This year I had big dreams about vamping up our reflective E-Portfolio blog program. E-Portfolios are something that we have been doing at AISC for a long time. Two years ago though, things really improved by moving our kids from a Google site/ artifact based E-Portfolio to a reflective/ Blogger E-Portfolio. This switch aligned the program with our vision and mission and the E-Portfolios have now become an wonderful way to keep track of student growth during their time here at AISC.
Originally teachers would pick what projects appeared on the blogs and typically the same projects were showcased in each child’s E-Portfolio Google site. Now with blogs, students are encourage to reflect about their learning instead of reflecting on a project or artifact. This learning might be something they are proud about, something that challenged them or maybe a reflection of how their learning changed. Students and teachers still have a long way to go for the vision of this program to become a reality. Many students often write about the same projects because their teacher tells them to do so or they write exactly what happened in class (their posts are not always reflective).
In an attempt to get students more excited about this great reflective learning exercise, I decided to do a couple of experiments with motivation. My first idea was to pair up 6th and 8th graders to do blogging buddies during their STEM projects. I paired up students who were doing similar projects in the hopes that they could learn from each other by commenting. This failed terribly. Students were not held accountable by their teachers for commenting because it was seen as something extra. They were given no time to comment in class and weren’t intrinsically motivated to write comments on each others blogs. Students were blogging because they had to.
My second attempt was to get parents and family members involved in the commenting. I held a session as the last middle school Parent Coffee. I created this nice informational brochure. I thought it would be such a great way for families to become involved in their child’s learning. I hoped family members from far away would comment on the blogs (this was the “redefinition” part of my plan). The family commenting initiative, however, failed miserably too. I sent the parents emails to remind them to comment and checked the student blogs frequently to see if there was any commenting by parents. Parents were not leaving any comments. Maybe they were too busy. My hopes of motivating the kids to become reflective learners through blogging were dashed.
So, today, as I was browsing around the student E-porfolio’s wallowing in my failure, I decided to try one more thing. When I came across a blog that looked pretty good, I emailed the student asking if I could share it out to other educators and students. I received a bunch of enthusiastic replies from students saying “Sure!” and “Thanks for the compliments” and “Thanks for looking at my blog.” I took Jeff’s “redefinition” advice and I posted these E-Portfolio blog links to twitter with the hashtags #comments4kids #edchat #eportfolio #COETAIL and #edtech in hopes that they would get a little traffic and maybe a comment. Here are the links to the E-Portfolio blogs I shared out. If you are reading this, PLEASE, click on one and leave a thought provoking comment, or some words or encouragement.
I just found this great app called Todoist. I am a habitual todo list maker. I make one at least every day on paper, my notebooks are filled with them. While looking at recipes from the site ifttt.com/ I came across one that puts all your Google calendar events into a To Do List on this app, so I decided to try it out.
One really cool thing I noticed about the app/site is that you can collaborate on To Do Lists. This is excellent for organizing teams of people and assigning duties. I’m sure teachers could also use this tool with their students too to assign tasks in group projects. I’m going to use it with my husband to organize all the things we need to do for our move to Jakarta. I wonder if I’ll stop doing my paper lists… We will see.
I want to thank Robin Treyvaud and the tech crew from SIS for coming all the way to Chennai this Saturday to train 50 AISC teachers. It’s been a great day on gaining more understanding about digital citizenship and just talking about the necessity of teaching this stuff to our students. So many great resources from CommonSenseMedia.org were shared. Here are a couple of links to resources I found super helpful.
The First Annual AISC Stem fest is coming up soon. I created this nifty Weebly site to showcase what we are doing.
It has this great countdown widget on it from https://www.powr.io/ that is super simple to use. It looks like there is a bunch of cool widgets on the site that you can easily add to Weebly sites and other blog sites. Check it out.
Yesterday I had a wonderful coaching session with one of my middle school Spanish teachers. She’s been trying out flipping her classroom with great success. Before she started doing this I told her to include a “secret” word in her flipped classroom videos to make sure that her students watched them.
She hasn’t been doing this for every video, but once in a while she includes a secret word (like swimming pig) at random in a video. The next morning she asks her kids to tell her the secret word as they walk in. She immediately knows who has watched the video and who has not.
Getting students to do their homework is always a challenge, but this little strategy might help those who are attempting to flip their classroom.
One of my teachers wanted me to create a presentation on the best practices of creating Infographics. His kids will be comparing the Native Americans with another native population around the world and one of their final project choices is creating an Infographic. Here’s my little Go Animate movie Infographic Guide. I used the new Whiteboard Animation feature which is super cool. If you are interested in using this feature, here’s a link to a great tutorial.
So today I had this really short conversation with one of my teachers, Ross, about his COETAIL project. I hope this post encourages him to do this for his project because it’s a great idea. Ross is an EAL teacher. Earlier in the year, he put out a Vine video on FB of his kids doing something funny. I remember commenting that he should use Vine in the classroom. Today he mentioned that he was thinking about using Vine to make pronunciation videos for his EAL students and for this to be his COETAIL project. I say go for it Ross! What a great idea. I felt it was such a good idea that I had to tell the world.
Vine videos loop and are perfect for students to hear and see the word being said over and over again. Please forgive my extreme close-up.
Vine is an app that is available on most mobile devices. Logistically I think Ross will have to make all the videos using his device because not all students have smartphones or iPads. Also, it’s one of these social media sites that requires students to be at least 13 to have an account. I guess the students could always use Ross’s account and device if they were to make their own. Despite those limitations, you can embed the videos or email them which is quite handy.
My course 5 project is going to be like a 5 course meal. There are several components and I’m excited for all of them to come together. I am hoping to get some great action research done while increasing intrinsic motivation for students to reflect in their blog-based E-Portfolio.
Course One : Blogging Buddies
For this project I will be working closely with the 6th grade and 8th grade teachers and students that are participating in our STEM festival. Students will be recording their progress and reflecting on their learning in their E-Portfolio. I thought it would be neat for students to have a blogging buddy that was doing the same STEM project (ie. mousetrap cars, or towers). I recruited some willing 6th and 8th grade teachers and we have just paired up the students. Every sixth grader now has an eighth grader blogging buddy. These blogging buddies will comment on each other’s e-Portfolio posts. I plan to use a couple of Google spreadsheet add ons like FormMule to get emails out to all the students about this with the links to their buddy’s E-Portfolio.
Course Two: Student-created Common Agreements around Commenting
Before students start commenting, I am going to have students draft up their own “common agreements” around blog commenting. All students will have to agree and sign these common agreements before any commenting starts, consequences for leaving inappropriate comments will also be discussed. This is really important because I do not want any problems with digital citizenship to arise.
Course Three: The Family Commenting Initiative
In addition to Blogging Buddies, I thought it would be great to involve family members in the student’s learning by allowing them to comment on the E-Portfolio. On Tuesday, I just met with several parents at a Middle School Coffee to introduce this plan. I gathered parent’s information through a Google form and used Form Mule to do a mail merge to give them access to their child’s E-Portfolio. I am hoping that family members that live far away also get involved and this project too. Maybe it will bring families that live very far apart closer together.
Course Four: Student Intrinsic Motivation Pre and Post Survey
To measure any change in motivation, I am going to have students complete a pre and post survey about their motivation levels around blogging. When I know people are reading my blog, I tend to be more motivated to write quality posts. I am hoping that this is the case with the students.
Course Five: STEM FEST
The grand finale will be our first annual STEM FEST. It is my job to advertise and promote this on social media. I also want to have a live feed of events that will appear on our STEM FEST Weebly website and our school website. All student projects will have QR codes posted that go to the student’s E-Portfolio where all project progress and reflection can be viewed. Another QR code will take parents, onlookers and virtual visitors to a project feedback form allowing students to get immediate feedback. The live feed of the STEM FEST and involving online viewers to immediately interact with the students add the Redefinition layer (SAMR model) or should I say Sambar model since we are in India, hehehe.
I just love how Google Apps now has Add-Ons. It makes so much possible. Our Middle School Counselor came to me yesterday and she wanted a way to be notified that teachers filled out a Google form. She also wanted to generate a document each time someone completed the form with the information from the fields of the form. After a bit of trial and error with Form Add-Ons, I discovered a beautiful solution.
I decided to use the Add-On Form Notifications to let her know when someone had filled out the form. Adding an Add-On is Super Easy.
For the Add-On Form Notifications, you just need to type in the email address you want the notifications to go to.
To create a new document from the information typed in to the form, I chose Form Publisher. To get this to work I had to look up a tutorial on Youtube. Once you know you need to put __## ##__ in your template document, it works perfectly.
Here is the YouTube tutorial I watched that was super helpful.
Some other really great Form Add-Ons are Form Ranger and Form Limiter.