Turning a Math Problem into a Video Essay

Wmwp tech workshop 2015

I was the lead facilitator at a Digital Writing Marathon yesterday, bringing in folks from various groups of the Western Massachusetts Writing Project for a day of play, tinkering, making and reflection on teaching practice with technology. Our workshop purposefully dovetailed nicely with the ethos of the Making Learning Connected MOOC, too.  I’ll share out some more of my end of the entire day in a future blog post but I wanted to share out a project that my WMWP Tech Team member Tom Fanning brought to us that really had us engaged.

Tom led part of the workshop, fusing math, writing, and technology in a really interesting way. He had us creating short video expository essays to explain how we solved a math word problem using Google Sheets (ie, Excel) to solve it.

Essentially, Tom laid out a math problem (two girls walking from two ends of town need to meet … where do they meet and when?), gave us some initial data points, and then proceeded to help us learn how to use Google Sheets to solve the problem. First, we did some data analysis, and then we turned our data into a chart that provided us with a visual of where the two girls would intersect. That information then helped us answer the questions of where and when they would meet.

That was all interesting enough, particularly for the room of English and Science teachers not all that accustomed to crunching numbers and generating data charts.

Tom then had us outline a “script” in which we had to explain our answer and our process to finding the answer, and use video to capture our thinking. Tom often uses this style of informal expository video capture as part of his work around digital portfolios (he shared a video of a student walking through some math strategies). The videos are rough, no editing needed, but are a perfect way to document understanding and voice in a meaningful archived way.

Here is what my partner, Rick, and I came up with:

What I like about Tom’s project is the cross-discipline approach (math and writing and technology); the discussion my partner and I had around what we would say to explain the problem; the way the video essay element becomes a real documentation of what we had learned; and the deeper use of Sheets/Excel to really dive into the concept of formulas and data bases (this part of the lesson could have gone another hour or two, I am sure.)

Peace (solves the problem),
Kevin

#Celebrateteachers with #CLMOOC and Beyond

Teacher Challenge Collection

It’s interesting that this started in the Make Cycle on the theme of “games” of the Making Learning Connected MOOC. But Laura, who started the #celebrateteachers idea, pitched it as a game of tag. She suggested we riff off the Ice Bucket Challenge concept by writing or recording a post about a teacher who impacted our lives and then tagging other teachers to do the same.

The game is still unfolding …

My #celebrateteacher was easy in that I knew who I wanted to celebrate — Charlie Moran. But it was difficult to record because Charlie just recently passed away. He’s one of those towering presences in our writing project and in the field of composition and writing, and yet, he was so personal and friendly and supportive in so many ideas, particularly around pushing at the edges of digital literacies and technology.

I’ve been trying to curate/collect the posts on Google Plus from folks who have taken on the challenge and then tagged others. (But, my Collection is closed to only folks who follow me on G+ because I was worried about the sharing of personal stories) You’re reading this, so consider yourself tagged for the game. You now have 24 hours to write or share about an influential teacher and then tag three to five other teachers, asking that they do the same.

Why play this game?

For starters, anytime we can celebrate those influential figures in our lives, we should. Consider it a broadside against the increasingly negative view of the teaching profession. Second, this kind of game is the kind where everyone wins — you, for writing and remembering; your celebrated teacher (or the memory of them), for making an impact; and everyone else, for understanding how some teachers can change a learner, forever.

Tag. You’re it. Go make something.

Peace (in the reflection),
Kevin

Make an Inquiry via #CLMOOC

One of the offshoot projects (and there seem to be quite a few this year, which is so very cool, as they are coming as much from participants as from facilitators) of the Making Learning Connected MOOC is Michael Weller’s concept of Make an Inquiry, in which he is encouraging a group of us teachers to consider a classroom inquiry project. By coming together as a collective, the hope is to keep momentum going forward through the summer and into the school year.

I shared out this video that I created for some professional development work that our writing project site has done with some schools in our area. It is a simple overview of how classroom inquiry might proceed (you might have a different path).

And here is a quick video of some recent presentations by teachers at a middle school STEM school. I worked as a facilitator with this school for a year, ending with inquiry presentations to colleagues. For many, this was the first time they had ever done an inquiry project for their own classroom. It was a learning experience, for sure, but valuable in that the reflective stance — of noticing something you wonder about, asking a pertinent question, gathering some resources, trying something out, sharing out the experience — made for a wonderful way to draw our work to a close.

Our writing project is working on curating the Inquiry Project presentations and when that is done this summer, I will share out via the CLMOOC and Make an Inquiry group. We learn from each other, right?

So, here is my own inquiry question that I am beginning to ponder for my sixth grade classroom. The question is sparked by our school district’s move (finally) into Google Apps for Education. I am wondering:

How can my students engage deeply in the revision process when the “peer review” process moves beyond the walls of the classroom?

In other words, using Google Apps not just for writing to the teacher (me) and even the classroom, but beyond that. And if the audience shifts, how does the revising process shift to meet that audience of the world? This will tie into my professional goals next year of starting the process of “digital portfolios” for students. That could be its own inquiry question, right?

Peace (in the questions),
Kevin

Visual Slices of Life: Views from Conferences

Here are two photo collages from two conferences that I am in the midst of: our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Spring Symposium and the Teaching and Learning Conference (tied in with Digital Learning Day).

And the session I facilitated around remixing …

Lots to share and little time to do it …

Peace (in the whirlwind),
Kevin

PS — Here’s a bonus from a session on Scratch that I sat in on:

 

Anatomy of a Tweet

Anatomy of a WMWP Tweet

Next week, our Western Massachusetts Writing Project is hosting a Spring Symposium called “Technology, Assessment and Justice for All” and one of the opening events is a series of digital stations with student work (for example, I will have some student-created videos games up for folks to play). We also want to help teachers think about Twitter, and will have a “Post Your First Tweet” station set up, with our WMWP Twitter account ready to go.

In thinking of how to help people see what Twitter is about, I decided to do an “anatomy of a tweet.” I’ve seen others do similar tutorials before, and I kept mine rather simple. We are also hoping that folks already on Twitter will use our hashtag (#wmwpsj) that night and we will be setting up a Twitter Fall of some sort.

WMWP Invite to Spring Symposium

There’s still time to register, if you are in Western Massachusetts. I hope to see you (and tweet you) there!

Peace (in the tweet),
Kevin

We Made. We Hacked. We Played.

I invited a small group of our Western Massachusetts Writing Project to my home yesterday for a Make/Hack/Play session. These are folks on our WMWP Tech Team. Along with great conversations and connections, we got down to making, hacking and playing.

First, we used paper circuitry to think about scientific discovery, writing and map making. Everyone created their own map — either literal or metaphorical or symbolic — and then we created a paper circuit board to light up the important nodes on our maps.

Second, we dove into Webmaker’s Popcorn Maker to create video projects. I shared the one I did, using the I Have A Dream speech with overlays, and a few other folks also tinkered with social justice-themed video projects.

It was a blast and for my visitors, the paper circuitry and Popcorn Maker were relatively new experiences (one of the Tech Team folks had participated in a paper circuitry session at another WMWP event.) I’m grateful to have colleagues who would give up part of Saturday to make/hack/play and think about learning in new and interesting ways.

What did you make today? You can always remix my I Have a Dream video. Just click remix and dive in.

Peace (in the remix),
Kevin

Making/Hacking/Playing with WMWP

Make Hack Play LEDs
This morning, I have a small group of folks from our Western Massachusetts Writing Project Tech Team (which I lead as as the co-director of technology for WMWP) coming over to my house to do a Make/Hack/Play session. We’re connecting together over coffee to play around with paper circuitry first — we will be making “maps” (metaphorical or literal) that we will light up “nodes” of interest.

Then, we will shift over to Webmaker’s Popcorn Maker for remixing of video and media. My hope is that we will use MLK’s I Have a Dream speech as the center and then layer in media on top of or inside of the video. My friends have not ever used Popcorn, so I am curious to see how best to guide them into it.

webmaker popcorn overview

This is what I created this morning:

This small group work will also help me and a WMWP technology team colleague think about an upcoming presentation at a WMWP Spring Symposium, where we are facilitating a session around student agency with media and technology. She teaches a college course on using media and I am leading the hands-on portion, where folks in the session will be using Popcorn for remix.

WMWP Invite to Spring Symposium

 

(If you are in Western Mass, please consider coming to the Symposium. The registration signup is here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1Eh4oRNvYRbK46VBBV14fcSLv6zShiTWcJPVNcQFR-RE/viewform )

Peace (in the make),

Kevin

Gathering Resources on PARCC (via Diigo Outliner)

Parcc Outline in Diigo
I am working with a team as consultants to an urban STEM middle school, where PARCC is on the horizon and administrators and teachers are starting to get nervous.  They work in a large school district, where data and test numbers matter in what one could only say is out of proportion to the work being done by these teachers. I don’t blame them for getting nervous about PARCC. There are shifts coming and the sense in the school is that students are not quite ready for the expectations of the writing. Maybe not the teachers, either.

So, as much to help them as to help me and my colleagues (PARCC is coming for us, too, but not this year) think about this testing, I tinkered around with a new tool in Diigo called Outliner, which allows you to outline bookmarks with notes. It seemed to work pretty well for me.

See what you think, and feel free to use any of the resources. Notice my first two resources and also my last category .. keeping teaching and learning in perspective as best as we can, you know?

Check out my PARCC Outliner Resource

Peace (yep, PARCC),
Kevin

Words Upon the Wall: A Gift of Song

For everyone who is in all of my various online networks and communities and adventures, I thank you. Here is a song, with some animated words, as my humble thanks for all the inspiration and support you give me throughout the year as I write and explore and learn.

Peace (with words on the wall),
Kevin

Honoring Anne Herrington at WMWP

(I thought I had shared this out earlier but I guess not …. never too late …)

Anne Herrington, whose work in the field of composition and digital writing, as well as her leadership for many years in our Western Massachusetts Writing Project and the National Writing Project, was honored this past weekend with the Pat Hunter Award at WMWP’s Best Practices.

I’ve known Anne for many years and have worked closely with her on many projects, and her work and inquiry and approach to issues always struck me as very insightful and full of wonder. She led our WMWP through a very difficult time in recent years, before stepping down as WMWP site director, and her continued interest in digital literacies in many forms helped inform my own work as a classroom teacher.

Here, Anne accepts the Pat Hunter Award (named after one of the earlier site directors of our writing project whose legacy still shapes who we are) with her usual insightful commentary on the work we do, and the learning community we are part of with the writing project.

Peace (to Anne),
Kevin