Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Virtual Field Trips - part 3b

Last week Professor Linton posted an entry outlining the various field trips (VFTs) her pre-service teachers had created for my 3rd graders...

... This past Friday we decided to tackle one as a class. None of us, myself included, have ever done a virtual field trip. As I've told my students, this is a learning experience for me as much as it is for them. We looked at a few of the options and decided the "The Sun" was the most intriguing (and admittedly, I steered them that a way bit due to time & technical limitations but more on that later).

Friday, November 8, 2013

Virtual classroom observation

This semester I'm teaching a course in Curriculum, Instruction, and Environmental Design. This is one of the first education courses that our education majors take. The course includes a field experience component, which serves to expose students to diverse learning environments and provide them with authentic opportunities to observe what they're learning about in the course. I scheduled 5 school visits across the semester. Four of those visits were to local elementary, middle, and high schools, while one was a virtual visit to PS 10 in Brooklyn, NY. The purpose of this virtual field experience was to give these pre-service teachers a different perspective on teaching and learning through which they could apply and reflect on their learning in the course. Following each school visit, I ask my students to blog about their reflections from the visit. Each visit is focused on a specific concept or set of skills we're learning about in the course at the time, and their blog posts are focused in that way as well. Below are excerpts from my students' blogs following the virtual observation of a 4th grade classroom in Brooklyn. Big thanks to Chris Casal and Ms. McCormack for inviting us into their school. 

"This past Tuesday, our EDU 241 class decided to take a class trip to a classroom in Brooklyn, New York. Through a webcam, of course. Our professor had a connection with one of the teachers in New York and thought it would be beneficial for us as a class to see her colleagues class as well."

"Our class was given a very interesting opportunity to be be able to skype with another classroom.  It was a lot different then actually being there and it made me pay more attention to what was going on."

"Ms. McCormick also used questioning in a very positive way. Her questions showed what she wanted the students to get out of the lesson. She used all aspects of the lesson to question the students. She knew what she was going to do next and her questions flowed smoothly throughout the whole lesson."

"Overall, the virtual tour was a very good insight in how to implement instruction. I feel that Ms. McCormick was a very good example of how to teach in the classroom, and I feel that I really benefited from this tour."

"This visit was different then all the rest. Instead of being in person, our visit was done over a MacBook and iPad. The experience was an interesting but frustrating one. I did like not being in the classroom to see everything."

"I can tell she has very high expectations of them and she knows they are able to do it. She continues to remind them of the five parts of a story using five fingers and soon leads them to go to their desk and brainstorm their story ideas using the five parts."

"At first all of the kids in the classroom thought that it was so cool that they were able to see us while they were in class, they got a little distracted but then the teacher quickly got them back on task."

"Most of them didn't notice that they were being observed, which was better since we see their everyday, normal behavior. I liked everything I saw during the visit especially the teacher's transitions between activities."

"I would like to explore more into other school systems and hopefully find the place where I eventually would like to teach."

"While I was watching the classroom, the teacher showed that she was not just concerned with the answers of the math problems, but how the students got to the answer. She wanted to make sure students understood the process."

"Another great thing that I loved about Ms.McCormick was how she explained exactly what she wanted done carefully so that the students knew exactly what to do.  She had the students repeat the instructions back to her for clarification that everyone was on the same page."

Virtual Field Trips - part 3

In my Technology in the Classroom course, we've been exploring possibilities for using virtual field trips (VFTs) to expand the curriculum and take students to locations they may never visit in person. If virtual field trips are a new concept for you, I've blogged about them here and here. After exploring virtual field trip resources and examples of VFTs, my students worked to build their own. We've shared these trips with our 3rd grade buddy class in Brooklyn, NY, who gave us feedback on our VFT plans as we were developing them. Our 3rd grade friends will be taking some of these trips and giving us feedback to help us improve our skills in designing and developing virtual field trips. The 3rd graders have also brainstormed their own VFT ideas and shared them with my pre-service teachers via Google Docs. I hope you'll explore some of our virtual field trips below and leave a comment. Happy exploring!

Environments and Human Behavior - 1st grade
by Lindsay Guill, Katie Lunsford, and Charlene Taylor

The Sun - 3rd grade
by Brooke Bolin, Jared Clark, and Quinn Scarvey
Symbaloo webmix

Team Sports
by Kenny Dockal, Mike Hedrick, and Andrew Thomas

Exploring the Sport of Biathlon - 2nd grade
by Melissa East and Jesse Waycaster

Ecosystems - 5th grade
by Morgan Mitchem
Symbaloo webmix

North Carolina State Symbols - 4th grade
by Leigha Banner, Emily Pinnix, Samantha Williams

Friday, November 1, 2013

Virtual Field Trips - part 2

Last week we started on our Virtual Field trips. Our student-teachers created some ideas and the 3rd graders got to give feedback. Here is the full post from Part 1

This week we added an element...

The 3rd graders were broken up in to groups of 3, with one group of 4. Each group was assigned a student teacher or two (the numbers don't balance out perfectly as you can see) and a group leader for the day.

The Group Leader created a document and shared it with their group mates. They gave "can edit" access to the other 3rd graders in their group.

The Group Leader then shared it with me, Mr. Casal, as well as Professor Linton and the student-teachers assigned to the group. We were given "can comment" access in order to give feedback and keep the ownership with the authors, the 3rd graders.

Once the document was shared the 3rd graders each took a section of the page and put their thoughts down. Based on the outline from last week the direction was "envision a virtual field trip you would want to create, where would you go, what would you want to see & do."

Each student put down their thoughts...

This document is meant to be more of a notes or brainstorming document than a final product. It is a great way to get the students familiar with the various ways to create & share documents and to experience the Google Document experience from all sides (owners, commenters, viewers, etc).

The next steps will be to get the feedback from our student teachers & do some revising. In addition, we'll be getting the 3rd graders some "final" trips that they will take, in their groups. They can then give feedback on the actual experience as well as refine the brainstorming document we created today to reflect the possible, probable, and doable things they look for in a "perfect" virtual field trip...

Stay tuned!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Virtual Field Trips - part 1

Today was all about Virtual Field Trips!

Ok, so not all about them. Today was the first real introduction for the 3rd graders as to what they are.

The pre-service teachers in North Carolina created a Google Doc with basic outlines of the various trips.

That document was shared with the 3rd graders in Brooklyn. As a class we talked briefly about each one, the students read each description and then commented on the various trips. In addition to leaving basic comments, they also responded to each other's comments, reinforcing points.

The 3rd graders have used Google Documents in the past, worked collaboratively with each other, but this was the first time they commented on work created outside their class. It was very exciting for them.

Next week we'll be splitting the 3rd graders into groups of 3 to "take" the virtual field trips. After that they'll share their thoughts with the -preservice teachers on North Carolina, providing feedback and impressions.

"Wheels up" next Friday...!

Friday, October 11, 2013

We have a hashtag! #NCNYC

For anyone that is following our project we now have a hashtag!


We will be using this hashtag on all Brooklyn, North Carolina related tweets as we move forward.

Tweets will be coming from the @PS10Tech account as well as from @mr_casal and @jaymelinton, the facilitators of this project (pre-service teachers who tweet might be using the tag too)

Follow along!

Our second meeting

Today was the second meeting between the students and student-teachers. Everyone was very excited!

Today the 3rd graders worked on a Google Document they created last week. The document has become a reflection of the project to this point. Once they are finished with their writing they will be sharing the Google Docs with their pre-service counterparts for feedback, comments, and corrections.

In addition, as with any project, especially technology one, things often take a bit of time to settle down & get the kinks worked out. We did another Google Hangout to get the 3rd graders comfortable and familiar with the format as well as ensure the video stream, projector, and audio were working well...

... unfortunately the AppleTV is still being hinky (I think it's an iOS 7/AppleTV OS 6 issue) so wirelessly streaming to the board isn't possible. The audio isn't great, but we're working on that...

The 3rd graders had fun taking turns trying to guess a number...

"Is it between 1 and 100?"
"Between 100 & 1000?"
"Even or odd?"
"Is it divisible by 3?"
and so on... 
 Very exciting and engaging, at least on the 3rd grade side.

Aside from the obvious fun of engaging with teachers in North Carolina, today was better than last week because I actually remembered to take pictures and tweet!

In the coming weeks we'll be sharing Google Documents, going on Virtual Field trips (VFT), evaluating the VFTs, and collaboratively creating new VFTs.

Going to be fun!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Mystery Hangout Introduction

We officially kicked off the Brooklyn, North Carolina project on Friday, October 4th!

At 11:00 am we did a "Mystery Hangout" between the two classes. We've chosen to replace Skype with Google Hangouts for the duration of his project due to it's more robust feature set. The goal is to record sessions, allow multiple students on multiple machines to participate (not just 1 screen 1 caller), share screen content, and so forth. Skype is great, but Hangouts offer the possibility for a far more engaging experience.

That being said, we forgot to record the first Hangout...
... we also forgot to tweet and take pictures. First day jitters I suppose. Actually, more like first day excitement. The 3rd graders were so excited and asking so many questions before we began the thought of recording, tweeting & photographing completely escaped me. On the other side, the pre-service teachers were also so intrigued by the "unknown" the record button was overlooked...

... the the "unknown" was exactly what was happening...

In both Brooklyn and Hickory the students were kept in the dark about the project. Before the Hangout all that was said was "we're calling other people about a project we'll be doing."

The Hangout was a 20-Questions game with each side asking the other 5 questions at a time, trying to figure out who they were, where they were, and exactly what we'd be doing.

It was a great session with lots of excitement on both sides!

This coming Friday we'll be doing another Hangout and getting more in-depth with the project and related materials such as potential blogs and using our hashtag #NCNYC to get the Twitter ball rolling!

The students and student-teachers have officially met. The project is underway.

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Welcome to Brooklyn, North Carolina!

Welcome to Brooklyn, North Carolina!

No, there is no zip code and we're not on Google Maps, but the "town" is very much real. This blog is Brooklyn, North Carolina, a collaboration between public school students in Brooklyn, New York and pre-service teachers in Hickory, North Carolina. Together we have created Brooklyn, North Carolina!

A little background...
  • The purpose of this project is to explore possibilities for virtual collaboration between pre-service teachers in NC and elementary students in NYC. We to see if boundaries can be pushed to expose both sides to areas of education they would otherwise not have access to. Students in Brooklyn, NY have access to pre-service teachers from institutions such as NYU & Brooklyn College, local institutions. Pre-service teachers are in local, North Carolina, classrooms. The purpose is to see what can happen if both sides are taken out of these local “comfort zones” and have the opportunity to work with and learn from people hundreds of miles away.
  • The objective is to give each side exposure to different instructional and learning environments. In addition, the limits of technology are to be tested. It is very easy to use a MOOC or a Blackboard learning environment; the question is, can distance learning happen, authentically and effectively, between elementary school students and pre-service teachers, across state lines, via Google Hangouts, blogs, and hashtags.

This is our journey, these are our stories...

Brooklyn, North Carolina!