Thursday, September 25, 2014

A Thank You to Students of Room 602

To the students of Mrs. Burnett,

Used with Permission - Image Source
Today I feel hopeful for the future.  I can't thank you enough for welcoming me into your class over the past couple weeks.  Watching your expressions as you absorbed the performances of Sarah Kay, Clint Smith,  and Carvens Lissaint , and analyzed what makes a speech powerful, a message heard, an audience connect was priceless. When we began, Mrs. Burnett told you that people often doubt the ideas and messages of our youth. The past two days we were able to witness the power of your voices and that you all truly have amazing things to say.

Your willingness to think and rethink how to craft your message gives me hope that you will realize getting it right the first time isn't always a good thing.  The bravery you showed as you share deeply personal stories about your experiences with overcoming the wounds of bullying, supporting loved ones through cancer, moving on despite regrets, and seizing opportunities for success gives me hope. It gives me hope that you will be empathetic, that you will be warriors, that you will make a difference.

The questions you ask give me hope that you will bring perspective and conviction to the challenges of our world.  Jaden asked, "What's the deal with always have money for war, but not for education?" My challenge to you is to find a platform to ask that question beyond this classroom.

The wisdom you share gives me hope.  Your voices reminded us that sometimes "the biggest bully is yourself," that "luck and success aren't the same thing," that 3 words can change your life so "appreciate every minute." If you combine your wisdom about life with the kind of wisdom found in books, you can be a tremendous force for good in this world.

Thank you for sharing your voices with me.

Mrs. Wickham

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Do You Know About the Secret Sauce?

Image Source
Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Nexus Academy, a blended learning high school in Ohio. The founder explained to me that "data is the secret sauce. We can get real-time data about what kids understand and we are small enough to take action on the information.  That is what makes us different."  Today I just witnessed an amazing opportunity in a classroom, and it so SIMPLY leveraged the secret sauce!

Science teacher Kathy Moburg has partnered with me to think about how we can use digital tools to improve instruction and increase student feedback.  Kathy has an amazing scientific mind and wanted to start thinking about how Google Forms could help her address learning needs of her students. Kathy started by creating a 3-question Google Form as an exit ticket.  I stopped in her first hour class to watch the magic happen!
Kathy uses the Summary of Responses feature
to quickly provide student feedback.

Kathy posted her exit ticket on her BlackBoard site and students were able to access and complete the form in less than 5 minutes; she then pulled up the summary of responses and displayed for the class to see. Immediately, Kathy was able to address misconceptions of her students.  Kathy explained to me that this was so powerful because as a geologist, it seems logical that the PreCambrian Era occurs before the Paleozoic Era. She realized some of her students were mistaking Paleo (meaning ancient) as the oldest Era.  This misconception is something that Kathy could have easily missed if she had not leveraged technology to capture student understanding.  It reminds me of what Understanding by Design author Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe call the "expert blind spot." It can be difficult to understand the misconceptions our students might have on a topic, but using technology, we can address student misconceptions instantly!!!

There are a tremendous amount of tools that can be used to understand student thinking allowing you to immediately provide feedback.  No more waiting until tomorrow, next week, or next month!  How are you using the secret sauce in your classroom?