Friday, September 25, 2015

The Bad Idea Factory

Today was a Passion Project Day.  It is only the 3rd one, but I'm already getting a little worried about it.

You'll be able to see from the pictures below that passion for the Passion Project seemed to wane as the day went on.

Today's goal was to start generating ideas, both good and bad.  I am getting a lot of my ideas from Kevin Brookhouser's book, The 20Time Project. One of his ideas was the Bad Idea Factory.  It sounded like a good idea and a possibly rocking good time with the kids, so I wanted to try it. 

I did a little google searching for other teachers that gave it a try.  I came across a blog post of Karl Lindgren-Streicher's on the day he tried it in his classroom.  He talked about how he 'borrowed' from Kevin Brookhouser and Kate Petty (I've met her in person through a friend.  She was my sister's teacher.).  I pretty much did the same thing he did.  It sounded fabulous.

So, my plan was to have them free write on some questions about things they have always wanted to do for about 20-25 minutes.  These were some of the comments I heard and exchanges I had during the free write session:

"Miss Barron, what if I want to be a median?"

"A median?  You mean like in math or in the middle of a road?"

"No, like with your mind."

"Oh, you mean medium."

"I want to learn how to drive using my feet"

"Miss Barron, how do you spell bungee?"

 For the most part, the free write portion went well.  The Bad Idea Factory portion on the other hand. . . went really well too - during 1st period.  The kids and I had a blast and they did a pretty good job of filling the board up (as you can see).

Period 1

Things started to wane a bit as the day went on...

Period 2

Period 3
Things in 4th period with the 11th graders (periods 1-3 are 10th grade honors students) seemed to pick up a bit, but the majority of what is on the board was written by one student whose bad ideas all had to do with cars.
Period 4

Period 5
 I was a little disappointed in 5th period.  There were some "bad ideas" that I erased before taking this picture because they weren't very nice to certain people.  It made me kind of sad that they didn't seem to know what they were essentially saying was hurtful.

This activity just didn't go as well as I thought it would based on the descriptions from Kevin Brookhouser and Karl Lindgren-Streicher.  I'm wondering if it has to do with the socioeconomic and racial make up of my students.

There was one point during 4th period were a student noticed that one of the bad ideas was actually a good one, or could be turned into a good one:  texting while driving.  I used the opportunity to have them explain how we could turn that into a good project.  They came up with one I hope one of them does:  create a campaign to warn teenagers of the dangers of texting while driving.

I guess I can chalk this one up to a mostly misadventure. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

First Two Weeks of School 2015

I originally created this post with the intent to blog on the first day of school, but things got in the way.  That seems to be the possible theme for this year, as I then decided I would use this post to blog about the first week of school...and things got in the way.  Those things were my Master's program, planning and grading.

So, here I am, blogging about the first two weeks of school.

Let's try and take this chronologically.

I'm one of the "techy" teachers on campus  (If you've ever read anything on this blog before, you're probably thinking, duh.  If you haven't read anything on this blog before, why are you starting here?).

So I planned to follow Catlin Tucker's example and avoid the boring cliched first day of going over the syllabus.  My plans and the technology's plans were not the same.

Of course, the students couldn't log into the Chromebooks and access the internet.

So we ended up going over the syllabus for the first two periods and chatting about the things we liked to read and watch.  It wasn't until 3rd period that we figured out if the students "browsed as guest" that they could access everything they needed.

From that point on, the rest of the day was pretty good.  The kids liked taking the quiz and they enjoyed competing against each other with the Socrative Space Race.

The second day I switched things out a bit and got 1st and 2nd caught up with the rest of the day, and 3rd on caught up on the syllabus.

The network was still being wonky.  So, the students were still browsing as a guest.  But, I still got them all signed up to (though, there were some snafus with that the company is ironing out).  I gave them some time to practice on the site and had a practice unit for them to do that was due at the end of the week (I have not yet gone into grade said unit yet *sigh*).

I got the kids signed up to Google Classroom and started off with an assignment on Two-Chunk paragraphs with attached screencast directions.

I'm in the middle of grading these, after taking a "break" to give the students some feedback on essays, and the students seem to understand the concept and formatting better than they did last year at this time.

On Friday, I tried out Classroom's new question feature with an attached presentation with some videos related to Genius Hour and 20% Time.  I'm going to attempt this with my students this year.  I'm calling it...

I had students respond to a question asking about what stood out most to them and to respond to at least one other student.  That seemed to work out really well too.  

This past week, we worked on our narrative.  The previous week, I used a Google form and took a quick survey of the students to see what kind of narrative essay they wanted to write:  (auto)biographical or a short story.  The short story won.

I had them start off with an assignment that had them going through the ABC strategy (Attack the prompt, Brainstorm, and Choose the order).  I encouraged them to use Lucidchart add-on or the Google Drawing function to create their graphic organizers.  This ended up taking way too long.  Students were a little intimated, I think, by the charts and it took many of them two days to finished and cut into the two days I gave them for drafting their essay in class.

Friday was another Passion Project day.  I had some questions to help them explore their passion and try and begin to think about what they want to do for their projects.  I'm following a lot of the advice/format of Kevin Brookhauser and his book, The 20 Time Project.

I think that is it.  I've got to get to reading and doing my assignments for MY class now...