Friday, April 22, 2016

More ways to use Visual Notes in the Secondary Classroom!

2 ways we used Edusketching in class this week, that you can implement tomorrow!

1. The Collaborative Whiteboard Review: As a review of the day's learning in World History, I began by writing a title elicited from the students: "What was the primary topic of today's learning?" It was an introduction to the French Revolution, as you can see at the top of the whiteboard. 

Then I simply started asking students about some key points and takeaways from their reading and their notes. "Tell me about the social hierarchy", and as they talked, I drew--but only the title and the social classes you see here.  Then we talked about causes of the Revolution, primary people, etc. etc. and as soon as students gave answers, I said "c'mon up and draw that for us". Big smiles and eagerness were the norm here, as in "hey, this is fun."

For those who knew the information but were reluctant to come and draw, I simply asked the other students how we could represent ______ with a simple drawing. LOADS of help from the others encouraged the reluctant to give it a go! This photo is from today, when students actually asked me if they could add more notes to our compilation from yesterday. 

Edusketching in action!
What? How awesome is that?

Anyway, I love their energy when they take small risks. Students at their seats can copy without risk, then add to their own as we go. Can't you imagine trying this simple review tomorrow in class?

2. Visual Summaries: My ESL class ranges in proficiency levels from absolute newcomers (just arrived in the past 3 weeks) to a high level 3. Lots of gifts within these students, let me tell you. They are currently working on a storytelling video project, and as we are thinking about how to make our stories more interesting to the audience, we are focusing guessed it...those wonderful details to make the story stick. 

This is what we did. This particular class is comprised of all native Spanish speakers, and my Costa Rican colleague agreed, with delight I might add, to weave a fanciful 5-minute tale in Spanish for them about one of her, ahem...Adventures. 

Her storytelling hat donned, students were prepared to record her story via Visual Summary. They had 6 boxes in their homemade graphic organizers, with lines under each for an accompanying sentence about it. She regaled them with tales of Costa Rica, cows, and stolen mangoes. 

Kids completed their visual summaries, and most (not all) completed some sort of sentence or label underneath each sketched picture. Notice the differences in writing, imagery, and details from this range of students and their progressing abilities.

This student captured the sequence, with words for
the beginning and end.  
This student captured the sequence, with slightly more detailed
drawings, but needed to go back to recount details verbally.
This student was "resourceful" by erasing and combining pictures
5 & 6, and also used some labels.  
4/ 6 images, but with sentences for each.
6/ 6 images plus verbal details for each. See how quickly
you can assess students with visual summaries, while
you're having conversations with them and digging deeper
into what they know? So much fun, too. 
6/6 images, plus labels and some simple phrases. Love how quickly
these visuals let me assess listening,  writing, and speaking (through
informal conversations about their images and then when they share
with their peers).
The next day, students worked in groups to analyze 4-5 summaries each. What can we learn from visual summaries? What was the same? What was different? And most importantly, why the similarities / differences?
Conversations were slow to start because this was the first time we'd done anything like this in class, and these were very new questions. We had all heard the exact same story. It was told in their native language. 


The images were different. And the same. How could that be? 

Through their analysis, they realized that 2-3 similar details were in each of the summaries: mango trees, airplanes/ airports, and people from the story. Why was this? Out of all the other details what made these resonate so deeply? What made them stick? 

The biggest reason they stated was that they thought it was because they could relate to her culture and knew about mango trees, and that everyone in the class is from Central America like her. 

They analyzed the content: the sequence and details were all correct in each of them, despite differing details; they thought that the visuals made it shorter and easier to understand, and they learned some life lessons from her story. 

Differences? Drawing ability was one idea posed for the differences, while levels of listening ability were proposed as the reason a couple of our students only completed 2-3 images of the 6. :-) Some groups focused more on the actual story than my question, but their conversations remained rich regarding the topic, and I let them converse for a couple of minutes before re-focusing. 

They also understood that everyone in the class has different visual ideas for thinking and drawing, that all people think and visualize differently, and differences stem from our imagination. 

So what does this mean for their next steps? They will now go forth in the next steps of their video script armed with these takeaways:

1. How can you help the audience relate to your story?
2. What key details do you want your audience to walk away with? (and is there a why?)
3. What language can you add to create vivid images in your audience's mind?
4. What imagery within your own video will help you reach your audience like you hope to?
5. What is the tone of your story? Humorous, serious, informative? 

This analysis took about 30 minutes, but the conversations within each group were animated, and they enjoyed looking at each others' visual summaries. The simplicity of sketches always belies the complexity of thought and the vast lessons that can be learned about each others' thinking.  

How will you incorporate a lesson like this tomorrow? I'd love to know!

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Week of (FREE!) Student Travel!

It's a busy time of year, and friends ask me if I'm "ready for summer" yet.

Honestly, no, I'm not.

When I say that, my friends think I'm joking. But, there's So. Much. To. Do. I'm talking good stuff, too, dear readers. The kind of things that get you hopping out of bed early in the morning, and may even keep you up late at night.

Those of you who know me, know I LOVE to travel, explore and learn about others and their cultures. I'm always seeking ways to bring my students along, which is why I also love being a connected educator. Here are some of the things that make teaching exciting for me. Have a look at these images from just 3 days!

Traveling to the Middle East and Central Asia!
I get excited when I see curiosity sparked in students, and it's especially easy using realia like these artifacts from Bahrain, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Pakistan:

Artifacts from Kyrgyzstan
Artifacts from Afghanistan and Pakistan
Articles from Bahrain
Don't let their age fool you--teens still love to try
new things!
Who are these new people in our class?

Traveling to New York City and the United Nations Headquarters!
And showing them places they've not been--but in real time, and in an interactive way, like this virtual field trip at the United Nations in NYC: (via skype)
A view outside the window of the UN in New York!
Art representing Chernobyl. There are many pieces of donated
art which represent historical events, people and cultures. 
Ah, yes. The inner workings of the UN.
Meeting and seeking solutions. 
One of our favorite illustrated rights from the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).

"Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including
reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic
holidays with pay." 
My sketchnotes from our United Nations virtual field trip.

Traveling to Costa Rica to meet a Women's Rights Activist!
And introducing them to a bilingual human rights activist who taught them how easy it is to get roped into human rights issues when you are observant, care about those around you, and have faith. Here is a photo of Adilia Caravaca Zuniga, a strong member of the Women's International LPF, an organization over 100 years old.

Ms. Caravaca started her quest for human rights as a
very young girl. 
She has continued her fight for women's rights for
many years, in many places. 
What was REALLY cool about Ms. Caravaca's presentation is the fact that, as busy as she is, she realizes the value of spending 40 minutes with teens thousands of miles away! Sparking interest, sparking curiosity, and reminding all of us how critical it is that we care? Thanks to Skype, we experienced all of that!

And yes, students remember. Of course, when you tell them "this day, THIS CLASS!, is going to be unforgettable, and without a doubt their favorite class of the day", guess what?
You'll be right.

Hope you enjoyed the "week in pictures"! Fun times are afoot in Room 204. :-)

What connections can YOU make with your students this month/ semester/ year? What universities can you partner with? What virtual tours can you experience? Who can skype in with your students? Most importantly, what connections can your students help you find?

*Special thanks to WorldView at UNC Chapel Hill, for providing the different culture kits;
thanks to UN outreach center for setting up two separate tours; and thanks to my colleague Carla Jimenez, for procuring our esteemed guest, Ms. Caravaca, on Friday. It truly does take a village to educate our children well, and although it takes a little time setting it all up, this, my friends, is what students will be talking about far more than that worksheet or study guide.  ;-)

Who will you connect with today?  Where is your next destination?

Sunday, March 27, 2016

We love collaboration like this!

As an ESL teacher and frequent co-teacher, I love it when a good collaboration comes together, but we had never done this. Watching our students, who collectively represent 12 nationalities, work over the course of a week, we couldn't help but question over and over--why hadn't we done this earlier? Why hadn't we teamed together with our Spanish language learners?

What did it look like?
Spanish II language learners working together with English language learners (newcomers to level 3/ developing), discussing values, getting to know one another, and navigating their way through language with renewed -- and real -- motivation. This was, in so many senses of the phrase, collaborative teen magic.

The big picture goal? Create an artistic representation of your values, with a written description of both art and artist. These pieces would in turn, be sent to students in Guatemala (via Creative Connections, one of my favorite global education partners), in exchange for art from them. To up the ante a little more, we will skype with the students, too, and we will share our mutual analyses and thoughts about our artwork.

How did we get to that big picture?

Beginning with the first day, students introduced themselves in the language they are learning. Some were more adept than others, many had to overcome shyness and a bit of embarrassment. BUT, once they saw that others shared their discomfort, and lack of fluency, I swear there was a collective sigh of surprise--then relief--as it dawned on them that hey, I'm not alone in my struggles here.

Over the course of 5 days, here's what students worked on:
  • Compare and contrast  dislikes, likes, and values, with English learners writing in English, Spanish language learners writing in Spanish. Students used each other and dictionaries as resources --but no Google Translate! No computers. Just each other.
  • Descriptions of themselves, their goals, their likes, and other personal information--again navigating their way in English and Spanish, using each others' strengths, and learning more conversational vocabulary. 
  • Creating art to represent themselves, particularly what they value, in their family, their community, or in general.
  • Oral presentations to the class to share their art and what it represented.

As for assessments? They were ongoing. The other teachers and I could constantly float from one group to the other to ask questions, clarify vocabulary, extend thinking, and simply strike up small conversations about what they had written or had drawn. All domains of language learning were in full play: listening, speaking, writing, and some reading--definitely lots of thinking going on. 

Students were motivated, and looked forward to working together. They were even willing to take a later lunch so that schedules matched up! (Teenagers taking a later lunch...say it ain't so!) 

But, don't take my word for it. Have a look at pictures of bilingual collaboration in 2016.

Brainstorming together, in Spanish and English 

Creating their art together

Sharing their values through art

Even though we'd never done this before, you can be sure we'll be doing this again! And a HUGE shout-out to my colleagues who can take an idea and make it grow!