Buzz of Excitement

Motivation

It’s been taking me some time to get the motivation to do my COETAIL work lately. I moved up to fourth grade this year from second grade, and I have been busy learning the new curriculum and helping a new teammate adjust. Although I put off doing this assignment for a week, I was excited when I finally started planning my learning activity. It reminded me that I have been too focused on learning the curriculum, and I haven’t spent enough time being creative. This was a great assignment to get my mind thinking outside of the text.

Thinking Routines

Before I planned out my learning activity I wanted to familiarize myself with Thinking Routines, so I explored Project Zero’s Thinking Routine Toolbox. Thinking Routines promote the development of thinking through guided, easy to learn steps.  Many of the routines are ones I commonly use but didn’t necessarily use the terminology. I like Project Zero’s structured approach to developing inquiry. I also like how one Thinking Routine can be used in multiple ways across disciplines.

As I explored, I had an idea in mind for a learning activity connected to a math activity that involved triangles and art. The See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine seemed to fit well with how I wanted my students to collaborate.

I used this Thinking Routine to get my students to look closely at each other’s finished products. Image from https://thinkingpathwayz.weebly.com

Learning Activity

Since I am about to begin a new math unit on Geometry, I thought it would be fun to Flip the Classroom a bit and expose students to the three types of triangles using these triangles: Equilateral, Isosceles, and Scalene Triangles video and the Math is Fun website on triangles. Students have already been exposed to the types of angles: right, obtuse, and acute. With the knowledge students gained from these resources combined with what they already knew about angles, they were ready to complete their learning activity: Classifying Triangles: Tri-Mi Activity.

Design Process

The students’ task was to design a piece of triangle art using Google Drawing, the tools in Google Slides, or paper and rulers. Students could choose the platform. Many students had not used Google Drawing or shapes to design a piece of art on Google Docs.

The only constraint was that the entire picture is created out of triangles. The rest of the directions are listed below:

Students were then shown the image below as an example.

This activity allowed them to explore a new platform and troubleshoot together, which ended up creating quite a buzz in the classroom.

Unexpected Collaboration

Much to my surprise, students were able to collaborate much more than I had expected. Because many of them had not created in Google Drawing or even used shapes and lines in Google Slides to create a picture, there was a lot of exploration and questions as students got started.

This buzz of excitement reminded me of the article More Talking in Class, Please. Often times the use of technology can limit student discussion, but there are ways in which technology can encourage it. In my activity, students were using a new tool, which encouraged them to talk. Students offered each other ideas, tips, and troubleshoot problems together.

Some students even paused what they were doing to show the class a helpful trick. It was fun to see how the students figured out the nuisances of creating such small triangles without a mouse too. It was a good fine motor skills exercise too!

Publish

After students finished their Triangle Artwork, they uploaded it to the SeeSaw Activity I created. This allowed students to see each others work as well as comment using the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine to push their thinking.

One student used triangles to create a robin. She labeled her triangles, added a description, and a caption.

When students had a chance to look at others’ drawings on Seesaw, there was a lot of excitement and positive reactions. Students had questions about the design techniques of their classmates. They wanted to know how to do some of the things their classmates did too. So by having students comment on the artwork, it not only allowed them to share their work, but it got students talking, asking questions, and working together to teach each other new design skills.

Here are some of the comments: (*for some reason, I am having issues uploading a screenshot. It keeps saying the system is busy or the file is too large. Any ideas on how I can get around this issue?)

Comment 1

Comment 2

Deeper Understanding

Overall, I believe students have a deeper understanding of the different types of triangles. This knowledge of triangles going into our math unit will make identifying triangles much easier. Students will already have the background knowledge from the video as well as visual artwork to help them see what these triangles look like in the world around them.

They will also be able to use the See, Think, Wonder Thinking Routine in other activities now. I’ll be trying others out as well!  I love how they promote critical thinking with guided, easy to follow steps.

This activity has sparked my creativity again and I look forward to keeping that buzz going in my classroom.

Using new learning tools and allowing students to explore together, helps promote a buzz of excitement in the classroom amongst students. Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

 

ISTE Standards for Students 

4.b. Students select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.

6.a. Students choose the appropriate platforms and tools for meeting the desired objectives of their creation or communication.

6.d. – Students publish or present content that customizes the message and medium for their intended audiences.

A New Look

Image from Halacious on Unsplash.

It’s exciting to get back to COETAIL after a long summer break! The beginning of the school year is always a busy time, but I have been looking forward to getting back to learning with COETAIL. This year I moved up to Grade 4 from Grade 2. I am enjoying the change and feeling pretty blessed about the fact that we get to be learning in school rather than doing remote learning.


Learning about CARP

When I read the assignment for this week, I immediately thought about a presentation I attended at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong with Tanya LeClair a few years ago. The presentation was titled “Digital Design Skills for Students.” During this presentation, Tanya introduced the CARP Design Principles. These were simple and easy ways students could lift the level of their presentations. At the time, my second graders were learning how to use Google Slides. Tanya’s presentation was one that stuck with me and also helped me transform how I taught students to put together a presentation.

                CARP DESIGN PRINCIPLES                              Design by Kelly Bisogno

Contrasting

Ever since I attended Tanya’s presentation, I have tried to incorporate the CARP Design Principles into my own work. Using contrasting colors and fonts really help the headings stand out from the text. I like to use one font for the heading and another for the text. This also helps readers find information faster.

 

Using a color wheel is helpful when deciding what colors go well together.                              Image by Greg Altmann from Pixabay.

Taking into consideration the design principles of using contrasting fonts and colors, I made a few changes. First, I wanted to add some color so I changed the background from black to a mint green color. I really liked the pop of color. Then I relied on the color wheel to help me decide on a contrasting color for some of the fonts. I ended up using a mint color for the headings, black as the main color, and fuchsia for the links. Then I changed the font type and size of the headings for those to stand out more.

Take a look at the results!

Before picture of my blog with mostly black and white font and color.
An after look at the front page of my blog. I’ve added some color to help the headings and links stand out.

Repetition

I like how my blog is simple and easy to navigate. I enjoy having some white space and a clean look. For this reason, I didn’t change too much else on my page. In a few places, I noticed some formatting things that did not follow the use of repetition.  For example, I had written “Course 1-Ourselves as Learners” as a page title, but wrote “Course 3: Visual Literacy” as the new course heading. I simply made sure I always used a dash instead of a colon. Small things like that make the page look cleaner and more professional when they all repeat the same pattern.

When looking for repetition on my page, I noticed the use of                        the dash and the colon. I needed to change that.

Alignment and Proximity

I’ve been adding the horizontal line in this post. That’s new. I like how it breaks up the page a bit by topic along with the headings, which keep everything organized.

I also align my images in the center of the page, along with the captions. Although, I do find it difficult to format everything the way I want it to be using WordPress. Sometimes, I cannot get the caption centered with the photo. It drives me crazy!

Working with WordPress is not always that user-friendly for me, so I find that I don’t mess around with as many design elements. I try to keep my layout simple and clean with a few images that add to my post.


Experiment

Whether you are using the CARP Design Principles or the 6 principles of visual hierarchy, I think it is important to have fun while designing. Play with color, fonts, and design until you see what you like (but also keeping the design principles in mind).

Model the design principles in your own work so that students see your own design habits. I was able to teach my second graders the 4 Basic Design Principles as seen in the poster above. You could even give your students a poorly designed poster and have them redesign it using the Design Principles. This is a fun way to practice!

I thought this COETAIL 12 sign was a fun addition to the top of my blog post. The colors fit well too.