Thursday, December 13, 2012

French and Spanish ..... Blog Writing & Voice Recording

The IB Spanish and French classes started blogs and sites this year. For both Spanish and French, students created their own blogs to start posting different types of writing. We discussed blog style, digital footprints, citation of images and comment guidelines. Next semester the student work will evolve to reading each other's posts and making comments.

For French 1 and 2, which are more focused on the oral language, students recorded their own voices based on biographical dialogues. These recordings were made directly on SoundCloud, which allows for easy embedding of the recording anywhere. You can see below an image of the class Google Site where students posted their SoundCloud recordings.

Guillermo and Cris Matheus report that students are excited about writing on the blog and they can already see how it will become a portfolio for their language writing.

The ICT Standard covered is Communication and Collaboration: "Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others".

TOK ... This I Believe Voice Recordings

Every year, the Junior's TOK classes record their "This I Believe" project into a website. The students have to speak for a few minutes about a belief while recording their voice. Their speeches are really worth listening to.

The voice recordings can be accessed at the "This I Believe" site link below. Just click on the student picture to play. The words at the top pf each student represent the main idea of the belief.

This year, students recorded on their own laptops at home. Mac users recorded with Garageband and PC users recorded with Audacity, which is a free recording software.

The ICT Standard for this project is Communication and Collaboration "b. Communicate information and ideas effectively to multiple audiences using a variety of media formats".

IB Math Studies, IB Maths HL I & Algebra ... Student created screencasts

In HS Math, Ange Molony and Lauren Poll asked their students to create screencasts to explain problems and concepts to their peers. The collection of screencasts was posted on the class website as a resource bank for study. Those screencasts were graded based on very detailed rubrics involving expectations around mathematical processes and communication, for example.

In Grade 9 Algebra, students created their screencasts during class choosing among a variety of recording options. As seen on the image to the left, some students used QOMO tablets to help with free hand writing of the formulas. We had 4 tablets available for the class. Other students chose to use the mouse over a PowerPoint where formulas were already typed. These examples and the others mentioned can be seen on the videos below.

In IB Math Studies, students created screencasts over a software emulator for a TI 84 Graphing Calculator. In this case, no free handwriting was necessary which made the recording process easier. The harder work for the students, as reported by Ange Molony, was to break down the problems for explanation. The IB Maths HL I class created the screencasts outside class so they were very creative to get around the free handwriting issue. Below you see an example where a regular video camera was used to record writing the problem over a whiteboard. In the other example the student used an App for the iPad.

The ICT Standards covered by these projects are:
1. Creativity and Innovation: "Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology".
2. Communication and Collaboration: "Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others"

Algebra - Grade 9
Ms Pool
Screencasting over PowerPoint with pointing and writing (left)
Screencasting  over drawing software while using a QOMO tablet for writing (right)


IB Math Studies
Ms Molony
Making the best use of the TI 84 Graphing Calculator
Screencast over calculator emulator

IB Maths HL I
Ms Molony
Video recording of white board writing (left)
iPad App (right)


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

BSS 10 ... Urbanism with Google SketchUp

In BSS 10, Kaue asked students to create a city design considering the 4 necessities of human beings: habitat, work, body-spirit leisure and circulation. The design was based on parameters from the French-Swiss urbanist Le Corbusier.  Initially, the groups created a draft on paper then they were able to choose among different options to generate a 3D city maquette. Google SketchUp was offered as a particularly powerful option as it allows moving around a 3D city and looking at it at different angles. Other options chosen by groups were a physical maquette and Photoshop, for example.

The image above shows a city model on Google SketuchUp. The different colors indicate specific types of buildings as seen at a copy of a SketchUp legend at the end of this post. Below, you can see an animation of a 3D city created with Google SketchUP. In the animation you can better appreciate the city design. The project covered the following ICT Standard:

Creativity and Innovation: "Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology
b. Create original woks as a means of personal and group expression.
c. Use models and simulations to explore complex systems and issues."

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Visual Arts IB Year One ... Voicethread Feedback

 At the IB Year One Visual Arts class, students are getting oral feedback on their workbooks. This feedback used to do be done with post-its at the workbook itself, but they were easily lost, not much could be said, and workbooks were hard to carry around. Now students are scanning their workbooks and saving the images on Voicethread , which is a type of slideshow that allows oral, video or text feedback.

The image at the left shows one page of the workbook inside Voicethread and Jennifer Carpenter's oral comment on the side, which can be accessed by clicking on her avatar.

The students are embedding the Voicethread inside their own Digital Portfolio site, under "a Process and Reflection" page. The cool thing about an embedded Voicethread is that anyone is able to add comments right from the Google Site or Digital Portfolio!

Friday, November 23, 2012

PFL .... Online News, with Comments and Facebook sharing!

As Tartarugas
Along with public Blogs and eMagazines, these eNewspapers represent our commitment to encourage sharing of student work so their efforts can be recognized by a wider audience and feedback can be given to promote improvement. They were published at Issuu, which allows for comments online and different sharing options. 

The news articles are fictitious and were created by individual students as practice for the newspaper writing style in Laureana's and Ana Paula's classes. Collaboration happened in the grouping of articles to form a
 newspaper. Students also had to agree on the first page headlines and
A Formiga Herald                         the newspaper formatting-style     
   Once uploaded, most students read each others' articles and posted comments online. You can read the newspapers by clicking on the links on top of the images on the left.  A snapshot of students comments is seen at the bottom of this article. Those comments showed a good balance of compliments with constructive criticism and suggestions. Some translated examples are seen below:

- "Your news is clearly written and I like the vocabulary, but needs more    
     information. To make to more realistic next time you can try ..."   

Ferialístico                        - ".. I think your news was written in the right format that sports news are 
      written. But I believe you need at least one citation from one of the   
     players to make it more interesting"

  - "I found the newspaper very well written and interesting ... You did not 
     give your opinion. What I want to know is what you think of the new 

- "I liked your news because it is so interesting ... it shows something that 
    would make a lot of success in real life"

Na Estrada                       
   At the European 1-1 Learning Conference,  Jeff Utecht stressed the importance  
of networked teachers being connectors for the students. As a trial for such a role, 
I shared one of the eNewspapers with my Facebook friends. The idea is to open   
up the audience for the students and hopefully generate varied comments from  different perspectives and abilities.

 You can also leave a comment to the students on Issuu!  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Biology 9 .... Cornell Notes with Inspiration

In Grade 9 Biology class, Amy Flindt is helping students get organized using the Cornell Notes strategy. In that type of notes, the student has to associate a main idea/key point to a note. So when Amy and I talked about the type of technology that could replicate Cornell Notes, we thought that Inspiration Mind Mapping would be a perfect fit. In Inspiration, you can have a diagram with the main ideas associated with notes, and the main ideas can be represented by images.

On the first image to the left you can see the diagram view of sample Biology notes.  The image below shows  how notes can be opened up for each key idea. It is also possible to move back and forth from diagram to outline view as shown below. The outline and diagram can be exported to Microsoft Word or Open Office.

Students will practice with Inspiration notes before they can make a choice of what type of notetaking strategy to adopt for personal learning and organization. The exported notes will be shared online with the teacher for easy viewing through
                                                                                    Teacher Dashboard.         

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

English 9 and 10, Visual Arts ... Student Digital Portfolios

 Last year we started exploring the idea of student digital portfolios. In English 9 students created their own Digital Portfolio Google site.They experimented embedding, linking and uploading different types of work, including Google Docs, Word Docs, scanned docs, screencasts. Visual Arts also joined in the experience including pictures of their work, reflections and art resources.

This year started very busy with Grade 10 taking over the already created student portfolios and Grade 9 students started creating their own as well. Many conversations emerged about how this might look like in terms of checking progress. The English Dept  took the initiative to go for the organization of subjects under each grade level. At the image above you can see an example where the student organized the English work from last year under "Grade 9", creating new pages for "Grade 10".

Visual Arts also continued using digital porfolios this year, and discussed how progress could be seen from one grade to the other. After some discussion with the students, it became more clear that progress in Visual Arts depends on the series of courses taken along the years. So the majority of students left Visual Arts outside the grade level pages. A few students will try to add new work to the same pages as last year to see progress ... we will check how that works.

As we explore these digital portfolios we become more aware of needs.  I think that we are progressing towards creating a template Student Digital Portfolio using Google Sites, where we already have all the grades represented. Middle School has been talking about digital portfolios since last year considering Grade 6 as a start point for the student career. Elementary School is starting to enter the conversation as well, so we will see how that transition might look like!

Reflection is at the center of student portfolios and we will be collecting enough material to engage students more and more in reflecting about their learning. Middle School might use the digital portfolios in students led conferences! So these are all exciting areas to explore... feel free to jump in and try the idea for your subject area!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

International Relations....Diigo Collaborative Reading and Research.

 We kicked off the year with a technology integration partnership for using Diigo Social Bookmarking as a tool for collaboration in reading and in the development of a research databank. Caitlin decided to explore this tool that we have been talking about for some time last year right at the beginning of her new International Relations class, setting the tone for how students will manage reading.

A Diigo group was created for the class and the students were invited to the group. The first activity involved using the powerful Diigo toolbar to collectively highlight an articled shared/bookmarked by the teacher. Therefore, all students in the class were able to read and highlight the same article, keeping a record of their activity for later access. The screenshot below shows the web article with highlights.

The students then started their own research, adding individual bookmarks to be shared with the class. Together with the highlights, it is also possible to add "sticky notes". In the image below we can see the Diigo view of a student bookmark, indicating all the highlights ( at the top of each box) and the corresponding sticky note comment (showing next to the student name). The same highlights and sticky notes can be viewed at the bookmarked  web article itself.

Students are also learning how to collectively create tags for their bookmarks. You can see below that two tags were used: Economy, Superstition. As the research database grows, they will have to be mindful of the tags already created by classmates and use those when necessary. This type of tagging is called folksonomy

It will be exciting to follow the developments with Diigo!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Portuguese 9 and IB HL Port .... Public Poetry eMagazines

In this project, Adriana Silveira asked the students to create their own poems based on  themes from the well known Brazilian poets Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Cecília Meireles and Vinicius de Moares (IB course). The theme from the poems was illustrated with pictures from the students' personal collection.  Then, an electronic magazine was created to share the student work, celebrating their sensibility and mastery of the language. By making the eMagazine public, the expectation is to open up to more viewers and invite feedback through comments on the magazine site.

Students worked as a group to make decisions on the emagazine design, so you will see that each group was very creative, coming up with completely different styles. To work collaboratively, the class shared a Google Presentation where blueprint" pages were created. Then each student made a copy of the blueprint slide, changing colors and font according to the style defined by the class. A snapshot of  the collaborative space is shown at the end of this post.

Next to the student's own poem, you can see the poem from the Brazilian author that served as inspiration. In the IB class, students created videos where you can listen to their beautiful interpretation of  the chosen poem from Vinicus de Moraes. Issuu was the Web 2.0 application used to host the Grade 9 magazines and Joomag was the application used for the IB students, as it allowed video embedding.

Due to the public nature of the emagazine, there were many discussions regarding copyright and digital footprints, which ended up influencing project requirements. To avoid image copyright issues, students were required to use their own pictures, which proved to be an easy and creative idea to follow.  Fair Use was on our side regarding the publication of Brazilian author's poems, as these poems were directly related to the student activity (as described in the editor's note), and the citation was provided at the end of the magazine. Students were informed of the public and permanent nature of the emagazine, so the idea of using a pseudonym, as many real poets do, was introduced as an option. Many students used pseudonyms and some used their full names as they wanted to be recognized for their work. As they are not providing any personal information or pictures, providing the full name will add to a positive digital footprint, which is an idea that has been widely discussed here at Graded and follows guidelines from CommonSense Media curriculum. A quote from ASCD "Educational Leadership" that we shared at a parent workshop on digital footprint summarizes the idea:

"Students who see social media spaces as forums for learning begin to paint complex digital portraits of themselves ... and creating products that are an accurate expression of who they are and what they believe in.....Instead of teaching students to be afraid of what others can learn about them online, let's teach them how digital footprints can quickly connect them to the individuals, ideas, and opportunities that they care most about."
Positive Digital Footprints - ASCD - Educational Leadership

Enjoy the poems and leave a comment!

IB HL Port Ling & Lit
Click on the image to open.
Listen to video poem recitation inside!

  Portuguese 9 Block 1

                                                               Portuguese 9 Block 2

                                                                Portuguese 9 Block 5

                                                              Portuguese 9 Block 7

Collaborative working document on Google Presentations

Thursday, May 31, 2012

PFL IV .... Video Subtitles

The PFL IV students have worked hard on creating subtitles for a TED talk of their choice available on Youtube.   The example you see below is from the wonderful speech from Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story. The ability to listen carefully and work on finding appropriate equivalent words in another language was the focus of this activity.  Students also had to cooperate with colleagues as they split up the caption writing work among the group. In order to do that, a Google Doc was used a a shared space for work, so each student would negotiate the transition from one "translator" to the other as they split up the timing. Color coding was used by the teacher, Deborah Rebello, to help students in their writing revision. You can see a snapshot of the Google Doc below, which was created using the timing format accepted by Youtube captioning.

This was also an exercise for all of us in terms of posting copyrighted material on Youtube. As the video was reposted with the subtitles, Youtube immediately recognized it as "matching third party content". You then have the option to claim Fair Use by providing a justification, which in this case was the use of the video to support foreign language learning and shared within a school environment. Youtube then returned a "claim release" allowing the video posting.

Enjoy the video and the translation!

Monday, May 21, 2012

PFL .... Advertising videos

Video is a great media to encourage student voice. In this project, students used video as a way to convince an audience of what they believed in after getting involved in  research, discussion and formal presentation. Therefore, the video was part of a long process. The importance of belief was demonstrated by a student who started researching about the use of bikes in São Paulo as a means of transportation, but then realized she did not believe it would really work out, so her focus had to be tweaked.

The choice of digital tools was an important part of the project, so students were encouraged to try out different tools to express video-like motion. This resulted in the use of  SlideRocket,  iMovie and a Screencast of a Prezi presentation, as shown in the examples below. This choice of tools allowed for creativity and  innovation which is one of the standards to be used at Graded for technology integration. The combination of playback music, screencasting and SlideRocket or Prezi was explored as a solution to technical issues at the time to generate the desired impact of an advertising video. In this process, we could all see a trend in how  the notion of video is blurring between different applications.

Even though the videos were the final step in a longer process, they were also a process in themselves. As Laureana and I reviewed the project, we decided that for next time, the students will be given more structure and check points along the way. That type of structuring also seems useful to develop the Legal LARK culture we have been taking about. So on my HS Academic Tech Support site I created a page for Video Project Elements, suggesting the use of an organizing table to adjust timing , script , corresponding resources and citation elements. On video projects like these, were many images and other videos are used, students tend to forget where they found those resources and sometimes it is hard to go back to check elements for giving credits using proper citation. You will notice the range of effectiveness in citing resources: from a "very general" mention of Youtube on the first video to a proper citation on the first video. You will therefore see videos with still some corrections to be made, which in terms of LARK, represent the process we are all in.

Doing a video project involves many skills and requirements, as well as time and effort.  As students get more used to all the skills and requirements, including citation to all types of media, it will be easier for teachers to raise expectations. Also, as we get more experience with Fair Use and publishing for larger audiences, I believe students will become more sensitive to the use of copyrighted materials and options available, as well as be more consistent in reviewing video productions.  In this project, you may still see some minor Portuguese mistakes, which in a PFL class represent a lot of effort and language evolution on the part of students, as well as limitations in time and reviewing capacity. As videos tend to be seen as final products, we easily forget about the process. These students were engaged in a beautiful creative process, with a lot of language acquisition and development going on. The projects are posted on the PFL 4 class website for peers and teacher to comment on. A sample image from the class site is also shown after the videos on this post. Congratulations to all students!




PFL 4 Website - Student publishing page

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blogging everywhere ... HS Trips, IB Port B, Health, PE, ELL, PFL, Biology.

Along this school year, the idea of blogging and its use in the classroom has been taking shape. It started with my workshop on the use of Blogger and then some conversations began around the topic. So what we can see now at Graded is a range of  applications of the blogging concept in a variety of subject areas.

Blogging has often been a tool indicated for the reflection part of an eportfolio, which on its turn is used as a vehicle for self-evaluation.  We have several teachers exploring with the idea of eportfolio, and  Felipe in PE has been experimenting the use of student blogs to reflect on performance and share assessments. They have been making video recordings of students doing fitness tests for example and sharing on the blog for student reflection and comment. So each student has a personal blog which is linked to the teacher's blog. Felipe's blog is used for sharing news and information. One interesting sharing with the student is shown on the image below. It is a video on Brazilian Kuikuru Indians Gymnasium, showing how great wrestlers they are. That was a great link to the consciousness on Brazilian Indian culture, as we had the "Indian Day" this month.
Students sharing news though a blog is a great way to encourage curiosity,  investigation, reading and writing. In PFL, Laureana asked her students to share cool things to do in São Paulo. The blog uses Blogger Flipcard style which is visually appealing, inviting you to check what is cool behind images and words. The 9th Grade Biology class with Mariana will also probably engage in personal blogs to inform about scientific news. We are excited abut how it will come out. With time, I hope we can develop a school culture where we get used to taking advantage of the great information that students and teachers publish!

A blogging tool can also have a completely different use like supporting language learning. That was the case of the IB Language B class. Cris Barros created a single class blog to support language learning through expression.  Students took turns to find controversial articles related to media to be posted on the blog and commented by all students in the class. As media was a theme in the IB, students were able to practice Portuguese in this context while writing very complete reflections. We worked with the students on writing posts that invited controversy and participation from the class, as real bloggers do. Modeling a blog post was important to help students understand the expected interaction between post and comment. Cris was very happy with the result and hopes to continue next school year.

Another use of blogs for language learning happens at ELL. Kendra's students are given prompts to encourage writing in their blog posts. It is interesting to see how students' blogs are personalized, so well presented and illustrated, making them inviting to read. . We can see how students engage in writing when given good prompts, as it also happened at the IB Language B class. I also started to see some simple credits for images, which is a really great start to a new culture.

The use of blogging for reflection is central for Shormila's students in Health class. After several discussions on what would be the most appropriate form of expression and tool,  going from Google Sites and portfolios, the decision  was made in favor of private student blogs. The idea was to give students a space to record deep reflection related to health issues proposed by the teacher and probably taking those reflections forward to the next school years.  As these health issues may be delicate, the private blogs were chosen. According to Shormila, the blogs are working very well and she can see how students are engaging in deep personal reflection.

Blogging to record impressions and reflection was used for the 9th and 10th grades trips last semester.  Students were able to share images from the trip and deep reflections done in their groups using the blog  as the sharing medium.  That was a good start to the whole process where we all learned many tips and tricks about Blogger. I am looking forward to how this type of activity will develop and be incorporated in our school culture.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Brazilian History & Culture .... Video project with online peer feedback

I was very happy to be in Adriana Monti's  Brazilian History & Culture class for a video project she was doing on a press conference about the Kaiowa and Kaapor Indians. We had been talking for a while about some tech project possibilities, so this video project became her debut in many technological skills for which she is very proud now.
The press conference was a very interesting format as she had different groups preparing to be the Indians and other groups preparing to be the press with specific questions. The pairing of Indians and press was decided on the spot and students had to go off and video record the Q&A press conference using the internalized knowledge from the research. Most groups worked independently on the video editing requiring very few tips from me.

As I saw the project developing, my suggestion was to have the videos online so students could check anytime anywhere and could also make comments. We created a Google Site for the BHC class with a page just for this press conference project where the students embedded their videos from individual Youtube Channels (set as unlisted - after a quick talk on digital footprints). The project page looked beautiful and Adriana also added the project guidelines and Rubric that we brainstormed together.

So during the video presentations, the students had their laptops opened on the site's project page and were asked to add comments about the quality of the presentation in terms of content and video format. The idea was to allow everyone to contribute. Students were very engaged in the comments, and some provided many feedback details. Just one or two made jokes in the comment section which were not bad but prompted some laughing from others. Students also engaged in oral comments at the end of each video.

After the presentations, I asked the students to comment on the experience of making live comments. Many said it was good to do it at the same time as the video was playing as they would not forget some details. I asked them if they felt live comment were distracting as there were a few students laughing at each others' comments. Just a couple of students said it was distracting for them.

After debriefing the project with Adriana, I suggested the use of a Google Form embedded on the site to allow live comments without seeing each other's. Another option will be asking for comments only after the video is done. So we will see how it turns out on  another opportunity. This was an experiment to push the boundaries a little bit, taking the video to an online venue that allows different types of interaction, as well as the face-to-face ones. Adriana and I also discussed a rubric for this project that addresses the content knowledge and some of  skills present in the video format that would be appropriate for this specific experience. In the next video project for PFL we will be thinking about requirements and rubric ahead of time. based on this experience. Good job!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grade 9 Biology .... Stop Motion Video for Cell Division

Academic Technology Coordinator and teacher partnerships can take different forms and operate at different levels. The Cell Division project in Grade 9 Biology using stop motion video is one example. The teachers and I were able to have quick chats about a project and with an idea of what the project was about I could provide a sample suggestion for teachers to consider and explore in class. The teachers and students worked independently, and actually, when I stepped into a class I was very pleased to see how students figured it our and had many creative ways of carrying on the project.
So all started last semester, when Karem Doersam approached me with the idea of doing her animated cell division using stop motion technology. In past years, she had asked the students to make drawings on a paper notebook and animate by flipping the pages. Now she wanted to do the same process with the support of technology. She had also asked Karin Gunn who shared a site that she created about stop motion:
So doing a bit of research and looking at Karin's site (which is great!), I could see that to make a proper or professional looking stop motion video you needed a video camera setup with lights and also specialized software. Thinking about the focus on student learning, which was cell division in this case, my proposal for class was to make it easier and flexible for the students. Why not let students use personal digital devices like cellphones, iPads, laptop webcams, or the school  flip cameras to take pictures of drawings made on paper or any other media, then add the pictures to a video editor? To illustrate my idea to the teacher I created a very simple and quick "cell animation" using the paper notepad on my desk, my iPhone and Windows Movie Maker. It took me just a few minutes to do all that and the result is the sample movie below. As I did not make many drawings to show small changes in motion, it does not look so smooth but still works as an animation.

Mariana Ro also approached me later and we talked a bit about the project and my suggestion for simple stop motion video. Both teachers then decided for the simple approach to stop motion. The next trick was to get students to add their voice recording to describe cell division as it was happening. I helped to distribute headsets in a class so students could record their voices over the Movie Maker or iMovie stop motion video so it was easily synchronized with the motion. With a good headset students can do that even in a class with other students. The two videos below showcase the resulting student work for this project. In the first video, the student does an amazing job as a narrator (speaking as if she was the cell herself!)  In the second video, animation is more clear at some points specially at the beginning. 


Thinking about this project now, I am considering how we can keep the sense of motion when the students/narrator has to stay on an explanation about a specific stage. One way to do that would be to add many more drawings showing the next motion in a much slower pace. Karem had suggested using the small whiteboads for that as it would be easier to erase parts of the drawing and make very small changes. The same effect could be done on an iPad where it is easy to make free hand drawings, with the advantage of being able to save each drawing in the process. Another option could be just  make the "cell walls" move a bit and/or have little things float around as if showing the real cells environment. That might represent less work for the students and still give the sense of motion. But that will be a next step on my partnership with the teachers as I need their feedback on this idea, discussing options for a next project like this...

Coming back to this post after  researching a bit more on stop motion in order to provide feedback to the teachers....    I just came across this conference article on Creating Active Minds in our Science and Mathematics Students, from the University of Sydney. It discusses how university students rote learn facts and how important it is for them to actually manipulate concepts, so the use of what they call "slowmation" (slow animation) provides that manipulation factor.  The site created by Garry Hoban, the professor who wrote the article, provides "how to guides" for easily creating stop motion videos using only 2 images per second (that's why it is called slowmation). ... So  here is the benefit to student learning from a technology that is nowadays accessible and easy to use, as opposed to how it was in the past. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Diigo Social Bookmarking and Note Taking is simmering ...

Last week we had a workshop on what I called "Online Collaborative Resources Database".  That is a pretty big name for "social bookmarking".  But the purpose of that big name was to highlight the features of the tool instead of the tool. As it collects bookmarks, notes, images, it becomes a database of resources for a group of people connected to this database. As it is online, it can be accessed anytime anywhere (better than computer-based bookmarks or favorites).  As it allows collaboration, it fosters a great 21st century skill. On top of all that, Diigo allows for collaborative highlighting of bookmarked webpages.

Last year, History Internal Assessment experimented with Diigo as a resource database for students. The idea was for each student to add to Diigo bookmarks as they found a good resource, attaching a short note on what the resource was about and tagging it to facilitate later reference. Tagging as a group required students to be mindful of what their peers were doing. So if anyone used the tag "WWII", the next one using this topic had to utilize exact same tag. This process of group tagging is called folksonomy.
After last week's workshop, Amaral will explore using Diigo for collective note taking, and it will be interesting to see how students get organized and collaborate in such an environment, and how they use collective notes. Shormila is considering using Diigo to eliminate paper in pre-class reading assignments. With Diigo, she can easily go around the class and check readings with highlights, that can be shared with her by the students.
Diigo is also perfect for our own bookmarks organization. Now I have all my bookmarks on Diigo.  As you are searching on the web and find an interesting article, you can highlight what you find important and keep that on Diigo. You can also use Diigo for your Department, so the contributions of each teacher can generate a richer resources database.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

IB Bio HL ... flipping the class

One of the presentations for the K-12 Online Conference was based on Amaral's flipped classroom experience in the IB Bio HL class. The presentation can be watched here (20 minutes video): Technology as an Ally in the IB Science Class.  In this presentation, Amaral talks about the use of a Google Doc to prompt student learning prior to the formal introduction of a new Unit in class. Then we can see snippets of class dynamics after the use of this Google Doc and the feedback from three students on how this approach affected their learning.

Sample pages from a Google Doc used for this purpose are shown on this page. You can see that each student picked a different color to respond to the questions given by the teacher. So each student had to answer at least one question by doing independent research. In this way, students arrived in class with some knowledge of the new topic and questions about it. This was the flipped class approach prior to class that provided students with instruction. 

The class dynamics therefore had to change, as it was not based on direct instruction or lecture. In class, students were engaged in discussions related to the concepts in the Google Doc, as the teacher prompted the class with questions. A later development  involved the use of Poll Everywhere to prompt the class for learning needs through questioning, in this way allowing the teacher to direct new questions, explanations and discussion towards the needs identified during the pre-assessment with this digital tool.

Students had interesting opinions about the flipped class strategy. One was in favor, acknowledging that there was more time in class to go deeper into the topic as basic knowledge was dealt with before class on the Google Doc. Another student also liked the approach but felt that more responsibility was put into her shoulder as she had to keep up with the subject  through the Google Doc and other off class discussions. The third students felt more difficulty with the approach as he wanted to go back to traditional lectures covering the entire unit. 

So we can see that there will be different reactions to the flipped class and it is interesting to notice some resistance to taking more responsibility for the learning and also resistance to let go of the teacher being the provider of information. For me this seems like a great way to engage students more and more on the habit of being life long learners and develop deeper thinking skills.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

IB Science and History of the Americas .... Formative Assessment with Poll Everywhere

The theme for teacher workshops this week was Formative Assessment with Technology , which was based on an experience using Poll Everywhere in the IB Bio HL class. Amaral was looking for a technology tool to help with pre-assessment and I happened to be looking at Poll Everywhere for a while and also taking an ASB online course on formative assessment. We decided to go for Poll Everywhere, which has a free online version and seemed to provide the quick whole class feedback that was expected.

The experience with Poll Everywhere went very well and I was happy to see that after the workshop, Caitlin decided to use it as a review tool with students on the next day. Her students really liked Poll Everywhere and asked for more.  Her feedback on its use was positive as she felt more able to target review to the class needs shown on the poll results.

Just to give you a more detailed idea of how Poll Everwhere was used in Amaral's class, here is the account of the context for this quick "taking the pulse of the class".  

A new unit had just been introduced using a flipped classroom strategy. For flipping the class, a shared Goggle Doc was used by the students to collectively answer given questions about the unit on Gas Exchange in the Respiratory System. To answer the question, students had to do research (see the shared doc here). Poll everywhere was used to do a pre-assessment on their learning at that point to check gaps and levels of understanding and therefore help target teaching of the new Unit (as some teaching was done through the Google Doc, the remaining teaching had to be more targeted as it was not starting from scratch). The pre-asessment was also used to prime student learning.

A set of multiple answer questionswas developed by Amaral to be used with Poll Everywhere. You can check each poll question with  the responses chart in the following links: question 1, question2, question3, question4, question5, question6, question7, question8
At the beginning of class the students were immediately presented with the pre-assessment with Poll Everywhere. It was very easy for students with laptops to access the poll online through That gave them direct access to a real time visualization of the active poll with no need to vote through keywords/codes (just choosing a choice on the screen). One student with a blackberry did not know how to send a message (!! surprise) and did not seem connected, so he ended up with my laptop. Another student with a cell phone chose to access the poll through the browser instead of through messenger. All of that did not take long, so we were ready to start.

Students were given 1 minute to look at the poll and vote (one poll represents one question). At first, we had the chart on, so students could see the voting percentages as they were coming. That did not seem to discourage a few who voted for something different on their own. But on the third poll we decided to hide the chart and show it only hen all students finished voting.
After each poll/question, there was opportunity to provide instruction and guiding questions targeted to the class needs indicated in that poll. After the issue was cleared, then the class moved to the next poll. The 8 polls with targeted instruction took the whole 80 minutes period. Students participated actively and seemed curious about the poll results and the instruction afterwards.
I think the activity went very well apart from some annoyances with the free version of Poll Everywhere (the downloaded poll on a PowerPoint slideshow had to be stopped and started again every time we hide/show the chart view, and a new poll was taking a while to show on students’ laptops so they had to refresh).

I sent a quick survey to the students ( I hope you can see the results here ). It seems that using the poll helped with their learning and with instruction when compared with the traditional strategy of asking an oral question to the whole class and wait for a few to answer. A general agreement so far involves seeing the whole class responses, which is a way of assessing yourself in relation to the group, as positive to individual learning.
I will definitely look into the paid options for Poll Everywhere and compare with the use of Google Forms.