Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Redefining Awesome: The 2012 South View 9th Grade Service Learning Showcase

Great Learning
For the past 12 years, 9th grade Government students at South View Middle School have been involved in some type of Service Learning project. As you will see in the video below, the project, the product produced by students and the depth of learning that happens has evolved significantly. This year's iteration kicked off last fall in October, with a fair organized by Edina Service Learning Coordinator, Julie Rodgers Bascom, and media specialist, Cathy Heller. The students had a chance to meet with partner organizations that they might consider volunteering at, and to learn more about those institutions. 
Once students were paired up with organizations, they spent the next 7 months volunteering time and talent, and documenting their learning on Websites and blogs. What was truly remarkable about this experience was to hear how it transformed students, and how most said that they would like to continue with some type of service into the future.

On May 24 and 25th, students had a chance to showcase their learning, and how they were transformed by the experience. I stopped by on the 25th with my Flip camera to record some of the projects featured. The transformative aspects of the learning were POWERFUL! I wish I had used some better equipment to capture the experience, but hopefully the message will come through as you watch the video. This project is definitely an "EduWin" and another way that Edina teachers and students are "Redefining Awesome!"

New Tools
Students were able to put their sites together this year using Google Chromebooks, through a grant teachers Claude Sigmund and Eric Lowe received through the Edina Education Fund. The students felt like they worked pretty well, booting up quickly and allowing them to get right to the task on hand. One student even commented that as soon as his Macbook dies, he's getting a Chromebook! It was a good first hand account of what will be possible next year, when many of our staff who applied for Integration Initiative grants will be implementing them in their classroom.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

EdCampMSP Session: Miles MacFarlane on Mindcraft Virtual Spaces for Teaching and Learning

Miles MacFarlane made the trip to EdCampMSP from Winnepeg, and decided to share a session on his use of Minecraft with students.

Started when his 9 year old nephew shared Minecraft with his 8 year old son. After taking a look, he saw some great applications for his classroom!

He teaches in multiple subjects, and the first place he saw an application was math, applying equations to real world situations.
In science students can create drainage systems.
In language arts, students create dioramas simulating scenes. Plus, students can act out within the environment.
In social studies, students researched the floor plans of Greek temples, created a scale model of it in Minecraft. Students can play with lighting and texture in the system, which gives them the ability to make daytime vs. night time, they can fly around and take pictures from different perspectives.
Their last project was given a chunk of land to create their own fiefdom in the Middle Ages.

He has students play in "Sandbox Mode," where they don't have the ability to interact.
He might change to include some of that if he wanted to include actually gathering materials and raids into enemy territory.

His EduWin was when a student who had a hard time being motivated all year, asked for the hardest design to make!

A participant asked, kids in recess are playing this. "What are students doing?" They're building and exploring. Running away from Zombies!

In a closed wifi system, kids can share their worlds with others. One student hosts the game, and others can join the virtual environment and interact with it.
Miles has some great sharing on his blog about how he used it with kids. He compares it to playing Lego together, in a safe environment, with a goal.

You can also create simple machines within the system, which came in handy for the castles his students built! You can make mistakes and it's easy to fix and learn from those mistakes!

For a final project, he had students tape themselves touring through their space and narrating what they did.
Girls were harder to engage at first, but after awhile, those that started with construction paper, soon moved to Minecraft!

There is an Education plugin at Minecraftedu that allows you to see all of your students in that space. You can conduct "group meetings" that pulls all avatars together for group instruction. You can also pull people back to where they belong. You can also control terrain in much faster. This speeds up the process.
He's included additional resources in the session notes.
Miles ended by showing us Project 1845, where people are creating Bejing in 1845 using historical maps.

He hopes that some day, he can have his entire grade 8 curriculum modeled in a 3D world in Minecraft!
Carl Anderson shared at the end of the session that he has been looking at as another option.

EdCampMSP Session: 1:1 with iPads in ISD 197

Eric Simmons shared his experience in West St. Paul. Here are notes on the pluses and minuses of his experience...

Staff had iPads last March, the students in September. He would definitely recommend staff have them sooner!

Rolled out Google Apps for Education 1 month prior to 1:1. Hasn't helped due to difficulty w/ iPad using Apps for Edu.
Wishes he had Office2 HD
The Google App sucks for editing
Simultaneous editing is an issue.Has to be on separate pages.

Socrative has been great for student response.
Questions ahead of time allows you to track student data

They are using Schoology for LMS.

Managing student work is the biggest issue. Initially by e-mail, and sorting was a nightmare. Posterus for authentic work has been ok. (One in the room said Posterus is blocked.) Schoology claims their app will allow students to submit work, but right now it can't.
Staff are commenting on the student post in Posterus to provide feedback.
Minnetonka uses the Office2HD app, and use Google Docs for students to create docs and then share the link in Schoology. This works well.

The district received the iPads through a federal grant. The cases are not very good, and they've had a lot of screen breaks. They are encouraging parents to get their own insurance. They bill for breakage, but there is no obligation to pay. They started with 20 extra for replacement, and those were swallowed up pretty quickly. The parents need to acknowledge it before replacement.

Little learning curve on the iPad, that part has been huge. With 70% free and reduced lunch in their building, giving students access has been huge! They have a great infrastructure in place for wireless.
Students have learned research strategies, and the challenge is for staff to ask better questions!
Syncing process takes a long time. Check ins occasionally to see if the iPads are showing up.

They are using Airserver for projecting iPads and have had a lot of success once they hard wired it.

EdCamp MSP 2012 Keynote: Bradford Hosak

On Saturday, June 2, I attended EdCampMSP, an "unconference" styled day of learning at Park Center Senior High School. While most of the day was user generated and facilitated content, they did open with a keynote by Bradford Hosak, the lead designer and member of the University of Minnesota Learning and Technology Media Lab. He has been working on developing the Eartheducation Project, and was the creator of VideoAnt, a video annotation tool.
Prior to the keynote, people were able to post session topics that they either taught, facilitated, or wanted to learn more about.

The title of Hosak's talk, was "My Story of Designing Effective Collaboration with Online Learning Tools."
The Media Lab is like a "grant factory," where professors can bring their ideas and have people design digital content for them. The mission of the lab is to create, inspire and change the world!

What is collaboration?
Here are some terms that come to mind: teamwork, cooperative-no collaboration has to take place.
The whole is greater than the sum of it's parts. He used the team on a bike as an example. Working together they create something greater than they could have done on their own.

Where can it go wrong?
He used the example of Google+ and Google Wave as examples of places that went wrong. Wave was a mashup of all successful projects. But as users, they were all ready doing each of those things well individually. The massive "swiss army knife!"
Google+ was an attempt was another design fail. 
You need collaboration, coordination and communication through the users experience!
Still, failing as quickly as possible is not a bad thing!

How do you fix it when it does fail?
He gave the example of Avenue, a tool that creates assessments for students learning ASL. It allows for student self assessment and annotation. It allows the instructor to add feedback as well. This could be feedback on video projects, speeches, or any other visual project.
Explore 15
Aaron Doering's environmental project that has students create curriculum on environmental science. Students submit proposals and 15 projects from 15 states are selected. The team captures media from those projects, and then it gets shared with the LT Media Lab, and the share resources and connect the learning from all of the projects.
The top 3 teams get to present their project in Washington, DC with National Geographic.

Where do we go next?
They are continuing to partner with schools on designing learning systems. I see this as having incredible potential, with people taking on that role in school systems.