Author Archives | Mr. M

The Smore The Merrier – 8083

Grant Odell, Deep Run High School


Throughout this lesson, students develop a deeper understanding of mineralogy; they practice and exhibit collaborative and communicative skills; and they reflect on the learning process. They are challenged to work in teams creating online brochures of minerals intended for sale. An online site ( is utilized for creating brochures.

The librarian provides an overview of the ‘smore’ site, and shares tips for making brochures attractive and informative. She provides instruction in effective content searches and offers several “‘copyright friendly’ websites useful for collecting images. Students gather images and content regarding specific minerals and assemble them into an online sales brochure while working within a team.

The teacher and ITRT develop a online planning guide that is shared with (and within) each team. The guide promotes understanding and development of 21st century skills while ensuring that all team members become stakeholders in the project. Via the guide, the teacher can ‘peak’ into and provide suggestions and interventions regarding each team’s processes while the project is ongoing.

Once the brochures are complete, students share their individual projects via a “virtual gallery walk.” Through personalized Google Forms, students are asked to assess a small number of classmate’s work while providing high quality descriptive feedback (e.g., commendations and recommendations.) Viewing their peers’ brochures through the lens of the project rubric fosters skills for providing quality feedback. Critiquing other’s work and reading detailed feedback about their own projects develops self-reflection.

An ‘exit ticket’ survey allows students to offer feedback about the lesson continuing the reflective process for both the students and the teacher.

TIPC Ratings

In this lesson, resources are provided for researching and acquiring information and images yet students are encouraged to go beyond those resources in creating their brochures. The provided planning guide contains step by steps directions for advanced Google searches as well as links to other search sites and strategies that can be used. Students are individually and independently engaged in both the research and in the application of the acquired information to make their brochures informative and attractive. Additionally, the planning guide is designed for students to enter content, links, and questions that arise during the research acquisition phase. Students assemble their content and images to create a sale brochure simulating a ‘real world’ task. This lesson is rated as approaching.

Students work in teams using the Google Docs planning guide to help manage tasks, share insights and ultimately complete the class assignment. Via the web, each member of the team has access to their planning guide which contains information on time-tested behaviors necessary for quality collaboration. The guide allows and encourages students to reflect on their roles as team members, learners and communicators. Throughout this project, students collaborate planning, evaluation and sharing the brochures via Google Docs. This lesson is rated as approaching.

By design, critical thinking is infused throughout this project. Gathering, processing and honing information to solve a real world scenario (selling minerals) provokes students to think and analyze their processes. Students must apply digital tools (eg., online brochure software, Google Docs, numerous web sites) to accomplish the authentic tasks. In their planning guide, they generate their own questions to help guide the creative process and they think critically to best determine how to market minerals to be sold. They must also think critically when assessing their peers’ work. As a result of these actions and behaviors, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Expectations for students to be creative is emphasized in the research and assimilation portions of the project. While the software for creating the brochures is standardized (which helps make the project manageable for students and the teacher,) students have numerous choices in how they create their new products, the online sales brochures. Viewing the peers’ products helps students gain new strategies, insights and awareness about the creative processes. At the completion of the projects, students reflect on the processes while providing high quality feedback to the teacher about the lesson. This lesson is rated as approaching.

Student Artifact

The image is hyperlinked to a selection of other student projects!SmoreArtifact

Download Files


  • The lesson plan contains links to lesson artifacts (planning guide, rubric, peer feedback form and student feedback on lesson form)

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Earth Science, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Science, TIP Chart0 Comments

“I Side With” – A Twist on the Classic KWL Learning Strategy 8084

Emily Pierce, Deep Run High School


An essential ingredient of a democratic society is an informed electorate. In US Government classes, students are exposed to a variety of concepts designed to help participants understand the ‘uniqueness’ of the United States’ political system and society.

To fully comprehend the US political system, students must understand competing (and conflicting) political ideologies as such beliefs and principles have existed and guided the country since the dawn of the republic. In the current dominance of the two party system in the United States, students must be able to differentiate between the political parties’ ideologies.

Through lecture, class discussions, and online resources, students are exposed to the concept of political ideologies. They are encouraged to examine their own personal political ideologies. Once they gain an understanding of such ideologies plus the development of their own political beliefs, they complete an online survey. The survey provides a visual representation allowing students to discern how their beliefs fit into the ideologies of current political parties.

After submitting the survey and viewing their results, students reflect on what they knew prior to the survey, what they learn as a result of completing the survey, and what they want to learn more about. Having ‘blogged’ throughout the school year via their class’ web log, they create responses to a ‘KWL (rearranged into a KLW) prompt. Through uploaded posts, students share beliefs (and elaborate on newly-gained understandings and awareness) with their peers, teacher and the world at large.

TIPC Ratings

Although the primary focus of this short-term lesson is communication, collaboration and critical thinking, this lesson is rated as developing (in terms of RIF.) During this activity, students analyze their “I Side With” survey data, construct questions for – and speculate on – what they would like to investigate next, and organize their post responses on the class blog.

Though they are not collaborating in smaller teams, students realize that blogging on a shared space across time and distance is a different and deeper type of collaboration, and as such blogging is powerful method of communicating ideas to a much larger audience. This lesson is rated as approaching as students ‘blog’ their responses to the KLW prompt while reflecting on their role as thinkers, communicators and collaborators.

Students respond to the KWL prompt by providing information about what they learn during the processes. In a tangible way, the blog authors show awareness of their own thinking and learning, a powerful process known as metacognition. The students’ responses to the prompt are deeply personal and very powerful. For these reasons, this lesson is rated as high approaching in terms of critical thinking.

This lesson is rated as approaching as students analyze the trends of their own beliefs via the detailed graphics provided by the online survey site. Students create meaningful and personal responses moving beyond the guidelines of the assignment. Although it is not specifically mentioned as a goal for growth, the prompt encourages students to reflect on the results, reflect on their own ideologies – and how they were formed, as well as reflecting on concepts and ideas they’d like to explore more fully.

Student Artifact

This image is a hyperlink to the original student post.ISideWithSurvey1-500x340

Download Files


  • Lesson Plan Document (contains link to survey, scoring guide and student posts)

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Government, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - Dev, Lesson, Social Studies, Subject, TIP Chart0 Comments

Great Expectations “Selfies” – 8087

Amanda Dickey, Deep Run High School


English 9 students are asked to choose a scenario from the novel Great Expectations that will be used to create a character “selfie” photograph. Through the use of pictures, usernames, comments, and hashtags, students show character traits and emotional responses to their chosen situation. Initially, they use a brainstorming planning sheet to consider how best to incorporate all of these elements. Then, they use three “copyright friendly” websites to secure images and citations; ActivInspire software to create the actual composite image; and the class blog to broadcast their work. Their posts on the blogs “unpack their thinking” as to choices made in creating their images. Students vote for the selfie they think is the most original and that winner gets her very own “#selfie” t-shirt.

TIPC Ratings

As students access information using provided resources, they construct questions to guide their research and assemble that information in novel ways to create real-world products. They then post their product on the class blog for their peers, teacher, and everyone else to view. As a result, this lesson is rated as developing.

Although at first glance, students are not working in formalized teams, they are collaborating within the class, supporting each other as their work through the processes and create their individualized products. By posting their “instagram selfies” on the class blog, they are sharing their ideas, reflectively commenting on other students work (as time allows), and communicating to a much larger audience than simply their teacher. In light of these behaviors, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Through the planning guide and in subsequent actions, students reflect on how to effectively communicate their visual interpretations of a self-selected scenario from Great Expectations. As editors of their blog posts, they explain their selections and decisions made in creating their composite images, character ‘hashtag’ responses and ‘likes.’ This lesson is rated as approaching.

This lesson is rated as approaching as students create original work by applying a “pop culture behavior” (posting images on oneself online) to demonstrate understandings of a timeless piece of literature. In their blog posts, students reflect on their thinking and choices made in creating their personal interpretations of scenarios depicted in the novel.

Student Artifact

The image is a hyperlink that leads to a view of many posts of Great Expectation ‘selfies.’InstagramSelfie2

Download Files


  • Lesson Plan and Student Guide
  • Formal Rubric and Great Expectations Scenarios

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, English, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - Dev, Lesson, Subject, TIP Chart0 Comments

High Speed Balloon Pop – 8085

Karen Gage, Deep Run High School


The high speed balloon pop is a student-driven investigation and demonstration of high speed photography and the use of freeze motion. Students use prior knowledge of motion capture with fast and slow shutter speeds to successfully capture a frozen motion image of a water balloon “popping.” Students watch a demonstration by the teacher without any knowledge of the camera settings. They examine the activity setup before breaking off into small groups to address the challenge of performing the task with accurate and effective camera settings, correct studio lighting, and team coordination (“popper” and “shooter” must be in sync). Students have three attempts (3 water balloons) to successfully capture a well exposed, correctly timed, successful composition of a balloon popping utilizing a DSLR camera.

TIPC Ratings

Via demonstrations, the teacher models the process yet does not provide specifics to solve the problem. This lesson is rated as developing as students use their knowledge from class as well as online materials (class website) to determine the proper camera settings. Students construct questions based on the demonstration they have seen. They answer those questions through group collaboration and research.

The teacher designs a challenge by creating a scenario to photograph a high speed motion setup. This setup provides students with a model for the task and promotes collaboration to solve this challenge as a group. Students will form teams, assign tasks and work together to create a successful image. As a result of these efforts, this lesson is rated as developing.

This lesson is rated as approaching in terms of critical thinking and problem solving as the teacher promotes solution to the task at hand by engaging students in a trial and error scenario. Students justify their hypothesis by testing the solution they have a determined as a group.

The teacher includes connections between previously covered information and a real world problem that needs a solution. Students use this information to effectively create an interesting image utilizing a contemporary photographic technique. As a result, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Student Artifact


Download Files


  • Lesson Plan
  • Project Overview and Rubric

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Critical Thinking - App, CTE, Grade Level, High School, Lesson, Technology, TIP Chart0 Comments

Distribution of Wealth – 8086

Austin Campbell, Deep Run High School


In this lesson, students examine how wealth and power are distributed throughout different time periods, places and nations. In order to understand what wealth and power are considered and how they are obtained and divided within specific time periods, students work as a team to perform research. Finally, the students communicate their research to others in order to analyze, compare and evaluate the information exchanged.

TIPC Ratings

The students apply research techniques demonstrated by the teacher by using the provided questionnaire to find the answers that specifically fit their topic. Through these questions the students find information for further analysis and must determine the accuracy and credibility through multiple sources. As a result, students work at the the developing stage for research and information fluency.

The students work in common groups and must find various ways to communicate their research and development of the project in and outside of the classroom. Students groups use a variety of communications including, Presentation Chat function, phone calls, text messaging, twitter, email and message boards to collaborate and complete the project. With the various forms of communications, students discover which forms work the best and which to use for future assignments. Consequently, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Students answer instructor provided questions yet also answer additional in-depth questions as they encounter more topic-specific questions. During the project, other questions arise including how to modify the guided questions to fit a specific topic, how to manage the group, and how to correlate research findings between multiple individuals. The groups must decide, as a whole, what the project will look like, contain content wise and how the project will be presented specific to their topic using the digital tools provided. This lesson is rated as approaching.

After the instructor provided questions and outline are given out, the students are shown what technologies can be used and are told that the project is theirs to develop. Students utilize prior knowledge and expertise plus technology and collaboration skills to develop a unique project to present. Within the groups, students work together to develop, change and modifying ideas while developing new skills and ways of thinking. They learn to incorporate everyone’s work together into a single project. In terms of creativity and innovation, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Student Artifact

Download Files


  • H21 Lesson Plan
  • DOW Project Overview and Rubric
  • DOW Project Checklist
  • Link to Additional Student Work

Posted in Comm/Collab - Target, Critical Thinking - App, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - Dev, Project, Social Studies, Subject, TIP Chart, World History0 Comments

Hero Tales: Collaborative Story and Movie Creation – 8082

Beth Berry and Jen Perego, Deep Run High School


Students in English class research a “hometown hero” story and rewrite that story in “code hero” fashion. The students use Google Docs to collaborate with students in Computer Programming class who use the story to create a short film using Alice software.  Ultimately, both classes share the final products with an elementary school. English students share about the attributes of code heroes and their process of research and story writing.  Programming students present on their processes of adapting a story into a storyboard, and translating a storyboard into a program.

Teachers’ Reflections

English Teacher: I liked how the lesson allowed my students to apply thematic elements of a classic piece of literature to real-world heroes. Since my students are members of the Center for Information Technology, many of them were very excited about the collaboration with the programming class. Students also learned valuable lessons about working in groups, collaborating using Google Drive, and presenting to a specific audience.

When the students presented to the students at Twin Hickory Elementary School, the elementary school students at first did not understand the concept of computer programming. However, as a result of our students’ presentations, their conversations with the younger kids, and our question/answer segment, by the end of the presentation the elementary school students expressed their desire to start programming using Alice or Scratch. They seemed genuinely excited about our presentations and ready to try it on their own!

Programming teacher: I liked how this lesson enabled my programming students to be creative with their story adaptations, while still working under constrictions of time and the input from their English groups. Since this project was extensive and time-consuming, programming student groups had to apply their knowledge of object oriented programming in order to divide the tasks up so that each group member could effectively work together and create a well-made final program. I am proud that my students were able to collaborate using multiple media, and also incite an interest in programming among the elementary school students.

TIPC Ratings

In their English groups, each student had to research a local “hometown” hero who exhibited the traits of a code hero. Students had to select the most appropriate information sources and then organize their ideas about how the local hero fit the code hero traits. Students accomplished this task by saving the web-based article as a PDF, uploading it into a shared Google Drive folder, and then annotating the text (by adding comments) for its connections to the Hemingway code hero. Students then were able to read the annotations of their group members to select the best article to use for their creative hero tale.

Collaboration was a focus of this lesson. Programming students used the storyboard that they created in order to divide the programming tasks up according to scenes in the story. Some students wrote the code for characters, while other students wrote the code for the interaction of characters in the story. In order to create the final movie product, students had to evaluate each other’s programming work and make minor changes in order to create a uniform story. Students were asked not only to work in small groups to prepare their stories and programs, but they also were required to effectively use Google Docs as a way of communicating with students in the other class. Students also had the opportunity for reflection on their collaboration, by accepting input on their adaptation and presenting the final product to their English groups.
Finally, students brought their projects to Twin Hickory in order to teach students about their creative process as well as share their creations.

In English class, students had to annotate their source documents to align the documents with the hero themes of the Old Man and the Sea. Next, these English students had to give feedback to the Programming students through commenting on the storyboards using GoogleDocs. The programming students had to use the tools of Alice to bring the English story to life. In order to do this, students had to apply their understanding of program organization with methods, code the actions of characters, as well as program the actions and events of the story environment.

In their English class, students had to create meaningful stories based on research and applications to a novel read in class. They had to make sure their stories would appeal to elementary school students, yet still modeled the Hemingway code hero traits. Lastly, they had to make sure the story could be mapped on a storyboard for the programming classes to effectively create their project.

Students in the programming classes had to work within the confines of their assigned story and time limitations to create an original work. Students needed to divide the task appropriately between their group members, considering their particular programming strengths as well as use the concepts of code-reuse and code organization to create a program that modeled their assigned story.

Download Files


  • Lesson Plan
  • Supporting Documents including lesson rubric, student directions and tip sheets
  • Additional Student Work Samples

Posted in Comm/Collab - Target, Computer Science, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, English, High School, Info Fluency - App, Math, Project, Subject, TIP Chart0 Comments

‘Edcanvassing’ AP U.S. History

Dan Dickey, Deep Run High School


The immense amount of information to be covered in an Advanced Placement course often forces delivery of the content toward a ‘sage on the stage’ model. In an effort to allow students to engage with the information and to experience the challenge of teaching so much content in detail, teams of AP U. S. History students were tasked with creating online learning modules for their classmates to use.

Housed in, each team’s web 2.0 modules provide content, activities, videos, timelines, and questions that promote examining, discussing and comprehending the issues and events from specified time periods. Each team teaches key content and then facilitates their classmates’ understanding through the use of online resources. As an online repository for teaching and learning, the edcanvas links can be accessed repeatedly and at any time as students prepare for AP course assessments.

To help students manage their projects and to ensure that the student groups function as high quality teams, a Google Doc planning guide – based on the HCPS TIP Chart – is shared with the students. Teams’ use of the guide is required as the Google Doc allows the teacher to view how each project is going and emphasizes the many processes involved in creating the modules via collaboration.

TIPC Ratings

Although the primary information resource is the textbook, students are familiar with advanced search techniques and are aware of the importance of determining the accuracy of online information. They use the Google Docs planning guide to compile their research and to generate new questions which guides further research. This lesson is rated as approaching.

Students use a variety of digital communicative and collaborative tools as the emphasis throughout the project is on working together to address an authentic task: the creation of quality learning modules for their classmates. This lesson is rated as approaching.

In this project, students are challenged to create engaging activities while covering a lot of information. As a result, teams are continually deciding which tools to use and which content gets emphasized. Making those hard decisions in a team context is not easy and takes practice and effort. This lesson is rated as approaching.

In this challenging project, students are asked to create engaging ways to cover (and uncover) a lot of content using the ‘push pull’ tools of the internet. There is a great deal of student choice in creating these modules and a lot of pressure in finding creative ways to help others learn. As a result, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Student Artifact:

The image is a hyperlink.


Download Files


  • Edcanvas Lesson Plan
  • Edcanvas Project Student Overview

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Social Studies, Subject, TIP Chart, US History0 Comments

Turbulent Times: The Sporadic Sixties

Emily Pierce, Deep Run High School


Working as a large group, first students research and then compile subtopics of key events and people of the 1960’s onto an online document via The ‘class-sourced’ mural provides a blue-print for self-selected pairs of students to use as they investigate specific topics assigned via a lottery. Using print and electronic resources, students analyze and synthesize their research to create online multimedia narratives explaining the topics.

The students are charged to create accurate multimedia descriptions of their topic which their classmates will read to learn content via these online “web log” narratives. Each blog post includes still images and videos (and / or video links) relating to the content. Every team maintains a Google Doc planning guide designed to help the groups meet project deadlines while allowing the teacher to examine, manage and guide the work processes. The planning guide allows the teacher to assess the work of the group both formatively and summatively. After the narratives have been posted, classmates read and respond, providing high quality descriptive comments including commendations and recommendations.

TIPC Ratings

As part of an ongoing effort to promote research fluency, students receive instruction on advanced search strategies and methods to determine the accuracy of online resources. Students use their planning guide to document research strategies, content obtained and any additional questions the new learning fosters. They use MS Word to originally organize and assemble their narratives and then post them online in a class blog. As a result, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Students work in self-selected teams and use Gmail and the shared Google Docs planning guide to organize their work and document the roles each participant assumes as they complete the project. This lesson is rated as approaching.

The use of the planning guide helps students generate and regenerate purposeful questions to guide their research and help develop critical thinking skills. As researchers and authors, they analyze and synthesize information in order to create and effectively communicate their story line to their classmates (and to a larger population) via the class blog. This lesson is rated as approaching.

Working in teams, students choose the style of the written narrative as well as the images and media that effectively support the telling of their view of history. As a result, this lesson is rated as approaching.

Student Artifacts:

The campaign button is a hyperlink to the class blog.


Download Files


  • 01 Link to a Google Doc of the Sporadic 60s project

Posted in 20th Century, Comm/Collab - App, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Finalist '12-'13, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Social Studies, Subject, Winners0 Comments

Improving Musical Performance Via Student Feedback

Amy El-Khoury and Greg Metcalf (ITRT), Deep Run High School


The value of feedback in improving performance and achievement cannot be overstated. In light of this key tenet of quality instruction, students were exposed to and familiarized with the Virginia Music Educators District Assessment judging form through large group class discussions. Students were given a “Google Doc version” of the form to use for performance evaluation. (A “read only” copy of the Google Doc Form is being shared with other HCPS music teachers and can be accessed here.)

Ensemble performances from past concerts were video recorded, digitized, and posted on and an alternate fileserver. Links were shared with students via email, the department website, and a Facebook group post. Students in advanced ensembles then watched the performances at home on their own time. Students in less advanced ensembles watched the performances in small groups during class. The teacher gathered and collated student data and feedback from the Google Doc for both small and large student group discussions.

TIPC Ratings

Although the focus of this classroom lesson was on communicating and thinking critically, students were instructed on how to analyze various sources of information while responding to an authentic task. In this light, this lesson is rated as Developing for RIF.

Students worked in small and large teams using digital tools to communicate while completing the class assigned tasks. As a result, this lesson is rated as Developing.

This lesson is rated as Approaching as students solved open-ended tasks (evaluating choral performances using a third party rubric.) Although the teacher created the Google Doc form, students were involved in analyzing the VMEA scoring guide and evaluating performances over time. Additionally, students justified their decision-making processes when discussing performance scores within the groups.

Students created meaningful work by making sense out of all of the data while reflecting on their processes and setting goals for future growth. As a result, this lesson is rated as Approaching.

Student Artifact


Download Files


  • VMEA_AnalysisLessonPLan

Posted in Comm/Collab - Dev, Creativity - App, Critical Thinking - App, Electives, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - Dev, Music, Subject, TIP Chart0 Comments

Soy Artistico Yo Tweet (“I Am Artistic and I Tweet”)

Becky Lambert, Deep Run High School


Working independently and using Google Sites, students create webpages as though they were a major Hispanic artist from the last 200 years. Using the target language, students communicate the artists’ visions and offer samples of their work, examples of their Twitter feeds, timelines of their lives, and videos of the artist reflecting on their art, their processes and their life. Other students (within and between the targeted Spanish classes) provide feedback about their peers’ webpage creations.

TIPC Ratings

Students are reminded how to effectively pursue both content and images using advanced search techniques. Throughout their research, the teacher models cognitive and research strategies as well as the process of refining research questions to help locate appropriate information. Continually students distill and organize information to create their artist’s web site. As a result of all of these intentional practices, this lesson is rated as Approaching.

Although students create the webpages by themselves, they support each other throughout the process by sharing what they’ve discovered about Google Sites and researching content and images on the web. As their web pages are shared within the school community and feedback is provided (literally on the webpages,) students collaborate within and beyond the confines of their own class. In light of these processes, this lesson is rated as Approaching.

A challenge is presented to Spanish III students: assume the persona of a famous Hispanic artist and create a webpage (as though the artist was alive today) that showcases their work, personality and perspectives. Students respond to higher order question in this authentic task by continually making decisions about how best to portray their artist online through a webpage. As a result, this lesson is rated as nearly Approaching.

This authentic task allows student to create individual products that blend aspects of personal choice while completing a major class project. No two webpages are alike and students are encouraged to think outside the box in designing the pages and the twitter feeds for their artist. As a result this lesson is rated as nearly Approaching.

Student Artifact


Download Files


  • Hispanic Artist Website Project Lesson Plan
  • Hispanic Artist Website Rubric

Posted in Comm/Collab - App, Critical Thinking - App, Grade Level, High School, Info Fluency - App, Project, Spanish, Subject, TIP Chart, World Languages0 Comments

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