Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Love it when an idea catches on....

The simple idea of quick-start to UbD is bearing fruit!

Understanding by Design - Quick Start

  1. Identify Desired Results
    1. What are the major content goals of the unit (Content Standards)?
    2. What is the BIG IDEA that helps hang the unit together?
    3. What are the Essential Questions in the Unit that lead to the big idea?
    4. What is the Knowledge & Skills that the students need to master in this unit? (Students will be able to…)
    5. What is the long-term Enduring Understanding that the students will remember tomorrow, next week, next year,10-20 years from now?
    6. How will you share and use big idea/objectives to inspire students to think? 
  1. What Evidence will the student have to show that he/she has mastered the material? Will the student’s evidence of mastery be sufficient to be validated by more than one teacher?  Why plan instruction if you don’t know how to measure it?
    1. What Formative assessments & Summative assessments will you use?
    2. What Authentic assessments will you use?
                                                    i.     Project evidence?
                                                   ii.     Oral evidence? Other evidence?

    1. Which of the assessments will be designed and used in common between teachers?  Does everyone teaching the subject know what these are? 
  1. How will you plan the learning instruction?    
    1. Is the pacing plan in place? Does it logically tie in all the major themes of the unit? Has the teaching plan pacing and strategy been reviewed with other experts?
    2. Do you know and have access to all the artifacts & tools that may be used in the lessons? Do you know if other teachers have similar material that might help enrich the resources to teach the unit?  Is it all in one place or do you have to get it all together?
    3. Do you have to invent new things in order to teach the unit? If so have you planned the time to do so?
    4. Are you up to date on the latest information regarding your unit – so it is fresh and not stale?
    5. What strategic approach to instruction will you be following? Inquiry-based instruction? Student-centered instruction? Tradition instruction?
    6. Are you free to teach to your strengths following your plan?
    7. After your pacing is in place are your lesson plans complete? Do they follow the key SIOP® effective teaching elements?

      Media Site Recording iQuest Parents Meeting

      Saturday, July 24, 2010

      iQUEST Camps 2010

      Thanks to the support of Dr. Hayden and Dr. Ouyang and the iQuest team we successfully completed our  2010 Science Camps for Middle Schools at CSUSM. The wrap-up parent conference was a powerful event...thanks to all the parents:

      For more information visit the iQuest Web site at CSUSM

      Wednesday, July 21, 2010


      As a challenge to get our 8th graders to brainstorm about our day's activities and to create a graphic organizer before their reflection, we opted to use Google Docs Drawing documents. We created a blank drawing template in Google Apps for each team and made the link public with edit capabilities.  We posted the links in Moodle - the software they use in their Middle School classrooms.

      The instructions were explicit to the class: Each team of 4-5 students needed to 1) talk about the day's activities, 2) divide the work so everyone knew what they were to write about, 3) they talked about which part of the drawing area they were going to work on, 4) each student was to individually bring up the document and edited his/her portion, 5) when done, they would talk about putting finishing touches, arrows, lines, etc and get it completed. Reminded them they were working on one common document - they had to cooperate to create a great graphic!

      And we let them go!

      What a positive experience for the class and a great reward of us teachers seeing how things developed. We projected each team's document on the screen and watched as the students dynamically created the graphic organizer of the day's activities! We would switch between the different teams so everyone would see what they were doing and how it looked - which created a competitive spirit between the teams as well.

      As a teacher I am struck how smoothly this came together and how powerful a tool this can be in the classroom. Here is the student's draft's of the day's activities.

      This was done in a matter of about 45-55 minutes from a "blank" virtual sheet of paper. The kids were engaged - animated to work on one common document seeing their team work progress in real time. 

      A couple of things to note - students had to use Google Chrome or FireFox because Internet Explorer does not work with the drawing program. Also, of note is the fact that the "link-edit" approach does not provide the students with some functionality (minor) like inserting pictures or saving the file as a "jpg" picture file.  We chose the link approach purposely because we did not want the students to sign-on to Google Apps which would have been yet another step. In our classrooms however, if they were signed on to Google Apps they would have had full capability.  One more comment is that if the students that had their own Google mail account (personal one) they were able to access the features. So there are many options. With a bit more practice this can be a powerful tool not only for 8th graders but for just about any grade.

      Congratulations to Google for an outstanding implementation that allows us to do this very quickly.   What a great gift to teachers and students.  Do I sound excited about this? Yep you are right! The students loved it - and so did the teachers.

      Try it and drop me a comment...

      Monday, July 19, 2010


      A North County Times reporter came over today to talk to us about our iQuest Summer Camp... got my picture in the paper... :)

      "Rancho Buena Vista High School science teacher Jorge Hirmas instructs middle school students Monday at a science and technology camp at Cal State University. (Photo by Jamie Scott Lytle - Staff Photographer)"

      Here is the link: North County Times

      Saturday, July 17, 2010

      NOW GRIZZLY IS GONE... :( ::::::::

      First Dundee about a year and a half ago - 18 years old.

      And now Grizzly - 19 year old. Kidney failure...

      Both have been great family dogs - - - Aussies rule!

      Monday, July 12, 2010

      iQUEST @ CSUSM

      iQuest is an NSF sponsored activity under the leadership of Dr. Hayden and Dr.Ouyang teaching 7th and 8th graders - Science! Here come the kids... two weeks of excellent experiences, coming up!

      Saturday, July 10, 2010


      Here is our new family addition - a mini-Aussie... What a hoot!

      His name? We went around and around from Stark, to Spark, Sparky, Sherlock, etc...unit we came up with something we really liked: KODA 

      His name means "Friend" in the Sioux language.

      Tuesday, July 06, 2010


      Looking back at an old favorite:

      ☺ / 5

      Roller Coaster Year 2009-2010.

      RBVHS personnel at all levels have gone through incredible stresses and changes in the last year. I am sure we all felt it in some way… we tragically lost a couple of students and a beloved teacher. We had some seriously illnesses as well. We have gone through the roiling relations between the union and administration while maintaining a semblance of order and professionalism in all our endeavors. We had political ripples over presidential speeches. We have lost teachers to the financial and the budgetary tsunami. We had many beloved master teachers and other staff retired – leaving mighty imprints for others to follow. It has been an incredible period time.  I know life is complicated…. However, even as the heated cauldron simmered and cooled we were blessed in many ways. The District and the Union came to an agreement and now there is a contract. A foundation is in place. Student conflict has been much improved over previous years… and most teachers are happy to see the 2009-2010 school year behind them with a real summer break for most of us. Let us also not forget the new babies born to teachers! 

      We are looking forward to a new year: 2010-2011. May His Grace and Mercy be upon us – that is my prayer.

      Monday, July 05, 2010


      TurningPoint Technologies was installed on my portable to test out the student response system I received on loan.  What a treat! It loaded easily and allowed my PowerPoint to be quickly interactive with the clickers... Amazing and I just scratched the surface.

      Highly recommended.

      Sunday, July 04, 2010


      ☺ / 5

      Saturday, July 03, 2010


      We attended a memorial service today for Dr. Edgar N. Lasting - 9/14/1929 - 6/14/2010. One of the points of closure for the family - our condolences to the Lasting family.  Printed were the "estampitas" with "The Irish Blessing"

      May the roads
      Rise to meet you,
      May the wind be
      Always at your back,
      May the sunshine
      Warm upon your face,
      The rain fall
      Soft upon your fields and,
      Until we meet again,
      May God hold you
      In the palm of His hand.


      Thursday, July 01, 2010