My middle school kids have the WORST time managing larger assignments, so I started looking for a way to remind them and keep them motivated of the limited amount of time in class to complete the research and writing of the expository papers. I use a doodle journal to keep track of larger projects. I break it into days, draw pictures and then color them when I finish up a section.
I took this process and made a chart on the board of the dates we have remaining on our project. From there, I decided a fall bonfire might be a fun theme. The picture above is us on day two.
This is the other monitor I'm trying in conjunction with the doodle. I bought clothes pins from @dollargeneral and had the students decorate and put their names them. Next, I strung some old yarn across my wall and put up placards with the names of each section of the project. As students complete each section, they move their clothes pins to the next section. It's a nice visual to help me and them keep track of where everyone is in the process. Please note: students on IEP's have abridged assignments. So while they are doing different work, it's all labeled in the system the same way.
And finally, the best way to keep the students on track is to stay on top of the grading for big projects. I grade the in class projects daily. The next day when they come to class they have feedback on what they did the day before. They can then redo that for a better grade or carry on with the projects. Being in a #blendedlearning classroom really helps with this.
My son (with the green hair in this picture) is currently in the hospital. He is scheduled to be discharged on Monday evening according to his doctors.
I missed school suddenly on Thursday (1/2 the day) and Friday. I was so grateful for the time to take care of my family. Thursday when everything went down in school, I asked what I should do, they said, "Get your coat and leave." I literally walked back to my classroom, got my things and left. My co-teacher stepped up to wrap up loose ends.
I felt very supported and very much a part of the community. I know I joke a lot about "I'm not from here" a good bit, but last week, I felt I belonged.
Not many school districts can boast that. We left the East Coast to follow work opportunities. We have found so much more.
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:
I'm a technology curriculum facilitator, and I'm excited about integrating technology in the classroom.