Week 4 – Student Blogging & Creating Video Games

We’ve come to the end of week 4.  It felt like the first full week of actual school with last weeks 4-day-week and the week before still doing beginning of the year stuff.  We really got into student blogging this week.

MATH REFLECTION BLOGS

2015-09-15 10.37.51Last year I did math reflection journals in Google Slides that I had kids share with me.  This year, they’re blogging their journals.  I’m hoping a wider audience will lead to high quality in writing.  I had them blog about our first math lessons.  I provided a few guiding questions to get them going, used a math reflection rubric that I stole from Carmel Schettino, and had them turn it in on Google Classroom.

Beforehand, we went through the rubric, mainly what makes an ‘A’ and what makes a ‘D’ instead of just reading every single section.  I thought about creating student-generated rubrics but I really liked the one I used.  I also thought about having them read through the whole thing and offer advice on things they felt should be changed, but knew that would take some time (even though it probably would’ve been worth it).  We ended up looking at some great examples from last year and some poor examples and evaluating them.  Students can be ruthless sometimes; originally I posted a great example and I asked if they thought this was an ‘A’ reflection or ‘D’ reflection and one class just tore it apart and said it was a C.  I later said that it was good example and that all examples have opportunities to improve.  It was a little harder for the 6th graders to evaluate some of the reflections because a few of them were 7th grade reflections from last year on content the 6th graders didn’t really understand.

I had students create their blogs on Blogger.  I created a video on creating the blog as well as writing their first post to help guide them.  Their reflection from our first lesson was due early this week.  I love the new ‘Question’ feature on Google Classroom because students can see how everyone else has answered the question (as opposed to just the teacher seeing it).  I had them post a link to their blog and then they did a self assessment as well as a peer assessment for the person sitting next to them.  One student shared how seeing other student blogs really made him feel like his was pretty lame.  He deleted the five sentences he had and started over and ended up with this.  I was glad to see students giving themselves honest self-assessments about what they did well and what they felt they were lacking.

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 7.03.22 PM

Check out a few exceptional examples here, here, and here (a few conceptual errors in some of them but some quality mathematical thinking).

I immediately am realizing that the medium change from Google Slides to blogs has allowed students to get much more into a flow of writing.  In slides, you write a paragraph or two and you have to create a new slide, format it, and your ideas can unnaturally become broken up.  Blogs allow the ideas to flow a bit more smoothly.

MAKING VIDEO GAMES

I feel I’m not really doing any teaching in my Robotics class, but it seems OK since the students are learning an immense about thinking programmatically.  We use a platform called Scratch that turns computer code into little lego blocks and then you can make characters on a screen do things according to the code you ‘write.’  I don’t lecture at all, I just give them a few instructional videos to watch(from Googles CS First curriculum) and give them open ended projects that must contain certain elements (here is one of my previously used rubrics).  Even the students with no coding experience are doing some really impressive stuff.  On student is practically recreating a Mega Man game.  It’s been great to hear them talk about how it’s taking all this work for them to create a really crummy Pac-Man replica and how they are now just in awe at the amount of work that goes into modern games.

To keep from getting bored (because the students are so in the zone and rarely ask me any questions), I’m just building my own video game.  It’s a bit of a Space Invaders ripoff.  I’ll share it when I’m done.  I’ve had to ask some students how they would do something in a few parts.

CONSULTING YOUNG VIDEO MAKERS

Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 11.05.42 PMI had a Google Hangout call with a group of 6th graders from The Magellan School this week.  This summer when I made a promotional video for The Austin Spark League (which I’ll post once it’s all finished up), I made a contact at The Magellan School named Tod Baker.  He had his 6th graders making short videos about thier middle school and asked if I would be willing to answer a few questions when it came to videomaking.  It was my first consultation when it comes to video and my first classroom Google Hangout 🙂

That’s all for this week.  Thanks for reading friends 🙂

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