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iPadpalooza 2015

IPadpalooza was one of THE most fun & rich learning experiences I have had at an Ed-Tech conference. Though it was the first time I attended, it will definitely not be my last!

Here are visual reflections on my first iPadpalooza experience [created with Canva, Thinglink & WordFoto


Connected Writing

Rocket Fueled Writing Slides - HISD HUB Camp 

RFW Resource Flyer


Voices of student writers are fueled and amplified by the power of digital communication and collaboration. Students can use stages of writing process and a range of digital platforms to build a connected writing community--moving beyond passive consumption to creating and sharing digital content themselves. I shared projects with 3 of my favorite flexible safe writing platforms for young writers at the Houston ISD Summer Hub Camp -- Kidblog, Storybird, and Biteslide.


High Impact Implementation of TTM & Digital Learning Habits

Think Through Math has been used in classrooms for almost 3 years now in TX schools since the Texas Success Initiative began in 2012. A recent TEA study reported a correlation between TTM & STAAR Math performance. Results are impressive, but in my experience, not typical of most classrooms I've seen using TTM. How do we achieve these kinds of learning outcomes shown by this study with our students? What practices ensure this adaptive learning platform actually contributes to development and deepening of students’ understanding of critical grade level math concepts and problem-solving skills? How do we implement TTM so kids have forward learning momentum and are not spinning their wheels in gaining no traction at all?

The level of rigor in TTM is high and requires students to effectively apply online learning habits of mind. Investing students' time in TTM is a colossal waste if not done with some scaffolding and a strategic eye on several key things [development of students' online learning habits & help strategies, consistency of lesson routine & usage toward Think30!, sustaining motivation & progress monitoring]. The impact is made by level and degree of effectiveness in the implementation of TTM in a blended learning mathematics classroom context.

These are some resources for some upcoming trainings to support teachers in reaching for a high impact level of implementation with Think Through Math.


#EdCampAwesome Lives Up to It’s Name!

Never have I left an EdCamp without feeling inspired. Since very 1st @EdCampHouston gave me an initial introduction to this form of PD a few years ago, I’ve gone to so many I no longer keep count of where & when. @EdCampAwesome in Royse City was no exception - more than living up to its name. No doubt there will be more awesomeness at upcoming @EdCampNavasota in April! Here is a scrapbook of personal highlights from #EdCampAwesome!

  • Connecting with @mkwaldie!: Overhearing her mention Google SketchUP in passing as I was heading out of a session on Makerspaces, I stopped to ask her more about it since recently my free license information through TCEA came through. She shared her classes’ 3-D Digital Modeling site & projects with me which she was very passionate about.  Now we are planning to connect our classes & students to share their work in the near future as a result!
  • Discovering Global Cardboard Challenge: Event with opportunity for children to build whatever they can imagine out of simple materials and in the process, develop problem solving, collaboration, and other 21st century skills. Since 2012, 105,000 children in 62 countries have participated & next challenge kicks off in 2015!
  • Experiencing Augmented Reality: Level of engagement & learning potential in all kinds of AR Apps was phenomenal, as was Symbaloo & hands-on presentation by @JaimeDonally

  • Finding wisdom and helpful advice about PBL in K-2: @AllisonHoganEDU Great Pikochart summary by @ChelseaSerio of key takeaways from discussion of her Kindergarten projects HERE

  • Winning a Little Bits Base Kit!  are great for tinkerers age 8 to infinity. Put the screen away, play with friends and family, and snap your ideas to life.


Defining & Refining Driving Questions

 I have many new insights from a recent online class from @PBLUniversity about key elements in a powerful driving question. The DQ for the class: How can I define and refine Driving Questions that capture the main focus of the project and engage students?

‘A Driving Question (DQ) is like a road map that will help students determine how they will reach their destination in a project. However, just like roads may lead us in different directions, a well-written driving question will not have a prescribed path that students must take. A good driving question captures the project’s main focus. It is open-ended, challenging, and linked to the core knowledge, skills, and understanding that students must gain in the project.’

Create a series of subsidiary questions in conjunction with your overarching Driving Question!

...To focus the students on the project task.
...To scaffold the project process for the students.
...To help teachers design lessons that will scaffold the project process for the students.

A Driving Question should be:

1. Engaging for Students:  It presents a challenge, frames a controversial issue, or poses a question that interests kids. It is written in language they understand, and provokes them to ask further questions kicking off the inquiry process. [A local context and/or a challenge to take action makes DQ even more engaging. Connect to a  local issue, community need, or topic relevant to kids’ lives.]

2. Open-Ended: Several reasonable “right answers” are possible. Answers are not “Google-able.” Answers are complex and lead to an in-depth inquiry. It could  be a “yes or no” question, but the answer must require a detailed, thorough explanation.

3. Aligned to Learning Goals: Students will need to learn important content/skills in order to answer DQ. Consider,“To answer this question, will my students need to learn the content and skills I’ve targeted?” Actual content goals do need to be stated in the question. They can be made clear when students learn about the requirements for the product(s) to be created.

Some examples of revisions & refinement of DQ’s...

FROM: What did the ancient Greeks contribute to the development of Western Civilization?

TO: Did the ancient Greeks help make us who we are today?
TO: How Greek are we?

FROM: Which stories and books are the most popular for people our age?

TO: What makes a story or book popular?
TO: How can we create an online survey for kids our age to find out which stories and books are the most popular and why? 

The Tubric is a fun, hands-on way to practice the often-challenging task of writing a Driving Question for a project. (downloadable here!). Looking forward to more classes coming up starting this week, and free again, through @PBLUniversity!