Kid EdCamp 2



Dena Glynn shares her experience trying a Kids EdCamp with her class.

We are working on a trimester-long research project. Each student chose her/his own topic. I wanted to see how much they knew about their subjects already AND see what they didn’t know (via other student’s questions). Kid EdCamp seemed to be such a cool way to showcase the learning and reveal the holes in their research.

I had been playing up the idea of a Kid EdCamp with my class since I first read about it on TimBedley.com but didn’t give the students much info. I told the kids, “There are some people who think kids can’t do this.” The night before, I assigned them a homework project to create a short (under 2-minute) movie, a collage, or a ShowMe about their topic. I thought these would make good introductions for Kid EdCamp presentations.

Sign Up Matrix
Sign Up Matrix

The Day of the EdCamp

I made the matrix schedule board (out of butcher paper) but left off the locations of the sessions. The sessions took place in six locations, four in my room and one in the adjoining library. Only 30 of my 35 kids were at school, or else I would’ve needed two library locations. We held five 10-minute rotations.

Students who wished to lead a session put their names and topics on large sticky notes. I selected students randomly to place their stickies in the matrix. I explained to the class that a session might include only one person or more (I didn’t set a limit because I wanted to see how it played out.) I expressed my desire to have every session with at least one attendee. I also explained that it is more important to choose a topic one is curious about, know a lot about, or want to learn more about rather than being with one’s best friends. Then, all students wrote their names on mini post-its and placed those in the boxes they wanted to visit. One tricky part was getting the students to NOT place their name sticky on a session time slot in which they were also presenting. The kids created new blog posts on our class blog entitled Kid’s EdCamp. Each student had to type the times, places and locations of the sessions they would attend. This was done to save time during the EdCamp. I didn’t offer the option of spontaneously changing sessions. I didn’t even know if this whole thing would work. Perhaps I will allow students to vote with two feet at future EdCamps.

Large stickies for leaders. Small stickies for participants.
Large stickies for leaders. Small stickies for participants.

I instructed the session leaders to take charge of their group. begin the conversation, and keep the discussion focused on the topic. Other students could ask questions and share experiences. The participants had to take notes during the sessions on their blog.  We used this same blog post as a reflection at the conclusion of the EdCamp. When we started, I was so excited! I made that very clear to the kids. I told them I was most excited about the opportunity to learn from our mistakes.

How did it go? 

It was AH-MAZE-ING!! All students took ownership. One of my resource kiddos, who barely scrapes by, led a talk on candy and was basically as knowledgeable and well versed as Willy Wonka. The Dragon Fruit session got interesting when one person asked what they grow on. This led to Googling images of the plant and being grossed out at the sight.  The parkour group hadn’t seen the YouTube video about the parkour dog, so I had fun showing them that.

What I learned

I learned by letting kids’ passions surface, it is miraculous. Everyone was able to be an “expert.” I had three sessions on”dogs” and they learned from each other. If we could tap into that intrinsic passion and align it, somehow, with other subjects, the potential is astronomical. I thought the 10-minute time frame was perfect.  I started ringing the bell to rotate about a minute before.

Student Behavior

The kids behaved ridiculously well. Visitors stopped by at different intervals and commented on the high level of engagement. I walked the course and some of the groups needed reminders to take notes but no incredible goofing off was noted. At the conclusion of one of the talks, the speaker shook hands with the audience. One thing I wanted was the leaders to be “higher” (either standing up or on a stool if they were on the floor) than than rest of the group. That way I could instantly see my speakers. The other thing was that the groups naturally were between 1-6 people, without my interference. I think a group larger than 8 is too big and more easily distracted.

Synopsis

This was one of the coolest experiences I’ve ever had.  I told them I think we’ll do something similar at the end of our research project but invite other classes to be a part of it. Maybe we could use our multi-purpose room and have different stations.

Guest blogger Dena Glynn is a 4th/5th grade teacher at Tierra Bonita Elementary School in Poway, California.

Book Party!

Students engaged in recommending books to each other during a recent book party.
Students engaged in recommending books to each other during a recent book party.

So what book are you reading these days? And what made you decide to grab that book and read it? Most likely, you heard about it from a trusted friend, relative, or colleague. Do kids recommend books to each other? From my experience, the answer is NO. They aren’t naturally talking about the books they love at recess, on their cells, or online. That’s where you and I come in. We need to provide class time and clear guidance for our students to learn how to recommend books to each other. I train my students at the beginning of the year to record, in their binder or on their iPad, a “Books to Read” list. This list should include the title along with how they can find the book. If it’s in the library, then the author’s last name is usually sufficient. If a friend will loan them the book, then write the friend’s name next to the book title. As students finish reading their current book, they look at their “Books to Read” list to choose a new one.

This is where the Book Party comes in. Students learn to roam around the classroom “party-style” and just informally chat with one another about the books they love. All students must be carrying their list. Students are allowed to gather in groups of 2 or more. The only “rules” for the Book Party is that all students must be either talking about a book they love, listening to someone else talking about a book, or writing down a book recommendation on their “Books to Read” list. One key to helping students to stay focused is for the teacher to constantly scan the room checking for students who appear to be off task. Book parties normally last about 5 minutes. Sometimes, at the end of the book party, I will ask students to hold up the number of fingers to correspond to how many books they added to their list. Here is a brief video peek at my students conducting a book party.

The Bedley Bros. #Edchat Ep. 6 – Bye Bye Letter Grades?



In episode 6 of the Bedley Bros, Tim describes how 2/3 of his students and their parents opted out of letter grades this year. He addresses the obstacles and shares the triumphs of de-grading his class.

Show links: Class Dojo, Three Ring Digital Portfolios, Game Buzzers Free App

Super Spies: Quick and Simple Super Classroom Behavior



As students work in groups, designate one or more students to silently observe the workers. Call them the Super Spies. The Super Spies silently take notes on positive behaviors and then report what they saw to the class. The teacher should be the first Super Spy to model the types of behaviors that should be reported. It’s quick, it’s simple, and it works wonders.

Hannah as a Super Spy
Hannah as a Super Spy
Super Spy Melody
Super Spy Melody

 

 

Cameron takes notes as a Super Spy
Cameron takes notes as a Super Spy

 

Watch as Super Spies report positive behaviors to class.

Bedley Bros. #Edchat Ep. 5: Artist to Classroom Network



For the latest edition of the Bedley Bros. Scott shares a fantastic idea for bringing the community into your classroom for free and with little effort. He calls it the “Artist to Classroom Network.” He also shares a QuickTip about getting free prizes for your classroom. Check it out and leave us a comment!

Teaching Standards with Musical Theater



For the last few years, I’ve been using musicals by Bad Wolf Press. They produce a wide variety of standards-based musical plays for grades K-8. Putting on the shows is a lot of work, but the kids never forget the lyrics nor the experience. A couple of 20 year old siblings were singing along as my students performed California Missions and More. Two years ago we performed a musical on the US Constitution. In May, the kids will perform US Geography for the student body and a night performance for parents and friends. Producing a show like this has several benefits including building class community, connecting the students with the community, and integrating the arts into our busy days.

Bedley Bros. #EdChat Ep. 3 – Artist to Classroom Network



In episode three, Tim interviews Scott about a super cool way to get some quality art instruction into your elementary classroom.


Show links:

Christina Song Art Blog

Susan Cain – The Power of Introverts

 

 

Kid EdCamp


EdCamps are all the rage these days in professional development for teachers. Learn more about EdCamps for teachers here...and here.

Would 4th and 5th graders be able to hold their own student-driven, student-centered EdCamp? We gave it a shot this last Friday in room 32 at Wildomar Elementary School. Students signed up all week long to run the sessions. The “poster” was a shared Google Spreadsheet. We held four 15-minute sessions with a 20-minute break in the middle and at the end for reflection. The kids LOVED it as I’m sure you will be able to tell in this 4-minute highlight video of the event. Presentation topics included horses, One Direction band, Scratch game programming, dance, gymnastics, iPad settings, baseball, and Minecraft.

Assessment of the Day

It was a bit messy at times, but overall, the kids were thoroughly engaged and will never forget it. Areas to improve: greater guidance on “voting with your feet,” brainstorm topics before giving the kids access to the sign-up board, encourage deeper topics, and having more time for follow-up discussion and/or reflection journaling at the end. Victories: the presenters took it very seriously, one girl had a ton of research ready to go, one very shy girl totally blossomed and showed amazing communication and leadership skills, 29 of my 30 students present were engaged and learning, no one seemed to be too hurt by participants leaving their session, very little wasted time, took students to a new level of maturity and love of learning.

What about teaching the standards? None of the sessions were standards-based. I’m not sure if this is important, and if I did try to steer the event in that direction, if it would still be this engaging and successful in the eyes of the students. Students were definitely learning habits of mind, 21st century skills, and were totally engaged. Is there a way to run such an event that is standards-based without losing the magic? That remains to be seen. I plan to try it again in a month and include one or two other 4th/5th grade classes.

You MUST read our student blogs reflecting on EdCamp!

I value your input. Please comment.

 

Bedley Bros. #EdChat Ep. 1: Common Core Research Communities


By Tim Bedley

In this first episode of The Bedley Bros., Tim and Scott Bedley chat about the research communities in Scott’s 5th grade classroom in Irvine, California. Scott and Tim will be presenting on the topic at the 2013 CUE Conference in Palm Springs. Take a listen!

16 Tips for Clean Slide Presentations

By Tim Bedley


One AWFUL slide!
One AWFUL slide!

 

I have been assigning slide presentations to my elementary students for many years. I found myself repeating the same critiques to group after group. Now, I don’t leave “PowerPoint” style to chance. Here are a few of the tips I give my students.

 

 

Text Tips

  1. Use VERY small amount of text. A few words that give the main idea for each slide is good. The big NO-NO: Reading your slides to your audience.
  2. Choose one font style for the main points and one for the sub-points. Use these styles throughout your entire presentation. This includes font name, color, and size.
  3. Be careful with overlap. Text that is barely touching a photo is awkward. Text that sits right next to the edge of the slide is awkward.
  4. Dark text on light background or light text on dark background. Contrast! Make it POP!
  5. No bullet points. Duplicate your slides and put your sub-points on separate slides.

Graphics Tips

  1. Try to fill your slide with one large image.
  2. Faces are better. We all like to see closeups of the human face.
  3. Be careful not to distort your pictures. Grab the photo in the corner, not the edge, to change the size.
  4. Be careful with image size. If you use a small image and resize it to make it large, the image gets very blurry.
  5. Photos are better than clipart. Better yet, make your own pictures by taking photos or drawing pictures.
  6. Cite your source. Always give credit for the images you use.

Overall Design Tips

  1. Avoid using templates. They are cheesy and show little creativity.
  2. Avoid slide transitions. You want your audience focused on the slides, not the switching between slides. NO transition is wonderful!
  3. Simple! Keep your slides clutter free. A nice big clear picture with 3 words to focus the audience is great!
  4. Avoid creating a “The End” slide. If you have a conclusion, great. Otherwise, just make a main topic slide as your last slide. Don’t make a slide that says, “Thanks for watching,” or something similar.
  5. Advanced Tip: Use the rule of thirds. Draw a tic-tac-toe board on your slide. Place items where the lines cross. It’s a bit more complicated than this, but the main thing: try to avoid centering things on the slide.

Note: These tips definitely limit creativity, but my purpose is to teach my students to first create a good clean slide show. Once that is accomplished, then I encourage the students to break the rules…with purpose. It’s similar to learning a new instrument. We first need to learn our scales and copy the masters. Later, we develop our own style and can artfully break the rules.

Screencast Instructional Video: 12 PowerPoint Tips for Kids

Watch here if you are blocked from YouTube