5 Fantastic Peer Feedback Strategies for Your Classroom

A conversation with Starr Sackstein on episode 85 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today, Starr Sackstein @mssackstein shares 5 feedback strategies to supercharge your writing instruction and classroom culture.  We are also hosting a giveaway contest with her book on assessment.

peer feedback strategies for your classroom (1)

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In today’s show, Starr Sackstein discusses 5 peer review strategies for the classroom including:

  • Having a class culture for positive peer feedback
  • Setting expectations
  • Feedback protocols
  • How to help kids practice and give recognition for feedback
  • How to empower kids to be experts

I hope you enjoy this episode with Starr Sackstein!

Selected Links from this Episode

The Giveaway Contest for Starr’s Book Peer Feedback in the Classroom: Empowering Students to be the Experts

Peer Feedback in the Classroom Book Giveaway

Some of the links are affiliate links.

Full Bio As Submitted

Starr SacksteinStarr Sackstein

Over 16 years ago, Starr Sackstein started her teaching career in Far Rockaway High School, eager to make a difference. Quickly learning to connect with students and develop rapport, she was able to recognize the most important part of teaching, relationships. Fostering relationships with students and peers, to encourage community growth and a deeper understanding of personal contribution through reflection, Sackstein has continued to elevate her students by putting them at the center of the learning.

Starr Sackstein currently works at Long Island City High School as a Teacher Center Teacher and ELA teacher. She spent nine years at World Journalism Preparatory School in Flushing, NY as a high school English and Journalism teacher where her students run a multi-media news outlet at WJPSnews.com. In 2011, the Dow Jones News Fund honored Sackstein as a Special Recognition Adviser and 2012 Education Updated recognized her as an outstanding educator.

Currently Sackstein has thrown out grades, teaching students that learning isn’t about numbers, but about the development of skills and ability to articulate that growth.

In 2012, Sackstein tackled National Board Certification in an effort to reflect on her practice and grow as an educational English facilitator. After a year of closely looking at the her work with students, she achieved the honor. She is also a certified Master Journalism Educator through the Journalism Education Association (JEA). Sackstein also serves at the New York State Director to JEA to help serve advisers in New York better grow journalism programs.

Books Starr has authored:

She blogs on Education Week Teacher at “Work in Progress” where she discusses all aspects of being a teacher and education reform. Sackstein co-moderates #sunchat as well as contributes to #NYedChat. She has made the Bammy Awards finals for Secondary High School Educator in 2014 and for blogging in 2015. In speaking engagements, Sackstein speaks about blogging, journalism education, throwing out grades and BYOD, helping people see technology doesn’t have to be feared. Most recently, Sackstein was named one of ASCD’s Emerging leaders class of 2016, in addition to presenting a TedxTalk about throwing out grades.

Balancing a busy career of writing and teaching with being the mom to 10 year old Logan is a challenging adventure. Seeing the world through his eyes reminds her why education needs to change for every child.

Transcript for this episode

Download the PDF Transcript for this Episode

Show Notes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e85

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Hello remarkable teachers, I’ll let you know at the end of the show how you can get my list of my 200-plus favorite Ed tech tools and sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter.

Today we’re talking about five fantastic peer feedback strategies for your classroom. This is episode 85.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:   Today we’re talking with Starr Sackstein @mssackstein

about five fantastic ways to build peer feedback into your classroom. So Starr, how do we get started?

STARR:        Well, peer feedback really does take a whole cultural approach. Kids need to feel like they’re in a trusting environment. So the first really important thing if you want peer feedback to work in your classroom is developing a classroom culture of trust and of student participation where student voice really matters.

VICKI:          But that sounds so hard.

STARR:        I think that if we build relationships with students and foster relationships between peer while we’re doing it, it’s not as hard as it might sound.

VICKI:          And I know in my experience we have to extra vigilant at the beginning when we kick off peer feedback, don’t we? Because [that’s when we set the ground rules].

STARR:        100%. And I think it really does matter when we model expectations, which is the second really important thing, making sure that we are setting up protocols and we’re modeling the actual expectations that we have on a regular basis. And then also being really explicit about what we’re modeling so that kids don’t have to guess.


So if we’re teaching a class and we’re using a feedback technique that we may want them to use later, actually calling their attention to what you’re doing so that they could see you doing it and start to connect the behavior with what they’ll be doing later. So, it’s a great way to start bringing it into the classroom before we allow kids to do it with each other.

VICKI:          Can you give me an example? I know in my classroom I have the complement sandwich and it’s so funny when they use that and it’s like, “Oh yeah, you learned something about how I want you to treat one another.” Could you give me an example of yours?

STARR:        Sure, absolutely. So, as a writing teacher, when I want kids to give positive feedback to grow on what’s going I always tell them that you can’t just say good job. What I really want them to do is draw on the language of the standards, what about it made it a good job. So, I would model – like, I think you gave a really great answer when we were talking about Pride and Prejudice because you were able to use evidence from the text and also added some of your own thoughts. So really being explicit with what skill we’re working on and then explaining why.

VICKI:          So your first is building a classroom culture, second is modeling the feedback expectations and third is teaching students appropriate feedback protocols. So are expectations and protocols kind of intertwined in some way?

STARR:        Yes and no. I think the expectations on some level is just what it’s going to look like and the protocol is maybe how they’re going to do it. So maybe with kids you start with certain stem depending on how old your students are. Make sure that they really understand the skills that they’re giving feedbacks on and start small. You can’t give them a whole piece and say, “Give your peer feedback on this.” Really focus on very small pieces at first.


So if we’re looking at introductory paragraphs, for example, and we want students to really zero in on the effectiveness of a thesis section, let’s say. And we’ve done a whole lesson on what a thesis section can look and what strong ones look like and what weaker ones look like and how to improve those. One protocol might be making sure that they have a strong stem in place where they could talk about the effectiveness of the thesis wand just being really clear about what the expectation is around it. So they’re using the protocol to meet the expectation.

VICKI:          Love that. What’s our fourth?

STARR:        The fourth one is allow students to practice giving feedback and then give them feedback on the feedback that they’re giving so that they know if they’re doing a good job in providing it. Because a lot of times when you’re doing peer feedback in the classroom you’ll notice that two or three kids end up becoming really good at it and then a lot of kids get lazy – at least that’s my experience at the high school level.

So it’s really important that kids know that you’re looking at the feedback that they’re providing and that you’re giving them feedback on that feedback. Because it’s really a learned skill, I don’t think that we’re necessarily great at giving feedback just naturally, I think our inclination is to say it’s good or it’s bad but not really know how to put that action.

VICKI:          That is so true. And I know when I have my students do peer feedback I don’t let them just check on the rubric, you know, perfect at everything. And I’m like, okay, who’s perfect? If you’re self-evaluating or if you’re evaluating somebody else you just can’t just turn in a sheet that says everything was perfect because in that sense there’s no room for growth.

STARR:        Right. Exactly. So even I there was – if say once in a blue moon you do get a kid who’s really done an exceptional job, there’s still a level of feedback that you could comment on that’s very specific, not just from the rubric, it’s identifying pieces in the writing so the feedback giver has a special task of having to be able to identify those specific areas and highlight them and talk about what makes them effective.


And that’s also a good way to help other kids see what effective looks like.

VICKI:          And I love telling kids, okay, this is excellent, let’s take it to epic. Like, are there some ways to make this epic? There’s always conversations that you can have with those kids who need a way to make more than a 100. And sometimes the teacher’s attention gives them that. What’s our 5th?

STARR:        Our 5th and final is empowering students to be the experts. So once they have the protocols and once they’ve practiced, we really need to give them the opportunity to take the lead. I’ve had expert groups in my class where they work on skills in small groups and then before the student could come to me for feedback I expect them to go to their peers.

When you have a classroom of 24 kids and people always ask how could you effectively give feedback to all your students all the time. You can’t.  But if you have students who are trained to give really good feedback and we allow them the space to do so and we trust them to do so. It takes some of the onus off of us in those really tough times when more kids than we could help at any given time need the feedback.

VICKI:          And that makes is so important because I don’t know any teacher that doesn’t sometimes end up with more kids than they think they can handle. But we still want to be excellent, we still want to give back feedback. So teachers, you have some remarkable ideas for building a classroom where peer feedback really helps students thrive. Starr, do you want to tell us real quickly about what we’re going to be giving away for our giveaway contest for this show?

STARR:        So I have a copy of my latest book with ASCD, Peer Feedback in the Classroom: Empowering Students to be the Experts. http://amzn.to/2qmmJZc  And I hope that if you guys follow me on Twitter you could get a copy of this book.  Have on to give away.


VICKI:          Cool. So check the show notes www.coolcatteacher.com/e85 and use our giveaway widget to enter the contest and follow Starr. Thanks for listening.

Hello remarkable teachers, I have a bi-weekly newsletter just for you. You’ll get lesson plans, ideas and lots of freebies I don’t share anywhere else. You can sign up by text message if you’re here in the United States by texting COOLCAT to 444999 and you’ll be put on my email list. Now, if you’re not in the U.S., you can go to coolcatteacher.com/newsletter. Now, when you sign up I have a super hand out of my 200-plus favorite Ed tech tools that you can download and start exploring.

Thank you for listening to the Ten-minute Teacher Podcast. You can download the show notes and see the archive at coolcatteacher.com/podcast. Never stop learning.

[End of Audio 0:09:06]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

The post 5 Fantastic Peer Feedback Strategies for Your Classroom appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

How to Help Kids in Poverty Succeed in Life and Learning

A conversation with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach on episode 84 of the 10-minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach @snbeach talks about the best ways educators and schools can help children in poverty. From personal experience as both a child in poverty and a teacher who helps those in poverty, Sheryl shares what works.

how to help kids in poverty succeed

how to help kids in poverty succeed

Listen Now


Listen on iTunes

Click the button for iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe to this show

10-Minute Teacher Show Stitcher


In today’s show, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach discusses helping kids in poverty succeed and:

  • How we start helping kids in poverty
  • Challenges for kids in poverty besides poverty itself
  • The forms of poverty and challenges of each
  • Subtle bias of educators and how to address it
  • The importance of schools in the lives of kids in poverty

I hope you enjoy this episode with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach!

Selected Links from this Episode

Giveaway Contest mentioned on the show

PLP Summer Learning 12 Course – Giveaway Contest

Full Bio As Submitted

Sheryl Nussbaum-BeachSheryl Nussbaum-Beach

Sheryl is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Powerful Learning Practice, where she works with schools and districts from across the United States and around the world to re-envision their learning cultures and communities. She also consults with governments, school districts and non-profits that are integrating online communities and networks into their professional learning initiatives.

Sheryl is a sought-after presenter at national and international events, speaking on topics of 21st Century reform, teacher and edtech leadership, community building, and educational issues impacting marginalized populations such as the homeless.

She currently serves on the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Board of Directors and The National Science Foundation’s CS10K Board.

Sheryl lives near the Virginia shore and spends her spare time playing on the water with her four children, her grandsons Luke, Logan, Levi and Tanner and a trio of dachshunds. You can find out more on her blog and on Twitter @snbeach.

Transcript for this episode

Download a printable PDF of this transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Show Notes: www.coolcatteacher.com/e84

Today on Episode 84, we’re going to talk about how to help kids in poverty succeed.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:               Today we’re talking to Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach @snbeach

about future-proofing kids who live in poverty. So Sheryl, what do you even mean by that title?

SHERYL:      I think it’s really important to think about the circumstances that conspire against children and what they bring with them to the classroom. And I think that if we really want to create a bridge to that culture of despair or to the future of hope that kids have the secret sauce is going to be in what teachers do. And so by future-proofing children that are living in or impacted by poverty I’m hoping that educators will understand that they can be the difference in those kid’s lives

VICKI:          Bridge to the culture of despair and helping them into a future of promise. How can we be that bridge because so many teachers who work in high poverty situations are just worn out and they just feel like this is too much, I can’t do this?

SHERYL:      I think they really are. A lot of them com unprepared too, I don’t think that we spend the time really helping educators understand the types of things that are impacting these kids so that they can understand what they need to do and also helping them to think about their teaching practice. But I do believe that educators who will be passionate and not settle for mediocrity or maybe educators that are willing to just do what it takes to help a particular child succeed, and sometimes that’s what really, I think, wears people out.

Establishing supportive environments to help children thrive and to do that you have to really understand, okay, what does it mean to be a child that’s impacted by poverty?


This is really a passionate topic for me because I come at it from two sides of the coin. One, I’m something that has had an opportunity to work with marginalized children and their parents quite a bit, especially children that are homeless. One of the schools that I taught at, Cooke Elementary, had a 98% free and reduced lunch and served most of the kids in the city that were homeless because it was a school on the beach.

But I also come at this as somebody who grew up in poverty. I was a child impacted by poverty. And so for these kids it’s helping them – the best way to give them a future of hope is to help them create that future and I just believe that so much of that lies in the hands of educators. Do you agree?

VICKI:          I do. Actually, some of my work in college – I was a research assistant for a professor named [Dr. Danny Boston] who researched the underclass. And the thing that I struggled with about the underclass is there is a group of people that have had so any generations born in poverty that it is almost statistical impossible for that group to break out of poverty. And yet it happens. How can we be the end yet?

SHERYL:      Yeah, I think it has to do with understanding the impact that these kids are going through and then trying to overcome that. And you’re right, there are different kinds of poverty; there’s generational poverty, working class poverty, immigrant poverty and then situational poverty. Generational poverty is the toughest one to help kids come out of. I think the secret lies in building self-efficacy.

I think one of the things that is really lacking in these kids when they come is that not only are they lots of physical kids of things that you have to address but there’s socio-emotional sorts of things. These kids, especially in my case didn’t get a lot of schema building. It’s kind of like formatting the disk – when you format the brain. Because in pre-school we do books and we do colors and blocks and we take them to field trips and we do things like that. And these kids come to school where they don’t really have those connective tissues ready to absorb the kinds of learning that’s going to take place.


And so I think that it requires us as educators, if we really want to help kids break that cycle is to change our teaching strategies over all. Education, Vicki, I think is mostly set up like a deficit based model where we say this is where you are, this is where I want you to be and so I’m going to teach to the gap. And when you have children of poverty that you’re working with – and it’s not a poverty curriculum, it’s great for any child. You really want to do more of an appreciative-based approach where you look at what is it that these kids know how to do and do well and let’s build on that strength and then let them fly where they can fly and then fill in the gaps and kind of help them understand. So that you’re building that efficacy, you’re helping them to have confidence. And then that confidence and that success tends to feed more success, I think.

So for me I think it’s changing the teaching strategies.

VICKI:          I just love that because I’m all about building on kid’s strength. What do you think the biggest mistake is, Sheryl, that teachers make when teaching students that are poverty?

SHERYL:      I think it’s a couple of things. The biggest mistake I think, and I actually think it’s like educational malpractice is when we treat poverty as a deficit and not an external factor that could be corrected if just put resources in there. But somehow, it’s a personal flaw. I think that a lot of teachers, just because of the myths and the prejudices and the stereotypes – and we all have them. You have them, I have them, right?

VICKI:          Yes, absolutely.

SHERYL:      But because of that they have a tendency to think that these kids are going to have low outcomes, low IQ even because they come and – I mean, think about it. The kids are hungry a lot of times. Often children that are being impacted by poverty will – if they do get several meals a day, it’s usually the cheap food when you go to the grocery store.


Even with WIC Card, because the WIC doesn’t last. It’s only when the kids are little that they will get really non nutritional food. And a lot often, those kids are only getting on meal a day. And so that’s why it’s so important when they come to school that they get healthy food, really good food and good presentation. I think there’s so much that we could be doing to build a moral warehouse to help them to understand social etiquette and how to operate that we’re not doing.

I also think these kids are staying up late. A lot of times the parents are working several jobs –or parent. And so they’re exhausted, they’re taking care of siblings and then finally after the siblings are in bed that’s when they do their homework. So teachers don’t understand the kid’s falling asleep in class not because he’s turned off the school, the kid’s falling asleep in class because they’re exhausted and they’re undernourished.

In fact, for most children of poverty school is cool. You don’t think so because you think they have an attitude and all that. It’s an oasis. It’s a place where there’s no substance abuse, there’s food, it’s comfortable, there’s good temperature. I think probably the toughest part is that teachers just really need to be more knowledgeable about the impact that these kids are going through that they don’t understand the [TASC] curriculum, they don’t understand big picture kinds of concept.

And so by changing your classroom practice to where you can have lots of conversations and you can have kids that are heavily involved in not just differentiating the curriculum but have the authentic kids of curriculum where their co-owners and their co-teachers and you develop a community of learners. I think that’s what’s going to make a difference.

VICKI:          Now, we could talk about this forever, but you have this course as part of a larger set of courses. Tell us about it because we’re going to do a giveaway and this is a fantastic way for remarkable teachers to really learn from the best this summer. So Sheryl, tell us about this course and then the bundle of courses you have.


SHERYL:      Sure. So Powerful Learning Practice has put together a bundle of courses, two of them I’ve created. http://mailchi.mp/aimsmddc/summer-elearning-50-for-12-courses-2584586 One, this particular course on future-prepping kids that are living in poverty. Self-paced e-course, you can do it by the pool. The great thing about it is as you work through each one of the units there’s things like try this and think-abouts and there’s tons of valuable resources. At the end of this course you actually build a toolkit so that you have a changed classroom practice based on what you’re doing. You can put as much into the course as you want to get out of it – there’s videos. So it’s a really thick, very resource-rich course.

There’s also graduate credit available for the course for those that want to do that through The University of North Dakota. So if people are looking at license renewal points it’s part of a bundle of courses. There are 12 Google courses taught by a Google certified instructor. There’s courses about digital citizenship, connected learning. Looking at the whole teacher, you know, how we tend to look at the whole child. Looking at the whole teacher. So there’s actually a body-positive yoga course that’s involved. There’s a compassionate male educator course for male teachers really thinking about their role in the classroom.

So it’s 12 different courses. And typically there’s one by Kathy Cassidy that is connected from the start, that’s how to work with kindergarten through 2nd grade kids and help them be connected and really learn those strategies of [books] that goes with that. Normally the course is run anywhere from $25 to $49. And what we’re doing is we’re running a bundle of courses where you can get all 12 courses for $50.

VICKI:          Awesome. So remarkable teachers, you’ve gotten lots of ideas for summer but also ideas for how to reach students who are struggling and living in poverty. And I think it’s important for us to remember – I actually had a student the other day admit to me, “Ms. Vicki, I hate summer. I like school, I like to be around my friends. I like to be around my teachers.” And it’s hard to admit that there are students out there like that. So we need to realize that we are the safety for many of our students.

[End of Audio 0:10:30]

[Transcription created by tranzify.com. Some additional editing has been done to add grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. Every attempt has been made to correct spelling. For permissions, please email lisa@coolcatteacher.com]

The post How to Help Kids in Poverty Succeed in Life and Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

App Smashing with Kindergarteners #ipadchat

A conversation with Carrie Willis on episode 83 of the 10-Minute Teacher

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Today Carrie Willis @carriewillis18 talks about how kindergarteners in her STEAM lab use their iPads. They use SeeSaw portfolios, green screen videos, and more. She also talks about what the students do and what the adults do.

App Smashing with Kindergarteners

Listen Now


Listen on iTunes

Click the button for iTunes or Stitcher to subscribe to this show

10-Minute Teacher Show Stitcher


In today’s show, Carrie Willis talks about the workflow in her kindergarten classroom with iPads:

  • How they use Seesaw
  • Making videos with green screen
  • What kindergarteners can do thsmselves
  • The challenges of kicking off an ipad lab
  • Workflow with kids

I hope you enjoy this episode with Carrie Willis!

Selected Links from this Episode

Some of the links below are affiliate links.

Full Bio As Submitted

Carrie WillisCarrie Willis kindergarten ipad

Carrie Willis is the technology teacher and director at Valley Preparatory School in Redlands, Ca.

Carrie is an Apple Teacher, Microsoft Innovative Educator, DEN STAR, Wonder Innovation Squad member, and all-around techie.

She loves STEAM, PBL, coding, robotics, green screen, app smashing and more. You can follow her on Twitter @carriewillis18.

Transcript for this episode

Click to download the PDF transcript

[Recording starts 0:00:00]

Are you planning your summer like I am? Well I recommend that you get the free video series from my friend Angele Watson. Five summer secrets for a stress-free fall. Just go to coolcatteacher.com/summer.

On the last episode we talked about iPads in kindergarten www.coolcatteacher.com/e82 . Well, today we’re talking about app smashing in kindergarten. This is Episode 83.

The Ten-minute Teacher podcast with Vicki Davis. Every week day you’ll learn powerful practical ways to be a more remarkable teacher today.

VICKI:              Carrie Willis @carriewillis18 from California has been app-smashing with her kindergarteners. Oh my goodness, Carrie, what have you done?

CARRIE:       I’ve been having a lot of fun, we have a brand new STEAM lab at our school this year, so that’s science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. And we’ve had all of us students, grades pre-school through 8 come to our steam lab and just kind of partake in some amazing design projects, engineering projects, technology projects. So I’d like to talk about our kindergarteners today with you.

VICKI:          Cool. Yeah, I think I saw you on Twitter and you were talking about how they were using Aurasma https://www.aurasma.com/ . Had done a show recently on Aurasma http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e52 . But tell us about this project, what did you do?

CARRIE:       So our kindergarten students were taking part in in our international baccalaureate unit on sharing the planet and they had been studying insects and habitats and life cycles and kind of how insects share the plant with humans as well as other living things. So as part of our design and engineering unit in our STEAM lab we had the kindergarteners build different organisms and living things out of K’NEX http://amzn.to/2rPSWcC .


And we used a K’NEX for education kit called organisms and life cycles. http://amzn.to/2qViqF3   And each student was given a different – kind of like an instruction challenge card where they kind of followed the instructions and built their living things. And then after they were finished we studied food web that included all of these different living things they had built out of K’NEX. So it was like a poster that showed all the living things in the K’NEX kit and where they kind of fell in a food web, you know. You know, what they ate and what ate them.

And the kindergarteners got to study this and do a little bit of research and tried to figure out if they had a caterpillar what does this show that the caterpillars eat and what eats the caterpillars. And then we talked about if this particular student had the caterpillar, what kind of habitat the caterpillars lived in. and they kind of wrote down some facts, some things that they learned from this poster, this bit of kindergarten research that didn’t involve any words but just kind of studying a picture.

And then we used our green screen that we have in our classroom and we used the app, Green Screen by Do Ink https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/green-screen-by-do-ink/id730091131?mt=8   which we absolutely love. If you don’t already have that app downloaded on your iPad and you’re a teacher you need. And I don’t work for them, I just love it that much. And so we put the habitat of the particular organism that student had built in the background and the students sit in front of the green screen and explained kind of their organisms place in this food web or in a food chain and recorded a little video and then made the poster come to life by using Aurasma. https://www.aurasma.com/

And if you’ve never used Aurasma before, it’s an app where you can take a video and overlay it on a still picture, like an actual physical picture. In this case a poster.


So we would overlay the video of the student with the caterpillar in front of the green screen on top of the caterpillar image on the poster. So when you hold your phone over the picture on the poster that picture would come to life as a video.

VICKI:          So Carrie, I’m curious, you’ve already blown the minds of many people and you’re talking kindergarteners. How much of this work did you have to do and how much did they actually do?

CARRIE:       So the students built their organism, their living thing from the K’NEX all on their own, most of them did not need any help at all. And then when they were finished building they would go over to this poster that we had and they would kind of study the poster and see if they could kind of track the food web and figure out what their organism ate and what eats it. And this wasn’t hard for them because they have been studying this sort of thing in their classroom already having to do with their insect unit that they had been working on. So they knew what he predators were and what insects have food sources.

So they were able to easily kind of analyze this poster and follow it and then most of them had an easy time kind of being able to come up with what sort of habitat their particular living thing would live in. So these kind of range from – there was frogs, there was tadpoles, there was a bald eagle, there was a crab, fish, different insects, there was a mouse. So it was all different things. So they would say whether or not they thought that they lived in a pond or in the ocean.

VICKI:          So they did a pretty good job with the building of the K’NEX and the describing on the green screen. Now, were they able to actually edit the video at all?

CARRIE:       At this point no, they probably would be able to do that but for time sake we just pulled up and image and we did the filming in this case.


VICKI:          Okay.

CARRIE:       Our kindergarteners actually have done things with video, they’ve used See Saw and Book Creator to kind of record little journals of their caterpillars, fed them and watched their lifecycle as they turned into butterflies and released them. So they chronicled their lifecycle of their butterflies that they patched in their classroom and they did that themselves using SeeSaw https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/seesaw-the-learning-journal/id930565184?mt=8 and Book Creator https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/book-creator-for-ipad/id442378070?mt=8 to create little video journals of this.

So they have done work with video, they just didn’t in this particular case with the green screen video.

VICKI:          Cool. So you’ve just done this incredible app-smashing project and it sounds like a whole lot of technology but you know the question people always ask is did they learn about habitats and insects better with using the technology than they would have without?

CARRIE:       I don’t know if they learned about it better but I feel like they definitely will remember it better because they will go back and they will watch these videos over and over again. I remember as a child different videos and projects that I did but definitely don’t remember worksheets that I did, I definitely don’t remember chapter reviews from my science book. But I definitely remember when I had to create this video as part of my science class on different parts of the body and different bones and muscles.

I mean, I can recite that back because I remember creating this awesome project. So I think there’s a bit more retention when you do these kind of exciting projects with kids.

VICKI:          So we talked with Carrie Willis about app-smashing in kindergarten, it can be done, you can do some really cool things. And I think that we need to give kids the chance and not be scared of these big long names and just let kids create and innovate using technology. We’ve got such a great example form Carrie today.

CARRIE:       Thank you. And I think it’s important to introduce kids to this technology. We don’t have to expect them to be able to do it at this young age but introducing it to them now, they’ll remember that later when they’re a little bit older, when they are matured enough to be able to use it themselves to create great projects.

VICKI:          If you follow my newsletter or blog you’ve probably heard me talk about Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Work Week. coolcatteacher.com/quiz  This program really helps you to be a better teacher, have better classroom management and more organized classroom and so many things. Now, Angela used to be a 5th grade teacher but I’ve actually found a lot of things applicable to my 8th grade and up classroom.

So you can take a quiz to see if this program is right for you. Just go to coolcatteacher.com/quiz and learn more about Angela Watson’s 40-Hour Work Week.

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