Sunday, November 19, 2017

Learning as a Journey - Helping Students Become Their Own Teachers

I recently finished the video below with help from Brenda June. Brenda is a friend and a middle school math teacher from my district. It's designed to give some simple tools to students that they can use to be self-sufficient learners.

It's a result of many discussions over the past couple years about our classroom experiences and ideas about learning that we've discovered from many sources. Most notably, we were both greatly inspired by Jo Boaler's Mathematical Mindsets and John Hattie's work.

The video (which will eventually be the first of two) provides some simple images and ideas comparing learning to a journey. While that's nothing new, we hope the simple visuals provide a concise, effective way to present it to students.

It includes our "3 Big Questions" that can help students identify their next step and it provides our take on a familiar four-point scale for students' regular self-assessment.


I also created this Google Slides presentation, which provides a space to write the learning target and success criteria for a lesson. There are summary slides for the 3 Big Questions and the four-point self-assessment scale.

We have received some helpful feedback from our students. We would love to hear any thoughts about the video from other teachers. Please send me an email or comment below about its usefulness or how we might improve it.

A couple other notes:

  • I used Camtasia to create the animation. What a great program! Many thanks to TechSmith for providing a copy through their program for Google for Education Certified Trainers.
  • Most images in the presentation came from Pixabay
  • This video is part of the grant funded project Brenda and I started in September. You can read about our project for MACUL here.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Short Music Video Project for Middle School

Here's a quick music video project we did for our middle school Computers class. We used iPads with the Pixlr app, GarageBand and iMovie.

The video that students produce will be very short and the song will be very simple. Here's a sample one I made with my family. It took about 30 minutes from start to finish, but students will probably take at least two class periods to work through everything.


All of the directions can be found in this document. It links to the sample video and to four tutorials. We assigned it in Google Classroom and the students were editing pictures and making songs in no time!

Here are a two notes:
  • I made the tutorials as a series of slides rather than capturing the iPad while I used the apps. It was a shortcut that leaves out some details, but I like the students to have to explore and learn the apps rather than watching every single tap.
  • Our iPads are shared between classes, so each one has a generic Google account on it. We encourage students not to sign in on them with their own accounts. That's why the final steps explain that the students must share the files with their account. If you have a different setup, you will want to modify those last steps.

It's really easy to add some class content to this project. Just have students sing a simple chorus or make a short rap about what they're studying. They could hold signs in the pictures or use text features of Pixlr or iMovie too.

I'll be glad to hear feedback if you get a chance to try this fun activity with your students!