The Lighthouse initiatives at Pikesville High School have played an integral part in successfully implementing the Project Lead the Way Engineering Design and Development Capstone Course. The students work in groups of four to research a real-world, current problem and develop a testable solution to the problem over the course of the year; the engineering design process is closely followed every step of the way. In prior lessons, each student generated three-to-four concept sketches that presented a proposed solution to their group’s problem. At beginning of this lesson, each group had already narrowed their proposed solutions down to three-to-four. Throughout the course of this lesson, students rotated to each group to provide feedback in order to aid in determining a final solution to the proposed project. The students left physical post-it notes on the designs while they rotated, as well as comments on each group’s online virtual engineering notebook. With the use of the physical post-it notes and the devices to access virtual notebooks, students were able to provide each other with comments, questions, and other various forms of feedback. The students were heavily engaged in this lesson and were forced to think outside-of-the-box in order provide meaningful feedback to their classmates. Although this lesson could be implemented without the use of the device, the opportunity for students to provide feedback to online engineering journals was more engaging for students and provided the opportunity for digital documentation.
I really wanted to put my students first. I know that, personally, I’m more comfortable reading and working on my couch at home. I decided to bring that homey feeling to my classroom. Students are comfortable in choosing their seats and they freely move from different areas. They choose the standing table, yoga balls, gamer chairs, tires, couches, etc. based on their needs. According to one student, Tariq, “With being able to move around, you have more responsibility. When you find your spot where you can focus more, you can get your work done.” The overall responsibility of the students has changed. They work harder and they keep their areas clean and organized. They love the power they have to choose. They hold each other to the expectations we set early in the year. They are relaxed and comfortable and more engaged in every aspect of our day. Another student, Myana, believes “You can be comfortable in here for learning. It’s unique.”
Submitted by Tricia Brown
Reading Specialist, Halstead Academy
Halstead's First Grade Advanced Academics Group performed their own original reader’s theater version of "Catwings", for parents and first grade classes. After shared readings of all four Catwings adventures, the group identified literary elements, distinguished important events from each book, and determined both character traits and feelings in order to create this production. Crystal, one of the first graders, said, "At first I was really nervous, but when I got to perform for my mom, I knew I did a great job."
Our amazing performers were Crystal Maduh, Palou Ngaba, Madisyn Almond, Josiah Smalls-Marquez, Analena King-Sykes, Madison McGann, and Carwyn Ndegwa. Palou said, "This was a great experience. I loved when we laughed together because we knew we finally did it!"
Ms. Walder’s 7th grade Language Arts students came face-to-face with the Holocaust with only one degree of separation. Ms. Walder’s mother, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, spoke to the class, sharing artifacts and personal stories of her mother’s experience in Kristallnacht and Nazi Germany. While Ms. Walder’s grandmother and her grandmother’s brother were fortunate to be sent out of the country, the rest of the family perished in a concentration camp. Walder team-planned a PBL with Jen Dingle of Classflow and Dawn Bray of Discovery Ed. Students applied the Higher-Order-Thinking process by generating layered questions about the famous photograph “The Warsaw Ghetto Boy” and creating a Wonder Wall about the causes and consequences of the Holocaust. Using Classflow, students were able to immediately view, assess, and respond to each other’s insights. The driving question for the PBL soon emerged: “What responsibility do leaders have through action and word to promote the well-being of all citizens?” Students accessed curated materials for research on Board Builder, and further built their understanding of the events in a lesson with Library Media Specialist, Tiki Love, by reading the EBook, Jars of Hope, and engaging in a student-led Socratic Seminar. Students will conduct research on a leader and then present their findings on a digital platform of their choice during an open-house in April.
Black History Month came alive at Windsor Mill Middle School this year in Ms. Helm’s 6th grade class. Students began the unit with deep thinking about the characteristics of leaders. Helm modeled the overall project with Malcolm X. Students read articles and books about Malcolm X focusing on what they knew, what they thought they knew, and what they learned. They analyzed and synthesized their learning through discussions. Students then selected figures from Black History to research and identified qualities the person had or developed to become a leader. Dawn Bray, the WMMS Discovery Ed Coach, made Board Builders on the historical figures for the class. Students asked themselves if they had similar qualities and if they could do what the leaders accomplished. Research and reflections were housed in flip books and led to a culminating paragraph on their leader recorded in Vocaroo. Ms. Helm created an interactive timeline in the classroom with QR Codes to access the student paragraphs. The unit was closed with a Socratic Seminar on how the class could bring the qualities of their leaders into their community.
Mr. Jeremy Shaner is a health teacher at Ridgely Middle School who, like all teachers, is transforming his teaching to incorporate more learner-centered strategies. Because his content area is so important in terms of guiding students to make sound decisions that benefit their health, student engagement is crucial. Some of the impressionable topics in the seventh grade health curriculum include mental health, such as self-esteem, stress, and decision making; tobacco abuse, alcohol abuse, first aid and safety, and nutrition. Mr. Shaner recently taught a differentiated lesson to his seventh-grade class on the dangers of smoking, and he met with success.
The STAT initiative, , Students and Teachers Accessing Tomorrow, in BCPS allows for professional development around the formative assessment process. Because of frequent informal assessments of skills, Mr. Shaner has learned the range of abilities that exist within his classes.
As a result, he has done some research to find three different readings on the topic of tobacco use, each written on a different Lexile level. Once the readings were identified, he went into our portal, BCPS One, and assigned the appropriate level digital readings to individual students based on their reading abilities. He was able to do this using lesson tiles. As students read on their devices, they were aware that there were different articles, but they didn't know that they received them based on their individual reading levels. Mr. Shaner expressed to his class that there are multiple articles to gather “an array of information” on the topic.
Once each student had a chance to read his/her assigned article, he/she posted information on another digital application, Padlet.com. As the class reviewed this digital “bulletin board” full of responses, all students benefited from the information in all three articles. Mr. Shaner admitted that "this additional planning on the front end pays off because, ultimately, more students are learning from the materials, customized to their abilities. The device provides a nice pathway for this added access to appropriate resources."
Student responses from the class Padlet
"I think the heart problems are the number one reason I won’t smoke. Heart disease and other heart problems already run in my family which means I already have a higher chance of getting them. I don’t want to bring my chances up by smoking."
"Memory because you already forget things naturally and when you smoke, you forget more things more often."
"Pregnancy issues is probably my number 1 reason not to smoke. For pregnant women, smoking can lead to miscarriages, stillbirths, and future health problems with the baby (if it lives). This is very sad L because the mother’s mistake is hurting two lives. I will never smoke because I would never want to put my child in danger."
Carter is a sixth grader at Ridgely Middle School in Timonium. Carter enjoys the fruits of the STAT initiative in BCPS; Voice Thread is just one benefit of STAT. Recently in Carter’s Spanish class, Mrs. Lutwyche, his teacher, assigned an engaging task. Students were asked to create a radio advertisement for a children’s camp. This curricular assessment measured students’ ability to plan, practice, and produce a spoken presentation in Spanish.
Carter recorded himself speaking Spanish to promote the children’s camp. This audio narrated the coordinating slides with graphics and text.
The success criteria for the assessment included “camp activities, benefits, age of children served, location, and purpose,” Carter explained. He chose to invent a sports camp. He added, “The camp includes activities such as football, soccer, and volleyball. [It boasts] an increase in cardiovascular endurance for all participants." The location he selected for the camp is his previous elementary school, with facilities to accommodate the activities both inside and outside. The age range of participants for his camp is five to twelve.
Carter explained that this recording is one section of a four-part unit assessment which took approximately three class periods to complete and is to be done independently. Mrs. Lutwyche is commended for attempting the spoken and written parts using this multi-media application with her students. Mrs. Lutwyche says, “With Voice Thread, students gain independence, privacy, and choice. A student can record and preview numerous times before submitting a saved document as evidence.” Because it is her first attempt with Voice Thread, she admits there is a small learning curve, as exists when experimenting with anything new; however, she adds that benefits are definitely worthwhile."
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.