Friday, January 16, 2015

In the Process of CBL Spring 2015-Week 2


This week we worked on creating our Guiding Questions and planning out our investigations. At first, students were given ten minutes and asked to silently write down any questions they could think of in regards to their challenge. Students were asked to focus their questions on the following: where they are now, where they want to be, and who can help them get there. Students then worked together to combine, edit, refine and establish their group's Guiding Questions. 

Then students work together to create an Aha-Board for their group's Challenge. These boards work much like a web with the Challenge in the middle and the Guiding Questions on the outer edges. Leaving enough space between Guiding Questions for students to keep notes and activity that relate to each. These Aha-Boards are used to keep each group focused and at the same time creating some accountability within each group and beyond. 

As usual,  at the end of class we took the time to reflect about the part of the CBL process we worked on today.  Since much of our time was on questioning, my students were given the following prompt:  It is important to ask good questions, because___________ (Please use real life examples).

Links Mentioned
Challenge Based Learning 

How to Play Mancala

More on Aha-Boards

Friday, January 9, 2015

In the Process of CBL Spring 2015-Week 1


At the end of class, students were asked write in their Interactive Notebooks and explain why it is important for us to know the CBL Framework before we get started on our challenge. Here is what one fourth grader who entered the program after our challenge had begun wrote this:

I think we need to know about the CBL framework before we get started so that I know what to do and where my place is. An example, would be last year when we were suppose to be asking Guiding Questions I kept thinking we have our question and our challenge. Now I understand that the Guiding Questions are suppose to guide our research. It is going to be nice to know and understand where I am in the process this year. 

Here are a few shots I took of my students using the Chalk Talk routine to break down their Big Idea.

 Links Mentioned

In the Process of CBL Spring 2015-Introduction


Here is a link to more information on Challenge Based Learning (CBL).

Monday, December 15, 2014

Who is Santa? -A Lesson in Comparison Writing

Our fourth and fifth graders spent a bit of time exploring who Santa is (or was) based on the following three passages; article on St. Nicholas, The New York Sun Editorial-Yes, Virginia there is a Santa Claus, and Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas.  

The first step in our process was to enter into the Making Thinking Visible thinking routine entitle Chalk Talk. The learners were placed in groups of two or three and asked to spend five minutes reading an article found on the chart paper together aloud. Then they were directed to respond to the piece by writing directly on the chart paper.  During this I encouraged each learner to read and add to other's responses with a comment or a question. This process was repeated two so that all learners were give an opportunity with all three passages. 

After we have completed the Chalk Talk process we spent time comparing and contrasting versions of St. Nicholas.  During this stage, students collected text evidence and placed that evidence into a graphic organizer of their choice before completing their individual writing pieces.

We still have some work to do on students' introductions and conclusions, but overall the comparisons shown in their writing had real depth that was backed up with evidence from our text .

Friday, September 5, 2014

Interactive Notebook and Challenge Based Learning #4 -(The Set Up)

     As I stated in my first post about Interactive Notebooks last year I mentioned that when I began the process of implementing them into our laboratory I was a bit overwhelmed. This is partly due to the fact that I am a global thinker and if I were completetly honest organization has never been my real strong suite. However, as we made our through our Challenge Based Learning (CBL) projects last year I saw the true value of the Interactive Notebooks were playing in that process. I had read some of the research on their effectiveness and heard testimonies. However, it wasn't until I began to see the effectiveness with my students that I became a true believer. With the limited implementation we did last year it was obvious that these interactive notebooks were aiding in guiding and promoting my students to own both their process and their thinking. It also became clear that for my students to continue to grow towards independence I was going to have to do some more work.

      In June, after the 2013-2014 dust settled a bit, my research on different ways teachers had set up interactive notebooks began. There is quite a bit out there; on Pintrest, blogs and You Tube. A lot of the information I found was very similar, which allowed me to then weed through items based on quality.  One of the best examples I found on setting up interactive notebooks was the following video.  It is clear, easy to follow, and I especially found the the split screen to be very effective. I truly hope Mr. Strohmeyer doesn't mind me highlighting his work here.

  For obvious reasons, as the 2014-15 school year began setting up our interactive notebooks was a top priority. We have methodically labeled the cover, wrote the rules on the inside flap, set up the table of contents and numbered all the pages. I would be lying if I did not admit that throughout the process there weren't some frustrations on all our parts when pages were numbered incorrectly and/or directions weren't followed exactly. However, that was accompanied with the knowledge that students throughout this year; will be more organized, have less lost work, and ultimately will spend more time on task due to these notebooks being set up properly. That to me is time well spent!


      This week students began their first research project and we did our best to set things up in our interactive notebooks for success. We first brainstormed on what skills they needed to complete a research project, we reviewed the project rubric, broke down seven pages with different graphic organizers to hold the information and then added those page numbers to the Table of Contents. During the first twenty minutes of our independent work time, I overheard a student say to another, "This is great now I know where to put my information so I can find it." Later that comment had me reflecting about the many times I had complained about students not keeping their work organized and/or feeling frustrated over work just being lost. Thoughts which lead me to a conclusion (although I hated to admit it) that I had indeed played a huge role in this issue. How could I have expect my students to exhibit what I had never modeled or taught them? A question I will need to keep on asking myself as we continue to move forward with interactive notebook. The reality is, we are all in the learning process here and to have a true community of learners I must continue to be the lead learner. With that said, I am just so thankful for those out there who continue to share the work they are doing with interactive notebooks, because this learner here is finding it all very helpful and enlightening.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Facebook or Face to Face- (The DEN Summer Institute)

  Over the last six or seven years I have become a consistent user of Social Media both Facebook and Twitter.  Due to this there seems to be a variety of jokes and inquiries, which all seem to lead back to one question; Am I replacing my face to face relationships for online relationships?  I think that is really not a fair question, because in reality one is just an extension of the other. I have never attempted to replace my face to face relationships with online ones. Although I will admit I do have some online friends whom I interact with quite regularly and refer to as my friends, but I  have never had the pleasure of meeting face to face. Some as far away as Tasmania and I am not sure that my life would be the same without these connections. I know the experiences for my students would not be the same either and my classroom is a richer and fuller place to be since I have opened it up to the world.  It is one thing to talk, read and even see videos about concepts such as time zones, but it adds a whole new level understanding when you are in communication with friends in real time on the other side of the world.

     With that said, there are some face to face events that I am honored to take part in that helps to promote those online relationships and top on my list is Discovery Education's Summer Institute (DENSI). Each summer Discovery Education bring about one hundred fifty educators together from all over the United States, Canada and this year the United Kingdom to a week long experience. I have used the word experience, because it is much more than just a conference. Many have referred to it as the the family reunion you would choose to attend, but to me it is like summer camp when you were a child. The Discovery Education Staff go out of their way to create a space for and encourage attendees to build relationships that extend past the five days we spend together. This has been my experience and truly nothing can replace those memories we have shared.

  I believe that learning needs to be a process and that includes my own learning as well as my students' learning. DENSI in many ways is the beginning of so much new learning for me. This past summer some of that learning included: more about SAMR Model, Inquiry Learning, Augmented Reality, Grant Writing, DE Virtual Tours, and Coding. Along with that learning came a variety of other educators who are using or have used these ideas successfully and much like our individual classrooms we become a community of learners. Those relationships and that learning continues throughout the year online. I have DEN friends all over my Facebook Page, Twitter Feed, within my Glide Account, and I even have a group of DEN Stars whom I text with on almost a daily basis.  Discovery Education believes in the power of building those connections and their support in this effort does not stop with DENSI. It continues throughout the year with ongoing event, such as: #denchats each Thursday night at 8:00 pm on Twitter and DENvice on Facebook.

   As I sit here in my classroom at the beginning of the the 2014-15 school year I know I don't go in alone.  At the end of this year's DENSI 2014 Discovery Education Staffer, Dean Shareski, put a video together entitled Thank You DENSI 2014 and we all loved it. However, like learning each of our experiences at DENSI 2014 was personal and I have stolen his idea using my personal photos from DENSI 2014 to create my own Thank You DENSI video. 

A group of us met a couple of days before the conference and some of these shots were taken during that time period.

Finally, if you would like to check out archived session from DENSI 2014 here is that link.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Discovery Education Spring Virtcon and CBL

Last week I was honored to be contacted by Karen Ogen, who serves as Coordinator of Media/ Technology Magnet Program in Columbia, South Carolina, in regards to her Keynote presentation entitled "Igniting A Passion for Learning" for Discovery Education Spring VirtCon.  Her plan was to present several different avenues to inspire and challenge students in the classroom, which included Genius Hour, gamification, maker challenges and Challenge Based Learning (CBL). She then approached myself and other DEN Stars with the opportunity to share a bit about our experiences with these learning frameworks. I was sent few questions and asked to share about something I am truly passionate about, CBL. 

Since we all know that when people are truly passionate about something asking them to keep things brief is hard and due to her time constraints she had to cut everyone's section down some. However, I still had my video pieces on my computer  and I thought I would share the full version of my answers here for those still interested. 


video video 
Challenge Based Learning (CBL) Resources

iTunes U

Helpful Books
by Ron Ritchart, Mark Church and Karin Morrison

by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels

by Kellie Marcarelli