Going Digital with AVID

Part II

Whether you are an AVID elective teacher or not, using AVID teaching strategies in the classroom can have many benefits.  Incorporating digital elements in combination with AVID is a recipe for success and can easily be implemented using one’s curriculum!     

I have been teaching the AVID elective at the middle school level for over five years now and have come to learn that the AVID curriculum contains a plethora of good teaching practices.  Traditionally speaking, some of the more popular strategies found in lessons that focus on the Critical Reading Process, such as using Cornell Notes, Marking the Text and Writing in the Margins were developed with the intention of using paper and pencil.  Now, with digital technology being so abundantly available in schools, it’s time to start integrating the two.      

In my last blog, Going Digital w/AVID Part I, I went over some various ways to annotate online text using Google Docs and Kami’s online PDF editing software.  This particular blog will focus on digitizing an AVID One-Pager.      

AVID One-Pager

w/Google Drawing

A One-Pager seems self-explanatory.  For the most part, it is. Students will use one page of paper to reflect on a given piece of literary work or text.  A One-Pager is a great way to have students complete in lieu of a boring formal assessment or a long, drawn-out writing task.  A One-Pager should include the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Images
  • Include a meaningful quote
  • Related Vocabulary
  • Personal statement (i.e. I believe…, or I feel…)  
  • Costa’s leveled questions
  • Border, which reflects the main idea or theme

Looking at the rubric below may be helpful:  

Like with almost anything in education, things can be adapted.  You know your own students best so feel free to add and/or change anything within the One-Pager that you see fit.  I know that some teachers request that their students use specific colors which represent a deeper meaning behind the text…obviously, students should know about color symbolism in order for this to relate.  Or, you might swap out Costa’s questions for Bloom’s.

The following video showcases a teacher using the paper version but also presents one way of communicating guidelines and instructions to students.  This teacher finishes the lesson by having his students present their work using a Gallery Walk (which can also be achieved using laptops set up on a table).     

One-Pager AVID Strategy  

When thinking of digitizing this assignment I turned to none other than Google Drawing.  It seemed like the best fit as it’s not only free software in which all SUSD students have access to, but it also has the necessary elements needed to accomplish the task at hand.  Students can use word art, add text boxes, insert images and GIFs and use the paint bucket to make a border color POP!

Here is the template that I use with my students.  Make a copy and add it to your Google Drive for future purposes.  AVID One-Pager Link

Once students are able to make a copy of their own (an easy way to accomplish this is to use Google Classroom to distribute copies to each student) then the magic happens.  Students will see that they can do more online than using a piece of paper. No more messy markers or crumbling crayons. Those students who are afraid of being judged by their artwork can now feel comforted that they can insert any image they want using an internet search.  I’ve seen many students use GIFs to enhance their borders or even Bitmoji images to create a personalized statement. Using a digital version of the One-Pager offers more opportunity and creativity for students to achieve opposed to limiting them to a paper version.

Here are some students samples:

Students were given the option to complete a section review for Social Studies or create a digital One-Pager.

This One-Pager was completed by a 7th-grade ELD student following the completion of our class reading an informational article about the effects of lying.  

A Wrinkle in Time was a book that my after-school tutoring group read.  Students had the option of creating a One-Pager instead of writing a chapter review or summary.
The options are endless with AVID One-Pagers in regards to how they can be used.  I hope that my examples and background using them with my own students have convinced you to try them out yourself.   

Using Google Tour Builder in the Classroom

Whenever I have mentioned using Google Tour Builder in the classroom, I almost always get one of three responses; I love that program, what is it, or (after I explain what it is) my kids wouldn’t be able to use it because I am not “tech savvy” enough to teach them. To those of you using and loving the program, I say congratulations! Teachers who have never heard of the program, this is the blog for you! For the naysayers, I say read to the end and click on the links to see what students can create when given the opportunity. I would like to also state for the record, I am by no means the Google Tour Builder Guru, but I do love to learn alongside my students and hope you will too after reading this.

So what is Tour Builder? Tour Builder uses Google Earth technology and allows you to add a sequence of locations on a map that users can click through like they’re going on a tour. You can upload up to 25 photos and YouTube videos to go along with each stop on the tour. You can also add a description and links to additional resources for each location that you add. When users view the Tour, they will click “next” on the tour to be taken to the next point on the map.

How can I use it in my classroom? I’m so glad you asked! Here are five examples of authentic student-created projects.

Image of a student Google tour

My Future University


My dream Vacation



Italy


Ieoh Ming Pei Biography

Students were told to research how to create a tour after a very short lesson from me on the basics. They were given a project  description and rubric and went at it! Tour Builder would be great in social studies classes, ELA classes, science, math…the sky’s the limit!  Don’t worry, the kids will help guide you through it!

Technology Integration Matrix (Part I)

TIM

Characteristics of the Learning Environment

Previously, I discussed what TPaCK is and how it should affect our teaching. I delineated the acronym stands for Technology, Pedagogy and Content Knowledge in my previous post. You can read my blog post here. Twenty or thirty years ago, long before the explosion of technology in education, teachers worked at perfecting their craft or pedagogy along with their mastery of subject area content knowledge. TPaCK gives educators an overview of technology integration in relation to content and pedagogical knowledge. What it does NOT do is delineate how educators are to achieve TPaCK or what it should ‘look like.’ In writing about TPaCK, I frequently found another acronym that intrigued me…SAMR, or Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.

While examining SAMR, I discovered the Technology Integration Matrix or TIM! I like the simplicity of the SAMR acronym, but it is not as detailed as the Technology Integration Matrix. This two-part blog post will explain the Technology Integration Matrix. It is a five-by-five matrix, the columns comprising levels of technology integration and the rows comprising the characteristics of the learning environment. Since, we can all relate to the learning environment, and it is probably the easiest, I will examine the Characteristics of the Learning Environment first. However, let me provide a little background.

Diagram of levels of technology integration.The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) was developed by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) at the University of Central Florida. It was established in 1982, working for over 30 years with educators in integrating technology into curriculum. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology developed the matrix as a guide for the convoluted task of evaluating technology integration within classrooms. The matrix affords common language for comprehensive pedagogical technology integration by all actors within the learning environment as well as their ancillaries. This theoretical framework is based on the constructivist theory of learning being an active, constructive and thereby continually evolving process, as well as an educator’s best practices. The matrix was originally established between 2003-2006, with a second version completed in 2010-2011. In this most current version the descriptions of the matrix were revised and even expanded with video references in Language, Science, Math and Social Sciences. Even background, what is the Technology Integration Matrix (TIM)?

As mentioned earlier it is a five-by-five matrix delineating the Levels of Technology Integration and the Characteristics of the Learning Environment. In this blog post I am going to focus on the Characteristics of the Learning Environment. Each row of the TIM constitutes a characteristic of the learning environment. Every level of the learning environment then ascends through increasing levels of technology integration. These five Characteristics of the Learning Environment are: Active Learning, Collaborative Learning, Constructive Learning, Authentic Learning and Goal-directed Learning. Let’s investigate each level in isolationcharacteristics_intro_title

Active Learning occurs when students are actively engaged in using technology as a tool rather than passively receiving information from the technology (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, 2018). This characteristic then climbs through five different levels of integration: Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion and Transformation. In Active Entry students are passively receiving information, similar to watching a video. Next is the Active Adoption Level in which students are using tools but in a conventional and procedural manner, much like writing an essay on Google Docs or Microsoft Word. This is followed by the Active Adaptation Level whereby students still have a conventional use of tool, but now there is some choice and exploration by students. This is similar to making a presentation, regardless of the modality. Near the top is the Active Infusion Level where students conduct regular, self-directed use and choice of tools. Finally, the Active Transformation Level, occurs when students use technology tools extensively in an unconventional way. This might be similar to students doing a green screen video as an on-site news reporter.

Collaborative Learning occurs when students use technology tools to collaborate with others rather than working individually at all times (Florida Center for Instructional Technology, 2018). At the Entry level, Collaborative Entry, students use tools individually. No collaboration among classmates occurs. During Collaborative Adoption, students are using technology tools in a conventional way, but collaboratively, such as a classmate editing a document. Collaborative Adaptation occurs when there is student choice and exploration collaboratively. An example might be, students deciding which application to utilize and then working together to complete it. Collaborative Infusion is regular use and choice of tools when collaborating. Finally, Collaborative Transformation is working together with peers as well as outside resources in a manner not possible without technology. For example, participating in a book study with another class within their district OR someplace else in the United States.

Constructive Learning commences when students use technology in connecting new information with their own information rather than just passively receiving the information. During Constructive Entry information is just delivered to students, and nothing more. Constructive Adoption is when technology use is guided for conventional knowledge building. This would similar to watching a video. Constructive Adaptation is similar to Constructive Adoption, but now technology use by students is independent and there is a little student choice and exploration. Constructive Infusion is where the change really occurs. During Infusion students are regularly using technology of their choice to maintain, acquire and build  knowledge. Finally in Constructive Transformation is where the change really occurs. Here students build knowledge extensively through an unconventional use of technology.

The easiest way to explain Authentic Learning is relevance. This is when students use technology tools to interact with learning activities in the world outside the classroom instructional setting. A prime example of this would be Problem Based Learning or PBL. Authentic Entry level learning is unrelated to the world outside the classroom door. It is important to note students may find this boring. Change begins to take place in the Adoption Level where there is guided use of technology tool and activities with some relevance to the outside world. Authentic Adaptation displays students choice and exploration using technology independently in some way connected to their lives. This might be observed whens students write to the mayor about the homeless problem. Authentic Infusion Learning is when students now take adaptation to a new lever, using technology on a regular basis in a meaningful activity. Last, but not least, Authentic Transformational Learning in which students use technology in a local or global context innovatively for higher order thinking and learning.

Finally, is Goal-Directed Learning where students use their technology tools to set goals, plan activities, monitor their progress and then evaluate the results NOT complete assignments with no type of reflection. Goal-Directed at the Entry Level directions are given and the instructor performs step-by-step task monitoring. Goal-Directed Adoption is the normal policy and procedural use of tools to plan and monitor goals. This might be similar to using Google calendar for setting due dates and see what is coming up. Goal-Directed Adaptation, occurs when students have some choice and exploration and use tools in a purposeful way to meet their goals. This may be like using Google hangouts to converse with team members. A flexible and integrated use of technology tools to plan and monitor progress towards goals is visible in Goal-Directed Infusion Learning. Lastly, students using technology extensively to plan as well as monitor progress is within Goal-Directed Transformational Level.

Each one of the five Characteristics of a Learning Environment progresses through each Level of Technology Integration. As mentioned briefly earlier these are the Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion and Transformation Levels. In Part II, I will delineate each of the Levels and how they relate to each of the Characteristics. Below I have included a diagram of Technology Integration Matrix for your viewing. Earlier I had review TPaCK and what it was as well as SAMR. As you can now see TPaCK is a concept between Technology, Content and Pedagogy. SAMR is brief explanation of technology and how to go about integrating it. The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is a comprehensive and detailed matrix of technology integration and the learning environments. We will dig deeper into the matrix next time.

All images and content used with the permission of the Florida Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida.

Coding for Kindergarteners? Absolutely!

By Maridee Stanley

America is short on computer programmers. Currently, tech companies are recruiting programmers from India, not by choice but by necessity. Don’t we want our own SUSD students to get these high paying tech jobs so we can finally break generational poverty? This can happen if we start our students coding early. How early? High school? Middle school? Intermediate grades? Kindergarten is not too soon. For the past 5 years, my kinders at Kennedy Elementary have successfully learned the basics of block programming and began to think of themselves as the programmers and tech entrepreneurs of the future. Students have fun and the parents love it! “But,” you ask, “ I’m not a programmer. How can I teach coding?” Don’t worry. Coding isn’t as hard as you think. If I can do it, anyone can do it. Trust me on this.code1

All the instructional work is done for us by Code.org, Tynker, PLTW, or Google, and the beginning lessons are designed for pre-readers. Why wouldn’t any teacher want to do this? You have several options to get your students started on coding. The best known is Code.org, developer of Hour of Code. If your school has Project Lead the Way you have the PLTW computer science module. Tynker has some free content here  or you can sign up for free teacher account for an easy K lesson here. Google will send teachers a free kit to be used with their online material, click here. Even if you supplement with other programs, Code.org is indispensable as it has the most resources and an easy-to-navigate website. From there you can watch videos (Course A for age 4-7 ), visit the educator section and create your account, peruse lesson plans, or print out offline material .

If you and your colleagues want an enjoyable Saturday, attend a Code.org Computer Science Fundamentals PD, learn some tricks and pick up some swag. Or, take the online PD .

Students working with robots.

Students work with blue-bots, robots that the kids can program!

If you don’t have time for all this, simply take your class straight to an Hour of Code classic, Angry Birds, and start coding! I recommend starting offline. I use Code.org’s “Move It” for PE and PLTW as a center activity. Ozobots are a popular way to teach the concept of programming. But my students’ favorite offline activity is the Bee-Bot, a small robot that is programmed with directional arrows on its back. Kinders doing Code.org offline coding for P.E. Tip: Don’t try this on a windy day. Using the directional cards that come with BeeBots and Blue-Bots, kindergarteners write a line of code. Using direction keys, students program BeeBots and Blue-Bots to spell CVC words or order numbers. Bee-Bot and BlueBot programming was a big hit at STEAM Night and Literacy Night at Kennedy. Even some parents got hooked!

Image of student and laptop.

“Look, Ma, I’m programming!”

After the offline warm-ups, students should do Code.org’s Course A followed by Angry Birds and Minecraft on Hour of Code. Some may progress on to Star Wars or Moana, although you may have to tell students the objective …get scrap metal in Star Was and fish in Moana. I don’t recommend Frozen for kinders as this requires knowledge of angles. Many kinders begin to have difficulty when they get to loops, but with patience, persistence and careful counting they can overcome difficulties. Remind students that “fail” means first attempt in learning something awesome.

Coding a Minecraft game is a good incentive to finish ST Math and is an alternative for students who have completed work early. If you have never coded, try some super simple kindergarten block coding on the following Google Doodle celebrating 50 years of children’s coding. https://www.google.com/doodles/celebrating-50-years-of-kids-coding And please, get your students coding. You might inspire the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

Coding for Kindergarteners? Absolutely!

By Maridee Stanley

Image of student working on a computerAmerica is short on computer programmers.  Currently, tech companies are recruiting programmers from India, not by choice but by necessity.  Don’t we want our own SUSD students to get these high paying tech jobs so we can finally break generational poverty?  This can happen if we start our students coding early. How early? High school? Middle school? Intermediate grades? Kindergarten is not too soon.  For the past 5 years, my kinders at Kennedy Elementary have successfully learned the basics of block programming and began to think of themselves as the programmers and tech entrepreneurs of the future.  Students have fun and the parents love it!

“But”, you ask, “ I’m not a programmer.  How can I teach coding?” Don’t worry. Coding isn’t as hard as you think.  If I can do it, anyone can do it. Trust me on this. All the instructional work is done for us by Code.org, Tynker, PLTW, or Google, and the beginning lessons are designed for pre-readers.  Why wouldn’t any teacher want to do this?

You have several options to get your students started on coding.  The best known is Code.org, developer of Hour of Code. If your school has Project Lead the Way you have the PLTW computer science module.  Tynker has some free content, or you can sign up for free teacher account for an easy K lesson. Google will send teachers a free kit to be used with their online material.

Even if you supplement with other programs, Code.org is indispensable as it has the most resources and has an easy-to-navigate website.  From there you can watch videos, go to the student courses , visit the educator section and create your account, peruse lesson plans, or print out offline material. If you and your colleagues want an enjoyable Saturday,  attend a Code.org Computer Science Fundamentals PD, learn some tricks and pick up some swag. Or, take the online PD.

If you don’t have time for all this, simply take your class straight to an Hour of Code classic, Angry Birds, and start coding!

I recommend starting offline.  I use Code.org’s “Move It” for PE and PLTW as a center activity.  Ozobots are a popular way to teach the concept of programming. But my students’ favorite offline activity is the BeeBot, a small robot that is programmed with directional arrows on its back

After the offline warm-ups, students should do Code.org’s Course A followed by Angry Birds and Minecraft on Hour of Code.  Some may progress on to Star Wars or Moana, although you may have to tell students the objective …get scrap metal in Star Wars and fish in Moana.  I don’t recommend Frozen for kinders as this requires knowledge of angles. Many kinders begin to have difficulty when they get to loops, but with patience, persistence and careful counting they can overcome difficulties. Remind students that “fail” means first attempt in learning something awesome.

If you have never coded, try some super simple kindergarten block coding on the following Google Doodle celebrating 50 years of children’s coding.

And please, get your students coding.  You might inspire the next Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg.

Going Digital with AVID

By David Fiore 

October 1, 2018

With the influx of technology entering the classrooms these days, and the adoption of AVID throughout Stockton Unified School District (SUSD),  it only makes sense for teachers to start using more digital tools when implementing good teaching practices.

The outlook of SUSD seems to be geared towards 21st-century learning and modernizing the way of instruction.  Getting away from a teacher-centered philosophy and transitioning more towards blended learning, seems to be the goal.

Our district is already off to a good start.  From digitizing The Units of Study, and advocating for more Chromebooks in the classroom, teachers are becoming more familiar with tech in general.

In addition to tech integration, AVID is a major component that is being utilized more than ever.  Odds are, if you teach in SUSD, you are either AVID trained or you will be soon enough. Either way, this blog is to help shed some light on a few of the digital tools that I use in my own classroom, and how beneficial they can be with the combination of AVID strategies.  

AVID & Technology

In my world, technology and AVID go together like peanut butter and jelly.  The beginning of the school year with my 7th and 8th graders includes digital citizenship and AVID boot camp.  Students learn how to use technology appropriately and find out that AVID is much more than a 4-lettered acronym.  

Marking or Annotating the Text

Image of marked up text

This is a screen shot showing how students are ably to digitally mark up text.

We immediately begin with a lesson on Marking the Text.  Typically, students would receive a hard copy of an article and I would ask them to complete three steps:

  1. Number the paragraphs
  2. Circle key terms/information
  3. Underline the author’s claim(s)

The first time students attempt to mark the paragraphs, I would recommend that students use a pencil and paper. Once they understand how the process works you can then have them attempt the strategy online. In a perfect world, my preference is to use Google Docs.  There is an icon for underlining, which I have found very student-friendly.  Although circling isn’t something that can be performed easily in Docs, highlighting is.  In fact, I find that highlighting text has more benefits as you can use multiple colors while reading.  However, true AVID proponents would refer to this not as “Marking the Text” but rather annotating the text.  If you’re a stickler for staying within the confines, one way around this is to copy text from a document and paste it onto a Google Drawing.  Circling at this point can be done with ease.  

Working with PDFs

Portable Document Format files, or PDFs are very common.  One of the major issues used to be that they were not editable.  They were good to view and even print out, but what if you want to avoid the copy machine and have your students manipulate the document online.  Can it be done? Absolutely!

Image of writing in the text

This screen shot shows how students can use the Kami app to write in the margins of digital text.

There are several current applications out that allow users to annotate PDFs.  Most are free versions with the option to upgrade to a paid version, which usually allows for more tools to be accessed.  My favorite program to use with my students is Kami.  Adding a document is as easy as drag and drop and offers a set of basic tools to edit documents.  The best part is that it syncs with your Google Drive, and files can be uploaded and downloaded directly.  One students get the hang of things, marking and annotating the text will become second nature.

Writing in the Margins

Actively engaging with the text is a must.  In a nutshell, Writing in the Margins allows for deeper understanding and helps students to make more meaningful connections with what they are reading.  

My preferred method again would be to use Google Docs, as there is a comment thread that can be used for making notes off to the side, or in this case…the margins.  

Untitled drawing

After highlighting a particular part of the text, opening the comments thread will then align the comment to that area.  Students can ask a question, paraphrase a description, summarize and more.

Cornell Notes     

This strategy may receive some heat.  To be honest, I wouldn’t advise teachers to use this strategy with students who have trouble typing.  There is an option for “voice typing” in the tools section but try having 30 + students talking to their laptops the next time you’re lecturing.  

The Cornell Note Template that I use allows for students to mimic the same note taking process that can be done using a pen and paper but only more efficiently.  As I’ve always told my students, the day that you can write faster than I type, I will retire. They soon buy into the importance of being able to type, but also much more.  Google Docs allows for students to annotate and interact with their notes with the following:

  • Bolding
  • Italicizing
  • Using bulleted/numbered lists
  • Adding Tables
  • Underlining
  • Changing font style/size/color
  • Adding clip art

 Digital_CNotesThe Focused Note Taking Process can be really fun for students when completed digitally.  The common clip art that is available at the bottom of the page allows for students to make easy connections and help them recall and connect key details.  Not to mention that I have plenty of students who scour the internet searching for relevant images to help improve their notes.

AVID reinforces good teaching practices and technology is the way of the future. Combining the two should help keep students stay engaged and enhance their own way of learning.    

What is an asynchronous classroom?

By Allen Emmett

In this week’s blog, I consider what is an asynchronous classroom, and what is the value of an asynchronous classroom.  If you are like me the first time I heard asynchronous classroom I had no clue what the presenter was talking about. In this blog, I will share an explanation and then consider some positives and weakness.

Traditional classroom       

20180419_092333The first day of school the teacher welcomes all of the students to the class and set the rules and gives the first assignment, along with the due date and any chalkboard, whiteboard, or flipped lecture notes or assignments.  Students do their homework. Grades get entered into the grade book be it paper or computer program.  The next day the same routine is repeated, and so goes the year.

If a new student enters, the name goes on the roster and the student begins where the class is.  The class moves through the year. Students move with the calendar.

What about the assignments not completed or material not mastered?  A gap is created but the class must go on; the summative tests will show the non-mastery. Some remediation will be administered but the class must move on.

This is the traditional sequence and the way to keep everybody in step or in other words, synchronized, and on schedule to complete high school in four years.

Pros

  • Teacher controls when students study which  topics
  • Fits the assembly line pattern established decades ago
  • Easy to know what work has been done and who is missing work
  • All students are doing the same work
  • Makes it possible to pass high school in four years

Weaknesses

  • Teacher controls what topics and when student study
  • Students with absences or are slow learners or already have gaps may not be prepared to learn new material will continue to fall behind and have more gaps
  • No established time to fill-in-the-gaps
  • Students with mastery must follow the class and do needless repetition
  • Students waste time if the students already know the material
  • Students have no early graduations

Asynchronous classrooms   

20180308_094648.jpgIn short, an asynchronous classroom refers to a classroom where students enroll in and move out of according to the amount of time needed to master the material of the course, even to test out of material already mastered by the student.

Asynchronous classrooms have fixed amount of work and time is flexible. Amount of time to complete the course depends on the amount of time used to acquire the skills, learn the knowledge and master and completed the required work.

Pros

  • A student can work independently at their own speed and skill level.
  • A student is in control of how long it takes to complete the course.
  • A student could complete courses in a shorter time frame than regular schools.
  • A student could take longer to complete a course than a regular schools.
  • Students graduate when they achieve all the needed credit.
  • More one on one teacher time.
  • The teacher is more like a mentor or “lead learning advisor.”

Weaknesses

  • Students unable to work or study independently is not a good fit.
  • Students with time little or not time management skills have difficulties
  • Few opportunities for group discussions and collaborations
  • An asynchronous classroom may have several subjects and/or grade levels
  • The classroom is usually independent study and very little direct instruction
  • The teacher is present in the classroom and helps with clarification and feedback.

Summary

Traditional classrooms and asynchronous classrooms are not conflicting pedagogy environments competing for status of which is better or worse.  Asynchronous classrooms are alternative education environments. They allow flexibility in differentiation, reduced class sizes and adjustments to time in school. Emotional needs, anxiety, can be supported.  Teachers have more one on one time.  Asynchronous classrooms can be boon to students who don’t survive in large comprehensive high schools.

Schools with asynchronous classrooms:

Stockton High School, Stockton, California 
Middletown City School District, Middletown, New York