“It is better to create than to learn! Creating is the essence of life.” by Julius Caesar

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Guest Blog Post By Lisa Maples

If you want to do something, then you’ll do it.  In my experience, going after a goal is thrilling especially if it is one that comes from an inner motivation.  No one has to beg you, or force you, if the motivation is intrinsic.  Being able to persuade others with convincing arguments is a skill that we work on throughout our lives.  As humans, we like to be right and consistently try to prove our points.  After all, as Angela Maiers so aptly taught me through her You Tube lesson, I Matter and You Matter.  Our ideas are valuable and need to be heard.

As our first iPad project of the school year, I planned a project that would allow my fourth and fifth grade students to grasp that their ideas mattered.  I knew that if I could set up the right conditions, my students would welcome the opportunity to be asked to share their ideas.  I asked them to choose a topic that they knew a lot about and convince others to think the way that they think about the topic.  I had 14 iPads for students to share as I wheeled them around the school and visited the fourth and fifth grade classes for a total of 45 minutes each during a five week span in September and October of 2013.  Due to collaboration with their partners, students were engaged as they articulated their points that they would use to persuade an audience of their peers.

After being amazed at the precise points of Birke Baehr at a TEDx Talk on You Tube, I decided to show students his powerful five minute talk. I loved how Birke introduced his topic of genetically altered feed given to animals then motivated the audience to change the way that they viewed the topic.  After watching his talk, I asked students to consider whether or not the author had convinced them that our food system had some flaws after analyzing his comments.  Many students reported that they were more interested in buying organically grown food and wanted to know more about how the food they eat was created.  Using the TEDx Talk as my springboard, I then posed an Essential Question that I had previously composed to my students which was this:  Can you persuade someone to think the way you think?  I gave some suggestions on my Smartboard file such as the following topics:

Should kids be given allowances?

Why should one person be paid more than another?

Should we recycle and go green?

What is the best Movie or Book of all time?

Why play sports?

What is something that makes you happy?

What are the benefits of healthful eating and exercise?

In pairs, students brainstormed at least six reasons to convince others to have the same opinion as themselves.  They recorded their persuasive points in the yellow notepad app on the iPad and labeled their notes with their grade, homeroom teacher’s name and their first names since they shared these 14 iPads with 850 other K-5 students.  (I also put numbers as the Home Screen on each iPad and distributed iPads to the same students each week.)  I noticed an incredible amount of excitement as students took advantage of me asking them to prove that their ideas had worth and to record their thoughts.  Students were told that they would be presenting their ideas in front of their peers in a mini TED Talk format using an awesome app on the iPad.

In a follow-up session, I introduced students to Haiku Deck, a presentation app for the iPad.  I demonstrated how to create a series of slides with words and images that would convey an opinion that I now share with Birke Baher.  I showed them the Haiku Deck presentation that I created about “Organic Food:  What’s the Big Deal?”  

In Haiku Deck, there are no fancy transitions and limited amounts of text allowed per slide.  The more text that one writes, the smaller the font becomes so less is more.  Students can choose from several free font choices and Creative Commons Licensed images from within the app.  There are also plenty of images that can be purchased, but we chose only free options within the app.  Once students’ notes were complete including words that described the images that they wanted on each of their Haiku Deck slides, they began the process of choosing words to persuade their peer audience of their point and to find or create images that would powerfully illustrate their opinions on their chosen topic.  I realized soon, however, that despite the amazing images offered within Haiku Deck that are Creative Commons Licensed, my school district filters blocked the majority of the images.  As a go around approach, I showed students how to search for copyright free images at Google Advanced Image Search, save the images to the Camera Roll on the iPad and import the images into Haiku Deck slides.  I also wanted to give them additional choices on how to prove their points by allowing them to draw pictures on the iPad using the Doodle Buddy app then import their drawn images into their Haiku Deck Slides.  An example of a finished product of two students who developed their own topic, not one of mine, is here on the topic of “Why Everyone Should Have Dogs”

Giving students a choice in their topic was paramount because it fueled their interest.  As they began to work on this project for the 45 minutes that I saw them each week, I decided to share a Project Based Learning Rubric that I modified from Jill Thompson’s example at one of her websites.  Here is the rubric:

Content

  • Haiku Deck presentation shows knowledge of the selected topic.
  • Presentation clearly answers the essential question, attempts to persuade audience to think the way the authors think and calls audience to action.
  • Group members effectively communicate content in front of peers.

Communication

  • Creativity is used to clearly illustrate and emphasize main points.
  • Words are displayed and organized in the layout of the presentation.

Technology Integration

  • Group used technology tools in Haiku Deck on the iPad to showcase their product to their audience.
  • Images chosen within Haiku Deck are effective at illustrating the point.

Collaboration-

  • Group members contributed ideas frequently, communicated clearly and positively to team.
  • Group worked collaboratively to develop answers to essential question.

As they have begun to finish, I have had them practice giving their mini TED talk while using the slides that they made in Haiku Deck.  They are vested in this project and care deeply about others adopting their viewpoint, while also beaming with pride in the slides that they have created.

When students present their Haiku Deck presentations next week, I will have them share in six areas around the classroom then rotate around the class to hear all of the persuasive TED-like talks.  I will be asking students to validate as audience members the TED Talkers with positive comments and then to decide if the talk actually persuaded them to adopt the thoughts of each TED Talker.

This was my first multi-week iPad  project as Technology Teacher during the 2013-2014 school year.  I knew how the education world was and is all a buzz about Passion Based Learning, Genius Hour, and 20 % Time.  I feel that I have given students a platform for their ideas to be heard though this project while allowing them to choose a topic that they were passionate about as their focus.  I wanted students to see the effort it takes to craft words into powerful tools to cause others to adopt the mindset of the authors.

I developed a Haiku Deck presentation to document my Summer Break of 2013 with my family once I saw Cory Tressler from The Ohio State University give a talk using Haiku Deck at a Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools’ Summer Institute in June of 2013.  I loved the various places to put text on the screen and that it forced me to limit my wordiness.  I would use images of my family as well as the images found in the Haiku Deck app to create my presentation.  I found that I knew how to navigate Haiku Deck because I had used it in my personal life before showing it to my students.  Once I arrived at school however, my district filters blocked most of the free images so I was limited with students unlike when I was at home.  Nevertheless, the Haiku Deck app gives a way to quickly and concisely make points while focusing on the message not on elaborate transitions or music.  My students will be able to use Haiku Deck during the school year as they investigate other Essential Questions that I will pose to them.  Since Common Core State Standards are rich in having students argue their points, I feel that this project allowed students to practice not only analyzing a TEDx Talk but to create their own mini TED Talk with persuasive points and present their ideas while using Haiku Deck.   I am most excited that this project gave students a chance to be heard and to realize that they have a contribution to make to the world.

I got the ideas for the TED Talk lesson from a teacher whose work I had purchased at www.Teachers Pay Teachers. Com named Monica Burns, but then put my own spin on it by framing the lesson through the lens of “You Matter” from Angela Maiers, adding in the Haiku Deck presentation app, and modifying Jill Thompson’s PBL rubric.  You can view Monica Burns’ original lesson here. 

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