Thursday, February 4, 2016

The essential questions of life.

@i_r_she #yourstorymatters Yesterday our STEM students described a project to visitors who are the founders of iLead, a project-based school in California. The students were explaining how they work in collaboration with University of the Arts and The University of Pennsylvania. The essential question for a design project is "What is Home"? They studied the population of Chinese in North Chinatown and considered the homeless problem there. There was not a dry eye in the house as Chelsea describe the experience of volunteering in shelters and walking the streets of Chinatown to learn more about "home".

Our STEM program provides kids with the most incredible experiences from building E-textiles to raising fish and growing plants indoors to partnerships with the big universities in Philadelphia, learning design challenges and solving real world problems. Dr. Sheri Hanna has built an impressive program that puts kids first. Our students are making iTunes U courses that will become courses for new students coming in the STEM. I work in OZ.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

My favorite moment of the week

My favorite moment of the week is the beautiful words of Eileen Lawson. She meet with me a few days ago to talk about applying for the PBS Innovation Award. That turned into a great talk about how to tell the stories from her classroom. She is so incredible and she moved from teaching Math last year to English this year at an inner city school in Philadelphia. Eileen obviously uses both sides of her brain! I'm so proud of her for accepting the challenge to write about her best practices and share her stories with a  you. Please follow Eileen and give her your best words of encouragement!

Always Room For More

Go Eileen! #yourstorymatters

Monday, January 25, 2016

To be quantified...

The Quantified (and qualified) student. 

Digital portfolios have been Helen Barrett's passion and she has campaigned for students to create a space to showcase their talents. Helen has evangelized the importance of showing what you know and more importantly reflecting on the work and the journey. She inspired me to start a digital portfolio initiative when I was teaching in 2005. I put together a professional learning community with other teachers in our school and we began to help students convert binder portfolios into digital portfolios. As part of the process our students presented their portfolios to a panel of judges in their senior year. 

In the quantified student, the Ryan Craig @ryancraiguv discusses digital portfolios as an important part of what students will need moving forward to apply to universities and go onto work. 
"The digital representation of the Quantified Student already exists: It’s called an e-portfolio.  Today, e-portfolios ask students to tag their work with relevant skills and educators are assessing and scoring work samples. Tomorrow, in addition, algorithms will pore through student work to ascertain actual skills with an increasing (and surprising) level of accuracy. As employers see millions of Quantified Students represented on these platforms, they will flock to post jobs with the view of attracting strong matches."
I wholeheartedly agree. #yourstorymatters and e-portfolios are also about showing qualified not just quantified
Digital portfolios have been an important part of my teaching and learning career. From the first year that I started teaching, I created a portfolio to showcase the work each year. I used the portfolio as a presentation tool in my evaluations at the end of the year. What's so amazing is the opportunity to reflect on the work you have done and how much you do as a teacher. 

When we opened String Theory Schools in the fall of 2013, digital portfolios became an important part of our culture. I created the following mock sample portfolio to help guide 9th grade students through the process of curating their work and evaluating each piece. These new student portfolios will become part of their graduation exercises. Students will present our portfolios and tell the story of their learning journey. These portfolios are not just about quantifying the work but also showcasing qualifications; the skills acquired over the course of a high school career that have prepared you for the future of college or work. It's a great platform to show what you know. For me professionally, it's the new CV.

Students must have the opportunity to choose the way in which they design their story. We need to help teachers and students think about end-users and the user experience. They can't just throw some work together and hope that people will look at it. They really have to use the principles of design.

The following are some examples of portfolios that I've created over my career. The first is a sample guide; the second, my teaching portfolio; and third is a showcase of student work when I was in a the classroom teaching math. That in and of itself is a portfolio.

The hardest part....getting started.  Choose the way you want to create your portfolio. Is it Google Sites, Weebly, iBooks Author, or even creating an infographic portfolio using are RE.VU or The value is showcasing talent. 

Helping students design a digital portfolio. 

The language of education.

People always say the language of math is difficult. I love math and I love turning the difficult language into something kids can relate to. I used to tell stories about linear equations. How X and Y get married and are equal as they travel along a straight path together. Then m and b come along and everything changes. How y has to always change with x so they can remain equal partners.

I love that I could help kids see how graphing is a game. The B in the equation is a place on the coordinate game board where you BEGIN as you move your game piece from the origin and them M is how you move to the next point on the line.

My challenge is the language of education. My brain has a difficult time processing the language. I feel like I have educational dyslexia as the words come across the page my brain short circuits. I guess because I am looking for the practical language. How to convert the ideology into in plain english, the what do I DO part.

This week at #BETT2016 is came across this image.  HEUTAGOGY was the word that set my brain into panic mode - Self Guided Learning makes so much sense to me.
However, the word sent me on a self guided learning journey. I wanted to know more.  What I discovered is that this is not a new concept but one to think about as we look at how technology plays a role in learning how to learn. It helping our students think about how technology is a tool to guide them through a series of discoveries, sorting out their findings and coming to a deeper learning based on the learning journey.

#thingstoconsider as we #rethinkhighschool on our @XQAmerica challenge.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Celebrate Everything.

When you teach, everything you do feels rewarding and frustrating at the same time as you take on new challenges in your classroom. "Move toward the fear" was born from the conversations I've had with teachers who want to reinvent their teaching practices. It's a reminder that the more you can adjust and create really dynamic lessons the better the kids relate.
With that said our teachers continue to Move Toward the Fear and today we celebrated their incredible work. 
We have been honored as an Apple Distinguished School and our story is featured by Apple Education. for the incredible work teaching with iPad and iTunes U. 

Congratulations to all of our amazing faculty who continue to push the boundaries in education.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

The "code" for learning

Matt Greigg's STEM class spend the day coding a new Harry Potter game. The girls started with a blank slate and in pairs wrote code line by line. Afterwards, we played the game to see how the code work and then problem solved different strategies for workflow including copying pasting code from one place and in another rather than retyping it. Super fun day watching the kids develop a game with code. #yourstorymatters

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

We said goodbye to the textbook...

We are so excited that Apple has featured us as an Innovative School. Goodbye textbooks, school supplies, and the weight of a heavy school bags. It's been quite a journey to get here with iPad and iTunes U and I am so so proud of our faculty at Vine Street who "moved toward the fear" as they personalized learning through iTunes U. The best part of the story is that it continues to be a team approach to curriculum design and instruction. With entire departments authoring content our faculty really get a birds eye view of curriculum across grade levels. In addition peer editing is taking our courses to the next level. With projects driving the student experience our faculty has really designed for the show me what you know generation. Making knowledge visual is our goal. See some of the great projects in our courses on iTunes (for iOS devices only)

Look for teacher stories coming soon to learn more about their experiences using iPad and iTunes U as the single device on campus.

See our sorry featured on Apple Education page and on the banner in iTunes U.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The fever is hot.

Classroom blogs are a great way to share stories with parents and administrators. Take a look inside the classroom and see the fun stories that remind us all of how school can be this amazing place of learning. Today I worked with our WEST campus teachers in 2nd grade to create blogs for sharing stories. FERANOT, FOZandFURIOUS, and JumpintoGuinto! Creativity was flowing as we made our first posts.

Check out Miss Miller's New Blog - Confessions from a Third Grade Classroom.

and our new blogger Jess Feeney.


Seeing things 360º

I saw the Ricoh Theta S 360º camera at ECIS in Barcelona and thought maybe we need to try this. So we bit the preverbal bullet and bought the camera a for our iBook Project. It's really cool and today we are taking it though it's paces to learn how to add 360º images to the book.

What's great about these shots is the reminder to see things from everyone's point of view especially when working with teachers who are embarking on using new technology (to them) and taking the leap into new territories.  #movetowardthefear Thanks @theta360 for the reminder.  #yourstorymatters
Super fun day @stringtheoryedu working with Miss B creating a class blog. #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Monday, January 11, 2016

Miss Bee's Stories

I've been working with Miss B from Philadelphia Perform Arts; A String Theory Charter School on her new blog about Kindergarten. She has really taken flight with her stories. Today we made an iMovie to bring the stories to life. Keep up the great work Miss B! So proud! #yourstorymatters

Read more on Miss B's Blog

Playing in Kindergarten