Robotics, PBL, and collaboration

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonAt TechJam this past autumn I was fortunate to run into a number of student groups who were there to show off projects. That forum, and others like it, gives learners a space to share, interact, and learn from each other. One group I met was from Big Picture South Burlington (@BigPictureSB), a community of learners working in the Big Picture model within South Burlington High School. Big Picture is all about authentic real-world learning, and this group of students had chosen to enter the ChampBot Challenge at the Champlain Mini Maker Faire. Talking with the students and their advisor Jim Shields during and after got me thinking about a number of issues related to collaboration, constructivism, and student choice in STEM education. Continue reading

Project-based learning at Essex Middle School: algebra and songwriting

Making math and music at The Edge

algebra and songwritingWe were lucky enough to get to sit down with three groups of students at Essex Middle School’s Edge Academy just before the break and hear how their year-long project-based learning (PBL) projects are going.

In the final installment of the series, we talk with three students making math and music in equal measures.

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Making time lapse videos with students

Using Lapse It for Android

making time lapse videos with studentsStudents at Saint Francis Xavier school in Winooski used Lapse It, a time lapse camera app to demonstrate the mitosis process.  Mary Ellen Varhue, the middle level science teacher at SFX explained, “in the past this would have been a poster project.  Using Lapse It gave students a much better appreciation of the dynamic nature of mitosis as a process that moves from one phase to the next smoothly.”

Here are some of her thoughts on student learning, the app, and ideas for next time.

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Project-based learning and creative writing

The play’s the (learning) thing

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant InstituteAlso the musical film and the series of novels. Stay with us on this.

In the 2nd of our three-part series looking at project-based learning with The Edge team at Essex Middle School, we talk to a novelist, a playwright (slash-director-slash-costume-designer-slash-actor) and a film-maker — all at the same time.

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The 7 characteristics of a digitally competent teacher

How do you score?

The fine folks over at Daily Genius recently created this infographic, which has subsequently made the rounds on twitter. If you haven’t seen it yet, may I present “The 7 Characteristics of a Digitally Competent Teacher” Continue reading

New podcast ep: Building an eco-machine at The Edge

Essex 7th graders partnering with UVM on food sustainability project

The 21st Century Classroom podcast by the Tarrant InstituteJust before the holiday break, we got the chance to talk with some of the students on The Edge team at Essex Middle School, in Essex Junction, Vermont, about the progress of their year-long inquiry projects.

In the first of three installments, we talk with a trio of 7th graders who are building a living machine, with the help of their community partner, the University of Vermont.

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Reflecting in the math classroom

Keeping your resolution to reflect

Susan Hennessey, Professional Development CoordinatorMy colleague, Meredith Swallow, recently shared a post about the importance of reflection in her professional growth, which got me thinking.  She points her readers to Reflect or Refract: Top 3 Tips for the Reflective Educator where the authors suggest “reading a wide variety of education blogs regularly exposes educators to new ideas and concepts. Transformational thinking occurs when conversations about these posts develop. New ideas that stem from blog posts provide alternate thoughts to consider.”

I couldn’t agree more. Here are a few tech-savvy math bloggers who you might want to engage with to inspire ongoing reflection.

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Links Round Up: Goal-Setting for Personalized Learning

Give your students ownership over their learning through goal-setting activities

Goal-settingHappy New Year! With school back in session and a new year upon us, why not use this time as an excuse to take a deep breath, reassess your goals, and refocus on what you and your students are striving to achieve?

As your students are creating their typical New Year’s resolutions of being nicer to their siblings, being more creative in their twitter posts, and vowing to clean their room at least once a month, why not encourage academic goals? When given a chance to take ownership over their learning, perhaps students will be more committed to the steps needed to achieve in the classroom.

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Thinking about flipped science classrooms

Science Saturday, with Tarrant Institute research fellow Mark OlofsonHere at the beginning of the year, many people make resolutions. A new year can mean new opportunities, and offer chances to implement large changes. One change that we see teachers take on is the idea of implementing the flipped classroom. Shifting direct instruction to video in order to clear up more class time for individual and small group supported worktime sounds like both a great idea and a lot of prep work. Today I would like to dig into what it would mean to flip a science class, from both a practical and philosophical viewpoint. If it is a change that you are considering in the new year, I hope that you will find this useful. Continue reading