been a few months since my last post, Who owns the learning
? It was a difficult summer, but time has passed and I am ready to get back into the swing of things. I wanted to take a few minutes here to explore the final evaluations from last years class.
On the last day of school, I have all 120 of my students evaluate my class and my teaching. (Over twitter, I spoke with Paul Bogush and he provided a format for this evaulation. That document is linked here
--might not open, sorry). I have always given a final course evluation, but I really like the format Paul made. I do not read them until several weeks after school has ended as a way to reflect on the year. I was happy.
I have posted 10% of my course evaluations below and I think you can see a common theme. I think they say more then I could type here and I would rather let the kids speak for themselves. Cheers, Garth
On April 29, 2011, I uploaded a student-created video on the Renaissance. Today is April 30, 2012 and that video has 14,034 views. I have not even shown it in my class until today. That means this student-made video on the Renaissance has received, on average, 1200 views a month by people from all over the world. That speaks for itself on the idea of students leaving digital footprints worth following and creating a Legacy.
On a side note, I showed it today six times, to 140 students.
Check out this 13 year old students work........
Click on image to go to quizstar
A few weeks ago, one of my grad students Crystal, showed me a website that was "great". I checked it out and moved on. I did not really check it out in detail. Last week, I went deeper into the site and found something I have been looking for, for years. It is a free online quiz service (it also offers much more, but the quiz service is what I was interested in). Now, I am not a huge test kinda teacher. I like more authentic assessment, but I have always wanted a way to ask multiple choice questions and have it graded for me for fact recall on my content. Mike and I had used google docs, but it will not easily grade for you (it can, but a long process). So any ways, I thought I would give this service a try.
I am very glad I did. It took about two minutes to set up an account. Basic information was requested: name, login, password, school name, etc. A KEY point, in two weeks no emails from them or any other provider.
Then I set up classrooms in my account. Again simple, I created six classes/folders. To enroll the students I had them click on the student account from the homepage, create an account with their school email, and then search my name. Once they found it, a click and then they had joined my class. So, no typing all students names or creating accounts. The images to the right show this proces and the key ideas below, as well.
Then I created a 20 question factual quiz on the Renaissance for a test run. In the quiz manager you:
-add a title for the quiz
-pick the style of the question (x-choice, T/F, Fill in, Short answer) and build the question. You can provide feedback (explain the correct answer), if you want, but I did not do that.
-Next, you pick the right answer and click add more questions. Till you are done.
-You can upload images, maps, and more. I used a few maps and artwork (see image above)
-When you are done, you click make it active and assign to your classes. It has time limits, settings for retakes, and more. I just used the basic version, they take the quiz once and it shows them their score.
-Student then take the quiz, hit submit and they get a screen with their score, the whole quiz opens showing them what they missed and got right (if you provide feedback it will show here).
-In my account, I get a report with average, each students score, link to their quiz, and a break down of the quiz. This provides me with really quick feedback of what students have misconceptions about. You can see some of the break down in the PP above.
So, I owe Crystal an apology. She was right, this is a great site. You have a great find here and my students loved the instant feedback and it made my job more efficient. Thanks again Crystal, Let us know how it works for you.
The link to quiz star is http://quizstar.4teachers.org/
I was sitting in my grad class, teaching a lesson when a twitter message caught my eye. It said, " instagrok.com
just might be what we have been searchin 4,a legit research tool for the 21st century". I clicked and what I saw blew me away. We switched lessons and explored this powerful site. Here are some keys:
1. It has a built in journal and history of what you read and links to where you visited. The journal allows you to take notes and save them for use on any computer anywhere.
2. It is visual: it builds a web on the topic you searched.
3. It has web resources for each topic to the right of the web: Key facts, Links, Images, video, quizes, and concepts.
4. Click any bubble in the web and all the resources change...every time you pick a new bubble.
5. It is fun!!!
Here is a google doc to a PDF
brochure on Instagrok.com
Check it out and tell me how you find to use this with your students and what they think. I look forward to hearing from you.
Mike and I have always followed a constructivist approach to learning. We believe kids learn best when they construct their own knowledge. That does not mean we just hang out during class, but our job changes from standing in front of the room and "force-feeding" them information to being more of a coach; we have the ability to work 1-1 with students whom are struggling with specific information. Our Middle Age webquest is a real constructivist lesson that incorporates flipped teaching, mastery learning, collaborative Googledocs, blogging (cross district blog grading) and role-playing. Check it out
. However, it lead many students to take it upon themselves to go deeper--the key in constructivist learning. The following is an email I recieved (posting with permission) from a parent. I think he [the parent] sees the power of constructivist in education. Also, watch the kids trailer for
their out of school, no grade, no credit collaborative, skype based learning. Dear Mr. Holman,
I thought that you'd like to know that your Middle Ages teaching is being absorbed and reflected back very well by our kids. I am coaching a DI team and recently I had seven 7-graders at our house for lunch.
As they sat down around the table, they discussed who would be allowed to be present and how they would interact with the proper roles. As you probably know, Mindcraft is taking up a lot of time for BOB (name has been changed) and his friends, but they seem to learn the content in a different way and context as part of their digital environment. In general, it's amazing to watch how this generation creates study groups via SKYPE, discuss notes and compare their blogs. BOB submitted a blog entry and received feedback from a Chardon student within a few minutes about his weak ending of the story, while he was still working on the story. That's pretty instant feedback.
BOB enjoys your class very much and I appreciate your ability to integrate technology into your teaching and curriculum. I observe your process with great interest as we use gaming and other digital interactive tools for our services for universities.
Thank you for your great contribution to BOB's and all our kids' education.
Mike and I will be doing several posts on the constructivist approach in the classroom over the next few weeks.
Love to hear your comments!
Final 18 minute tour of the entire middle ages village on green screen
What are you leaving behind?
Mike and I often talk with our students about leaving positive digital footprints for others to follow. These positive digital footprints could be called digital citizenship, but footprints sounds better and sends a deeper meaning to kids.
To help kids understand this, we teach them about how the web really works. We show them the Way Back Machine
, read the Facebook
user agreement, and explain how google works. Students facial expressions show their reactions to what they are learning. They really do understand what you do on the web, is forever.
We even show the youtube
"Digital Footprints--Your First New Impressions" about the impact your digital footprints will have as life moves on. They are truly impacted.
However, as teachers, we have to "assess" their learning. That can be a difficult task. How do you evaluate what they do on their home computer at 12:30 am on a Saturday night? How do "grade" their personal digital footprint? How do you make sure they are leaving a "positive digital footprint" for others to follow? I guess the answer is we don't. But teaching them how to make positive footprints on the web is a life long skill. Yes, one that will never be graded for "value added" or "merit pay", but one that I would argue is as important as the effects of the Crusades. In fact, I would say much more important in the world of the 21st Century.
While Mike and I were skyping a few nights ago, making changes to the middle ages webquest, I tweeted out a blog link on some new big thing--don't remember. I use two accounts on Twitter (@HistoryHolman,
for my students to follow, and @garthholman
for my professional tweets). I sent it out to my students and in a second it was re-tweeted. I comment to Mike I did not recognize who tweeted it. I clicked on the name and to my surprise below is what I found:
I love the bio this student wrote. In case its to small I will retype: Hello Internet and all who inhabit it! Hmmm...How Shall I leave a positive digital footprint.
I guess we have to believe what we do makes a real difference in student's lives and just because it will never appear on a test does not mean it does not add value to our students. Keep teaching and keep building a digital footprint for others to follow.
Good morning Chardon! Welcome to your waiver day. Below you will find all of the information that Garth and I will present this morning. In a perfect world you would all be on your mobile devices searching, exploring, browsing and learning as we speak. If you have a smartphone with 3g please feel free to peruse the internet throughout this presentation. If you have any comments/questions/suggestions feel free to click the "comments" button in the upper right corner of this blog post or tweet directly: @Garthholman or @Professormike1. This morning Garth and I help to inspire and re-affirm your philosophical feelings concerning our profession. Our hope is that as we present you will question not only us, but yourselves. Remember Garth and I are both seventh grade social studies teachers. We understand the trials and tribulations of being a teacher; in fact we live through the same problems every day. In the end, the agents of change must be teachers.
1. Comments on Slideshow
-Students engaged, inspired, collaborating
-Student responses to the use of technology
-Teacher responses to technology in the classroom
2. Sir Ken Robinson's Film Clip (TEDTalks)
3. Industrial vs. Information Age
"...multimedia technologies, which use text, audio, video, graphics and animation to communicate information, offer today's teachers a mechanism to move from a 'linear' learning environment to a 'nonlinear' environment - one which offers users interactivity, control of progress, and choice in their construction of knowledge."
-Cuper and Lambert cited in Hanover Research Council Maintaining Competitiveness in the 21st Century, 2010
-21st Century Skills
-Constructionist Approach to Learning
5. Questions to Think About.
DO YOUR STUDENTS SEE YOU....
1. problem-solve on the fly?
2. ask other teachers for help/support?
3. ask students to fix things, design projects?
4. encourage trial & error without regard for points and grades?
5. allow students to create knowledge?
6. discussing issues within education, your frustrations and
accomplishments in a critical and productive way?
ARE YOU PREPARING STUDENTS FOR THEIR FUTURES, NOT OUR PAST?
6. How are you Instructing?
Today is my birthday. I had a nice day, got to spend it with students who I enjoy being around and co-workers who care about the job they do. I also spent it Skyping with Mike and his class. The day ended uneventful as I walked out the building. I was driving home to pick up my own children and daydreaming about why I do what I do. As I walked into my children's school, I saw a flyer in the hallway, "It's Friday". It's Friday, is a weekly newsletter by the Superintendent's office about the schools my kids attend. It is for teachers, not the general public (I think), but anyways I read it--and so glad I did.
The superintendent started by exploring the Three R's: Relationships, Rigor and Relevance. I wanted to share a pome he had shared, with you.
We teach the whole child with all of his or her
Shortcomings and strenghts,
Soiled blue jeans and runny noses,
Feeling and attiudes,
And Deep human interests and needs....
That Have Driven Us All Into the Education Profession.
Enough said. I am proud to do what I do.