PBL @ Shepardson STEM Elementary

creativespaceThis year Shepardson STEM elementary has added another facet to its approach to inquiry-based learning: Problem-Based-Learning. A team of primary, intermediate, and encore teachers attended a week of hands-on training with their partner school, STEM Launch in Denver to experience the concept first-hand. Now their efforts have circled back around to the classroom. Each grade level has identified a problem that pertains to their specific grade level standards and posed it to their students. Then each class spent six weeks investigating the problem, brainstorming solutions, and preparing to pitch their solutions to a panel of community experts with a stake in the solution. Here are the problems they’ve tackled this semester:

 school_logoKindergarten: learning to work together

First Grade: safety concerns in the drop-off/pick-up lanes

Second Grade: library design partnership

Third Grade: looking at ways to mitigate the impact of the drought we’ve been experiencing

Fourth Grade: reducing the amount of waste produced at Houska Garage/Dellenbach Chevrolet/Lee’s Cyclery

Fifth Grade: problems related to energy consumption at the CSU Mountain Campus

 Shepardson PBL/STEM Highlights:

Students had the opportunity to meet with experts as they gathered information to make intelligent decisions. For example, Second Graders got a virtual tour of the Council Tree Public Library to see features of the latest design and a visit to the Old Town Public Library in-person. They were able to ask questions to help them with their design ideas. The following week, the architects who had designed the library came to school and met with the students to explore the connection between imagination and design to create unique and welcoming spaces.

Problem based learning is providing relevance for what students are learning in school.

Why is it important to be able to communicate, to read, to solve problems, to collaborate?

An interview with Wayne Thornes, Assistant Principal, Shepardson STEM Elementary School

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AP Wayne Thornes

When students are working together to solve these authentic problems, engaged in working not just with their peers and teachers, but also with people throughout our community, they begin to make the connections between what they are learning and why that material is important to know.

PBL has provided a meaningful avenue for our wider community to become involved in our students’ education – not just as volunteers to support the teacher, but as experts sharing their own passions and knowledge with students.
We’ve just started PBL, but we’re already seeing the following benefits:
  • high levels of engagement from students
  • an increase in student confidence
  • higher levels of collaboration & cooperation
  • better communication skills
  • more real-life experiences for students/increased experiential learning
  • increased community engagement
It’s too soon to see this, but we’re hoping to see:
  • higher achievement
  • fewer disciplinary issues
  • fewer absences
One of our parents, after watching PBL happen (with kids that weren’t hers!) said: “I’ve been flying high knowing that our school is focused on problem based learning and that our six and seven-year-olds are seeking actionable solutions to real day-to-day puzzles. What better preparation can they have for growing up?”

EcoWeek & EdTech | Science Probes in the Field…

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Fifth grade students from across Poudre School District are using the tools of the professionals. EdTech has purchased kits to use when you attend EcoWeek.  EdTech has 4 kits (2 weather, 1 energy and 1 water) that can be used with students of all ages.

 

Each kit comes with customizable activities designed to reinforce the 5th grade science content standards.

 

 

 

Weather & Water kits address standards such as:

  • Analyze and interpret data identifying ways Earth’s surface is constantly changing through a variety of processes and forces such as plate tectonics, erosion, deposition, solar influences, climate, and human activity

Energy Kit will address standards such as:

  • Show that electricity in circuits requires a complete loop through which current can pass
  • Develop and communicate a scientific explanation addressing a question of local relevance about resources generated by the sun or Earth.

What we can do with students…

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The typical lesson flow is as follows

  1. Planning with EdTech to customize your activities
  2. EdTech will visit your site and set up a GPS/Science probe course in your schoolyard
  3. EdTech will travel to EcoWeek and set up the GPS and Science probe course
  4. EdTech can revisit data with students once back in your classroom, comparing the schoolyard and mountainous data sets.

How to reserve kits

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Follow these simple instructions to reserve using the PSD Curriculum/FOSS library system.

bit.ly/reservestuff

Around the World in 30 Minutes

This spring, many PSD middle and high school students were afforded an innovative experience through Google Pioneer Expeditions. The immersive virtual realiIMG_0280ty (VR) technology creates a memorable experience to connect kids to their learning.

At Poudre High School, Jen Musci’s English students experienced the world of Syrian Refugee children. These students, having no first-hand experience with civil war, were shocked by what they saw. Students discussed the living conditions, education, even the facial expressions of the people they saw. Afterward, they completed an essay on the crisis in Syria, using their VR experience as a source of information.

IMG_0339At Boltz Middle School, science teachers Ashley Rakiecki and Kathleen Scandary used Google Pioneer Expeditions to observe animal adaptations in the rain forests of Borneo. There were lots of “ooohs” and “aaahhhs” when students spotted a python lurking in the leaves. Students were tasked with finding other creatures hiding in the landscape, camouflaged by their adaptations.

Many experts predict that virtual reality is on it’s way to becoming a prominent feature in many modern classrooms. With the ability to be fully immersed in the content, students are better able to understand and retain what they are learningIMG_0384. VR creates a deeper, more meaningful lesson than an article or a video can provide; the students feel like they are there. Teachers have limitless ability to bolster their curriculum with these enriching VR experiences.

French students at Rocky Mountain High School toured the Palace of Versaille without ever leaving their seats. “Imagine how much money it cost to build this place,” one student exclaimed, peering up at a crystal chandelier through the Google Cardboard viewer. For many students, this is a learning experience that could not have happened without this revolutionary VR technology.
While Google Pioneer Expeditions wraps up the nationwide tour of their product, here in PSD, the EdTech team has begun gathering other VR tools. PSD TV has collaborated with EdTech to create 360video using GoPro cameras (look for them on YouTube soon!) iPods and POWIS viewers are available for checkout to teachers to use with students. Contact EdTech to learn more about the possibilities!

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Renewable Energy Data

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#edtech #edreform #renewableenergy

Students in elementary and middle school science classes across Poudre School District have been using Vernier Software & Technology probes and sensors. These sensors enable teachers and students to collect authentic data on computers for deep and detailed analysis. The data collected is accurate and better demonstrates to students how scientists perform and analyze similar experiments in the real world.

Students at Dunn, Bennett, and McGraw elementary schools are using GPS units to find weather investigation stations in the wilderness.  Students are collecting data and making conclusions based on that data. Rather than doing a lab that mimics being outside, studying weather, students are actually going out and collecting the data themselves.
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Middle School students at Lesher and Cache la Poudre have been investigating the factors that affect wind and solar power generation. The data they collected ranges from how the blade angle on a wind turbine can affect the energy output, to how the distance from a light source changes effectiveness of a solar panel. Teachers are making instructions interactive and easy to follow using Pear Deck, which allows for more open-ended inquiry investigations and student-driven learning.

If you are interested in checking out science probes and getting help with their use in your classroom contact the Ed Tech team. Elementary teachers it is no too late to sign up in Avatar for the Elementary Vernier training on Nov 9 (4th grade) and 10 (3rd and 5th grade).  IMG_0201 - Copy

Participate in the Hour of Code

#CSEdWeek #edtech #edapps

As part of Computer Science Education Week, December 8-14, you and your students can participate in the “Hour of Code”.  The Hour of Code is a one hour introduction to computer science.  It’s designed to make coding feel more accessible to anyone, at any age level, and teach the basics. Learning how to code can be a valuable resource in today’s information economy.

Here are some resources to get you started in participating in an Hour of Code the week of December 8th.

Khan Academy – Great tutorials already built in a platform that is familiar to teachers and students.

Code.org – Much of the site is already set up to make it easy to participate in an Hour of Code.  There are additional tutorials built in to continue learning into the future.

Codecademy – Scroll down to the “30 minute Goals” at the bottom of the page for some quick tutorials to get your students started.

These are just a few resources to get you started.  Feel free to contact anyone on the PSD Instructional Technology team to get more information or help setting up your own “Hour of Code”!

Tech in the Classroom

#innedco #edtech #edchat

During the year, the PSD tech trainers have the pleasure of working with teachers and students in the classroom. We really enjoy spending time building and teaching engaging, tech-embedded lessons.  Here is a collection of  recent video podcasts, put together by some of the tech trainers, showing the great work they’ve done at some PSD schools.

Click the pictures to view individual videos.

realebooks

2nd grade students at Tavelli Elementary create their own Realebooks focusing on the relationship between animal adaptations and their habitat using the software program Realewriter.

 

The 6th grade Lincoln Scholars’ book club at Lincoln IB Middle School connect in a live video conference with Holly Goldberg Sloan who wrote “Counting by Sevens” using Skype and technology tools. 

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Students in Sarah Keller’s economics class at Fort Collins High School use Popplet to demonstrate their understanding of international marketing.

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As always, check our elementary, middle schools, and high schools podcast pages for other classroom ideas and updates.  You can also follow us on Twitter @TeachTechPSD and on Facebook /teachtechpsd

Online Photo Editing

#edtech #web20 #edchat #photoediting #elearning

Ever needed to crop, resize, or change a photo in some way only to discover that you have no photo editing software?  Fear not!  There are browser based photo editors available for you to use without the need to download and install software.

The First, and most versatile, is Pixlr.  Pixlar comes in three “flavors”: Pixlr-o-Matic (playful), Pixlr Express (efficient), and Pixlr editor (advanced).

The Pixlr-o-Matic app has functionality similar to that of Instagram or other smartphone apps.

jibspixlrmtcAs you can see from the picture, using the Pixlr-o-Matic version allows you to browse many automated settings to change things like hue, color balance, contrast and effects.  If your students are creating online posters (like Glogs) this would be a useful app to quickly modify pictures to match the theme.

Pixlr Express has a little more functionality.  You can still add all of the effects that are available in Pixlr-o-Matic, but there are other added features.  jibsexprssYou can add text and other special effects as well. The menus are easy to follow and use.

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The Pixlr Editor has a layout and functionality similar to that of programs like Photoshop.  Users have the ability to use layers, crop, and free transform to name a few.  The Pixlr Editor also has a lasso tool (although not a magnetic lasso).

The Pixlr suite of browser based photo editors can prove to be very useful to you and your students.  You can choose the best one for your classroom based on your needs and abilities.
chromapad

Another browser based photo editor, called ChromaPad, developed at croar.net, is also easy to use and has mixed functionality.  The best part, it’s free to use and, like Pixlr, there’s no need to download and install anything.  

Smartphone Video Editing

#edtech #web20 #edchat #videoediting #elearning #phoneapps

For this blog, Herb Saperstone of PSD’s Channel 10 offers some good advice for using smartphones to take and edit video.

Posted on February 8, 2013

20130209-130111.jpgFor those with an on-the-go spirit and small fingers, you too can edit video on your phone. Here at Channel 10, we like our big-lensed camcorders to catch all the action-and not to mention the weighted feel of a study camera on our shoulder to provide stability and minimal shakiness.

So, what if you or your students want to make movies with their mobile phones?
3 Important Dos/Don’ts
• Always compose and record your scene in landscape or horizontal mode. TV is a horizontal playback device.
• If you want to get clean audio, use a video camera with an external microphone.  But, if you don’t have that option, just get as close to the sound source as possible.
• When you are recording, press the record button 3 seconds BEFORE you say ‘action’. Same for stopping. Let the action finish…count to 3 then hit stop. Your editor (or you) will love you for it.

Here are some recommendations you can check out.

Then there’s Apple’s I-movie for the iphone. Not bad for $4.99

-HS”

For those of you with Android/Google phones, here is a website with 10 video editing apps for iOS and Android