Saturday, April 9, 2016

Final Reflection on Connection

Over the past two months, I have learned a lot about what it means to be "connected" in the professional and educational world. All from creating a PLN, to connected projects in school, I know I will continue to work towards some of my professional learning goals in regards to this topic.

After completing a larger project that incorporated connection for the students, there were a few points that I can take away from the experience. The first, and one of the most important aspects I learned from student survey results, was that my class does see the value in connected to a global audience in school. I believe this is the key to creating new projects that result in authentic work. Students need to see that the work they put out there is being viewed as important enough for others to see. Having a real audience gives students purpose for this project and increases the stakes for their final products.

Another take-away I have from this global learning project, is to incorporate blogs, but really make a purpose for them. I added in blogs because I wanted students to reflect and have their reflections public, but I don't think I voiced the importance of the blogs or how to successfully write a blog post before I assigned them. In the future, I will do this and also have more interaction from the students in class, and perhaps experiment with bringing in expert feedback/input into student blog posts.

Connecting to global experts can be challenge. If I am going to continue to successfully create projects like this past one, I need to really know who I want my students to reach out and how they will be expected to interact or use the feedback. For this first trial run, I had students find the experts and reach out to them, after this experience, I now know that again, I will have to take time to teach the process of reaching or just provide some experts.

Overall, I enjoyed the extra level of connectedness within this project. I feel the students stepped up to the challenge and the end result were some really unique and creative products. I will continue to create opportunities for connection in my classroom and professional career!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Student Survey Results on Global Connection within Enrichment Project

My students were all asked to evaluate how "connected" they felt they were within this project. To increase a global connection, I asked all groups to reach out to one global expert. I left the type of expert out, but I did give them a few examples of good people to contact. I wanted students to find out more about their animal, and different examples of enrichment. Because this was a zoo and wild animal centered enrichment toy design project, many of the students decided to reach out to the Minnesota Zoo. However, they had a difficult time getting into contact with anyone.

Other students had success when they emailed specific people. One group, who had the cougar as a client, emailed an in-state, Wild Cat Sanctuary, and received a great email full of information about cougars in general and how they enrich the cats. The group that received the input from this organization was very excited to hear back, and used the information to their advantage.

Below are the results from the student survey.

The first question I asked students centered around blogging. I had never required students to blog during a project, but I did like the way it required students to reflect during the design process. Based on the survey results, about 63% of my class agreed with me.

Next up, I asked how many students heard feedback from their experts, either global or local. Local experts being the Animal Caretakers from Zollman Zoo at Oxbow Park, who we worked with for this project. Then below this, I asked who they reached out to for a global expert, and many answered with Zoo experts or other animal experts.

After asking about specifics, I wanted to know whether 7th grade students see the value in reaching out to a global network. And I was very happy to see that they do see this as an important aspect in school today! Lastly, I was curious if students would have liked an extra dose of social media added into the project, which surprisingly, most said no.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Final Prototype Test Day at Oxbow

On Monday, March 21st my class of seventh grade students and I all headed out to Zollman Zoo. The projects that the students had created (as mentioned in previous posts) were the result of creativity, hard work, and excitement. Now, it was the day to go back out to the zoo and test out their enrichment toys with the animals.

It was a great trip! Below are some pictures and videos with students setting up the toys in the exhibits and results from some of the animals.


All of the students had a blast at the zoo. The only complaint I received was that they wished they could have stayed longer. Having a local connection as valuable as this is something I intend to use as long as they are willing to let us! Adding an extra connection to this project, via student blog posts, and reaching out to global experts, was a positive that I saw in the overall quality of the enrichment toys produced with this class. 

Connection is definitely something I will continue to work on and use in my future projects!