After a mostly wintery April vacation, it was nice to finally see the sunshine. Hoping to have the last of the snow leave my gardens this week. I have a lot of little catchup items to share this time.
I went down to Connecticut today to attend the Greenwich Country Day School's Maker Faire. Although I was very disappointed that the scheduled keynote speaker, Colleen Graves was unable to attend due to a family emergency, I did enjoy listening to Ron Beghetto speak about creativity.
A couple points that resonated with me:
My favorite workshop of the day was with Rush Hambleton- "Meet the Microbit". It was fun to experiment with this relatively inexpensive, easy to use pocket size computer that lets you get creative with digital technology. I had played around with these a little bit, but working in small groups I learned a lot more than I had previously tried by myself. With the new version of Scratch coming out in August children will be able to program physical devices (like micro:bit).
Catch Up Time
Finally, the wonderful set of tools is free for both teachers and students- and is now COPPA compliant so kids under 13 can use it with supervision. A couple of our 4th grade classes have used this on some of the global projects they have done in the past and now we can give them accounts that they can use for so many projects! Richard Byrne has a nice roundup of the features on his blog.
Images for student work
We have a tab on our HES Symbaloo with a lot of these links, but Tony Vincent recently put up a nice post with some that we don't currently have listed. Check them outhere.
Checkboxes in Google Sheets
One of the things I really like about Google Keep is the quick and easy way to create checkboxes. Now, for all the spreadsheet fans- you can create checkboxes in Google Sheets. Alice Keeler writes about it here and shows you how- step by step.
Two great updates from FlipGrid to share. First- and this is happening soon- Wednesday, May 9th - World Record Wednesday.
Quote from the blog:
"It starts with you. It starts with us!
On May 9, 2018, you can be part of history! Our Global Classroom will aim for the student voice record books and attempt a World Record on Flipgrid. 24 Hours, all nations, all learners, across the globe, sharing the same message. We are calling on students, educators, digital citizens and global ambassadors to join together using your phone, tablet, or computer to record a message uniting The World"
One more from FlipGrid... AppSmashBash. Want to do more with FlipGrid? Looking for ideas? Check out the webinar #App SmashBash.
Why $$$ Textbooks? Why "canned" digital curriculum?
As we move to a more digital environment in education, why are we still hanging onto old outdated textbooks? Why are we spending our limited funds on buying textbooks that become outdated before they are published? Why do we invest 10s of thousands of dollars on canned curriculum- which may well be digital, but is limiting- both in scope and content as well as limiting as far as UDL lessons go. If all lessons are delivered by the mini lesson, the reading, and a quick assignment, how does that address the needs of all of our learners? Multiple means of expression? Action? Representation?
OER or Open Education Resources are getting better and better, and more ubiquitous all the time. Studies have shown that students learn just as well from free resources as from costly resources. One OER report states that “Results indicated that although costs were substantially lower, student learning outcomes and perceptions of quality were similar or better with an open-source textbook.”
Today more and more states, as well as even the US Congress are allocating money for OER resources for higher ed. This will go a long way to help level the playing field for students who cannot afford to buy textbooks. For example: The FY18 omnibus appropriations bill was signed into law on March 23, 2018, including the $5 million open textbook grant program. "This marks the first major investment by Congress explicitly in open educational resources (OER) as a solution to the high cost of college textbooks, and underscores that course materials are a significant factor in making higher education affordable." Both VA and CO recently enacted legislation to either require all public higher education institutions in the state to take steps to adopt open educational resources or to study these proposals. If it's good enough for higher ed, perhaps those of us in K-12 could benefit as well.
Where can you get more information, find resources for your class? Check out New America's resources to get started. Make the Leap!
Make the Leap!
Ideas to check out
OK Go Sandbox
I'm sure that many of you have seen the OK Go videos in the past, but now they are actively helping teachers and students with science and math! Check it out here.
ClapMotion: Make stop motion animations by clapping your hands
VoiceInVoice: Use Speech to Text on any web page. This one comes from dictanote and seems to have about the same accuracy as Voice typing in docs, but is not tied to Googley stuff and can be used on any page.
For Littles...and their teachers
I love the new book by Christine Pinto- Google Apps For Littles, filled with great ideas that you can use tomorrow. For those in my school- I have a copy that you can borrow. Christine has an excellent blog with templates you can use and lots of #GAfE4Littles ideas. You can follow her on Twitter @PintoBeanz11 and find new ideas just about every day or follow the #GAf4Littles hashtag or the #InnovatingPlay #SlowFlipChat hashtags.
STEM for Littles
There are so many wonderful STEM sites online for young children. Sesame Street offers a STEM toolkit that you may find useful. I continually check STEAM Powered Family VivifySTEM and more. Although many of these sites seem to be connected to a TPT store, keep looking and you will probably find the same/similar resources freely shared.
I saw this on Edutopia's YouTube channel the other day. Can you even imagine how much time we could save if we were this efficient at meetings. Just a thought...
National Poetry Month
I saw some great links the other day for National Poetry Month on Terri Eichholz' blog, Engage Their Minds. You can check them out here. Makers.com partnered up with illustrator,Kimberly Joy, to bring you some beautiful illustrations to go with dynamic poetry from 6 gifted women. Of course Poets.org has a whole list of ways to celebrate poetry. If you haven't tried the Dear Poet project with your grade 5-12 students, check it out here. You can also find the links to download the new poster as well as the Poem in My Pocket resources. Watch/Listen to Alberto Rios read "Don't Go Into the Library".
Poetry in America premieres on public television stations nationwide this week. Check out a teaser for Episode 2.
Our local PBS affiliate WGBH, has some excellent lesson plans online for grades 6-12, including one of my favorites, Langston Hughes' Harlem.
Newsweek went a step further and published an article on space, evolution and dinosaur poetry. Check it out here.
One of my favorite websites for poetry is The Poetry Foundation. I like the way they have things sorted out for you.
Looking for lesson plans- Check out Read, Write, Think for more. Readworks also has an excellent selection and it is sorted by grade level.
NCTE has an article about using protest music lyrics to study poetry and civic engagement. Check it out here.
Locally, our friend Kevin Hodgson, over at Kevin's Meandering Mind, is working to pull together some of the small poems from the Networked Narratives daily prompts. Kevin is a 6th grade teacher and is an outreach co-director w/Western Mass Writing Project. You can read more of his work on his blog.
We keep hearing about how everyone needs to learn how to code. Do they? I've been seeing a lot of headlines about how computers and AI will be talking over all the jobs in the very near future. I recently saw a couple of interesting videos online and went back to read a bit more about where they came from. This one called The Future of Work: Will Our Children Be Prepared? comes from What School Could Be and basically shows computers taking over all sorts of jobs from milking cows to flipping burgers.
So, I went looking for more information and found a recent Edsurge article , interviewing Ted Dintersmith, a businessman who is now on an education "crusade" (my term). In 2015, he funded and produced “Most Likely to Succeed. My first inclination was that he was yet another Bill Gates sort of guy who thinks he knows more about education than those who are actually working in the field. However, I think he is spending his time investigating and has some good points. One quote from the article resonated with me. "To me, it’s not computer science. It’s computer literacy. It’s understanding and making yourself far more productive with the tools and resources that are out there. That’s what we need to teach—to encourage kids to learn and be confident that they can figure things out, whether they’re a philosophy professor, journalist, scientist or engineer."
On the other hand, but perhaps related- we keep hearing about resilience, grit, perseverance, and a growth mindset as the key components of success. This video has been making the social media rounds of late. Jay Shetty tells us that the real test is life, asking "when were you were taught perseverance, determination, or persistence even for one day? And tells us that "The real challenges we will face are being empathetic understanding people's challenges."
So, I need computer literacy, perseverance and empathy... and then I read this; "We’re Teaching Grit the Wrong Way" from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The author tells us that "grit alone simply isn’t enough. It matters what path people use. As one example, grit combined with gratitude is a strong predictor of resilience."
But... Nigel Coutts thinks that we are wrapping kids in the equivalent of cognitive cotton wool. And, once again, pieces of his argument resonated with me. " We are so keen to make learning easy and accessible that at times we completely remove the challenge."... " We provide endless scaffolding of processes with pro-formas and checklists until the task is reduced to a set of simple steps, manageable with no real mental effort. We then applaud the success achieved and yet wonder why our learners are unable to apply their learning to new situations or transfer their skills from one discipline to another. " Coutts quotes a lot of Jo Boaler's work, which also makes so much sense to me.
Need to learn to code? Need to be more resilient? Need to have more empathy? Which is the key to the future for our students?
Looking for ideas? Google has an online course on Digital Literacy, which actually does help with some of the soft skills that employers are looking for, like collaboration. It's called Applied Digital Skills. You can find out more in the video below, or check the website or YouTube channel.
Back to Ted Dintersmith on innovative schools: "They’re helping each kid in a different, very specific way to discover their strengths, learn more about their interest, and begin to gain the skills and confidence that they can use their life to make their world better."
Hmmm...so maybe I need to add personalized learning to my list... innovative, personalized, resilient, empathetic, creative, collaborative and digitally literate.
I saw a meme in a twitter chat a few months back, which I had never seen/heard before. It referred to professional development as "#SeaGull PD". Interesting outlook on required PD. I do not have all the answers. Here are some resources that you may find useful.
It's Spring- which means that Edcamp season is upon us. I spent the day at EdCampBoston on Saturday. What I came away with, as usual, was a day of learning, making my own choices. If I couldn't find someone to learn from in the group of 200 educators who gave up a Saturday to share and learn, it was my problem. However, many times PD selection is not something I feel like I have any control over. One of the sessions at #edcampBos was led by Dan Callahan, entitled: Meetings Don't Have to Suck. Here's thelink to the collaborative notes. If you're wondering what else went on- Here's thelink to the spreadsheet with all the notes taken.
With the recent ESSA requirements taking effect over the last year or so, I thought that perhaps this was the time. A quote from EdSurge a year ago: "The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) establishes a new, more rigorous definition of PD that incorporates many of the ideas above. High quality sustained PD as defined in this recent report should “take place over an extended period; longer than one day or a one-time workshop.” It should also incorporate data on both teacher and student needs—that is, it should be data-driven. I haven't seen any real changes, but perhaps I am impatient; these things take time.
Steve Dembo delivered a session about PD called "Fear the Sitting Dead"
Luckily was shared on YouTube. Dembo served for ten years as Discovery Education’s Director of Learning Communities and led their Innovation and Strategy team. To learn more about Steve and his work, click here.
Vicki Davis recently did a nice podcast about rethinking PD. You can listen to it here, or check out the post on her site. Vicki interviewed Jarod Bormann, author of Professionally Driven: Empower Every Educator To Redefine PD who talked about designing PD that works and interests teachers.
MOOCs and Books
Will Richardson, author of Why School?, has teamed up with Bruce Dixon to create Change School. Here's the blurb: "An inquiry-driven, interactive experience that will push your thinking and your practice, and leave you with a unique plan to move your school forward." You can spend 8 weeks learning with your cohort and come out with your own personal playbook of how you can effect change in your school.
EdCamps are generally my PD of choice. Here in New England we are lucky to have a lot of Edcamps to choose from, all within a few hours drive.
Sat, 03/24/2018 - Edcamp BPS Boston Massachusetts
Thu, 03/29/2018 - JPS Edcamp Johnston Rhode Island
Sat, 04/14/2018 - Edcamp Vermont Winooski, VT
Sat, 04/28/2018 - EdcampWMASS Huntington Massachusetts GATEWAY!
Sat 05/05/2018- Edcamp Access, Burlington, MA
Sat 08/10/2018- Edcamp CT, Simsbury, CT
Sat, 09/29/2018 - Edcamp Grafton Grafton Massachusetts
There will be an Edcamp down on Cape Cod, one in Malden, MA, as well as Southern NH and more...
Regardless of the professional development choices you make as an educator, they should be choices that you have some control over, that enhance your teaching. There's a reason it's called "professional" development. Teachers need more autonomy and more engaging choices.
Alice Keeler-Infographics Tips
Alice Keeler has an excellent post with easy to follow tips to help you or your students make great infographics with Google Slides or Drawings. Check it out here.
Screenshot of Alice Keeler's tips.
Please visit her site for more info and to download the pdf.
Tips to Organize Google Drive: Miguel and friends
Once again our Texas friend, Miguel, has posted useful, practical information! I think I first tried to organize my Google Drive when I read a post a while back from Jenn Judkins and learned about "Shift-Z". Check out Jenn's easy to follow tutorial here. Miguel Guhlin takes Google Drive organization and breaks it down into 3 pieces : Tip #1 – Create File Shortcuts Tip #2 – Copy Folders in Drive Tip #3 – Backup & Sync Read all about it on the TCEA blog, here.
Still looking for more ideas to organize your Google Drive? Richard Byrne has a great little gif to show you how to use emojis and icons to organize... check it out here.
The topic of digital distraction in the classroom has circled around, yet again.
Is it getting worse? Is it a problem of tech or of classroom management? Have we collected new research that says screens are making us dumber? Are we losing touch with one another, lacking empathy? Yes, depends on who you ask; yes, but it depends on which research you look at; yes, but... One article that many have seen and chimed in on- on both sides, is the WAPO article about putting all devices into little protective pockets while in school.
Business Insider has Stanford University computer science students protesting at Apple around cell phone addiction issues. Need to read more... Here's a few to get you started-
One article: Hechinger Report Another: WAPO- to ban or not WAPO: Screens are not evil
So, are we all talking about the same thing? Distraction in the classroom=screen time=cellphone addiction... Nope, I think that there are various threads to the discussion that kind of blend together, depending on age group or student/parent/teacher and this ends up clouding our discussion. In school- they can be used as learning tools. If they are not being used as learning tools- put them away. In social situations- talk to the real people you are with. When you see beautiful scenes in nature, at concerts, walking down the street- look and enjoy with your eyes and your other senses, instead of always holding up a phone and looking through a lens.
I liked this tweet from a Canadian friend, Alec Couros. He is a professor at the University of Regina and has spoken on and written about The Age of Distraction for about a decade.
As usual, one of my personal go-to sources is CommonSense Media. You can read a lot more about Digital Distraction here... and check out the video below.
Google View Image Button
I sent this info out just before vacation to some, but Google has changed their image search and has deleted the view image button. From what I can gather, this was in response to Getty Images and others who were complaining that folks were stealing their images. I tend to go the route of "let's show students and their teachers how to"... search for public domain or creative commons licensed images and how to cite or get permission to use them in our own work, rather than put roadblocks up and create a generation of hackers.
I found out that the button was gone as I attempted to show 5th graders how to get images for a presentation project. It was yet another one of those moments when the teacher demonstrates how to work around unanticipated tech issues in front of students. You can click on the link, which will bring you to the website, not the image and you get to see if you can find it again. You can right click on the image, open it in a new tab, get the url and info for citation and then right click or command click to save the image. Or... you can install the chrome or firefox extension that will put that lovely little View Image button back on the search page. I have successfully installed the chrome extension and it works well. You can get it here. There is also a firefox extension. If you need a quick and easy link to share with students use: http://bit.ly/viewimagebutton
I'm a little late to the party here, but caught a tweet the other day about LunchBots from Hummingbird Robots. If you aren't familiar, these are incredible kits to build all sorts of creative projects using some simple robotics and a well designed electronic board. I honestly cannot see what I am doing on most of the breadboards and raspberry pi boards I have tried and spend more time troubleshooting my connections than actually creating and coding. Hummingbird connections are color-coded, larger than most and easy to use. Here's their intro blurb: "The Hummingbird robotics kit allows students to create and program robots built from electronic components and craft materials. The Hummingbird is made by BirdBrain Technologies, a company devoted to cultivating creativity and computational thinking by providing flexible and inspiring products that engage students and teachers in programming and robotics" So... LunchBots...
These are quick 20 minute webinars, recorded on their YouTube channel; Byte-Sized PD that you can reference later. I happened on these as I was looking for other ways to explore mechanisms, fascinated with all the cool automata and contraptions I have been seeing from @TinkeringStudio #CuriousContraptions #automata. Check out the video below and then head on over to Exploratorium and see all their mechanisms too.
I spent one vacation day last week attending MassCue's Winter Google Palooza. The presenters at these events are teachers. They are in the classrooms and know all the pitfalls/wonders of using tech to enhance lessons. I always learn something new from Jenn Judkins and attended one of her sessions. She is the queen of useful workflows with sheets, addons and this time with templates for projects. Jonathan Schmid demo'd lots of great ideas for makerspaces in one of his presentations. He showed a link to this really cool cardboard pinball machine. So, of course I had to get one to try. I can't wait to have the kids design their own games and even hook up makey- makey to it. They have ideas on how to incorporate materials you can generate with your 3D printer too. Check them out here.
If you want to get a peek at all of the wonderful presentations,you can find them online. This is not as good as being there, but even for those who got to attend, it's always hard to just choose 4 sessions for the day and miss out on the others.
I was looking through the presentation on chrome extensions to support struggling learners, saw some I hadn't known about and was thrilled to see that TDLR is back up and running for all those who need a quick summary of a web page. I couldn't get the options section to work, but otherwise it seems like it's back.
Did You Know?
Before I share links about the Olympics- I have 3 quick things to share.
Duck Duck Moose
You may have known this for months, but I just happened across an article about Khan Academy and apps for littles. Did you know that Khan bought Duck Duck Moose? Did you know that all 21 of those apps are now free?
Unicheck Plagarism Checker
Richard Byrne has an interesting post on his blog about a plagiarism checker that is integrated right into Google Classroom- via an add-on from UniCheck. The article was written by a staffer at unicheck. Read the post here.
2018 Winter Olympics
My colleagues in 3rd grade who are doing a unit on the Olympics kindly haven't complained yet about all the resources I have been bombarding them with, but there are so many fantastic ideas out there.
There's a whole set of 16 videos from the National Science Foundation to illustrate the math and science of some of the sports.
Today I happened on this series of photos and links on Twitter. These math related ideas come from Desmos. Dennis Sheeran has a great collection of links on his site, all nicely collated on a hyperdoc. Check it out here.
The folks over at SpheroEdu have been hard at work coming up with a new video, using Spheros participating in curling.
Olympics Hyperdocs are all the rage online. Please remember that if you use these to #FILEMAKEACOPY.... and then give credit to the original creator. When I use a hyperdoc that someone else made, I make sure to go through each and every link to make sure they all work and to be sure that any info being collected from students is only being collected by me, not another school or teacher.
Here's some links to check out:
Just in case you haven't visited BreakoutEdu recently, the platform has changed a bit- with a free section and a premium section. You must register on the site for access. These are both Free.
Other Olympic Collections
Global Ed & Empathy
One of the most effective ways I know to foster empathy is to demonstrate the similarities we share. Global education projects provide a great pathway. One of the nicest projects I came across last week is the Kindness Rock project. Our 4th grade teachers have embraced both global ed and several kindness projects which actually just enhance and continue their longstanding excellent class projects. For those who haven't seen the Kindness Rock project:
Two of my champions of Global Ed have been hard at work this past week. Both Lucy Gray and Julie Lindsay have new projects in the works. Julie, over at Flat Connections, is offering a new PD program for educators that looks really interesting. After having taken her Flat Classroom course (twice), I know that I can recommend her professional development offerings for all who are interested in expanding their horizons with their students. This new series is called Playbooks and is divided up into 4 strands. You can read much more about it here.
Flat Connections is also starting a new round of projects for students. The new project this round is Windows to the World for grades 3-6, as well as the familiar favorites. This looks like an updated, revamped model of the A Week in the Life project, which I helped moderate 5 or 6 years ago. Lots of fun, lots of learning. Check out all the projects that are on offer here. These are well managed, global projects that really help you and your students connect around the world.
Lucy Gray is on the road again, currently at TCEA in Texas, then moving on to Mumbai, D.C and Boston. She and Steve Hargadon offer an incredible wealth of opportunities for teachers and students at all levels. Check out her upcoming work here.
Scratch 3.0 Preview
For all of the Scratch fans out there... it's almost here. Scratch 3.0 is due to be released in August, but... you can preview it now!
Check it out herescratch.mit.edu/preview-faq. Lots of info on the FAQ page too. Even more info is available on the wiki.
This is also the summer of the Scratch conference at the MIT media lab in Cambridge. Lots of fun, lots of learning. Amazing group of international educators. I can honestly say that I have met more people from other countries at the Scratch conferences I have attended than at ISTE conferences. I can sit and talk with folks from across the Connecticut River or sit and chat with friends from Mexico, France, Russia, Sweden, or Brazil. More info here.
Curation, Fact-Checking and More...
I had tagged a great article from Joyce Valenza- one of the world's greatest librarians- to share and then I listened to an excellent webinar from the folks over at Common Sense Media about a new game they are creating for middle and high school... but then I saw this image and post from Cult of Pedagogy by Jennifer Gonzalez. I am a dumper. I'll give you the links and maybe do a second blog post on our snow day tomorrow- but enough! I know I tend to overwhelm teachers I work with at times, but at least then I can go in to the classroom and help, can sit down and talk it through. After reading the examples she cited- oh, yeah. That's me. So... maybe tomorrow.
H/T to all the gracious members of my PLN who share resources every day!
Code for Life
I had not seen Code for Life until Richard Byrne wrote about it in his blog. Although it does seem that we have a plethora of coding resources to choose from, I liked both the simplicity of the drag drop interface as well as the curriculum alignment for the teachers.
I'd been hearing about this since last spring and finally took the time to check it out. Since I don't teach in a traditional classroom, I sometimes don't spend the time to check out some tools that I would otherwise find indispensable. This is a quick and easy way to let students know what the expectations are, to help teach, and has a pretty extensive, easy to use tool bar. Even if you love your current tool set, check out all that this classroomscreen has to offer. Lori Gracey over at TCEA wrote up a great post about this tool today. Check it out here.
I had hoped that the 3rd grade would be able to try some of these, but with the NGSS transition, perhaps not. If you are working on anything to do with space- check out these really cool STEM challenges from VivifyStem. I hope to be able to take some of these ideas and use them for STEAM challenges as well.
Black History Month
There are some excellent resources online for Black History Month. One of my favorite new resources is the hyperdoc shared by Randi Merritt. ReadWorks has featured Reading Passages for the month. PBS has an excellent collection-Black America Since MLK- And Still We Rise. Our local station is hosting a special screening of More Than a Month- Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart on Thursday 2/1 at 1pm ET
Storyboardthat offers a collection of storyboard ideas for students to learn from or use to start their own creations. We also have 2 tabs on our HES symbaloo for Black History month. The 2 tabs are pinned to the beginning of the navigation tabs for the month.
Last, but certainly not least- Adobe Spark
When I read about the changes in Adobe Spark for students under 13 last week, it really made my day. Adobe Spark is a beautiful, easy to use tool, but the TOS was limited. Teachers essentially had to create one account and then have all of the students log in and use it. Now, beginning in April- students under 13 will be able to use Adobe Spark. You can read the whole announcement here. Many different bloggers wrote more about this, but perhaps you'll enjoy Monica Burns' post here