One of my students recently used some word play on my name to start #StraightOuttaCampos as a running gag in my class. They know I’m a huge hip-hop fan and I’ve talked about growing up listening to NWA and how some of the themes (albeit graphic) are still relevant today. I love that they feel comfortable joking around with me, their weird math teacher, and they knew I’d find it hilarious. They also had to have known I would use the Straight Outta Somewhere generator to post a small poster on my classroom door. A few students even asked if they could have a copy of it to “Rep Their Classroom” and put in their binder sleeve covers. How cool is it that students want to rep their math classroom and their goofy math teacher? That’s an #EduWin for sure.
The movie, Straight Outta Compton, was a vividly told story of how NWA changed the game and pulled themselves out of an oppressive environment by street reporting their harsh reality through the artform of “reality rap” to bring us into the world that these ‘at risk’ youth lived in.
In our school system, the harsh reality is that, for far too long, classrooms have been pathetically poor environments for the cultivation of learning, creativity and self-expression.
My students and I are trying to change that by channelling our inner Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, and express ourselves through the art of classroom redesign. Students are craving an innovative environment that breaks the mold of the wack and traditional classrooms that we’ve been accustomed to.
Forget the row seats! And I’ll say it with authority!
You are now about to witness the power of grant money
If you don’t follow me on instagram, you may not fully understand what’s exactly going on my classroom, so allow me to explain. I work at Visalia Charter Independent Study High School in Visalia, CA. We were recently awarded a CDE Charter School Best Practices Grant. A good portion of that grant was designated to creating an innovative learning space for the math classroom. When I was asked to contribute to this grant and include what I wanted for my classroom, I had no idea that I’d actually get EVERYTHING I asked for.
A Classroom With Attitude
This classroom has so much attitude it’s borderline obnoxious. Here’s a list of what we have going on in Room 303.
- 3 walls covered from top to bottom in IdeaPaint whiteboard paint
- 3:1 device classroom(Chromebook, iPad Air, & Macbook Air)
- Two 70″ Sharp LED High Definition TVs for optimal visibility
- 2 Chromecasts(1 for each TV)
- 2 Apple TVs(1 for each TV)
- RocketFish 2 to 1 HDMI splitters & LOTS of HDMI cables from Monoprice to allow a variety of displays on both TVs from any device(chromebook, iPad, Macbook) in the classroom.
- Flexible Seating desks(that have a dry erase write-able surface)
- Logitech Harmony remote to easily manage all the varied input modes
- Vari-desk standing teacher desk
- NuMark MixTrack Pro 2 DJ Controller(digital turntables)
- Novation Launchpad S – beatpad
- Two 12″ PA Speakers
- Chromecast Audio to make the PA speakers wireless and controllable by my phone.
- Green Screen backdrop for my Video Production class
- iPad Mobile Movie Studio equipment
- iPad Mobile Music Studio equipment
- $20 heavy duty microphone – Purchased just for students to drop when they crush it. #MicDrop moments are powerful and fun.
I know…I know..it’s a lot of ‘stuff’…and I know it’s just ‘stuff’…it’s obscene…but don’t tell me that, if you are a teacher, that you’d object to having all of this in your classroom.
I know it’s a lot of money to invest in one single classroom, but where else(or when else) are we going to spend this money?
I asked for all of this because I wanted to create a space where every type of student can show evidence of their learning and express themselves in any format that they choose. The classroom should be a playground for their curious brains, their sandbox, their canvas, their rhyme book, their stage. My students can use any of the technology in class to model the mathematics, show their reasoning and creations with the Chromebooks, Macbooks, or iPads. They can then share with, present to or even teach others by wirelessly transmitting to either AppleTV or Chromecast device. They can brainstorm, collaborate, and learn with one another by writing on the whiteboard desks and/or walls. They can create music or movies using the devices or even just draw on the walls…because sometimes it’s just fun to draw on the walls.
100 Miles and Runnin’
With a 3:1 device classroom, the options are overwhelming. I’m ‘piloting’ the tech integration of all 3 devices, along with leading a Schoology Enterprise LMS implementation for Blended Learning, and helping to create quality Common Core aligned Integrated Math curriculum(that’s modified for an Independent Study setting) from a variety of amazing and mostly free resources on the web. #DitchTheTextbook
Without a doubt, the Chromebooks have been my go-to 1:1 device because of the ease of use and management, given that we’re a Google Apps for Education district. My students can explore and create with Desmos, Geogebra, Google Docs, Slides, Sheets,and Google Draw and stream them to either Chromecast. I can use formative assessment tools like Peardeck, GoFormative, EdPuzzle, and DocentEDU to focus my reteaching and give students more individual attention. The only thing I’d change, is that I’d have the school purchase class sets of Touch Screen chromebooks(I wasn’t aware of these at the time of writing the grant).
iPads are ultra-powerful creation devices but the classroom management piece is just not there yet, so I haven’t utilized them as much. I’m currently only using the Macbook Airs in my video production class because they have Final Cut Pro X on them and because as awesome as WeVideo is…it is not Final Cut Pro.
My #WonderWalls and 360 degree math
All of the tech devices and TVs in my classroom are awesome, but if I was forced to choose 1 thing, I’d choose to keep my Whiteboard Walls. I created these #WonderWalls by painting 3 of my classroom walls, from top to bottom, with IdeaPaint Dry Erase Paint. It’s THE game changer in my classroom and requires no learning curve and just a little bit of elbow grease to get it going. IdeaPaint is the priciest of the whiteboard paint options, but you can achieve the same environment with a RustOleum brand dry-rease paint, WriteyBoard products, or by just throwing up some individual white boards all around the classroom. Check out the Teach documentary and follow @MathPrincessC , @reubenhoffman, @jasonseliskar, @tbed63, @AlexOverwijk, and @jcorippo for more info on 360 degree math. Follow the hashtag #360Math to learn and share more about this revolution. It’s a no-brainer.
The most common thing I hear about visitors to my classroom is “Why aren’t all classrooms like this?” and they are specifically talking about the whiteboard walls.
Level up your #360Math
An easy and inexpensive way I stepped my #WonderWalls game up was by using Chromecast audio to turn my classroom speakers into wireless speakers, which allows me to play DJ with music cues to and get my students moving. I’ve experimented with this recently, thanks to the phenomenal resources of my friend, Matt Vaudrey. It’s ridiculously easy to keep my students working, engaged, and having fun in the classroom….while doing math!!!
‘Always Into Something’ but Pedagogy 1st!
With all these resources at my fingertips, I’ve been able to experiment, fail, learn, and grow in the process of creating meaningful learning experiences for my students. It’s a daunting task but I’ve been able to move along the SAMR spectrum, by having my students blog, create screencasts, collaborate in Iron Chef presentations,collaboratively gather and analyze data, and use formative assessment tools that would have otherwise been impossible.
I Ain’t Tha One
I’m beyond blessed to be swimming in an ocean of tools and resources but I’m smart enough to realize that I can’t do it by myself. I’m making a concerted effort to blog more and put my trials, successes, and failures out there. I need some major help, so I’m just going to crowdsource ideas from my network of connected educators.
Am I on the right track?
What would you do with the iPads? The Macbook Airs? The Whiteboard Walls?
What would you do the same or differently?
What could you do(or have you done) to transform your classroom with limited(or unlimited) resources?
I’ve never considered myself a creative person but I’ve realized that in itself is a fixed mindset ideology and I’m willing to accept feedback and criticism to help transform classrooms everywhere.
Feel free to share, retweet, comment, diss, give props, or advise me in any way. I can take your feedback, try it, and give you feedback so we can all benefit. We’re #bettertogether and we can improve learning spaces for our students everywhere.
#F#$% The Row Seats!