Monday, February 27, 2017

What color to use...

February 2017: What color to use...

During the month of February, we have had many different special speakers to not only provide new interests, but to give students the opportunity to research in a different way. Through this whole process, I have been impressed with the growth and maturity in students questions. Our discussion and presentation on color did the same. To learn more about color, we had two guests from +Sherwin-Williams come to share about color psychology and talk about different colors can make you feel different ways. They began with the color wheel, talking about different emotions and feelings that were located within the wheel. From there, they broke down each of the major colors and talked about the emotions associated with each color. Students got a kick out of seeing whether or not there favorite color was at all like them. To wrap up, students got to see characteristics associated with different colors.

What perhaps was most exciting to my students was the color swatches they got at the end. Each student got a ring of color swatches. On the back of each card was the major emotions associated with the color. What I loved most about this presentation was the questions and actions that came from what students had learned.

  • Because we finished Maija's Hangout after this presentation, students connected with her suggestion that colors be very natural at a school. Maija shared how the colors at NIST, her school, were like the nature outside with each floor being painted to represent what was at eye level. The first floor being brown, the second green, the third aqua, and the fourth blue. 
  • Another connection students made was when speakers Mr. Goggin, our superintendent, and Mr. Blatchford, from Lesko designs, came in to speak about designing new learning spaces. During both of these presentations, the kids shared suggestions about coloring learning spaces such as to put natural colors in learning spaces and to be careful where you use the color red because it might make you hungry. 
  • Another way students connected was when we began working on our action projects. One of my students became very interested in color. While he hasn't worked out his full project, he would like some mini areas within the school covered in different color paper in order to determine which colors might be best for students to work in. I'm not sure what he will end up discovering, but I am excited to see!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Want to Hangout?

February 2017: Want to Hangout

I felt myself full of nervous excitement today. Two of our experts we were consulting were individuals I had connected with via Twitter. After being inspired by several TEDx videos I watched during my courses, I went looking for videos to share with my students about different designs for learning spaces. and I came across a TEDx by Christian Long about Wonder by Design. On another occasion, while the following the #learningspaces, I came across Maija Ruokanen, who had shared a Tweet of students at her school creating designs for learning spaces. After reaching out to both of these individuals, we were able to set up a time to do a Google Hangout. The goal: to find out what they were doing with classroom design, let students ask questions, and see where things went. As I am writing this post now, I can tell you it was an exciting day.

This afternoon, we got the opportunity to do a Google Hangout with Christian Long. It was the first one I have ever done and after a few volume issues (I might have forgotten the sound bar was off) and some students troubleshooting with me, we got things rolling. Christian, who has his own fourth grader, shared with us a little bit about what he believes is important in school design and some of his own experiences. I wish I could have captured this entire experience on video because this was truly exciting. He talked about the importance of starting with your questions and important verbs when you begin designing instead of beginning with the stuff. He talked about how there is really no "perfect" classroom because we are all different learners and the learners should shape the space they are in. When we got to answering questions, I couldn't have been more excited to see the growth in my students research, understanding of the topic, and reflection. Students wanted to know about:

  • What inspired him to design?
  • Do designers leave a mark behind in the buildings they create?
  • How do you design a small space to look like a big space?
  • What were his thoughts on different types of technology in the classroom?
  • How to make things best for a student in a wheelchair?
  • What do you suggest we do with our research now?
The questions were sincere, the students were excited, and I was amazed. As we finished the call with Christian with 20 minutes to spare in our day, my room was a buzz with ideas. Students wanting to put together ways to share our research with Christian, students wanting to find ways to collect questions they still had, students with ideas about how to share our Pin Wall, students with ideas for actions they might like to try, and students with questions about what they might use in order to design some potential floor plans. 

As students left for the day, I reminded then that I would be doing a Google Hangout on Air at 4PM with Maija this evening. Maija is currently working in Australia, so we were not able to get in touch with each other during the school day. The solution: Broadcast our chat live via Google Hangouts/YouTube and allow students to watch from home. This way, our chat would also be recorded to show my students later. At one point, I had about 10 students tuning in to watch from home. You can hear more of there questions in the video.

I find myself excited to see what tomorrow holds and where we go from here! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

A Visit from a Technology Expert

February 3, 2017: A Visit from a Technology Expert

During class today, we had Mr. Pete Zagray, our district technology director, come in to share about technology, provide some expert advice, and answer questions. After hearing some things about what we had learned, Mr. Zagray talked about research. Right now, he is currently taking a course on research. Students got to sample some gummy bears to share what they thought the ultimate flavor of gummy bear might be. Using this interesting take on research, students got to see how it would be important to collect information on the ultimate gummy bear flavor from more than one person. The same is true for research. When doing research, you don't want to get your information from just one source. You want to use multiple sources.

I continue to be impressed with the students' questions that they have for our speakers. There questions are beginning to a deeper understanding of what we are studying and are showing that they are not just thinking about what they would want, but instead what would help others learn as well. I'll share a few I was able to write down below:

  • What is the cost of a Chromebook compared to a computer that can be used as a regular computer or a tablet?
  • What does it mean to manage the devices?
  • What do you have to do to get a Chromebook set up?
  • Should we have Chromebooks or iPads?
  • Do you think a 3D printer belongs in a classroom?
  • Should the whiteboard (interactive board) be something you can touch or just have a pen?
  • What is the best device for a classroom?
  • Will the Chromebooks we have now go to the new school or will they buy new ones?
As Mr. Zagray concluded his visit, he had all students get devices to work on building a Google Form with their questions.  During this next week, we will be working on these questions, sharing them with the class, and refining our questions into one Google Form. From there, Mr. Zagray, myself, and maybe some students will work together to craft a letter in order to ask other technology directors in the state of Ohio to share their ideas. Thus, bringing our lesson on research in a full circle. The more samples of data you have, the more accurate your research is going to be. 

All in all, it was a wonderful chance for my students to continue to learn and research and a valuable hands-on application that I will be able to connect to in the future when talking about the validity of research (not an easy undertaking with 9-and-10 year olds) in the future.

Research with Videos! Research with Friends!

January 2017: Research with Videos! Research with Friends!

As we continue our research, my challenges becomes- how do I keep making research interesting for my students without making it so loose that there is no structure. Thus far, I have not introduced online research due to the fact that I wanted to ensure that my students had further honed their note-taking skills while look at books. With online research, you not only need to have several digital citizenship lessons ahead a time, but you need to spend time talking about how to actually locate an appropriate source.

To keep us going and get the discussion flowing more freely, I introduced researching with a buddy within these last two weeks. We talked about what that should look like, did some modeling, and discussed about how the most important thing was that students were discussing how what they learned could relate to our ultimate classroom.

In addition to buddy research, I also introduced taking notes using videos. This was our bridge into online research. Videos can be a powerful tool for students to learn from. With features such as closed captioning and the ability to create Playlists in YouTube, all of my students, regardless of reading ability, have been able to get something from the videos that they have watched. During this time, we also talked about using different search terms and brainstormed a list of ways that we might be able to find exactly what we looked for when searching.

While students have had the option of taking notes in a document, on paper, or in any other way they choose while watching videos, many have chosen to use while watching videos. I found this tool rather beneficial for students because it let them load a video on one side of the screen and take notes, which record the time the student is at in the video, on the other side of the screen. This way, a student does not have to constantly flip back and forth with their screen. In addition, when the student is finished, it saves to their Google Drive to allow them to revisit. Although there have been a few snags with saving and accessing our finals on different devices, it has been incredibly beneficial to many of my students.

As I had a class meeting towards the end of the day today, we talked about our next step which is getting into online research and what else we could do to make things more interesting and give students more control. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • More speakers
  • Just do online research
  • Share our research
  • Presentation- Maybe Use Scratch
  • Share with the Public
  • Make Videos about our Research
  • Create a Website
  • Use Docent EDU
  • Create a Research Gameboard
  • Use EdPuzzle
  • Collaborate with the World and Ask Them to Share

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Grant Writing with Fourth Graders

January 2017: Grant Writing with Fourth Graders

The month of January has been a busy month in our exhibition unit. Students are busy working research using books and videos, working on their own and in groups, and getting advice from our research mentors on how to think deeper about what they are learning. However, there is also a lot going on behind the scenes that someone might not realize if they pop in during our afternoon.

In addition to working on bringing in experts to share more with us, several of my students started working on writing a grant. After hearing about a grant for a product from an educational company from our secretary, I approached a few young ladies about helping me write a grant. After they talked it over and added a few friends, these girls began working during recess time and other free time in order to choose a product that they could write about. They settled on Runtz Ball Chairs. After meeting with the girls to talk about organization and to help them break things apart, they split up into groups to write about what we were doing and share the research they found about why it would help students.

At the conclusion, I couldn't have been more proud of all that these girls had accomplished. They did a phenomenal job sharing what we were doing, talking about what would benefit our classroom, and giving specific reasons why these chairs would benefit students. Regardless of the outcome, the process that these young ladies went through was a challenging task and one to be very proud of. I know I am!