Changes in GMail
Google has made some pretty significant changes to GMail. This will give you a list, or you can listen to Matt Miller and Kasey Bell tell you more about it in their GTribes podcast.
There has been a lot of discussion in the aftermath of Facebook exposures, credit data exposures, etc... I see two things that need clarification.
One- personally: "Free" is NOT FREE. You are paying for the use of websites by giving them access to your data, be it personal data: lists of friends, preferences or commercial data: what you tend to buy or look at online. Each of us deals with this in our own way. You can read more about this here. Remember that Google tracks your entire search history. Some other search engines supposedly do not do this, for example Duck Duck Go. When you are using a managed machine at school, the IT department can pretty much track and/or control everything you do.
As an educator, one of the concerns I hear is about is Google's compliance with COPPA and other rules to protect our student data. Some of the websites we have traditionally used in education, such as Today's Meet will no longer be available because of new GDPR. While data protection regulations are necessary, I am sorry to see some of the useful websites close their doors. If you're wondering about Google and chromebooks in schools- here's a nice article that I hope answers your questions and puts your mind at rest.
"Should I be concerned that my kids' school uses Google Chromebooks?
Online Safety Magazine
This is a free ~monthly magazine that you can download.
Articles this month include:
Click HERE to download the April edition.
New Feature in Book Creator
For those of you who have yet to try Book Creator, it is now on chrome, as well as iOS and is super easy to use.
The new feature that I am excited about is Read to Me. Here's the blurb from the blog:
"With this great new feature your books can be read aloud using your device’s text-to-speech capabilities. Book Creator can highlight the words as they are read and turn the pages automatically."
Check it out yourself here.
Jo Boaler on Math
For all the "I'm not a math person" folks out there... Jo Boaler wants everyone to love math. She has a great new article in Stanford Magazine. Check out the write up here. If you have not visited youcubed.org- amazing ideas there. There are tasks, challenges, resources for students, parents and teachers. Check it out. Jo also posted her new math mindset guide as well. Check out the hexagons below...
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.