Monday, March 19, 2018

Just A Few Spots Left in the Minnetonka Spring Site Visit April 5, 2018

For the past 15 years, thousands of educators have visited Minnetonka Public Schools, including the National School Boards Association which hosted its second visit to Minnetonka in 2014. Come see learning in action, witness proven programs and gather innovative ideas which you can take back to your school! Our next visit is Thursday, April 5, 2018, and there are a few spots left. Register Today! Earlier this school year we hosted 75 visitors from five states across the country on October 27, 2017.

Historically, our tours focused on how Minnetonka uses technology as an accelerator of learning. Back in 2003, visitors came to see SMARTBoards and soundfields and a learning management system implemented in K-12. In 2011 visitors came to see iPads used in learning in a 1:1 environment. With the advent of our Teaching and Learning Instructional Framework the 2016 tour focus shifted from technology to the eight dimensions of the Framework and how they are embedded in our programming, our instructional platform, and our culture.

You can choose to start your visit at an elementary school, middle school or our high school. After your tours at a school, you will transition to our District Service Center for lunch and breakout sessions of your choice. Choose from a wide variety of sessions led by Minnetonka staff to learn how things work behind the scenes. Sessions include innovation, the Teaching and Learning Instructional Framework, online learning, coding, Design for Learning, assessment, the curriculum review process, gifted and talented programming, student support services, personalized learning, 1:1 iPads and more. More details on possible sessions from which to choose can be found here. Discover best practices for implementing meaningful instruction that will accelerate learning, have time to ask questions and head back to your own school full of ideas! Availability is limited in order to keep sessions small. Lunch is provided. Register Today!

Learn more about Minnetonka Schools and Technology Integration:

Monday, March 12, 2018

Stop Motion Races to Visually Demonstrate High School Physics Concepts

Sometimes technology offers an easy and better way to visualize concepts than traditional teaching methods. For example, recently in high school physics, ninth grade students were learning about velocity and acceleration. Understanding the differences between these terms is something that I can remember struggling with back when I was in high school, and back then I only remember copying down definitions for each term from a textbook. Recently students in Joe Cossette’s ninth grade Intro to Physical Science class at Minnetonka High School were learning this content and used their iPads to help visualize the meaning of these concepts.

To begin, students were given the velocity of one object and the acceleration of another object. They then had to use the Excel app on their iPad to calculate where and how far each of these objects would travel in a tenth of a second, creating a data table of this information. Students then used Excel to make a scatter plot showing the displacement of each object. Once they had their data, students set up their iPads on top of some textbooks as as tripod over a sheet of grid paper. The two objects were placed on the paper and then students set the objects on top of this.

They used the Stop Motion app to photograph the stationary objects, changing the frames per second on the app for 10 fps.  After the initial photograph, students moved each object the specified distance traveled in a 10th of a second using the values from their Excel data sets, took a second picture, and repeated this process 30 times. In other words, 10 pictures were taken per second to produce a 3 second video. The app then puts these all into a short video.

This video, along with the data set, was posted in a class discussion board on Schoology so classmates could view it and compare to their own. Since everyone was given different initial variables, students were able to compare and visually see the differences between acceleration and velocity in each group’s video. When I asked Joe about the task, he explained:

This task required students to perform a large variety of skills. It was fun to have a projected that involved rearranging kinematic equations, creating custom excel formulas for a table of data, inserting a motion graph, and producing a stop motion video. In many ways, this activity was a “reverse lab” experience for the students. Typically, the goal of physics is to collect data about a moving object and quantify its motion with a constant velocity or acceleration. This task provided the velocity and acceleration and required students to create the motion. Some students that have made stop motion videos on their own were excited to use the techniques from physics to help make their final products look more realistic. With the rise in computer animation, the idea of using physics to create movies that emulate the motion of the natural world is not only engaging, it is a strategy used by professionals in the work force.

I’ve seen other uses of stop motion in classrooms around Minnetonka, including students using construction paper cut outs to visualize/animate a movie about with rotation of the planets in the solar system as well as explain the reasons for the seasons. I sure wish these technology tools had been available when I was in science class, both as a teacher and as a student!
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Monday, March 5, 2018

KRTS Elementary Student Daily News Show: Kids Run The Station

Each weekday at two of our elementary schools as well as our high school, students provide morning announcements for their classmates through a televised morning new show. These new shows are written, anchored, directed and each produced by student teams. There is a mini TV studio in each of these three schools’ media centers where this all takes place. Recordings of these shows are then posted online for any students who missed it as well as parents to watch. 

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to appear on one of these new shows at scenic Heights Elementary School. The new show is called KRTS, and acronym that stands for Kids Run the Station. I was a guest for February’s I Love to Read Month, highlighting two of my favorite books: Tuesday by David Wiesner and Summer of the Monkeys by Wilson Rawls. Media Specialist Melinda Barry has been running this student new show overseeing the student new show for 17 years. 

Every fifth grader at the school gets the opportunity to be a part of this morning show on a rotating schedule. There are multiple jobs from which they can choose including anchor, camera operator, director and more (see the full list further below). Daily features are a few noteworthy, age appropriate news items selected by students, the weather, sports, highlights of items in lost and found, and a Chinese Word of the Day (the school offers an optional Chinese language immersion program). The script is read off a teleprompter that is simply a Google Doc which Melinda has shared with the writers to edit beforehand. 

These news shows offer students the opportunity for real world learning as well as practice using collaboration and communication skills, each dimensions on the Minnetonka Framework for Teaching and Learning. Students enjoy this very much. Starting in kindergarten, they each look forward to running the show themselves some day as a fifth grader. One former Scenic Heights fifth grader is currently working in journalism. Writing and presenting stories for an authentic audience is a lifelong skill that's invaluable in almost any field.

KRTS Jobs:
Sound: Uses the sound board to turn the microphones up and down therefore controlling what the building hears during the broadcast.
Floor Director: Scrolls the teleprompter so the cast knows what to say.
Camera 1 & 2: Controls the cameras so the viewers see what they are supposed to see.
Tech Director: Uses the switcher to control what the building sees from either camera.

Head Anchor: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade. Good topics include interesting animal facts, ways we can be "green", new developments in science, big events like elections….    Avoid stories about movies that aren't rated G or stories that would be scary to younger kids. Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Co Anchor: Writes and presents a school or local story that will appeal to kindergarten-5th grade students. Good topics include things that are happening at Scenic Heights or in Minnetonka schools, local events including theater productions, celebrations,....  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Sports: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade.Good topics include sports events at Scenic Heights, Minnetonka Schools sports events, Minnesota Pro team sporting events or major sporting events like the Super Bowl, the Olympics….  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Weather: Writes and presents a story that will appeal to kids kindergarten through 5th grade. The story should include the temperature high and low, and a brief forecast (cloudy, sunny, snowy…).  Also include a brief weather fun fact.  Submit your story in the teleprompter and bring a hard copy.
Lost and Found: When you arrive at school in the morning, select four items from the Scenic Heights Lost and Found to bring to the studio and present on the show.  No preparation at home needed.  
Chinese Word of the Week: Welcome the first grader who will tell us the Chinese word of the week. No preparation at home needed.
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Monday, February 26, 2018

Upper Elementary & Middle School Years: The Opportune Time to Learn Digital Balance

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When speaking with parents I have often emphasized the need for kids to learn to use technology and manage distractions during their K-12 years before they leave home as independent adults. The alternative--holding back the use of technology without parents and teachers present as guides and mentors--ultimately will hurt youth and ill prepare them for their future. I know that for some, banning the use of technology that could be a source of distraction so you don't have to deal with it seems like an easier option up front. However, the effects of doing so are worse in the long term. Basically you are robbing the student of years of experience and opportunity to practice how to use technology and balance its role in their lives.

I have read news stories of college students who spend their time on social media during class because they don’t know how to balance and focus their time and attention. Prevented from using it in their K-12 years, either through bans or lack of access, they head out into the "real world" on their own unexperienced and unprepared for managing their time, distraction, entertainment and personal use of technology in the workplace or higher education. Recently a colleague with a college aged daughter relayed a story about her classmates watching Netflix during lectures. His daughter realized that these students are literally paying hundreds of dollars per class to sit and watch Netflix episodes.

For today’s students as well as adults, this also means balancing distractions that come with access to technology available on pretty much any device used. The lines between use of technology for work and play for adults, or school and play for kids are ever more blurred. Texting, Snapchat, Instagram, video games, and more can be seen simultaneously while trying to focus on work or school. Learning to balance this is essential for success as an adult, but necessary to learn well before then.

Recently when speaking with a parent he mentioned that learning this balance should all come before high school, since high school is the time where grades are official and count on a student's transcript. As early as freshman year, grades can determine one’s future opportunities. Grades prior to that for the most part don’t really have such an effect, so it is a better time to make mistakes that might result in a poor grade. Upper elementary and middle school years are the opportune times to work on mastering the skills needed to focus on tasks and set aside disruptions. I’d rather have my own children learn this as they are forming their study habits and learning to manage their smartphone and technology access with adult guidance than graduate without these important skills.

In the past I’ve written about the benefits of a gradual release for kids when it comes to using technology. Learn more about the best time to get a smartphone, when to start social media, help kids prevent FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), prevent distractions, be a digital mentor and more below: 

Monday, February 19, 2018

14 Popular Tech Tools to Increase Student Learning & Engagement

Last Wednesday in place of a regularly scheduled monthly staff meeting, all of our high school teachers spent that time in instructional technology staff development. The teachers each learned about additional technology tools they could use with their students. There were fourteen sessions offered for 45 minutes, each led by a different teacher, and all instructors were all colleagues of the attendees. They called these classes "Tech Mini-Sessions."

Each of the fourteen mini-session descriptions are below. Teachers signed up ahead of time and received CEUs for their time spent learning. All staff were expected to participate as this was in place of a staff meeting. Our three high school instructional technology coaches 
Ben, Darren and Jason each led sessions and organized this event.

QuestioningResearch shows that teachers ask hundreds of questions per day. How can we get the most “bang for our buck” in regards to questioning and discussion? How can we use this strategy as a tool for student engagement? For when we use content to engage students, learning occurs. Join us as we discuss the characteristics of a high quality question and ways in which we can incorporate them into our daily lessons. Various discussion techniques and technology tools will be highlighted such as Answer Garden and Padlet. Please bring an upcoming lesson or unit that you are wanting to focus on.
QuizizzLooking for another fun way to review? Quizziz is a multi-player game that students can join with a game code and play on their own. What's great about Quizziz is that students get questions on their individual devices instead of on the SmartBoard, and can move through the questions at their own pace. This feature eliminates students signing out due to boredom or because they're "not winning." Quizziz gives teachers valuable data that they can use to review common misconceptions with students right after the game is over. The ease of creating Quizziz games is only a few clicks away if you already have a completed quiz!
Class KickClasskick allows students to complete assignments and get help instantly from their teacher and peers. Students self-pace on assignments with their iPads, while teachers can write notes for all students to see or give tailored feedback to individual students. This is great is great way to replace short paper pencil quizzes, as well as, a "first five" or "last five" activity. Bring a lesson or idea to create and share your own ClassKick.
Book CreatorBook Creator is an app that allows the user to create fully interactive ebooks. Students can create comics, photo journals, learning logs, lab reports, etc. With Book Creator, students can incorporate video, audio, images, and text to create a polished, professional product suitable for sharing. Students can also collaborate with one another and create group, or classroom, eBooks. In this session, we will look at the features of Book Creator, as well as options for collaboration and publication. During this session you will be creating a book specific to your content area or interest.
Schoology Quizzes & Question BanksAre you looking for a way to increase the academic integrity of multiple choice or free response tests, make grading easier, and get better information to inform instruction once the tests are completed? This session will cover: 1. The construction of question banks that can populate randomized Schoology quizzes. 2. Creating a test code to limit access to to assessments. and 3. Using the view by question option in results to inform instruction.
FlipGridVideo-based responses made easy and fun! Meet your students where they're at. Selfie videos, what more can we say? Flipgrid is a tool that allows students to post responses to your questions, topics, or discussions in short video clips and share them on grids. Students can then watch one another’s clips and respond. You can use their responses in assessments or use them to build community and relationships. The concept may not new, but the elegance and ease of the tool is. Try it out if you want to introduce a new tech tool with a minimal learning curve for both you and your students. You will have the opportunity to create and be ready to run a Flipgrid for your own class.
PearDeck (Google Addon)Breathe some new life into an older tool. Rethink how PearDeck can fit into your classroom teaching routines. This session will highlight how to use the Google Slides PearDeck addon that allows teachers to add interactive questions to any Google Slide presentation. Allowing you to ask questions during instruction and quickly get insights into how well your students understand the information. Even if you have used, or already been using Pear Deck, join us to learn new features and develop a PearDeck lesson to use with students.
Digital Card SortsIf you use card sort activities in your classroom and are tired of envelopes full (or partially full) of cards in your desk, try turning them digital. In this session, you'll learn how to create and facilitate card sorts with students using Desmos. Never have an incomplete set again as the activities are stored and managed using your Google login. Bring a set of terms or images for students to sort in an upcoming lesson. We will create and share our card sorts!
CoggleStudents can collaborate on mindmaps together using Coggle. Coggle is a step up from Popplet, as it allows students to work on the same concept map in real time using their Google accounts. Students can personalize their maps and share with their teachers, reflect it on the classroom computer to share with the class, or copy the link to share their Coggle with anyone! This session will introduce you to Coggle and show you how it can be used for an inquiry based project in the natural sciences or a group project in social sciences. Learn how you can make Coggle work for your classroom! Come with a lesson idea for which a mindmap would enhance your content.
Video Discussion BoardsUtilizing student designed videos for discussion boards and formative assessments. In this session you will be introduced to examples and opportunities of how teachers are currently utilizing video to advance student learning to the upper levels of the framework. We will discuss how to enhance Schoology's capabilities with video. By the end of the session teachers will have developed a formative assessment utilizing video.
EdPuzzle (Pro Version)EdPuzzle is a way to have your students reflect on a video while they are watching it. If you want them to watch a video on their own and ensure that they watch it, you can create an EdPuzzle. It's great for homework, when you have a reserve, or if the content is a topic that works better as individual reflection rather than whole class. You can add audio comments in case there's anything you want them to pay particular attention to. You can also create true/false, multiple choice, and short answer questions. Videos can be clipped and copied.
DoInkGreen Screen provides a way to create green screen videos and images on your iPad. The app lets you combine photos and videos from the camera roll with live images from your iPad’s camera. This app emphasizes ease-of-use and simplicity allowing students to tell a story, explain an idea, and express themselves in truly creative and unique ways. Bring a lesson for which green screen might allow for student creativity in your content.
Google Docs Assignment App in SchoologyIf you've ever wanted to check on a student's essay progress or aren't sure which students actually opened up the document you sent them, then you'll want to use the Google Assignment app in Schoology. The Google Assignments app further integrates Google Docs into Schoology. Once you set a Schoology assignment as a Google Assignment, it will make a copy of the assignment for each student, with you as the owner of the document. It allows you to view student progress on a document without asking them to share permissions. The workflow for students is simplified and turning in assignments is as simple as clicking on a "Submit Assignment" button in Schoology.
QuizletMany students are already using Quizlet flashcards to study terms and concepts and many subject areas have lots of Quizlet decks already created and ready to go. This session will look at creating and searching for Quizlet decks and using some of the more interactive features like Quizlet Live and the new Quizlet diagrams. Have a lesson idea for which Quizlet could increase student engagement and critical thinking.

This process of ongoing learning, sharing, dialog, reflection and colleague observation is one of the keys to our success and growth of our 1:1 program. You can learn more about our it, iPads, and use of technology for learning in the additional r
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