Thursday, January 19, 2017

My Highlight Reel of 2016

I decided that this year I would actually make it a priority to blog.  Last year, I kept telling my self that I would and then... I wouldn't.  Something always came up; something always took priority.

I have seen some unbelievable things happening in classrooms over the last year, and I want nothing more than to share those.  So here are my top 5 things I loved doing last year and can't wait to do more of this year.  Oh, and I added one more because, well... I wanted to.

5. Connect with another country, another culture!

We have been lucky enough to connect with classrooms across the globe, but sometimes it is easy to explore Mystery Hangout after Mystery Hangout and teachers forget that hangouts can be used for so many content-specific collaborations.  This 6th grade class connected with a class is Brazil to each discuss natural wonders in their ecosystems and explain the effects if elements of their ecosystems were to change. It was powerful because they were digging deep into their content while connecting, engaging, and learning with students from a different culture and background.

4. Green Screen Something!

Using a green screen is a super easy and cheap way to engage students in content, creation, and creativity.  We've had high school PSA's on drug use and digital citizenship, and we've also had elementary students create weather reports or social studies projects.  All it takes is a painted green wall (or even a plastic tablecloth or piece of fabric) and a $5 Do Ink on iPads.  It's so easy that second graders are recording each other!

 3. Breakout!

At this point it seems like everyone has tried a Breakout box with their students, but if you haven't, it's a must! Students reviewed novels, digital citizenship, and content areas galore. Using the box, they even practiced teamwork, cooperation, and critical thinking.  Our staff even used it for teambuilding and professional development. From kindergartners to seniors in high school, a breakout box gets students engaged and active in their learning.

2. Plotting Points Battleship

This is one my favorite ideas we came up with last year.  I had a 6th grade math teacher that wanted to practice plotting coordinate pairs in all four quadrants, so we developed this game of Battleship. On a graph, students plotted the points of their ships before the hangout call was made.  A google doc was shared between a pair of students in one classroom and a pair in our classroom.  Just like Battleship, students had to guess their coordinate of their opponents' ships.  In the shared doc, students responded with hit or miss.  -15 to 15 was super tricky and took a long time, but they loved watching the reactions of the teams on the hangout as they played! We have also tried this with just quadrant one and it's just as fun! Prepare to sink those ships as students plot an unbelievable amount of points in a short period of time!

1. Integrate Coding into Your Content!

Whether studying main idea/supporting details in 2nd grade or translations and rotations in geometry, there are constant ways to integrate coding into your core content curriculum.  I hear all too often that there isn't time for things like coding, but when integrated into your content area, you are providing students core curriculum, basic coding, and critical thinking skills that will serve them well long from now.

+1 Print Something in 3D!

If your school has the capability, try to brainstorm ways for students in all grades and all contents to utilize the 3D printer.  Our second graders designed and printed wheels for a science experience in which they were learning about motion, friction, and gravity.  Our third graders created buildings that must be comprised of a variety of 3D shapes that they must identify and measure.  Our high school geometry class used old building records and live measurements to build a scale model replication of our downtown area including the original Indiana courthouse.  Students are capable of these types of creations and they are excited and actively involved in the learning process.

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