Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Jimmy Fallon, Hashtags, Home Alone, Nicki Minaj and Revolution

Twitterizing the classroom is a passion of mine. This past weekend, I had the privilege to present this idea, and others, to some great Bay Area educators at the Krause Center for Innovation. Click here to access my resources. One of the first steps towards twitterization of your classroom is to teach students the power of the hashtag. I like to use hashtags as a method of helping students make connections between content and personal life. I always show students a hashtag skit from The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to set the tone.

The first example I use has to do with the Civil War and Nicki Minaj. A few years ago, I taught a mini lesson on the Union's Civil War battle strategy. It was creatively called the Anaconda Plan. In a nutshell, the Union, like an anaconda would surround it's prey, the Confederacy, and slowly close in. The strategy was to suffocate the Confederacy and cut them off from help until they "tapped out" and gave up.

After teaching that mini lesson, 5-7 minutes in length, I had the students "hashtag it."  Their job was to think of things in their lives or pop culture that were similar to the "boring history" they just learned. I instructed them that as long as they can explain the connection, it counts. During the lesson, a group of boys were giggling the whole time. I didn't get mad because I knew they had made a connection and could wait to share. When it came time to share the hashtags, they went first.

Their first hashtag was #MrFesperman. Mr. Fesperman was their 7th grade biology teacher. They explained that it was in his class when they first learned about anacondas. Their second hashtag was #UFC. They explained that they were fans of the Ultimate Fighting Championship and the Anaconda Plan was designed to make the enemy tap out just like in a UFC fight. Their third and, at the time, most bizarre hashtag was #NickiMinaj. Their explanation consisted of them singing Nicki Minaj's song Anaconda.

It was the Nicki Minaj hashtag that stuck seemed to be the most powerful. When it came time to review, I used the Nicki Minaj hashtag to create the meme above. I flashed it on the screen and within seconds, every student remembered the Anaconda Plan and how it worked
. From that point on, I decided student hashtags would become fodder for student-generated memes. They would create the memes, not the teacher. Engagement and empowerment skyrocketed. Students "competed" to see who could come up with the most clever connections in their hashtags and memes.

Now that I am back in the classroom, at least part time, I am resurrecting the hashtags and memes. Today was my maiden voyage back with this strategy. Our lesson today was about the American Revolution. A story I told was about the Battle of Trenton and Washington crossing the Delaware River to attack the Hessian mercenaries who had been drinking all night Christmas Eve. I explained how the Continental Army needed to be creative and smart in fighting the British. They couldn't use conventional methods if they were to stand a chance. Washington's plan to sneak attack the Hessians after a night of drinking was a creative strategy.

A young lady in my class wrote the hashtag #HomeAlone. She explained that in the movie Home Alone, the main character had to defend his home very creatively on Christmas Eve. Another student used the hashtag #pizza. He explained that the American Revolution caused a domino effect of revolutions across the world. This made him think of Domino's Pizza. I plan to begin tomorrow's lesson with a review of today and I have a few memes in the making with Home Alone and Domino's Pizza for them. I am curious to see how well they remember. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: #360History, Twisted Sister, ECW, Crazy 8's and Revolution

I have the privilege of teaching two World History courses in addition to my Tech Coaching duties. This allows me to implement on my own and better model the many new innovative strategies I have learned on my tech coaching journey. One of these strategies is building context with YouTube. 

Our new lesson covers Revolutions of the 18th century. The lesson includes the American Revolution and how it influenced Revolutions around the world, France in particular. A large segment of my students are English learners or they are reading far below grade level. I cannot assume students know what Revolution means.

Borrowing a design thinking strategy I picked up in the Google Certified Innovator Academy, I have students begin thinking about what they think they know using Crazy 8's (Thanks Les McBeth). Students find a space on the whiteboard walls and drew a grid with 8 empty boxes. When I started the timer, each student drew a visual that comes to mind when they think of Revolution. Every 30 seconds they move to a new box on the grid and draw another visual. They repeat this process until all 8 boxes are filled. 

Upon finishing the Crazy 8s, students did a gallery walk looking at everyone's Crazy 8's. They were tasked to draw a question mark on visuals they did not understand. After making one full rotation around the room, I made note of the visuals that had the most amount of question marks. I called upon those students to explain their visuals to help the class better understand their thinking. 

The next step was for students to write a definition, in their own words, above their grid. They returned to their seats, and on one of the Cardinal Innovation Center's 70 in TVs, we watched a series of videos from YouTube that I identified as examples of Revolution. The first video was a clip from WWE Monday Night Raw when ECW stars invaded and attacked WWE stars and started an extreme Revolution in wrestling. Next, students watched clips of Caesar the Ape leading an ape revolt in the movie Planet of the Apes. The final video was a music video from the band Twisted Sister, "We're Not Going To Take It."

After some reflection upon the videos, students went back to their definitions and erased them. They wrote revised definitions of Revolution based on their reflections, discussion and examples from YouTube.  A new gallery walk ensued and students looked at all the definitions. They returned to their small groups and were given a task. The task is to come up with a group definition and then act out a 45-60 second skit, on video, demonstrating their understanding of Revolution. 

The thinking behind this lesson is to give students a more solid understanding of Revolution before delving deep into the American and French Revolutions. I am excited to see student definitions and videos. Stay tuned.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: The Tech Squad Rises

It is an exciting time in the Cardinal Innovation Center. One of the many layers of the Cardinal Innovation Center is the student-led Cardinal Tech Squad. The Tech Squad is designed to empower students to provided peer-to-peer, student-to-teacher, and student-to-parent technology assistance. In addition, the Tech Squad provides tech assistance to organizations as well. On our upcoming report card night, they will man a booth to meet with parents to get them signed up with Gmail to be part of the parent email list as well as add parent addresses to the Guardians function of Google Classroom.

Recently, an exciting opportunity came for the Cardinal Tech Squad. The Assistance Service Dog Education Center (ASDEC) from nearby Woodlake, CA is in need of a website overhaul. ASDEC raises and trains golden retrieve puppies to aid those in need of assistance. They train the dogs for vision & hearing impaired, PTSD and more.

My recent visit with the new litter

The Tech Squad met for the first time today to gather information and start building ASDEC a new website with the new Google Sites. They will be adding recorded interviews from ASDEC volunteers and will create profiles for each of the dogs. The profiles will include a picture of the dog, their name and the special skills in which the dog is being trained.

The Tech Squad will work the Cardinal YouTuber Crew to curate videos of ASDEC training sessions and testimonies. In addition, they will collaborate with the Cardinal Social Media posse to manage ASDEC social media. Links to the social media accounts will be featured on the website. The Cardinal Blogger Cafe will soon start a blog for ASDEC and the Tech Squad will add the blog to the ASDEC website.

ASDEC is in desperate need of donations. The owner, Gerald Whitaker is getting ready to retire, but is struggling to pay the bills. It is not cheap to feed and raise the three dozen or so dogs kept on site. If you can help in any way, please contact ASDEC via phone at 559-564-7297.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Create Content Not Consume

The vision behind the Cardinal Innovation Center is to get students to create content, not consume it. Creating content can be messy and feel chaotic, but when student creations are born, it is very satisfying. My role this year has shifted a bit. In addition, to my tech coaching duties, I also teach two periods of World History. This allows me to really put a lot of the innovative strategies I have learned into play. This helps me model much better for teachers.

We recently started a lesson on the Enlightenment. Before jumping into the content, I wanted students to have a firm grasp on the spirit of Enlightenment. I knew most had no clue what it means. To help build context, I first had them guess. As expected, most were not even close. I then showed them some YouTube clips that I feel are good examples of Enlightenment. One was from the Matrix when Neo chooses the pill. The other was a clip from Straight Outta Compton when Ice Cube figures out the truth about the unfair deals between Jerry Heller and Eazy E.

After the clips, I had students guess again on the meaning of Enlightenment. Their guesses were much closer now. I shared the actual definition with them and had them reflect on how close their guesses were. Some laughed about how far they still were while others were slightly disappointed about how close they came. Long story short, the term Enlightenment was no longer this monolithic, abstract term. Building context with YouTube demystified the term. They were no longer intimidated by it.

Now demystified, I challenged students to choose how to demonstrate their learning and understanding of Enlightenment. They could, for a passing score, find their own YouTube clip they feel is an example of Enlightenment and write 1-2 paragraphs explaining why. To get an A/B score, they could either write their fictional story that is an example of Enlightenment or record a 1-2 minute skit.

My absolute favorite student submission was an actual personal story from a female student. The crux of her story is centered around the traditional male and female roles in Hispanic culture. She was always taught that the women are homemakers and the men make the money and work. An event happened in her life where those roles switched between her mom and dad. At first she was unsettled, but over time she realized there was nothing wrong with this paradigm shift. She felt empowered by it.

As we went deeper into the lesson, she quickly identified with the philosophies of Mary Wollstonecraft. I am rather confident this student will comprehend the Enlightenment much better that if I had gone the traditional consumption route of answering questions at the end of the chapter. On that note, no textbooks were harmed.....errrr.....I mean used in this lesson.

My students created content. They didn't not merely consume it. Real life connections to content were made and learning became authentic.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: #360History, Google Hangouts and The World's Most Dangerous Thinkers

Teaching two sections of World History has given me the opportunity to implement many of the innovative ideas and pedagogy I have learned on my three year journey as a tech integration coach. The fact I get to teach in the Cardinal Innovation Center makes it even more special.

Lately I have have been dabbling in elements in blended learning. Students have been accessing content through pre-recorded lecture videos of me teaching a lesson. At first, the students liked being able to go through a lecture at their own pace, but some still craved the interaction with a "live" teacher.  To address this, I took advantage of the Cardinal Innovation Center's whiteboard walls. These walls were donated through the "World's Most Dangerous EDU Non-Profit" known as Classrooms with Attitude (C.W.A.). C.W.A. is the brainchild of my friend, colleague and #CUETangClan brother Ed Campos (@edcamposjr).

Ed champions #360Math. Being a history teacher, I am attempting to adapt #360Math to history and create #360History. Since my students were craving interaction with a "live" teacher, I decided to use the whiteboard walls in a #360Math manner. Students were instructed to watch the lecture video as usual, but as they came up with questions for their notes, they would have to write their questions on the whiteboard walls. Once they wrote their questions, I could stand in middle of room, rotate 360 degrees, see all questions and immediately respond one-on-one. In addition, I added a stipulation that they had ask at least one question using Google Hangouts. This way students who wanted interaction with a "live" teacher and those who enjoy the self-paced, virtual method feel their needs are being met.

I piloted these strategies in a lesson on the Enlightenment. I compared 8 Enlightenment thinkers to N.W.A.  N.W.A was known as the "World's Most Dangerous Group" largely in part to their, at the time, controversial ideas. These ideas challenged the status quo and those of the establishment. Enlightenment thinkers had a similar effect.

As students went through the lesson video, common questions written on whiteboard walls and via Google Hangouts had to do with clarification on the connection between Enlightenment thinkers and N.W.A. Students were engaged by the N.W.A. connection, but required more clarification on the connection to the content. The whiteboards and Hangouts gave me quick, easy insight into what students needed. In addition, they earned participation points for writing on whiteboards and texting via Hangouts.

Long story short, this can all be summed up by highlighting the importance of prompt feedback and checking for understanding. Whiteboards and Hangouts allowed options for students to communicate with the teacher and gave, me, the teacher instant data from which I could provide feedback.

On that note, I would love to hear some feedback and thoughts.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: Social Media Posse Live Tweets 1st Football Game

At the Sydney Google Certified Innovator Academy, the best feedback I received was to scale down my project. I was advised by coaches and cohort members to focus only on a few of the many layers of this project to start. One of layers I decided to focus on was the Cardinal Innovation Center Social Media Posse. The purpose of this layer is to empower students to build a positive school culture with social media. 

The soul of the Cardinal Innovation Center is to empower students. I chose to focus on this layer because it is one of the most student-driven layers in the project. Most other layers require much of my own time and effort. To get this layer up and running, I recruited an 11th grader, David, whom I have had the pleasure of knowing since he was in the 1st grade. David (@dmagana559) stepped up to the plate and spent a few hours with me learning to live tweet a football game. That is American Football for my foreign friends.

On September 8, 2017, I gave David access to the school's Twitter account (@orosihs) and gave him free reign to live tweet the game versus Granite Hills High School. 

For being a first time live tweeter covering a sporting event, David did quite well. Using a growth mindset, David knows he can and will improve. To see a record of David's maiden voyage with the Cardinal Social Media Posse, click here to access the tweets via Storify.

For more on the Cardinal Innovation Center Social Media posse, please follow David (@dmagana559), Orosi High School (@orosihs) and myself (@techcoachjuarez) on Twitter.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Cardinal Innovation Center Today: 9/8/2017

It is a momentous occasion in the Cardinal Innovation Center. For the 2017-2018 school year, the first sketchnotes have been uploaded and posted to the OHS Sketchnotes Gallery. These sketchnotes came from my 10th Grade World History students. They sketchnoted their learning and understanding of Absolute Monarchy in England.

At this point in the year, only three sketchnotes were worthy of being posted to the website. But my students have a growth mindset and we are confident the quantity of quality of the sketchnotes are bound to increase in the near future.
Take a look below at the first three sketchnotes posted this school year.




View more of my project at cardinalinnovationcenter.org.