|Spoiler Alert! The last line is “…until the day they were crushed to death in a shower of flying stones.”|
School Community Meeting
On Thursday evening, we held a presentation and meeting for students, parents, and teachers to learn about and discuss our school’s inaugural PYP Exhibition to be held in about two months, on 26 April during our International Children’s Day event.
I began the meeting by reviewing the description of the Exhibition on the International Baccalaureate Primary-Years-Program website and the directing everyone to the Exhibition Guidelines for further details.
Next, I delivered a short presentation. Here are the slides and notes:
I was happy to field many questions, which made it more conversational than a typical presentation. It was also an indication that the ‘zen’ of my slides was effective at stimulating thinking rather than simply containing information, a goal I set in the post Exhibition pre-Zen-tation.
Exactly the kind of energy we’re looking for during this collaborative adventure.
Finally, we discussed and agreed to our PYP Exhibition Essential Agreements.
These were created collaboratively in class. Please note the inclusion of all of the PYP Attitudes. Everyone seemed satisfied with them as they are, so we agreed and adjourned the meeting. In the interest of transparency, all materials were posted on our class blog in a post similar to this one.
|SiON SoundObject Quartet|
SiON SoundObject Quartet is an awesome Flash-based synthesizer and mini-sequencer and was the first tool I introduced. The controls are very inviting and it provides a thorough sampling of different control interfaces being used on professional audio equipment. I especially like the ‘analog’ vocabulary like VCF (Voltage Controlled Filter) and ADSR (Attack Decay Sustain Release). Please enjoy this informative tutorial video on ADSR:
|I learned on a Doepfer. (Nina Richards CC BY 3.0)|
|One Motion Drum Machine|
Drum Machines have become the backbone of popular music. There are two online drum machines I recommend for elementary students, One Motion Drum Machine and Drumbot. One Motion is very easy to use and has good ‘physical’ controls making it perfect for young learners and beginners. It is, however, part of a suite of applications including very distracting games, so students need frequent reminders to get back on task after their ‘game breaks’, although I have observed that the games are well designed for fine-motor and mouse tracking skills. Although Drumbot is a bit trickier to operate, it is much more flexible and mimics current professional controllers like the Dave Smith Instruments Tempest. Patterns can be saved and looped, reorganized, and special effects added and manipulated in many ways. Finally, it allows users to save their creations, which will become a popular feature among my students as they begin producing more music that they want to share with friends and family.
Soundation is a virtual studio, sequencer, and social network, all in one. As with MuseScore, users create and share their music in a vibrant collaborative community. It is almost identical to professional digital audio recording software like Pro Tools, although simpler and less powerful. Older students have been highly engaged with it from the beginning, and I can’t wait to hear the music they will make as their skills and visions grow.
All of the links for these tools are kept on a simple Music with Computers wiki, which was emailed to parents after the first session. Evidently, students are visiting the sites at home because they come to class with new tricks to share and I’ve received emails from parents expressing thanks for collecting fun and engaging resources! I hope you enjoy them as well.
I also created a JIES Music account on SoundCloud, to which I plan to upload recordings in the future. I hope to hear more recordings of students’ music there as education and art become more networked and digitally connected.
In the Spring of last year, I tweeted my interest in having an Edcamp in Tokyo:
Several months later, a tweet piqued my interest once again:
As Greg would later observe, it snowballed from there. Several Tokyo and Yokohama teacher-leaders joined the organizational team. We set up an Edcamp Tokyo website, held a Google Hangout with Edcamp Foundation Board Member, Kristen Swanson, settled on a location, Yokohama International School, and a date, March 15.
Countdown to Edcamp Tokyo
With only four weeks to go, there are currently more than fifty dedicated educators registered and conversations percolating on our Edcamp Tokyo Connectivity page, Edcamp Tokyo Google+ Community, Edcamp Tokyo Idea Wall, and of course around the #EdcampTokyo and #Edcamp東京 hashtags on Twitter!
This is the first chance for educators in Japan to assemble for self-directed, collaborative professional development. Even those outside of Japan might be interested in our activities, especially as they pertain to inquiry-learning, multilingual and third-culture education, technology, and whatever inspiration may strike!
I can’t wait to see you there, in person or virtually.
|Student hands dig into wet, spinning clay|
My own visceral reaction to wet clay covering my hands, but more importantly the focus and creative energy emitted by students, was all I needed to know this was a deep and invaluable learning experience.
|The two ‘creative’ cups on the left were mine…|
|Students’ impressive creations!|
|Playing at the window after a snowstorm|
My Grade 6 class is currently embarking upon their PYP Exhibition. It is the first event of its kind at my school, and one of my responsibilities is to make a presentation for the parents and school community about it.
The fact is, the Exhibition is a gargantuan task. The event itself represents the culmination of all learning and growth in a child’s life to this point in time. Also, it is not an ‘assignment’, but a framework or set of guidelines within which students pursue an inquiry for several weeks. It has structure and should occur at a particular time, but the nature of the inquiry and how it is expressed is up to the students.
To help myself articulate the goals of our Exhibition, I actually started creating this presentation last summer. I suppose I should call it a pre-Zen-tation, because I was woefully unaware of design principles like those detailed by Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen.
What you see here was not finished. I simply saved a ‘before’ copy before beginning to edit according to my new insights into presentation design and visual literacy.
Searching for images was easy enough, and I enjoyed the challenge of finding an image to represent each slide visually. Although I searched for Public Domain and Creative Commons Share-Alike images, I added them without saving their sources, which resulted in researching for them to be able to include credits. This would be a good time to express appreciation for Google search by image!
In some cases, I found great images by one well-worded search. In others, one search led to another and another. Some images had the right idea, but didn’t work as slides. For example, the text I wished to include was difficult to read or there wasn’t enough variety when the slideshow was arranged in sequence.
Images added, each slide took on a unique personality. Rather than being a place to put words, they became little conceptual stories.
Many words I had included suddenly seemed unnecessary, and I considered removing all of the words more than a couple of times. But as the presentation gurus all agree, each presentation has its purpose, and this is a presentation to communicate information, so the words stay.
I did prune, however. The text on each slide are examples of ways we have practiced and developed the different 21st Century Fluencies during the year and what we expect to see during the Exhibition. Some were too vague, some too specific, and I still have mixed feelings about a few others. Indeed, this is the perfect time to put out a call for feedback and critique, so your comments are very welcome.
Certainly an improvement. I can imagine that, while delivering this presentation, the audience will feel more connection and engagement with the information, and I will be more free to improvise with my speech to promote more interaction and feeling of collaboration that is essential to the Exhibition.
There are a few elements yet to be added, such as a slide about the expectation for a service project and globally-significant issue, and I feel that after those additions, it will be further enhanced.
I would like to continue this inquiry as my final project for the Visual Literacy course, however, with the goal of creating a presentation to capture the essence and complexity, passion and drama of the Exhibition.
Using the Internet and specifically blogs to network classrooms around the world is a priceless learning activity, in my opinion. Writing for an audience provides incomparable motivation, receiving objective feedback provides authenticity, and engaging in developing as writers with other people promotes relevance and significance. I have blogged before about strategies for developing this network of connected young learners in the post, Engaging and Authentic Student Blogging.
A wild tweet appeared
More recently, during a #teach2blog Twitter chat, a wild tweet appeared:
While I was unable to properly participate in the chat, I did come up with a solution based on the Liebster award. Why not make a Liebster for student bloggers?
Introducing the Noobster
It should include:
-Answer five questions about yourself.
Last week, as part of my inquiry into visual literacy and design (My Greatest Weakness), I decided to redesign the display board outside my classroom door based on the principles I learned from Garr Reynolds’ From Golden Mean to ‘Rule of Thirds’.
These ideas are not new to me, at least conceptually. The Golden Mean is well known in music composition and fiction writing as a standard to keep in mind to maximize drama, suspense, conflict and resolution, and climax.
Applying it visually is a new exploration for me.
Here is a photo of the original display board for our unit of inquiry focused on changes in science and technology:
Not really ‘design’
Questions lead to more questions
Looking at student work
It’s a great example of how thoughtful planning should authentically scaffold deeper learning, so that when the real tasks of the inquiry present themselves, students have access to a broad range of skills and knowledge.
Fruit and Seeds
This student’s post shows application of a range of research, thinking, and communication skills. In particular, the student demonstrates growing awareness for digital publishing techniques by way of the embedded videos and text organization.
Finally, it is public and invites the reader to participate in the inquiry, which I think is a hallmark feature of deeper learning.