Sunday, February 10, 2013

Just Another Typical Day

This past Wednesday (February 6) was the second annual Digital Learning Day.  New Milford High School joined thousands of other schools and educators across the country to showcase how digital learning is changing education.  The only thing though is that this day was just like any other typical day at my school as digital learning has become an embedded component of our school's culture.  For years we have embraced the effective integration of technology to enhance the teaching and learning process.  

For the sake of Digital Learning Day I asked my staff to share some of the activities that they planned and implemented.  Below is a listing of some of activities that incorporated digital learning:

  • In Mrs. Collentine’s Humanities class, students worked in the computer lab on researching the history of drama and theater in the culture of their own heritage. They then had to create a Prezi, PowerPoint or Google Doc presentation to be shared at a later time on what they found/learned to the class.
  • In Mrs. Paulus’s Senior English Survey class, students worked in the computer lab to conduct research on a travel destination of choice in the U.S.  They then selected an automobile based on gas mileage and comfort level for distance. Students calculated travel expenses, such as hotels, gas, attractions, etc. and planned the trip from start to finish having 6000 dollars to spend for 12 days.  For a final project, each student had to create brochures and posters using technology tools to accompany a written paper detailing their trip.
  • One of the biggest fears among students in an inquiry based setting is that they don't feel ready for the discovery task. They also feel that the teacher is too smart and just because she solved a problem easily on the board doesn't mean they will be able to do the same. Ms. Chowdhury’s plan in Physics was for students to use their iPads/tablets and create screen casts of them solving a dynamics problem with details of every step. The students then kept the screen cast as live notes to use on any homework assignment or before a test. The advantage of solving the problem on screen cast versus notes is that it records their voice so they can hear the reasoning behind doing a step the way it was done. She also plans to use these screen casts next year to show students that other students, just like them, had solved the same problems before and find comfort in knowing that nothing is being demanded of them that is beyond their ability.
  • Mrs. Groff’s, Mrs. Aufiero’s, and Mrs. Montecuollo’s collaborative English classes wrapped up a WebQuest in the computer lab.  The students looked at various websites that deal with modern day injustices and evaluated the resources.  They then researched a particular injustice and found/evaluated at least 2 reliable sources about that injustice.  This information will be turned into a research project at the end of the period. 
  • Mrs. Groff’s Digital Journalism class researched and wrote stories, as per any other normal day in class. Her other English classes took a virtual tour of the Globe Theater and learned stage directions for the Shakespearean historical play, Julius Caesar.  
  • Ms. Millan’s Sociology students learned how to use and create their own blog using Blogger from their Gmail accounts.  She discussed the purposes and goals of blogging and allowed students to create their own blog based on a guided question from her site. The Blog topics were additional topics of conversation relevant to their chapters of study such as socialization, deviance and crime; love, marriage and the family.
  • Mr. Fiscina’s Honors Geometry students were instructed Tuesday in class that their homework was to log onto Edmodo and watch a lesson about Area of Regular Polygons.  He used an app on his iPad called Educreations to create the lesson. Students came into class on Digital Learning Day and were given an assignment that needed to be completed.  Students who understood the lesson got started right away.  Students that needed help were able to ask questions and get assistance from Mr. Fiscina.  The class was then sectioned off for students in 3 categories (understood the lesson, only a few questions, and need a lot of help).  This way Mr. Fiscina was able to spend the most time with the students that needed a great deal of help and less time with the students who understood the lesson.  Challenge problems were given for students who mastered the material quickly.  All work was collected and checked for understanding and conceptual mastery.  He also had students use Poll Everywhere to check for understanding in the beginning of the lesson.  
  • Since the “flipped” approach to instruction is proving to be a key asset in modern education, one of Mrs. Chellani’s recent initiatives has been to provide students with a means to learn independently utilizing digital content.  Starting in December 2011, she began using Edmodo, an online platform that enables innovative and social learning, as a way to share online videos and content on the relevant topic for her students to view and assign online polls for her students to complete in order to foster discussion on the topic the next day.  Although enabling the “flipped” approach to instruction using Edmodo has transformed the way material is taught and comprehended by students, it has been difficult to find resources that combine curriculum delivery, real-world examples, and assessments in a cohesive manner.  As a result, she has started to create her own online learning modules, using the software Adobe Captivate.  On Digital Learning Day, Mrs. Chellani introduced her website to her students and demonstrated how these interactive videos will be utilized for future instruction.
  • Ms. Perna utilized computers with her classes to facilitate student learning and growth.  Students in her US I classes conducted research to help them work on the writing process.  Students in US I CP went through the research process to develop an outline for an essay focusing on which of the early presidents they believe was most effective/influential.  Students in US I conducted research to write a biography on an influential early American.  Her US II classes worked on a “Roaring Twenties” project.  They put together, in a creative manner, a presentation on one cultural aspect of the twenties (music, fashion, women, food, etc) that will be presented in class at the end of the week during a “Roaring Twenties Cultural Day.” 
  • Works of art and architecture, not unlike historical documents, biographies, or works of fiction, are a testament to particular cultures and historical events. The purpose of the assignment in Mr. Tusa’s AP European History class was to have students reflect on the manner in which works of art or architecture can help them capture, represent, or express in visual form contrasts between different cultures.  Students had to compare/contrast each of the respective pair of works of art/architecture listed below in terms of the manner in which each work represents some key aspect(s) of a particular culture. The key idea was for them to be able to discern those differences in the works that help to explain differences in the particular culture they capture or represent.  Students worked in pairs using Mac Books to record comments on a shared Google Doc. They then used teacher provided links to locate the works ( and  Other websites/links could be used only with the prior permission from Mr. Tusa.  The length of the comments/critique had to be 100 words per work. Works included Michelangelo’s “David”, Giacometti’s “Man Walking”, Francisco Goya “The Third of May”, Picasso’s “Guernica”, Bruegel’s “Peasant Dances”, Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of the Grand Jette”, El Escorial, Versailles, image of the interior of a Protestant, and image of the interior of a Catholic Church
  • For Ms. Ginter’s Physical and Environmental Science Resource Class, the students investigated concepts regarding earthquakes and tsunamis, then related them to Newton's Laws. On the computers, they explored the different activities with a partner and completed concept maps to go along with them, using question prompts along the way. For her Biology class, the students worked with partners using the computers in class and their mobile learning to conduct an investigation to identify who first coined the term 'cells' and what aided this discovery. They then identified the characteristics of and differences between eukaryotic and prokaryotic cells and completed a Venn diagram. There was an assignment up on Edmodo for them to respond to regarding cell theory for homework.
So what did you do on Digital Learning Day 2013?

1 comment:

  1. My graphic design students created a My Valentine Poster using photoshop. My students had to follow an extensive rubric that outlined how to create the poster. Prior to the My Valentine Poster, students had to watch a video on how to create vector shapes in photoshop. The students had to incorporate 5 vector shapes in the poster along with many other items.