The Seed of an Idea

The summer has come and gone and I can now return to my final project, Using Technology to Make Student Thinking Visible, with fresh eyes. Looking back over the proposal I submitted in May, a few things float to the surface . . .

  • this project has the potential to redefine my students learning and my teaching
  • developing a partnership with our technology integration specialist is essential to my own growth and the growth of my students
  • I still love the focus I have chosen and am excited to give it a try
  • My Course 5 video will document my own visible thinking using technology, I will be doing exactly what I ask my students to do, just as Kristy said in one of her comments, “The nice thing about it not being a unit is that you can truly develop it over the course of the year. Essentially, you could go through the process right along with your students; documenting your thinking through out the year and reflecting on what you would change or do differently going further.”

In my original proposal, I wondered: Who can I contact/learn from that already has knowledge/experience about this? and What can I try/read/look into over the summer to support this project starting in August? I have started to take steps towards those answers.
  • Kim helped connect me with Matthew at ACS, Abu Dhabi who was interested in my project and thought we might be able to team up. As a result of this connection, I have set up my Twitter account and am continuing to establish my own PLN. I also connected with a recent COETAIL grad, Matt McGrady, who commented on my post and I found out is also going to be taking the Harvard course.

    Over the summer, I read John Hattie’s Visible Learning for Teachers which built my more foundational understanding of Visible Thinking supported by lots of data from classrooms.

  • I attended the following Saturday session offered by our tech integration specialists that has really given me a head start apps wise: “Creative and Dynamic ways to use an iPad for Documenting Learning: In this session you will learn how to capture student learning by making a short booklet in Book Creator. You will also learn how to create images in Drawing Pad and make a Math animation in Explain Everything. Using Pic Collage you will create a Picasso inspired masterpiece where you become the artwork and you learn how to photograph yourself and filter that image to create a digital artwork. Lastly you will learn to create a short movie documentary simply in Book Creator. We will use Google Drive to demonstrate how files can be shared across a class and even how to use the new Google Photos which is not only free but very easy to use. This session will be aimed at beginners but also open to those people wanting a repeat of these core apps and perhaps to experience some iPad art created work.” 

So what’s next? Specifically, what will I aim for over the next three weeks before our fall break:

  1. Summative assessment for our first inquiry unit: My students will use the Explain Everything App on the iPads to place their two pictures of their brains (drawn on google drawing before and after the unit) side by side. They will then narrate using the Visible Thinking Routine “I used to think but now I think” to show how their thinking has changed about how their brain works.
  1. Opinion Pieces: The students will mark their opinions down in response to a statement on a timeline from agree to disagree. They will then physically line up on the field and we will take a photograph to illustrate where they stand in their thinking. We will do this exercise as a tuning in activity before the unit and then as a summative activity after the unit. Students will use the visible thinking routine of “What Makes you Say That?” to explain their thinking.
  1. Minecraft After School Activity:  I will begin leading 17 students across grade 3-5 in our Minecraft club. I’ll intentionally set up our world, give them parameters about what we are trying to achieve, and use the visible thinking routine of either Question Starts or Connect Extend Challenge to capture how they are using this technology to deepen their own inquiries.
  1. Building Learning Power Video: We always start the year off focusing on our 4Rs here at JIS: We develop Resourceful, Resilient, Reflective, and Related students. I am going to task my 5th graders, as leaders of the elementary, with making a Public Service Announcement Announcement for each of these Learning Dispositions. They will work in groups, developing these skills, and use iMovie to create and edit their final video. These videos will then be shared at assembly with the rest of the school.

In closing, I am thankful:

  • that my enthusiasm for this project remains high.
  • that I have connected with resources and people who will support and guide me.
  • that I will be in the shoes of my students.
  • that I am lucky enough to learn from students everyday who are 21st century literate, enthusiastic, and ready to show what they are thinking.


No time like the present, time to get started and see where our thinking takes us, one and all . . .


2 Replies to “The Seed of an Idea”

  1. I really liked your ideas at the end of all the ways you are going to be using technology in the classroom. I have used Mincraft by letting my students create Maycomb from To Kill a Mockingbird. They turned out amazing! I would be interested in doing an after school activity like that but I know so little about Minecraft. How did you learn? Could you recommend a resource? Thanks! Feel free to check out my blog:

  2. I love it! I am so excited to see how this turns out! You have been so thoughtful and purposeful with the thinking routines as well – I hope you will share the results of those as part of your video too. I will also be interested to hear your perspective on the online course. I took it a few years ago and have my own opinions, of course 🙂

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