Can People under 4 feet Tall SWAY?

After being introduced to SWAY in our Holly Springs Elementary STEM MIE certification course, a first grade tremendous trio, Ms. Hemphill, Ms. Hausler and Ms. Russell approached me about working with their first graders on a project. I said, “YES!!!!!!!” Remember, first graders are usually under 4 feet tall and under the age of 7! Students researched animals in Ms. Hemphill’s class and famous Americans in Ms. Hausler and Russell’s class using PebbleGo, a subscription service our district provides for pre-K to grade 3 database for reading and research.  Each student had already researched their animal or person and had an outline with title and headings. (Smart teachers!!) Research first Each teacher created a class SWAY account and added a blank Sway for each student with their name on it to make getting started a little easier. (I wanted to kiss them for that!) To add a little more fun to the project after they were completed the teachers then turned their Sways into a QR Code for parents to scan. Now, I am going to issue a warning, doing anything in the computer lab with 25 – 4 foot tall 7 year olds is not for the faint of heart BUT it is so worth it!! Unlike 5-7 years ago MOST students today do not come to school knowing how to use a mouse or keyboard. (The days of reader rabbit on the computer are gone….) They are SWIPERS Not TYPERS!!! So there is a learning curve. Things like Shift key, space bar and “Mrs. Adams, where is the dot?” are common. BUT if we don’t let them learn it with us, when will they? But, I digress!! Back to SWAY. The lab was  logged in to Sway under the teacher account and set20150326_153443387_iOS to My Sways. (yes, we logged in to the same account 25 times and nothing exploded.) We started with each student clicking on their name and adding a Heading card for their famous American.  After carefully     t   y   p  i   n  g their title, they searched for and added a picture of their animal or famous American from Bing. Then it was a matter of adding a text card and then a heading for each of the outlined topics. The students were super engaged and while there was a lot of assistance initially, some actually figured out to go to the next step on their own. They loved choosing their images from the assortment Bing offered them. The best part was when we were wrapping up and I asked them to click REMIX. There were lots of “ooohs” and “That is so cool” They remixed over and over until they found a mix they loved and then shared.

I asked them what they liked best about Sway and here are their thoughts.

Here are a couple of samples from Our First Grade Classes. I will post more when they have completed all of their cards.


If you have not explored SWAY, now would be a good time! Appropriate for all age levels.

The resources listed below will give you a good start.

SWAY OFFICE BLOGS
SWAY USER VOICE
SWAY

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Learning Agility and the 21st Century Work Force

steIn early March I attended and presented at The Georgia Scholarship of STEM Teaching & Learning Conference held at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia. Participants included educators, students, industry professionals and research institutions who were invited from all USG colleges and universities, private higher education institutions within the state, industry, research institutions, and local area K-12 schools. The conference focused on STEM Initiative whose goals include: promoting K-12 student preparation for and interest in majoring in STEM fields in college; increasing the success of STEM majors in college; and producing more and better science and mathematics teachers for K-12 schools.

I was particularly excited to meet and hear the keynote speaker. Shan 11043252_10206196555535695_2324334824400984796_nCooper is Vice President of Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and General Manager of the company’s Marietta, Ga., facility, (which is also where my husband David has worked for the past 35 years!) She is responsible for the company’s operating locations in Meridian, Miss., and Clarksburg, W.Va. and serves as the company’s Vice President of Business Ethics.

Her keynote was titled “Educating the Future Work Force”. I listened carefully as she shared the difficulties of finding a work force with the skill set needed to design and build some of the world’s most recognizable military aircraft. She stressed the need for technically-educated, employees to sustain the company and industry. She shared that not every employee needs to be an engineer, that Lockheed had welders, aircraft technicians and mechanics making healthy salaries. She shared the difficulty the company had finding 400 employees that could pass the math portion of their application process. She empathized with the profession of teaching that has their game plan changed almost annually, unlike aircraft and security corporations which have five and ten year business plans.

Three key points stood out in her passionate and lively message. She was insistent that students needed these three skills in order to find success in today’s global workplace.

  • Critical Thinking –the ability to apply reasoning and logic to new or unfamiliar ideas, opinions, and situations. 
  • Problem Solving- The process of working through details of a problem to reach a solution.
  • Learning Agility……..hmmm what was the definition of learning agility? (I had to research the exact definition.) The concept of “learning agility” has been used to describe individuals who possess skills such as openness, willingness to learn, and flexibility. In addition, a learning agile person is curious about the world, has a high tolerance for ambiguity, good people skills, vision, and innovation.  In general, learning agility relates to adaptability and willingness to explore the unknown and learn from experiences. (I like this skill!)

As she spoke I couldn’t help but to relate these points to 21st Century Learning Design which is the platform of the Microsoft Innovative Educator program.
Knowledge Construction, Collaboration, Skilled Communication, ICT, Real World Problem Solving and Self-Regulation, tools to help our teachers challenge and guide our students. All involve critical thinking, problem solving and my new personal favorite, learning agility.

Ms..Cooper stressed the need for industry to join together with educators and schools in partnerships. Her belief is that corporations can help guide curriculum improvements by sharing information with educators regarding emerging trends, industry practices and technologies, and skills and competencies needed from future employees.

She ended her keynote by coming out into the audience and answering numerous questions. Once again the passion, commitment and caring of individuals who work in education was evident. Each question centered on the students and how best to serve them. It is always a renewal of spirit to see such fine examples of servant leadership. The combination of the keynote, the conference attendees and sessions renewed my belief that we are steering our ship in the right direction and our students will have the opportunity to be successful in a global environment.

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A Day in the Life with Office 365

On a typical morning in Ms. Ingrams fifth grade classroom, students enter the classroom, log on to their laptop or learning device and head straight to Office 365. Most had edited a biography PowerPoint class assignment from home and were anxious to tweak their final product before presenting. Others checked email in Outlook for assignment updates from teachers and looked over notes in One Note for an upcoming quiz.20150108_150829242_iOS

Student life “in the cloud” means no forgotten papers, lost homework, corrupt or washed flash drives or any one of a dozen common excuses given for not having an assignment. Soon to be unlimited storage in their OneDrive means plenty of space for all of their documents and projects.

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Student work is created in Office 365 from a current Office Suite including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and One Note. Documents are automatically saved and can be accessed anywhere internet is available, 24-7.  Mobile Apps found on smart devices add to the ease and ability to access and edit their work.

Having the capability to share documents allows for easy collaboration among peers or with their instructor for grading or editing comments and works well with 21st century digital learning goals. Student in our district from fourth grade to graduation have access to all of the apps available. These tools mesh perfectly with the district “Bring Your Learning Device” initiative and bridge the gap for those students who don’t own premium versions of Office on their home computers.

Office 365 also houses a full version of Microsoft Outlook with 50 GB of space allowing email communication within the closed network of the school district and full calendar functionality for planning and organizing. Our students email accounts are “in house only” giving them the opportunity to use these accounts as their professional account and giving us a great platform to teach digital responsibility skills.

A Day in the Life

Teachers enjoy the benefit of Office 365 as a one stop shop, where they can manage, communicate, share and collaborate with peers and students.  The addition of tools like OneNote Notebook Creator allow teachers to create “textbooks” for each class, housing content, a collaborative component and a page for each student. Homework assignments are easily copied to student pages and completed only to have a teacher grade and comment from a single location. The addition of OneNote Staff Notebook creator really offer application for our administrators at another level. Teachers love the Excel Survey app as another tool beneficial for collecting links to assignments and assessments.

Office 365 moves the teacher and the learner beyond the walls of the classroom, anytime, anywhere. Creating mobile learners with access to educational tools and preparing them for success in all types of environments.

Resurrection of the Blog…

blogIt was time to revisit the site where it all began. This year I was chosen along with 800 other unique individuals on this amazing planet involved in the world of education to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert. While most of the time I don’t feel like much of an “expert,” I was thrilled to have been selected.

My current blog is part of our organization Office 365 account and not visible to the public. In order to share with my fellow MIEE friends, I needed to move back to this site. Welcome to the Garden…