Eduporium, one of my favorite STEM retailers, since they really try to help you find the best STEM products for your school, has been running a contest every night since May 1st. It's an educational trivia contest- with a $100 coupon prize to the person who has the right answer the fastest. I have been incredibly lucky and have won 5 times! However, they have decided to revise their rules and get more people involved- so if you win once, lucky you and then you are done. So, now that I am out of the running... here's the info you need. Sign up here and they will send you a reminder email at about 6:45 pm EST with the link for the contest which is at 7 sharp. Some of the questions are common knowledge... eg. the chemical formula for table salt, where others are not so easy- eg. the country completely surrounded by South Africa (Lesotho) and you have to google really fast! (Use OK Google voice search) So- it's fun and you can win a prize. Go for it, have your students go for it. Some questions are tough for a high school student, others are OK for elementary... and it's fun.
I spent some time today with one of the 6th grade classes, helping students use Google Slides for their yearbook pages. Using Google slides gives you way more flexibility than docs and the page size is easily adjusted to 8.5 by 11 (File>page setup>custom) and can be exported as a pdf. It reminded me that I wanted to share this Google Slide info, which I didn't know til this week. Alice Keeler and Matt Miller have created a new chrome extension called DriveSlides for Google Slides that allows you to take a folder of images and create a Google Slide show with a press of a button. The functionality reminds me of the ability to create a slideshow out of a folder in powerpoint. Quick and easy. Alice wrote more about it here. She also has a really cool screenshot to slideshow extension that she explained in a previous post. It automatically takes a screenshot every minute and saves it to a folder for a slideshow.
Looking for more ideas with Google Slides? Check out Matt's post here.
Summer PD- Google Drawings
I'm excited to take a class with Tony Vincent on Google Drawings this summer. Tony is an internationally known educator and speaker. His blog Learning in Hand has been a staple in the edtech world for years.
When I saw the notice about the class and went to sign up, I also learned something new...you can present a clutter-free image of a google doc by changing the url. Tony explained it here.
Last, but not least ReadWorks!
ReadWorks, as many of you know, is a fantastic resource for students and their teachers. Many teachers have tried their Article-A-Day series with great success. ReadWorks does a great job of pulling together text sets for you. Here's a couple of promo videos to give you some ideas.
I haven't been able to find the summer packets collection on the new site, but will write and ask them if they are offering this again- or something similar. This is last year's page. www.readworks.org/rw/beat-summer-reading-slump
Windows 10 updates
This may not apply to everyone, but I stopped to check out the updates coming in Windows 10. The one that caught my eye was the Story ReMix. It looks like it is easy to use, kind of reminds me of Animoto. If you haven't used Animoto for quick and easy videos... the free educator version info page is here. Back to Windows 10 Story ReMix... more info here and in video below.
I saw an article recently which basically said that teachers are doing DOK wrong. Now, since I still remember having to look up what DOK meant (not coming from a teacher prep program I am easily confused by edu acronyms), I was interested in knowing more about this. Robert Kaplinksy has a great matrix about this here and he also sent me an email today about DOK and referenced his blog post here. So go read more about what educators need to know about DOK- below is one of Robert's graphics to get you started..
I saw a couple of great ideas to have fun with math (I know, coming from me that's kind of an oxymoronic phrase).
Google Keep (again)
I tend to use Google Keep every day. Steve WIcks posted a hyperdoc today to help put all the Google Keep info in one place. He wrote about it on his blog Recharge Learning. Try it- you may like it. Click here to access the doc- To keep your own copy: File>Make a copy.
Some of you may remember that I wrote about this about ayear and a half ago. To be honest, my opinion has not changed... still think it's a buzzword. However, recently when doing a breakoutedu session in second grade I was talking with them about grit, persistence... and the students called it their growth mindset- so it looks like the lingo is sticking. I saw a blog post by Lee Araoz, who made this pretty spectacular collection of growth mindset materials. So- here you go:
Every time I hear about problems around digital citizenship at our school or others, I wonder how, we as educators can possibly think that kids magically know how to use all this emerging tech as tools. We are hard pressed to find examples of civil discourse and good use of social media in the news. Of course students will make mistakes, they are kids. Of course we could/should help them figure it all out, just like we help with all the other facets of education. But we don't. Is it because we think that this is "outside of school"? It isn't. We have seen this in both schools in our district. These actions affect our school communities. Is it because we think that the kids know more about the tools than we do? Yes, in some cases. I'm quite sure that a typical high school student knows way more about snapchat and some of the nasty places online that teens go to pick on one another than I do. But, that's not an excuse not to have a comprehensive digital citizenship program in place. Commonsense media has one... it's free. Mary Alice Curran created digcitkids and ran her own digital citizenship conference down at St. Joe's in CT. Wes Fryer and Marcia Moore created this drawing, showing how all encompassing digital citizenship in today's educational world actually is. EdSurge has an excellent article with some great resources here. Yes, it's one more thing. Yes, it's important. We can see what happens when we don't have a comprehensive program.
More Google Earth
I've been seeing more and more about the new version of Google Earth- almost all positive. I went to the EdTechTeam Geo webinar tonight and they shared the slides and lots of information. You can get thelink to the recording in the slides. If you're really into geography, apply to the Google Geo Institute- this summer- in California and it's free. Google has a new site to help you learn all the ins and outs and how best to use this tool in class. Check it out here.
Simple K12 is offering a free day of workshops on Google Tools- coming up on Saturday May 20. Learn more about it here.
Google Drawings doesn't get the attention it deserves. You can use drawings for so many things! Recently I was reading about HyperDrawings! You've heard me talk about hyperdocs... well- now there's hyperdrawings. Joli Boucher recently wrote about this on her blog. Here's a screenshot of one of the many examples she shared. Click on the image to see Joli's work.
You can also even embed streaming video right in a Google Drawing!
Google Quick Draw and now AutoDraw
If you haven't taken the time to check out Google's AI drawing program, take a few minutes ( caution, may be addictive) to see the latest in machine learning. This AI experiment has now evolved into a new tool called AutoDraw. Eric Curts has written about it here.
Google Drawings for Graphic Organizers
Amy Roediger ( A Lever and a Place to Stand) recently posted about using Google Drawings for text structure work. She has an excellent blog post here. She also made a bunch that she is willing to share (File>make a copy), that you can find here.
The image below is from Amy's blog.
Pattern Blocks with Google Drawing
Last, but not least, another H/T to Eric Curts for his great explanation of how to use Google Drawings for Pattern Block work. He even shares templates. Check it out here.
Upcoming Free PD
This week brings some great free resources your way with a webinar from CAST on UDL:
UDL Stories from the Field http://castprofessionallearning.org/free-udl-webinars/ Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. EST.
EdTechTeam is sponsoring a live webinar on Tuesday May 6, featuring the new Google Earth
LIVE Webinar LINK
Google Earth News
Many of you have probably heard/read about the great new changes in Google Earth. It is now accessible online- like on chromebooks. I have not tried this at school with a class of students and have no notion of how the bandwidth holds up. But it is good news. You can get the gist from EdTechTeam's blog post here. I wanted to share a couple of the blog posts and videos that have been posted about this change and that you may find helpful.
First- Richard Byrne's video overview
One thing that Richard notes is that it is hard to create tours in the new online version- but he followed that up today with a blog post about GE Teach Tour "a free tool that you and your students can use to create tours to play in the new web version of Google Earth." See his full informative post here.
Google Lit Trips on Chrome: Another interesting post about using the new Google Earth came from Eric Curts. Eric will explain in detail in the video below and in a great step by step tutorial on his site- how you can now use Google Lit Trips on chromebooks. Check it out below and be sure to vist Control, Alt, Achieve to get the full picture.
You have to try Voyager!
This is the coolest thing I have seen in awhile. Remember way back when you could find your house on Google Earth? You thought that was cool, right? Bet you spent a lot of time just spinning the globe around, checking things out. Voyager is way cooler. They have created these fantastic lessons- cooler than lit trips (sorry). Before you click on the links- know that you will be sucked in, so get your "work" done first. But, as you immerse yourself in Voyager, imagine what you can do with this tool with students, what they can do... It is really fantastic. Check them out here. Here is the NY Times article about it.
Solar Eclipse Resources
I attended an excellent webinar from WGBH Education on the upcoming solar eclipse. This will not be an total eclipse for us, and it will be just before school starts up again. So, if you are interested, you will need to plan ahead. PBS Learning Media has you covered with a solar eclipse toolkit
You can get more information here.
I spent the afternoon today over at the Athol Community Elementary School learning more about their STEM/makerspace. After meeting the principal, Mike Leander at #edcampNQ a few weeks back, I contacted him and took him up on his invitation to come over and see what they are doing. The ACES school is a new school with about 600 elementary age students. Mike and his team took one of the proposed art rooms and turned it into a STEM/makerspace. One of the coolest things about this- every class is scheduled to come up for 30 minutes- every day! I watched Kindergartners, First and Second graders do some great work.
One of the district technicians, Christopher Tamulevich, has created an amazing space in Minetest for the students to build upon. Minetest is like minecraft, but it is open source and it is free and very customizable.
These are grade 1 and 2 students working in Minetest.
A couple videos to help you familiarize yourself with minetest.
One thing I was pretty amazed by was the use of Tinkercad by 1st graders to create, design and ultimately 3D print their artifacts. The little red robot pictured below was created by a first grade girl! Check out Tinkercad here.
I also watched first graders navigate through a maze, using sphero robots. They were very adept at using these little robots! Sphero can be used by grade 1 to navigate a maze or by middle school students on a mission to Mars! Check out the chariot challenge below!
The other station in the STEM room was an Osmo station. Some of our first graders are familiar with Osmo because the Helping Hearts funded a set for one of the classrooms. We have also tried a few out in OT as well. Osmo is another hands-on tech product, combining the screen with a hands-on experience. I watched Kindergartners use Osmo Tangrams and the first and second graders use Osmo Coding. The level of engagement, the looks on the students faces, tell the story. These young students love the work they are doing and are ready to come back for more!
We can do this at our elementary school. It would be an excellent use of the "old lab". It would be a great way to infuse more STEM/STEAM into the curriculum. One other thing of note and I have seen this in other makerspaces... students leave their academic labels at the door. No ASD, no ADHD, no math genius, etc... This sort of space can really help level the playing field for many students who have difficulty accessing the typical curricular materials. This can be done at any level- elementary, middle or high school and all of our students and teachers could benefit.
Kudos to Mike Leander, Chris Tamulevich and the students and teachers at Athol Community Elementary School. You are pioneering some great ideas in your school! Thanks for allowing me to visit.
I recently revisited Learn Zillion, a platform that I thought had potential for teacher use a few years back, but found at the time that it wasn't really student friendly. They have made positive changes and you can now assign lessons via Google Classroom. (Students still need to be associated with your class). This time I tried to look at it through an OER lens and found it to be very well organized and easy to navigate. For example, teachers in Georgia have created their own ELA curriculum and have it all organized- and freely shared for use. Check out these Guidebooks "English Language Arts Guidebook Units Classroom-ready daily ELA lessons developed in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Education. Units include daily lessons, assessments, texts, blank and completed handouts, and student writing examples." Note- the materials on the web site are free, but they use a lot of trade books. Here's an example of material for Because of Winn Dixie. They also have a robust math section. Check it out here. Teachers at HES who would like to try this out with students and need student accounts made up, just let me know.
NEXT.cc is a resource that is new to me. Here's part of the intro blurb from the site.
"NEXT.cc is an eco web that develops ethical imagination and environmental stewardship. NEXT.cc introduces what design is, what design does, and why design is important. It offers activities across nine scales – nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, urban, region, and world. NEXT.cc’s journeys introduce activities online, in the classroom, in the community and globally. ." It's a great site to pull together a lot of resources and show the connections between the disciplines. For example, I clicked on the "journey "Animals" and it brought me here. Looking for a new way to teach a topic, check it out.
Another New Tool from Brain Pop!
Math in Google Docs?
Texthelp, our friends who make Read and Write for Google Chrome- now have a new chrome extension for math. Alice Keeler wrote a great post about it today- entitled: And All Math Teachers Screamed with Excitement! ( all in caps!) "EquatIO, by Texthelp, is now available in the Chrome Webstore. EquatIO is a Chrome extension that will allow you and your students to create math equations in Google Apps…. and other places." Read more about it on Alice's blog, or check out what Texthelp has to say or read the press release here.
Brain Pop has a new movie maker! I liked the way you could pull images from the movies before to help show learning, tell your story with the materials, but this is even better. Here's a quick tutorial from Joli Boucher. We have the premium version for HES, in case you're worried about the access level. See me if you do not know how to access Brain Pop at the elementary school. You can read more about it on BrainPop Educators - and go thru the step by step tutorial or print out a guide if you'd like. They have resources on using Brain Pop's Make a Movie tool with ELL students and more, complete with curriculum connections and rubrics. Check it out!
Pixar in a Box
"Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy is sponsored by Disney."
Using the Khan Academy interface, which many of our students are already familiar with and have accounts on, Pixar in a Box goes through lessons step by step. Teaching storytelling? Teaching animation? Writing? Science? It's all available in an easy to digest format. Try it!
CoSpaces is a relatively new platform. Using a 3D modeling system- online or Android or iOS app, students can make simulations, tell stories, model cell structures and much more. It is 3D/AR type system, which on first look will kind of remind you of Second Life (another one of my least favorites). I am not a big AR fan, but for many kids this a brilliant way to show what they know or to explore new content. It is a bit of a bandwidth hog, as you may imagine, but it was easy to use. I showed this to some 5th and 6th graders this fall, just for fun and they had no problem using it with little instruction.
So, if I compare this with SketchUp- it is far easier to use, is online and free (altho there is a premium version) and is collaborative and dynamic. You can use this on an ipad, on a phone and on the web and it updates almost automatically as you make changes. Oh... and it now lets you use Blockly to program your space. Very cool! Take a quick look at the videos below, and then head over to check out the platform online. They have some great examples of student work you can check out. This first video below is a bit on the long side (10 Min)- but it's a good, fair review of the system.
I wrote a week or so ago about Google Keep, as well as here, and here. I went to #EdCampNQ this past weekend and in a session about chrome extensions, once again Google Keep came up. This time an AT from a neighboring district (@OsborneAllegra) demo'd how she uses Keep in her job. Because she goes from school to school, her Google Keep for work is arranged with a note for each school-but the cool thing for all you visual learners was the way she used a different photo for each note. Using her phone, she could see by quickly scrolling thru the notes exactly what she needed to accomplish at each school- with color coded notes and checkboxes. She also has a Google Keep extension that she uses for her personal account and is quite literally using it as a planning and organization tool for her summer trips. Another participant, @jrowebbrsd, also uses it for its OCR capabilities. If you've never tried to pop an image into Google Keep and then pull the text out of it... check it out in this short video. Imagine having a student who may struggle to get all the assignments written down. A quick image with a phone or other device, pop it into Google Keep, grab the text, pop it into a Google Doc and have it read to you by Read and Write for Google Chrome. If you haven't checked out Google Keep, you're missing out. It just keeps getting better.
I love the versatility of Google Forms. They can be used for so much more than surveys! I use them all the time when I am making digital breakouts for students to use. Data validation turns a form into a way to require the "secret password" or gives feedback with additional clues. Today I was reading/listening to Matt Miller and Kasey Bell's podcast and blog posts about using Google Forms for differentiation.
What I really liked about Kasey and Matt's podcast/posts was that it reminded me of 2 things. One: Use forms as a learning tool. By using branching you can give a formative assessment with the learning reinforcement built in. When a student gets a question wrong, he moves on to a video or other lesson material to reteach/reinforce the concept vs. just getting it wrong. If the student is correct, he moves to the next question. Here's the link to Kasey's post with some great step by step directions for you to try out. Just in case you don't have time to read her whole post, buried way down at the bottom is alink to (French teacher) Sylvia Duckworth's blog post on using forms for a choose your own adventure story. Check it out...it's fun to do a story this way.
Here's the podcast if you'd rather just listen along...
Reshare of Google Forms Teacher Tips... this is updated every Tuesday
#GAFEchat on Forms
This evening I participated in a #GAFEchat and the topic was Google Forms. So, it's not just me who loves Google Forms. So many interesting resources were shared...
Here's thelink to the collection of links from this #gafechat or the curated collection is listed below (use Participate.com to quickly gather all links from fast moving chats)
Google Forms Ninja Moves and Secret Passwords
Using Tables in Forms
One of the questions about chromebooks in the classroom that I often hear is "How do I create/edit video on a chromebook?" The answer varies. Are you trying to edit a video that you created elsewhere? Or are you trying to create a video? Or are you trying to add audio to a slide show? Or? Or?...
One tool that is often overlooked is the creator tool on YouTube. The C4L blog (a student led support site) recently posted about using these tools. You can check out their work here. Of course you can do a quick search on youtube and find tons of videos to show you how to edit video on youtube. Below is just one example. Remember you can edit a creative commons video, upload and edit your own, upload images and add a sound track and so much more.
There are lots of tools out there to create videos on chromebooks. Richard Byrne recently published a blog post featuring 12 ways to create videos on chromebooks! My absolute favorite for ease of use is Adobe Spark. For those of you who are Adobe fans, you know that Adobe had 3 separate tools which are now kind of one suite. Adobe Spark can help you create quick and easy videos, Adobe Page can give you a quick and easy web page and Adobe Post is a quick and easy way to create beautiful images for social media. In schools- the students need to be 13+ to create accounts. I really wish they would add some sort of teacher dashboard, even if you had to pay a small annual fee. Spark is easy to use and I have seen it used successfully and independently by grade 1 students to give beautiful results.
Another way to create video on chromebooks is with WeVideo. WeVideo has been around for quite a while and is a pretty robust platform for a web based editor. Below is the quick intro, but they have a whole library of video tutorials on YouTube. Depending on your bandwidth, the upload can be a little laggy and can be problematic when you have a class of students trying to finish up, upload and go on the next class at the same time.
Screenshots and Screencasting
One other video/screen sharing question I get is how do I (1) take a screenshot, (2) make a screencast. The answer to #1... Use the ctrl key and the split window key to save a full screenshot to your files. Use Ctrl+Shift+the split window key to save a partial screenshot. Remember that files saved to your downloads folder are not permanent and especially on school chromebooks may disappear. If you need the file, save it to your own Google Drive. You can also use Awesome Screenshot extension which offers additional annotation, blurring, etc.
Screencasts can be accomplished in quite a few different ways. To be honest, I use camtasia and snagit on my home computer. TechSmith had a snagit extension which has been discontinued. The best screencast capturing extensions are Nimbus and Capture, Explain, Send. Nimbus is a robust extension, easy to use and does just about anything you's like. Jason Savard's Capture claims to be the simplest- with no crazy permissions. I used to use screencastify, which also has a lot of features, but is a bit more complicated to get started with.
So, what do you need a video for? To record your screen, to teach a lesson or to get quick feedback? Don't forget about recap- a great way to collect individual videos from students for quick feedback and more.