Candace Marcotte

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


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Getting a MAKEover: Part III…What do they take away?

This is the third post in the series about the development of our middle school makerspace in our library.  Thanks @jrosenberg6432 for asking some great questions, which were used as the basis for the three posts.  Check out post one to see where we started and post two to see what we do!

“What things do kids take away?”

First, there’s the question of literal takeaways.  What do students physically carry out of the space and keep?  Currently, students can keep some of the items that they create, but not everything.  Because we are 1:1, a lot of artifacts that they create are either digital and housed on their individual devices (movies, etc.) or we turn them into digital artifacts by blogging to document their learning/experiences with images, videos, and text.  Due to cost, students can’t keep the kits and more expensive items, so that’s one of the reasons why we blog.  They always have at least a picture or a video to take away!  We do allow them take home/keep the consumable items like conductive thread, coin cell batteries, conductive tape, LEDs, and crafting materials (paper, cardboard, felt, etc.) because they have a lower price point.  I’ve even had a few students borrow goggles to work on reverse engineering at home. Now that our Makerbot and Cricut are all set up, they will begin to take home those artifacts and the prototypes that they have designed as well.

More importantly, I think that they’re taking away some bigger things like independence, perseverance, creativity, and critical thinking.  They are learning how to share their knowledge, collaborate in positive manner, and connect with others.  They are learning how to appropriately make their learning public.  They are learning that with a little effort, they can do some pretty extraordinary things! Now those are some incredible takeaways…and it’s only just the start!

Maker Impact GIF

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Getting a MAKEover: Part III…What do they take away? by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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Getting a MAKEover: Part II…What do we do?

This is the second of three posts about the development of our middle school makerspace in our library.  Thanks @jrosenberg6432 for asking some great questions, which were used as the basis for the three posts.  Check out post one to see where we started!

“What things do you do and make?”

I first need to state that the level that this has reached this year wouldn’t be possible without collaboration.  Take a look at our collaboration story below to see how we connected with members of our personal learning networks (PLNs) to bring maker magic to our students.  There are definitely more elements missing from this story.  For example,  attendance at events like Maker Faire allowed us to connect with other makers or including some of our other favorite hashtags for gaining ideas and knowledge like #STEM.

Maker Collaboration StoryWith all of this collaboration occurring, other teachers began to stop by.  The music teacher has come up to help students learn about how speakers work and in turn, students have repaired speakers and an old record player that teachers found in their classrooms.  The music teacher is going to come back and help students build dulcimers!  Another teacher dropped in to teach students proper stitches when we started sewn circuits.  The makerspace has allowed for teachers from all content areas/grade levels to come together and share their own maker skills!

Ok, so back to the question…what do we do and make?  Our vision for the space is to allow students to explore what they are interested in and to create independence in them so that they can figure out their issues and seek the solutions.  Being so student-centered can be somewhat chaotic, but it is so incredibly exciting!  When we first started the year, I heard a lot of, “Ms. Marcotte…?, Ms. Marcotte…?”  I’d say that over the last month is when students started to shift and turn the “Ms. Marcotte?” into “Ms. Marcotte!”  Yes, they still ask for assistance occasionally, but much more often they are asking for more materials, digging deeper with bigger questions, or just want to share the excitement of what they have discovered or created.  Here’s some of what our students have done this year:

What we MakeA little explanation about some of the items above:

  • Reverse Engineering (introduced to get students to think about how things work and looking past the surface):  Became so popular that teachers now drop off all of their “junk” in my office!  Students have also brought their family’s “junk” in with permission.  They have been enamored with this for the duration of the year.  We have been creating labeled display boards to place on exhibit.  A parent also came in to share in this experience, which was really fun!
  • Maker Show (student-named):  Students bring in projects or items from home that they are either working on or are curious about.  We now start every Wednesday makerspace with a student sharing.
  • Each member has a personal maker blog that they reflect on using Kidblog.  Not fully public yet because we have to get a bit better at it first 🙂
  • We JUST launched a shared, public blog with the other middle school’s makerspace and appointed social media managers from each group to share our stories.
  • We created a twitter handle, @WildcatMakers, a few weeks ago as well to allow us to connect with field experts and “real-life” makers as the students like to say.

We just started our first design challenge to build their innovation muscles.  Other than this, we haven’t done any formalized group activities besides the first meeting where we created LED nametags (shout-out to MAET at MACUL 2014 for the idea!).  This allowed us to talk about circuitry which is really important for them moving forward and provided an opportunity for a discussion around good hacks vs. bad hacks.

Paper Circuit NametagsLooking forward:

  • Division of specialized teams: We have something called “Maker Modes” right now which students have identified as their greatest interest areas.  We want to have these groups work together on things like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, film production, crafting, wearable electronics, robotics, etc.  and stick with them to really become experts in the technologies or skill sets.
  • We are looking to hold some video chats with different makers (hobby or professional makers). We just held our first chat last week and are working on getting connections to more makers!
  • Robot battle
  • Mini design challenges to help build student exploration and innovation muscles
  • knitting, crocheting, jewelry making

There’s really no limit to where the remainder of the year will take us because we really let student-interest guide us.  And, we are willing to beg for materials/resources from anyone!

Creative Commons LicenseGetting a MAKEover: Part II…What do we do? 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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How did we get our Teachers to Start Talking Nerdy?

Collage from our speedgeeking event

All geared up with our new League of EdTechies badges, combining our creative super powers, we were able to develop a dynamic and fun professional development that engaged our peers and allowed for teacher leadership.  A colleague of mine mentioned the idea of “Speed Geeking” last year and we finally had a chance to employ it when February came upon us and love was in the air!  Let’s first share the results of how this opportunity lead to igniting some sparks…

The best thing happened directly after this PD.  I was in a breakout session room cleaning up and a teacher who is more cautious with exploring new technologies came up to me and said, “I’m going to go home and play now!”  Best. Thing. Ever.  Continuing that, I received about ten emails from non 1:1 staff that evening sharing ideas and excitement.  When I walked into school the next morning, there was a huddle of five teachers discussing the PD and their ideas from it near the office.  Exploration and collaboration were occurring!  There was energy!  I then collaborated with a teacher on how she could do this with her students and we brought Speed Geeking into the classroom to explore note taking strategies when researching.

Below is the main presentation we utilized for our professional development and an overview of how it all came to be.  We had some goals which of course drove the decisions we made:

1.  Continue our discussion of TPACK and apply it to a lesson design that was coming up in the next trimester

2.  Model meaningful technology integration

3.  Allow for play and creation

4.  Make it applicable!

We are fortunate enough to have support from our awesome administration, so we were able to use 1.5 hours of our 2 hour monthly staff meeting.  Here’s the breakdown of how The League of EdTechies provided this professional development for our 75+ member staff:

Preparation:

The League of EdTechies voted on some of the core apps that they felt would be important to all staff moving forward with our 1:1.  We selected apps that had a range of complexity so that everyone would have an option to learn something at their level.  We selected 6 apps and paired 2 League members per app.  They created samples of how each app could be used in the classroom.  Naturally, they created artifacts geared towards instruction and assessment- they did a phenomenal job!  We emailed all staff members about a week before the staff meeting and reminded them to download Notability if they had not done so previously.  This was a HUGE key to the flow of our PD because we could jump right into application and did not have to go through the hoops of downloading during the PD.  We also had them bring a learning target that they would be focusing on next semester so that we could keep a strong focus on context and application during our PD.

Delivery:

  1. We started by getting everyone into our Schoology staff course where we house all of our staff meeting notes and taught them how to download a PDF and import it into Notability.  This ties in with our idea of embedded PD- we didn’t give them much direction on how to use it other than about a 2 minute tutorial of the basics they needed to know to work with the document for this experience.
  2. We then went right into Speed Geeking by giving a short, one minute intro into what they needed to do as participants.
  3. The League Members were split up in somewhat of buffet style tables, we had 2 tables per app and split The League presenters up so that we could keep our groups small.  We gave them 2 minutes to present their app to each small group.
  4. To keep the energy high, we played music when the two minutes were up.  Of course we had to include classic mood-setters in our playlist like some of Marvin Gaye’s greatest hits!
  5. We had the presenters rotate and kept the rest of the teachers seated for ease of transition.
  6. When the rotations were complete, we regrouped and began our discussion of TPACK and repurposing technologies for educational purposes.
  7. Teachers had to then apply their knowledge to the learning target that they brought with them.
  8. After applying their knowledge of TPACK, we had them select a breakout session to further explore the technology that peaked their curiosity during Speed Geeking.  (We used Socrative to embed formative assessment technologies into the PD also)
  9. The goal of the breakout session was to create an artifact that the teachers could use in the next semester (keep in mind, the majority of teachers only had 1 iPad in their classroom this year). We limited the amount of tutorial we gave teachers in the breakout sessions, pointed them to resources to help support their technical understanding, and encouraged them to explore and play with the technology. Very similar to the feel of a PLAYDATE.
  10. At the end of the PD, teachers completed an exit slip in Schoology and were awarded a digital badge signifying their reflection and participation in exploration of one of the certain apps.

 

Presentation:

 

Participant Notes:


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Embedded Professional Development

We started the year with a clear goal in mind: our professional development (PD) revolving around technology would not be in isolation, it would be embedded and would serve as a modeling opportunity for teachers to see what meaningful technology integration looks like. We shifted away from standard technology training by carefully placing these pieces within applicable PDs that teachers already had to focus on as a part of our district’s strategic plan (curriculum, instruction, and assessment).  While we did have district professional development days where we were able to embed technology integration practices into topics like formative assessment, our easiest and most-frequent vehicle for embedded PD came from taking advantage of opportunities like our staff meetings.

Example Schoology Staff Meeting FoldersBefore our pilot year started, we were able to easily identify that Schoology and Notability would be two huge pieces of our year. We knew that we needed to increase the competency and understanding teachers had with these two programs before full 1:1implementation the following year.  So, how did we do this without having to hold half-day PDs on how to use the technology?  A few months into the school year, we had our entire building join a Schoology course that held all of the items from our staff meetings (files, links, etc.).  We had the teachers take pre assessments and post assessments in Schoology if there was professional development delivered in our staff meeting that day (ex., creating valid assessments).  The files, which were posted in Schoology, we then had teachers import into Notability and use their iPads for note taking just as the students would.  Here’s the cool thing about that:

  • We were modeling the workflow process without ever having to explain it.
  • Authentic learning was taking place because the focus was not on the technology, but was instead on the purpose and experience

I remember that when we had our first really paperless meeting(which I brought some paper copies to, in order to model printing out a few for students who like to have paper copies), we had no teachers ask for it.  Keep in mind that we have about 75 certified teachers and additional support staff (social workers,admin, etc.), which brings our staff meetings to about 85-90 people, all at varying levels of tech skills. Not. ONE. Asked. For. Paper.  They were willing to take a risk after being given only a 2 minute overview on how to take notes inNotability.  Why were they willing to take this risk?

  • They immediately applied everything we showed them in that quick 2 minute intro. (We didn’t front-end-load them with all of the “Wows” of the application or give them 20 steps to remember at a later time, plus examples, etc.)
  • We only told them what they needed for that moment (writing tools, zoom in to draw, create a text box, add a page, scroll, and erase).  They weren’t given a laundry list of things that they didn’t have a chance to apply, so they didn’t immediately feel like they would never be able to understand the tool.
  • We did turn up their anxiety a bit by having them use it right in that moment without any preparation.  We made some of them uncomfortable, but did not push them too far.  They did not have the time to choose to shut down because they had to authentically apply it right in that moment.
  • We planted 1 teacher at each table that had experience with the applications.
  • We encouraged play, exploration, and sharing at the tables.  If you learn a cool trick, share it!  We wanted collaborative learning.
  • Collaboration made it fun!

Staff PD Example Schoology Exit SlipWe continued to use Schoology to house staff meeting materials and encouraged Notability for recording information on those electronic documents throughout the year. Casually, we would insert new features of the programs (a discussion in Schoology one month, adding sticky notes into Notability for a jigsaw activity the next, etc.).  Now that we had established this culture of play, exploration, and sharing, we were able to run these integration opportunities without any tutorial whatsoever.

As the year went on, we began to integrate other applications.  Need to take a vote on the dress code at the staff meeting?  Use Socrative.  Having teachers read an article on the web about CCSS? Use Subtext and let them share their takeaways and questions as they read.  Want to get staff to a web resource?  Create a QR code and have them scan it. Slowly, our teachers were being exposed to the power of the tools that all of their students would have the following year.

Continuing the momentum, we introduced “App Attacks” at one of our last staff meetings. Because we were modeling so much, we wanted to make sure the connection to classroom application was concrete and was also inspiring idea generation.  The term “App Attack” came from a teacher who was involved in the brainstorming of this idea.  We had explained what “App Slams” and “Demo Slams” were, but were looking for a more expansive view so that we could include websites, apps, etc. and we wanted it to not be about the tool, but to be a mass brainstorming activity where the teachers shouted out what they could do with the tool.  We wanted to use our collective powers to attack the tool and determine how many classroom applications we could generate…in 1 minute!  So was born, the “App Attack”.  After all of the staff members completed a Google Form with an image inserted in it about hallway expectations, we had a 30 second explanation of what this new “App Attack” was.  Then, the timer was set, and the staff members began to shout ideas out.  In one minute, we collected 16 classroom applications for using a Google Form with an image and we had more people who wanted to share, but the timer went off.  Why was this strategy successful?

  • The focus was on what they are already experts in:  their content and their classrooms.
  • It was unexpected.  (Who gets to randomly yell out at staff meetings…or in life?)
  • It created energy.
  • It created a bit of good anxiety because staff wanted to get their ideas in before the time was up.
  • It was an activity that focused on the collective knowledge of everyone in the room.  One idea would spark another, and so on.
  • It was fun!

Using the above-mentioned strategies for embedding PD into pre-existing meetings and professional development allowed us to create teacher buy in.  We didn’t have to sell the value of what we were talking about because we created the value from the experience.  We were showing, not telling and it had an impact.


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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.


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Anchor Activities

As we first began our jump into 1:1 with our 6th graders in our building this year, we wanted to encourage play and exploration of the iPad as a resource.  Of course, without setting up some structure for our middle schoolers, we found that some students were finding themselves off task when they had “free time”.   We all have students who naturally move through the content at a faster pace and then we hear, “I’m done with my work.”   How can we utilize the time that students spend playing and exploring during this time, in a way that continues to support and extend their learning?  Our answer:  anchor activities.  Each of our teachers has these anchor activities posted in their classroom so that when students are done with their work, they know the expectations for how the remainder of their time in class should be spent.

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Anchor Activities by Candace Marcotte is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.