So, last fall, we learned about getting our Apple Teacher credentials from the Apple Teacher Learning Center website. Thanks to some inspirations from @bwestcc and @terryteachermms, I completed the process this week. I have to say I would not have completed anything without the inspiration from Julie and Terry. I saw your posts and really wanted to do that too!! Peer pressure can be a great thing. Thank you and @MrsJCarlson for encouraging and inspiring me.
With the Apple Teacher Certification, I also went ahead and got the Apple Teacher Swift Coding badges as well. I'm super chuffed about those because I've felt a bit of a failure this past week with my computer lessons--while loops have got me straight up tripin', boo. I've been stuck on the same problem for three days, so the encouragement that came with the badge was very welcome.
I'm also super excite we are starting the expository writing process this week with the students. I have an idea for stations of students based on completed levels of the essay...so they work their way through the stations and everyone who is working on the same stuff sits together. This way, I can float from group to group and help, but since they are all on the same stuff they can help each other. We'll see how that works out.
On the grant front, I've received all the materials, now I just have to build it. I've written about the recycled materials and the room. Now to just get people into answering me :-). Actually, I get it. It's busy for everyone. I've kept up with my bullet journal for two whole weeks now and I'm proud of that as well. Hopefully, it will help me track and keep up with all these goals.
And finally, I'm going to be on the 10 minute Teacher Talk Podcast with @coolcatteacher!
I have no idea what to expect, but I'm excited to make it happen. Should be a hoot. I'll post more as I know more!
On August 11, 2017, Elon Musk took to twitter to proclaim: If you're not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea."
As I work to weld technology into the classroom experience, I do sometimes wonder how much longer my actual existence in the classroom will be necessary for some of my students.
This week we used robots (specifically this robot) to reiterate the importance of transitions in written language. Starting with the premise of "they use transitions all the time in spoken language--how can I tap into that innate usage," I wound up using the robots to put them in a situation where the organic speech mechanism could be tapped.
First, students were given a task list of commands and space at the bottom to write a five sentence explanation of the dance they designed for the robot. The commands in scratch are very demonstrative ("Forward 50 normal," Turn Left 90," and "Turn to Voice").
The sentences pretty much write them selves because of scratch's user interface.
"First Sadie turns to the let and right. Then, she stops. Thirdly, she goes backwards and forwards. After that, she turns left and right again. Fifth she looks up, left and to the right. Next she says hi and neighs like a horse. Finally she repeats it all once more."
It's easy to see how they used the computer programing as a scaffold for the structure of their writing.
This year, I had them write paragraphs and then turn in video tapes of their robot's dance. Next year, I'll probably change that to having parallel boxes on a worksheet. On one side they paste a picture of the code and on the other side they write out the movements. This will allow an easier comparison between programing language and expository writing.
The next few days, we read articles about robots in the classroom and about how the role of the teachers and robots is one that is changing rapidly. After checking for comprehension of the materials via written summaries and quizzes, students are prepped for working on the group essay about robots in the classroom next week. (This will be our exemplar essay that we write as a whole class--unique to each class and its ideas).
When we get to the graphic organizers in two weeks, our work will harken back to this lesson as we examine the structure of the expository essay using the shapes of the blocks for the transitions (that we'll use to make their essays run logically like code!).
I really enjoyed doing this lesson and the students' work speaks for itself.
First Nemo said Hello. Then, he moved forward, backward, and looked up. After that, he impressed us with a light show. Finally looked left two times and did a little dance.
HereSince the eclipse, I've felt lost.
Luckily, this year I have an astounding group of students. It's just been an amazing group and I feel super fortunate to know most of these kids as human beings. This in part with a third year of curriculum experience is making this year more exciting for me as a teacher.
Last year I was astounded about how the kids had trouble verifying sources. So this year, I read a few articles about the phenomena, cruised through a couple of lesson plans scavenging the parts I could use as I read.
This week, I put that research and work into action. This is a fully blended unit and I'm super chuffed about it. So much so that I emailed the three English teachers at the other middle schools and sent them everything I have.
In Schoology, it was so easy to set up the folders and create a completely digital workflow. And as an added bonus, I can share the complete lesson (with all the created assignments pre-done in Schoology) to my cohort.
It truly is an amazing time to be a teacher.
Now I'm off to write the unit for next week that uses robots to teach English transition phrases for expository writing. That one should be fun as well. I'll be sure to share it out once it is written.
Oh, and the Robotics Club turn out was a great success! Here's some pics from the morning.
Okay, it's been almost a year since I posted. I've got a bunch of updating to do on this site, but I want to write down a couple of things from this trip I've been incredibly grateful for.
I've now traveled a lot in my life. This is my fifth or sixth trip to D.C. and I'm actually too tired to do any sight seeing this time; however, I'm not too tired to write down a couple of travel tips that have really paid off in spades.
That's it. Short and sweet. I'm going to update my watercolors soon in my gallery. Thanks for reading. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Mr. Jonathan Kelly--in the flow. Photo by Ms. Baylee Clang
This picture is of a "reward" challenge for all the students who completed the vaccination protocols in our Zombie Nouns Unit (direct teaching videos with questions, a crossword and a quick quiz).
When I started this journey, I said I wanted my students to feel "flow" from the gamification of grammar. Flow was described in my previous posts as a mesmerizing state of being totally engaged in an experience. Because as I stated previously, in the wise words of my hiking buddy James in Nepal, "It's all about the experience, ain't it."
This photo is so rewarding for me. Mr. Kelly is in the throws of the flow and Ms. Clang captured that moment for my classroom.
It has been an amazing and busy month (yes, it has almost been month since my last post!). So much has happened.
The Game: We rolled out the game on a Friday to allow a cushion for us and for the kids. I started the class with a simple announcement of the game and that it started today. I then had all the kids get up and stand in front of their peers to receive their house assignment. Most just shrugged or rolled their eyes. Some smiled. I was not encouraged.
After everyone was settled sitting with his/her houses, I did a very quick introduction slide show highlighting where the idea came from and showing the Lausanne video explaining their house system. I'll admit it. I think they were all slightly bored during this part of the distribution of information--I was too, but it's okay because I had a team building activity waiting for them.
At the end of the video, I explained a few more rules (Ms. Walters can change the rules/game at any point, no one gets to be mean--ever). The last slide was an explanation of tasks stating that not all XP would come from grammar. Some would come from non-curricular tasks, and one of those tasks was secreted in a folder I had placed on the desk before they started.
That's when things got exciting!! Each house had a task in order to "find" their codes to allow them into their house course in Schoology. I had kids looking under chairs (they had to solve a riddle to get to the word "chair"), I had kids going through the areas of the room where I had put their codes. I promise you, this was the best part.
Once they got into their digital houses, they had a list of tasks to complete in order to propose house names, officers and official colors. There were only a few groups we had to encourage to sit together as a "family" and work. Most groups worked hard to include all the members, so that was very nice to see.
I did this on Friday and deployed all the software for the "game" the next Monday. That next Thursday I invited all the students who volunteered for house leadership meet with me. I handed them all the data collected about house name, color and leadership and had them compile a Google Form with the top three choices from each category. This was a two fold endeavor. I was watching for which students would actually work and lead AND I was saving time by not compiling the data myself (which was my first inclination). The students shared the forms with me and I deployed them into Schoology for voting. The next day (Friday), the students came in, accessed the forms and did their final votes.
When Monday morning rolled around, I had all the results loaded and ready to view. It was one of the best class starts I've ever had because as soon as they came through the door, they all grabbed their iPads and went searching for the results to the house votes.
The house that is in the lead wins privileges for the week. This week's winner (House Wonder) chose the ability to listen to music. One of the cool parts of that is that every day after that, students would come to me and ask if I had recalculated scores to see who was in the lead now. This was after I had told them that I was only calculating scores once a week.
Then, on September 23rd, we hosted our first Boss Battle in the library computer room. I chose Quizlet's "Gravity" so that it would involve a form of race against the clock; however, the software is slightly tricky and only takes exact answers. I chose to release the test 24 hours before the battle so that students had time to work on the exact issues for the battle. I was beaten twice during the "Boss Battle" game. Once because my computer froze (hey, it's part of the game!) and once when a student beat me by 500 points!
The most interesting facet of the battle was the fact that kids wanted to battle again after they had taken their turns. I added one XP for each house that chose to take me on for the "hard" setting. We were hopping up and down and smack talking (politely) and when the bell rang, I had three students I actually had to shoo out of the lab!
So far, it's been successful and the kids have had fun. I accidentally erased all the formative data from the capitalization unit; so, I don't have firm numbers yet. I am working harder to get the data from next unit (on punctuation) so that we will have some real numbers to discuss next post.
Friday was a long day for me. Luckily, I had the Stuff You Should Know Podcasts to keep me company. Unluckily, they would trigger within me the bigger questions surrounding this experiment with gamification.
Scientific observation starts out with a question, proceeds to background research, and then romps off towards hypothesis. I started wondering what mine were for this experiment.
In an almost cliche type of way, grammar has always been a big question in curriculum. How much is assessed? How is it assessed? Are they making them pick out past participles or grading it as part of a writing sample? Is it a drag and drop test? (more on these later) All of these questions have guided my approach to grammar instruction. I'm pretty sure that up until this year, the question of "How can I get my kids to enjoy learning grammar?" never bubbled to the surface.
Nebraska is in a strange spot right now with testing. Unfortunately, it's a spot I've been in before in other districts. The assessment for our curriculum has changed. For my district, this change has come during the second year of our newly remodeled and hotly debated pacing guide/curriculum map.
What that means to teachers is--the test on which we're graded just changed--time to study the test and see what changes to my approach I can make to guarantee my student's success in a largely unknown testing environment.
Looking at what is provided by the state in the way of exemplars, the limited scope leaves a teacher's imagination swirling with possible teaching scenarios. "How can I make this real life? How can I prove the value of this skill in the real world?" and thousands of other concerns swirl like a waterspouts
There is very little information about the upcoming test; what we do know shows that grammar will be assessed by writing. When this is the case, the best way to teach grammar is by writing (and not by multiple choice or drag and drop or some other means).
All this culminates to provide this year with a curricular tabula rosa, as it were. We are sailing off into unknown waters and have no proven path to success under our belts. Although it's scary, it's also invigorating making our way on the edge of the map. Adopting innovative new resources to help us along our journey is going to be more and more appropriate as we move forward--We MUST change the way we teach to best address the coming changes.
#Gamification is a hot topic educationally right now. There's all kinds of books, hashtags, discussion groups, and conferences on using elements of game play in the classroom to achieve learning objectives.
This all boils down, at least in my mind, to the fact that the time is right for my cohorts and I to rock the educational boat a bit and weigh anchor to see what's on the other side of the horizon.
Logan Fontenelle Middle School began its 1617 school year on Thursday. It was an awesome day filled with fire alarms and fun new faces.
I have so far introduced the notion of the game to my students. I have also lassoed KT and forced her into our diabolical gaming plan (she is making the houses!). I'm super excited to be working with both her and @JefferyBernadt this coming week to start the process of "bonding" with our new iPads.
As far as the gamification with the proposed kickoff date of September 2nd, I'm chugging along. In the weeks before school started I looked for a methodology so that I could develop the game with a little chaos as possible. Without knowing it, I settled on @MiaMacMeekin's An Ethical Island blog. In it I found that she had created an infographic outlining steps to gamification that mesh beautifully with instructional design. Basically, she outlines six steps to gamification. Here's my progress so far:
This is a screenshot of a table found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website.
I pulled this up today because I was curious as to the job market our students (who are currently picking out their outfits to walk in our doors next week) will be facing as they enter the job market.
The news looks as good as I expected it to; however, I'm kind of startled by the number of health care professionals that are going to be required to care for our aging boomer population. I am fascinated by the amount of technology heavy jobs that are predicted. I feel once again reassured that I am on the right path in my career and that teaching with computers could make a positive difference in a student's future.
I'm threading together several lines here, so please bear with me. Many, many things are coming to fruition in my career and I'm athrill with anticipation of a great year.
Going into the big adventure, I just want to remember the great words of Socrates, "The only thing I know is that I know nothing." As I continue with this unit for the first time, I will be repeating this line as a mantra.
In an ongoing effort to "meet our students where they are" Mr. Loomis, Mr. Bernardt, and Ms. Lambert and I met to go over our plans for the gamification of the grammar unit. So far, we are agreed that
Here's the next to the last sketch of how I see the game and the digitalization to work.
I know it looks crazy, but this is my plan and since I know nothing,
It breaks down like this. For each unit in the grammar curriculum, students will be assigned a pre-test to evaluate previous knowledge. After they do the pre-test, the computer will prescribe them either "Battles" to complete to get points for their h ouse OR if they make a perfect score, Schoology will ask them to complete at least ONE creative project. After they have completed the course work on grammar, they will be assigned a "Boss Battle" with me (formative test).
There are a lot of flaws as we start out; however, I'm please with the progress so far.
Mardi Himal meets English education.
Me and Annapurna South---one of the smallest in the sanctuary we hiked to in Nepal on the Mardi Himal trek.
Before I left the country back in May, I had several significant conversations with Jeff Bernadt (@JefferyBernadt) and Phillip Loomis (@TeachLoomis) about "gamifying" the districts grammar curriculum.
From my readings , It looks like what I was really talking about all those months ago was a hybrid of automated, digitalized content delivered via video instruction, gaming (rote repetition and sandbox elements here), and post tests. So, thinking that I needed help to be able to actualize my ideas, I purchased "Gamify your Classroom--A Field Guide to Game-Based Learning" after seeing some buzz about it on twitter.
The book, and the author (oh, and he teaches 8th grade so I know he's cool).
"World's Colliding"--George Castansa
Mr. Farber has done a great job laying the foundational research needed to create our digitalized grammar gaming system (I'm not sure what else to call it). One of the things in the book that struck me was a concept of "flow" from Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. "Flow," according to Csikszentmihalyi, is that optimal and highly rewarding mental state. It is "the way people describe their state of mind when consciousness is harmoniously ordered, and they want to pursue whatever they are doing for its sake" (Farber 53).
I read this and thought about two things--1) that's how I feel when I whitewater kayak and when I hike something difficult; 2) how the heck am I supposed to create that in the microcosm of the classroom.
As for the first thought, I love the idea of education being structured to model the "flow" experience. Honestly, if it hadn't been for Greg Graber (@GregGraber) and #mindfulness, I don't know if I would have noticed the "flow" of teaching and living.
Hiking (more trekking) and kayaking both require immediate reaction time. It is absolutely impossible to plan too far ahead when concerning footing on the trail or line in a kayak. On the Mardi Himal trek, we were ascending and descending very steep sections that had not had the benefit of organized infrastructure (1k meters to almost 5k meters and back down in seven days). Some of the paths we trekked were five inches of mud, others were simply rock talus strewn down the jungle hillside.
As I walked and climbed, my mind could focused only on the next step. Doug and I both fell into an incredibly zen like walking meditation flow. It's how we mentally coped with the terrain and physical hardships (Note to self: 5k meters is a lot higher than it seems on the maps, and leeches are horrible, horrible creatures).
Going back to thought number two (how do I create flow in my classroom), I think to "Nacho" and it all collides and meshes with @GregGrabers' tweets and what @TeachLoomis and @JefferyBernadt are trying to do this year and I really think that I may be losing my mind.
Digitalize curriculum to save time, paper, sanity (of teachers, students and "stakeholders"), and revolutionize the way student account for their own grammar education through gaming and automation--all via "flow" and creating a holistic experience for the student.
Yeah, this sounds like fun.
I'm an 8th grade English teacher in Bellevue, Nebraska, and I'm excited about technology in the classroom.