Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Hero's Journey Archetype

The internet is an amazing resource for resourceful teachers!

This week I introduced the Hero's Journey Archetype. This is a lesson I taught last year using materials from Engage NY. But this year, I chose to deliver the content to my students using a Hero's Journey Hyperdoc created by Heather Marshall. If you haven't seen her work yet, head over to to her website and check it out all the resources and lessons she shares.

The lesson began with the students watching a video of heroes from many movies and cartoons played to the song, "Holding on for a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler. It was a lot of fun and it gave the students a chance to think about the lyrics to the song, what Ms. Tyler's definition of a hero is, and how their own definitions are similar or different from hers. Here was the students' thinking after watching the video. 

Next, we discussed the Hero's Journey archetype Joseph Campbell wrote about in his book, "Hero with a Thousand Faces", and how the same characteristics show up time and again in myths, stories and legends about heroes, including in movies, and the book we are reading, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. Students viewed a variety of text and video resources to help them understand the 12 stages.

To show what they know, the students were assigned to watch a movie that follows the structure of the Hero's Journey, fill in a graphic organizer, and report back to their groups on Monday. It was a fun lesson and way more engaging for my students than simply reading a handout!

To see a view only copy of the Hero's Journey Hyperdoc I used in my class, CLICK HERE. Let me know if you use it, or have any other great ideas or resources for teaching Hero's Journey.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Teaching the Scientific Method with Hyperdocs

One of the traditional assignments our 6th grade teachers give at the beginning of the school year is about The Scientific Method. In the past, the students read the textbook and then created a brochure to inform others about the Scientific Method. The past two years I taught 6th grade, I found that the textbook wasn't providing enough information and students needed more resources to truly understand the process. So this year, our brochure assignment got an upgrade!

This lesson was modified to be delivered through a Hyperdoc, assigned to students through Google Classroom. Each student received their own copy and then worked at their own pace to view the articles, graphics, and videos (as well as their textbook pages) provided as resources for learning about the Scientific Method. There was also opportunity for them to post responses on the doc itself and a Padlet.

Click the image to view the complete Hyperdoc. You may create your own copy to edit and use in your own classroom.

Here is the padlet my students used to share their questions with our class. We will be using these for inspiration during their science fair projects and Innovation Day projects later in the year.

Once students had learned about the Scientific Method, their task was to create a company that would inform and assist students who needed to do a Science Fair project utilizing the Scientific Method process. They created an informative poster using Piktochart, Google Drawings, or any other means as a way of convincing people to hire them to help with Science Fair projects. The students got really into it and are currently working on their projects. I hope to share the final products with you next week!

In the meantime, let me know what you think of this Hyperdoc. Did you make your own copy and modify/use it in your class? Let me know how it goes and thank you for your feedback!

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Flipping Back To School Night

This year our 6th grade team decided to take a risk, and try something new.... We Flipped our Back to School night! And it was a huge success!

Our rationale for doing a "Flipped" Back to School Night (BTSN) was to have parents watch our usual presentations at home, before they came to BTSN. Then, when they came to our classrooms on the actual night, we would have time to engage and interact with the parents - build relationships and have conversations that revolved around their kids, our passion for teaching, and the expectations for learning this year. It would give us the chance to get to know parents, and make those connections with them as partners in their child's education.

And it was awesome! Here is how we did it.

First, we are not tech gurus. None of us have savvy video production skills. So we used our Google Slides Presentation and Screencast-O-Matic to record ourselves narrating our slides. To make it easier and more manageable, we divided up the slides between us and each of us wrote the script for those slides. We recorded them individually, and then posted the videos to YouTube. From there, we were able to create a playlist (using our Teacher GAFE accounts) and add the videos to our own, individual playlists. We emailed parents the link to the playlist about 4 days before the BTSN and asked them to watch the videos in advance of coming to the classrooms. Here is what mine looked like.

Next, we had to figure out what to do when the parents showed up. This is where we diverged a little bit (I don't see anything wrong with that, by the way). Some of the teachers in my grade level choose to play a Kahoot with the parents, to review some of the most pertinent information from the videos. That was a huge hit! I decided to have my parents work on a collaborative slide deck and leave selfies for their kids. That was very fun, too! All of us chose to do a short presentation about ourselves using either slides or Smores since we did not include personal information about ourselves in our videos. We also had sign ups for Fall Conferences and Volunteers. 

I did "present" to parents for the first 15 minutes. But after that, I had the parents work on their selfies or sign ups while I started walking around.  The best part of flipping the BTSN was that I was able to walk around and talk to parents. Shake hands, mingle, get to know the parents a little bit. Give them an opportunity to ask me any questions. And just chat. We had the opportunity to build those positive relationships that are so important at the beginning of the year. I got to talk to most of the parents in my class. And I actually stayed longer than the allotted time just to be able to talk to parents. Instead of ushering parents out at the end of the night, the principal had to tell ME to leave!

After doing this Flipped BTSN I can't see going back to standing up in front of the parents for 40 minutes, reading my slides, and talking at them. It's too passive. It's boring for parents - and me. I would like to continue to work on finding ways to engage them during the BTSN and of course, having time to just walk around and get to know them better while building positive relationships.

Have you tried Flipping your BTSN? If you have, what did you do during the evening?

If you end up trying it, let me know how it goes!