What is a blackbelt challenge? At the bootcamp, my trainer, @Seani Williams, introduced us to blackbelt challenges. He learned about them from Kevin @Brookhouser. Both are Google Certified Trainers and Innovators. The way the challenges work is that after an assignment is given to the whole class, students that finish the first task move on to the blackbelt challenge. (Think differentiated instruction and early finishers.) The blackbelt challenge is related to the original task, but takes the concept deeper. Students are encouraged to collaborate, pool their collective knowledge, and delve into the new task. As a participant, I wanted to finish the first task quickly, in order to have time for the challenge. If you know me, you'll not be surprised that I sat right up front!!! But . . . the person to my left and the person to my right, were of the same mindset. We were little nerds and we loved it!!!
#OurFirstBlackbetChallenge . . . AsSixthGraders
Man, was I on fire. I was ready to go back and give my students a challenge. But what?!?! Oooh, here comes the power of the Twitter PLN. I had previously saved an area math task created by @Meagan-E-Kelley. The task was a find the area and perimeter of "real world" objects in and around the classroom, take pictures, solve using formulas, and add the computations and photos to a slide deck. Since we were currently working on area and are a GAFE school, this task was perfect. Click here for Meagan's original lesson. The mathematical objectives and Google skills were perfect for my sixth graders.
On Friday mornings, we, my class and I, generally finish up tasks that need to be completed for the week. I almost always have students that are finished with all their work. This particular Friday, I posed the area task for them. In pairs or triads, students were to find a "real world" example of area in or around our classroom. I gave the students, about 15, a quick overview of the project, then set them off (outside) with measuring tape, chromebooks, the Google slide deck, paper, and pencil. My students are used to differentiated instruction, so doing something different was not unusual. What was different this time, was the amount of freedom I was giving them. As a teacher of GATE students, I took the opportunity to use the blackbelt challenge as a means of meeting their individual needs.
There were a few skills that we hadn't used before. One was using the camera on the chromebook. They came back to me for help, but I told them to "Google It". They did and now we had a photo guru. When they started typing in the measurements, they discovered that they had never needed to find a function to record the "square" units measurement. Another area for the growth mindset and another guru. One group decided to use a whole wall as their "real world" object. We enlisted our technology assistant to help out measuring. (He loved it!) Unfortunately, at the time of writing this post, that group is still working on their project, but I know that they will finish. Take a look at the kids in action.
#AnotherChallenge . . . GoogleFormsSurvey
I wanted all of our class to experience a blackbelt challenge. We've been doing quite a bit of test prep (Oooooh, did I say that out loud?), so I took a couple of afternoons to do something different. I created a Google Forms Blackbelt Challenge of my own.
Take a look at the challenge. Click here for the slide deck.
Since this was the first time students created Google forms, we structured the session as an "I do, you do". I chose the theme of pets. It took us about 45 minutes to create our forms which included a title, four questions, personalize the banner, and insert the link onto a Google doc for classmates to access at home.
I had fun "watching" students log onto our Google Classroom account for homework. I love that I can "see" my students within Google apps. Several of the students and I chatted, through comments, during the night.
The next day, I showed students how to find the results of their survey. We took time to analyze the data charts and read through the narrative responses in Google sheets. Then, students created a one page Google slide of their results. I had students add the "Awesome Screenshot" extension to their chromebooks.
It might be an understatement to say that I was proud of my sixth graders. Their Google skills have developed so much this year!!! I have to say that it's a testament to Google that most of the applications are intuitive. I loved the creativity of the students topics, their comfort level creating forms for the first time, their excellent collaboration skills, and their pride as they shared their presentation.
Take a look at the students in action.
And . . . be sure to let me know how it goes.