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Freedom to do and learning

When it comes to what is best for the learning process, there is an almost unanimous agreement that Project Based Learning is the way to go. The many benefits of this instructional strategy can not be denied, even if we do not use it. The Buck Institute of Education has created what they call the essentials of Gold Standard PBL:

1. Challenging problem. Essential PBL desing elements

2. Sustained inquiry.

3. Authenticity.

4. Student`s voice and choice.

5. Reflection.

6. Critique and revision.

7. Public product.

Each one of these elements is of utmost importance to achieve the best of any learning experience. We will discuss each of these in later post. Today, however we want to focus on the fourth element and the importance that it has had for my students during this school year.

According to the BIE “Having a say in a project creates a sense of ownership in students; they care more about the project and work harder.” and this is everything a teacher wants from students when they are working with projects. This school year was a very special one, we embraced this element of the PBL gold standard. We had started working with projects last year, but our focus was placed mainly in creating a culture of doing projects.

This year, however, the goal was different. We wanted to develop a sense of creativity and of self direction in our students. We wanted them to be able to think creatively and bring solutions to the tables that we might not have been able to think of. Students were given the situation they needed to tackle but not the way. Many times, all they had was a question that would let them scratching their heads and nothing more. The results were beyond anything I could have anticipated.

In the words of one of our seventh graders “it makes us think, it makes us more creative”. What was more interesting, to us at least, was how talents of each student started to emerge and to be visible to everyone. Students that did not have a chance to shine through traditional learning strategies, were able to show their learning process as they provided creative solutions to the challenges presented.

While we wont say that we have achieved the level of complexity that we want for our students, they have shown their ability to produce quality work when they are given the opportunity of showing what they are capable of. Give students freedom to do and they will show how much more creative than we thought they are.

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Late start for this year

It feels like it has been forever since I last posted something here. The last couple of months have been reeeeally busy with so many projects going on. While many of these projects are very time consuming, there are 2 of them that keep me going, on one hand our seventh grade prealgebra class is working on a new project that has the potential of affecting their school life from now on.

Our school has embarked in creating a new library, a 21st century library and this has become the perfect opportunity for a little PBL in our class. The project is simple, they will have to design the library of their dream. In the process they will have to do some research about new trends in library design and learn a thing or two about geometry and what designing and building implies in mathematical terms.

As products they will have to provide a written proposal with the details and all the reasoning behind their design. They will provide blue prints with measurements and a budget for the materials adjusted to the market price. I will keep you posted on the results of this project.

The other one is a robotics club, we are really excited with this project because it will be an opportunity for the students to work collaboratively with students from other grades as this will be open to all students up to the age of 14. This is in the very early stages so more info on it will be coming up at a later time.

Although it is not so new, Happy new year!

Formative assessment. Google form as an exit ticket.

For a while now I have been talking about formative assessment to teachers in training at one of the local Education Schools in Dominican Republic. The latest of these workshop has been about the use of the digital portfolio as a formative assessment tool. Particular emphasis has been placed on the use of Blogger as a portfolio. I personally use the blogger as a portfolio for my students but I am also using another of Google’s tools for formative assessment. We are using Google Forms to assess students understanding before we finish the class.

After a new topic is worked on, I placed 2 or 3 questions on a form, usually multiple choice questions, as I don’t want them to take much time responding the questions. This allows me to have a general view of the day’s work and if any reinforcement is needed.

As you know many students will not say that they don’t understand something until it is too late to do something about it. Using this tool they don’t have to identify themselves and the will answer to the best of their knowledge, allowing me to really see what is the mastery level of the particular skill being worked at the time.

For more formal assessment I use forms along with Flubaroo. This allows me to quickly score the responses and also see what the questions that gave more problems are, so that I can adjust my teaching to correct those situations.

What is your favorite formative assessment tools?

Portafolios Digitales y Evaluación Formativa. Taller Estudiantes Práctica Profesional III. ISFODOSU Recinto FEM. 13.09.14

El uso de los portafolios es una costumbre que data de muchos años. Recordamos los que alguna vez tuvieramos que hacer como parte de las actividades de las asignaturas de recursos didácticos y de práctica docente. El adveminimiento de la web 2.0, como algunos la llaman, ha permitido que lo que antes se realizaba a fuerza de papel y tinta, hoy pueda contar con una cantidad más variada de recursos y materiales.

Por otro lado entendemos la evaluación como un proceso dual en el que por un lado tratamos de obtener unos datos sumativos que permitan otorgar una calificación y por el otro buscamos obtener información que sirva para la toma de decisiones sobre la práctica áulica. Este segunda faceta, la evaluación formativa, busca determinar el mejor curso de acción basados en el desempeño de nuestros estudiantes.

Es para este proceso de evaluación formativa donde los portafolios digitales tienen un…

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When technology gets in the way of technology

We started the school year just 2 weeks ago and we did so with very high expectations as to what we wanted to accomplish with our students, particularly when it comes to technology integration. 2 weeks into the school year we have come to realize that it is going to be a bit harder than we expected. The reason? internet.

All of my students have their devices (we are implementing a BYOD program) but our network is not ready to take on the demand of so many students trying to access digital content. To add to the situation, many of the books that our students are using are web based and require that they go online to use them. Many of the apps that are being used by some teachers also require that the go online. The stress on the network is huge.

So what are we doing to make the experience a bit easier for everyone?

We have turned to digital books that can be downloaded and stored in the device. We have selected apps that do not require internet access to be used and any digital content that needs to be accessed for any of the classes has been assigned for review at home before coming into class.

While using technology in the classroom is a must, we have to be ready to work around the situations that arise. Technology that is not in our hands to control may gives us a lot of trouble and we need to be flexible enough to find ways to make student’s work happen.

Collaboration is also a must, when teachers collaborate and share their solutions to problems they encounter, the collective benefits and everyone’s life is easier. 

An easier life is usually a happier one!

Get the best out of your GAFE account. New Horizons Bilingual School. Workshop 08.25.14

Welcome!

As you are already aware, I use this blog as a guide for the workshops that I host, mainly because we would have access to a blog pretty much anywhere. Today we would like to also use a back channel for follow up and to answer any questions that might be pending after we finish today. Feel free to follow this link to enter any questions that you might have.

Today’s session will focus on:

As many of you know, our email accounts are GAFE accounts and with that a series of options come into play. Today we are going to look at some of those options and hopefully push you in the direction of taking advantage of all of them.

Let’s have some fun!

VII Congreso Internacional para la Mejora de la Enseñanza de las Matemáticas.

Durante el viernes 22 y sábado 23 de este mes de agosto, se celebró en el campus uno de UNAPEC, la séptima versión del CIMEM. Este año con el tema de la enseñanza de las matemáticas por competencia. Durante este congreso tuvimos la oportunidad de escuchar algunas ponencias muy interesantes que nos dieron ideas para implementar durante este año escolar que apenas comienza.

Las conferencias plenarias lograron aupar el debate sobre la importancia de que, por un lado se de una base pedagógica sólida a los docentes de matemáticas; particularmente a los de secundaria y por el otro, de que se lleven a cabo cambios profundos en la práctica áulica, puesto que una enseñanza por competencia no sobreviviría en el sistema de evaluación que hoy persiste en nuestras escuelas.

En este congreso también participamos con una breve presentación, sobre el tema del construccionismo y nuestra experiencia con la implementación de este modelo durante el segundo semestre del año escolar 2013 – 2014. Debajo la presentación que utilizaramos en dicha ponencia.

Created with Haiku Deck, presentation software that inspires
 

Using Google Docs for science research projects

Doing research that is scientifically sound and that follows the rules of scientific writing can be a tricky matter. This is even more complicated if we have to work in collaboration with others. Keeping track of the bibliography, making sure that it complies with the style selected by the teacher, making changes to the draft, and reviewing spelling, are but a few of the tasks that need to be taken care of when doing research.

Google Docs has some tools that can aid students in the process of researching for scientific purpose. In this post we will discuss some of the tools that are available to use during research.

First, let’s look at the Research option:

To access the research option we will select tools and the research:

RESEARCH 1

And the following is the screen that you will see:

RESEARCH 2

In the box to the right you will be able to make searches within the Google environment, images, videos, scholar, and more.

research 3

You are also able to insert bibliography in one of three different formats or you can enter the reference as a footnote.

research 3

To make sure that you are respecting copyrights you can filter the results by license labels.

research 4 

Once you have completed your search, the results can be previewed, cited as footnote or entered in the document as a bibliography in whichever format you select. Another possibility is enter pictures and other media by just dragging it into the document, as you do that a footnote for the source is created automatically.

Using these tools you will be able to make your research process a lot smoother.

Podcasting for reading fluency assessment

Assessing reading fluency is a very important task. Accomplishing it can be challenging for even the most experienced teachers as the time available in the classroom is not always days sufficient. As for many other time consuming tasks, technology offers a set of tools that can alleviate teacher’s work load while providing students with an exciting way of showing their progress.

In this post we will discuss a general overview of the process of creating podcast and also provide with some web tools for podcasting.

A podcast is an audio file that is hosted and shared online. There are some free audio recording software that can be used to create the audio file, among those the most popular ones are Audacity and MP3myMP3. These are very useful tools for audio files edition.

Once you have managed to create your audio file, you can use a web service like Podbean that allows you to create a free account and upload your file. From your free account you will be able to share your podcast with your social media accounts, your blog or any other mean that you prefer. The free account provides you with 50 MB of storage space.

Another web tool is PodOmatic it also allows you to upload your file and share it with the world. It is also considered the largest podcasting community.

You also have the option of sharing content with your students via podcasts, for those students that are struggling with reading you can create audio versions of texts by using web services such as VozMe where you just enter a text and it creates an MP3 version of it that you can share with your students. Odiogo also allows you to not only create audio from a text but also turning your blog into a podcast.

We want to thank ETR for the original post that provided these tools.

Web tools for a more efficient class. New Horizons Bilingual School Workshop. 8.18.14

Welcome!

As has been for the last couple of workshops we are going to use this post as our guide for the day. During this session we will dive into using some tools to make our classes more efficient. We will share some web tools and experiences that will hopefully be useful as we start the new school year.

Objectives:

By the end of the session you should be able to create documents and presentations in Google drive. You will also be able to create a augmented reality campaign using Layar.

Topics:

Augmented Reality

Layar

Google Drive

  • Docs
  • Presentation
  • Research
  • Translate

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