Friday, October 17, 2014

Fourth Grade Has Respect

San Domenico fourth graders have been talking about respect this year and were inspired to write a song about it!
Mr. Hopper has "Respect." 

As part of our Second Step program, Mrs. Yazzolino and students discussed the importance of having respect for the earth, nature, our bodies, each other and most importantly, ourselves.

Students then wrote their own lyrics and we put them together for a "Respect Rap". With the help of Mr. Hopper's production skills we recorded a song called "A Great Word", which turned out to be a huge success.

Check it out and feel free to sing along:

Ryan Hopper
4th Grade Teacher
Lower School Technology Facilitator

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Teaching Beyond Classroom Walls

One of our a lower school technology goals is to connect with other classrooms around the world.

Searching Google+ Communities looking for a classroom to work with, we found many different schools interested in connecting beyond their classroom walls. 

Mr. Hopper's 4th Grade Math class trying to guess the 'mystery number.'
"Mystery hangouts" are a popular method of interaction when connecting students this way. Typically this activity includes an exercise where students ask yes/no questions to identify where in the world the other class is located.

I decided to use a math component in our mystery hangout. We chose a "mystery number" between 1-99 and students asked questions to try and figure out the number. Students asked questions like:  Is it a two-digit number? Is it a prime number? Does the sum of the digits equal 9?

Although our class didn't "win" and correctly guess the number first, they all unknowingly learned a little more about divisibility rules and had a great time in the process.  If you're looking to connect with another classroom as well feel free to take a look at Google+ CommunitiesSkype for the Classroom, or ask me about how you can get connected!

Our fourth grade students also participated in a Mystery Skype! Each student had a job to carry out such as, inquirer, question keeper, recorder and mapper. This was a great way for students to work together, as well as learn more about US geography.

Now that we have identified the location of our buddy classes, we will be communicating with them via SkypeEdmodo, and Kidblog to discuss The Fourteenth Goldfish, a book we will all read together as part of Global Read Aloud.

Ryan Hopper
4th Grade Teacher
Lower School Technology Facilitator
Melissa Yazzolino
4th Grade Teacher

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Learning Management Through Technology at San Domenico

Learning Management Systems are a big topic in education these days. How we define learning management helps schools determine the system(s) they use. Being 1:1 with iPads at San Domenico School, we've learned that the devices themselves are a learning management system.

Students create, organize, and manage their email, photos, audio and video recordings, as well as all the files they make using typical document creation Apps. The iPad helps them keep track of everything they do.

Annotating the Gettysburg Address
Taking it another step further by using Apps like Notability, students manage the notes they take in class or when they are working on assignments. Many teachers provide students with electronic documents and ask their students to work on them using Notability.

Students may choose to annotate the document with highlighters and typed or hand written notes. They may add images and record voice notes to the file. Then, if required, the edited file can be returned to the teacher via a number of different electronic pathways.

Notability "notes management"
Students use other features in Notability to organize and sort their documents. Within the App they can assign notes to color coded subjects to differentiate categories or classes.

Turning in assignments and keeping their files backed up are two additional but important aspects of learning in a 1:1 iPad program. These are another level of learning management and there are a number of different cloud based systems we use for these purposes. I will cover them in subsequent iLearning Blog entries.

At San Domenico School we believe that what students do with their education is as important as their academic performance. We also believe that technology supports that performance by helping students learn and manage their academic course work. That's why 1:1 computing is such a crucial and successful aspect of our educational program.

Brad Lakritz
Director of Technology

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Common Sense Media Signature School

We take very seriously the idea of being a Common Sense Media Supporter School. When San Domenico went 1:1 with iPads everyone agreed it would be important to embrace the technology and all that comes with it including games, distractions, and potential dangers. We knew that teaching our Dominican values would help our students recognize the complexity of this technologically advanced learning environment and to respond with integrity to any challenge they face.

But it doesn't come easy. Digital citizenship lessons built by our own teachers over the past four years are the backbone of this program. We are very proud of our middle school teacher Wynn Richards who is a certified Common Sense Educator. Wynn is the architect for many of our digital citizenship lessons.

But this hasn't happened in a vacuum. Many of our lessons were created from resources provided by Common Sense Media. In fact, this year we began using the Common Sense Media Digital Literacy and Citizenship Student Workbooks with our middle school students. Being 1:1 with iPads makes it very easy to have these resources right there in front of our students. These and many other resources are available free on their website as electronic books or .pdf documents for educators, students, and parents.

And we don't stop there. Each year we provide opportunities for parents to learn along with us about how we use iPads in learning and how we provide the best possible tools for students to thrive in these conditions. It's not enough to just say "the best filter is the one between your ears."

This year we launched into the Common Sense Media Bay Area Supporter School program which brings even more resources to the school community as a whole and helped reinvigorate our curriculum and teacher preparation. One of the tools they provide is the widget located here in this blog entry. The widget provides dynamic links to current stories relevant to parents from the Making Sense blog:

Here is a snippet from a recent blog entry:

     "YouTube personalities become popular because they speak directly to their fans, with no network oversight, no whitewashing of their language, and no fancy production. They say what they want. They're real. But given that these folks are making big bucks off their YouTube channels - and making a huge impression on kids -- it's important that parents get clued in to who they are."

We look forward to partnering with our families to educate all our students to become good digital citizens. We appreciate having Common Sense Media tools at our disposal for this important aspect of our work. We hope you will take advantage of them as well.

Brad Lakritz - Director of Technology

Students Teaching Students!

Question: What happens when we see that the updated iCal app is no longer a great tool to record homework?

Answer: Informally survey the students to discover their preferred apps. The top two contenders were myHomework and The Homework app.

Solution: This problem provided a great opportunity for 12 students from grades 6, 7, and 8 to step into a leadership role to teach other students. The group of twelve was randomly paired up to visit each 6th grade Advisory to share the two apps. In watching the “junior teachers” in action, they were awesome! Each pair shared their app of preference by projecting the app and then showing the various functions. They also talked about what they liked about it and then answered questions.

Students teaching students at San Domenico
Our 6th grader rocked it! “Since it is my first year in middle school, going up and speaking in front of a class helped me build confidence not just for speaking, but it also helped give me confidence that I can have for the rest of my 6th grade year. This experience will help me feel more comfortable speaking to a large audience in the future.”

Our 7th grader had a great time! “It was a fun way to be in the teachers shoes for a little bit and sharing something with younger kids.”

Our 8th grader had a blast! “It was really fun teaching the sixth graders about the homework apps, they all listened and asked really good questions. The messed around with us too and made some really funny jokes.”

And from the teachers: "They were all so helpful and informative that my advisees immediately downloaded one of the apps to try out.  Well done!”

And one more, “I love it when students get to be in a role of leadership to show off their skills.”

Students teaching students is quite an empowering moment of leadership!

Kali Baird - Director of High School Advising
PreK-8 Science and Technology Lead