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
One of my big goals this year has been to develop a STEAM/makerspace in the old computer lab in my elementary school. The old lab had Gateway E series, 15 year old computers, and needless to say, the space was not utilized by most of the teachers, unless they had to do mandated testing. With a lot of help from my PLN, Eduporium, the Edward Hopkins Foundation and the Helping Hearts organization in my district, we are building a space that kids and their teachers are beginning to use. It's fun, it's educational and I think we are getting kids engaged, giving them agency and a voice... all in baby steps. Time, as usual, is the cross we all bear, but this is by far the most authentic way I have seen to integrate technology and the engineering design process into the curriculum. We are not yet at the true "maker" stage. Much of what the students are doing is assigned by the teacher. I see a few students coming in to use the space in the "off hours" to create on their own, and hope that this will build momentum as they find new ways to create, new passions to follow. My next step, as an educator, will be to step back and try to follow in the footsteps of others by challenging students and allowing them to take more control, to try, to succeed, to fail, to learn. Here a few things I have seen recently that I am trying, or plan to introduce.
Monday Maker Challenge
When I read John Spencer's post back in the beginning of the month, I was excited. Yes! This is what I will do. Well, almost a month later- I still want to do it, but haven't yet. Maybe it's the name- Maker Monday. I don't work Mondays... But I love the ideas John has inhis post He offered 3 options: Maker Stations, Maker Challenges and Divergent Thinking Challenges. If you haven't picked up John's book- Launch, Using Design Thinking to Boost Creativity and Bring Out the Maker in Every Student, written with A J Juliani check it out- I found it to be worth my time. If you're in my district and want to borrow it, let me know.
Using greenscreens in video production is not new, but is one easy way to get students producing their own work and gives them a different way to show what they know. Miguel Guhlin over in Texas wrote up a nice blog post with some great examples, especially for STEM projects. Be sure to follow some of his links to see even more.
Need more examples? Wes Fryer, an amazing educator, has a Google Site full of great ideas for Green Screen and more. Check it out here.
I have been compiling a list of sites with great project ideas- some to have kids try, others for them to check out and be inspired to create their own. One of thes sites is Lance Makes. Lots of great ideas, with good clear directions to follow for those who are new to the engineering piece, or as a baseline for students with some experience. Think Instructables for kids.
Another favorite that I need to do more with isDestination Imagination. They, too, have a great set of challenges, which could fit nicely into a Monday Maker type of thing. You can check out their resource library here. One caveat: lately the links open to a sign up for the newsletter link, and then get stuck in that loop. Simply right click on the image/link and choose to open in a new tab to view it or save link as to save it.
A couple more: Curiosity Machine design challenges. Some of the challenges on the site are free- full directions, etc. Others require a subscription, but they show you the basic idea and often that is enough to get you started. They have a special free section for educators, with ties to NGSS.
For example, these are the standards covered in the 5 free lessons for grades 6-8.
Process vs Product
As you can probably guess from the links I shared, I am still vacillating between controlling the lessons and allowing students more freedom to choose/create. Maybe I'm wrong, but I believe that elementary students, especially, need some of the basics before they rush off to "make". This is a process for my school, adding more choice for students, giving up more control, but balancing this with the admin push for "standards", assessments. When I hear colleagues say that it's great to see their students having to make choices, to independently decide what to do, I swing towards student agency. When I see gaps in knowledge, I want to do a "lesson" on it and swing back into "teacher" mode. I am so lucky to have others to follow. Jackie Gerstein is one of my heros. I love her blog post entitled: Focusing on the Process, Letting Go of Product Expectations. However, I also love and freely steal from her Maker Camp series and appreciate having explicit direction. I want it both ways and still have not found a good balance for my newly created STEAM lab.
Before I get to the notebook topic... check out my friend Mike's podcast on Assistive Tech.
Assistive Technology- what is it? Is it just for SPED? Check out this podcast from my friend Mike Marotta with Jennifer Cronk. He is an AT specialist from New Jersey and is well known both nationally and internationally for his AT expertise. I love hearing him talk about Google Keep, one of my favorites. This is part 2 of a series. You can check out Part 1 and all the other podcast episodes here.
Notebooks- Paper or ?
You can read all sides of the paperless classroom debate online, (here, here, here) Should we all be paperless? Do students retain information best when they interact with it by writing it down or ? I would love to get rid of so much of the paper that clogs up my life as an educator. Do we really need to fill out paper forms, keep the pink copy, send the blue one here, the white one there and oh yeah, the yellow one goes to so and so? Do students need to print out all of their assignments that they created digitally and turn them in? Everyone has their own answers. Today, as I play catch up- writing my Tech Tuesday post on a snowy Wednesday, I was looking again at the Rocketbook and other "new notebooks".
I am a believer in writing things down to remember them. I like to have notes from meetings. It kind of gives me something to do while I sit there. I don't mean looking at the board or slide deck and writing all the stuff down that I will also have a digital copy of later, but writing down the highlights, writing down my questions, drawing myself a picture. I also need to write down reminders to myself. I like to make lists. I am a big fan of Google Keep. However, sometimes, having your computer open on the table makes people think you're not listening and honestly- it can be a distraction. This may be just the culture at my current school, but I think not. I have tried out Livescribe Pens and love them- but, I don't usually need to go back and listen to that recording again. Maybe if I was using them in a class I would find them more useful. I did find the little recording dots useful to make books more accessible. There are also some privacy issues around recording in a meeting or a classroom setting.
So- Rocketbooks. I first saw these on Kickstarter a while back. They were the kind you put in the microwave to erase. I thought it was clever, but a bit silly. However, the new version seems to have potential. These are notebooks that feel like real paper, and supposedly can be infinitely reused by simply wiping the pages with a damp cloth after uploading the scanned pages. You can upload the notes to Google Drive and many other cloud platforms- not Google Keep- yet. It does not OCR the notes. This is something I would love to see. If only you could upload to Google Keep... OCR and flip to Google Drive. But- check them out here.
Blackboard™ by Boogie Board™ is an alternative electronic writing tool which can be used to plan, sketch, and design featuring Liquid Crystal Paper™. I first saw this at Hopkins when the rep from Barnes and Noble came to demonstrate tech tools. It did not overwhelm me, but since then I have heard good reviews from other educators. Check it out here.
Google Edu in 90
It is pretty much impossible to keep up with all the changes in edtech. I depend on my PLN. I get daily emails from the bloggers that I choose to follow, check in on Twitter, Google +, various FB groups, and on and on... Google Edu in 90 can help. It can give you a quick overview in 90 seconds. You can read more about it here. Here's one of the most recent examples. You can sign up to get the Google Edu newsletters and see the past issues here.
As we look forward to the celebration of the birthday and the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr next week, it is a good time to help our students reflect on lessons learned since the 1960s and goals we are still striving toward. I created a hyperdoc for upper elementary-middle school students which can be accessed here. It is in a Google Slide format so that you can have each student create a graphic to share with peers. Feel free to use/modify. One caveat: this document is set up as view only. This means that you will need to go to File>Make a copy in order to create one for your own use. Remember #FileMakeaCopy
Kids Discover Online
I attended a webinar this evening put on by Kids Discover to showcase their resources and ideas on how to use them in the classroom. These are aimed at upper elementary and middle, although some could easily be used in high school. This unit is free this week.
Once again, Readworks has an excellent selection of articles about Martin Luther King Jr as well as the civil rights movement. These passages range in lexile from K-12. If you are unfamiliar with Readworks, this is a wonderful site with a wide-range of articles, some with Human-voice Audio. some with StepReads (differentiation), others with Question Sets and Vocabulary as well as Paired Text. A goldmine of resources for reading teachers, ELL teachers, and special educators, as well as subject area teachers.
PBS: Black America and Still I Rise
You can view video clips and see lesson plans on our local PBS site. These are geared to High School age students.
This is the "official site", but I believe that you have to be a member to view.
Google- Arts and Culture Institute
There are two beautiful collections about Martin Luther King on the Arts and Culture site. One focuses on him as an historical figure, while the other is a collection from The Martin Luther King, Jr. Research & Education Institute at Stanford University. You can also view an excellent collection of civil rights photography.
Martin Luther King, Jr.: Freebie Activities and Printables
Laura Candler, one of the co-founders of Donors Choose and Caring Classrooms community has put together a free packet of materials to go with the Brain Pop video. These are aimed at grades 3-6. Here's the note from Laura: "Have you planned any activities for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday which is right around the corner on Monday, January 15th? If not, I've got you covered! A few years ago I discovered an awesome free BrainPOP video about Dr. King, and with permission from BrainPOP, I created a free packet of resources to supplement the video. Click over to TpT to download Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In that packet, you'll find a sentence practice activity, vocabulary words and definitions, sequencing cards, and discussion cards. "
Share My Lesson
The folks over at Share My Lesson have pulled together an incredible collection for all age students and across several disciplines. This is a quick slideshow- each image represents a lesson on Martin Luther King Jr and/or civil rights.
What can you do?
There are as many ways to celebrate Dr. King's work and his dream as there are people. Some of the classes at HES are using a hyperdoc and learning about his work. Others are making their #oneword bracelets as a token to focus on these ideals and follow through on their plans to make 2018 the best year yet. One wonderful project that is coming up- starting next week on January 15th- MLK Jr's birthday- is the Global Kind Project. The Global Kind Project invites preK-12 classrooms to reflect on our individual and collective roles in building a more empathetic, positive and inclusive society.
Image CC: By Rebeca Zuñiga
I recently read an article about Esther Wojcicki's work, watched a few of her videos and then saw that there is now an actual Moonshot in Education movement, a little like the 20% time that many of you have heard about. One of the primary goals is to give students agency in order to help prepare them for the real world. This really resonated with me as several of my colleagues were just talking about this today- allowing students to make decisions, to work collaboratively on real projects. The Washington Post recently ran an article about the skills Google was looking for in their employees: same skills that Esther is promoting: "Project Aristotle shows that the best teams at Google exhibit a range of soft skills: equality, generosity, curiosity toward the ideas of your teammates, empathy, and emotional intelligence. And topping the list: emotional safety. No bullying. To succeed, each and every team member must feel confident speaking up and making mistakes. They must know they are being heard." You can learn more about her work, her goals and maybe sign up to get more info and resources here.
H/T to Leslie DiChiara for sharing Hillary Goldwaith-Fowles' article: Digital Does Not Equal Accessible. As more districts incorporate digital tools into the mainstream student population, we often get the impression that the tech or the digital access will magically cure all. Needless to say digital ≠ accessible. OER ≠ accessible. UDL ≠ accessible automatically. Check out this wonderful article and all the crowd-sourced comments to help bring this issue into focus for all.
Diana Benner down in Texas has published the first in a series of articles on accessibility on chromebooks. Nicely categorized, features a short list of chrome extensions to check out. If you are looking for a more complete listing, or other options, check out Eric Curts' work here.
#Ditch Summit report
I ended up binge-watching all 9 hours of Ditch Summit on a couple of those frigid days of the vacation week. As usual, it was worth my time. Two of the presentations really stood out. My favorite as far as potential gold mine of resources was Jon Corippo's EduProtocols: What They Are and How They Can Impact Learning. You can get in touch with Jon on Twitter: @jcorippo. He has so many great ideas to help streamline your workload and get more time with the students. You can get a quick synopsis from the notes Matt Miller provided. The other presentation I really enjoyed, although I have to say just picking 2 is hard, was Tanya Avrith and Holly Clark's presentation on Technology and Pedagogy. "How can we use technology to amplify great teaching instead of just putting technology on top?" Contact them: Website: hollyclark.org Twitter: @HollyClarkEdu & Website: tanyaavrith.com Twitter: @TanyaAvrith. These two amazing women are doing the work, not just talking/writing about it, and it shows in the way they approach the topics and in their solutions to the problems we all face. Here's the quick synopsis from the notes Matt Miller provided.
Storytime from Space
I saw this site referenced the other day and thought it was the coolest thing! Astronauts are reading/videoing children's books from the International Space Station. You can learn more about it here. Here's a short blurb from NASA: "Story Time From Space combines science literacy outreach with simple demonstrations recorded aboard the International Space Station (ISS). Crew members read five science, technology, engineering and mathematics-related children's books in orbit, and complete simple science concept experiments. Crew members videotape themselves reading the books and completing demonstrations. Video and data collected during the demonstrations are downlinked to the ground and posted in a video library with accompanying educational materials." You can read more about the research involved in this project here.