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.