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!