Sunday, March 27, 2016

Google Expeditions comes to Yarmouth High School

Recently,  Yarmouth High School was invited to take part in the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program. This program uses virtual reality to take students on tours of different kinds of places they may never be able to visit in real life. There are hundreds of curriculum based “tours”. The Expeditions Team will be coming to YHS on Thursday, April 7th for the entire day.

Coincidentally, our Teacher Technology time on Wednesday March 30 will be about using virtual reality and having some time to try it out, so you can see what it’s like.

The idea is for a teacher to pick an expedition and then create a mini lesson around it. Many expeditions fit with what we are doing right now in our curricula. Google brings all of the equipment. The list of expeditions is here.  There are over 180 options, so be prepared to browse! Use Command-F to search for keywords to see what is available (try World War, Rome, Asia, Biome, etc.). 

You can read more about Expeditions here. We are very excited to be able to bring this opportunity to our students. Stay tuned!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Forecaster Article on Harrison Middle School Media Club

A lot of kids use digital media in the classroom and at home. At Harrison Middle School, students have made it part of their extracurricular activities, too. The goal of the Digital Media Club is to “mostly just develop some skills around video production, but also to show them it can be fun,” said Mike Arsenault, the instructional technology integrator who advises club members. According to Arsenault, more than a dozen students participate, most of them fifth- and sixth-graders.

The club, which was started last year by a student who now attends Yarmouth High School, was able to buy technology and equipment with a grant from the Yarmouth Education Foundation. Around $6,000 from YEF was used to purchase cameras, Final Cut Pro video editing software, cases, tripods, shoulder mounts, microphones and an iMac computer. “My goal is to introduce the kids to the tools so they can use them in the classroom,” Arsenault said. The kids mostly work on video production in the club, but Arsenault said they’re free to work on a variety of things, such as photo editing, animation and using GarageBand software. “A lot of this is creating whatever they feel like creating,” he said.

One thing the club recently created was a video with 317 Main Community Music Center. Arsenault said the club was approached by Amy Sinclair, the music center’s director of marketing and communications, about collaborating on the project. “She was great working with kids through the shoot and with editing after the shoot,” Arsenault said. Five students worked with 317 Main to create Project Wonderland, a holiday video showcasing musicians at the center. The students did camera work and editing, and were also in the video. Seventh-grader Eleanor said she used a lot of skills she already had when working on the video, but also learned new things about editing. “I really like editing,” she said. “It was really fun.” Arsenault said he was impressed by the work the students did on the project. “I knew it’d come out well, but I was pleasantly surprised,” he said. “They did a great job with it.”

The club doesn’t have any plans to partner with community organizations in the future, but will focus on doing school projects, Arsenault said. “There’s always so many great things going on within the school, but we don’t always promote them enough,” he said. Although Arsenault wants to do more digital media projects at Harrison Middle, the school already is known for its innovative technology. It has been named an Apple Distinguished School since 2007, with the exception of the 2013-14 school year. According to Arsenault, the award is presented to schools that have innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, a flexible learning environment and also show visionary leadership. Arsenault, who’s a Google Certified Innovator, said the club is a great way for kids to learn about digital media but, more importantly, it’s a way for them to see that creating things with technology is fun. Eleanor said the club has taught her both of Arsenault’s objectives. “Sometimes I wonder if I can do something on iMovie and Mr. Arsenault always knows, and helps me,” she said.

Mike Arsenault, Harrison Middle School’s instructional technology integrator, works with students at the Dec. 14 meeting of the school’s Digital Media Club.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Monday, November 2, 2015

Logo Design Project Using Functions

Grades: 12
Teachers: Roberto Borda
Subject: Math
Project Name: Logo Design
Resources: Logo Design Web Page

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Digital Discussions

Grades: 9
Teachers: Alice Barr , Suzanne Hamilton, 9th grade teachers and administration
Subject: Information Technology and Core Values
Project Name: Digital Discussions
Resources: Digital Discussions

All 9th graders participate in 4 sessions about Digital Citizenship before the first quarter ends. We want to help students understand how the core values fit in to their online lives. We also want to expose students to appropriate online practices and help them make good choices about their digital lives.

Digital Discussion Website
  1. Kick off: Digital Compass Activity - Students view a scenario about a dilemma. They choose the answer that they think fits. 
  2. Session 1: Digital Footprint - All students participate in this session in small groups of 10. They watch 2 videos, do a reading and then have a discussion. This is followed by a time for reflection.
  3. Session 2: Choice between Multitasking, Privacy, and Digital Overload. They follow the same format as Session 1
  4. Session 3: Choice between MultitaskingPrivacy, Digital Overload, Digital Activism, and Be a Creator. They follow the same format as Session 1
  5. Session 4: Students create a product based on one of the sessions they attended. Here's an example of a project.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Career Exploration and connecting to the Community

For three days each spring, all sophomores and juniors participate in Career Exploration. They have the opportunity to go to local businesses and job shadow. We have noticed that more and more students are being asked to bring their computer with them and often participate in activities for the business. One student worked a travel company that specialized in trips for teenagers. The student was asked to look at many competitor websites and pick the best aspects of each site. Another student shadowed the social media strategist at an advertising company. She learned about Google Ad-Sense and how to reach certain demographics. Students have participated in all kinds of experiences from ski patrol, to the weather station and everything in between.

On Thursday, Some of those students participated in an event at the Apple Store in South Portland. The idea was to promote how MLTI is preparing students for careers after high school. Our students were there to promote the idea of how the job shadow allowed them to follow their passion in the arts. The worked with VIA, a creative ad agency in Portland.

Here they are speaking about their experience.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Scratch Unit for 4th Graders

Grade: 4
May-June Math Exploration Units
Project Name: Scratch Programming
Resources: ScratchEd

The setting: twenty-one 4th graders moving through a Scratch Curriculum that can be found on the ScratchEd community site for educators. There are an increasing amount of resources and ideas for using Scratch in the elementary grades including Wes Fryer's Scratch materials.

The backdrop: Last December we use the Scratch online activity to make holiday cards for the Hour of Code. Middle school students came and helped 4th graders with this introduction to Scratch and coding. In late May of this year I worked with the 4th grade team to develop explorations in math instruction; twenty-one fourth graders worked with me on Scratch for two or three days a week.

What it sounded like: The most common thing heard in the classroom each day was, "How'd you do that?". The spirit of communication, collaboration and creative exploration vibrated throughout the room.

What it looked like: Adapting the curriculum, I created folders of handouts for students to follow. The lessons and handouts are in this slideshow:

These photos and videos were captured with my cell phone as I was working with students so they are of limited quality, but they portray the activity and learning.
We started with the tutorial on the Scratch website as a review for everyone. Then they were charged with the task of "making something surprising" happen and share it.
Scratch learning is designed to support collaboration and students often worked in teams. With parent permission they were able to join the Scratch online community, upload their projects and view the structure of posted projects.
By the fourth class students were becoming experts at "debugging" scripts and moving on to making mazes, games and stories. At the end of each class students volunteered to share their projects and explain their learning.

This series of classes stands out for me as one of the most enjoyable, stimulating teaching experiences I've had. The students were engaged, sharing their learning and making progress from one day to the next. 

This quote from Howard Gardner was one of my inspirations for this Scratch activity:
High time for an example. We turn here to Scratch, a wonderful application created over the past two decades by Mitch Resnick, a valued colleague at MIT, and his colleagues. Building on Seymour Papert’s pioneering work with LOGO— a prototypical example of constructivist education— Scratch is a simple programming language accessible even to youngsters who have just reached school age. By piecing together forms that resemble pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, users of Scratch can create their own messages, be these stories, works of art, games, musical compositions, dances, or animated cartoons— indeed, just about any form in any kind of format. Moreover, users of Scratch can and do post their creations. Others around the world can visit these creations, react to them, build on them, and perhaps even re-create them in their own favored symbolic system. The genius of Scratch is twofold. First of all, it opens up a plethora of modes of expression, so that nearly every child can find an approach that is congenial with his or her own goals, strengths, and imaginations. Second, educational ends and priorities are not dictated from on high; rather, they can and do emerge from the child’s own explorations of the Scratch universe. In that sense, Scratch brings pleasure and comfort to those who believe in the constructivist view of knowledge. Not only are users building their own forms of meaning and constructing knowledge that they personally value, but they are epitomizing the claim of cognitivists that one learns by taking the initiative, making one’s own often instructive mistakes along the way, and then, on the basis of feedback from self and others, altering course and moving ahead. Howard, Gardner; Katie Davis (2013-10-22). The App Generation (p. 182). Yale University Press. Kindle Edition.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Student UnConference

Grades: 9-12
Student Senate Members
Project Name: Student UnConference
On Thursday, April 17, the Student Senate at Yarmouth High School sponsored an UnConference.

The idea came from thinking about wanting to do TED Talks, but not wanting to limit audience size. They wanted the entire high school to be able to participate. And it had to be completely student run.

  • Students would sign up for sessions (since this was the first time they tried it, they thought it might be helpful to get an idea of what students were interested in)
  • Each advisory group had to have a minimum of one pitch for a session. 
  • The person or persons who pitched the session are the facilitators.
  • The facilitator comes up with 2 guiding questions and one other source for the discussion and submits them ahead of time.
  • A teacher should be present in the room that the session was taking place.
  • Teachers can participate in the discussion if they want to.
  • Every student has to participate, even if they have open campus.
  • At the beginning of the UnConference period, all students go to advisor period. Advisors hand out the schedules (students do not know what session they are in until they get there). 
Here are the sessions that were proposed. Because there were so many good ones, the Senate decided to run 2 sessions. It was probably a lot more work, but they were happy they did it.