One of my roles at my school, is director of the school play. And I LOVE it. I get to see shy students come out of their shell and really shine. Students who normally wouldn't be seen together outside of the classroom, come together for a common goal and make lasting friendships. It's something really worth doing.
In my daily role, I do not use Google Forms very often. I don't really need to. But also, technology is an issue becuase I'm a specialist. However, for the school play, I created a questionaire via Google Forms. I put it on my classroom website, so that I could direct students to it when needed. I had the 4th and 5h grade teachers have their students fill it out during their homeroom time, thus saving me the headache of finding enough technology for them to do it in my room. I wish I had thought of it sooner than I did! It had all their answers in a nicely organized spreadsheet. I was able to see what role(s) they were intersted in, and what they were willing to do to help with set design, etc. I also used the opportunity to answer any questions in the form before they even began the survey. This included a statement about how they are commited to the play and had even had to type in their name as aknowledgment. This made my life sooooo much easier. I no longer had to spend the first ten minutes of classtime answer questions daily about the school play. I could just refer them to the play section of my website! In order to include families, I also translated everything. And now, I just open the form when I'm ready for the next group of students!
While exploring websites talking about Google Forms, I came across one blog that mentioned that when she uses them, she has the spreadsheet color coded. WOW! I don't know how to do that, and her tutorial looked as though I could follow it, but I don't have a need for that yet. During distance learning, we weren't allowed to give students grades. However, this could certainly come in handy in the future to keep track of student progress (i.e. on grade level, almost, or far below).
I also saw some "add ons" to Google Forms in my exploration. Many of them were for the spreadsheet itself, but one I saw, looked interesting. It can give your students a certificate upon completion. You design what is "proficient", and a student receiving that grade, or above, can receive your certificate. I thought this was a great incentive for students!
The three Google Forms I created this week, will help me in the future. The first, will allow me to guage how students are feeling at the beginning of the day. By doing this, I can track their mental well-being, as well as allowing them to vent anything they wish, knowing I'd be the one to see it. This could help in our grade level student concerns meetings, help me to check in with students who may need a little extra check-in, and help foster better classroom discussions. In turn, it could help me with data for my driving question.
The second Google Form, is for me to help bridge the communication gap between school and home. In it, I ask for the best way for me to contact parents. I also ask for current phone number, email, and what their student likes/dislikes about shool. Using Class Dojo will also keep them in the loop, so I ask about their experience with that.
The last Google Form I created this week, will allow students to continue their art studies, even though they will not be seeing me on a regular basis like in the past. During VTS (Visual Thinking Strategies), I ask students to look at a picture (I do not tell them anything about it, nor the artist), and tell me about what is happening. In doing so, students are able to exercise their English language skills, critical thinking skills, collaborate, gain art vocabulary, connect reading strategies to the art in their readings, and have more insight to connect the art to their own lives. In this form, I structure the questions so that it can be scaffolded in a way that supports the students. This particular form is for the third week in fifth grade. These students have been using VTS for four years now, and should be able to answer the questions easily.
Image is everything. We don't like to admit it, but it's true.
You're hungry. And because of the COVID-19 quarantine, you decide to treat yo' self to some delish home-delivered local restaurant fare. So you go to the interwebs and type in, "restaurants near me" and find two, within the genre of food you so desire. You click on the first one. It has their menu, followed by photos of some of their most popular dishes. Each photograph looks heavenly, with steam, and glistening morsels. The perspective of the photo has the food in the foreground and the dining area slightly blurry in the background. You think to yourself, "This is what I want to eat. But, I need to check out the other restaurant."
So you click on restaurant #2's link. They, too, have their menu, equally as yummy sounding, and have photographs of their most popular dishes. But, in the pictures, you see the food from an ariel view. You noticed there is no steam, no glistening morsels, and a flash glare causing surrounding items on the table to have shadows. Nothing you see in their pictures shouts, "This is food of the gods, old and new!"
In Dr. Bobbe Baggio's book, The Visual Connection: Best practices for teachres, trainers, and SMEs, she says that when we are creating presentations, we need to do these five things:
Another way to be thinking of the end user, is using visuals that help with a process. You need to make a copy of restaurant #1's menu for the annual staff party. Now, think about the copy machine in your staff room. If it's like the many copy machines I have come across in my teaching career, it has been known to be "out of order" from time to time. Now, sometimes that "out of order" means it is something that you can fix, the office manager can fix, or the technician from the copy machine company has to come out to fix. In any situation, a visual guide is neccessary for the operation of the machine. We have to find where the problem exists, and then solve it with a manual if we do not know how to fix it.
In the book, Developing Technical Training, A Structured Approach for Developing Classroom and Computer-based Instructional Materials by Ruth C. Clark, she says there are three types of processes, or systems--Business, Technical, and Scientific. In order to fix the aforementioned copy machine, we may need to rely on people in the business system. For example, in order to fix a problem such as, refilling the copy machine with the appropriate size paper, my school requires a staff member of the office, use a key to unlock the shelving with paper, and they refill the machine. We both work for the same "company", but are part of two different systems. I, as a teacher, do not have the same access as the office staff.
If I see that the problem of the copy machine is not as simple as refilling paper, I may need to look at the technical manual of the machine. Many machines have the manual located within the bottom of the machine, and/or be a digital step-by-step guide on the touchscreen of the machine. Why use a digital guide? Well, the copy machine company was thinking of the end user and decided that rather than have a user have to search through endless pages of a technical manual, the machine itself could tell the user what needs to be fixed--instantly! In either case, they both will have visual guides, along with labels, for the user to follow. Without this explicit guidance, copy machine companies would be seding out technicians constantly to do something as simple as replace toner or get paper out of a jammed area.
The S.I.T.E. Model is one that emphasizes keeping the end learner in mind while designing. This model takes subcontext into consideration when designing. You need to know where the learner's lenses are through which they see. In the "Technical" subcontext part of the S.I.T.E. Model, one must think about the end user's prior knowledge. If a teacher is having trouble with the copy machine, the copy machine company needs to make sure that the manual is written for the person with the least amount of exposure to using a copy machine. They cannot assume that a user has previously used, let alone fix, a copy machine. In my own practice, when I'm designing a lesson using technology, not only do I have to scaffold the lesson, I need to take into consideration that my end user may not have used this type of technology before. Therefore, my lesson has to reflect this.
My oh my has technology been on the forefront of my mind lately! Yesterday, I was able to experience my very first Twitter Hashtag Chat. Talk about a fast-paced two-thumbs-flying experience!
"Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we..."
We loaded up in the off-white and poo-brown Ford Aerostar in the wee hours of the morning. My little sister called "First Serve" (as in "first come, first served") and chose the "way, way back". She laid down on top of the backpacks, groceries, ice chest and sleeping bags, snuggling her rump against the back of the "back seat" to look out the back window. We drove the seemingly endless eight hours to Anaheim trading off between the two sisters and little brother in the "way way back." And all through the journey, excitedly thinking about which Disney character we would see first, or which ride was the scariest, or how many churros we'd eat in the one day at Disneyland trip. The excitement, the ambition, the expectations, the full of wonder we were experiencing before even reaching the Grapevine.
I had expectations of this trip. I had high hopes of all the fun things we would see and do there. This little country girl wanted eveything to be fun and a perfect family adventure. In the book. "The Visual Connection" by Dr. Bobbe Baggio, Baggio states, "Expectations are what we imagine might be true or what we think is likely to happen...Most importantly, expectations have emotions or feelings attached to them."
Why this trip, though?
Because this trip is the epitome of my childhood and my family dynamics. What I didn't tell you, was how many times my mom had to "pull over" to yell or spank one of us. What I also didn't tell you, was that my dad's work was the reason we were able to travel to Disneyland in the first place. Oh? Did I forget to mention that we went to Soledad Prison for an hour or two prior to our journey (so my dad could interview an inmate)? Well...my dad went in. My siblings, mother, and I argued in the car and listend to Poco during long wait. I was fourteen. And all this happened on Easter Sunday weekend, 1993.
Why did I let you in on that little glimpse of my life? Because the expectations of going to Disneyland weren't quite happening the way we, kids, had expected.
Before reaching the hotel, we had to stop in L.A. somewhere and visit a dentist. Not for us, but for the piece of evidence in the ice chest we laid upon in the "way, way back." Oh, did you think that ice chest was for food? Sorry to disappoint. My siblings, mom and I, once again, were left waiting outside in the minivan for our second round of the Disney Battle Royale. That evening, my siblings were left in the care of my dad at the hotel, while my mom and I went shopping to make Easter baskets for us kids. I got a new swimsuit (mine was left at home), and the movie FernGully, along with a plethera of jelly beans and robin's eggs.
Baggio states, "The circumstances that situate an event or thought in reality are its context. Context is important to adult learning becauase it provides relevance, and relevance is what gives the information significance and importantce to the learner." If I had just said, "As a kid, I slept on evidence in a baby's homicide case", you probably would've thought that I was a few things. 1. Crazy. 2. A liar, or even 3. Raised by terrible humans. I was none of those. My parents were my biggest supporters growing up and had clear rules. My dad was a homicide investagator, and my mom was a stay-at-home mom who struggled to make dad's paychecks last, all while raising us three rowdy kids in a two bedroom single-wide trailer in a middle of nowhere trailer park.
Does this change your opinion of me? Or my upbringing? Is the new information helping you understand the context of my family's vacation?
In the S.I.T.E. Model, the sociocultural subcontext says that, "family, peers, role models, mentors, community, employer or enterprise all contribute to and influence the social and cultural context of the individual learner." This one particular vacation is being stated to my fellow classmates (and anyone else who may be reading this) as a way to discuss context. Other than family, and close friends, it never really came up. It isn't something that I'm necessarily proud of, but it happened. It's part of my context lens through which I see.
But here I am, on Father's Day, writing about how we were able to go to Disneyland because of something tragic (yes, the person was convicted). My father passed away two years ago last month. His memorial party was Father's Day weekend that year. So, it's a bit of a trigger. But, today is a day that I celebrate the wonderful husband I have who is an amazing father to our son and our three fur babies.
I will leave you with pictures of my dad and me in Disneyland over the years.
How priveledged are you?
If you're reading this, you probably have the means to own either a smart phone, tablet, or computer. If you're reading this, you probably have higher education. Most people wouldn't give this blog more than a mere glance, as it is geared toward educators.
What types of biases do we hold when we, as educators, are planning lessons or units? Other than socioeconomic, and skin color, there are many biases that we may not even think about. Here's a short list of some off the top of my head:
When I went on these websites, I was specifically looking for lessons that brought up racism and equity. I wanted to know what specifically I should say or do in order to show my students that all are welcome and all can speak their truth. I first went to Common Sense Media, as I had had success last week in getting lessons about digital citizenship. I clicked on the News & Media Literacy Resource Center. But I didn't see anything that really spoke to what I was looking for for 5th grade. I kept going, searching for something that spoke to me. I read a teacher's blog post about their experience teaching remotely during the COVID-19 Quarantine and how they gamified their Civics class, it didn't quite give me the specific answers I was looking for, but I pressed on.
And then I saw it. A hyperdoc. Something I could wrap my head around!
This amazing person has created a hyperdoc for their students about Juneteenth. Although it was for an 11th grade class, it spoke to me. It had all the bells and whistles I would've liked when I was young and searching for answers. This teacher allows their students to explore the information and make art to express their knowledge. THIS is the learning within the learning we want. When we are free to explore, we make the learning more personal to ourselves. We thirst to learn more because it is relevant to us.
During distance learning, I've been able to adapt quite nicely. I love going paperless, and incorporating technology into my classroom.
A few years ago, I was looking for editing software for my online business so I can make Youtube videos and videos about my products. Although Screenflow is a paid software, it has far exceeded my expectations. With it, I am able to make screen recordings, video selfie recordings, voice recordings, and any of these simultaneously or as stand alones.
Music is a passion of mine, and my go-to for creating music is GarageBand. In this app, I'm able to record my own music, mix it, or use a template of sounds to create my own music as a DJ might in a club! This app is PERFECT for students too! A few years ago, I created a lesson plan for students to create their own music and then use it in a video.
That's another great thing about these two programs--I'm able to use the music I create in GarageBand for my Screenflow videos. AND when I upload them to Youtube, I don't have to worry about copyright infringements! Win!
We've all been there. We've all walked into a room with a plethora of chairs and tables, anxiously looking at anyone who is already seated feeling our souls are being looked into. We make a half-second eye contact with someone as we push past. Sometimes we mutter a squeaky, "excuse me." We continue shuffling, and take our place near the back (with the way back already taken) instead of the front, so as not to appear too eager. We look to our left and right and say a quick, "hello" as we rummage through our belongings looking for our pen and notepad (or laptop/device). We breathe a sigh of relief as we wait for others to join, doing the same dance we just performed. And then...we stare deeply into their souls as they, now, push past.
Sarah Magallano teaches 5th grade. She also coaches teachers on integrating art & engineering into their lesson plans.