Author Archives: techreadydog

Professor Allison breaks down STEM Innovation Nation Festival

Listen for the Innovation Nation Public Service Announcement on KNNB.  To hear more about Innovation Nation from Professor Allison and her assistant click on the link.  If you’re on a district computer and the link is blocked click here.

Innovation Nation PSA

District goes all out with STEM, hands-on learning

title1adminTitle1admin.com  has written an article about our own project-based STEM units, and they’ve  given us permission to post a link to the pdf of the article about the STEM units here:
http://www.wusd.us/users/bruce.goode/Docs/WhiteriverUnifiedSD_4.24.14.pdf

Below is the text from the article:

Key points:

  • Support staff with lessons, modeling, tech help
  • Seek out ways for students to apply STEM knowledge
  • Expose students to technology, difficulty levels of CCSS tests

District goes all out with STEM, hands-on learning

Second-graders map out a plan for a new playground that limits wind and water erosion. Eighth-graders apply Newton’s laws of motion to their roller coaster designs.

These units are part of Whiteriver (Ariz.) Unified School District’sTech Ready Grant that funds work at four of the district’s five schools. The grant dollars were awarded by the state through School Improvement Grant rollover funds.

Whiteriver USD is a public school district located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. All its schools receive Title I funds, and nearly 100 percent of students are Apache and qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The grant pays for four curriculum developers and four tech integration coaches, said Bruce Goode, WUSD’s tech integration coordinator. The curriculum developers write units that emphasize science, technology, engineering and math, model lessons in classrooms, and support teachers’ use of the units. The coaches help students and teachers learn to use the one-to-one mobile devices the grant helps fund. The grant also supports overall infrastructure upgrades for Common Core State Standards assessments.

Project-based learning

The district’s K-12 STEM units use project-based learning and also integrate reading and writing. The units include interactive digital test items that match the format, difficulty level, and technology skills needed for CCSS-aligned assessments.

The web-based units include a teacher’s guide and take students step-by-step through content with essential questions, videos to build background knowledge, vocabulary games, experiments and simulations, and pre- and post-assessments.

“We weave all this into a project where they are actually getting out of the classroom,” Goode said. “They’re engineering or making something in the process.”

Goode and Susan Rodriguez, one of the district’s curriculum developers, shared some tips with Title1Admin® about creating and implementing STEM units that emphasize project-based learning.

  • Make test prep fun. Ultimately, the district’s underlying goal is to prepare students for the CCSS assessments, Rodriguez said. However, there’s no reason to rely on traditional test prep that can squelch students’ love for learning, they said. “Open the doors for teachers and students to be able to dream and think outside the box,” she said. Many teachers are hungry for time to teach science more thoroughly using a project-based, multi-disciplinary approach, she added.
  • Ramp up teachers’ interest. Before the grant launched, the district hosted a half-day tech expo at each school. Teachers selected from various mini tech classes. Later, an all-day training gave details about the grant, the STEM units, and the tech devices and how to use those effectively for instruction. An online summer class was also offered.
  • Use readily available resources. Start with resources that are already in your classrooms and community. For example, students read a story in their basal reader about a school that started a compost pile, and they wanted to do the same, Rodriguez said. A local farm taught students how to build and use a compost pile for their garden.

Related Story:

Support teachers as they become STEM-savvy

As part of a technology grant from the Arizona Department of Education, Whiteriver Unified School District is creating K-12 units that integrate science, technology, engineering and math along with reading and writing. The units, which are web-based, use a project-based learning approach and also prepare students with the technology skills they’ll need and test items they’ll see on assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards.

When designing such units, be realistic about time, said Susan Rodriguez, a STEM curriculum developer for WUSD. For example, she works to design units that front load the most important content. “If the teacher only taught the first section, the students would know the content to mastery,” Rodriguez explained. “The rest of the unit is extension and delving deeper.”

Also make sure you provide ample supports for teachers, including training, and modeling of lessons.

Provide training for any technology that students and teachers will use as part of the units, suggested Rodriguez and Bruce Goode, the district’s tech integration coordinator.

As you test out units and roll out related technology, gather feedback and use that information to improve the resources and supports you’re providing for students and staff, they added.

Tricia Offutt covers family and community engagement and other Title I issues for LRP Publications.

April 23, 2014

Copyright 2014© LRP Publications     All Rights Reserved

 

What can Technology do to Empower our Students?

Watch this eight minute TED talk  about how young learners are using digital tools to change the world and what schools need to do to empower students.  The takeaway quote from Scott McLeod is this:

“We have to give them something meaningful to work on.  Give them powerful devices and access.  Get out of their way, and let them be amazing.”

Gearing Up for Innovation Nation

gears

The district-wide Innovation Nation STEM festival  is only one month away and we’re starting to gear up.

You’ll be hearing more and more about the Innovation Nation as it gets closer.

I’ve got some great news to share with you about the events taking place on May 14th.

  • Currently we have fifteen (15) outside presenters confirmed with a half-dozen others tentatively confirmed.  See the poster below to see some of the people coming.  We will also have 15 WUSD interactive student presentations.
  • Cradleboard Elementary has donated STEM-related prizes to be used for student prizes during Innovation Nation.  Thank-you Mr. Tom Shafer.
  • The WMAT Education Department JOM program has come through with 100 Papa John’s Pizzas for the winners of the Innovation Nation Contest held at each school.
  • The John Hopkins NARCH Youth fund has come through with $900 in student incentives which we plan to use to purchase:
    • $20 Walmart Gift Cards for the teachers whose classes win the school contest and participate in Innovation Nation.  To be used for classroom supplies
    • STEM-related prizes for students to award the winners of the two engineering/math challenge contests that we hold during the Innovation Nation Event.
    • STEM-related raffle prizes to be raffled off every thirty minutes starting at 2:30.  All these prizes are geared towards children.

It would be great if we can encourage as many students to be there as possible.  We’ve been blessed with lots of student incentives and we would love to have lots of student participation.

Here’s what the tentative schedule will look like on May 14th.

schedule

 

STEM poster3

 

 

Why STEM Projects Work

As the Tech Ready Team has been working on building STEM projects this year, I’ve had a chance to see how these projects are working in the classroom and the great opportunities that these projects are opening up across our district.

The slideshow below is part description, part reflection on the ways they’ve been successful, and part vision of how they could be expanded.  Take a look at it.

How to Moodle… Just Ask Us

If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  howtomoodle

How To Moodle is a company that provides training for schools and teachers using Moodle as their classroom website.  They have decided to make available for free their Moodlemanualmanual on using the latest version of Moodle.  If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  The manual is useful with all versions of Moodle, but WUSD will  hopefully have the latest version of Moodle up and running soon at your school.

To download the manual click here, you can also find it on the WUSD Tech Resources page under the LMS section.  It’s in pdf format so you can refer to it as an eBook in electronic format.  Before you click the link and push print, be forewarned that the manual is 162 pages.  Below is a screenshot from the manual on the Moodle Quiz Activity:

quizactivity

Innovation Nation: A STEM Festival

Ination poster

Click the picture to download the poster in pdf format. Print on legal size paper.

The rest of the country has set their clocks forward, Spring is around the corner, and it’s time for a STEM festival.
On Wednesday, May 14th, the Chief Alchesay Activity Center will be host to Innovation Nation.

This event has been designed to bring awareness of STEM opportunities to the White Mountain Apache Nation as well as spotlight student STEM projects in the Whiteriver School District.

Booths will be set up from private companies, STEM organizations, Universities, and Government Agencies that will highlight innovation, new ideas, and creativity.

Winners of school contests at each school will be presenting their projects at the festivals.   During the event students, community members, and teachers will receive tickets for participating in activities at the various booths.  Participants can use the tickets they earn to “purchase” food at the event.

Students can participate and win prizes at various engineering and math problem solving competitions during the event.

What Can Teacher’s Do to Participate?

1) Advertise it to your students.

You can download the Innovation Nation Poster here.  Make sure to print the poster out on legal size paper.

2) Participate in the Class Innovation Contest at your School.

Winning classes will receive a pizza party, and we’re also working on prizes for winning teachers.  Contact your STEM curriculum developer or principal for information about the deadline for this contest at your school.  You can download a flyer for this competition here.

3) Attend for Professional Development hours on Wednesday, May 14th.

You’ll receive more information about how to register in mylearningplan.com to receive PD hours for attending.

4) Volunteer to help.

If you’re interested in volunteering to setup, hold student contests, or clean up, please email me: bgoode@wusd.us

Innovation Nation Contest

Click the Image above to download a pdf version of this flyer.

What Does Common Core have to do with Project-based Learning (PBL)?

What is PBL?You might be surprised to learn that there is a direct connection between preparing your students for Common Core and the PARCC exam and using project-based learning in your classroom.  Project-based learning is a great tool to have in your teacher toolkit as you make plans and efforts to prepare your students for the deeper thinking and higher difficulty of the Common Core Standards.

The new standards aim to prepare students for college and career readiness.  Project-based learning (PBL) is a great way to prepare students for Common Core because it emphasizes significant content and real-world outcomes.

Consider the following quote from David Ross, director of professional development for the Buck Institute for Education.

Everyone knows that content is king and Common Core wears the crown. Significant content is one of our eight Essential Elements of PBL. Make an easy connection: Significant Content=Common Core.  Now let’s use a shorter word. When designing a rigorous, relevant, and engaging project, Common Core is the “what.” But what about the “how?” In our minds the answer is obvious: PBL is the solution for Common Core implementation. PBL is the “how.”

 Of course, we realize that PBL is not the only way to help students master these new standards. As states move toward implementation of the Common Core, however, more and more schools and districts are focusing on PBL as their go-to instructional strategy to prepare students for deeper thinking. Next-generation assessments aligned to the new standards (still in development at this writing) are expected to emphasize application of knowledge rather than recall of facts. Here, too, we find common ground with PBL, in which students demonstrate and share what they know or can do through performance assessments. For PBL veterans, student demonstrations of learning are not new at all. They’re an essential element of every project.

 Common Core Standards for English Language Arts include tasks that are very familiar to people who know PBL:

“Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions”

“Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners”

“Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others”

“Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question)”

Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice also echo PBL best practices. The math standards set expectations for students to do real-world problem solving, use mathematical modeling, apply statistical analysis, and communicate their understanding. “Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know Loading…to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace,” according to the Standards of Mathematical Practice. Such applications naturally have a place within high-quality projects that ask students to use mathematics concepts and procedures in authentic contexts.  (Excerpted from the book PBL for 21st Century Success: Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity, published by the Buck Institute for Education, 2013)

doonlinecoursesIn the Whiteriver School District, the Tech Ready Grant is currently developing STEM lesson plans for every grade-level that implement Common Core standards.

These units are structured around Science, but also include Math and ELA Common Core standards as well as digital PARCC-type questions in the units.  The Science and Technology elements of the units are used to engage students as well as fulfill the need for informational text required by the ELA standards.

These units are being developed to give WUSD teachers access to PBL units aligned to their curriculum and resources without having to develop them from scratch.  Teachers will be given complete access to the units so that once they are implemented they will be able to make changes, extensions, and additions to the STEM units.

You can access the units that are being developed here.
Use the following login to explore the units:
(Username: wusdteacher  password: pass123)

Common Core Math Resources (Free of Charge)

It’s tough to know where to start when looking for Math resources online- there is so much good stuff out there. It’s even more difficult to know where to start when looking for math resources that are aligned to and address the common core standards. This list of math resources has been compiled by http://www.ccedtech.com to specifically help get a handle on Common Core. I’ve added a few more resources to their list. Here they are:

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: This site is developed by Utah State University to support K-12. It includes plenty of online exercises.

Inside Math (videos and lessons): A resource for math educators that you should be familiar with.

Interactivate– Common Core Aligned Lessons:  A collection of digital interactive resources aligned to common core math.  Similar to NSDL below.

Learn Zillion – Common Core Aligned Lessons: Video tutorials, guided practice, and lesson plan downloads for teachers.  Read the TechReadyTeam post here.

Opus Math Problem Bank:  This is a search engine to find math problems aligned to common core.  It focuses on 7th and 8th grade.

Eureka Math– Common Core Math Maps: This is a pay site that has a free preview of their digital common core curriculum for grades K, 3, 6, and 9.

National Science Digital Library: Browse the Common Core Math Standards and find plenty of digital resources associated with key learning goals.

Math Video Sites:

Teaching Channel
Numberphile
SEDL
Mathalicious

I think you will find these sites a great help if you take a few minutes to look at them.

Capture

There’s an app for that- Whiteriver Teacher Tool

With the goal of trying to make technology resources easier for teachers to access, I’ve created a web app that can be downloaded on your smartphone or tablet.

If you have access to a smartphone or tablet, simply open a browser and find your way to http://wusd.app.appery.io or scan the QR code below.

QRcode

What’s in the app?

The app consists of 3 parts: Home, Resources, and Get Help.
The Home screen provides quick access to the WUSD Calendar, Your Classroom LMS, and Web Mail as well as an explanation of the purpose of the app.

home        About

On the Resources Screen you will find links to the tech ready team blog, the new STEM units that are currently being created, the curriculum maps,Resources as well as a link to the My Learning Plan website.  On the bottom of the Resources Screen you can swipe across to access the different WUSD Social Media:  WUSD Facebook, Tech Ready Facebook, and the Tech Dog Twitter Page.

Probably the most useful portion of the app is the Get Help page.  This page gives you the option to report a computer or network problem and turn in a ticket to the help desk via an online form.  In addition there is a form for requesting help with technology integration issues which I will receive.  At the bottom of the page is the link to the technology resources page on www.wusd.us where you can find answers to your technology questions.

Gethelp

How do I get the app on my device?

It’s very simple to place this app on your device or tablet.  Simply navigate to the site mentioned above http://wusd.app.appery.io.  Once you have the app open in your browser you can add this web app to the home screen of your device by finding the “Add to Home Screen” icon.  When you open this app directly from your home screen you will notice that it is no longer running inside a browser, but as a separate app.