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Success Stories Meaningful instruction supported by technology

Reinforcing Mathematical Language with Desmos Activities

Lacey Surak; Math Teacher

Students in Lacey Surak’s Geometry class were learning about angle relationships with transverse lines. In order to reinforce their command of the language and the relationships, Lacey chose to use a Desmos Activity that challenged students to solve puzzles based on certain conditions given. The puzzles in the activity progressive became more challenging, but really forced them to understand how these angle relationships were defined. At the end, the students were asked to create their own transverse line puzzle that for other students to figure out and solve based on conditions they described.

Reading, Writing, and Rigor in a Physical Education Classroom

Sophomores in Coach Vince Brown’s PE Class tried to answer the question: is exercise the driving factor of human health or is diet the route to maintaining a healthy body?

Coach Vince Brown using Actively Learn in his instruction

Using Google Classroom, students launch into Actively Learn to access the fitness article, as well as scholarly journals and websites curated for them by Coach Brown. This helps his students construct their written CER arguments on the topic. The writing assignment was designed to bring formative assessment in PE, while supporting efforts towards the School-Wide Writing Goal.

Real World Design Challenge in Graphic Arts

Rosemary Ausa: Graphic Design Instructor

Design students in Rose Ausa’s Graphic Design 3 Course were commissioned to create a poster/flyer for the Fall Vocal Festival this year. One was selected by the Choral Director, Chelsea Dehn, to be the actual promotional flyer. Students were asked to draw on skills they’ve learned from previous years on contrast, white space, alignment, font type, color, print layouts, and more. They were given a rubric as a baseline for their creative work, but were given the freedom to develop patterns and designs to communicate the event.

This was an excellent activity that mirrors design challenges that graphic artists deal with on a daily basis. Students had to consider the musical themes, needs of the client, work within boundaries, and practice the design thinking process.

Introducing Cultural Traditions with Quizlet

Kendra Fisher: Spanish Instructor

In Ms. Kendra Fisher’s Spanish 4 Honors class, students were learning about cultural traditions, and how those traditions and values help define communities across the world. Kendra started an open conversation with her students to identify traditions at Foothill High School, holiday traditions they celebrate with their families, and regular events they experience because of their native culture.

Kendra used a Quizlet activity that showed offerings for El Dia De Los Muertos, and navigated through the image to familiarize themselves with vocabulary terms that identified items on the table. They wrote a reflection on the major points for the day’s lesson, and think about how that ties into how these traditions contribute to the well-being of communities.

Flipping Instruction in French Class

Samantha Stein in her French 1/2 Combo Class

Ms. Stein’s passion for World Languages shines in her instruction. But this year, she was faced with teaching two different French courses in the same period. She needed to find a solution that allowed her French 1 students to be working independently on responding to an audio prompt while she spent time working with her French 2 students at the same time. She decided that the Flipped Classroom model would work, as half of her students could be focused on listening comprehension while the other half benefitted from her attention.

She worked on customizing a Google Form to branch off, based on how her students answered questions in the form. This allowed her students to move at their own pace, while providing immediate feedback for the students from their answers. It also allowed the students to navigate through the lesson in a way that if they needed additional help, they can visit another part of the form for that information. This technology has really given Ms. Stein the ability to reach all learners in a combination class.

Virtual Experiments Lead to Academic Discussion in SPED

David Singletary: SPED Instructor and Football Coach

One way to gauge comprehension and mastery in a science class is the frequency and intentional use of the academic language for that particular discipline. This is challenging in all levels of classes; even more so in a class consisting of students with special needs.

In Mr. Singletary’s Life Science Class, SPED students are able to engage in these high level academic discussions in science with the use of virtual experiments. Gizmos is an online resource for Math and Science teachers to be able to perform virtual experiments that would be limited or impossible to replicate in a traditional lab.

Students were tasked to build their own digestive systems on the app, based on their understanding on how the components of the digestive system works for animals. They had to access prior knowledge about mechanical and chemical digestion, as well as how the nutrients are absorbed in the body. They needed to order the components in the right way to best access the nutrients from food in the highest percentages.

Mr. Singletary was impressed with the level of academic discussion that was happening in class, and the high level of analysis from their experiments. This was a great example of how simulation technologies like Gizmos can engage learners, connect them to content, and give students with special needs the access to high level experiments that they wouldn’t normally have access to in non-science facilities.

Understanding Supply and Demand with Spreadsheets

Robert Timm: Economics and US History Teacher

Data visualization in the study of economics is a valuable skill to understand how shifts in conditions affect the market. In Robert Timm’s Economics class, students are asked to use spreadsheets and graphs to visualize how those market conditions determine the supply and demand for their make-believe products they are exploring.

Students brainstorm make-believe products that their “business” wants to sell, and use price and quantity data to develop their product curves in Google Sheets. Students are then asked to publish those graphs and data tables into their PowerSchool WikiProjects page for their particular products. Each student is required to give a detailed analysis of how these conditions affect the market for their product, and what they need to do as a company owner to adjust production and price based off those conditions. Students are asked to provide detailed written analyses from their data and graphs as evidence for the changes they need to make for continued success with their model business.

Mr. Timm’s students are able to make data driven decisions for their businesses. They are able to forecast changes in market behavior, and adapt as necessary. This detailed level of analysis and skills they learn in their Economics class will help them in future careers and endeavors related to business and accounting.

Digital Collaboration and Live Feedback in Chemistry

Gypsy Biller: Chemistry Teacher

In Gypsy Biller’s Honors Chemistry Class, all the laboratory write-ups are completed using Google Docs. Students are paired together to contribute to the online document, as they record data, perform calculations, and provide detailed analysis and reasoning for their results.

The power of using collaborative technologies like Google Docs, is that Ms. Biller is able to give feedback on the fly, as students complete their work. She is able to leave comments, provide instruction, and realign students’ thinking by accessing the laboratory write-up remotely. This shortening of the feedback loop gives students the proper instruction and guidance they need to be successful in their scientific writing.

A student stated “it’s nice to be able to get immediate feedback of our work from Ms. Biller, so we can make corrections before we submit the lab report.” Students are gaining valuable experiences using these technologies, as well as understanding how the immediate feedback can guide their learning for continued success.

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