Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Smitty Awards for Best Movie Trailer

Period 5 Winner: Lindsey:Brave New World Period 3 Winner: Aly: Brave New World Period 5 Nominees: Scott:Cat's Cradle Monica:The Chocolate War Nate: Animal Farm Lindsey:<i>Brave New World Faith:Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes Kasi:We all Fall Down Period 3 Nominees: Haleigh:Perks of Being a Wallflower Zach: Clockwork Orange Bennet: The Sun Also Rises The Sun Also Rises Movie Trailer Aly: Brave New World Jake: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Aspen: Jumper Sophie: Lovely Bones David : Huckleberry Finn Copy of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Alexandra: Go Ask Alice Maddison: Slaughterhouse 5 Lena: Lolita Copy of Lolita Trailer

Friday, May 04, 2012

Dan Pink 2012

Check out our photos of the fabulous conversation with Dan Pink. Also, here are the links to the archived Ustream presentation (http://www.ustream.tv/channel/ahsawnm) and the CoveritLive live blog conversation (http://smith9h1112.blogspot.com/2012/05/dan-pink.html). We are so fortunate that Dan Pink continues to foster this important and on going conversation with our students.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Visitors from Canada

The Toronto Public Schools' School Board and teachers came to visit Littleton Public Schools in early April to see examples of exemplary technology use in education. The group stopped by AHS for presentations from our 9th graders on the various ways we use technology to enhance our learning.  We created a presentation fair. The kids broke up into groups around the room with each group selecting one project or idea they wanted to showcase to the touring group.  Accolades were bestowed upon the kids numerous times from the group attending.  Way to rise to the challenge Warriors!
Renee Howell speaking with the students after their presentation

Maggie and Emily presenting on TED talks

Rachael, Cole, Brooke, Savannah, and Jordan presenting poetry

James, Madison, Bekah, Jacqueline, Sarah, Ellie presenting on Wikified Research Papers

Wikified Research Paper presentations

Presentation Fair: kids leading the way

Brian, Troy, Marco, and Lauren presenting about Loggel
Monica, Sam, Emily C and Jeremy presenting about scribing, Google calendar, and Google Presentation

Amanda, Meagan, Cassi, Hunter, Zoey, and Maddie presenting about QR codes and banned book movie trailers

Zoe and Mackenzie presenting about CoveritLive and skyping with authors

Sanjay, Andrew, and Colin presenting about Chicago 7, Marcus Yallow, and Ned Kelly presentations

Spirit of Littleton Dinner

On Saturday night, Littleton Public Schools held its annual Spirit of Littleton Dinner which benefits the LPS School Foundation.  Our kids have participated every year showcasing their tremendous work using technology to demonstrate their learning and understanding.

This year was no exception that our kids were one of the highlights of the night. One attendee after another complimented our presenters on their articulation, communication, personality and understanding of what they were presenting.  Our kids rocked as always. I am always so impressed by our kids' professionalism.  Way to go Warriors. We are so proud of you!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Lucid Chart

My all boys' class has been reading Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.  We also started our essential questions for our following units: Why are relationships so difficult?  What do relationships reveal about who we are and who we want to be?

Throughout our study of Curious Incident, I asked the kids to keep a relationship chart of all the characters. They needed to identify who the main characters were, give a description about the characters, how do the characters relate to one another, explain whether or not the relationship is an effective one or not, and why. Instead of writing this all out, I asked the kids to graphically show their understanding of these relationships.  Previously, I have used Webspiration for this project. However, this year I discovered Webspiration was no longer free. So, after speaking with Dana Levesque at our district office, she pointed me in the direction of LucidChart. She hadn't used LucidChart, but wanted to see what we could do with it.

It was fantastic!  It did exactly what the kids wanted it to do. They could assign shapes to characters (there is a plethora of shapes to choose from on the side bar), assign colors to relationships (Christopher, the main character in the book, assigns colors to good things and bad things so the kids wanted to mimic his likes and dislikes), create lines connecting the characters (they could use colored lines, dotted lines, arrows, etc...), add legends and keys to explain their thinking, etc... The kids could take the program exactly where how they wanted to showcase their learning and understanding about relationships from the novel.  Additionally, since we are a Google Apps for Education school, the kids could automatically sign in with their Google Account- no need to create a separate log-in! Finally, the kids can share their projects with one another. They can invite others to graph their charts collaboratively.

A couple of things that I would like to see different- it is hard to see all of your connections on one screen.  We are presenting 5 of the relationship connections in class right now, and we are having to move the mouse around to get to all the relationships they want to talk about. Secondly, LucidChart limits the number of connections a student can make on each chart.  60 pieces is all they are able to display.  Finally, under the free account, they are only able to create 3 charts and only share with three people.  However, it is a free program!

Here are screen shots of some sample kid projects:
Dan M- part 1

Dan M- part 2

Will B


V's TCAP speech

About a week ago, our fearless TCAP leader Kevin Kolassa, asked if I would give a speech to the school inspiring the students to do well on our standardized test the TCAP formerly known as CSAP. About 4 years ago, I was asked to do the same thing. At that time, I wrote a Star Wars themed speech. A few years before that, my friend Adam Wallace and I co-wrote a piece on the top 10 things worse than taking CSAP. After writing both of those pieces, I knew I wanted to do something more than just the standard inspiring quote driven speech.  I also knew I better not cross the line too much...

As my husband and I were talking about speech ideas, I asked him what he would think about me doing something based upon Guy Fawkes' speech from V for Vendetta. He thought it was a great idea. So over two dinners, help from a waiter, listening to a sermon and a lot of dictionary time, I wrote the following speech: (parts are borrowed from V's speech to Evey)

Evey:Who are you?
V. : Who? Who is but the form following the function of what and what I am is a man in a mask.
Evey: Well I can see that.
V. : Of course you can, I’m not questioning your powers of observation, I’m merely remarking upon the paradox of asking a masked man who he is.
Evey: Oh, right.
V. : But on this most auspicious of days, permit me then, in lieu of the more commonplace soubriquet, to suggest the character of this dramatis persona.
Top of the Tuesday to you terrifically talented TCAPers!  Today you are tasked with a tremendously taxing testament of your tenacious take-aways from your talented teachers.  The tactics that you try today to transfer the tutelage of teaching to the TCAP test must be tip-top.  Take your time TCAPers!  Trusted treatment of the timely tenets must be taken with treasured tactics and no tangential turns.  To tackle the TCAP is to not be a tyro amongst timid test takers.  This test will surely indicate your test taking tenacity; no doubt, you will triumph!  This troupe of teens is tried and true. You are the top-most!  Do not allow the tick, tick, ticking of the time to deter your opportunity to teem your knowledge.  Tiny twinkles in your synapsis teem with tidbits of truth-bestow these on the TCAP!  Tell me, would Tim Tebow be timid at a time like this?  NO!, Tim Tebow would be a tour de force, a terminator of the TCAP simply turning the test to toast with his tell-tale Tebowing
TCAPers- tarry no longer; tame the TCAP.  Take down the TCAP!  This is a tribute to your true temperament in test taking. The pain is temporary; the glory is titanic!
Evey: Are you like a crazy person?
V. : I’m quite sure they will say so.
Remember, remember the sixth of March.

Intelligence, curiosity and TCAP.I know of no reason why intelligence and curiosity should ever be forgot…

Hopefully, it inspired the kids to do well on their test. Many thanks to Maura for being my Evey!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Teachers helping teachers (and students....)

One of the best agreements we have come to in our 9th grade PLC  is asking fellow 9th grade teachers to come into our 9th grade classes and offer specific writing instruction on their unscheduled time. In the 9th grade, we have a large five paragraph persuasive research based paper we ask our students to compose. This is the first time in many of the students' lives they have ever written a paper of this magnitude. With many of our classes at 28-32 kids, our one to one time with our students is extremely limited especially to give immediate and focused feedback.   Typically, the writing unit takes six weeks of every day writing instruction.  This is an incredible amount of instruction time focused to writing the persuasive paper.

At our January PLC meeting, we addressed this problem. How can we give our students more writing feedback and, at the same time, not sacrifice additional classroom instruction time?  How can we best meet the needs of our struggling students who are falling behind in writing and, at the same time, push our advanced students ahead in their writing?  How do we give our students the one to one time they deserve?

In order to best facilitate the time our guest teachers were giving up to come into our classes, we have asked our students to prepare focused questions based upon their writing. Did they want help with organization? topic setences? thesis statements?  word choice? fluency?  connecting ideas back to thesis? etc....Then we broke up the class into equal sections based upon the number of teachers coming into class so each teacher had the same number of kids to work with.

Maura Moritz helping a student

Lauren Lee helping another student

Ethan Kuhlmann helping a student

Audra Buchwald helping a student

Abby Hancock helping a student

Greg Trotter helping another student
Although we have writing lab which is available on Tuesday and Thursdays to all students, and we peer edit in class, we realized we needed more direct instruction in class with kids who weren't seeking out additional assistance.  This was an amazing experience for the classroom teacher as well as the guest teachers. We all learned from this learning opportunity. The kids appreciated all the direct feedback and the guest teachers were able to let me know of issues they saw with specific kids, or of areas where they were really seeing kids excelling. I hope this is a tradition we will continue.

Google Map versus Google Earth

For the past few years with our study of The Odyssey and Into the Wild, I have had my students use Google Earth to trace their own personal learning journey along with the characters in the literary works we are reading. This assignment has evolved over time to now work with tracing Christopher McCandless' journey in Jon Krakauer's Into the Wild.  At the suggestion of Dana Levesque, I switched from solely using Google Earth to this year using Google Maps.  The advantages were great.

Google Maps allowed for the kids to store everything online versus having to save folders and KMZ files with their Google Earth work. Additionally, they could collaborate on their maps with others. I didn't use this feature this year, but am thinking of adding it to the maps next year in order to foster collaboration with classmates.  This will also help them connect with one another and discuss McCandless's choices. We do each entry differently with some as formulated paragraphs, but others are images, quotes, and reactions.  Google Earth and Google Map allows for the entries to change and adapt to the individuality of the student. Here is the rubric I use for the Into the Wild Google Map/ Google Earth project.

Google Map examples:




Google Earth example: 2012


Google Earth examples: old

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Skype Session with Cory Doctorow

Today, we had another intellectual learning adventure. Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother, talked one on one with our 9th grade Honors students about issues ranging from Homeland Security, the English government, inspiration for the book, teenagers, connections to 1984, technology and his personal definition of trust. Our kids never fail to impress.

In the one hour session, they asked dynamic and thought provoking questions. Cory fielded each question with such intellectual purpose and directness, the kids were in awe of his intelligence. He truly lives up to his words he left our kids with, "Be intellectually curious!" He proved his point well by being himself.

 Thanks to Cory for making this possible and for Karl Fisch for supporting Maura and my efforts to connect the kids with real life examples of intellectual giants. I am so impressed by authors being their own person, by being upfront and at the same time charismatic with the kids, and by giving kids insight into what it means to live a life filled with challenging curiosity and passion.
Ustream of conversation
Cover it Live to conduct live blogging conversation
Tweets of Doctorow's comments and kids' questions