My school’s second grade measurement unit began last week. By the end of the unit students are expected to be able to measure objects in metric and U.S. Customary units of length. The students are now starting to measure items in the classroom to the nearest centimeter. One of my colleagues in a school nearby mentioned that their classroom was having a challenging time measuring different objects. Students were performing consistent errors, such as measuring using the wrong side (cm vs. inch), not starting the measurement at zero, measuring with the ruler at an angle, not lining up the ruler and object, using the ruler as a helicopter propeller (okay … maybe not the last one). Anyway, students were getting all types of different measurements and my colleague was getting a bit flustered over the issue at hand. The teacher continued to teach the concept over the next few days and then decided to assign a brief formative checkpoint to assess student understanding.
We ended up discussing the possibility of using Showbie and InstaCollage app (free version) for this project.
Students were given two minutes to find an object in the classroom that was less than 30 centimeters in length and bring it back to their desk. They then opened up the Instacollage app and took a picture of the item with a ruler. The text feature was used to label the measurement.
The ruler needed to be lined up correctly to measure the object to the nearest centimeter. Students were asked to add their name and the measurement to the photo. Once the students edited their projects they saved the project and imported it into Showbie.
Once everyone was finished, I reviewed the different projects to assess understanding. Some students were asked to redo the project. Most were able to immediately identify the error, correct it and resubmit the project within a few minutes.
I’m planning on showing the students their projects during the next class session. Not only was this an opportunity to assess learning, but it will also be available in a digital format for retrieval. I’m looking forward to sharing this with other colleagues.
One of my goals this year is for students to take more ownership of their learning. To do this, this year I’ve been focusing on student digital content creation. I believe that students at any age can show their learning in a variety of ways. How that learning is measured and the accountability involved can be contentious, as states and districts measure student learning through standardized assessment programs.
I believe my math students need to be able to demonstrate their learning through a variety of modalities. One way in which my students are showcasing their learning this year is through digital projects. In the past students have created Educreations and HaikuDeck projects. These projects gave my students opportunities to use a tool that they weren’t familiar with, understand the digital content creation process, express themselves, highlight the learning that’s happening in class through a presentation, and reflect on the learning process. Most students would prefer to use a technology tool to demonstrate their learning, as opposed to a standardized test/worksheet.
While searching for additional free student content creation apps I came across a lesser known app called Playback. The developer is actually located in Christchurch, New Zealand. My students took a quick field trip via GoogleMaps to find out where Christchurch was located. I took a few screenshots of the app and they are below.
Playback is a free app that allows students/teachers to create a screencast with a video of themselves demonstrating some type of lesson. Students can use a stylus and draw on the screen by hand or text, as a streaming video can be recorded at the same time.
There are a few limitations thought. The app can record presentations up to one minute in length (for the free version). The 60 second limit might make a few teachers cringe as it’s not a ton of time to teach a lesson. I didn’t mind too much as it helped the students become more concise while explaining their math procedures and calculations. The videos can then be exported to many different apps. I tend to have my students export their video to Showbie.
I believe this app could be used for many different purposes. Students in my class were asked to teach a lesson related to a specific content goal. Students were given the opportunity to choose one objective and teach it in any way they found necessary using a rubric. The rubric is still a work in progress as I’m fine-tuning some of the criteria. I was impressed with their ability and creativity during the content creation process. The class reviewed all the presentation last week in preparation for the upcoming test. One of my younger students told me that everyone is an “expert” at some concept in the unit. How true. I develop a larger smile when I hear comments like that.
This year I’m using more student created math projects in the classroom. Over the past two months my class has had two of these types of projects and both projects were well received. I’m finding that these projects are enabling student to create original digital content. Not only is the content being created by students, but that content is being shared with the world. The assignments align with CCSS and the eight mathematical practices. I’m finding that student content creation, whether digital or not, can be utilized to assist in measuring student understanding. I believe that these projects are providing yet another way for students to express and construct a product of their own, while showing mastery of certain math objectives. Since the products are digital, they’ll always be available for students to reflect on and share with others.
Our newest project revolves around using the app Haiku Deck. I first found out about it through my amazing PLN and started experimenting with the app. I ended up creating a brief Haiku Deck (see deck below) that communicates the current topics of study in my math class. What’s great is that I’m able to update the deck from my iPad without logging in and changing my website manually. Anyway, I saw the potential that this app had so I decided to use it with my students.
For the project, students were given a list of different math objectives for the unit and asked to become “experts” in a certain area. Students were given an opportunity to pick a particular topic and asked to create an instructional presentation on that particular objective. The project was definitely open to interpretation, so I offered a rubric to clarify expectations. Students were expected to create an essential question, brainstorm, collaborate with others, use the peer-review process, and present their projects to the class.
Once the students receive the rubric they begin collecting classroom pictures to import into their presentation. Students often gravitate towards taking pictures of different math manipulatives that match their presentation topic. Whiteboards and dry erase markers are also used during this process. The pictures are then imported into the presentations and text is added.
Slides are formatted accordingly and a peer edit session ensues before students turn in their projects to Showbie. Afterwards, students complete a reflection sheet that documents their journey during the learning process. This Haiku creation process took my class around two hours to complete over a two-week time period. Feel free to click here or here to see some sample presentations. You’ll find a few example screen shots below.
During the past few days my class has had elaborate discussions regarding the importance of student ownership and the learning process. The class agreed that being able to explain our mathematical thinking is important. Many of the math projects that I assign focus in on the eight mathematical practices and highlight the ability to articulate the “how” and “why” certain steps are/were taken. That process can enable students to understand math concepts more clearly and apply their learning. The class then discussed how applying our learning can lead to innovation. That conversation then cascaded into the importance of being an innovator today and how modern-day technology often evolves through the refinement of ideas. These ideas may come from inventors or entrepreneurs that take a risk and create a new product/idea.
One of my goals this year revolves around the concept of enabling students to be digital content creators. Digital content creation happens all the time and there are many examples (positive/negative) of this. I want to encourage my students to create ideas, projects and connections this year. So earlier this week I noticed that @mwhitedg posted a tweet with the #dg58learns tag about how his class is now using the Showbie app to turn in digital content. This idea intrigued me as one of my focuses this year is to have students create digital work for their eportfolios. One of the main problems that often exist at the elementary level is that students aren’t allowed/don’t have email addresses, so emailing work to the teacher can be problematic. It seemed that this particular app might help solve this problem. I discovered the Showbie app that night and started to look at what student content creation apps exist. I found plenty and many content creation apps that I haven’t heard about. Click the below image to access the site.
I’m familiar with the app Educreations and used it as a primary whiteboard in the past; not delving too deep into it’s capabilities. After finding Showbie, I begin to upload my student roster into the Educreations site and started to find that the app has potential. The next day I modeled the app with the class and showed students how to login and send assignments via Showbie. My students were asked to compare prime and composite numbers (4th grade) and compare a kite and rhombus (3rd grade) with Educreations. I allowed the students to explore the different functions of the app. Most students found a comfy and quiet place in the room to record their lesson. Without even telling the students, some started taking pictures of objects in the classroom and importing them into their lesson. After 20 minutes, all students were done and submitted their videos. As a class, we reviewed the videos and made a plus/delta chart on the quality of the projects. Below you will find some sample screen shots of the projects.
We learned a lot about the Educreations app and how to position the iPad while speaking (hint: don’t cover the microphone or move the iPad with force). The class also had a conversation about the importance of having guidelines during the creation process. In the future we’ll be using a form of this rubric and possibly work in groups to create a number of projects this year. This may change though, depending on the quality of the projects and learning experiences that are in our future. The students were extremely excited to view their content and thrived on the idea of being able to create their own work. Moreover, I found that five students actually went online and viewed their creation video over the weekend. Becoming a responsible digital creator is an important skill to have and I believe we are starting to make headway.
How do you encourage student creation at the elementary level?