Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Students Learning with Technology

Summers are always busy times in the technology department at the Storm Lake Schools. From expanding and replacing wireless, brand new copiers district-wide, hundreds of new Chromebooks, dozens of new laptops, relocating and adding classrooms and offices, a new firewall, updating the devices we already have, and so on, we get very caught up in the techie side of our jobs.

However, I must post a few things about our students and teachers before early summer gets away from me.

First, under the direction of Abbey Green, some of the High School ELL students created Storm Lake High School welcome videos. Abbey reports:

Students chose things in the school that they thought were important or especially useful to new students. They also chose things that they think make Storm Lake unique or awesome. They did some self-directed learning of how to use Movie Maker, and during their reflections, they said that this project was one of the most fun! They had to form their own groups; we made lists of filming locations as a class brainstorming activity; and they had to make storyboards of their plans before filming. Then, they worked as a group to create their own videos with editing, captions, music, voice overs, etc. I gave them the option to choose their language(s) in the video, and I was really impressed at how many chose to use English in their video. It shows a lot of confidence in the language on their part.

Here's the link to the page with the student videos. Just click the link on the webpage. The videos are truly remarkable!

Second, the Middle School piloted a form of Genius Hour for some of their students this spring. They called it Passion Projects, and when I heard teacher Erin Nguyen and two of her students report on their projects at the May School Board meeting I was so impressed by the . . . well, passion that all of them showed for their learning! Erin says:

Passion Projects is taught during WIN (What I Need) during 9th period at the Middle School. Passion Projects gives students the oppotunity to choose what they want to learn. It is based on Google's 20% Time where employees get to choose one day of the week to work on whatever they want. Rudy Wieck and I have piloted the program in which students get to choose their project. Student were taught how to develop essential questions, research their topic, and then present giving a TED Talk style presentation. Examples of the projects included an anti-bullying website, a website reviewing video games, learning to play guitar, written scripts for a film, and a research project on Tae Kwon Do, just to name a few.

Erin reports that the projects have been phenomenal!

Here is a link to Pang Xiong's Manga website where she drew Manga:!b-bio/cy2g

And, here is Beatriz Espino who studied graphic design and created her own t-shirt:

Finally, Abbey Green and Iris Hernandez are teaching summer school for ELL students. Their class is working on a class blog. Here is what Abbey says:

This year we decided to add a larger writing component to our ESL summer program. We also wanted the students to have an authentic audience for their writing, so we're having them write a daily blog about their different trips and activities.

Here is the link to the brand new blog:

I am just so impressed with the work these teachers and students are doing. Technology for technology's sake should not be the focus. Technology as a way to ignite passion, to learn, to collaborate, and to create - Now we're talking!

I can now put my techie hat back on for the summer. Our teachers and students need us!