Sunday, May 23, 2010

Our year in pictures

Looking back on this year

I teach- I learn served 76 fifth graders directly, however indirectly the grant impacted all of the students at Meadow Wood. The fifth graders grew more proficient with the technology- itouches, Mac books and flip cameras- over the course of the year. As their confidence grew, they were sent out to assist teachers as well as students on technology projects. For example, the third graders went on a field trip to a play and they filmed their experience. The fifth graders then took their video footage and used imovie to create a movie for the class. In this way, and many more like it, the grant influenced more than what was originally anticipated.

Our grant impacted our students tremendously. With the itouch being easily accessible to them, they were able to be more independent. Mrs. Lewis had them practice using the application during a lesson to help build their vocabulary while reading. After becoming familiar with the application, the students then readily accessed the site whenever they came across a vocabulary word they were unfamiliar with. Mrs. Lewis also introduced students to many word game apps such as Word Warp and Scramble at the start of each class for their warm-up activity. Ms. Maniloff had the students use a Math Facts application for increasing their accuracy. Mrs. Wheeler was doing a science lesson on the human heart, and the students used the itouch to access the internet to get a diagram of the heart instantly. Having a diagram of the heart, in their hand, allowed them to individually choose the diagram they wanted to use for their project. The students began to view the itouch as an invaluable resource. As far as special education, once we became familiar with imovie- we were able to video the teachers teaching more complicated lessons and then sync them to the student’s itouch devices for them to refer to later. This was wonderful for our special education students who needed the lesson multiple times. It allowed the students to claim ownership of their learning as well as manage their own comprehension. The itouch device allowed us to “support from afar”.

Another area that was successful was in the mentoring aspect of the grant. Fifth graders worked with many grade levels throughout the year. During October, fifth graders helped kindergarteners learn ABCs, farm animals, and sight words using several apps. Before the Thanksgiving break, fifth graders visited first grade classrooms to play TurkeyTrot for a fun break and a test of their memory. When third graders were researching a planet, the fifth graders used the application planetFacts to help them find facts about their planet. The students worked side by side and the conversations overheard by the teachers were fantastic! The third grade students initiated questions and the fifth graders would utilize the itouch to find the answers if they didn’t already know them. Not only did the fifth graders mentor, they also experienced being mentored. One of our second grade classes had been working with the Mac books and imovie creating Mother’s Day videos. Since they had become experts on editing and creating transitions, we took several of our fifth graders to be taught. Then those fifth graders shared their learning with the rest of their classmates to help create our MWE video.

Our final project with the grant was a History of MWE video. This project was a culminating project which incorporated many different skills that the students had learned throughout the year. Some of the technologies used were: scanners, digital cameras, flip cameras and Mac books. Parental support was instrumental in this project. Parents helped run the “lab” where the students worked on researching our school as well as transferring pictures onto the server where they could be accessed by multiple devices.

Our plan for next year is multi-faceted. The fifth graders will continue to have an itouch at their disposal. Our vision is still to have the itouch as an integral part of a fifth grader’s day. The teachers and students will continue to find apps and podcasts to supplement and support the learning in the classroom. Mrs. Meyer will utilize the Resource room to create projects with the special education students and they will serve as the mentors to the others. The Power to Learn grant allowed us to meet our goals as well as create new ones! It was instrumental in creating a leveled playing field for our special education students. We had several successful experiences with the students and the recognition they gained from the classmates was invaluable! As our expertise grew so did our ideas. We used the technology in ways we had never even thought of! The possibilities keep growing as we learn more about what it can help us do for our students.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What we have learned

What a year of learning we have had! We found out that the iTouch is so much more than a place to store apps and play games. We learned that it can be used as a voice recorder for students to hear themselves read or brainstorm for writing pieces. We learned that there are so many great FREE podcasts available for students to learn from that keep them engaged. We have seen students enjoy listening to audiobooks while visualizing a story for comprehension. We learned that for some students some great instrumental music helps them concentrate and produce great writing! We learned that the iTouch can be used as a hand-held internet research device for such things as diagrams of the heart, biographies, and animals. Plus we have found over 100 great apps that we have introduced to our fifth graders that relate to our curriculum and they LOVE them! It has been a year of discovering what works and what doesn't, but most of all it has been a year that made us a believe in what technology can do in the 21st century classroom!

MWE Memories

May: This month was dedicated to putting it all together. We had a deadline of May 13 which was the groundbreaking ceremony for the new MWE. Perhaps the most difficult part of the project was the editing. We found it easier to put the entire video on one Mac book however this was not conducive to multiple editors. All movie and picture files had to be brought in through iphoto so this limited us to one Mac book also. We could import picture files from the server but it was more challenging to import movie files. The plan for the students is to let them customize their own MWE video. They took all of the photos and supplied all of the video segments for the video. We will now let them customize their own video!

Learning from one another

April: Reverse mentor project- Second grade was working with imovie to make movies for Mother’s Day. Some of the students shared with fifth graders the ins and outs of imovie and the video making process began!
April 16- Dr. Tabakman visited the 5th grade students to discuss orthodontia and technology. He is the sponsor for our t-shirts and the kids enjoyed meeting the person behind the name. He also chose some students to create molds of their hands. The students received goodie bags at the end of the presentation.

Talking it up!

March: This month was spent saving the files- jpeg and movie files onto the server so that they could be accessed by multiple computers. The jpeg files were easy to open however the movie files- avi,mpeg were a little trickier. The Dell laptops would not easily open the files. Students also continued to browse through scrapbooks looking for photos.

Interview process began. Students communicated with teachers through email- my sbisd accounts- and set up appointment times. Working with a partner they interviewed teachers using the flip cameras.
Student interviews were informally arranged on the playground area and at lunch. Once again the flip cameras were used.

TEAM work

February: Students continued researching the past and present of Meadow Wood for our Legacy Project. Teams started brainstorming questions to ask the community, past students, parents, and teachers. Most importantly interview teams developed their questioning scripts:
Student interviews - Leading questions:
1) Who are the lifers? Have been at MWE since PK
2) What students have had or have siblings attending MWE with them?
3) How many MWE alums have children of their own attending MWE?
4) Any husband/wife who both attended MWE and now have their children attending MWE?
5) Organize questions for interviewing students.
Teacher interviews - Leading questions:
1) How long have you been teaching? At MWE?
2) What is your favorite memory of MWE?
3) Why did you choose to work at MWE?
Students were set up on mysbisd email accounts. They used these to communicate with the teachers to schedule convenient interview times. These accounts were challenging for the students to remember their passwords. We had to keep a reference list handy so that they could access their email.

Putting it all together

January: Fifth Grade Legacy Project- The History of MWE video project
Students filled out applications for director of the following committees:
Building Research- past, present and future
PK-2 Programs
3-5 Programs
Teacher interviews
Student interviews
Video lay out designers
Audio designers
Faculty Research

Ten directors were then chosen to lead the committees. The teams met from 12:30-1:15 daily to plan the video. Each team had a folder where they could keep track of their work. (This time was during their lunch and recess.) It was a voluntary commitment. We sought the help of some of our parents and they help supervise the students while they researched using the internet and laid out plans for the video. The PTA provided us with old scrapbooks which the students would browse through to find old pictures of the school and then scanned them into the project.