Saturday, May 20, 2017

Second Week of Pure Digital Awesomeness!

OK guys.  You know how this works.  I want to spotlight examples of FANTASTIC digital portfolio posts.  YOU want to see what greatness looks like in action -- AND earn 10 points for you and 10 points for your house.  

There weren't a ton of new posts this week.  Remember that you can't be recognized if  you aren't adding to your portfolio!  

Here are this week's winners:


Jamie's Post on Root Words:  Jamie's on a roll, y'all.  Last week, she was recognized after writing a post sharing a video resource that she thought was really helpful.  This week, she shared an example of using her knowledge of root words -- something that she learned in Language Arts class -- to help her understand a new word that she encountered in a Read Theory passage.  That's SUPER cool because it shows that Jamie is applying what she is learning -- and applying what you are learning is a sign of a great learner.  

Can you steal Jamie's idea?  Be on the lookout for a time when something that you've learned in class helps you to understand something that you are working on outside of class.    


Cole L's Post on Shooting a Slap Shot:  Cole borrowed an idea from Abby and Casey and decided to share a video of something that he is working on learning -- a slap shot in hockey.  What's really cool about his post is that he reflects on the way that HE takes a slap shot, giving specific details about his technique.  That's SUPER cool because it shows that Cole is being thoughtful about what it is that he does well.

Can you steal Cole (and Abby and Casey's) idea?  Can you find a video highlighting something that  you are working to learn AND then explain either what you learned from the video OR reflect on the strengths or weaknesses in your own technique?


Lauren's Post on Surface Area and Volume:  Lauren borrowed an idea from Layaa by creating a post designed to teach readers about something that she's studying in class -- Surface area and Volume.  What makes her post really interesting to me is that she surveyed her friends and found that the majority of them were more confused about surface area than they were volume -- so this post was partly to help Lauren practice what she was learning and partly to help her friends to learn something new.

Can you steal Lauren's idea?  Find some of your friends.  Ask them what they are struggling to understand in one of their classes.  Then, create a post designed to teach them the concept.  Not only will you learn more  (teaching something requires understanding it well), you'll be a helper, too!


Can't wait to see who is on next week's "Examples of Awesomeness" post!


Saturday, May 13, 2017

This Week's Examples of Pure Digital Portfolio Awesomeness

Hey Guys,

One of the things that I want to do is start spotlighting examples of FANTASTIC digital portfolio posts that are being written by your peers.  Doing so will give you ideas about the kinds of things that go into great digital portfolios -- and it should help you to write better posts yourself.

I'll share examples every week.  If  your post is highlighted, you get 10 points for yourself and ten points for your house.  Also, you can use your highlighted post to raise any grade in Science class.


Casey's Reflection and Abby's Reflection on a Video that they Learned From:  A few weeks back, I challenged you to share a video that you learned something from in your digital portfolio.  Both Casey and Abby shared videos about swimming strokes -- a personal interest of theirs.  What makes their entries terrific, though, is that they were REALLY detailed -- both about what they saw in the video AND how they would improve their own swimming as a result of the video.  That's what digital portfolios are about:  Reflecting and growing as a learner, regardless of the area.

Can you steal Casey and Abby's idea?  Find a video about a skill that you are trying to get better at, highlight things you've learned from the video, and then tell us how that learning applies to you.


Jamie's Video Share:  Jamie also took my "find and share a video" challenge a few weeks ago. Her post is different from Abby and Casey's, though.  She went and found a tutorial on a topic that all y'all were studying in Math class and shared it quickly in her portfolio.  That's ANOTHER great idea because when she wants to go back and study for math, she can turn to her portfolio to find tutorials.

Can you steal Jamie's idea?  Start thinking about the topics you are learning about in each of your classes.  Then, find tutorials about those topics and post them quickly in your portfolio.  Soon, you'll have a warehouse of videos that are sorted by subject that you can use for studying.


Sanjit's Test Reflection:  Sanjit wrote a great reflection after taking his Matter test this week.  I love how he dissected the questions that he got wrong, working hard to identify the reasons for his mistakes.  I also love that he wrote right after his test was done.  That's what reflective learners do -- they think through their weaknesses and see what they can learn from them.

Can you steal Sanjit's idea?  Have you taken a test recently in any of your classes?  Go back and look at that test.  What can you learn from the mistakes that you made?  What will your next steps as a learner be now that you've identified your mistakes?


Layaa's Post on Compounds and Mixtures:  After we finished studying compounds and mixtures -- a tricky topic that I told you was going to be on your unit test -- Layaa wrote a bit summarizing the differences between those two concepts.  What I LOVE about that is it gave Layaa a GREAT chance to study before the test.  Trying to summarize difficult ideas in your portfolio is a way of practicing with those ideas.  Better yet, trying to summarize difficult ideas in your portfolio will help you to build a library of study posts that you can look back at later.

Can you steal Layaa's idea?  What is a difficult concept that you've learned in one of your classes lately?  Consider writing a summary sharing what you know about that difficult concept in your portfolio!  Just be sure to add labels so that you can find that post later.


Can't wait to see who is on next week's "Examples of Awesomeness" post!


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Here's How I Like to Study.

Digital Portfolio Challenge:  Create a ranked list of three different study strategies.    There are TONS of different steps that students take to study new content.  We use flash cards, online games (think Quizlet or Kahoot), review with study partners, and study guides. List three study strategies that you have used in order from MOST effective to LEAST effective -- and defend your rankings.


When I think about the most effective ways to study for tests, three things pop to mind: Using Quizlet, reviewing my classroom assignments and watching Brainpop videos.

Here's how I would rank order those strategies:

(1). Watching Brainpop Videos: I think watching Brainpop videos is the best way to study because there are videos about everything in our Science curriculum. Those videos are short -- so I don't feel like I am being slammed by too much information all at once. But they are also entertaining and they tend to cover the important ideas that we are learning in class, too.

(2). Using Quizlet: One of the things that has always helped me as a learner on a test is knowing all of the unit's vocabulary words. That's because those words appear everywhere on a test -- in the questions, in the answer choices, in my own answers. So as boring as it may seem, memorizing important vocabulary helps me. And Quizlet makes studying vocabulary a little less boring! I like that I can study in lots of different ways and take as many practice tests as I want.

(3). Reviewing my Classroom Assignments: OK. So I figured something out. Everything that we do in class is designed to teach us something that we are supposed to know during the unit! I know. I know. That SHOULD have been obvious, but I don't pay all that much attention to the work we are doing in class. Now that I know the assignments matter, I like to review them before each test. That refreshes my memory about the ideas that we were learning and the way that we were learning them.

What's your favorite way to study? Am I missing any strategies that are worth trying?

Monday, February 13, 2017

My Science Midyear Benchmark

Last week, we took a benchmark test in Science class.  I scored an 88 on the benchmark.

Here's my item analysis:

What I noticed about the questions that I got wrong is that two out of the three of them are about the layers of the earth.  I'm not totally surprised that I missed those:  We studied the layers of the earth a long time ago.  But it does mean that I need to go back and check that content out again.  That's worth reviewing for sure.  

I think I'm most disappointed in myself for missing question 25.  It asked why the inner core of the earth is a solid ball of iron.  I answered that it was because of extreme temperature.  I should have realized that when I want something -- think snow or sand -- to be "more solid," I don't add heat to it.  Instead, I add pressure to it.  I think that's a question that I could have gotten right if I had thought a little more carefully.

What I'm proud of, though, is that I made mastery on almost all of my other objectives.  What I do the best is ecosystems stuff.  Food chains and food webs are easy for me -- and I'm also good at biotic and abiotic factors.

I think what I enjoy the most is talking about how humans impact the environment.  That stuff is really interesting to me simply because I know that humans are having an impact and if we think about our choices, we can make sure that our impact is a positive one instead of a negative one.

Sunday, February 12, 2017


One of the things that I've gotten interested in is the role that American pilots played during World War II.  That was really the first war where pilots played a major role in fighting against enemies.  I learned a lot of what I know by reading Flyboys this year.

What was interesting to me was that the Japanese HATED American pilots.

The reason was that up until that point, Japan thought that they COULDN'T be attacked because they were an island nation that remained isolated for centuries.  They also believed that spirits would protect them by sending huge storms to eliminate any enemies who dared to attack.

That changed when the US --  who had invested millions of dollars in developing an Air Force during World War II -- started bombing the Japanese from the air.  People's confidence was shaken in their government and in the protection they thought they'd always had.

That hatred also came because American bombing missions at the time weren't designed to target JUST military bases.  Instead, their bombing missions were designed to break Japan's will to fight.  So bombing runs could kill innocent people and destroy entire cities.

Here are some things I'm wondering right now:

  • Did American pilots ever feel guilty about bombing missions that didn't target military sites?
  • Are planes and pilots still the most important military tool that we have for protection and attack?
  • How have military weapons and tactics changed over time?
  • Does anything good ever come out of war?

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Aced My Calculating Percentages Test!

One of the things that I’m currently proud of is the 95 that I earned on my Calculating Percentages test.  

This is a pretty important accomplishment for me mostly because I wasn’t all that sure that calculating percentages mattered, so I wasn’t putting a whole lot of effort into learning how to do it.  But when I was out at dinner with my dad, I saw him calculating percentages so he could figure out how much of a tip to leave for our waiter.  

That made me interested and I started practicing with calculating percentages everywhere that I go.  

What I’m proudest of is that I actually know why multiplying by a decimal makes sense when calculating percentages.  That means that not only can I answer questions about the process of calculating percentages, I know WHY that process works.  

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Standing Up to Injustice Doesn't Seem Easy.

Today in social studies, we were talking about the Holocaust.  

One of my classmates made a big speech about how anyone who was alive during the Holocaust that didn’t speak up against what the Germans were doing to minority groups was a chicken.  His point was that anytime that you see something bad happening, you HAVE to speak up -- and that if you don’t, you aren’t a good person.  

I’m not sure that I agree with him.  While I agree that we SHOULD speak up when we see something bad happening -- especially something as bad as the Holocaust -- I don’t think it is always that easy.  

Take living in Germany for example:  I bet that all of your neighbors and friends in school would either agree with Hitler’s decisions or be afraid of the consequences of disagreeing in front of everyone else.  I know that’s how I feel when I see friends making bad choices.  Even though I know the choices are bad, I don’t always speak up because I don’t want to make enemies.  

I want to find some interviews to read of people who were alive during tough times like the Holocaust to see if they ever felt bad about what was happening -- and to see what (if anything) they did about it.