Not a new idea at all, but I am always blown away by how productive class is when I assign a writing assignment and spend the class editing and providing feedback to all docs simultaneously. Today I pushed out this template, and groups of students relocated to a myriad of places on campus to complete their formal research article according to the template. I sat at my desk and provided feedback. Super fun. Super simple. Super meaningful. Below is a short video of the process. #embracethemess
Inserting a picture directly from the webcam of your computer into a Google Document is a, IMO, freaking powerfully simple strategy in the classroom. It was gone, but NOW IT'S BACK! YES! This feature embodies the kind of classroom technology I love: simple, efficient, and purposeful. Below are just a few of the many ways I have used this technique in my classroom:
Because I am completely obsessed with the revising my curriculum each year, I have always struggled with meaningfully integrated a textbook. Past integration efforts (homework, reading, classroom sets, etc.) represents moves I am ashamed of and weak spots in my pedagogy. My efforts weren't wrong per se, but I never invested the time, until now (I hope) over the past 17 years of teaching to critically think about how to integrate a text in meaningful, thoughtful ways. All attempts, to be completely honest, have been out of a fear of not being taken seriously by parents or students. Or, since we are on that topic, take seriously by myself (#impostercomplex). Below is what I plan on doing this year:
Click here to access the template.
Last week, in an effort to keep both my sections of Honors Chemistry moving at the same pace, I found myself with a day to spare in one section. With a unit on lab techniques, specifically titration, quickly approaching, my thought was to pre train this section on the specifics of the laboratory procedure.
Simultaneously, a more playful side of me wanted to bust out the MakeyMakeys from summer science camp and give students some time to explore conductivity, and tinker around a bit repurposing everyday materials to build something just for fun. Then it hit me: Why couldn't we do both?
Back to titration. Digital Drop Counters used to measure the precise volume titrant added to a flask are nearly $100 with the need for more complex software companions for reading data. This it hit me: Could we recreate a Drop Counter using MakeyMakey (along with the pH probes we already have) to simulate the tools we needed for a successful titration? Yes. Sort of! But super fun.
With the help of a few students we devised a simple workflow: First, students wrote a simple program using Scratch that counted clicks when the space bar was pressed. Then, using some fancy graduated cylinder action measured the approximate volume of 1 drop from our Burets, and added a variable to their program that also counted the volume (in mL) of liquid added along with drop number.
Then for the MakeyMakey! By positioning two wires (one connected to ground and the other to the space button on the MakeyMakey) above the Erlenmyer flask with just enough room for a single drop to complete the circuit, and adding some code to delay the click function for any drops that "stick" to the wires, we were able to accurately measure drops added! Finally something more than a video game controller or banana piano!
"Show Your Work!" by Austin Kleon was a very important book for me as an educator. Albeit short, and a bit polarizing, the book reminded me that it sharing the process of my work, not just products, and encouraging my students to do the same, can be a very powerful process if curated strategically.
Not all work is worth sharing, however an attitude of curating the journey towards a final product can yield excellent feedback and subsequently empower one's learning community. Keeping this in mind, I have decided to take Kleon's call to action a step beyond simple tweeting, blogging, and encouraging my students to keep blogs.
This coming year, I will be doing ALL OF MY LESSON PLANNING (classroom teaching AND science camps) on my public website: cyclesoflearning.com. Thus, my website will serve as our classroom LMS, and be an interactive space for all lesson prompts, links, documents ,etc. (Click here to be directed to specific sub page where lessons will be kept).
I am hopeful that this approach will not only share work I find effective with other colleagues, but also force me to organizes my work for students in a more user friendly fashion.