ninety-five words

I march.

I am marching by my actions,

as I,

greet everyone each day with positivity and hope,

use technology to grow connections that keep the world afloat,

embrace a growth mindset and continue to take risks,

to find creative solutions to problems that exist,

as I,

am marching by my actions,

I march.

It is time to take this energy and start doing the heavy lifting of what is best for our children, our communities, our families, and each other.  Be that change you want in the world.  March on.  March on.  March on.

In the Midst of it

“For the things we have to learn before we can do them, we learn by doing them.”              ―Aristotle

To create that sweet spot in learning I just have to dive in, try new things and allow it to get a little messy. It seems to me that it is in this space, in the midst of it all is where the magic of learning truly happens.

Risk(s):

  1. Instead of having students do individual research with their own documents they used a shared google slide deck to create a resource that included characteristics of each of the planets and moons in our solar system.  Students were to ask at least six of their own questions focused on the important variables to support life such as, atmospheric composition, gravitational force, average temperature, and distance from the sun.  
  2. The shared slide deck was used by all students in the class to find characteristics of the planet that would support their favorite pop culture character or a made up character living on that planet/moon. Evidence was required to support each claim.  
  3. There were a variety of choices for students to choose from to create their own characters or there were bios provided of popular pop culture characters to use as a reference.  Students also had the choice of creating a short story with their created characters in it.  
  4. The advanced portion of the assignment was anything that they believed to be above the proficient on the rubric and had to be turned in with a reflection that includes evidence supporting the claim of being above the proficient marking!  I also created a hyperdoc for students to use for finding resources, downloading templates as well as turning in and looking at their peers products!  

Reflections:

Students were super excited about the project and jumped right in.  One change for next year is to create a template slide for the required questions and a template slide for them to add several of their own so there is consistency in how the slides are presented for those students who struggle to find information.  

I believe that students might be able to complete the task quicker and use it more easily.  The resource that we created was not very useful because students had asked many different questions.  

Students really liked the “Pop” and action figure templates that I got out the resources presented in the, Play Like a Pirate book written by Quinn Rollins, which is a great read with lots of applications that you can use right away!  Students jumped right in creating characters in series with one another, such as the “Jupiter” and “Pluto” series of characters, and started planning stories around the characteristics as a way to extend their learning.

Changes: 

Some required questions next year need to be:  

  • What is the gravity on that planetary body?  
  • Does it have an atmosphere?  If so what is it made of?  
  • How far from the sun is the planetary body?  What is the average temperature of the planet?  
  • What is the rotational and orbital period of the planetary body?  (how long is one day and one year?  

I am also going to design a google slide deck by changing the master slide to have several choices that will help guide their thinking.  

  1. One slide will be the required questions for consistency
  2. Second slide will have a space for students to ask their own questions to extend the thinking.  

By focusing the research portion I hope that it will take less time to create the resource and actually create a resource that we can use as a class to think about our created/chosen characters!  

Into the midst of it I go!  

Keep Climbing

“If you want something you have never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done”

– Thomas Jefferson

When I first moved to Colorado,  I wanted to be one of those people who had climbed a fourteener, one of the 54 mountain peaks here in CO that are above 14,000 feet.  It was something that I had never done before, an arduous climb filled with giant boulders, to the top of a windy mountain peak.  We started at the trailhead around 4:30 am and summited about 7:00 am on that same summer morning.  It was well worth it.   The 360-degree views with miles of visibility were unlike anything I had ever experienced.  The wind was blowing rigorously as it blew my hair around and filled up my clothing,  a feeling that I can go back to when I visualize the experience.  An experience that I choose to have because of something I wanted.  This climb is much like the arduous joyful climb that I am enduring in changing my classroom over to a student-led space. A choice I am making because I want my students to truly experience the joy of learning and creating.  One of the biggest changes that I am embracing in class is the idea that students can be creators of content. I decided that the topic of space rocks was a topic that I would use to encourage students to become creators of content by producing videos for youtube.

Character is grown in the climb, where the risks are taken and knowledge is gained.  Standing on the peak is easy and even though the climb may be hard, it is what matters most.  I choose to climb.

New and Better:

  1. Giving students complete control over how they presented their understanding of the different type of space rocks.  Students could use any tool to present (technology or paper and pen).
  2. The advanced (4 for standards-based grading) portion of the rubric was left blank so that students could extend their own learning above the standard in their own way.
  3. Students who want their work shared with the world had their presentations converted and uploaded onto my teacher youtube channel.

Reflection:

Overall, students were engaged in the task.  The project was introduced using an information graphic which ended up being one of the main sources that students used to gather information (not the richest in content). I think introducing the topics in a different way may have allowed students to create more authentic presentations of the content and used more resources. I’m not actually sure that students did, in fact, create their own content.  I did upload their videos onto youtube which had students all a buzz.  I don’t feel as if the open portion of the rubric for the advanced portion was as effective as I hoped.  Next time I offer this choice in the rubric there will be criteria regarding a reflection to be turned in with the project of how it goes above the standard.  I also felt as if I ran out of time to teach students how to convert the files over and need to make the time as its taking to much of my time to do it.

Changes:

  1. Do not use the information graphic to introduce the content.  Create a slide show with the images to have a discussion beforehand, or have some sort of fun vocabulary sort to do at the beginning before having them create the projects.
  2. Teach students how to convert the presentation files to movie files on their own.
  3. The advanced portion of the rubric needs a written reflection to be turned in to justify how it is going above the standard.

I will continue to work hard and climb on from good to great!  Time to dig!