Joan Nyland asked her students to create short iMovie films to review their unit on Ancient China. The videos included words and pictures representing a variety of major features of each dynasty and cultural aspect they had studied. The resulting videos were fabulous! Not only did the students enjoy reviewing the material, they provided ready-made visual study guides for their classmates. And Joan was able to quickly assess whether the students had actually absorbed the material during the unit.
Patty Gorman and Beverly Kiesel collaborated on digital projects for the 9th grade Integrated Book Project that helped create a multi-media experience for the students and staff who attended the Book Blessing in January. For instance, students videoed an interview an elderly female relative or family friend and created a QR code for the video that was included in the book. They also created photo essays about homelessness and Weebly websites about strong women in the Bible.
Mike Bedney has been busily working with the Tech Club to explore wearable technology, lego robotics and coding. He also began teaching Introduction to Computer Science this semester, and is currently exploring app creation with his class.
Inspired by the discussion during our January TechBreak, Sara Salvi has been offering her students a "genius hour" (not quite an hour, but close!) once per week to work on anything they wish.
Mike Bedney and Ian Park are actively recruiting freshmen for SMA’s second trip to the Cyber Discovery Camp at PSU this summer. It will be exciting to see how the students perform this year!
Maria Fleming has continued exploring eDesign projects with her Social Justice classes this year, and to her great satisfaction, reports that students were brilliant at finding the right tools for their needs. Some created Weebly web sites and Flowboards, while others chose to use more concrete presentation tools. Either way, Maria discovered that the best option was giving students the choice to work with the tool that best suited their abilities and needs. The resulting projects blew her away.
Anne Hainley harnessed Google Forms to collect data on student independent reading patterns in her English 10 classes. This was an excellent example of how technology can help teachers perform quick assessments and gather meaningful data to guide their planning.
The World Languages Department is exploring unique ways for students to engage in conversations outside the classroom through Twitter, Voxer, and other audio or social media tools.
Ellie Gilbert, Patty Gorman, Carrie Yerton, Alyssa Tormala, and Mike Bedney, along with several other teachers, are running paperless or near-paperless classes by harnessing the powers of Schoology and other tools for assessment, feedback, and information sharing. A bunch more have experimented with formative assessments using Kahoot, Socrative, and SurveyMonkey.
Anne Hagge and Amy Romm in our Counseling Center have created a Schoology resource group for students to access information and communicate with each other more easily about their academic and social experiences at SMA.
SMA’s librarian Cindy Daniels has been creating short instructional videos using Tellagami and GoAnimate to help students with frequently asked research and location questions. She plans to post QR code links for the videos around the SMA Library so students can access them anytime.
Matt Vannelli, Ben Peterson and Alyssa Tormala have been collaborating on a new Media Communications class (formerly Journalism) that will offer a “new media” approach to introducing the fundamentals of interviewing, writing, producing, and editing for online environments.
Of course, this is just a sampling of all the great work that is happening. And the benefits? Teachers report that students are getting more organized, taking more responsibility for tracking their work, and finding faster, more productive ways to show what they know.
Fifteen teachers and staff met at SMA for Tech Workshop 2014 on October 10, which focused on looking in depth at iMovie and Adobe Voice (apps that can be used for video activities and assessments), Office 365 iPad apps, and Pinterest and Pocket for web research curation.
Attendees created their own videos, set up Pinterest and Pocket accounts, and learned some tips regarding the use of Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on their iPads. But the teachers were most excited to have time to explore the possibilities of how to further incorporate these tools into their classes, both for students and themselves. Everyone left with a smile and a set of tools or tips that they could put to use right away.
Check out social science teacher Joan Nyland's iMovie project honoring SMA's own Tech Guy, Brette Doyle.
When SMA science teacher Nancy Johnston approached the end of the 2014 school year, she expected to prepare her 9th grade Conceptual Physics students for the usual 100-question final exam. But then she had an idea.
She realized she had already assessed them to her satisfaction on their content knowledge for the course. So she wondered what would happen if she changed her final exam to something completely different--something that would allow her students to reflect on their experience that year and offer advice to incoming students. And she decided to harness the tools available through the students' iPads to do so.
Thus, the "Final Big Project" (named after Johnston's favorite end-of-the-year film, "Big") was born. Johnston asked students to sign up for topics, then create individual short projects using their choice of digital tools like PowerPoint, Explain Everything or iMovie. Students could also choose instead to create posters if they wished. And Johnston kept them focused on the idea of reflection and advice, rather than "how-to" lessons.
Johnston was thrilled with the results. "I was really surprised how they got into this," Johnston said. "The students did an amazing and interesting job of picking topics that were really relevant to their own stories. This I believe allowed them to create projects that showed a great deal of really thoughtful insight into their topics."
Further, the project offered benefits for Johnston that she had not anticipated. "I learned so much about them as students," she said. "The biggest and most exciting thing to me was getting to hear their 'voices'. Frankly, that doesn’t come out in a Lab Report and a Physics Problem. It was a huge gift to me."
Johnston plans to incorporate this experience into her class next year, both by sharing what her students already created with her new students, and giving her new students an opportunity to reflect like this earlier in the year.
The Final Big Project is an excellent example of thoughtful technology integration. Johnston started by deciding on the learning objectives for the activity, then incorporated technology tools in a meaningful way that both redefined the activity and provided students with individual choice and control over their own creations. As a result, the students had a powerful opportunity to engage in higher-level thinking and digital skills, and Johnston enjoyed an unexpected chance to connect with her students in a new way.
Check out samples of the student projects by Sophie Els and MaryCatherine Morgan below. Way to go, Nancy Johnston!
Ah, summer. The time for teachers to kick back and relax. Except for SMA superstars Mike Bedney and Ian Park.
Bedney and Park led a team of six SMA students at the CyberDiscovery Camp from July 7-12 at Portland State University. The week-long, overnight camp focused on exploring the challenges of national cyber-security and the ethics of robotics.
Throughout the week, Bedney and Park harnessed the power of social media to share the team's process and discoveries with their parents and the SMA community at large. Bedney kept a running feed going on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, as well as emailing parents daily with details about their daughters' experiences.
The SMA team won first place, securing a prize of $1250 for SMA's Tech Club activities. The team was then featured in The Oregonian on July 18.
This success would not have happened if Bedney and Park had not contributed a full week of their summer to the experience. They demonstrated the commitment and passion that truly great teachers can offer. Rock on, gentlemen, rock on!
Welcome to the SMA Showcase
This page is dedicated to showcasing the innovative, creative work of teachers at St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls high school in downtown Portland, Oregon.
"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."