Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where's the tech that would have REALLY made a difference here?

These are some great ideas for alternatives to traditional book reports. However, had the planning of these ideas included tapping the power and flexibility of simple, easy to use, COMMON technology, they could have been made much more satisfying and relevant to the students and infinitely easier to manage for the teacher in a number of ways... Seems to me that easy to use technology would have made a) doing the projects easier and given the students the sort of more professional looking products that would have further motivated and satisfied them (e.g. mining the web for images to 'collage' to create a poster, maybe with animations and links to reference sources - easy to do audio recordings would capture student verbal performances and be ready for playback on demand) - b) would have made storing the projects and the elements they are made from easier and neater, helped conserve space, and made it easier to give the students access to them. when they wanted to continue working on them - including, at home (storing projects as digital files is more efficient and practical than piles of paper, cardboard, scissors, glue, etc.) - c) would have made it possible to preserve,document, and save the projects, and (e.g. simple digital photos, teacher's or students' phone still or video cameras, etc. d) possible to share the projects with a broader audience (including parents) who would have been empowered to give feedback more practically (e.g. simple, easy class blog, etc.. Tutorials on how to do these things can be found on the web. 

From Scholastic online:

"Bringing Book Reports to Life
By Amanda Nehring on January 19, 2016

Traditional written book reports and story plot posters are a classroom classic, but over time they can get a bit redundant. Instead of using the same old reading response projects year after year, why not try a new, creative and crafty approach to student book reports? Whether you teach the elementary grades or middle school, these hands-on projects are sure to engage your students and bring their favorite books to life!

Storybook Dioramas

Storybook Dioramas

Remember the science fair shoebox diorama from your childhood? Storybook dioramas follow the same idea, but in place of the water cycle or rainforest habitats your students will bring a book to life with a three-dimensional representation of their favorite scene.
The first step is to encourage students to pick a book that fits your assignment’s criteria. In the early elementary grades ask students to read their favorite picture book or simple chapter book that addresses a central theme, like teamwork or perseverance. In the upper elementary grades have students choose a chapter book from a state or national award list. At the middle grades you could even allow your students to use the book they are reading in their small-group book clubs. It won’t matter if students select the same story because each child is sure to choose a different scene to portray in their diorama.
After students have read their selected story, they should begin by choosing one scene from the book that they consider to be memorable or important to the plot. Using a shoebox and their own endless creativity the students can work to capture the essence of that scene in a 3D display.
You may choose to have your students work on their dioramas in class with materials from your art center or assign the project to be completed at home. When my first and second graders made their dioramas we had such an impressive display of artistic ability, design creativity, and wide variety in stories: everything from Clifford to Baby Turtle’s Tale to I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Pie.
Once the dioramas were completed we turned our classroom into an art museum. The students set up their dioramas on their desks, along with a short museum tag to introduce their story and explain why they chose to portray the scene shown. We toured the museum as a class, giving each child the opportunity to briefly share about their diorama. To assess the students’ dioramas I used this rubric, which includes rave reviews from their classmates, as we toured the museum. The students loved reading what the other children had said about their stories.

Wax Museums

Student in wax museumPhoto by Julie LochenWax museums are another great way to give your students creative liberty in sharing what they have learned from an assigned book. This particular project lends itself well to biographies and autobiographies of important cultural and historical figures. First, allow your students to choose a grade-level appropriate biography of someone they find both interesting and important. Encourage students to pay special attention to the descriptions of how the character looks, feels, and acts. They can use this graphic organizer to help them as they read.
When students are finished reading their biographical texts they must work to bring their historical figure to life! Ask parents and community members to help your class put together costumes so students can get into character and become their chosen figure. Each child should write a short speech that will explain who they are and what their impact was on the world. You can even have students make buttons to hold so that visitors to your wax museum can press them, cueing the student to begin their speech.
Invite families, other classes, and even the community to come and explore your wax museum. The students will love getting to share what they have learned about their selected historical figure and the visitors will be amazed by the museum your class has created. 

Character Cans

Pigeon Character CanPhoto by Sandy LandvickThe fabulous third grade team at my school makes character cans each year and I am always amazed by what the students create as responses to reading. The students are asked to choose a favorite character from a book and transform an empty can into that character.
Inside the character cans the students must include six index cards with talking points to share about their story’s title, genre, information about the character, text to self connections, predictions about the story, and reason for selecting their chosen character.
Students love getting the chance to show off their adorable and creative character cans and talk all about why they love their book. Best of all, the character cans go in our school’s front entry display case for everyone to see and enjoy! It is always a memorable project and a great alternative book report.

Finally - some real insight into what needs to be done to save Education. Guess what? It's so do-able... That is IF you can see it!

Learning that occurs in spite of the educational system, not because of it, took center stage in the earliest sessions at BETT 2016, the world’s largest educational technology show that opened here today.
The idea of letting students’ curiosity and discovery drive their learning echoed in speeches by Sugata Mitra, who is piloting seven Schools in the Cloud that are based on student-directed, online collaborative learning without traditional teachers; and 16-year-old Amy O’Toole, whose experiment as a 10-year-old about bees’ ability to learn was published in a scientific journal.

With hundreds of ed-tech products and services on display at BETT 2016—a show that is expected to draw 36,000 visitors and continues through Saturday—the possibility of using instructional technology to give students’ power over their instruction resonates with exhibitors. That’s precisely what many of them are trying to sell to schools and parents around the world.

Mitra, whose presentation drew about 500 attendees, said that curriculum and assessment are two areas of traditional schooling that need major makeovers. An educational system that was designed to produce employees who sit and work studiously at desks will not serve a future dependent upon collaboration to solve problems, said Mitra, who first became known in education after he added freely accessible computers to a hole in the wall in a New Delhi slum. Children taught themselves how to use the technology, and progressed by working together—without adult supervision or intervention.
“The future of learning depends squarely on the future of assessment,” Mitra said. As currently structured, assessment systems look for identical responses from learners. “More research on automated and continuous evaluation of open-ended questions and tasks is needed,” he said. He called on attendees to “invent ways in which assessment is continuous and automatic.”

As for curriculum, “all irrelevant knowledge and skills need to be removed,” and schools’ curricula should be reviewed and updated every quarter. For example, a geography exam question is, “What is an ox-bow lake?” Knowing the answer, he said, is irrelevant. “‘Just in case’ skills and knowledge should be replaced by the skill of learning ‘just in time,'” he said.
“If we had just stuck to the curriculum, I definitely would not be here today,” said O’Toole, a 16-year-old who spoke about how creativity can enhance learning and inspire girls in science. Her private elementary school allowed a neuroscientist, Beau Lotto, to work with students on a study of bees, even though it was not part of the curriculum.

In December 2010, the scientific journal Biology Letters published the findings of O’Toole and her classmates, who did research about whether bees can learn. It all started when a teacher asked O’Toole’s class whether they wanted to “train bees to play a game,” based on the question: “What if bees can think like humans, like us?”  At first, no one in the world of science took the students’ science paper seriously.
But when it was eventually published, the paper was downloaded 30,000 times in the first day, according to O’Toole.

“I think we should be given the opportunity to do something amazing, and our current curriculum doesn’t allow us to do that,” she said.
Read the full article at its source: