Candace Marcotte

One educator, determined to create an engaging and dynamic experience for learners of all ages.


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Illinois Reading Council Presentation

I had the privilege of presenting with two former colleagues, @MrsCaracci and @MrsServe at the Illinois Reading Council Conference last week. We shared all of the resources that we created and curated when bringing our own version of StoryCorps to their 6th grade ELA classrooms. One of the highlights of the presentation was an interactive portion where we asked participants to use Google Voice to share a story from their middle school experience. You can find some of their “phone-casts” here. Check out our presentation and resources below!

 

 


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Creativity and Choice in Assessment

Looking to provide more choice in how students demonstrate their understanding?  Check out these Multiple Intelligence choice boards that provide you and your students with creative ways to show what they know!  These choice boards were developed for K-8 teachers and were a part of a professional development on creativity.  If you open the slides, you’ll find that grade levels for each board (or really, wheel!) are mentioned in the presenter notes section.


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Makey Making Digital Citizenship Connections

Digital citizenship.  It’s a multi-faceted concept that we model as educators and embed into lessons to help our students understand how to navigate, analyze, interact with, and create with digital technologies.  But, what does digital citizenship mean to a middle schooler? How do our young students process and connect with such a big concept?

Using the guiding questions above, I tried to think of a new way to help students see some of the key components of digital citizenship.  It’s one thing to understand the umbrella concept, but why are these components important and how do they interact to help us become good digital citizens?

Materials:

  • Makey Makey™ MaKey MaKey Digcit Setup
  • Digcit Scratch project
  • Magnifying glass: Critical literacy
  • Spoon:  Balance of screen time as well as “going with our gut” in digital communication
  • Padlock: Digital security and protection
  • Play-Doh®: Digital rights and responsibilities, advocating for ourselves and our digital footprint
  • Elmer’s Glue:  Digital rights and responsibilities, how to clean up a “digital mess”
  • Paint brush with copper tape: Digital law, creative credit

What worked:

  • Students were active members of the discussion.  THEY were a key component, just as they are in digital citizenship.
  • We plugged one item into the Makey Makey™ at a time as we discussed the component.  We started to make rhythms as we plugged in items, allowing students to understand the relationship between the components and how they interact.
  • With the Elmer’s Glue, we got to focus on the fact that miscommunication and misrepresentation happens.  For the first time, I felt that I got to address the fact that there will be “digital messes” that need to be cleaned up.  Guess what, the digital citizenship machine still works!  We just have to learn from our experiences and do what we can to make sure to keep ourselves out of sticky situations. (sidenote: you should’ve seen their faces when the glue actually triggered the noise!)

Things to change for the next go-round:

  • I changed some of the noises in my Scratch project because I found they were too quiet in the classroom setting and weren’t distinct enough to be heard in the mix of components.
  • My goal was to have enough time to have the class join hands and play together, to demonstrate how a community of good digital citizens can take on bigger challenges.  Unfortunately, I only had 30 minutes for this lesson so we could only discuss this and didn’t get to the culminating activity.  I am hoping that by streamlining some of the setup, we can get this in.

Because of the nature of my job, I will be doing this lesson with a few other classrooms so I’ll be sure to update the post with new takeaways.  Here’s to Makey making digital citizenship come alive in a new way for students!

Creative Commons LicenseMakey Making Digital Citizenship Connections by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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ISTE Presentations 2014

Remix, Repurpose, and Redesign: Promoting Student Ownership and Engagement:  My colleagues and I presented on strategies for remixing content and repurposing technologies, which allows educators to redesign their pedagogical strategies.  Through low-tech and high-tech repurposing, students can engage in deep play, allowing them to get lost in the content…in a good way!  These strategies include redesigns of every day classroom routines, like Bell Ringers, classroom rules, Exit Slips, etc.   Click the image below to be taken to session resources.

Pinterest Board from Presentation

 

iPadeology: Staff and Student Resources for iPad Deployment:  My colleague and I presented on the key characteristics of the mindset that we developed to guide decision making during our first year in our district’s 1:1 pilot.  We share the steps we believe made us successful, how we managed to keep the focus on instruction and not the device, student development resources, staff development resources, and parental resources for deployment.  Click the image below to be taken to session resources.

 


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MaKey Makey, Squishy Circuits, and Bigshot Cameras

With my time in Michigan State’s Educational Technology program, the “Maker Movement” has really captured my attention.  Two  years ago, I went to my first Maker Faire in Detroit, Michigan.  Since then, I’ve been to three different Maker Faires.  This idea of creating, repurposing, and innovating blows my mind when I see examples of the way Makers view common items.  Makers seem to have the perspective of life as an ever-evolving masterpiece or they see the potential to turn standard items into a contraption that measures the wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum (just an example, but a true story!).  As the Maker Movement is getting more attention in the educational field, this Maker spirit was re-energized within me at a recent #PLAYDATE Chicago.  Using MSU and PLAYDATE as resources, I purchased the following resources to utilize with students.

To test out what a middle school student could accomplish within a certain time period, I rolled out these resources with the Tech Club after school.  I wanted to see how to gauge a timeline for pushing into a classroom and doing an activity with any of these resources, so this was a great way to collect some data!  The students had about 45 minutes to work and I introduced it by telling them that they were the pilot members and that our goal was to think of ways we could relate this to any subject area…this is always my challenge to them!  They’ve “think tanked” awesome educational repurposes for technology in the past, so they are now owning the responsibility of figuring out educational applications of tools that don’t necessarily seem educational.  Here’s where we started:

Maker CollageStudents were eager to get started! The directions that I gave them were to use the resources they have at hand (written directions that came with product and the Internet).  I told them that I’d only help if they got into an extreme bind.

Maker Collage 2Here are the results after 45 minutes!

Maker Collage 3Here are the interesting connections that students were making to content (some more obvious than others):

  • Science: Circuits and energy conversion.  They haven’t learned about the types of kinetic energy yet, so we were able to discuss it in terms of the Bigshot Camera because it starts with mechanical energy and is transformed into electricity.
  • Science:  Importance of observations and documenting your experiments.  Students began to tape the building process for later reflection.
  • Math:  Variables, measurement, order of operations
  • ELA:  I introduced how these could compare to the writing process and students elaborated on which parts were like a rubric/prompt, brainstorming, editing, peer review, etc.
  • Social Studies:  At one point, students were building a fan with pipe cleaners and a student commented on the colors that they selected to use (red and blue).  Immediately, a student working nearby shouted, “There’s Social Studies!  What do those colors mean?!)
  • Art: Squishy Circuit students began to mold their Play-Doh® into animals to follow the directions of making LED illuminated animals.
  • Music: Makey Makey students began to create keyboards to play songs.  This calls for knowledge of notes, pitches, and rhythm.
  • Collaboration:  We saw happy hands and lots of them involved!  There were no angry or greedy hands, but true teamwork and collaboration were emerging.

…More to come after we have our next go round after Spring Break!


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Using Instagram + Tumblr to Document Student Learning

When I was teaching 6th grade science in 2011-2012, I wanted to cultivate an environment which called my learners to become true scientists and document and share data (report your findings!) every day.  In addition, I wanted to bridge the school to home gap that sometimes emerges in an Inquiry-based classroom and increase parent engagement.  Let’s face it, as educators, we all have enough on our plates.  So, how could I accomplish both of these goals without creating a ton of additional work for myself?  I found the answer in student ownership and pairing technologies!

The technology tools that I had on hand every day were my personal iPod, 2 digital cameras and 4 Flip cams that I bought on sale, and my personal Macbook Pro.  Mainly, we used the iPod and Macbook for the topic that I’ll be discussing in this post.

After getting permission from administration and sending a letter home requesting parent permission to share photos and video of students, we compiled a no-photo list and displayed it near the door in our classroom.  The deal was that we (as a classroom) would never post a name and a face together and that we would never picture the face of somebody who was on the no-photo list…hands were ok!

Every day, different students were assigned the task of documenting our learning.  We typically rotated around the members of one lab group per week.  Everyone at some point had the opportunity to be our documentarian/field scientist. Students took pictures, video, and interviews during our class period.  At the end of the week, a new group of students were selected to create a video that reflected our learning. We viewed the video on the following Monday to connect student learning to the next week and posted it to our website as a sharing/reflection piece.  The awesome part about this was that it provided a connection from each of my class periods as well.  For the first time, they got to see how their peers tackled science content in another class period.  In addition, parents were engaged and could see what we were doing in our classroom every day/week.  They were physically able to peek into our classroom through our sharing on our class website.  We used Animoto and iMovie frequently to create our weekly sharing artifact.  I only taught the first two students how to use iMovie and Animoto, which meant that there was student ownership in this whole process.  Once I had my iMovie and Animoto pros, they had to teach the next set of students how to use the tools.  After the first few weeks, this was a pretty seamless process.

How did we keep up to pace on sharing daily?  When seeking a technology to use, I wanted something that could be embedded on our class website so that it was navigable and I wanted it to be simple enough for the students to use and for me to manage.  In the end, I chose to use a private Instagram account and feed it to Tumblr so that I could make it appear as a photostream, attached to my website.  At that time, Instagram hadn’t gained mass popularity yet and there was no widget to add the stream to my site which is why I utilized Tumblr for curating the photos.  As a class, we set very clear guidelines about posting images.  We agreed to meet these expectations:

  • You have to caption images with the date and text to describe the learning
  • Only Ms. Marcotte could be the person to share  the image as the final step
  • No faces of no-photo students
  • No names/faces together in an image

So, how did I manage this in a classroom with 30+ students at times?  As students documented our learning, if they wanted to share a picture from the day, they had to open Instagram and date and caption the picture. When ready, they had to get my permission and I was the only one allowed to push the final share button. This resulted in our daily photostream.  Check it out here!  There was a lot of positive feedback because by the time the students got in the car at the end of the day, the parents already knew what questions to ask and topics to talk about because they had viewed the uploaded photos. The students loved it and took ownership of it and their learning.  They wanted to talk about science when they went home!  At the end of the year, we had a reflection for almost every day of their 6th grade year in science.  That was powerful!

Q & A’s I have gotten about using these tools in the classroom:

  1. How did you present this idea to students?  I presented the idea by telling them that science is all about sharing. What would happen if all of the great scientists in the world never shared their understanding? What would we know and what would the world be like today? I told them that the iPod would rotate around lab group members each week (1 person each day). It was their job to document our learning and to share it. We agreed on the expectations for images captured and shared.
  2. What specifics did you address with parents?  I didn’t do anything specifically related to Instagram since I created a private feed and Instagram. I created a photo/video permission slip (with administrative approval) and told parents a student’s name would never be associated with their face. We had our list posted on the wall of the classroom that said who couldn’t be photographed/filmed. It was the responsibility of the documentarian to not include their face in photos/videos. It was the job of the editor to double check this for all class periods as a step in the editing process.
  3. Were you concerned about using social media with your students?  I taught science.  There were concerns every day about everything!  Hot plates + sixth graders…need I say more?  I discussed my idea with administrators and I got it approved beforehand since I was utilizing social media in the classroom.  Having a private feed and never picturing names and faces together made our classroom a safe place for documenting our learning.  Through the proper structure and roll out of the idea with students, the “scariness” of using social media lessened.  So much of the success of utilizing social media was really about our classroom culture and strengthening it through clear expectations and trust.
  4. Seriously, how much work did this take for you to accomplish this?  Seriously, it was all student created and managed.  Literally, all I did was push the share button on my iPod after reviewing the photos and then uploaded the weekly videos to Google Drive for sharing.  Just like lessening the fear of using social media, with proper structure, we were able to create a flow of roles in our classroom that allowed me to be a facilitator of the documentation and not have it be dependent on me solely.  And…it’s a classroom!  If it took extra time for editing on the following Monday, we were flexible and gave it the time it needed.  Some weeks, we didn’t watch the review videos until Tuesday or in rare cases Wednesday if there were a lot of student interviews that week.