The Roman Empire is falling again and again in Ms. McGuire’s 6th grade World Cultures classes. Working in the Lighthouse Makerspace room, Students are designing and creating their own board games that capture the crucial components of the decline and fall of the empire. Students must include political, economic and social factors along with environmental factors such as geography and weather. Feather boas, strips of plastic, and are being re-purposed and refashioned into Uno and Pokémon Gladiator cards. An excited student explained, that “In our Pokémon game the goal is to get everyone else’s cards. We are learning that good weapons and shields, and lots of practice made the armies strong. When the Romans didn’t have any of those things any more, that’s when the empire started to fall.”
Church Lane Elementary (CLETS) students in grades four and five participated in the Maryland M.E.S.A. (Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement) program for the first time during the 2016-2017 school year. M.E.S.A. is a structured, after school, pre-college program designed to prepare students for academic and professional careers in a STEM field. The twenty-five students that participated, worked collaboratively on various engineering project and science research projects. The students faithfully met every Wednesday after school and worked on a number of hands on learning tasks in addition to meaningfully using technology in order to complete the tasks at hand.
M.E.S.A provides an opportunity for students to interact with various professionals in STEM related fields to discuss their profession, educational pursuits, and other opportunities that are available to students. CLETS students had an opportunity to meet with midshipmen from the Unites States Naval Academy and personnel from the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab (JHU Applied Physics Lab) on a field trip in October 2016. The JHU Applied Physics Lab is also, the main sponsor of Maryland MESA.
In March 2017, CLETS students then participated in Regional MESA Day at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) to compete with other MESA teams throughout Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS). The students worked on projects prior to MESA Day for the various challenges. The students were divided into four teams: Cyber Security, Storybook Theme Park Ride, Effective Communication, and Wood Bridge Challenge. All of the aforementioned challenges are designed using Next Generation Science Standards.
The Cyber Security Awareness Challenge, the students use Scratch program (developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) which is an introductory teaching tool for computer programming. Scratch makes it easy for students to create and share interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art, via the Scratch website. Students use scratch in order to create a game with the theme of their choosing to create awareness to Cyber Safety. By creating Scratch projects, students will learn important problem-solving skills as well.
The Story book Theme Park Ride Challenge is to expose students to the engineering process through the design and construction of a functional model theme park ride based on a storybook of the team’s choosing. The ride had to be designed to safely carry one golf ball, two Ping-Pong balls, and a standard-sized marshmallow through two consecutive test runs.
The Effective Communication: Advocacy for Social Concern is a presentation competition for elementary school student teams of four to eight students each. Each team created a compelling public service announcement (PSA) to raise awareness and present a recommended action in response to a global, national, or local issue of concern.
The Wood Bridge Challenge is to engage students in the engineering and design process through the construction of a wood bridge, were assessed for its strength-to weight ratio (efficiency). Constructed bridges were to be simplified versions of real world bridges, which are designed to accept a load in virtually any position and support that load without failure/collapse. In this challenge, only one loading position (the center position) was tested.
Although the students didn’t place in the categories, they were encouraged about the possibilities of next year’s challenge. The students enjoyed interacting with other teams and learning from their peers.
Participating in Maryland MESA has sparked student interest in STEM related fields. As a result, it has transferred into their classroom learning behaviors through problems solving and inquiry. I am excited to see the changes in these students and anticipate great things for them in the Maryland MESA program. If you are interested in this program for your school please go to the following website for more information: https://secwww.jhuapl.edu/mesa
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!"
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."
On February 14th, my Tech Tip Tuesday was all about Office Mix. I was so inspired from the STAT Conference that I had to share this tech tool with my staff. I had overwhelming interest at this Tech Tip Tuesday due to the previous engagement my staff had with Office Mix through my Twitter chat presentation. Office Mix is quite the buzz around the “The Lane”! It has now become a great way for our teachers to flip lessons and/or use it for reteach moments. Teachers also appreciate the accountability piece through checking the analytics. The following are some ways we are using Office Mix at Church Lane Elementary.
"Students listened to me notice and note/think aloud about two pieces of text in order to determine how problem and solution leads to theme. Then, they watched two short video clips (one from Land Before Time and another from Rudy) to analyze how the problems and solutions in each video clip showed the theme of friendship in different ways. They were using the digital sticky notes to monitor the videos so they could perform their written response as their assessment."
– Mr. Miller, 4th grade
“I have used Office Mix as a flipped learning tool for my accelerated learners as well as an instruction and reteach tool for all learners. I first used Office Mix by embedding video clips, adding anchor charts, and including guided questions for students to use when they were not meeting with the teacher in small group. After seeing the impact on my students, I decided to use Office Mix a little differently by embedding all students’ “menu of activities” and including organizers, links, and videos differentiated for each groups’ needs. Once they met in small group, they continued working through their menu by completing the activities either listed on or embedded in the power point. The students love the accountability of following the PowerPointt without the teacher’s help, and I love the accountability of the students being able to answer their own questions, especially the “what I am I supposed to do” question because it is all laid out for them.”
–Ms. Mueller, 5th grade
“I used Office Mix with PowerPoint to make a lesson on finding and using text evidence to support the moral in a fable. My class had practiced this skill the previous day. In Office Mix, I recorded my slides or used my document camera to record a video of myself explaining directions while pointing to the text that students would be working with. With the slides that I recorded, I went over our objective, expectations, and the activity. Throughout the various slides, I would tell my students to pause and do something in real life and then come back to the Mix when they had completed the task. By doing the lesson this way, I was able to pull a small group of students who I noticed the day before had a good bit of difficulty with the objective of the lesson. We did the same lesson that I had put into Office Mix, but with me scaffolding everything a bit more. My students who I knew were ready to tackle the task more independently, but still with a little teacher help, were able to navigate through the Office Mix with a partner. The ability to record my voice and the documents my students would need and adding in pauses for students to complete chunks of work, was very successful. I effectively had a whole group lesson going while meeting the needs of each of my unique learners. Office Mix is an exciting tool that I plan to use for many more lessons and many different skills!”
–Mrs. Wurzbacher, 2nd grade
“It can be difficult to plan and execute effective instruction when you have a classroom with such diverse needs. Officemix has allowed me to meet the needs of all of my learners. I have used Officemix as a flipped learning tool during my math workshops. Officemix has allowed me to deliver content to my accelerated group who I do not get to meet with right away. Through Officemix I have used screen recording to show my accelerated group different tech tools and websites to access during a lesson. Slide recording has also allowed me to record how to solve problems by using the inking tool. It also allowed me to upload videos to further my student’s understanding of a topic or skill. Overall, Officemix has given me a pathway to accelerate or modify instruction for my students through a flipped learning experience."
–Ms. Listman, 3rd grade
"As the STAT teacher, I get the chance to assist teachers in a lot of their lesson/activity creating. It has been a great help taking some of the time and stress off the teacher’s shoulders. I have used Office Mix to record stories and create direction slides for teachers to use with their class. Teachers can easily take these slides and import them into their presentation or place the link onto the lesson tiles. Students also get a kick out of hearing my voice!"
–Ms. Whorton, STAT teacher
In my classroom, it is uncommon for me to be teaching one kind of learner. I work with many different grade levels and students of varying abilities. You see, I am a special education teacher. There are only two of us in my building. Each year I have a different set of kids and am learning a different curriculum. At times when these students are all in a classroom at once, it is difficult to find new ways to keep them engaged in our lessons. With the devices, I can make a whole group lesson for them to follow on their own active inspire lesson. They enjoy having the control in their hands. I also utilize the devices as a way to work with each of my students in a one on one setting.
Much of my role and time is used to work with the students on their individual goals. To do this I use the device as a center in my classroom. I can either use games (relating to our whole group lesson) or individualize some Wixie or ActivInspire for the students to complete on their own (or in a group) while I rotate working with students individually on a reteach or goal work.
In the beginning of the year, the students need time to get used to doing certain technological things independently. At the end of last year I really saw the students’ confidence rise in completing their independent work independently.
Many of the students I serve have OT and/or weaknesses in their writing ability. Having the device at their fingertips in the classroom environment has gained them access to so much more.
When I think about where my students will be in the future, I think that they will be able to use typing and technology to compensate for some of their other weaknesses. If and when they can learn to type, this will be an amazing way for them to contribute to our real world. I do practice with them focusing on staying in their “home base” with their fingers. They slowly exercise those fingers in order to type certain letters in isolation. I know the more the feel more comfortable with it, it will get easier for them. With the typing program and programs such as word Q (word prediction software), it really makes learning accessible to more kinds of learners that we service. I only hope to learn more with this technology as it is changing every day. I know how the kids feel when they have to learn something new. I try and remember that as I learn each day.
Having a role in education during this transformation of teaching and learning is exhilarating! Not only have educators adapted learner-centered strategies, but they have incorporated technology in their daily lessons, and students are largely benefitting from both.
Students in Mrs. Rounsaville-Houchens’ science class conducted research on a disease, condition, or disability. Milana Klopouh, a seventh grader at Ridgely Middle School, shares information about the process. “We are able to choose from a list of diseases, or Mrs. Houchens says she will approve something not on the list, if we have other ideas. Our group is researching Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, ALS. We are curious about it because of the several Ice Bucket Challenges online, but we really don’t know too much about it besides what we see in the videos that have gone viral.”
Milana explained that students are given a scenario about the need to raise public awareness on the topic. She shares that there is extensive criteria to provide in a PowerPoint or no-tech option. The criteria includes, “a description of the disease, causes, incubation period, communicability, signs and symptoms…,” she adds. The list goes on. Also, students are to identify affected body systems, the present state of research, and how the disease progressed through history. The impact on family adds a personal touch to the project, according to the student. In many cases, students went to neighbors or loved ones to get a personal perspective on the topic. “Someone in our group has a mom in nursing, and my parent is a pharmacist, so they were able to weigh in with some personal experiences,” Milana said.
The actual process included receiving instruction from the library media specialist around research and citations. Then, it is up to the students to gather information. Milana explained that students are expected to save notes on all the criteria, rather than dividing it up. “Mrs. Houchens said that all of us should research all of the criteria because we are reading different articles. She didn’t want us to miss anything. Microsoft 365 allows us to share our notes with each other, and it also allows multiple group members to edit our PowerPoint at the same time. It’s definitely better than facetiming on our phones.”
Mrs. Rounsaville-Houchens and her colleagues at Ridgely are making students 21st century-ready. Learning with critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity is making a difference for our students.
In effort, to prepare students for college and the workforce, Church Lane Elementary students participated in their first Church Lane Elementary College Tour. Fourth and Fifth grade teachers and their school counselor collaborated in effort to promote college readiness and a general understanding of the college experience. Through classroom guidance, students were introduced to and discussed the need for college and vocational training. With support from their classroom teachers, students in 8 classrooms worked hard and obtained information about a specific Maryland College. Each class created a display highlighting information about their specific Maryland College. Using the student created displays, students took a “College Tour”. Students read for information and completed a “scavenger hunt” to gain knowledge about college programs, tuition and extracurricular activities. All students upon tour completion received badges that said, “I am on the road to success”. Keeping with that theme, students then reflected and wrote on posters about what would STOP them on their road to success and what help them GO in the right direction. Prior to the College Tour, students had the opportunity to meet with 16 college students. In a panel discussion, 4th and 5th graders were able to ask questions to current college students and gain understanding about education and career options in their future. Students enjoyed the hands on and engaging opportunity to experience college using technology and discussion.
Submitted by Sydney Paules
Grade 7 Student, Pikesville Middle School
It has been over a year since I wrote my first reflection. A lot of things have changed with our computers because this is the second year my school has been a light house school, and I am now in the 7th grade. In science we use OneNote. OneNote is a computer program where notes and files can be shared with other users. My science teacher, Mr. Novak, also uses a tool called Office Mix Power Point. This is how he can guide us by recording himself giving instructions on his Power Points that we can download to really walk us through the material. In engineering we are not on our computers a lot. We are more into making and doing. We have built and soldered circuits, and have made skimmers. We do a lot of hands on work in this class. In math we use an online text book to do our homework so that we have instructions and questions right in front of us. We also use Khan Math Academy videos. This tool is used for when someone doesn’t understand a concept, so we have someone on our screens to explain it in more detail. In my social studies class we use the Discovery Education Social Studies Tech Book. It is also an online text book but it gives us resources like pictures, interactive maps, and videos. In general, most of my work documents are on the computer, and my classmates and I do work digitally. We use turn-ins on BCPS One to send the teacher our work. We use test and quizzes to take tests online which sometimes even grades the tests instantly. This year is really flying by-- I can’t wait to see what else we are going to do!
Reflections from teachers, administrators, and students at the Lighthouse Schools.