Saturday, December 20, 2014

Hour of Code, 12 Days of Vacation Reading, and More


Back in August, as I prepared to start the 2014-2015 school year--in a new school, in a new district--I decided my motto for the year would be:  

I am finding PES students are just ripe for opportunities to use their imagination, skills, and desire to express themselves in order to impact the community.  Perfect example:  In our last class before the holiday break, I reviewed with a class of 5th graders a few tasks they needed to complete.  I started using Edmodo (@Edmodo) a few weeks earlier with our 5th graders since it is so easy to create a post that reiterates my verbal instructions for a lesson while including links and/or supporting documents.  This platform allows students to increase independence while supporting each learner's individual pace.  Well, one of the items on their list of tasks was to make solid choices in book selections for the holiday break.   I informed the students that our "Reading Team"  had created a song and a website called The 12 Days of Reading which would help students to recall and employ various tips and strategies during the holiday break.  I challenged the students to consider creating a 30 - 60 PSA which we could email families, tweet, and post on our website during the break.  

Caleb and David immediately paired up and grabbed an iPad. They asked for the lyrics to the song and off they went.  When I checked in on them a bit later,  they had decided they wanted to create a movie trailer on iMovie and had already completed the storyboard. When I looked at the template,  my initial reaction was ... "Oh gee, that's going to be a little difficult since you will need 20 or more video clips and you only have 30 minutes."   The concerns that ran through my head were: It's Friday,  they have 30 minutes,  what will they possibly capture in 20 clips that will be engaging and not dull, and could they realistically complete this project or would it end up as an unfinished project that was filled with good intentions.  As I started to suggest switching to creating a basic video instead of a trailer, Caleb replied, "Then we would waste all the storyboarding we already did."  That's when, I realized I needed to empower and support their drive and vision.  I needed to believe in them. I am so glad I did!  

Take a look at Caleb and David's movie trailer which will serve as our kick-off commercial for the 12 Days of Reading Challenge!   

Directed and produced within one class period by Caleb and David, 5th graders.

My new motto:


After we hosted a very successful school technology workshop for parents in November, I realized we needed to keep the positive energy and engagement moving forward.  So, I decided to offer monthly parent/child workshops with a focus on unleashing a child's creativity using the power of the iPad. This past Wednesday evening, our first workshop was held.  I cannot even begin to describe the impact of the workshop.  If you are not offering your families such opportunities, make a New Year's Resolution to do so.

My initial goals for the evening:
  •  give an overview of the creative power of the iPad 
  •  deliver brief tutorials on several apps that work great for smashing
  •  provide time for play
  • and encourage parents and children to utilize the apps during the holiday break in order to preserve memories.
However, about two hours before the workshop, as I was driving to a district meeting on "Digital Learning", I  was thinking about how our Reading Team was preparing to roll-out the 12 Days of Vacation Reading Challenge.  In an instant, I had an idea "what if I gave the workshop participants the challenge of creating a short commercial to promote the challenge."   It certainly would provide an authentic way to learn various apps AND create buy-in for the reading challenge.  Being a spontaneous person, I immediately called Mrs. Katie Gordon, our Reading Consultant who confirmed my instinct on this one!  The goal of the workshop was tweaked on a car ride and the results were more than I ever could have imagined.  

Take a look at the digital flyer I created with @smore. You will see a variety of commercials including several which were made during our workshop.  Apps utilized during our workshop: iMovie, @DoInkTweets, @tellagami, @chatterpix, and @puppetworkshop.

I believe this is another example of how ripe students are for engaging and meaningful tasks. It is also evidence of how eager parents are for opportunities for engagement with our school community and are committed to building a culture of authentic learning.


The third example of how ripe PES students are to be leading the way is what resulted from our participation in the Hour of Code (#HourofCode, @codeorg).  Earlier in the year, I ran a 6 week coding class as an after-school enrichment program.  It was a small group of 7 students of which only 2 were girls.  Around week 5, one of the girls asked, "How come there are only 2 girls in this class?"  My reply, "My thoughts exactly.  Why is this so?"  This questioning propelled Maddie on a mission.  She immediately began researching statistics and decided she wanted to start creating video clips in order to promote "Girls Who Code."   Her first greenscreen attempt was quite humorous:

Timing is everything.
Just a few weeks after our after-school enrichment class ended, the Hour of Code began.  This was the perfect opportunity to test the waters and have all students dip their toes into the power of coding.  What has resulted?

Check out Maddie's flyer announcing the first ever PES Girls Who Code Club!

So, that's a glimpse inside our media center these past few weeks.  Hope you return in January to see more exciting initiatives led by students!

Mrs. Jane Martellino
PES Media Specialist