Minds are Changing!

We are into week three of our 20% Project and the students are working hard.  I have students that are learning to cook, solving a Rubik’s Cube under three minutes, archery, smelting metal, learning sign language, raising money for charities, raising awareness about pollution and raising awareness about cruelty to animals.  It is such a variety!  A few of the students, however, have changed their mind about their topics.  After this week, no topic changes can be made so that each student has a good amount of time to pursue their project and aim to complete all of their goals.  This year is the first year where the students had a harder time coming up with their project choices and more have changed topics than in previous years.  I am going to reflect on why this is happening and see what I can do about helping the students make their choices next year so that it is something they will stick with through the process.

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Blogging Practice

Each week the students will blog their experience through the 20% Project.  Last Friday (before spring break), I had the students begin to blog.  It was a planning week for us so that the students could think about where they were headed and what they would accomplish each week.  Because of this, I made the first blog optional.  I want the students to click around and learn the Edublogs site (like I had to) as I think they will remember it more than if I just show them.  It was a practice blog week.  Those who have started blogging and are becoming more comfortable with the site can then become coaches in class to help others become more comfortable (if you teach it, you learn it better!).  As they write more, they will get more comfortable with the site and their posting abilities (adding video, images, links, etc.).

I am eager to see if they will vlog instead of blog (posting their videos on their blogging site).  It is a wonderful option so that students can include video clips of what they have been doing (if they are recording their progress this way) and so the audience can really get a feel for the student and their enthusiasm (or lack thereof if it was a rough week, LOL) for their project.

It is quite a lot of reading, once all of the students get going for real on recording their experiences, but I love it and it is an awesome way to keep track of where they are and offer them feedback.  Edublogs.org does make it nice and easy through their “reader” so that all the posts and comments are all on one screen and you can just fly through the posts (grade them) and publish them (if you have chosen to monitor postings as the teacher).

A HUGE thank you to all who are following the students and providing them that authentic audience.  I know they will be excited to hear from you! 🙂

Here are the rubrics that I use for their blog or vlog.

Reflection!

Reflecting on your teaching practice is always important.  It is also vital that the students reflect on their experiences.  The final step to our adventure was for the students to reflect on their 20% Project.  Time for me to reflect also!

The students were instructed to utilize some technology as an aid to their one and a half minute presentation in class.  This could have been a Prezi, a Google Presentation, PowerPoint, Flowboard, Wikipage, etc…  There were a couple of students that missed this information and didn’t have the technology piece, but they all did the reflection and that is what I considered the most important part.  Next year, I will be sure to be discussing the requirements with the students on a more regular basis and will post them on Haiku to make sure everything is clear.

The kids’ reflections were great!  They really did put a lot of thought into what they shared with the class.  I know it is difficult to get up and speak in front of others as it is not my most favourite thing either.  There were categories that they had to address…brief summary of project, their successes, their weaknesses, any unexpected changes, and what they would they do if they could do another project.  They were allowed to use notecards to help them with their speaking points.  I would say that most of the kids chose not to use them and they utilized what was in their digital presentation to guide them.

Things I noticed about their digital components…they were quite wordy.  We had a chat after day one and I shared with them that the important thing was for us to listen to their speaking and not be trying to read too much on the board where their work was projected.  After that quick chat, the students that came after made changes.  I was not grading their digital presentations, so by talking to them in the midst of our presenting days didn’t affect anyone except to make future presentations stronger.  A lot of the students chose to put titles and some images rather than typing out everything they were going to say…I was glad I had intervened.

In the future I think I also need to give them more direction in the reflections I am looking for.  There was a lot of summarizing of the project in their successes and failures.  I need to figure out how to get them to go deeper…what were the big picture successes and the big picture of what they learned from their experiences???  Must work on this!

This project will definitely be something I will do with my seventh graders again.  The highlights of what they learned: How to work well with others and compromise, make adjustments to be successful, how to plan and accomplish a long range project, how to present to community members and build their confidence, and so much more!  Not only did they learn their content…they learned MORE!  Life skills that they can carry with them to the future! 🙂  This makes me happy and I know they will remember this experience for a very long time.

Ah.Mazing! What a Night!

The Pitch Night Event was AH.MAZING!!!!!  The kids were phenomenal in sharing all they had learned (and sounding so professional), the parents were so proud and their teacher was beyond proud!  I confess to tearing up a little at one point because I was just bursting! 🙂

Not only were the parents here, but we had board members, the superintendent, school staff, and other community members who had received our flier.  I had a former student’s little brother see the flier at his school and he insisted on coming so he could see me and Mrs. Ash-Bala (his big brother also had her for a teacher).  How sweet was that?  The positive feedback from everyone was fantastic and just makes me want to do it even more next year.  I really appreciate everyone that came out to support the event.  Thank you!!!!

My mum was planning on coming to the event by herself as my dad had to work.  To my surprise, when I went to let them in the gate for their special parking spot, my dad was there too!  He had switched his shift so he could be there.  How awesome are my parents?!  They are so supportive!!!

The students were great at getting all the tables set up.  Turns out they were not all utilized, but that is good information for next time.  It took us about forty-five minutes to get them all in position (with nineteen kids working hard) and with Mrs. Ash-Bala’s kids, at the end, about fifteen minutes to break it all down and clear up! 🙂  Of course there were over 100 kids at that point and a few parents pitched in also.

The food truck choices were a HIT!  What great food we had…the Grilled Cheese with macaroni, pulled pork and caramelized onions did not disappoint!!!  We will definitely utilize them again for a future event!

I have to share a prank that the school librarian and vice-principal played on me.  This week was iPad collection week, so I was in the library helping to scan iPads in when the students returned them.  I had already talked to the office to follow-up on the table delivery as they hadn’t yet arrived near lunch time.  The VP called the library and all I heard was the librarian saying, “The tables aren’t coming? What are they going to do?”  I am sure I had a look of stark terror on my face.  I took the phone and said, “Please tell me you are joking!” and the VP cracked up!  So not funny!  LOL!!!!!  The tables arrived within an hour, thank goodness. 🙂

I will be posting pictures from the event in another post – hopefully this weekend – so you can see how it all looked.

Again…thank you to all who came out!  It was a phenomenal evening and you helped make it happen!

 

Tonight’s the Night!

Tonight is the night the kids will present their projects to the community.  The students had some time earlier today to work on their projects in class.  Lots of activity was going on – posters being made, tablecloths being decorated, final touches to Prezis, etc…  It was quite the hustle and bustle.

During the time, one of the students in another group suggested to the Save the Sea Turtles group that they put their tubs on all of the different tables so they could possibly raise more money!  What a cool idea and the girls loved it.  So much collaboration going on…I love it!!!

This afternoon, just over half of the students stayed with me and we are just about to go and set up the tables.  We got fifty tables delivered from the high school and we have twenty of our own.  We should be good to go!

After we set up the tables, we will come back to the room to cool down and gather our belongings before we head out to set up, get the food trucks in place, and welcome the community!!!

I am just so proud…can’t stress that enough!  These kids faced some adversity and came up with alternate ideas to make things all work out!

Can’t wait to see them all in action!!!!  Hope to see you here tonight…if you are in the area!

The Glitter Came Out

Today the students were busy creating posters and displays for their presentation at the Pitch Event on Wednesday night.  They found the glitter!  LOL!!!  So much fun!!!

I have seen some very impressive presentations that the students will be sharing on their iPads or laptops.  They are utilizing Google Docs, Popplet, Prezi, Phoster, etc.  In Google Docs, students are creating links using QR codes so guests can read their stories or blogs on their own devices.  In Phoster, students are creating a book cover for their novel and fliers to advertise their craft class. The graphics they created in Phoster were then reduced in size a wee bit (with a little help from me) and then printed after inserting it into a Google Doc.  In Popplet we have massive maps of the gods from yesteryear.  Prezi is helping the students share their knowledge – things they have learned about gods and prosthetics – which guests will look at on presentation night.

I know pictures are being taken to document the process and those are going to be added to posters and trifolds that will be on display.

We are just a few days away!  Excitement is building!

 

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An update on the progress for the evening – my 20% Project:  Tables have been ordered from our neighbouring high school as we don’t have enough and need to borrow just a few more.  Permission slips are going to be generated for the students so that we are all nice and legal when the students stay after school to prepare for the evening.  As there is quite a chunk of time, they can also do homework and eat their dinner as well as any final preparations for their project.  Attendance sheets need to be printed so that students will check in with us (so we know exactly who is on campus) and then parents will sign them out (so we know they have been safely collected to go home).

I prepared the tickets for the children that had pre-ordered food and distributed those.  I had six students order food and Missy had three students.  That brought in a nice wee chunk of money – over $100 – so we are 1/7 of our way to the $700 that we need to earn on the truck before they will start donating money back to us. 🙂

My fabulous parent volunteer came in on Tuesday and copied about 3000 fliers that were sent out to the elementary schools that feed my school and the elementary schools that feed Missy’s school.  They were sent out that day and should have arrived at the elementaries on Wednesday for distribution today in the student Friday folders.  Fingers crossed that they made it home to the families and it will generate more visitors to our campus!

On Tuesday afternoon, Missy came over to my school and we discussed where we could put the tables and how we wanted them configured.  We also did a little measuring to see how many we can fit in each area.  I will be sure to take pictures so I can post how it all looks when it is set up on the night.

Alrighty…I think that is enough for today and I will be sure to write next week so you can share in how it all went down! 🙂