Thursday, June 27, 2019

Basecamp 2019

June 27th, 2019. The first day of summer vacation. But it was also #Basecamp2019 hosted by Chappaqua Schools!

It was a great way to end the school year and kick off summer; reconnecting with colleagues and friends, meeting new ones, sharing, learning... it was a great finish to the year and a perfect way to start the summer.

One of my favorite moments of the day was the Symposium Session run by Daniel Valentin and Valerie Brunow. They created a NCAA-style bracket challenge around poetry and crowning a "best poem." It was great to look at something like poetry in that way, since poetry isn't something you can easily say is best or worst, especially across different genres and the different ways to experience it (reading it, having it read to you, or watching a video of the poet read the poem as they intended).

It was a great session that got me thinking differently about poetry as well as how I might have some fun with a tech-focused bracket challenge.

In addition to watching a number of sessions, I presented a few things during the conference and this blog posts will serve as the central repository for all the things I rambled on about.

And a big thanks for Ellen Moskowitz for capturing my finest summer shirt during my Adobe Spark roundtable discussion

Adobe Spark blog posts
Poetry with Adobe Spark
Social Studies with Adobe Spark Video

Ignite the Student Presentation: Ditch the TriFold and Ignite Passion and Creativity
This is the 4th year we've done CapCon! with TED and Ignite Talks and every year is a new challenge and a new success, and it was great to share it with the folks at Basecamp mere days away from the event.

Check out all the Ignite and CapCon! blogs posts from previous years to see how we've evolved the process.

Thank you to everyone I connected with, reconnected with, came to my session, sat at the roundtable, or just said hello to. I had a great day!

And of course, big thanks to Chappaqua Schools for hosting!

4th Grade Ignite Talks

In 2018 we tried the Ignite Talks format with a single 4th grade class. This year we did it with the entire grade.

Before we dive into the awesomeness that is the 4th grade Ignites allow me to define Ignite Talks and how we use them…

Ignite Talks originated in Seattle as a new style of presenting. The format is: “5 minutes, 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds… enlighten us but make it quick.” 

We have modified that format for 4th grades;

“7 slides, 15 seconds per slide, 1:45 to tell us your story.” For the 4th grade we took the social studies unit The American Revolution and centered the Ignite Talks around that idea and area of study.

Last year the Ignites were a reflective presentation on their Colonial America unit of study. This year their Ignites are all about their study of the American Revolution. Their unit of study around the American Revolution was a 6+ weeks history experience. They researched, read novels, created period-inspired political cartoons and diary entries, and looked at the major factors, from both sides, of the start of the American Revolutionary Way. Their Ignite Talks are a summary of their experience. We gave them 7 slides and 1:45 to tell about their learning experience, in their own words. It is the ultimate reflective assignment, they had to look back at the full experience and think about the different assignments and projects and how they connected, or didn’t, with each. These Ignites are their literal final project for this unit, summing up everything they did, learned, experienced, and how they felt about it all. All in one minute and 45 seconds…

Monday, June 24, 2019

Social Studies with Adobe Spark Video

This post was originally written for the @HeathcoteTech blog and first appeared at

Adobe Spark is a great platform we've been experimenting with this year. Adobe Spark has a few great benefits including being cloud based so students can use any connected device and access their work anywhere, and it gives you 3 options; Spark Post, Spark Page, and Spark Video. We used Spark Post earlier this year to create poetry graphics.

For the 3rd grade Cultural Universal and 5th grade Immigration units we used Spark Video.
For each grade the students had some basic guidelines
  • No more than 6 words per slide
  • No more than 6 seconds of narration per slide
  • Choose music that fits the tone of your story/narrative
  • Choose a theme and color scheme that fits the tone of your story/narrative
The goal of using Adobe Spark Video was to get students to think differently about their presentation. They are adept at Google Slides and very competent at WeVideo. Adobe Spark falls somewhere in between and posed them challenges to figure out; challenges in what they wanted it to do or be like WeVideo while also showing them the possibilities beyond Google Slides.

For both the 3rd and 5th graders they wrote their narratives first, then turned those into a script, which became the narration and the visuals. There was lots of editing, revising, practicing, fine tuning, and ultimately amazing final projects.