calm breeze

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Quick Look at Problems of Practice

This week is the first week of my third (and final) course in the Educational Technology Certificate Program through Michigan State University: CEP 812: Applying Educational Technology to Problems of Practice In this class, I will be investigating ways a variety of technologies can be applied to problems relating to education and teaching. 

The focus of this week was learning exactly what 'problems of practice' are.  After learning about well-structured, complex, and wicked problems, I explored and browsed some digital technologies that have some promise in helping to solve well-structured and complex problems within my classroom.

Here is a screencast I created to share one of these technology tools, GoAnimate, and how I would integrate it into my teaching to support teaching and learning a complex problem within my classroom:

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GoAnimate is free in its most basic form, but schools can purchase a subscription to GoAnimate for Schools.  I found the free version to be completely adequate for the needs of my fourth graders.  I cannot wait for my students to being experimenting with retells and sharing them with their classmates!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Seven Weeks In and Counting...

Hello all!  I am still alive and kicking in my fourth grade classroom for the 2013-2014 school year.  That being said, it was a rough start to the year:  new principal = new expectations and procedures to learn; new staff (one of the few nearby school districts to HIRE); new assessments and benchmarks.

But I managed to sneak in an amazing field trip opportunity for my class...a day trip to ArtPrize 2013.  I have wanted to contrive a way to take a group of students to ArtPrize for years...even conspiring with our art teacher to find ways to tie in our curriculum and justify the trip.

This year was THE YEAR.  I approached our new principal with my crazy scheme, being sure to link the experience back to reading, writing, and math.  He gave me the go-ahead as long as I was able to raise enough money to cover the entire cost of the field trip.  (Recent budget cuts really put a hamper on extra little things like field trips...)  This trip was also an exploratory expedition of sorts for other classrooms during ArtPrize 2014.  The expectations were set high to pull this crazy scheme off.

Through the ArtPrize Education Days, I was able to apply and receive a $100 busing grant to help cover the cost of transportation.   And since my game plan was to do a walking tour of the art throughout downtown Grand Rapids, there were virtually no other expenses...just the bus.  To raise the rest of the money for the field trip, I went to parents and guardians of my students...and boy, did they respond.  Within one week, we had fully funded our field trip!

Fingers crossed, we planned the field trip, integrating ties to the core curriculum (math=scale, proportions, shapes; reading/writing=story starting, summarizing, small moment writing, sketch books for responses and art analysis) and preparing the students for the experience.  Praying for the unpredictable Michigan weather to hold out for us.  And it was a perfect day!  Couldn't have asked for a better field trip for my students and their parents.  The pictures say it all...
"In the Dog House" by Ritch Branstrom

Many of the exhibits were 'hands on' and interactive pieces.
"Earth Giant" by Benjamin Gazsi

"Good Luck Fish" by Lou Rodriques

"Bigfoot: Watch for the Sqatch" by Justin La Doux

"Silkwaves in the Grand" by Al & Laurie Roberts

"Back to Eden" by Dave MacKenzie of LiveWall/Hortech

A One-Man Band in front of Gerald R Ford Presidential Museum

"Moving Violation" by Robert Shangle...performance art.

At the end of our amazing experience, the students were so inspired, they created their own collaborative piece of art.  I am beyond proud of their creativity and how well they cooperated on this...and this was after only being a learning community for three weeks!  We submitted their work to the ArtStart competition.  While their piece did not win the contest, truly at the end of the day, the field trip was so memorable for my students...and that was the true intent of this authentic learning experience.

Sculpting Impressions

Artists' Statement: When you look at our artwork, we hope you notice our shapes that represent the silhouettes of our four favorites sculptures from ArtPrize: Earth Giant; In the Dog House; Uplifting; and Monty.  Our words describe the thoughts and feelings we had on our creative, one-of-a-kind adventure and our impressions when we looked at the art.  We studied the elements of art, such as form, shape, color, media, and techniques.  This piece describes our ArtPrize experience.