Friday, February 14, 2014

Blended Learning and #GAFE Strike Again!

Today is Valentine's Day and I am engaging my students in Math "work" during the last block of the day. Anyone who spends their time in an elementary school can describe what this time of the day might stereotypically look/sound like....but the stereotype didn't fit with my students/classroom today. I wouldn't normally do Math at this time of the day but today was different. Mrs. +Tonya Reesor, VP at Blessed Mother Teresa Catholic Elementary School and a fellow co-chair of one of our Board's working groups to assist in developing our 21st Century Teaching and Learning Blueprint, was at St. Anne (K) and was invited to visit our classroom to see what my students were up to with respect to the Chromebooks and blended learning. This time was the best time of day for Tonya and I really wanted her to see the transformative learning going on in our classroom.

We started our 3D Geometry unit and it was business as usual as we created our learning goals and success criteria and our first anchor chart. This happened earlier in the day.


We started by reviewing the charts and and talking about the characteristics of 3D figures. The students then logged in to our LMS site in order to start working with an OERB learning activity called "3D Figures: Grade 2 Mathematics" which introduced them to a variety of 3D figures, provided a brief lesson on faces and edges, and allowed them to sort 3D figures by their geometric properties.

After completing the OERB activity the students were then directed to work in a Google Document (link to the document was provided in our LMS site) to use the characteristics of 3D figures to write riddles for their friends to try and answer.

Screenshot of the example provided to students in the Google document that they would be working in.

What happened next was a treat for me to watch and listen to. The students were totally engaged and having fun. They took the time to go through the digital activity and some of the pairs went through it 2-3 times. Students started grabbing 3D figures to hold on to and look at half way through the digital activity. When they jumped on to the Google document things went up a notch as students enjoyed working together and demonstrated a real focus on the task at hand.

Google document is a great communication and collaboration tool for the students and myself. In real time I could see what everyone was doing and get a feel for what was going on. I would purposely communicate with specific students as I watched them type their work into the document. At first they would look at me funny, wondering how I knew what they were thinking but they quickly got used to it and became fully aware that all of us could see each other's work. I made a point of using the document to see if it would assist me in being able to assess who required support and who required enrichment. I am pleased to report that it did assist me in providing appropriate feedback/support to students working at a variety of levels.

Here are screenshots of the progress students made in the document.

The coloured squares in the top right hand side are my student pairs logged in to the document - they are all in and ready to create their riddles.

The students starting their work.

Progress is being made. Right hand side shows a comment that I made to a pair.
Second page of the document as it grows because of student input. A student responds to one of my comments.

Some of my comments to the students.

While the students were working in their pairs, I was centrally located in the room with my Chromebook - monitoring their progress, making comments on the document as well as speaking to them as they worked in their space. I also had the document projected on our whiteboard in order for students to see what was happening when they weren't in front of their Chromebook. Along with the OERB activity and the Google document I had a box of 3D figures (which I referred to above) that students could actually hold in their hands. The combination of all of these things made for a rich learning environment. Students were working at their own pace and at their particular level of understanding. I was there for them to seek out, I sought them out, there was the anchor chart for them to refer to, they could talk to their friends about their issues/concerns/questions, and they had the document to look over if they didn't want to engage another person.

Did I mention that the students were doing all of this during the last block of the day on a Friday and that is was also Valentine's day? If you had been in the room you would never have guessed that it was the end of the day before a long weekend. The students were engaged, having fun, and applying some of the knowledge they had just been exposed to. It was a great start to the unit and I look forward to blending their learning as they continue to learn about 3D Geometry. Sadly, +Tonya Reesor didn't end up visiting because an issue fell into her lap (did I mention that it was the last block on Friday?) minutes before she was to join us. The students were sad that she wouldn't be joining us but were able to put that behind them and get to work.

If you have any thoughts/questions/ideas that you would like to share please feel free to connect with me via email, Twitter, Google +, or leaving a comment for me here.

1 comment:

  1. I love the ability to oversee the work that is happening (what a great way to be able to focus on the positive!)