Blinding Me with Science

Walk the halls of Hopkins School and you just might find yourself immersed in scientific discovery and engineering. From students actively engaged in designing water filters in the classroom to prototypes of plants designed to withstand the arctic sprouting up in the hallways, you will observe the young scientists at Hopkins hard at work. 

What force of nature is propelling their inquiry?

In 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released new a Science and Technology/ Engineering Curriculum Framework based on the Next Generation Science Standards. The new framework, which views science learning as three-dimensional, integrates domain content knowledge, the big ideas that transcend science domains, and the practice of scientific and engineering processes.

MA Science Technology Engineering Foundations

MA Science Technology/Engineering Foundations

This year, Hopkins rolled out the new framework with the adoption of STEMScopes NGSS curriculum. The STEMScopes digital platform allows students to engage in authentic problems and apply scientific principles to help them understand the natural world. In their study of matter and energy in plants, 5th-grade students were challenged to design a plant that could thrive in the arctic tundra.

Touted by STEMScopes as a one to two-hour activity, science teachers took the task to varying extremes — from a quick prototype design to a problem-based learning experience guided by an expert botanist. All iterations of the challenge showcased the new three-dimensional science learning and then some. In addition to the physical prototypes, many students created digital artifacts to present their designs.

Ms. Kaufman’s students worked with an expert botanist to refine their designs and then presented using Google Slides.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Mrs. Tremblay’s students created videos of their plants while answering questions of essential needs.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.06.49 PM

Celebrating What Works

For teachers, experimenting with the new curriculum is a delicate balance and changing out all of their lessons would throw the system into chaos. To help maintain equilibrium, Hopkins science teachers integrated existing, tried and true inquiries alongside the new lessons. One such activity is the water filter design from the Boston Museum of Science Engineering is Elementary (EiE) Water, Water Everywhere unit. The environmental engineering challenge specifically addresses the Earth and Human Activity standard 5-ESS3-2(MA). Test a simple system designed to filter particulates out of water and propose one change to the design to improve it. This EiE activity embodies the spirit of the three dimensions while engaging its spirited scientists.

A team of scientists in Mrs. Wilkie’s class runs their first trial.

Screen Shot 2018-02-08 at 10.14.37 PM.png

As the new Science Technology/Engineering Framework takes hold at Hopkins, budding scientists will continue to bloom. The district’s commitment to STEAM education and support of its outstanding science staff will ensure that all students have the nourishment they need to thrive.


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @BlendedTeaching / @HopkinsTechLib
 Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Chromebook Clout @ Hopkins

With great power comes great responsibility. At Hopkins School, students and teachers are exploring their new technological superpowers while learning strategies to help them become outstanding digital citizens. What force has brought this new bounce to the building?

This year Hopkins School met a major instructional technology goal when the school doubled the number of Chromebooks. Each student now has access to the tool throughout the school day. Here is a graphical insight into how students and staff are rising to the potentiality and challenges that accompany their new capabilities.

Screen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.21.56 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.09.23 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.08.21 PMScreen Shot 2017-10-25 at 12.08.50 PM

Making a Video Game “Score” with Design Thinking

Students in Ms. Barkin’s music class are conquering creativity and collecting coins as they compose scores to select Super Mario World levels. The month-long endeavor, which blends instruments and technology, begins as a cacophony of sounds and transforms into a harmonious viewer experience. Using design thinking, students create and perform original film scores that ultimately help them understand and analyze music in relation to their culture. Making music relevant truly takes this project to the next level!

While it’s typical to envision the design process with engineering, one peek into Ms. Barkin’s class reveals that designing can be as natural as breathing. Engaged and immersed, students experiment with music and video through the iterative process. First, they capture the sound effects and then they create the melody to suit the mood of their character and setting. Collaboration is inherent as they play their instruments in coordination with the Mario video. Students report the process as fun and creative. They truly appreciate the freedom they were given to express themselves, and it shows!

Behind the scenes, blending music curriculum and technology, or instruments, with digital technology grounds the project in the students’ realm. In addition to serving up the magical Mario motivator, technology serves as a collaboration and communication conduit. Ms. Barkin launches the assignment through Google Classroom and creates graphic organizers for her students using Google Docs. Videos of student performances are shared through Google Classroom.

Ms. Barkin is pleased with her first iteration of this lesson. “I think part of igniting a passion is meeting students where they are at and getting them excited about the composition process. I was hoping that working with video games would motivate my students, and I think that I was successful throughout this process.” With the excitement generated by fifth-grade students, fourth-graders are surely looking forward to Ms. Barkin’s second iteration of the lesson due to hit Spring 2018. Until then, please enjoy one of the current releases.


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Rising to the Design Challenge

Picture a group of individuals gathered around a table trying to solve a problem under a tight deadline while using limited resources. Sound familiar? How did your envisioned scenario turn out? At Hopkins School, students were placed in teams and given a 45-minute class period to solve a design challenge. The result was a messy mixture of creativity, teamwork, learning, leadership, frustration, and triumph. Translation: it was a beautiful process to behold!

Challenge 1: Makey a Music Video

For this challenge, students worked with Ms. Doty to produce a 30-second music-jam video featuring a Makey Makey piano.

The Process
The Product

Challenge 2: Shifting Sculptures

For this challenge, students worked with Mrs. Weldon to create a sculpture that moves featuring LittleBits circuits.

The Process
The Product

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Self-directed Learning: It’s Elementary!

How can technology redefine the student-teacher relationship?

In the typical mind’s eye, students are seen taking the lead from teachers. A transition occurs between subjects. Teachers give students a lesson or instructions on which task they need to complete next. Students get to work until the teacher calls for another transition. This rinse and repeat cycle drives teacher-directed learning. But what if we turned the tables and allowed students opportunities to take control of their own learning? 

There is much abuzz about self-directed learning (SLD) in education communities. Coined in 1975 by Malcolm Knowles, SLD was originally tied to adult learning where it fit with his concept of andragogy or the teaching of adults. With the explosion of ubiquitous information and technology, SLD has filtered down to younger learners and is finding its way into pedagogical practice in the K-12 arena. In this space, it is imperative that teachers thoughtfully plan how to implement self-directed initiatives such as project-based learning (PBL), Genius Hour, 20% Time, Design Thinking, and the like. The lesson logistics and management behind these strategies is called heutagogy or the leading of self.

Heutagogy, the leading of self, may have roots in adult learning but technology makes it ripe for young learners, too.

In a world where information is readily tapped with technology, the role of the teacher is evolving. Teachers need to prepare students to navigate this new landscape; they need to teach students how to learn in addition to hitting the content standards. Moving to a more student-centered learning model allows teachers to integrate the what to learn with the how to learn. Technology tools can facilitate this transition.

So what does self-directed learning look like at the elementary level? Let’s take a peek into Hopkins School.

Clearly posted instructions remind students of the learning process.

In the art room, Ms. Philips practices Teaching for Artistic Behavior (TAB), which is a choice-based approach to teaching art. Her room is organized into several stations including ceramics, collage, sculpture, painting, drawing and technology. As the year unfolds, she instructs students on the process for using the tools and materials at each station and prominently posts the directions. Students choose which station to work at when they come into the art room and track their progress on a chart board. As students complete their work, they take a picture with an iPad and upload it to their online portfolios. During class time, Ms. Philips if free to consult with individual students and help enhance their skills as they explore the wonders of art.

In science, Ms. Kaufman embarked on project-based learning (PBL) with her 5th graders while they explored landforms. She used technology, including Google Classroom, Forms and Docs, along with paper-based planning tools with students to manage the project on the backend, however, student-driven learning was front and center. Here’s what she had to say about her adventure.

Students create a 3D model of what their landform might look like in 25,000 years.

“Our very first project-based-learning experience of the year went surprisingly well. Using driving questions to “steer” inquiry and research was a new concept to most of the students, but it helped keep them on task and helped them be more efficient in organizing their information. Trying to make a grand leap in their thinking by making a prediction of how a specific landform might change in 25,000 years forced them to first try to figure out how the landform had been formed to begin with and how it has changed since then. Watching groups share, discuss, and revise their ideas was exciting. While they were told they had to have a 3D model of their prediction, they were told they could use other means of showcasing their research. The best part was the end result in which the students shared their work with family and other fourth and fifth grade students. When everything was said and done, one of the most important components of this process was the reflection. Students were able to recognize their strengths and areas for improvements that enabled them to set personal goals for themselves for their next project-based-learning experience.”

A reflective goal form keeps students on track and teachers informed.

During technology and library time, Mrs. Weldon and Ms. Doty are guiding 5th graders through a year-long changemaker project. Students are tasked with identifying a real-world problem and using design thinking to raise awareness and create a product-based solution. At the onset, collaboration occurred organically as students sought out others who had identified the same or a similar issue. Technology tools including Google Classroom, Forms, Docs, and RealtimeBoard.com help students navigate the design process and keep their teachers apprised of their progress.

Although disparate in content, all three exemplars empower students. And when students are allowed to engage in their individual learning processes, they learn valuable soft skills that will help propel them to become capable people.  


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Failing Forward at Hopkins

Go ahead and suspend your judgment for just a moment. What if we encouraged elementary students to fail? Would we produce a community of high school dropouts or a creative force of motivated young people? I enthusiastically cast my vote for the latter.

This is why students practice design thinking in the Hopkins technology makerspace. By using the design process to solve real-world problems, students learn that failure is inherent in the engineering process and that mistakes lead to design improvements. This iterative mindset, alongside the notion that passion and perseverance pay off, goes a long way in building self-belief — the X factor of success. But just how far does failing forward reach? I decided to take to take a quick tour to gauge Hopkins’ communal acceptance of mistakes. The featured image emblazoned above the lockers of Room 201 — Fail Big & Try Again — highlights Mr. Bernstein’s expectation. His class even has a special cheer to celebrate each other’s mistakes. Check out the rest of my anecdotal discovery.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As you can see from this sampling, Hopkins School supports a culture of failing forward. Why? It’s simple. We are human. We make mistakes. Mistakes are springboards of learning and innovation. So remember, while failure on the report card may breed fear and anxiety, failure in the course of learning may breed more meaningful experiences and, ultimately, success. Please join me in endorsing the process of failure!


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

They’re Off to Great Places at Hopkins School

During the first few weeks at Hopkins School, students were seen breaking out! Well, there wasn’t exactly a mad rush to the doors or to the nurse to check for hives. They were playing a game based on Dr. Seuss’s book Oh the Places You’ll Go! A dozen classes participated in this community-building activity, working in teams to solve clues to reveal the combinations to six locks. Once the puzzles were deciphered, the box was opened to reveal various incentives from teachers. It was a perfect way to kick off the school year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Seuss game by Patti Harju is one of many available on Breakout EDU, where teachers can find ready-to-go games based on grade levels and content. Of course, teachers can also create their own immersive games using their classroom curriculum. The faculty at Hopkins School participated in a customized game during a staff meeting. As the creator, coming up with clues helped me hone in on the most critical message. For my colleagues, the engaging experience propelled them to access the key information.

As students at Hopkins continue on their learning journey, chances are they will make a pit stop or two at an engaging Breakout session. In the midst of excitement, they will learn the rewards spawned by collaboration, critical thinking, and grit to name a few.

 

breakout-infograph

Interactive learning, like Breakout EDU, has many benefits to students as captured in this infographic by Maria Galanis and Sylvia Duckworth.

 

 

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Let the Games Begin!

Hopkins School kicked off the year with a touch of Olympic flair. On September 14, Principal Bilello emceed the opening ceremonies of the 2016-17 school year. Students marched into the gymnasium waving a flag that expressed his or her own individuality. It was a vibrant display as each national park team donned a color of the Olympic rings. After an inspiring multimedia presentation, students took to the field to form the Olympic rings. Waiting in the wings was a quadcopter manned by Mr. Ghosh, our director of technology. What a spectacular view!

The Olympic theme is the brainchild of physical education teacher Mary Lou Burns and Principal Bilello. Inspired by the passionate athletes of the Paralympic games, Ms. Burns envisioned running alternative events with Hopkins students. Principal Bilello jumped at the opportunity to carry the torch throughout the school year. For in many ways, the spirit of the Olympic games and its athletes embodies the spirit of the school and its students.  “Yes, I can” has become the mantra of the Hopkins community.

In addition to the opening ceremonies, students are participating during their related arts classes. Ms. Barkin prepared students to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and is running a lesson comparing the anthems from various countries. Ms. Phillips is opening an Olympic-themed station in her art room. Still yet, Mrs. Weldon will be hosting the Library Olympics. There is even a Physical Education Google Classroom devoted to the Olympic activities. The goal is to keep the theme going until June when Mrs. Billelo and Ms. Babson will host the closing ceremonies at the final whole school meeting.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org on Sept. 22, 2016

Hopkins Students Captured in the Stream

At first glance, it appears that students in Room 212 are performing plays directed by their English Literature teacher. However, a closer look behind the curtain reveals that this performance was extraordinary in more ways than one. Just how did this fifth-grade show at Hopkins School come to be?

Students Create Magical Moments

Co-teachers Mrs. Moran and Mrs. Siegel gave students two short, read-aloud plays from Scholastic Storyworks: The Sword and the Stone, based on the legend of young King Arthur; and The Monster in the Cave, based on  The Odyssey. Students were only instructed to collaborate and assign their own parts. With reader’s theater, students generally run through the script a few times before reading their parts aloud in front of the class. However, this group took the read-aloud texts to a whole new level by turning them into full productions. Students designed the set, made props, created backdrop presentations with Google Slides and rehearsed during their limited class time and indoor recess. They were driven by passion until what unfolded on the stage were two stellar, student-directed performances with two compelling causes. According to our young King Arthur, “It’s fun to do, and it’s for an educational purpose.”

Teachers Conjure Up Technology

Caught up in the current of their students’ excitement, Room 212 teachers arranged an audience of parents and peers from the classroom next door. Since the performance was not planned ahead, the teachers were hoping to record the show and share it with families that could not attend. Enter the technology integrator. We used Google Hangouts On Air for the first time at Hopkins School to stream the live performance. Mrs. Moran set up the Hangout event on her Google+ page and emailed a link to parents letting them know they could catch the plays live or use the link to watch later. That is the magic of Hangouts On Air. As the camera rolls, the feed is live streamed while it is simultaneously recorded to YouTube. It’s a technology that defies both time and valuable disk space. It’s a technology perfectly suited for sharing.

“Thank you so much for arranging the online broadcast, it worked perfectly. I am in Los Angeles for work today and was so happy to be able to see [my child’s] performance.”

~Hopkins Parent Email

Google Hangouts On Air has the potential to open the school up to a world of possibilities. For this first adventure, we used a stationary MacBook Pro to handle the entire stage. In the future, we hope to improve our recording technology so we can capture all the drama as it unfolds. Stay tuned!


By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org

Toeing the Line With Tech Use

Look around. Most kids don’t think twice about picking up a device. The ubiquity of technology is truly changing our way of life. At Hopkins School, we are hoping to change the way our students approach technology by asking them to THINK and USE Responsibly.

THINK USER1THINK USER

Thinking before posting is essential for everyone. Consider whether your post is Thoughtful, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind. This simple checklist can save you from the regret that often accompanies an inappropriate post. If you can answer “no” to any of the five qualities, then reconsider or reword your comment and think again. It’s a strategy that makes sense for users of all ages. For kids, it’s easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Students face more of a challenge, however, understanding the right way to use technology. With the world at their fingertips, it’s no wonder that children sometimes struggle with virtual boundaries. What is acceptable use in personal space may not make sense in the school place.  The USER acronym reminds students that when using school devices and accounts, like Google Apps for Education, their work is always viewed through an educational lens. Hopkins students are taught the THINK USER strategy through discussion and role play scenarios outlined below.

virtual line2

The final component to the THINK USER campaign is an effort to encourage students to share their digital workspace with their parents. Google Classroom and Google Drive are like a virtual backpack and binder. They are meant to be opened together and shared as a family. So I ask the parental readership, when was the last time you looked inside your child’s virtual backpack? Go ahead; join the movement!

By: Steph Doty
 Technology Integration Coordinator
 Hopkins School
 @HopkinsTechLib / @BlendedTeaching
Cross-posted to hpsdigital.org