Sunday, October 26, 2014

Coaching Reflections - Lesson Series 1 - Using Diigo, Google Drive, and Padlet to research & create

One of my Tech Fellows, the amazing Dawn Lam (follow her at @MrsLamBHS) has been using Diigo with her students to research essential questions.

(*For those of you who don't know, I am currently a Digital Learning Coach, working with teachers on effectively implementing technology into their classrooms. Teachers sign up for a year-long "fellowship" of working closely with me, and they are called "fellows" or "tech fellows".  We have a coaching cycle that includes pre-brief, lesson implementation, and debrief/reflection that we follow)

Here is a brief summary (which I know I'm missing some parts, but it will give you a good overview) over her mini-PBL unit on "Duality of Pride".  These activities took just under 2 weeks to complete in class.

The technology she used throughout the unit, in addition to Diigo, were Google Forms (to collect student links), Google Docs (for whole-class collaboration), Google Drawings (for group brainstorming and bringing together research), Google Slides (for group presentations), and Padlet (for class brainstorming).

1. Her students had been reading literature around the theme of "Duality of Pride" and had already been coming up with essential questions.  Each group chose an essential question to focus on.  The end goal of this mini-unit was a group presentation that answered each group's essential question with supporting evidence from a variety of sources (literature, online sources, videos, etc)

2. Dawn created a screencast explaining to students how to sign up for Diigo and get the Diigolet bookmarklet. (With student accounts, this first step would not be needed as the teacher would create all accounts from a roster).  I came in two of her four class periods and helped model how to use Diigo and all the features (Highlighting, Sticky Note, Tagging, Sharing Annotated Link, etc).  The students overall thought it was awesome ("This is so cool!"), especially when I closed out the website, went back to it and saw no annotations (and acted like I was freaked out), and then clicked on the Diigolet bookmarklet again and all my annotations re-appeared.

3.  Students had to find sources online that helped them to answer their group's essential question.  At the time, we did not know about the collaborative group features of Diigo, so the students just turned in their "Annotated Link" to the teacher and were able to share with their group from their page.  Dawn could open up any of the annotated links she wanted to see what the students thought was important and what sort of annotations they were making on the articles.

Now that we know about the student groups on Diigo, they will be able to add their source to the Group page, tag it for easy finding, and then actually open up each others sources, annotate their own comments alongside the original annotator, and continue to build and share their ideas.

Students were able to share their research with their group members to help put together their thesis for the presentation.

4. Dawn  created a graphic organizer on a Google Drawing that was then shared out to her students (one per group, everyone collaborating).  Students were able to add their comments and research from their sources, as well as some of the short stories they had read in class.   She had each student put their initials before each of their comments so she could monitor how each student was contributing to the live document.

In addition, she was able to have all the documents open on her computer at once and was able to add comments and make suggestions as her students were working.

5. Dawn  also embedded presentation skills into this mini-unit by teaching students about "Less is More".  During the students' first presentation, she noticed that they had a lot of text on the slides, complete sentences, and were reading off of the slides a lot.  For this second time, they actually spent some time in class discussing the qualities of great presentations, both in terms of presentation skills (voice, enunciation, hand gestures, connection with audience, etc) as well as presentation creation (less is more, pictures to guide presentation, not whole sentences but fragments on slides, etc).  Dawn  used TED Talks to help the students analyze good presentations, and they collaborated on a Google Doc with key ideas during the video.

Students used the rubric that they were going to be graded on to score the sample presentations they saw from the TED talks.

6. Before the presentation day, one group was selected to give a "practice" presentation.  The period started with students jotting down the key ideas they remembered from the "what makes a good presentation" TED activity, and then sharing some ideas with the class.  Each group had also written down goals on a Google Document that they specifically had based on what they learned, and my fellow read those out loud for the group that was going to present.  After the presentation, every student wrote down some Positives & Constructive Criticism for the group on a sticky note.  They brought their sticky note to their own presentation group and discussed what they thought, choosing 1-2 positives and 1-2 constructive criticisms to post on the class Padlet wall.  They then discussed as a class what they saw.  Lastly, students were given time in their groups to edit & practice their presentations for the "real" presentation day the next day.  The group who was the "practice" group got to go again the next day as well.  Dawn reflected and said she saw a HUGE change in the presentations after the "practice" day (in the "practice" group's real presentation, but also in all the other groups' slide content, since their presentations were on Google Slides), especially in regards to the slide content (less is more) and the connection to the audience & to the thesis.

I hope this is an example of a lesson that shows technology being used to both enhance and transform the learning experience for students.  I'm looking forward seeing the use of the collaborative features of Diigo in a future unit, as well as continue to see the students' presentation skills improve over time.

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