Saturday, February 18, 2012

QR Code Scavenger Hunt

This late in the year my students and I are all tired of taking notes. While I try not to rely too heavily on traditional note taking, sometimes it's tough to avoid (and I have some students who ENJOY it). I decided it was time to find a new way to get the information to the kids.

I began by identifying 10 topics about the Cold War/Eisenhower era that I wanted kids to learn about. This included the "Kitchen Debate", Sputnik, and Kruschev, among others. I then set to work finding primary photographs, scholarly articles, museum websites, and other GOOD sources of information about each topic.

After I had identified the topics and the sites, I set to work creating a "worksheet"/outline of the notes I wanted them to have. Their job was to use the articles, letters, photographs, etc to fill in the notes. In order to get them excited about it, I decided to take it a step further. I used a free site called QR-Code Generator to assign a QR code to each site that I was using.

Finally, I made up enough clues for each QR code, put the codes up around the entire school building (principal's office, study hall room, cafeteria, and my own classroom, to name a few), and made a list of all the clues. The number of the clue corresponded with the number of the question(s) that was to be answered using that website.

At the beginning of class I asked students to pull out whatever personal device they were keeping in their pocket and raise their hand if they had the ability to download a free app for QR codes. Some had apps for this purpose already, others chose to download the one I was using (QR Droid), and another student had brought his iPad to class to use (instead of our school laptops). He found one that worked for the original iPad, which took some doing since it only has one camera. I was fortunate enough to have about half the class with capability to download/use the apps, so I paired those who didn't have a device with students who did.

I briefly explained the assignment, passed out their papers, and turned them loose. They spent the entire 45 minutes racing (some literally) around the building, answering questions, working together, and asking questions. There were several different methods on how to best complete the task, and more than one group had to start over.

Overall, the kids loved it. Their learning was active. Do I need to find a way to incorporate it into something more meaningful or higher-level than obtaining notes? Absolutely. But as a way to get kids involved, engaged, and active? It was definitely a success.

Instructional Technology Practicum Action Plan

Instructional Technology Practicum Action Plan
GCU Student      Leslie Pralle Keehn Date     2/14/12
Project or Service Activity:      Community Connectivism
Professional Standards(s)      NETS-T, NETS-S (defined later)
  1. Other faculty or staff involved in the project/activity: (1 point)
     Dr. Scott McLeod, Supt. Andy Woiwood, Principal Pat Hocking, “Trojan Tech Team”, NEH staff members, Steve Landuska, parents/community members. 
  1. Statement of a need for the project/activity: (1 point)
     As the Northeast Hamilton school district moves toward a one-to-one initiative, not only have teachers felt an administrative push to use more technology in the classroom, but parents have felt slightly left behind in the quickly changing world of educational reform. While students generally see the importance of mastering skills essential to the 21st century, few students understand what it is about those specific skills that makes them so important. As a whole, the district will benefit from from an organized effort to communicate, collaborate, and advance connectivist-themed education. 
  1. Project Goal: (1 point)
My project goal is three-fold
  1. Provide students with growth opportunities including:
    1. Instruction in connectivist theory and practice - applied to their own coursework
    2. Leadership skills providing teachers with individualized instruction
    3. Communication and collaboration skills working on a wiki, podcasts, advertising, and event planning (21st century skills)
  2. Provide teachers with instruction in connectivist theory, to include
    1. All staff professional development
    2. One-on-one instructional time with new educational technologies, focusing on collaborative and connected technologies (Twitter, Skype, Google Apps, Wikis, Blogs)
    3. Round table discussions aimed at brainstorming instructional strategies and opportunities using the newly learned technology
  3. Introduce parents and the community to a “connected” world in a Community Tech Expo that will include both instructional opportunities and a showcase of student work
    1. Ideally the student work will stem from instruction received as a result of this project
    2. Provide an opportunity for parents and community members to learn to use new technologies      
  1. Resources needed/available: (1 point)
    Trojan Tech Team Teacher cooperation/participationg
Teacher laptops Meeting space (ICN room)
Wiki             Blogging
Google Apps
  1. Timeline: (2 points)
       Week 1: Develop teacher hand-outs, student hand-outs, and presentation for student and teacher introductions to connectivism
Week 2: Student training/meeting to establish guidelines, parameters, and goals for first teacher instructional meetings (Google Apps), teacher instructional sessions, teacher round table, lead all-staff professional development in connectivist theory, attend regional training in educational technology - what can we use and implement in the coming weeks?
Week 3: Evaluate teacher and student feedback, repeat week 2 instructional sessions with new technology (Twitter)
Week 4: Begin teacher observations, repeat week 3 with new technology (Skype)
Week 5: Continue teacher observations, repeat week 4 with new technology (Wikis), begin planning community night (April 13th)   
  1. Evaluation methods: (2 points)
       Teacher Feedback (Survey)
Student Feedback (Survey)
Community/Parent Feedback (Survey)
Observation of newly developed lessons
  1. Professional standards addressed: (2 points)
1 a, b, d 2 a, b, d
2 a 4 b
3 b - main, c 5 b, d
5 a, b, d 6 a, b, c, d
  1. Project/activity summary: (2 points)
     My project will provide a unified vision, definition, and goal for teachers, students, and community members. The focus will be around connectivism (theory based in students’ need to be able to locate, share, and store data) and take part on multiple levels within the district. 

Practicum Planning

Over the course of my study at GCU I have had the opportunity to acquire foundational knowledge about educational technology, including methods of thought such as constructivism, connectivism, and TPACK. I have broadened my familiarity with different learning management systems, improved my lesson writing ability, created quality lesson plans for my classroom, and received countless resources, from articles to websites, to engage my colleagues and students.

I chose to interview several people about our district needs as well as about the needs of teaching professionals in general. My superintendent suggested I do something with our MAP (NWEA) data. However, this was mostly data entry.

Many of my staff members have identified teacher training as our most pressing need. Some of their responses included:

The biggest area of need is the application of the resources that are available online in the classroom. 

From an educational profession view point the biggest need is in the area of using technology to replace face to face meetings.  We have to make the technology easy enough to use to allow immediate communications with visual contact.  We keep seeing the future of such communications but the reality is something else.  Early versions required extensive training, schedules set long in avance and the results were less than satisfying.  We still have AEA meetings for Superintendents, Principles, and guidance occurring 80 to 100 miles away on a regular basis.  The students should leave high school with the ability to coordinate and execute successful business meetings without ever leaving the classroom.

The biggest area of need for educational technology in the classroom is providing more hands on materials for the students to use and training.

I think the biggest area(s) of need for educational technology in the professional setting is technology and computers that work quickly and training for teachers for beneficial educational support/supplements of the curriculum

I also thought about running a needs assessment for elementary social studies and developing a lesson plan database geared toward primary grades, but I'm not sure that's the type of project we're looking for here. This is something that one of my professional councils (Iowa Council for the Social Studies) inspired me to start working on.

Finally, I had some people on Twitter say that they think that training and understanding of how to use social media are essential to our profession. This happens to be my mentor’s area of expertise, and when I sat down to talk with him about my project ideas, he suggested that to a) really focus on the topic at hand, and b) really utilize him as a mentor, I needed to focus on social media and or professional development for my teachers.

Some of the specific areas I thought about focusing on were social studies technology, educational gaming, blended learning, social media, professional development, and student involvement. These are all very important to me and I hope to work small components of many of them into my work.
Instead of doing specifically the NETS standards, I chose to use the Iowa Core Curriculum technology standards. These were built with NETS in mind, but apply more directly to the standards that I, as a teacher in the state of Iowa, must adhere to. The Iowa Core technology standards for the grades I teach are as follows:

1. Demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.

2. Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.

3. Apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

4. Demonstrate critical thinking skills using appropriate tools and resources to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions.

5. Understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.

6. Demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.

I believe that I could really apply standards one, two, four, and six into any of the lines that my project seems to be following. I believe I am beginning to see a clear picture in my head for the project that will most address the needs and interests that I have identified.