Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Suspects and Crime tape and iPads, Oh My!

My students are currently finalizing their Crime Lab 2013 projects. This three week unit is what pushed me to start this blog. I was posting pictures and updates on Twitter, and actually had requests to blog about the project! So here goes!

I started doing a forensic science unit 12 years ago. It started with two suspects and four classes of students. It has now evolved into having 137 biology students divided into investigation teams (one per suspect), 42 faculty suspects and one faculty victim. My colleague, Scott Fowler, and I co-teach the unit for three weeks. It is fantastic to have flexibility in our schedules to work and collaborate as we do. It is also wonderful to have the opportunity to interact with every single 9th grade student in our school. This year's major change: an iPad is assigned to each team for the duration of the project.

The apps that have been most critical for this project are Explain Everything, Dropbox, Google Drive, and iMovie. This is also the point to recognize Ed Patterson, our Director of Academic Technology. He has been our "go to guy" for all questions iPad. He is patient with my questions, and flexible to meet and work with students. Having solid academic tech support is essential.

First, students are introduced to evidence collection by Joan Turner, City of Suffolk Education Outreach Coordinator, and chain of custody by Matthew Glassman, a Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney in Suffolk, Virginia.  Walking students through a case prior to their assignment has proven to be very helpful.

Students navigate through the project by completing a series of tasks and labs that narrow the suspect list from 42, to 10, to 4 to the top two suspects. DNA profiling reveals the guilty suspect. The highlighted activities include hair analysis, fingerprint analysis, blood spatter pattern, drug analysis, karyotype analysis, blood typing and DNA profiling. Three key points of any good evidence collector are photos, notes and sketches. As teams progress through the lab, they are able to do all of this in one organized location....the iPad.

Bottom line, iPads shouldn't ever replace collaboration, conversation, reading, writing, and data analysis. Students need to interact with each other. 

Stay tuned for the forensic teams' iMovie "Mockumentaries" that are due by Friday this week!

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter @eglassman757

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Jumping Off With My Water Wings Fully Inflated

     I am sitting at my computer with a mind full of ideas, anticipation and excitement... much like the feeling of being on the edge of the pool, deciding if I should jump in or sit back and do a little more watching. Today is the day I have finally decided to put my water wings on like a big girl and jump into the deep-end of the blogging pool.  I am intrigued by this world of collaboration, and watch in awe, as other educators put their ideas out there to share with the rest of us. I never thought of myself as someone who should make a blog. What could I have to contribute to these other educators who are worlds beyond me in education technology adventures? The answer to that question started a couple of years ago when my colleague and I decided to apply to have a class set of iPads introduced into our classrooms. Our school (  believed in our vision and we started this current school year with iPads in our Biology classrooms. E-texts replaced hardbound textbooks, and iPads replaced the daily puzzle of having to find a computer lab to access our texts. I hoped that this transition would be smooth, but was realistic to know it would be challenging. To help me navigate more effectively, I was again, given an amazing professional opportunity to attend the Ed Tech Teacher iPad Summit in November.  To say this was life changing is an understatement. I quickly learned three main lessons: 1. iPads are for creating, not just consuming. 2. iPads do not replace me as a teacher. 3. Failure is expected.  So here I am three months later, after being encouraged by some amazing educators I met at the ETT iPad Summit (, starting a blog. Before I go any further, I owe special thanks to Beth Holland, Shawn McCusker, Autumn Laidler and Jennie Magiera for being my "swim coaches" in this blogging pool! Check out their amazing work by following them on Twitter!

     The major lesson I learned as I have been on this iPad adventure is that I have so much to learn.  I am a teacher, mom, wife, friend, coach.  I wear many hats, as we all do. In every facet of my life, I am constantly learning how to be better, more effective, more efficient... more understanding. I am not one to sit idle. I have realized that I will always have a thirst for knowing more. To know more, I need to ask questions and share answers. Thus finding the answer to the question of what I have to offer to the world of blogging. So, as I jump into this pool of discovery, I invite you to join me and understand why I will always be "The Forever Student."

To learn more ways in which I am using technology in my classroom, follow me on Twitter. @eglassman757