Category Archives: Student Projects
Today we had several classes participating in our Turkey Trade programs. The video conference portion focuses on students identifying similarities and differences. My hope is that we can use this face-to-face time to get students using accurate, descriptive language with their peers.
Here are some of the observations that I heard today.
- The feathers are the same.
- The eyes are black.
- The face is similar.
- They are both turkeys.
- The waddle is different.
- The feet don’t look the same.
- The feathers are bigger.
What strategies can we add to challenge the students to use more descriptive, thoughtful language? This is a great program and is replicated in many ways, but it is not reaching its full potential for learning.
Anyone have suggestions for prompts?
This fall we have had quite a lineup of careers that students could learn about. Last week, we had Walter Abercrombie in the studio with us. It was a popular program and the students were quite excited to talk with a professional football player.
The five classes had great questions prepared for Mr. Abercrombie. I learned a great deal about playing in the NFL and what type of support creates success in life.
- What do you do if you need to go to the restroom during a game?
- Did you play Pee Wee league football?
- As a student athlete, did you get adequate support from both the athletic department and the university when you were at Baylor?
- Did you have a job before football?
- What was your favorite part of playing football?
- Was it hard to leave Waco to go live in Pittsburgh?
My students are so into sports right now, especially the boys and they loved seeing someone who did that for a living. It was great for them to see the correlation between education and success.
Many thanks to Mr. Abercrombie for his time and sharing his passion for education with our students.
I love Landmark Challenge because it takes what I believe to be effective learning principles and puts them in action. The power of video conferencing is in the engagement and interaction of the students and this project has a great deal of learning before the video conference connection and then application/review of that learning during the connection.
Thanks to Linda McDonald for creating this fantastic adaptation of Janine Lim’s MysteryQuest.This year, I added research guides thanks to the influence of Christie Rickert’s work in Hays Consolidated.
Some adaptations that I made to the original format.
- Reformatted the note-taking guides making them vertical (portrait) which allowed for larger squares for second grades to make notes.
- Provide teachers the choice of large or small note-taking guides.
- Provided suggestions for how to group students for program preparation.
- Only allow three classes at a time.
- Added the local timekeeper as a job. (This student counts to 10 silently at the end of a clue to allow the other classes time to write.)
- Minimize emphasis on presenting clues as a skit.
All of our clues were written and spoken. We had a mixture of teacher-made and student made. As you can see from the examples below, clear and effective clues work really well through the video conference systems.
Most of our classes zoomed in on the student holding the clue. All classes did a great job of zooming and checking to make sure that the other classes could see what they were sending clearly. Here is a befor and after of a good zoom.
After the students had solved the “mysteries”, I quizzed them over all 10 landmarks and these students had done a great deal of research and could identify all ten and tell me something about each one.
Kudos to our teachers, students, and coordinators. A job well done!
We are excited to kick off our Landmark Challenge for 2nd Grade. This program is specifically designed for second graders.
There will be three classes in each connection with the students actively engaged during the entire connection. Some teachers get very creative in creating backdrops and such for their classes. This is not required. The majority of classes use a simple visual to show the clue so that it makes it easier for the other classes to take notes on the information.
IMPORTANT: When the students are presenting their clues, have another student silently count to 15 while the clue is being shown. That will give the other classes time to write.
- Welcome and tech check
- Class A presents 6 clues. (Classes B and C take notes.)
- Class B presents 6 clues. (Casses A and C take notes.)
- Class C presents 6 clues. (Classes A and B take notes.)
- Think Time (about 20 min for 2nd grade)
- Clarifying questions (Must be answered YES or NO. Do not give away your guess.)
- All sites make guesses.
- All sites reveal their landmark.
- Round robin review of ALL landmarks.
- Round of applause and good-byes.
How to Present Clues
- The coordinator put a chair at the front of the room to stabilize the poster and zoomed in a bit more.
- One class prepared their clues on copy paper and look what a good, tight zoom can do!
- Another teacher printed the clue out very LARGE on 8.5 x 11 paper and glued it to construction paper to add stability for the students.
- Zoom the camera in.
During the Connection
- All students should individually take notes.
- During Think Time, they can work in pairs to write down what they think each answer is.
- Teachers are actively monitoring and teaching during the connection.
- As a group, develop one clarifying question for each site.
- Prepare some type of “reveal” of your mystery landmark.
Thanks to Linda McDonald from Katy ISD for creating such a fantastic project for second grade students.
Here are some of my notes from the Apple keynote. The main idea was 21st century skill outcomes. I have been thinking about them as they relate to our video conference projects.
- Relevant and applied curriculum
Programs such as our ASK programs, Hometown Holidays, and Math Holiday Stories are examples of connections where students are engaged with either experts or real problems.
- Informative assessments
So much of school is focused on the formal BIG assessments, that we overlook the smaller informative assessments. This year, I am working on including rubrics, journals, and other types of assessments that can be used in conjunction with our programs.
- Culture of creativity and innovation
It seems counter-intuitive, but our Math Mysteries are built around creative, flexible thinking. Students participating in these programs will have a chance to compete against other teams as they defend their decisions and planning.
- Social and emotional connection
Some say that video conferencing is just not as good as face-to-face. Agreed. However, it does enable us to have conversations and face-to-face connections that we otherwise would not have had. The live, synchronous connection provides a level of engagement that can energize learning.
- 24/7 access to tools and resources
Our website is developed with this in mind. We are providing videos and support materials for teachers and coordinators to access at any time. The next stage of student programs will include support for 1:1 campuses. The video conference program plus the asynchronous collaborative work is the most powerful of all.
Our last challenge to you is “Just Do It”. Many times we find that people wait until every little detail is perfect until they begin to try to use the technology. Once you know that your equipment is operational, get started doing something. Find a teacher that is curious and adventurous and ask what he or she is teaching during the spring semester and find a connection that fits into their curriculum. Before you know it, you will have active videoconference participation.
We have heard from several of you that you have enjoyed reading along with us this month. Let us know if we have missed things or if there are other topics that you would like us to address. We have learned much about collaboration during this blogging adventure and hope that you have learned along with us.
Leave us a note about what you learned or how you plan on using this information. If you are a “first time commenter”, click the link that says Comments and post your thoughts for us.
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May the connection begin on time.
May the batteries in the remote not run down.
May the video move fluidly and the audio be a robust sound.
Here’s wishing you many quality curriculum connections in the months to come.
All the best,
Janine and Roxanne
Guest blogged by Janine Lim
One of the scariest things about videoconferencing is when it doesn’t work and you have a classroom of students waiting. Yesterday Roxanne gave you some great tips for accessing your lifelines. Today, we’ll examine the most common problems in a videoconference and give you tips for solving them. This is actually part of a training that I conduct for my coordinators, and we try to simulate each problem during the training.
First, there are four parts to a successful videoconference: sending video, receiving video, sending audio, and receiving audio. Most of the common problems related to one of these four parts.
The solutions under each problem are listed in order. The top ones are the most common solutions to the problem.
TV is Black / I Can’t See / I See Black / I See Blue
- Check the TV/monitor/projector. Is it on and is it connected correctly? Some of my coordinators keep a picture or drawing of how all the cables are supposed to be connected.
- Check the monitor. Is it on the right channel? Make a note for yourself on which channel it should be.
- If you were able to see the dialing screen/menu before you connect, then it’s not your TV/monitor/projector. A blue or black screen is often a firewall problem on either end of the call. Try one of these test numbers to make sure you can connect outside your district on your own. Have the other site try connecting somewhere else too. If you can both connect to other places but not to each other, it’s probably a firewall problem. If you have access to someone with a bridge/MCU, ask them for help (usually at your educational service agency).
- Once in a while the flat screen TVs won’t cooperate. If so, unplug the power, wait, plug it in.
Audio: I Can’t Hear
- Check your TV/monitor volume. Check your videoconference system’s volume too. Both should be about in the middle (if your system uses both).
- Have the other side check their microphone. If you see a Far End Mute icon, you know their microphone is muted. (This only shows up in point-to-point calls). Ask them to unmute. Tell them you can’t hear. Have them nod their head or wave if they can hear you.
Audio: They Can’t Hear Me
- Check your microphone. Are you muted? Check your screen – usually you’ll see an icon if it is muted. Or Polycom microphones are muted when the light on it is red. Unmute so the far site can hear you.
- Their TV volume might be turned down. You may have to write them notes on a sign to hold up in front of the camera or write on paper under the document camera. (Or call them on the phone.)
They Can’t See Me
- Have them check their monitor/projector/TV. Is it on & on the right channel?
- It may be a firewall problem on their end. See “I Can’t See” above. Have them try connecting to the one of these test numbers. They should determine if they get a picture and then call you back again and report. If they can’t see a picture on your system or the test site, they should talk to their tech person. If you can both connect to other places but not to each other, it’s probably a firewall problem. If you have access to someone with a bridge/MCU, ask them for help (usually at your educational service agency).
Call Rejected or Busy Signal or Call Rings & Rings
- If you call and get a “call rejected” error, usually the other person is already in a call.
- If the call rings & rings, usually something in the network between you & the other site is not allowing the call to negotiate. Both sides should try a test site. If your test call just rings & rings, then it’s not connecting through firewalls. If you have access to someone with a bridge/MCU, ask them for help (usually at your educational service agency).
Alerts: What Do They Mean?
- IP Network: If this is down, then you don’t have a live Internet connection. Try another Ethernet jack in the room. Using a spot where a computer was connected and working usually guarantees a good connection.
When All Else Fails, Reboot or Redial
- If you have a lot of connection problems, sometimes redialing will help clear it up.
- If nothing is working, reboot the camera. Turn the camera off (reach up!!), wait, turn it back on.
Polycom Specific: “Flippy-Do-Button”
My schools all have Polycom endpoints, and another common problem is when you accidentally get yourself in the big screen and the far site in the picture-in-picture. How do you switch it back?
This happens with the button that I call the “flippy-do-button”. I’m sure there’s a more technical term! On a VSX7000, if you press the Camera button while you are in a call, you’ll see an icon with two arrows pointing around. If you select it, you’ll swap the far and near pictures. It’s easy to change it accidentally by pressing the camera button and then 1 or the enter key. To get it back, just press Camera, 1. Whew!
- Take this Word file with basically the same information presented here. Fill it in with your favorite test site number and your videoconferencing support number. Add the channel for your TV/monitor (if applicable). Then tape it to your videoconferencing cart in a prominent location.
- Please comment and add any other troubleshooting tips you have.
Schools’ resources are valuable and must be spent wisely. Resources are both staff time and money. Here are some tips about evaluating the quality of your connections so that you can spend your time and money wisely.
Top 3 Quality Indicators for Curriculum Videoconferencing Connections
1. Are you teachers and students actively engaged during the connection? Some connections are compelling as VIEW ONLY, but the majority of the connections that I have participated in where students learned the most were connections where they were participating in a challenge, a quest, a lesson, or asking questions.
2. Are teachers and students provided with quality program materials and resources prior to the connection? COSI Columbus provide amazing kits with their connections. The kit for the knee surgery comes complete with 30 student viewing guides, hammers, glitter bug lotion and much more! Greenbush sends live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches for their program. Center for Puppetry Arts provides patterns and instructions for all the preparations needed for their programs.
CAUTION: Materials that have to be shipped back to the provider at the expense of the school can be a pain for coordinators to manage. Be sure to ask about materials or kits to make sure you can keep them or if they need to be sent back.
3. Is the challenge and instructional level appropriate for the students? I am always skeptical when I see a program listed as available for K-12. SeaTrek has a chart showing programs that will work for a certain grade level. NASA Digital Learning Network lists programs for K-12, but in the lesson materials they are divided as K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. That tells me that they have adapted the materials and the language so that it is appropriate to the different learning levels.
TWICE has a great document for a more comprehensive look at quality indicators of a videoconference field trip or program. http://www.twice.cc/media/QualityIndicators.pdf
Many content providers have program evaluations to be completed by the classroom teacher after the program. Make sure that your teachers take time to complete these. Content providers use that data to improve programs and in some cases secure grant funding to provide free programming to schools.
Classroom Evaluation of Learning Processes
Teachers can use evaluation strategies with their students to ensure learning is occuring and to improve classroom management for the next connection. As a Tribes trainer, I believe in the group dynamics of learning and the power of reflection in the learning process.
What did you learn about the content? (including preparation and presentation skills) This rubric was created by Tracy Poelzer from British Columbia and can be used with MysteryQuest connections.
link to MysteryQuest rubric by Tracy
What did you learn about the technology?
How did connecting with other classes or experts enhance your learning? Would this have been better done with the class next door or did using the technology impact how you learned?
What did you do that contributed to your learning?
Be specific here. Focus on the behaviors that you want to nuture during the next connection. These can be explicitly taught by using the “Looks Like, Feels Like, Sounds Like” strategy. Make sure students know what these abstract behaviors will be during the connections.
- Did you listen to others in your group or the presenter?
- Did you participate fully?
- Did you value other people’s ideas?
- Did you work well together with others?
See page 38 in the Planning Kid2Kid Videoconference Projects booklet for more evaluation ideas.
- Which content providers have you found that have excellent preparation materials?
- Who are your favorite content providers providing quality programming for PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, or 9-12?
Guest blogged by Janine Lim
How much do you let students help you with videoconferences? For this challenge, let’s think about some appropriate ways to involve students in the production of the videoconference.
One of the most simple ways to involve students is to have them in charge of muting the microphone. I’ve seen this work well in a couple of ways (about 2nd grade and up):
- A trusted student is responsible for muting and unmuting in a multi-point conference such as an ASK program or an interview with an expert.
- OR, as each student comes up to the microphone, they press the button on the microphone, state their question or comment, and then press the button again.
I’ve seen these examples using with the button on the Polycom microphones (instead of giving the student the remote control). Those of you using other systems, how does this work for you? Please comment and share!
Cameras and More
Some students prefer to be off camera, while others love to “ham it up” with strong voices and great announcing skills. Encourage this diversity by involving your students in different ways during the videoconference. (Thank you Kim Pearce for these ideas to organize students with production jobs.)
- Teach the students to use already set presets, or even how to set the presets. Have a student or two responsible for the switching presets. This is helpful when you have different visuals to show. Watch the student presentations in the middle of this MysteryQuest video for examples.
- Build on the visual nature of videoconferencing communication, and have an art crew for the backdrop, a lighting crew, and stage hands. Let these visuals from Dew ISD, TX inspire you:
- If you haven’t allowed students to help with a videoconference yet, which of these tips will you try first?
- Do you have any other tips for involving students in the production of the videoconference?
Comment and tell us about it!
Guest blogged by Janine Lim
This week, we’ve been giving you tips to improve the quality of the interactions in your videoconferences. The question and answer time can be when the videoconference spirals out of control, or it can be a profitable learning experience.
Has this ever happened to you during Q&A time?
- No one can think of a question until after you disconnect.
- All the students start asking questions at once.
- All the students answer the question at the same time and other class can’t hear the answer.
- The students ask only questions such as, How long is your recess? and what are your favorite subjects?
- The students can’t think of questions; so they ask the same questions that the other class just asked them.
Let’s Improve Those Questions
- Before the connection, learn a little about the location of your partner class. As a class, brainstorm some questions to learn more based on what you learned. For example, let’s say you’re connecting to a class in Midland, Michigan, which has a Dow Chemical Plant. Students might ask, how many of your parents work on the plant & what jobs do they do? Or, how does the chemical plant impact your community?
- During the connection, after each class has done their formal presentation, mute for 2 minutes to brainstorm questions. What could you ask the classes based on their presentations? What else do you want to know? You might even have some feedback/compliments to share with your partner class. For example, “We liked your PowerPoint presentation. Was it hard to find pictures for it? Where did you look?”
- Designate 3-5 students on a “question answer team.” These students are responsible for answering the questions from the partner class and make sure that one student answers at a time.
- Set up the question. Have the student(s) start with, Hi my name is _____. Then lead the question with a statement. For example, In our class, we have horses, dogs, cats and a lizard as pets. What pets do you have?
- When facilitating a multipoint session, don’t say, “Any questions?” Always call on schools by name (in the same order) so they know who should be talking.
- Try out one of these tips in your next videoconference. Tell us how it went.
- Do you have any other question tips?
- Do you have any stories of great questions students have asked?
Comment and tell us about it!