Tuesday, January 12, 2016

So What?

Just before Christmas Break, Algebra students in Ms. Balch's and Mr. Mitchell's class created videos demonstrating their mastery of functions, function terminology and a host of technology skills using school iPads.

Students were asked to conduct a demonstration using variables of time and elevation and to create a video explaining the math behind their scenario.  Most students used iMovie to shoot and edit their video, but others used Telagami and Explain Everything for the project.

From a teacher's perspective,  "So What?" gives students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and show how they came to their solutions.  As Mrs. Balch says of this project, "I can see their thinking."  Below is a project example...

Favorite App?

RMS iPad Forum

Question: What is your favorite iPad App on the 8th Grade iPad? Does it help you with your studies? How does it help you?

 "Notability because you can draw and write and can change the paper to graph or lined paper."

"My favorite app on the 8th Grade iPad is Paper 53. This application is not only a drawing app, but great for note taking as well. There are many different colors to choose from, you can mix your own pallete, use a paintbrush and many many more things that you can not do with notability."

"Notability. It is an easy was to take notes and organize them. Also it is very helpful in sharing those notes via email or google drive."

"My favorite app is Notability. I use it for nearly everything and it's amazing to take notes with."

"My favorite app is google docs because I use it the most. It is used in all of my classes except in math of course."

"My favorite app is safari, Safari allows me to look deeper into what I am learning about, It also helps me find out more about our Silk Route Blogs we were working on in Social Studies."

"I really like notability because it is really useful to take notes with, and can also be used for drawing etc. In addition, I really like powerschool because it is really helpful to be able to see my grades pretty much whenever. Also Schoology is nice because it keeps everything organzied and all in one place. Finally, I really like MyHomework because it keeps me really organized and it's helpful because I can prioritize my HW. To conclude, all these apps help with my studies. (I also really like quizlet, it's super helpful)."

"Schoology because everything I do is on there. That and notabitity. That's usually all I use..."

"Notability is my favorite app because it makes it easy to take notes. It helps my a lot with my studies by giving me the ability to carry my notes to wherever I need them." 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Silk Route Children's Books

     This week 8th Graders in Ms. Davis’s Social Studies class have created digital books on the Silk Route using their school iPads and an app called Book Creator.  Book Creator is an easy way for students to combine text, pictures, and graphics to tell a story and create a final product that has the look and feel of a professionally published book. 

     Students have been studying the Silk Route in Social Studies for the past month or so and this assignment gives students a chance to demonstrate their understanding of the Silk Route and its role in the history of the world.  The books pull together students knowledge about the governments, economies, arts and literature, science and technology, education, religion and geography of the Silk Route. 

     Ms. Davis chose Book Creator as an app for this project because it’s fairly easy to use and can accommodate students of varying abilities and interests.  Students challenged with poor spelling, drawing or penmanship enjoy Book Creator’s layout and drawing tools to overcome some of these limitations.  Students who prefer to draw pictures to tell their story can make their drawings and take still shots with the camera on the iPad and insert them into their digital books

     All books will be made available for other students to view in the RMS Library and a few samples are included below.

Silk Route Sample #1 

Silk Route Sample #2

Silk Route Sample #3

Friday, January 9, 2015

Shakespeare Translator!

8th graders in the Ivanoski/Dodds sections of English classes have begun studying Romeo and Juliet this week.  For some students, the biggest barrier to reading and ultimately enjoying classics is understanding the words written in Old English which are sometimes hard to comprehend.

To help, students are using an app called “SwipeSpeare” to bridge the gap between Old English and Modern English as they read Romeo and Juliet.  In order to provide scaffolding for understanding the rich language of Shakespeare, students pre-read assigned scenes in “modern” English as homework. The pre-reading gives student a better understanding of the plot and meaning of the passage before they read it in its original form.  In class, they read the original text (in textbooks) while listening to the dramatic reading. This is all followed by much discussion. 

The “Swipespeare" app is an effective tool for differentiation in the classroom.  Using this app is particularly helpful for students with limited language and decoding skills and gives them more of a chance to enjoy the literature.  Students who are ready for the challenge of reading Shakespeare in its original form can use the app to “check” their understanding of the language by “swiping” to the modern language.

An example from Act IV Scene II

Original: “See where she comes from shirft with merry look.”
Modern: “Here she comes with a smile on her face.”


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Silk Route Travel Blog, Then and Now

Eighth Grade Students Bring the Ancient Trade Route to Life

Recently, students in eighth grade social studies classes began a virtual journey as a way to understand how the Silk Route brought cultures of Asia, the Middle East, and Europe together. In crafting learning experiences, teachers are always looking to create authentic ways for students to express their work. In this case, each student is creating a travel blog to record what they learn about places, cultures and connections to the modern world along the way. The blog format offers a natural way for students to share their work and provide peer feedback through the blog comments feature.   

While the travel blogs are the final work product, students use a variety of other tools and apps on their iPads to do research, gather evidence, create images, and make audio and video productions—all of which are incorporated into their blog posts.  With the social studies iTunes U course, students can access dozens of resources as they make their way across Asia.  The variety of resources and tools available—all on their iPads—gives students choices about the best way they express their learning. Some students chose to focus on written narratives while others produce graphics, audio or video to demonstrate their understanding.

Here is a small sample of content from student blogs.  Thanks to Clara, Spencer, Natalie, for allowing us to share it.  

In this graphic, Clara blends text and photos into a compelling image (using the PicCollage app).

In this creative audio clip, Spencer reports on the scene at a crowded street in Kashgar, China.

Natalie weaves text and pictures together in this post about her stop in Xi’an, China.  

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 4.02.43 PM.png

In addition to learning about the Silk Route through this project, students developed problem-solving skills as they set up and used the blogging tool. There were a number of hurdles and technical challenges they had to overcome as they used new technology and ultimately, they had to practice flexibility and perseverance to succeed.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

RMS Presents at iPad Summit in Boston

Teachers from the Richmond Middle School presented at the iPad Summit in Boston this past Thursday on using iTunes U as a classroom management tool.  This year's  iPad Summit attracted over 700 teachers and provided an opportunity to share teaching practices and knowledge about integrating technology into the classroom.  It was an honor for our teachers to share how they use iTunes U in their specific classes to educators from all over the country at a national level technology conference.

Conference organizer Kate Wilson commented,  "I really enjoyed your session. You were all so succinct in sharing your experiences from multiple disciplines. Your group’s specific examples coupled with real teachers were much more powerful in 10 minutes than many 1 hour long talks I have seen."

A few of the workshops RMS teachers attended include:  'App Smashing', '1:1 Administrative Tips', 'What Great Teachers do with iPads', 'Project Based Learning with iPads'.  Below is a link of the conference workshops including ours!

RMS Presenting! (L to R: Stephanie Davis, Erin 
Madory, Carla Balch, Patti Dodds, and Marty Warren)

Stephanie Davis and Erin Madory speak with other
teachers after presenting.

Carla Balch debriefs with a colleague after