Move over HGTV, the fifth graders at Maple Grove Elementary are the stars of their very own school library redesign! Budgets, research, surveys, and floor plans are being drafted in
Ms. Ligrani’s and Ms. McCormick’s 5th grade classes as students create their proposals in hopes to be selected for the final design.
This unique PBL (project based learning) asks the students to apply math, economics, technology and reading skills in an authentic way in order to create a flexible learning space for their school.
The innovative idea began last spring, as the teachers recognized a need to replace the old and uncomfortable library furniture. The library is a shared learning space for everyone at Maple Grove, and Principal Chris Neville began to ponder how students could be involved in the improvements. He was inspired by Jeffco’s vision to transform the task for student learning.
When asked how they felt about being entrusted with the library redesign, 5th graders Lilly and Cameron smiled. “I think it was pretty cool! Since this is our last year at the school, we would like to use some of the furniture that we’ve wanted and to help everyone else get a new library.”
Handing over the reigns to the students has been an exciting adventure for Digital Teacher Librarian, Amy Stahura. “I’m totally game! The whole school is really excited about changing the look of the space. Hopefully it will look a lot different in here! I told the kids you can even my office space. The office would be a great green screen room.”
The Design Process
Students have been learning about design thinking (with resources from the Stanford d.school and ISTE Standard "Innovative Designer").
Research began in the field as students explored three sites in the community with flexible learning spaces. Their inquisitive minds visited "The LINK" at the Jeffco Education Center, fellow Jeffco school, Three Creeks K-8, and mindSpark Learning.
Ben and Jack were amazed by one site on their visit. "It was hard to believe that mindSpark was an old library and had no windows!" In their own design, the boys are interested in understanding how the wall colors might help learners in the library.
Empathizing with multiple stakeholders is important to the fifth graders, so the students have been collecting input from students, staff, and the community.
Surveys created in Google Forms allow students to collect and analyze data and share the results across groups. "We're working on a survey to the teachers right now. The teachers still use [the library], so they still have a voice in it," commented Austin and Ben H.
The student's creative juices are flowing as they ideate multiple scenarios for their new space. Tristan shares a draft design with considerations for height of the learners. iPads in the library will have the AutoCAD app available for groups as well.
The budget is on the mind of Bren and Stephanie. "Our budget is really really tight. We may have to reuse some of our stuff. We could reuse the bookshelf and make it a reading space to look outside." A generous donation from the PTA is funding the redesign and community partnerships are at the heart of the project. Parents with backgrounds in architecture, design, and furniture sales have become local experts from which to learn.
Instructional Coach, Amy Ellerman, a collaborator in the PBL remarked, "This project has provided such an authentic opportunity for collaboration between students, Maple Grove staff members, and our community. It is expanding our understanding of where and how learning happens."
We will have to wait until the end of the trimester when students share their proposals with school leadership and the PTA to find out the final design.
Ms. Stahura plans to reveal the renovation and invite all the partners who have supported the project. The celebration will not only be of the new space, but of the contribution of the fifth grade students to this authentic need in their school.
Want to learn more about designing learning spaces?
Read the review for The Space: A guide for educators
By Guest Blogger Felicia Frantz
Felicia Frantz is a computer science and business teacher at Alameda International Jr/Sr. High School. She is one of 300 teachers certified by Rasberry Pi in the United States and has been teaching at Alameda International for 4 years. Here she shares how she and her colleagues started a successful STEM program that has caught the attention of many, including 9News. Big thanks to Felicia for sharing her amazing expertise and experience!
About ten months ago my principal, Susie Van Scoyk, had submitted for a Title IV grant being offered offered through the district. Me and four of my coworkers were designated as the design team (think The Breakfast Club but much cooler). We were tasked with creating a STEM program, initially for 7th and 8th grade, but our hope was to be able to quickly expand it in to 9th - 12th grade as well.
We were nervous but excited over the opportunities and possibilities this grant afforded our students, and, although each of us had experience with one or multiple STEM focus subjects, we were not sure what exactly a “STEM” program would look like at Alameda International. There were so many options and we felt truly overwhelmed.
The grant consisted of $8,000 to spend on resources and $1,500 for professional development. In order to receive our grant we had to complete a training through the Choice Programming Department which would guide us in designing our program and spending our grant money. After a day of studying the concepts of project based learning and attempting to align it with the International Baccalaureate MYP Design Cycle, we had an idea that we wanted a lab or something that would give as many students and teachers access to the resources as possible, but we still could not visualize what exactly “STEM” was as a program or what this would look like at Alameda.
One of the members of our team, our DTL Dorina Miller, suggested we check out the ideaLab at the Denver Central Library. She had modeled several elements in her redesigned library makerspace after their area. We decided to check it out and were instantly enamoured. We decided we wanted to completely mirror the ideaLab in one of our classrooms. We also decided we would have the lab open before and after school so students could have access to come in and create and design at will. One other thing we decided to do, in order to help encourage the use of STEM in non-STEM classrooms was to offer the space to teachers to use for their classes.
Despite our decision on how to spend the grant, we felt like we were still missing some key elements to drive the idea of STEM at Alameda. As a team and as individuals we tried attending trainings and workshops over the summer, but could not find what we were looking for. We brought back great ideas that would definitely contribute to the enhancement of our program, such as industry contacts, ideas for authentic assessment panels, and the desire to build our own R.A.F.T., but we still felt like something was missing.
When we returned to school we were excited about the new journey we were about to embark upon. We were a newly minted department, in IB language we became the Design Department. Our course offerings had tripled and we had numerous sections being offered from 7-12 grade, including computer science, pre-engineering, imagination by design, to 9-12th grade robotics, computer graphics, and audio/visual production. Despite these wonderful offerings, we were still unsure how to bring STEM and the IB Design cycle into non-STEM classes. This concern plagued me more as I had been the author of our proposal and the IDEA Lab was under my care.
However, as people wandered by my room and as I shared out the resources we were collecting in my room a wonderful thing happened. The teachers started identifying ways in which they could use the resources with their students. An English teacher started talking about how she could have the students actually weave one of the textiles talked about in a book they read. The drama teacher started talking about his students using the sewing machines to create costumes or the resources to create props. The science teachers started talking about using augmented reality to allow the students to bring certain concepts to life, such as the muscular, vascular, and skeletal systems. And a geography teacher wanted to use virtual reality to take her students on field trips of geographical features.
On the outside these probably look just like forms of substitution and adaptation from the SAMR model, but in all honesty these are the examples of STEM we had been looking for all along. By merely sharing the potential resources with our peers, on their own they were able to identify a problem or challenge they had been facing in their classes, in many cases how to make something like literature or reading hands on, tangible, and engaging. From there, they were able to brainstorm ideas on how they could use the resources they now had access to to help solve that problem, as a result, they began to make a plan on how they could incorporate that experience into their lessons. Eventually they will get the chance to reflect on the experience and modify it where necessary.
In time, they will feel comfortable enough with the design cycle to begin letting the students identify their own problems or challenges and developing their own solutions. Because this is really what STEM is. It is not a set curriculum. It is not technology or special set of manipulatives. What STEM is, is teachers digging through recycling boxes looking for resources which students could upcycle into something else. It is providing students and teachers access to resources, skills, and a safe environment where they are free to identify potential problems based on their experiences, where they feel safe and empowered to brainstorm ideas and create solutions to those problems, to design them with guidance when they need it, to fail when things do not go just right (or celebrate the successes when things do go right), and are given the freedom and opportunity to reflect on the experience and what they learned, so that they feel empowered to go out and try again.
Postscript: As I was in the process of writing this post, our school had learned it had been selected by 9News at their first “CoolSchool” of the year because of the cool things we have going on here at Alameda, in particular the addition of our STEM program and that two of our middle school Society for Hispanic Engineer Jr. teams qualified to compete at the Technology Student Associations’ TEAMS competition in Atlanta this past June. 9News came an interviewed some of our STEM teachers and then also held a pep rally to help us celebrate. You can check out the story and the video segments at 9News Cool Schools: Alameda International
If you're interested in developing STEM programs or pathways at your school, contact Heather.Waldron.jeffco.k12.co.us, STEM Pathway Designer for Jeffco Public Schools.
Setting the stage
As Gru from Despicable Me exclaims… “Light Bulb!”
This is exactly how I felt when I saw the transformative learning in my classroom this past week. I have been using HyperDocs for two years now, first learning of HyperDocs while attending the Google Summit in Denver 2016. My DTL picked up the book “The HyperDoc Handbook: Digital Lesson Design Using Google Apps” by Kelly Hilton, Lisa Highfill, and Sarah Landis. Let’s go back to 2016...I POURED over this book.
I sat in the HyperDoc session (and honestly the others I attended) going through my current lesson plans in Google Drive, trying to figure out which ‘activities and lessons’ I can turn into a HyperDoc… I mean, it's just a glorified webquest right? Throw in my digital link for my note catcher, attach the same news article for kids to read.. And boom ‘HyperDoc!’... Right? I was so wrong.
The past year or so I have been reinventing my so called ‘HyperDocs’. I have been very pleased with my latest HyperDoc - The Bill of Rights Restaurant, A Learning Menu.
I teach 8th grade US History at Summit Ridge Middle School. Knowing that freshman year the students will have an entire semester of government, I wanted to make sure that the students understood how citizen can participate in government. Moving forward into freshman year, they then can fully understand the role of a citizen in a society and how citizens can affect change.
As we know, menus are all about choices. And with a variety of choices comes a variety of prices. The ‘price list’ on my learning menu indicates the level of activity students can expect if they choose the menu item. $ = not there yet, $$ = ready and waiting, $$$ = yes and I’m off! Presenting level indicators allows students to self-reflect on their own current ability, yet provide opportunity for students to challenge themselves with the next activity or text set.
As with most HyperDocs, having students engage and explain are pretty common. These menu options include a Smart Songs Rap, Mr. Betts Video, History.com article, and Scholastic books I have in the classroom as resources. Just because the HyperDoc is digital, does NOT mean EVERYTHING on the HyperDoc must be too. Many of my students picked the Scholastic books over the internet articles. But the important part was the choice. This differentiation of resources allows ownership on the students part to decide how they will acquire the information. If the resource is not a good fit, then they have other options handy, as happened several times over the course of the week. This self-awareness of student learning is incredibly powerful when in action.
Next on the menu, drinks. Here I provided three different articles with three different content topics related to individual rights. My students love to read about real world examples. They also love to see what their peers think about these real world examples. After reading the articles, student used Padlet to answer a form of an analysis question. Students can also read/comment on each other's posts, creating a dialogue that goes beyond the classroom walls. A student from my period 1 class can read the same article as a student from period 5 and they are dialoguing about how our rights as citizens are protected or bent in order to provide security in America. That is powerful.
Dinner is the next thing on the menu, where the application occurs. Here students were able to pick from 3 application activities. A Summit Ridge Bill of Rights, Analyzing the Bill of Rights to real world situations, or Petitioning their local, state, or federal representatives about a topic of their choice. Again, the $ indicators reveal the level of each of the activities. I hyperlinked each of the activities directions and expectations via Google Docs. Additionally, I allowed for students to partner up for this part of the learning menu, further expanding the dialogue and learning beyond the computer. The product topics range from changing school cell phone policy to a federal ban on certain assault style weapons. Students are transforming their learning and applying real world issues in the classroom. Many are researching who their local representative is in order to petition for change. Why did they drain the Blue Heron Lake?
Finally, as with most Americans who dine at a new restaurant, we want to leave that Yelp! review to praise or warn others. I am extremely excited about this part of the menu, as this is the sharing and self-reflection and evaluation of the dinner option. Flipgrid allows students to posts videos, much like a digital bulletin board (padlet). Students were given three prompts to answer, one required and two choices, but must do in video form. For many students, recording themselves is a risk, so I am allowing them to use their dinner product at the visual for the video. To calm their nerves, I posted several video explanations on how to use flipgrid (and ridiculous stickers on my face). Check out my student A.K. and his self-reflection. He wants to run for Congress! After recording and posting, students can, once again, view and comment on eachothers product and self-reflection. The opportunity for self-reflection provides students ownership of the learning and deeper processing of the information. They were able to identify their own gaps in learning, if any, and where to focus their attention moving forward. Check out my Bill of Rights Flipgrid HERE
If you are like me, I am constantly trying to reinvent my teaching. I do not think the old saying ‘why reinvent the wheel?’ applies in education…..we’re not even using wheels anymore. We are provided with an almost infinite amount of resources for our students to transform their learning into something deeper and long sustaining. When we teach students to use the technology as a tool, not a toy, they tap into their creativity and ingenuity.
The possibilities become unlimited.
Define the Problem:
Last year, I found myself in a bind when creating my schedule. Thomson was moving to a 90 minute weekly PLC for all grade levels, and I was tasked with covering students for half of that time. I stared at the daunting content colors in front of me, realizing I had much more scheduled time with students on a weekly basis than I had in the past. At first, I tried to fill the time with a variety of tasks, but they didn’t seem to engage the students. These tasks involved all students working on the same thing, at the same time, with the same technology.
Passion Projects seemed to be the answer, so I decided to try this type of learning out with my 4th-6th graders. As I started to put all the pieces into place, I began to think I was crazy. How was I going to be able to manage a whole grade level that was working on different topics, at different stages in their project, with different technology tools? There was only one way to find out, so I took a risk and went for it.
As with anything new there come successes and challenges. I would have to say that my biggest success was the student engagement. At first, when I told them what we were going to do I didn’t get quite the response I wanted. They were moaning and groaning about having to do another research project. As the year went on I saw a huge change in my students. I rarely had to redirect students because they got to choose what tool to use and the topic they were most passionate about. I also found it to be a great way for students to collaborate with each other. I allowed students to use the following tools to show their learning, but didn’t limit them to these:
My biggest challenge was supporting and giving feedback on all the different projects. When I implement passion projects again this year, I will be very intentional about when and how I give feedback. Check out these resources on giving feedback while facilitating Passion Projects or Genius Hour in the classroom:
One thing I would advise is to have a way to track where students are in their projects because once you get this started they work at different speeds and it is hard to keep up with all of them. Some ideas and tools for how to manage many different projects at once include:
My biggest takeaway from this whole process was that our students needed to be risk takers. So many students were afraid to push the button and try something new because they were afraid they were going to break something. It took many conversations with them about being risk takers for them to finally see that they could do it. As a result of this learning, instead of library orientation this year, I tasked the students with creating a book (Book Creator) or a short video (PowToons) that explains different technology and library expectations. Doing this task pushed them to be risk takers from the moment they walked into the library this year. I know that there will be some growing pains when we begin our passion projects again this year, but that is the BEAUTY of education; you never know if you can do it unless you try!!!
Want More Passion Project Info?
Would you like more resources on starting Passion Projects in the classroom? Check out these articles and books!
John Hattie and Robert Marzano together are like peanut butter and jelly! Like oreos and milk! Like bees and honey! John Hattie released his research on educational strategies and their effect sizes in 2009. Since then he has updated and reworked his research to keep up with changing times. Robert Marzano has been writing books on education for about 25 years related to best-practices and research-based strategies. But where do these 2 giants in the education world agree? And how does technology support all of this?
In an article published by Shaun Killian, the author lists 8 strategies that both Hattie and Marzano agree on. So it would seem that this list should be paid extra attention. This list includes things like “clear focus for the lesson”, “give feedback” and “get students working together”. It would also seem that in 2018, we should elevate how technology can support these 8 powerful strategies.
In the table below you can see the 8 strategies, a brief description of that strategy and some ideas on how technology can support those strategies. Technology can be a powerful tool when combined with research-based teaching! What other tech ideas do you have to support these 8 strategies?
"Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results." ~John Dewey.
Digital discussions have become regular practices in our everyday lives. From text messages and social media posts to blog and YouTube comment streams there are continued learning and sharing opportunities with global connections on a regular basis. Many of us are often hyper-active in daily digital discussions as we connect with friends, family, and world-wide audiences.
As we continue to implement the Jeffco Generations skills and Transform Tasks, digital dialogue and discussion opportunities present engaging opportunities to authentically develop skills and concepts beyond the basic acquisition of facts. Through participation in digital discussions with global audiences we are exposed to the challenges of content application, concept justification, and social understandings in our ever changing world.
The New York Times provides a number of incredible resources to educators and students for elevating digital discussion opportunities that engage learners in relevant and meaningful topics. Through The Learning Network, they began in 2014 with 200 Prompts for Argumentative Writing which grew to 650 Prompts for Argumentative Writing in 2016 and is now over 1000 Writing Prompts for Students in 2018. The prompts are broken up by topic areas such as Social Media and Smartphones, Gender Issues, Dating and Sex, Music, Literature and Art, Being a Teenager, School, Health and Nutrition, Science and Animals, Government and Leadership, Personal Character and Morality, and more. Under each topic is a list of questions that are linked to a short articles followed by more specific questions for students to consider and answer. The list of 650 prompts are also available via a handy PDF for easy access and sharing.
So how does this apply to our daily instruction as educators? Francis Bacon said, "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man". Reading, writing and discussion are a critical components of our everyday learning and growth processes. As educators we know high quality instruction in any content area or discipline contains regular opportunities for learners to engage in reading, writing, and discussion to further develop critical and creative thinking skills.
Using the resources above, learners can be given a prompt and the associated article to read. Following the reading, learners can engage in a short writing activity to gather thoughts and develop ideas. Learners can then share their thoughts with others and ideas to seek feedback for further development and discussion. Some ideas might include:
Reading, writing and dialogue can and should take place in all disciplines, not just literacy. For example, math teachers can leverage prompts like #327 which centers around a distribution graph of how many A's schools hand out or #289 "Are You Afraid of Math?" and #290 "Do We Need A Better Way To Teach Math?". Science teachers can leverage the wide variety of prompts in Science & Health (1,066-1,146) involving Science and The Environment, Animals and Pets, or Exercise and Health. Art teachers have a vast array to choose from in Arts and Entertainment (75-248). Whichever discipline you teach, there can be resources for you to leverage to support students with engaging in reading, writing, and dialogue.
How will you leverage digital discussions as a way to Transform the Task and support learners with developing the Jeffco Generations skills? The Jeffco Ed Tech team is available to support you in thinking through ways you can leverage reading, writing and discussion with students in your instruction. We would also love to hear from you around how you are already leveraging digital discussions or have done so in the past. We learn a great deal from examples and experience so we invite you to share with us as we continue to grow together.
The Jeffco Ed Tech team is excited to announce our Fall 2018 online book studies.
K-2 can, too! Young children are naturally curious about the world around them. They love to explore and play; in fact, that’s how they learn! The Google Apps for Littles book study will provide educators with ideas on how to get students playing and exploring using the G Suite. Empower your littles and shift your thinking to believe that even the youngest kids can do more with technology!
Interested in learning more about our Jeffco Ed Tech book studies? Want to register? Looking for more professional learning opportunities from our team? Click on the image below for details.
We hope to learn alongside of you this Fall!
August 9th Learning Day
Due to the overwhelming success of this event, we want to make sure that all educators have access to the learning. Attached is a document with the course descriptions and linked presentations!
A huge thank you goes out to Golden High School for hosting our event, as well as events for several other departments in the district. We are very thankful to all of the schools who partner with us throughout the year to help us deliver learning to so many educators!
This year we are excited to share that we have 2 new members joining our Ed Tech team!
Jamie joins the team as a former Jeffco Instructional Coach with a passion for technology. She’s returning to work after taking a year off to spend time with her family. Jamie will serve as a point-of-contact for most of our middle schools this year.
Nick joins us from Aurora Public Schools where he worked in a similar role as Ed Tech and Personalized Learning support for a wide range of schools in the district. We are excited to tap into his great wealth of knowledge and expertise. Nick will serve as a point-of-contact for most of our high schools this year.
A new year also comes with some exciting new transitions for our amazing teammates.
We wish Karrie continued success as she transitions from an Ed Tech Specialist position to a Digital Teacher Librarian position at Deer Creek Middle School. We will certainly miss her many talents on our team and feel fortunate that she will continue to make a difference for the Deer Creek community.
Amanda has accepted a position as a Digital Literacy and Instructional Coach at Thunder Vista P-8 in Adams 12. She spent countless evenings and her summer break working hard to open this brand new school. We wish her the very best in her exciting new adventure!
Rather than support a sub-set of our schools (as she’s done for the past few years), Marnie will be charged with developing a strategic vision for Computer Sciences working in close partnership with schools, central departments, communities, CDE and vendors in shaping this exciting work.
We are excited to welcome Julie back from maternity leave. As an Ed Tech Specialist, she will continue as a point-of-contact for a subset of our elementary schools this year.
Amie will move from a Title I-funded position to one that supports all of Jeffco. She will serve as a point-of-contact for a subset of our elementary schools this year.
Rounding out the Ed Tech team are continuing team members:
"Make something that does a thing." This was the challenge put out to 10th grade students at Golden High School by their teacher, Mr. Gitner. Students were engaged in a very broad PBL. The sky was the limit. Their task was simply to create something that does something.
Gitner said of the task, "If I do not explicitly name a tool for them, at the end they create something that they feel is important. It ended up being a passion project where I just became the coach." The students went out and decided what they wanted to learn and found the right tool for the job. “What you know isn't what is important anymore, it's what you can do," says Gitner. At the very heart of this task was the foundation of student choice.
The results from the students was phenomenal. One student got her artwork on a brochure that fights to end violence against women. Another student created a mockumentary. This student learned a valuable work-life lesson. He says of the leadership within the project,
“What I really learned is how difficult it is get people together without intrinsic motivation. Bringing people together and giving them a task is not enough. It takes true leadership to engage others." This is the essence of The Jeffco Generations skill, Collaboration and Leading by Influence.
Last year, Gitner created a task called "Walk in Someone Else's Shoes". He had students create Trello Boards. A Trello board is a list of lists, filled with cards, used by you and your class. It's a lot more than that, though .Trello has everything you need to organize projects of any size. Open a card and you can add comments, upload file attachments, create checklists, add labels and due dates, and more. Here is a video Andrew made for his students. You can also access his example of a Trello Board here. You can find this lesson on the Bridge to Curriculum in the Teacher Resource Library.
Andrew started his school year by reading Bold School this summer. This book was written by Jeffco parent, Weston Kieschnick .
This book overlays SAMR with Rigor and Relevance. Andrew says he creates experiences for students that span the SAMR model, but spends a fair amount of time creating experiences for students that asks them to Augment. "Students can't always be in Modification. Student experiences should span the range of the SAMR model." The Jeffco Ed Tech Team will be hosting a Bold School Book Study in the Fall. More information coming soon!
So what is next for Gitner's 10th graders? A phone scavenger hunt at the Clyfford Still museum. Students will use their phones to complete tasks around the museum.
It's time to engage your Tweeting skills as we kick off the school year with the first Ed Tech Twitter challenge of 2018! So, grab your coworkers and challenge yourself to get connected and grow your Professional Learning Network!
Here's your Challenge... Should You Choose to Accept it.
Beginning August 15th (the first day of school), log into Twitter each day and complete the following activities, using #JeffcoChat in each of your Tweets. You may also choose to include #JeffcoGenerations or mention us (@JeffcoEdTech), as well.
Jeffco educators who complete all 8 challenges can be entered to win a 3 month premium Pear Deck subscription! Visit this Google Form by midnight on August 27th and upload a screenshot of each of your Tweets! We will draw the winner on the 28th.
Need Help getting STarted?
Last year, we hosted 2 different Twitter challenges to teach educators how to start using Twitter to build their professional learning networks. So, if you are new to Twitter, check out the resources below, before you get started.