Monday, February 29, 2016

Students are making a Colonial America Brochure!

They have been hired as the new  governor of a colony in the New World. They picked out of a jar to figure out what colony they were presiding over (if only choosing government officials was this easy!). They were given the task by the king to make their colony successful, and the king will reward them with great wealth and power. However, it is up to them to convince all of the new settlers coming from England and other European countries that your colony is the best place to live. They are tasked with creating a Google Slides brochure to be distributed in Europe to convince the people that their colony is the best place to settle before they set sail for the New World.

A Google slides brochure will have six (or more) slides, and a different topic will be covered on each slide. Every topic or slide should minimally have a descriptive paragraph and a visual. They were told that paragraphs should have historical facts written as convincing reasons to move to their colony. They can use bullet points and animate the slides.
Slide One Front Cover: This is the cover for the brochure and will introduce the colony. It should contain the name of the colony and a visual. Instead of a paragraph, this side should display a catchy slogan describing one of your colony’s best features so people will pick up and read your brochure.
Slide Two History: This side will discuss the history of the colony before the year 1750. This should include the founder(s), why the colony was founded, and any important events associated with how the colony got started. These important events should emphasize why your colony’s history makes it a good place to live.
Slide Three Physical Features: This side of your brochure will discuss the physical features of your colony such as the location, geography, and climate. These features should be described in a way that would draw newcomers to your colony to settle there. You should include a map.
Slide Four Economy: This side of the brochure will discuss important aspects of your colony’s economy, including what type of jobs are available to the people prior to 1750. One side 3 or 4, you should discuss how the physical features of your colony helped make your economy successful.
Slide Five Government: This side of your brochure should tell people how your colony is governed (i.e., who is in charge) and how the local people may be able to be involved in the local government (i.e., who can vote and how democratic is your government). Do you have a say in what happens in the colony? Why is your form of government a good thing for the local people?
Slide Six Big Sell: This is the side where you will convince others to move to your colony based on all the wonderful reasons to live there. This is a summary of the great reasons to live here, and not the other colonies. Make a convincing argument as you need more people to help your colony survive.

I cannot wait to see what they create!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Students Are In Charge of Their Learning

Students are in charge of their own learning. We create our own paths, and students need opportunities to reflect on where they have come from in order to make choices about where they are going in their educational journey. Students had an opportunity to think about the behaviors for school success section of their report card. I asked them to look at what they gave themselves in the fall, what I gave them, and think deeply about the goals they set. I then handed them a blank version of the same section of their report card and again asked them to self assess on each item. They were tasked with thinking about their growth or lack thereof and to be honest. Next they created goals for themselves for the remainder of the year, which could have stemmed from previous goals set. Students had some time to use metacognitive skills as they filled out the document. I then had an opportunity to reflect on their work habits and behavior and provide my feedback for students. Today students had the chance to see what I plan on giving them on their report card and ask questions about it privately. However no students asked questions. They are coming home with a copy of this for you and have a month to show growth if they want any of the items changed. I hope you spend some time talking to your agent about their behaviors for school success. Parents are an integral part of the process! An email for spring conferences will be sent out soon! I look forward to our next time as we gather together to reflect on our year. George Couros (2015) talks about things to look for in the classroom. Think about how many of these items we cover just from this lesson!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Innovator's Mindset: Digital Citizenship Revisited

This morning I revisited our digital citizenship lessons with the agents. I was working on a project for NEU in a group (got to love group projects in a doctoral program) on the Google Drive (which makes group projects easier when you are all over the country). One of my group mates completed two slides and copied word for word a section of the book. It was not cited or quoted. I worked very hard to communicate with this classmate about how I was uncomfortable with the slides in our presentation, and I suggested we craft a summary and put the link to the author’s blog that shares the same information. He felt the information in the slide explained the process of the author and was crucial to leave in. I sought out some experts I know (my professor and a dean of a respectable university) and both said my approach was correct. I suggested it again, and my classmate felt it was too much work and wanted to delete the slide. I felt deleting the slide was the easy way out, so I crafted the summary the put the link in. I shared this story with the agents because it shows how I practiced digital citizenship skills, advocated for myself, and took the high road rather than the easy way out. The presentation came out pretty good. The book it was on, The Innovator’s Mindset, was a great read. It affirmed a lot of how I teach. You are welcome to view it here: 

Today we are modeling addition and subtraction of mixed numbers. In this lesson, students use models to add and subtract mixed numbers with like denominators. Using models helps students focus on the meaning of all the digits that make up a mixed number. As they combine the fractional parts to add, they can easily see when regrouping is possible. In order to add mixed numbers with fluency, students must add the fractional parts, regrouping where possible so that the solution is in the simplest form. Then they add the whole number parts to find the solution. In order to subtract mixed numbers with fluency, students must determine when they need to regroup one whole into an equivalent fraction in order to subtract. Elicit adding and subtracting mixed numbers combine what students have already learned; adding and subtracting fractions, regrouping with fractions, and adding and subtracting whole numbers. Students are coming home with fraction strips to help with their homework.

During writing we continued working on our magical stories. In reading we started Weslandia about a boy who is unique and uses his imagination to create his own world.  Students will be creating newsletters in the Google Drive to share with us about the story. We will be drawing conclusions, and each group also has to decide the components of the newsletter. Students should be working on their final copies of their scrapbooks. The ones that have already entered the classroom look fantastic!