#AmplifyEd with Images and Videos

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Our next #D100chat is on May 3rd, and our guest moderator will be Kristin Ziemke!  Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke wrote the book Amplify: Digital Teaching and Learning in the K-6 Classroom.  We decided to try some ideas out from their book to prepare for the upcoming chat!  They have specific sections called "Three Things to Try Tomorrow" that are quick and easy, but could really enhance our teaching dramatically.

The Challenge:

I chose to try Study an Image or a Video Clip, which is found in Amplify.  I love using images for instructional purposes. They suggest using an image or a video clip, and having the students jot down their thinking individually using a What I See/ What I Think organizer, and then having a conversation with the class.

The Lesson:

     I was working with +Tyler Haar on developing classroom conversations to prepare for his upcoming book clubs.  He had just started a unit on Activism, and he decided to focus on Cesar Chavez by showing a video of a non-violent protest.  He planned on showing this video:

     After watching the video, I decided to add an image from the time period first to explicitly teach them to see details before they infer ideas.  I also wanted to leave a space for questions they might have, based on the image and video.   I had created my own organizer before reading Amplify, so the language I used was I see.../ I infer.../ I wonder...

Image from Getty Images (Cathy Murphy)
     We looked at the image above and pulled out specific details that we saw.  We then practiced combining a few of the details they saw to infer something.  For example, the Mexican flag, and religious symbol of Guadalupe, and the word "paz" together meant they might be praying for rights for Mexicans.  After we made a few inferences, they watched the video and added more details that they say, and ideas they inferred.

     Once we had a few inferences in mind, we had them watch the video clip and jot down what they "saw" in the video during the protest.  When the video was over, we arranged ourselves into a rectangle and had a classroom conversation about the image and the video.  We made sure to use some accountable talk stems and spoke in complete sentences to grow ideas using support from the media and using our own ideas.

My Reflections:

     I have used videos and images before to close read, but I hadn't really thought to use an image prior to watching the video to really capture a snapshot of ideas prior to viewing.  The video above is set to music and the video quality is less clear, so I thought it was important to teach the strategy of close reading with a "stationary" version of the protest.  I do think it enhanced the conversation, and we ended up talking about the reasons people would protest, and whether it was safe for the children that we saw on the video, and was wrapped up by a student saying that they "were begging for freedom."  The verb choice she used (begging rather than fighting) really started a nice beginning for this activism unit.  

     The best part?  One of the students said this:

     I think they were able to grow ideas with each other because of the time we spent looking at the picture, and then the video, before having our conversation.  The visuals and media gave all students access to the content.  Thanks, +Tyler Haar and +Katherine Whisler  for welcoming me in!

Your Turn to Take the Challenge!

     Do you do something in your classroom that enhances instruction while using tech, either from Amplify or that you have tried?  Or do you want to try using images and videos to start a classroom conversation like I did?  We would love if you share the idea with us, either on your blog or by adding a quick idea to our Padlet Wall!  We will officially challenge our district after the #D100chat on 5/3/2016, but you are free to take a sneak peek!

#DigiLit Sunday: Form in Poetry

    This Sunday morning, I am connecting with Margaret Simon again for #DigiLit Sunday.  I had a topic in mind, but when I read her post about form in poetry, I changed my mind.  In my head, a student's face popped up.  I knew I had to write about our young Padawan poet.  :)

     With our Jedi writers, +Lori Horne and I keep adding genres of writing to our list of writing they could write, but the rule is always "You can try what I modeled today, or go off and write what matters to you."  They can choose the topic and the genre to write in, and we give them about 10 minutes to write.  The chart above looks different now, as we have added many types of poetry this month for April, as well as other genres that come up along the way.

     This "Jedi Writing Training" idea came from the inspiration of Ralph Fletcher.  I saw him speak at the end of January and his words about informal writing really struck me.  There are different reasons students write.  After hearing Ralph Fletcher, I wanted one of them to be because they want to share what matters to them.  Lori's students loved Star Wars, so the Jedi training began.

    On this particular day, we had started writing and a 4th grader looks up and says, "I don't know what to write about."  My response was, "Just write about what matters to you."  Then I walked away.  I didn't give him a topic, or a suggestion.  This is Jedi Writing Training.  They get to choose.  Plus, we have been doing this for 3 months.  He has the power within him.

    After about 8 minutes, I walk around and pick three kids who will share, and snap a picture of their writing to display on the Apple TV when they read it aloud.  

     Our student without an idea happens to be a reluctant reader and writer, and this is what he produced!  When students read their writing to the class, we always have them try to identify the genre that the writer chose.  After this poem, kids said "Poetry" right away, but some saw pieces of the Diamante we did last week.  Some saw parts of Haiku.  Some saw a list poem.  Some saw a shape poem with the words taking almost a bat wing shape.  The truth is, this poem doesn't follow a true "form" in poetry.  This writer accidentally made his own form.  A writer, who in the past would sit there with a blank paper, instead found an idea that matters to him and created his own rules.

     We are in Jedi Writing Training.  This young Padawan used the force to overcome his lack of ideas.  Well, that's probably how he sees it.  I just see a writer.


Tech in the Writing Workshop

Sunday, April 17, 2016

     I remember September... That time, not so long ago, when the school year was new and we were just getting to know our students.  We were developing routines in reading, and getting to know them as writers.  Most of the grade levels started with a narrative unit in writing, and teachers often start the year with struggles as kids try to write small moments. I have a few theories behind those struggles, but my job as a coach is to problem solve moving forward, not find the reasons they can't write.   Such is the case with first grade this last September.  Our team was mostly new to Hiawatha, and many of our students came back with summer slide, in addition to the fact that many are below grade level in reading and not all speak in complete sentences when they talk, let alone when they write.  But, these six years olds do have IDEAS.  We just need to find the write scaffolds for them to write.

     I was having a conversation with one of our new teachers, +Kayla Kaczmarek, about how I used to teach my 2nd graders to write in a booklet.  I would show them how to talk their story across their hand before they picked up the pencil to write.  We talked about how their booklets could start with three pages only, and around a shared topic.  I had also shared with her that I used to use pictures of our playground to write a shared experience story using the image, but adding vocabulary labels to enhance the level of detail in their writing.

    The next day or so, when I had to cover her class for about an hour due to a meeting, she gave me a page of sub plans that rocked that writing scaffold world.

     She had taken her kids outside the day before, and had them take a picture with their own iPads of a part of the playground.  They had already made a web of the things they saw on the playground.  The plan for me that day was to use their iPads to VIDEOTAPE themselves talking the story across their hands, so that they could play it back and stop and start it while writing.  That way, as they wrote across their booklet pages, they wouldn't lose their story.

     So simple, yet so genius.  Just use the camera app on the iPad as a scaffold to enhance their ability to write a small moment story!  I have to admit, this was the first whole class lesson I had ever taught using all iPads, as I had been in a 1:1 Macbook rooms for 3 years.  I put my own nerves aside, and showed the first graders how I could record myself, with my hand in the video for easy viewing for playback, and told my story about going down a slide.  We didn't even try to write anything that day.  At the end of the lesson, they got to share their stories by taking a gallery walk around the room and playing their friends' videos.  It was over the next few days where they learned to play the stories back, using a booklet with 3 numbered pages, to touch and tell their story and then write it for others to read.

     This was a huge success, because it helped students not only remember their stories across pages, but it also got them to verbally practice telling it first.  They practiced speaking in complete sentences before trying to write, and this helped them as a storyteller.  It also then opened the door to future lessons on self editing and graduation to booklets that were not as scaffolded about a single topic.  

     I was thinking about this this week as our first graders published their nonfiction CHAPTER BOOKS using various apps on the iPad.  Somehow, over the course of the year, those struggling readers and writers became AUTHORS.

     I think part of it was seeing the tech they had access to as a way to scaffold their ideas, using the video feature of the iPad.

     I think part of it was using apps along the way to "publish" some of their writing, even if it wasn't typed.  They used their drafts to read their writing into apps like Tellagami and Chatterpix, bringing their words to life.

     I think part of it was, once they got to nonfiction, they used the iPad as a scaffold to the ideas they wanted to see in their writing.  Using apps like YouTube kids, Kiddle, MyOn and Blendspace allowed our first graders to learn content that was above their reading level.  They learned the vocabulary they needed to sound like experts in their non fiction writing.

     I think part of it was that our teachers never replaced drafting on paper.  Our first graders need to learn how to write on paper.  Their fine motor skills need to be developed.  But that does not mean tech can't be used in writing workshop.

    I think a huge part of it was that our teachers became writers themselves, actually discussing what they hoped our students would produce to create a single point rubric at the start of the units.  They did the work of their students.

    I think part of it was that students are treated like authors, and given an audience.

     Here we are, in March, and this was how they ended their non fiction writing unit.  They sent out a Google form to the kids, and allowed them to pick how they wanted to publish their chapter book about the seasons.  They then switched kids for a week between +Shianne Gillespie+Amelia Sheers+Melissa Alper+Kayla Kaczmarek and +Vianney Sanchez and used those books to great digital books and/or movies with the content.

Here they are creating iBooks with Book Creator.

Here they are making newscasts with Telestory.

Some coded their story using Scratch Jr.

Others appsmashed with Tellagami and iMovie.

     I love how the first grade used tech this year as a way to ENHANCE their writing workshop.  They have used their iPads to facilitate idea collection, drafting and publishing in various ways throughout the year.  They never jumped right to the tech to produce something that didn't meet the writing standard they had hoped for.  They always had their writing goals first, and then used tech to scaffold to get there.

    Our first graders are WRITERS.




     We just recently had our 17th annual Hiawatha Talent Show, where students danced and sang and performed magic and told a few jokes.  It's always a highlight for our kids, where they get to shine for  doing something other than reading and writing and math.  They get to show off what they perceive as their talent, and perform for 500 kids in the process.  I would never have been able to get in front of that many people at a young age, so I give them lots of credit.  I also give lots of credit to our teachers who donate their time to organize the event.  This year, +Diann Milford+Kayla Kaczmarek and +Katherine Whisler organized the show.

     Over the years, and especially in the age of Twitter, I see lots of teachers who share their vision for their students, and many include celebrating the whole child, and embracing student interests in education.  We hear a lot about giving students a voice.  But, what often happens is our vision for what we believe is important gets buried underneath the curriculum and time limits we have in a school year.  In my opinion, having a Talent Show is one way that tells students that they are MORE than just a reading level or a MAP score.  They are individuals, who shine in different ways.  

     This year, I brought my own children to see the show because they had Spring Break that week.  They clapped and cheered, and my son asked if he could get up on the stage after school to dance, too.  +Lori Horne promised him she would watch him, and the Staff Kids Talent Show was born.

First up was my son, with a dance from the Nutcracker.

Next up was a song from Theresa Carrillo's daughter, who is also a Hiawatha Husky!

Then came a duet between our kids while my daughter hid in the wings.  
She got a little stage fright like her mom would...

At the very end, they called up each teacher in the audience so that my son could give them a construction paper heart and used the microphone to say, "Thanks for being such a good audience."  Some had already left, but we had a nice bunch at 3:45 on a Friday!

When everyone left, my daughter finally made an appearance on stage.  

      Look at all the staff members who stayed after school on a Friday to watch an impromptu talent show put on by staff children!  I took a video of my son while he danced, and I just teared up at how amazing it was that he felt so special because they gave him some positive attention for something that matters to him.  The truth is, my son is a dancer.  He loves it.  And, I know he felt like he was in a production of the Nutcracker that afternoon.  For that I am very thankful.  

     The picture below is the message my daughter wrote on my Pineapple Chart in my office.  It says:
Welcome to Hiawatha
Mrs. O'Donnell
I am the literacy coach.
From: Keira

      Thanks again to the Hiawatha staff who not only welcomed my children that day, but also welcomed the talents of our Huskies who put themselves onto the stage that day and every day of 2015-16. Our school is a special place that embraces everything that our children bring to school with them: their strengths and their struggles.  Thanks for remembering that our students are more than a reading level.  They are more than a test score.  They are so much MORE.  And, at the end of the day, you even see that in my own children too.  Thanks for being the educators that you are.


Spring #TheEdCollabGathering Reflections

Sunday, April 3, 2016

     Once again, The Educator Collaborative and +Christopher Lehman organized another day of free online learning in their #TheEdCollabGathering.  They had a wide selection of sessions perfect for a wide variety of educators, and they are all archived here!  I missed the opening sessions, and there are a few others I want to check out, so that link will be very helpful.  :)

     Overall, I think this quote that ended the day sums it up.


     Very few other professions would find their staff learning by choice for free on a Saturday.  All teachers believe that every child can learn, but the best ones know that this is true about ourselves first.  We cannot expect students to learn if we ourselves have already filled our learning cup.  Learning doesn't end.  So, on a Saturday in April, educators from around the world come "together" to learn together and become better educators for our students, and for ourselves.  I learned some new things, and I reflected on many things.  

     One of my biggest take aways, though, came from the closing session with Maggie Beattie Roberts and Kate Roberts.   They were talking about how hard our job is an educator, and how we need to utilize tools for both our own learning, and for the learning done by our students, to help us process the information that we take in.  How very true!!  We can learn something new every single day, but if we don't process it, or transfer it, or synthesize it with previous learning, then most often it doesn't really do anything for us as learners.  I think that is why I have really loved taking notes with the Paper 53 app this year.  I have found a tool that allows me to take notes in the way that I process things, but also makes me prioritize and synthesize learning that's relevant to me.  Tools are so critical to my own understanding.  How is that being applied to my students' learning?  This is a question I will be reflecting on a lot as the year comes to a close.  

     Below I put my #sketchnotes from the sessions I watched live, along with their Twitter handles.  Follow them!  I also just *had* to make some Word Swags with a few quotes along the way, to take advantage of the Word Swag updates just released.  Thanks, Jen Jones (@hellojenjones) for that heads up! 



     Every single time I hear Dr. Howard, I am reminded of the PURPOSE we have as educators.  She is always quick to remind me that our job is child centered, and that is the way it should always be.  I have Word Swagged her quite a bit over the last three years since I first heard her speak.  Now I hear her voice in my head whenever I need to make a tough decision.  This new quote, "Passion drives the deep thinking bus" will be one of those quotes for sure.  

     HUGE DIGITAL HIGH FIVE for these quotes from Linda Hoyt!!!  Read alouds matter.


"Yep," said Coach OD.


     Education is full of challenges and bumps along the way.  And, many times, all we can focus on is those bumps.  But, just perhaps, if we accept that our job is filled with good and bad, perhaps we can see both in our reflections.  Yeah, our day probably had some "Oh no!" moments.  But, were there some a-ha moments in there too?  Maybe even a few more than those bumps?  If we focus our day to day reflections that way, perhaps we will see our own impact on students a little more.  Thanks, Kate and Maggie, for your honest (and quite humorous) thoughts.  

    Did you want to check out reflections from previous gatherings?  Look below.  :)

Fall #EdCollabGathering 2015 Reflections
Spring #EdCollabGathering 2015 Reflections