Thursday, February 23, 2017

Digital Learning Day 2017

Digital learning was in full swing at Central High School West campus today, February 23, 2017.  While teachers invited me into their classrooms in honor of Digital Learning Day it was evident that technology is regularly integrated into classroom activities in these classes due to the ease of transfer from one activity to another, as well as routines in place for the student checkout and check-in of devices.

Mrs. Ghosoph's 2nd block English 3 class was immersed in digital learning when I entered their classroom this morning.  Students were logged into Pearson Realize and were navigating the myPerspectives curriculum as part of the group piloting curriculum for the current English Language Arts pilot.  In addition to using resources provided through myPerspectives, Mrs. Ghosoph utilized YouTube to introduce a different interpretation of Sorjourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman" speech.  Students analyzed a digital version of the speech on their individual Chromebooks.

I was envious of the student discussion and collaboration taking place in Mrs. Bettencourt's Ag Biology classes throughout the day.  I heard students debating the structures and functions of various cellular organelles in ways that I only wished I would have overheard in my biology classes.  All of the debate revolved around student engagement in Quizlet Live.  I was impressed not only by the tech tool, but the way that it was seamlessly integrated into the class routine.  This was my first experience with Quizlet Live and I am sold!  There are very few tech programs that I would be willing to pay to use and Quizlet Live definitely makes that list.

Students join the game using a class code and are prompted to enter their first name.  While this is similar to many other programs I have seen, the next feature blew me away.  With the push of a button, the teacher is able to shuffle students into teams.  The classroom routines were evident as student quickly and excitedly found the other students in their group.  Already I was intrigued.  I remember many class periods where students shared a classroom with classmates the entire school year and never learned one another's names.  My amazement continued as students readily engaged with each other in dialog revolving around the questions flashing on their Chromebook screen.  Mrs. Bettencourt later explained to me that Quizlet Live is designed so that students don't always have the correct answer on their own screen and therefore must collaborate with group members to find the correct answer within the group.  While I often see technology use in classrooms as isolating, Quizlet Live promoted collaboration and academic discussion in an innovative manner.

I rounded out my day with several visits to Mr. Day's classes to witness the varying ways that he is leveraging technology in his social science classes.  There I had my second exposure to Quizlet Live with the same seamless workflow and student enthusiasm as in Mrs. Bettencourt's classes.  In his US History class, juniors navigated Google classroom, YouTube, and EdPuzzle to explore and analyze primary sources.  In another block, Seniors were given the opportunity to work at their own pace completing a hyperdoc assignment, navigating websites, maps, and videos.  Although each student had their own Chromebook and assignment in front of them, quiet, on task discussions could be heard throughout the room as students turned to neighboring students for assistance or to engage in discussions based on the material.  My Digital Learning Day ended in Mr. Day's World Geography class where students were given time to explore one of my favorite tech tools, Piktochart.  As an introductory assignment, students were given instructions in Google Classroom on the components required in their "About Me" infographic.  In a world where we are asking students to be able to analyze and interpret large quantities of information on a daily basis, allowing students to create an infographic on a topic that they are experts, themselves, is a great way to introduce data literacy.  While each infographic had the same basic components, each student's unique personality was evident.  I know that this project is just the first steps towards amazing creations by these students.

This is just a small glimpse at the digital learning that took place in Central Unified today.  I left West Campus feeling inspired by the varying ways that technology is being used to support student learning, promote collaboration, and allow for student creativity.  Thank you again to Mrs. Ghosoph, Mrs. Bettencourt, and Mr. Day for inviting me into your classrooms today!

All teachers in Central Unified, I challenge you to send us pictures of how you are promoting student learning using technology or better yet, we would love to pay a visit to your classroom to document digital learning making a #impact on student learning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Flexible Classroom Seating

After watching a Channel One story on Flexible Classroom Seating, students in Mr. Satre's and Ms. Ogle's 5th-grade classrooms at Harvest Elementary School began bringing balance balls to school.  Balance balls have many benefits for students including engaging both sides of the student's brain which allows students to focus better than in traditional settings.  The addition of balance balls to the classroom environment required some repositioning of desks, but overall the effects have been positive.

Similarly, students in Mrs. Grigsby's 4th-grade class at Polk Elementary School have had the opportunity to participate in flexible seating.  One of the options for students in Mrs. Grigsby's class is adjustable standing desks.  Students have definite opinions about the use of standings desks.  While many students appreciate the adjustable nature of the desk height, some students prefer traditional seating options.