Blog Archives

Global Green-Screen Project

Greenscreen with Brad

CONNECT STUDENTS TO A COLLABORATIVE VIDEO PROJECT #GlobalGSP

Click HERE to View Current Playlist!

Do you remember being a student in elementary school and creating a shared story with your classmates?  The idea was simple…a teacher started by writing down a sentence on a sheet of notebook paper.

The teacher would then pass the paper to a student seated near the front of the class, and that student would add a sentence.  After that, the story would be passed to the next student who would also add a sentence.  The key was to build off each other’s writing to create a cohesive plot.  It was wildly creative and tons of fun!

The Global Green-Screen Project is essentially the same thing.  Instead of adding a sentence to a story your class is adding a 20-30 second video created in green-screen.  This is an opportunity for students to practice creativity, collaboration, digital leadership and more!

OPTION #1: DIRECTIONS

  1. Sign-up to participate HERE.
  2. Wait for your turn (each video “chapter” needs to build upon previous videos).
  3. Watch all of the videos before your chapter to ensure your class connects to the preexisting plot in a logical manner.
  4. If you notice the person ahead of you missed their deadline on the sign-up sheet you may contact them or skip them to keep the project on schedule.
  5. Try to conclude your video with a transition or prompt that sets the next class up for success.  This will increase cohesion in the final production.
  6. Once your video is complete download it to YouTube and title it using the format below: “Chapter (insert number) – Global Green-Screen Project” 
  7. Add a YouTube link to your completed video in the shared google doc HERE.
  8. E-mail the next person on the list when your video is posted so that they may begin production.
  9. Try to complete your video within 2-4 days of being contacted.

We’ll run this first Global Green-Screen Project for six to eight weeks and see what happens.  Please use the hashtag #GlobalGSP on Twitter for sharing.

OPTION #2: FREESTYLIN’

Students can create a short (1 minute or less) green-screen video that goes with the theme, “Let Learning Take You Places.”  The goal is to amplify student voice in a creative way, so encourage kids to dream big as they share their learning.  Once your video is complete download it to YouTube and title it using the format below:

“Your Name – Global Green-Screen Freestyle”

Note: The “Freestyle” option will be run separately from the collaborative video project.  Freestyle videos are not part of the shared story sequence being created across different schools.

COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS

The Global Green-Screen Project provides students an immersive opportunity to interact with the Common Core State Standards.  Please see an example of the Speaking/Listening Standards this project supports below.  

Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas:

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.4
Report on a topic or text or present an opinion, sequencing ideas logically and using appropriate facts and relevant, descriptive details to support main ideas or themes; speak clearly at an understandable pace.

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.SL.5.5
Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, sound) and visual displays in presentations when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or themes.

QUESTIONS?! CONTACT OUR KEY COLLABORATORS:

@JenHegna

@NMHS_lms

@MrEricHills

@DerekBell20

@KoryTellers

@GustafsonBrad

#GlobalGSP

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The Pedagogy of Skydiving

Click image to View Video

Click Image to View Video

I often hear people talk about the drastic changes needed in education to prepare students for their future.  However, I tend to believe that the right people to do the job are already in our schools.  To respond to the needs of the 21st century student we need subtle shifts in thinking and pedagogy.  These subtle shifts will lead to transformational results.

Just. Like. Skydiving.

I had the opportunity to go indoor skydiving with a couple friends in Chicago recently.  Our experience in the immense wind-tunnel was a pure adrenaline rush.  Although the skydiving took place indoors the speed and force of the air blasting upwards was very real.

Indoor skydiving wind-tunnels are capable of blasting air that reaches speeds of 175+ mph.  I found the mechanics of this high octane sport fascinating.  The air speeds are so intense that super slight adjustments to body position can lead to jolting movements.

When I was in the standard neutral belly position (chin up and arms out) a subtle adjustment of my hands could have propelled me into a 360 degree rotation.  This subtle shift in my wrists would have been indiscernible to the casual onlooker, but it could have had me resembling a human helicopter blade!

Understanding the impact of subtle shifts is critical in skydiving; it’s critical in education too. 

The proper subtle shifts can lead to a transformative experience.  Be sure to watch the two minute video of our indoor skydiving adventure that’s embedded above.  (The end of the video contains raw footage of our highly trained instructors applying the principle of ‘subtle shifts’ that led to a jaw-dropping aerial acrobatic show.)

What subtle shifts do YOU think our students deserve?

Share your thoughts in the comments section.  I started with a few subtle shifts in thinking that will serve our students well:

  • How can I enhance the frequency and depth of collaboration in my classroom or school?
  • In what ways can I give up more control so that students truly own their learning?
  • How might we tap into the transformational power of technology to move beyond the prevailing belief that an interactive whiteboard is the pinnacle of technology integration.
  • Am I teaching a lesson or facilitating a lasting learning experience for students?

3 Questions I Hope my Children’s Teachers are Asking

I often reflect upon how to empower students to learn at a high level while navigating the digitally-connected landscape we find ourselves in.  I ask questions and strive to serve our students better today than I did yesterday.

In addition to being a principal I’m also dad to three pretty spectacular kids.  My wife and I pray our children grow up to be loving people with humble hearts and curious minds.  We also understand that their world is different than ours was, so we think about other important things too.  My hope is that my children’s teachers are reflecting on some of the same questions I ask myself.

3 Questions I Hope my Children’s Teachers Are Asking

  1. How might I model digital leadership for my students?
  2. How might I help my students express their ideas in powerfully creative and appropriate ways using social media?
  3. How might I leverage the transformative power of technology to fuel collaborative conversations between students about their learning?

#STUCONNECT

For the past couple years I’ve collaborated with Tony Sinanis and John Fritzky (principals in New York and New Jersey) to create cross-state collaborative podcasts.  The podcasts feature our students sharing their favorite books, vision for education, and other creative endeavors led by kids.

This year we are adding an interactive Twitter-based chat to the collaboration.  We’d like to invite you to join us as we strive to model how to leverage technology as a tool to connect, inspire, and amplify student voice.

The four chat dates for the 2015-2016 school year are below, and we’re planning to share out a student-created podcast prior to each chat.  Please join us and include your classroom or school in the conversation.  We’ll be using the hashtag #StuConnect on Twitter starting at 9:30am CST on the dates below.

#StuConnect Chat Dates

October 8, 2015

December 1, 2015

January 15, 2016

March 10, 2016

Student-Created Drone Challenge

Drone Cone

Our 5th graders recently completed a project using educational drones.  The learning experience integrated technology, creative writing, critical thinking, and mathematics (among other important skills).  Students worked with one of our technology teachers, Mr. Adam Hinnenkamp, to create original drone challenge courses.  You can read about the #EduDroneChallenge project and how your students can participate HERE.

The video below features one group’s project.  Kids created an original theme (Medusa’s Lair) and integrated learning targets into their challenge.  I’m so proud of our students and continue to be inspired by the collaborative learning experiences our teachers are providing. Sometimes students are so immersed in their work that they express genuine disappointment when they have to go home or outside for recess. They don’t want to stop what they’re working on in school.  You gotta love it!

*Note: If you’re receiving this blog post via e-mail you need to go to https://adjustingcourse.wordpress.com/ to view the 1 minute YouTube video posted above.  The video documents the drone challenge our students created. 

NAESP National Panel on Innovation

Click Flyer to View Video

Click Flyer to View Video

We’ve got an NAESP National Panel planned with some spectacular surprises.  Join us for a conversation about innovation and connectivity in education.  To get to know the presenters before the conference, simply click on the image above or download the DAQRI augmented reality app on a mobile device. (Just hover over the flyer while in the DAQRI app to launch into a 4D experience!)

Date: Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Time: 2:00pm – 3:15pm

Location: Long Beach Convention Center, Room 201B

Presenters Include:

Amy Fadeji

Ben Gilpin

Brad Gustafson

Joe Mazza

Todd Nesloney

Theresa Stager

Can’t travel to NAESP in Long Beach? Watch for a Periscope link via Twitter to join us virtually!

Passport to Passion

This is a guest blog post written by Greenwood Elementary School’s Music Specialist, Mr. Brian Westgard.  Our team of Specialists recently planned and organized an amazing experience for our students.  The entire evening was a HUGE celebration of student creativity. I asked Brian if he’d be willing to provide a snapshot of the “Passport to Passion” event and he graciously agreed. Mr. Westgard is newer to Twitter, and you can connect with him at @MrWestgard.


Unpacking Passport to Passion
The “Passport to Passion” event was created to highlight the student talent and achievement taking place in the specialist subject areas of Music, Art, Physical Education, Technology, Spanish, Media, and Vision 21. In the weeks preceding the event, students spent time working with their specialist teachers to prepare material to showcase and share with family members, friends, and guests who were able to attend. The name “Passport to Passion” was derived from the process in which students shared their experiences with their guests throughout the evening. Upon arrival, students were issued a “passport” to use as a guide for the event. The passport was a folded piece of paper containing learning objectives for each subject area. While visiting a particular subject area, students were awarded a star sticker for their passport if they were able to explain the learning objective to their guests. As students and guests made the rounds throughout the evening, their goal was to successfully fill their passport with stars for each subject area.  

The event as a whole was beneficial to all parties involved. While students had a chance to showcase their hard work and achievement, teachers and staff members were in turn able to interact with parents and family members regarding curriculum and the learning process. For specialist teachers in particular this opportunity was incredibly valuable. Every experience as students and guests traveled from area to area was something new, as each subject area prepared and showcased material for the event in a different way. For example, the art department worked with students to feature artwork, sculptures, and other creations. Media and literacy teachers prepared a scavenger hunt throughout the media center for students and their guests. 

As the music specialist, I wanted to prepare students for the “Passport to Passion” event by utilizing technology to work with students on the concepts of steady beat, rhythm, and teamwork. This year, our technology department introduced Sphero (a spherical robot controlled by a mobile device) to aid students in the learning process. While collaborating with our technology specialist I became aware of Sphero’s ability to illuminate, and the ability to manipulate the color and timing of of the color change by tapping the mobile controlling device with a finger. In music lessons leading up to the event, I worked with 3rd and 4th grade students on their ability to change Sphero’s color with regard to musical beat and rhythm. I composed and recorded a song to go with the lesson (aptly titled “The Sphero Jam”), and assigned students a variety of beat and rhythm patterns to coincide with the musical nature of the song. Throughout the lessons I captured various video clips of students learning and working together in an effort to succeed. I then compiled the video clips and arranged them into a video presentation for students and guests to watch when they arrived for the music subject area portion of the “Passport to Passion” event. I also made available a handful of Sphero devices for students to demonstrate to guests how what they were seeing in the video was done. 

The link to the video is included above. Though I was involved primarily with the music subject area of the event, “Passport to Passion” led to a destination for all specialist areas of academic excellence for students, staff, and guests alike.  

Brian M. Westgard
Music Specialist – Greenwood Elementary School

EduDrone Challenge

Image Credit: Oberwelzdesign.com

Image Credit: OberwelzDesign.com

You might be surprised to learn that your school can purchase a drone for less than $50 dollars! If you’re interested in connecting with other schools that are cultivating critical thinking and creativity using these cutting-edge “quadcopters” this is the blog post for you! Welcome to the “EduDrone Challenge!”

Here’s how it works: Teams of students create a Challenge Course for their drone to maneuver through.  Each Challenge Course should feature 4-8 mini-challenges for drones to navigate. Students need to create detailed plans that are drawn to scale, and use precise mathematical terms so that schools across the country can replicate the same Challenge Course design.  (Please read the academic standards information below for explicit learning objectives.)

After a team of students has created their Challenge Course plans, they should select a creative theme and write a narrative that describes the Challenge Course in imaginative terms.  For example, students that incorporate a hula-hoop as one mini-challenge could describe the hoop as “a black hole that the Drone must jettison through in a distant galaxy.”  (Please read the Common Core writing standards below for explicit learning objectives.)

Directions:

  • Brainstorm objects for your Challenge Course (i.e. cones, hula-hoops, etc.).
  • Develop a detailed plan using graph paper or drawing paper. Click HERE to see a sample plan.
  • Be sure to include measurements and the appropriate mathematical terms.
  • Select a creative theme and write a narrative describing your team’s Challenge Course.
  • Practice navigating your Challenge Course and make adjustments to your detailed plan or narrative as needed.
  • Share your classroom or team’s detailed plan and written narrative with other schools. Use the #EduDroneChallenge hashtag on Twitter.
  • Try to recreate Challenge Courses from other schools using the detailed plans they create and share.

We will be posting plans and video that our students create in the coming weeks and look forward to connecting with other schools.

Academic Standards Information:

  1. I can understand fractions in real-world situations by creating a detailed plan for a drone Challenge Course using fractions/percentages, and successfully building the Challenge Course. (Math: Number/Operation 3.1.3.1)
  2. I can draw a representation of a three dimensional figure, and create an authentic drone Challenge Course that utilizes the same measurements and points represented by my drawing.  Each mini-challenge in my Challenge Course represents one vertex or point in the 3D object. (Math: Geometry & Measurement 5.3.1.1)
  3. I can write a narrative to develop a real or imagined experience using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences. (Writing: Common Core College & Career Readiness Anchor Standard for Writing)
  4. I can use technology resources for problem solving, self-directed learning, and extended learning activities. (ISTE Nets & WPS Technology Standards 5, 6)
  5. I can reflect on and adapt to the ever-changing nature of technology and understand how and why technology works. (WPS Technology Standards C & D)

Additional Resources:

Watch this TED Talk to see the science of drones!

Our school started by purchasing a Parrot AR Drone for about $300, but we are also investing in durable mini-drones for much less.

Connect with @GWtechWPS or @GustafsonBrad with questions!

What is Innovation?

Innovation can look like many things…but you probably never thought it could be students creating a mini-golf course featuring robotic droids instead of golf balls!  Greenwood’s 1st through 5th graders have been busy collaborating on a variety of challenges with the support of a terrific tandem of Technology teachers.  The tool of choice is Sphero robots!

Check out the short video below for highlights of their innovation in action!

We believe that if the appropriate support and cutting-edge tools, our students can do more than we ever thought possible.  That’s why we’re committed to innovation and cultivating 21st century skills like collaboration, communication, creativity, and critical thinking.

We’ll be adding our 31 Sphero robots to our fleet of Mobile MakerSpace carts in the coming days.  Teachers will be able to check out the robots and other MakerSpace carts to support student learning and creativity throughout our school.

A huge thanks to Adam Hinnenkamp and Kate Asmus for helping students to learn the basics of blue-tooth syncing, coding, and more.

Good Things come in Small Packages

Red cube

It might not look like much, but it is ours. We printed the small red cube on our school’s 3D printer, but that’s really not the important part. What’s important is what’s inside. The cube contains part of our school’s story. You can access it by scanning the QR code inside the cube or by simply watching the video below.

The most amazing thing is that our school’s story will soon become part of a larger narrative. Schools around the planet have the opportunity to print their own 3D cubes and send them to a central location for display. The collaborative work of art will feature cubes of different shapes and sizes from kids all over the world. We hope you’ll consider joining us on this epic adventure. Click HERE for more information on the #ThatsMyCube project.

Our cube may be small, but our students’ voices are not…and their stories matter. Good things come in small packages!
That's my cube

Our Collective Responsibility

We have an obligation to our students to invest in digital connections.  They are counting on relevance and our connectivity as educators will facilitate the systemic transformation that’s of critical importance.  Isolation in education is a choice and it is NOT best for kids.

Bulbs

This past week I spent several hours replacing a section of lights on our family’s Christmas tree.  Each burned out bulb required removal and some intricate rewiring…which necessitated a lot of searching amidst the artificial branches laden with clusters of needles and burned out bulbs.

When all was said and done, I triumphantly summoned my wife to view the grand re-lighting of our Christmas tree.  As I plugged each successive string of lights back into the socket I beamed with pride.  It worked…all of the lights were back on.  Then my wife pointed out a blaring discrepancy.  The 50+ lights I had toiled to replace were completely different than the tree’s original bulbs.  How could I have missed it?!

I took a step back to confirm what she noticed immediately. I had been so immersed in the work of replacing an individual section of bulbs that I had isolated my focus on one section of the tree to the detriment of the whole.

Tree lights
Many analogies could be drawn here, but I equate this experience to our educational system.  It is critical that we work together and take time to connect and collaborate with stakeholders working in different states and capacities.  The quality of education we provide each and every student is our collective responsibility.  When educators connect kids win.

A system-wide paradigm shift is desperately needed.  The utility of an antiquated pedagogy and misguided assessment practices must also be reexamined.  Yet for each school or state that is entrenched in the status quo, there are countless others committed to real change; high achievement, creativity, and connectivity for each and every student.

It’s not about how brilliant any one classroom or school shines.  Our students deserve a system that serves them well and illuminates the path to being #FutureReady.  We can’t realize a paradigm shift working in isolation.

Educators and school leaders MUST cultivate the characteristic of “connectivity” to help realize real change and relevance.  Our kids are counting on us to tap into the brightest and most abundant resource available; each other.

Call to action: Commit to cultivating skills for the digital age using digital tools to collaborate.  Set-up a Twitter account and leverage it for professional learning.  Reflect upon the degree to which you’re providing learning experiences for students congruent with the tools and technology they are exposed to outside of school.  If you’re already serving as a “connected educator,” provide support to a friend that has not connected yet.

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