14 April 2015

Tip Tuesday - Copy Your Padlets for Other Sections

I love using Padlet as a landing strip for students to share ideas, work, or problems they're creating.

Here's some ways I've used Padlet on my class set of iPads:

  • backchannel
  • students' summary statements after reading a text
  • generating questions before or after reading
  • gathering guesses or estimations of an answer during Act 1 of 3 Act Story
  • students creating/solving exercises to share with each other
  • reflecting on a video or text

Some of those uses listed above might actually be enriched by students being able to go back to earlier periods in the day and see what they did, particularly the backchannel or creating exercises for each other to solve. For the reflections or checks for understanding, I think having other kids' thoughts on there pollutes the experience and prevents new ideas.

For yesterday's work, I wanted my students to make up the graph of a line, write the equation for that line, share their work on the padlet, write the equations of some of their classmates lines, and then have the classmate check them off as correct or needing more work. It wouldn't have been the end of the world if some of the lines got repeated, but it was important that the line creators were in the room so that they could check their peers' work.

In THAT case, where you need a fresh board for each period, you can COPY your padlet with identical settings so that you don't have to duplicate your own work.

I chose "copy with posts" on this occasion because I wanted my own example up there. 

 Another pro tip: edit the addresses of your padlets for easy sharing with the date and hour.

After the day was over, I had 3 padlets that all looked SIMILAR, but were unique to each hour.

For more info, check out the Padlet blog - I checked after the fact, but they wrote a recent post about copying, too.   :)

13 April 2015

Does Major League Baseball Need a Stats Lesson?

I saw this data in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last week claiming that the Cardinals are the 6th most expensive team  to see at their home park. (the "FCI" averages all of the columns from this chart together to get an estimate of what a family of 4 would expect to spend at the ballpark.)

I have no problem with the FCI, but I wonder if this chart's reporting of "MLB LEAGUE AVERAGE" is a little off. That row looked suspiciously in the middle to me, and when I counted rows, it was indeed exactly in the middle.

So what's going on here? Is it a misrepresentation of "average," do MLB teams attempt to group themselves symmetrically around this figure, or is it pure coincidence?

Here's the MEAN of those FCI listings by team:

Could the difference between 211.68 (reported in the table as "average") and my calculation of 211.89 be the result of rounding error in the data they used that I don't have access to in this report? Are there 21 rogue cents floating around in their numbers? 

What's this mean for my students?
I think this graphic and table is a good conversation starter for both mean vs. median AND the role of rounding in getting "different" answers. What's the clue that this CAN'T POSSIBLY be the median? Its not listed in the data of course. 

09 April 2015

PBIS Success: Think Like a Coder?

I've got PBIS (Positive Behavior Intervention Supports) on the brain a lot right now - I'm in the first week of actually implementing a lottery ticket system I dreamed up last year, and am taking a class in my district's spring PD program about PBIS for secondary schools. (Most best practice examples come from K-5)

If I were to describe to any of my non-educator friends what PBIS is about, I'd say its a system to structure proactive strategies for setting a positive climate for the classroom/school. You teach the good behaviors, get 80% of the kids on board with that, and then you commit more time resources to the other 20%.

source: dese.mo.gov, via pbis.org

ONE strategy for the classroom is to identify activity sequence and offering choice. From Missouri PBIS resources:
Activity sequencing increases student engagement by providing the student with “brain breaks.” These strategies can help students to build endurance for more complex or rigorous tasks. In addition, sequencing easier tasks before more rigorous activities can help build “behavioral momentum .” Behavioral momentum increases the likelihood that students will complete challenging tasks. Providing students with activity choice can also increase engagement by giving students control over when to do more difficult tasks.
When I read that, I think a lot about the supports my son's early childhood special ed teacher provides - she talks with him and his classmates a lot about their schedule, and "if you ______, then you can ______." Its very helpful for him with transitions from preferred to non-preferred tasks.

When I hear "IF, THEN" statement, by brain next goes to software programming. I played around with some Javascript modules online over Christmas, and structuring IF/THEN statements was the concept that continues to resonate. (probably because I was stuck on a project longest where I was fussing with the order of the IFs and THENs)

Is designing a PBIS system for your classroom or school anything more than identifying the outcomes you want (a button takes you to a link in coding, a student independently takes care of materials in the classroom), and then laying out the instructions to get you there? When your procedures don't produce the outcome you want (broken link/students off task) you seek out the bug, isolate the problem and fix the instructions to generate the appropriate outcome!

I read in a blog around the same time that most software engineers love strategy games because they enjoy thinking out several plays ahead, anticipating other players' moves and responses to their own actions - I think the same would go for many teachers. If you're not one step ahead of your students in the classroom, you and your students will definitely end up feeling chaotic and disorganized. Don't the most well-run classrooms all share the same characteristics of order, routine, and procedure?

I'm hesitant to follow the analogy all the way out to expecting yourself or your students to always behave predictably (darn the human factor), but from my current understanding, one goal of PBIS is to increase consistency of expectation (and resulting behavior responses), and from my knowledge of coding or software design, the best apps or websites are the ones that give a user-experience that is thoughtful, predictable and reliable.