A year in Review
I’m actually just reviewing and summarizing different activities we did in class this year. There were a number of new activities I implemented this year. Some included the use of Google Apps. Something I think most of my colleagues and myself included fell in love with.
How we used Google apps I don’t think was different from the norm, but they really helped with cutting down on paper assignments and they were easy to grade. Some of the apps that we used in class included Google forms, spreadsheets, documents and drive. They definitely improved our projects and workflow. When using these apps for project papers and labs, I found them easy to grade. Most of the students work I graded right inside the the documents, this made it easy for students to correct anything they needed to.
There is also a way to do audio comments. You can find a tutorials on how to do this at Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Students seemed to like using the Google drive most of the time. Other ways I used Google, was I had students keep journals in Google Docs for their Lunar Challenge project. This worked great since students could share their journal among the group members and everyone could collaborate with assignment. This was a big plus. Students could collaborate on all their projects, labs and write ups. What made this easier then usual was our school actually set up all the accounts for students and teachers. With our 1:1 starting next year we have been implementing the Google Education Apps in our school. Its preparing us for the new devices we will be using in school. next year. We have decided on laptops, which I think is a good idea.
After reading the end of the year surveys I have come to the conclusion that the Lunar Challenge was a hit again. This was the second year we have done this and it has been a huge success every year. We didn’t change much from last year, but we did add new materials for the build. This year students seemed to understand the engineering steps better than last year. Some of the student comments about the project included:
“I would allow maybe a little extra time to build and brainstorm ideas. Also I would lower the amount people are allowed to spend so that it will be even more interesting on how students construct their rover and lander
Another student suggested “we allow the students to have access to more material would encourage more creativity. “ From these comments we have already decided to change the challenge to the Mars Challenge. We are going to change some of the credit totals and materials, hoping to address the issue above. We haven’t totally finalized this for next year yet but we are definitely doing this with the physics and earth science classes. ( When I mean “we” I mean me and Melks)
Not everything worked out great in class this year. It really wasn’t a failure but there has to be some changes to the EV3 activity for it to work correctly. Physics and earth science students collaborated on building a rover with EV3 Mindstorm Kits. After building the robot, students completed various programing challenges. Students said they had a tough time programming and doing other activities because they felt they didn’t have enough time working with the robot. Something I can understand since there is a bit of a learning curve with the programming part. Next year I’m hoping to have students start the year off building something with the EV3’s. We also hope to have students learn how to program the robots at the beginning of the year. This might address the learning curve. I’m going to incorporate this at the beginning of the year for our team building activities. The book we used for the building and programing instructions was “Classroom Activities for the Busy Teacher: EV3” by Damien Kee. Great activities that you can change to meet your classroom needs. We also have the new Space Challenge for the EV3’s. This looks really awesome and we are in the process of incorporating it into our curriculum.
Well I’m already thinking I have a ton of options for next year. I’m hoping to have more PBL’s especially for next year. Summer is here which means renewal. I’m lucky because I am going on another NES Teacher Research experience this summer and also attending ISTE 2014. I’m really excited about both and I will be blogging about both.