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Fernanda Ferrigno

Live Curious, and Go Beyond Obstacles!

I believe we should always try new things and never stop learning, specifically when it comes to technology. We should always be updated and keep growing together with it so we can expose our students with technology in the classroom and different resources they may use to learn in different ways.

Areas of expertise: iMovie, Social networks,  

                               collaborations tools

Twitter Handle: @ferferrigno91


Harvard Project Zero: Making, innovating & learning

posted May 21, 2017, 9:45 PM by Fernanda Ferrigno

A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity of attending a Harvard Project Zero conference in Pittsburgh for a few days.  Harvard Project Zero was founded many years ago to study and improve education in the arts by a Harvard graduate school of education.  What they told us in the opening plenary was that throughout the years, this program has been expanding their perspectives to study a little bit more about understanding, thinking, creativity, nature of intelligence, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking. Most of their projects take place at different schools and they are long, deep research projects that connect those specific schools with all the Harvard Project Zero team.

When I heard I was going to this profesional development, I started learning about it, and reading about the courses they were going to offer, since we had to choose and suscribe to them before getting there.  There were so many options, and a great variety of awesome subjects, that chooing ended up being a very difficult task.  A few weeks or days before leaving, we started receiving all the information of what was going to happen.  The conference was taking place in two different locations.  The first day we visited a very interesting and nice middle school called Quaker Valley.  This school had a variety of maker center workshops, decorated windows and hallways by students and a very interactive library.  We first began with an opening assembly at the gym, where David Perkins, a director of Project Zero, talked to us about "hacking the mind".  This opening speech was very interesting and innovative, that's when I knew the rest of the conferences were going to be very useful.  Professor Perkins mentioned some strategies that our brains can use to remember important things, or to learn things in different ways.  Also, on how to "hack" ourselves and how others "hack" us for different reasons.  We want our brain and our creativity to work outside its normal range, which means "hacking the mind".  He also mentioned, that just like the event's name, we always have to be making, innovating and learning whatever we can.

After the plenary, there were two more sessions I was attending, and then there was a plenary closure session for the day.  The 1st one I went to talked to us about two different foster homes, one with kids and another one with teenagers and young adults.  On both of the foster homes, they had a huge space for maker center tasks.  What they wanted to do when they came up with this idea, was to make kids and teens to feel safe and comfortable in their foster homes, and to make them feel engaged on something interesting, and not only reading or writing subjects from school.  They taught them how to work with different people, different strategies, and different techniques to create things.  Their goal was to help them feel empowered and successful with whatever they were creating, and they had the chance of taking what they had made to start making their own furniture for their soon to be new apartments, once they grew out of the foster home.  Listening and watching vídeos of how this project has been so successfull and is still going on, made me realize how exposing kids and teenagers to innovating new resources can be so positive for them and will make them feel more confident and sure about themselves.  Thinking on how to apply it back at ASFM, specifically with 1st graders, I thought about having similar to STEM tasks, but with different goals, similar to the ones they talked about at Project Zero, making sure they are using their creativity and innovating skills.

At the end of day 1, we had another very interesting and helpful session by Ron Richard, author of "10 Things to say to your students every day" and some other books.  He began telling us about how the classroom culture affects every single thing about it.  So we need to be careful on what our classroom culture is and how everyone is managing it.  Culture, as he said, should be created right from the start.  Then, he talked to us about his book about the 10 things we should say to our students every day:
  1. Hello and goodbye
  2. What makes you say that? WMYST?
  3. Talk to me about what you are doing
  4. Here's where we are going with this
  5. Here's the thinking you'll need to do
  6. Let's debrief
  7. I've noticed
  8. We
  9. I'm sorry
  10. WOW!

Day 1 for me was so exciting and very enriching.  Everyone I had a chance to talk to, knew so much and had wonderful and innovating ideas.  That same day, I had the opportunity to create my ow fidget cube made out of wood and glued together by me.  Now it's part of my 1st grade classroom and my kids are so excited that I had the chance of building it.  Then, we were ready for day 2, which was taking place at a different location: Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh and the Cathedral of Learning, which were beside each other, just infront of the University of Pittsburgh.

Day 2 began with a very enriching and interesting opening session, where instead of just talking to us about the project they were going to present to us, they had lots of people up on stage and they acted everything out in different ways.  That kept us so engaged and interested in the subject and they talked to us about a project called "Agency by design".  This project also talks about maker movement ideas and how there are different ways of creating and researching something.  In almost every research they had, they ended up with the parts, purpose, complexity strategy, to summarize everything.  They made us try this process with a random object you found in your backpack, bag, etc.  Thinking of the arts, purpose and complexity of a chapstick that I found in my purse was a little more complicated than I thought.  

And the other session that I loved and found very useful and innovating was one called "Maker-centered learning in an ELA (english, language arts) classroom.  Here, the Quaker Valley Middle School librarian taught us how to look at writing or reading as a complex system, and we all started with the "parts, purpose, complexity" strategy with a different text.  We had to read the text, break down a passage or a short part of the text, and find the tone.  After we had done that, we had to create a 3D model that represents the pasagge of the book and the tone, using all the materials you want from the maker center workshop.  After that has been created, students are supposed to present it to their classmates, by going "live" on the screen.  The teacher would give them and iPad and while someone reads the specific pasagge where you can detect the tone of the story, another person is moving the live video around the 3D model.  This makes the rest of the classroom get into the story and empathize with what's going on.  Take a look at this image and watch the video to get a better idea of what we did!  Everyone was so engaged, and I'm definitely trying this soon in my classroom and planning on making it a techinique used in some lessons next year!

Overall, Harvard Project Zero was an awesome PD to attend to.  It's very enriching, innovating and interactive, you leave every session eager to learn more about every subject they talked about and ready to use everything you learned.  If I could, I would definitely go back to the same PD and try different sessions since they all seemed to be very good and enriching.  


Explain Everything App!

posted Mar 30, 2017, 10:09 PM by Fernanda Ferrigno   [ updated Mar 30, 2017, 10:11 PM ]

During this past weeks, 1st graders have been learning about the animal unit.  From habitats to predators, and shelters to physical features.  They've researched using different resources, they've learned how to google different subjects in a safe and careful way, and they have been using the Epic app to research books about their specific animal they are focusing on.  Once they completed their research and created their non fiction books about their animal, we gave them the opportunity to explore and learn about the app called "Explain Everything".  

At the beginning, I thought it was way too complicated for them, and it would take lots of time to teach them how to use it correctly.  I started noticing that they were actually doing everything they had to, on their own.  No one in the class had used it before, and we just gave some simple instructions to start with.  By the end of the first period we gave them to work on their habitats on the app, they were becoming experts.  Double clicking on the home button to go directly to safari and google another image, saving the image on their own and going back to the app to add it.  Kids were using strategies we didn't know they had.  Each class they were even better at it, and by the end, they were adding movement (animation) and recording their voices to explain their habitat and everything they added to it.  

With this experience, I once again noticed, how kids nowadays are very good at exploring and becoming experts on these different apps.  It is up to us to give them those opportunities and let them learn by exploring and using trial and error.  

Digital citizenship

posted Sep 7, 2016, 5:27 AM by Fernanda Ferrigno

After learning a little about the different strands we are talking about, I decided I would love to be involved with the digital citizenship subject.  It seems to be an important matter right now and we should be teaching this to our students since 1st grade.  When using technology, students have to be aware of the norms of appropiate and responsible behavior.  Every day, more students are exposed to the world wide web and they are in risk of being public to the world with just a click.  We need to make sure they learn how to protect themselves and how to manage the internet in an age appropiate way.   

I'm sure there are interactive and fun ways to teach them this topic so they are aware of the caution they need to have using the internet!

Visual Representation!

posted Aug 17, 2016, 5:23 AM by Fernanda Ferrigno

Last week we came up with a visual representation on our view of what we wanted to take from the digital teacher's program.  We thought of 3 important words: Fun, hands on and instant (have things ready to use immediately).  
We are expecting to learn and to learn how to teach what we learn, all this while we are having fun, we are having a hands on experience that keeps us interested and engaged on what we are doing, and we are expecting to learn things from our meetings that we can use "in a snap".  What we mean is that we are able to go out of our meetings and we are able to teach what we learned to out team and to make it interactive and engaging at the same time.  We believe we could reach this goals by being sure our DT meetings are interactive and participative, since we feel we learn most by having a hands on experience.  

This is the link to see our visual representation: ThingLink

(These are the images we used for our visual representation)

Disruptive learning TED Talk

posted Jun 1, 2016, 5:28 AM by Fernanda Ferrigno

After watching the "Are you ready to disrupt learning?" Ted Talk, I noticed how important it is to notice and be aware of the specific needs each classroom has.  I loved how the speaker, Holly Clark, gives clear examples of ways that being a content based classroom will affect on each students learning, and clearly compares on how using technology and having a more student learning classroom will help even more. My takeaway from watching this video was reflecting on how important it is to have your students engaged on what you're teaching and on the content, but not be so stressed out about delivering certain content in a timely manner.     

Past, Present & Future first grade unit

posted May 17, 2016, 8:33 PM by Fernanda Ferrigno

Currently, in social studies in our first grade classrooms, we are learning about the past, present and future unit.  This being my first year in first grade I could only imagine how difficult this unit would be for our students to understand and to actually picture how the past was, and how the future will be.  

In past years, they used to do this unit together with the "Altar de Muertos", so this way. students would understand a little better how people that are shown at the "Altar", have passed away and they are people from the past.  Also, it helped that most of them were grandparents, so they looked at pictures and noticed how different their clothes were, and their parents told them about their old traditions and how their daily life were, compared to the present.

After one or two weeks of teaching this unit, i've noticed how students when you just talk to them about a certain topic, just barely get it, since it's a very complicated concept to talk about and to comprehend.  Fortunately, now that we can show a big variety of vídeos and pictures, they start getting a better idea of what we're talking about and can picture it better.  With this situation, i've noticed how important it is to include different tools and strategiess in your teaching techniques, since you create a significant learning for each student.  Also, it's very important we use all this tools, so we can be sure that we are giving opportunities for every student to learn in their own way.  Some students prefer using visuals, other prefer technology, others learn more when just listening to the teacher explain.  

We need to "tackle" all the different neccesities of our students and make sure we are providing them with the tools and opportunities to learn in their own, preffered way.  

What is my blend?

posted May 17, 2016, 8:11 PM by Fernanda Ferrigno

With our first graders, at first we had some trouble thinking of ways we could have blended learning in an interactive and interesting way for them.  During the school year we've managed to complete different activities and projects that include a variety of strategies and tools that helped us complete our blended process in the classroom, combines with some work at home.  

One example of this was with the Animal Project we do in first grade.  They normally start researching their animal chosen with books we check out from the library and in the computer lab.  This year, what we did different was providing them opportunities to use the laptop cart some days, the ipad cart some other days, physically visiting and checking books on their own from the library, and going to the research room in the library to use computers and more books.  During this process, students were very engaged and excited to keep researching and they felt empowered to choose from where to research and what tools to use each day.  The information they gathered was very valuable and they learned about lots of different things and strategies too.  To provide even a more blended environment, we asked students (and parents) to do some research at their house and specifically, to bring photos from home to complete their animal book and the rest of the project.  In our Haiku page, students were able to find some links that took them to webpages that provided them safe searches and easier ways to gather information and pictures.  They were very excited to do this on their own and were eager to share the information they got at their houses each day.  

To conclude the project what we did was put together all of the students with similar habitats and each group was in charge of creating their posters and diaromas.  We covered every bulletin in our classroom with their corresponding background and then they did everything on their own.  They brought material from home, they asked us to print information, pictures and titles, they created animals and objects with plasticine, etc.  Students use their creativity and they explored with different strategies they could use and learn how to use during all of this research project.  The outcome was amazing and we invited parents to see everything their children had created!    

Here are some pictures of the students starting their animal research in the research room at the library!

TLC Tuesday!

posted Apr 20, 2016, 5:21 AM by Fernanda Ferrigno   [ updated Apr 20, 2016, 5:25 AM ]

1st Grade Reflection Video

This past Tuesday we had our Tech TLC Tuesday at school.  For those of you that don't know what a TLC Tuesday is, it's our Teacher Learning Community at ASFM every Tuesday.  This one was about technology, so we as digital teachers stayed and helped our teams reflect and create a visual about their blended learning reflection.  First, the first grade team reflected on every step of the blended learning "chart".  Then we chose what tool we were going to use.  Since we were short on time, we decided to recreate those videos where someone is drawing, someone is talking and its a fast process edited in iMovie.  We worked as a team on thinking what we were going to draw and the talking was improvised on what we felt that had happened in our reflection.  We had lots of fun and it helped us to know and understand better on what point we were on our blended learning subject.  Some of them were stressed out about time and about being clear on what we wanted to express on our video, since it had to be a short one.   We had some trouble explaining to some teachers what every strand in the reflection meant, but after some discussion, everybody understood them and were feeling confortable with them!  

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