World War II Project Reflections

Well, we started a flash project several weeks ago, my honors students chose topics from World War II to research and present to their classmates.  My goal was to take just a couple of days to do some quick research and explain it to the class.  We could then move on and forward in time, hopefully making a leap as if using a Tardis or a wormhole.

Well, things did not go quite as planned and we had to make a number of adjustments.  That being said, those adjustments led to a variety of learning experiences for both my students and myself.  To make a long story short,  the project took quite a bit longer that projected.  Some of the issues were out of our control, such as my classroom laptop not quite dying, but let’s say performing at a pace of a snail covered in molasses and pine tar, heading uphill, over sharp glass, on a cold winter’s day…dragging about 400 pounds of weight, and an open parachute into the wind.  Yet this only affected the project at the end, when my students were about to present their work to their classmates.

The project research and and presentation build was done in the computer lab; my new class set of iPads have a glitch, if students log in to Edmodo using a Google account, they can never be truly signed out.  This is a bit problematic since the iPads are shared across six classes.

Anyway, the project build took a bit longer than expected, though research was quick.  Since this was the first project build in class I wanted to make sure students were comfortable with the process.  Most groups used either Prezi or Google Slides as their presentation medium, a select few ventured out into podcasts, Google MyMaps,  and other formats.  Of the Prezi and Google Slide crew I managed to convince a few groups to turn their presentations into screencasts using Touchcast and the class Padcaster.  This process worked well overall and the extra time used for this project can be made up during the next project.

Some of the learning process for myself caught me by surprise.  Not normally known for my patience outside of the classroom, I believed that I have used technology long enough that I was beyond frustration when it glitched, broke, or bogged down in the classroom.  Well…I was greatly mistaken.  I have to give MAJOR PROPS, to one of my students whose presentation was delayed several times because of the computer problems.  He took the situation in stride, did not become frustrated and presented like a pro.  I on the other hand became rattled and not so calm with the device in question.

Looking back at the issue, I believe my frustration arose because the problems directly affected the students, and no I am not saying this to look good.  If a glitch affects me in the classroom, I have many ways to adapt and overcome the issue.  I have been in the classroom for many years, there are many tricks up my sleeve to work around problems.  This problem hit the students directly, they could not complete their presentations, thus lose out on a big chunk of their grade. I still do not know if it was stubbornness, myopia, or my minor OCD issues that prevented me from just trading rooms with a colleague to have the students present while the computer was down.  For whatever the reason, I turned down a couple of offers and took a delay of a couple of days with presentations, students used the time to review vocabulary, review their presentations, and other such coursework.

Overall, I was pleased with the students’ projects and their effort in creating them.   I am also very pleased with out technology department, they helped fix the computer issue and kept at it when the problem persisted for some unknown reason.  The major issue I had with the project, outside of the time issue I discussed earlier is the large group of projects that were similar in format.  I can change that rather easily moving forward, as the classroom teacher I have full control over that segment and it is an easy fix.  i will discuss that shortly.

Moving forward there are some changes I will implement.  For one, the time frame of the project and amount of class time will be scaled back.  Since students have worked through the process with “training wheels” we can take them off and speed up the process.  Also more work can be done on their own next time.  In conjunction with those changes.  My classroom door is always open for students who need help or a place to work, so scaling back class time can be made up before or after school and during study halls.

To address the homogeneity of the projects, here are several adaptations I have planned.  I will institute a “Project Passport” where students cannot complete the same style of project until after they have completed a number of other project styles.  This will expand their repertoire of knowledge, keep the class interesting, and continue to challenge all of us to expand our horizons.  A limit on the number of similar styles of projects will be put in place, in a first come first served basis.  This along with the passports will force the students to expand their horizons when it comes to projects.

The largest influence to the project homogeneity issue will come from my own personal changes.  I need to expand how I present information to the classes, by adding to my own skill set, I can introduce and model the various projects to my classes.  The additional styles should alleviate some fears on their part of the unknown and may even intrigue or pique their interest outright to expand horizons.

I plan to continue to update this blog and my other blog throughout the year, please check back to see how my efforts are progressing.

You can find the student projects posted on the class wiki by clicking here.

Parent Participation with Student Blogs

Journal arbyreed via Compfight

Hello everyone, I hope all is well this wintery flu season.  I sent out the Cel.ly to direct you to this site and hopefully show off the students’ blogs.  The students are doing all sorts of great work and publishing their projects to the Internet.  I wanted you to see their work and I am not sure they have showed you their blogs as of yet.  I know I am risking their wrath for encouraging you to do this, but so be it…they deserve to have people view their work and see the effort they put forth.  We will be doing more writing on these blogs as the year goes on, please stop back after today and check out their continued endeavors.

Feel free check out their blogs by clicking on the link to the left labeled Individual Student Blogs 20017 2018 by clicking here.  Once you are on the page, click on one of the images based upon your student’s class period and scroll through the list of blogs.

Please read their work and feel free to leave a comment.  All comments need to be approved before they become publicly viewable, I am not worried about parents replying to blogs, but you never know who may stumble across them on the Internet, so we have to approve all comments.

You can also check out their other projects which are located on the Student Project Wiki.  Click on the “Definitive Destination Guide” and peruse the work of New Brighton High School’s students.  Publishing their work to the Internet is great, but it is even greater when you check it out.

Enrichment Opportunities 2017 2018 School Year

Students have been asking “Can I do extra credit?”  My response is always, “There are plenty of enrichment assignments you can attempt for enrichment points.”  What’s the difference?  Extra Credit is usually points just added on top of a students grade for whatever reason.  Enrichment Points are points added to a grade for completing an extra assignment, but they are averaged in as an extra test, quiz, or project, not just added on top of the existing grade.  They definitely help out, but not as much as just piling on points to the existing grade.

So what sort of projects to we have for enrichment?  I will keep the complete list on my website, mrsalvucci.com, they will be posted as their own page: Enrichment Assignments.  But for now, here is a quick list of projects students can explore for enrichment:

  • Working in some way shape or form on the class Internet Talk Show, “Wake Up New Brighton
    • We can use people on camera and behind the scenes to help showcase events and cool things about our school and community.
  • Creating a StoryCorps project about someone or something in the community.
  • Using the Livescribe Pen to take notes or create a pencast for your classmates.
  • Creating a review podcast to help your classmates with course materials.
  • Guest blogging on the class blog about a course of study topic or something you find interesting within the school or community at large.
  • Updating the class wiki to assist classmates with course information and notes.

The goal is to get students PUBLISHING and CONTRIBUTING to the Internet.  I hope to get them to become creators of positive and appropriate information and media.  To be aware of appropriate behaviors online in educational and general settings; where these habits can carry over into everyday social media experiences.  The students should have a positive digital footprint, one that they and their families can be proud of and use as a reference throughout their educational and professional careers.  The enrichment activities listed here are an attempt to move the students closer to those goals.

If you have any questions about this post or the enrichment activities, please feel free to contact me at my school email.

Student Stock Trading Game: Initial Purchases

We started the Student Stock Trader Game in class on Monday, January 27, 2014.  I used some credits I had in the Edmodo App Store to purchase a license of the game to use with my senior Econ/POD classes.  Without much research I made a couple initial purchases, more to test out the system than to make serious investments.  My results are varied, showing how a lack of research can be harmful.

My initial purchases were PGH, Pengrowth Energy Corporation, (USA), you can find more information on the stock by clicking here.  I own shares of this company in the real world, so I grabbed some shares in the class game.  DOM, Dominion Resources Black Warrior Trust, which was on the highest change board that day.  You can find information on the company by clicking here.  PNRA, Panera Bread was the third stock that was purchased, I also own shares of this stock in the real world.  You can find information on this stock by clicking here.  The last stock I purchased was WWE, World Wrestling Entertainment.  I do not watch the product on television anymore, but they recently launched their own Internet-based network where you can purchase access to all past events and any upcoming ones for $9.99 a month.  At least in the short run, this move should bump up their stock prices considerably.  You can check out more on WWE stock by clicking here.

Our game only runs for 56 days, so I am investing from a different mindset than I would if I was thinking long term.  The fact that it is not my real money also allows me the freedom to invest in riskier stocks than usual, however my pride and not wanting to come in last is prohibiting me from going “all in” with a full risk portfolio.

 

Student Blogging Challenge September 2013

This year I am hoping to get more of my students to participate on a global scale when it comes to collaboration.  They were encouraged to participate in the Edublogs Student Blogging Challenge for enrichment points this fall.  I have a number of students who were interested in signing up for the challenge.  Since this specific blogging challenge does not really fall within my social studies curriculum I am making participation voluntary for the students.  They can do as many or as few assignments as they have time for and are comfortable with.

I am using Edmodo as my online classroom platform, with a group set up specifically for Enrichment Assignments.  Each challenge will be rolled out as an optional assignment with in the group.  Each week will also have an optional assignment to go out and comment on another students’ blog from the list of participants. The hope is that once students get into the habit of commenting and communicating with others we can expand naturally into collaboration.  A list of student participants can be found  here.

I will list and link my students’ blogs to a separate page as they begin their journey into global collaboration.  I am hoping that the activities give them confidence and interest to become active and responsible digital citizens.