New Reading App
This app, Reading IQ, just came out and looks to be a great resource, very similar to Epic! You can read a lot more about it on their blog. Here's the blurb:
"As with ABCmouse, ReadingIQ is available at no cost to teachers for use in their classrooms, with the ability to assign an entire reading level of books to each student to read at home, completely free." Check out a short video from the site.
It is free for teachers- be sure to look up at the top right of the navigation and click on Teachers to get all the details.
Learning in a MakerSpace
One of the hardest things for me, working to integrate technology across all the grades and disciplines, is to allow students to have choices. We are so used to controlling all the aspects of teaching, that we forget that we don't need to control how kids learn. We just need to help them learn. Edutopia has a new series called How Learning Happens. The full series of more than 20 videos will be released in early 2019.
The video below is a preview from Learning Problem Solving and Growth Mindset in a Makerspace. The blurb for this one is "Makerspaces build students’ cognitive abilities while fostering independence, perseverance, and self-regulation."
I also picked up a couple of children's books this weekend- kind of along the same vein. One was Rosie Revere: Engineer. This is part of a wonderful series which includes Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect.
What I noticed, aside from the nod to Rosie the Riveter. was the theme of not giving up. Now, I am not a big proponent of jumping up and down for joy about failing. Yes, I know all the little acronyms that go along with FAIL... and not that these are wrong, it's just- I want to succeed. Accepting that a big part of the engineering design cycle is prototype, test, make changes, iterate, takes not an acceptance of failure, but the knowledge that it is a process. The ability to persevere through the process, to take constructive criticism and use it, is the hardest part for many of our students, as well as our teachers to learn. I was down at the Google HQ in Cambridge a few years back and listened to a panel of folks who work for Google. The one woman who truly impressed me said something to the effect of "I was always the smartest one in the class. I was used to being right. Now I am one of many and I have had to learn to learn from others and from my own mistakes. Accepting and learning to use criticism is hard."
So, where am I going with this? The other book I picked up was called, "What do you do with an idea?" I also found a whole book module on this in Teaching Children Philosophy, which was a course over at Mt. Holyoke, not sure if it is still offered. Curious, I started looking around the web and found that this book, this children's book, is being read and discussed in college engineering and design courses. I loaned my copy to First Grade, but see if you can find one. Short, easy to read, nice illustrations, but a pretty powerful message and great questions on the site. What makes an idea important? What does it mean to feed an idea and make it grow?
A couple of tools that I noticed this week included:
Google's bring AR to the web. We've all seen the fancy $ Occulus Rift, as well as the utilitarian Google Cardboard, but Google is actually working hard to bring AR to the web, and not as a novelty. They have a prototype called Article. Article is a 3D model viewer that works for all browsers. Read more about it here.
I saw a tweet from Leslie Fisher about Handwriting recognition in Google Docs, which got my attention: Handwriting recognition in Google Drive. Go ahead and read more about it on her blog. I'll tuck the video in here, too. But... this isn't quite as grand as it sounds. Google Keep can do OCR on an image and then you can send this text to Google Docs. Google Docs can take a PDF and pull the text out of it- not perfectly, and I hope you didn't care about the formatting. However, a combo of tools is getting a whole lot closer. I have a Rocketbook and it can recognize my handwriting and it can send it to docs, to evernote, etc. So- yes, it is cool, but there's another tool in there, not just Google Drive. Here's the link for Rocketbooks. They are also somehow affiliated with ThinkBoard- which is a whiteboard- that you can use the app on and send it to docs- does HW recognition, OCR from the whiteboard.
Looking for a cool STEM toy?
I was thrilled to see that Smithsonian Magazine choose Turing Tumble as the best STEM toy of 2018. This came along as a kickstarter a couple years back and was finally realized this past year. I brought one up to my brother's house and tested it on my niece. It was fun, hard fun, but really engaging for ages 8+. There are 60 puzzles to get through. We played for quite a while and did 15 of them. Check it out the top ten list here, and in the winner in the video below.
One of the Honorable Mentions was Chibitronics. I received one of these kits at the MakerBootCamp I attended last summer. Again- fun, lots of learning. Chibitronics Love to Code Creative Coding Kit. They offer good discounts to educators. Jie Qi, one of the founders, has created such beautiful work, check out some of her projects
Multiple Google Accounts?
This week a teacher asked me about the logins on Google accounts. Since most of us have at least two logins- school and personal, it's important to know and to control which account you are in. I noticed this just last week as I created a doc in my personal account and then shared- unsuccessfully- to students, who cannot share/view out of district docs.
I have used the directions Kasey Bell shared a few years back. Alice Keeler also has a really nice step by step. My extensions are different on different accounts. You can also change your backgrounds, etc- to make it much more apparent to you. Check out Kasey's how-to video below- or if you like written directions to follow- go to Alice's blog.
Advice from Austin
I get Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter. Admittedly, I skim it, rarely reading the whole thing. But, this past week, I actually spent time on and enjoyed his post "We are verbs, not nouns". Go ahead. Read a short article. Less than 5 minutes. You'll like it.
The tools that caught my eye this week, include physics simulations, digital math and a really nice article about using Book Creator and Adobe Spark.
had a really nice article featuring Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith:
How To Use Chromebooks For Powerful Creation in School.
Great examples of both tools.
Need more PD?
Did you miss EdTech Team's ANZ Summit last weekend. Have no fear- it's available on YouTube. Check out the line- up here. Here's the blurb, "Introducing the theme CREATE, we’re mixing it up to unveil new and ever-evolving content on the most relevant topics and learning principles in the classroom today, including mindfulness, accessibility, creativity and personalized learning. Expect engaging sessions covering everything from Creating with Chromebooks to Creating Real World Problem Solvers and Teacher Leaders."
The Birdville ISD down in Texas is hosting a 12 Days of Innovation Summit.
Tony Hylander posted about this on the Future Ready Instructional Coaches group. Sign up is FREE! You will get an inspirational video via email each day. Our featured speakers include Matt Miller (Ditch That Textbook & Google Teacher Tribe), Damen Lopez (No Excuses University), Sean Gaillard (The Pepper Effect), and more! For each video you will have the opportunity to reflect and earn a certificate of professional learning. Sign up today!
WMass Scratch Meetup
I'll just repost their announcement here. If you have never tried Scratch, if you are a Scratch expert...all are welcome. Especially with the upcoming release in January of Scratch 3.0- Perfect Timing!
"Calling all educators, K-12 teachers, out-of-school leaders, tinkerers, and makers. We've got tech prizes, Scratch 3.0 updates, and a great learning community for you to join at the upcoming Meetup. And...we will be joined by a leader from the ScratchEd team at Harvard. Don't miss this opportunity to hear from the ScratchEd team first hand and share tips, tricks and questions in real time!
Scratch Meetups are designed like an unconference. We will build the agenda together and dig into topics that you want to learn about. Join us for a unique learning opportunity. Share your Scratch experience, meet new colleagues, and stay for dinner.
If you are a seasoned teacher looking to learn new Scratch tips and tools, or someone recently inspired to learn about Scratch, this is the learning opportunity for you.
Certificates of participation will be available for teachers who need documentation.
Feel free to bring friends! RSVP at https://www.meetup.com/ScratchEd-WMass/"
Monica Burns shared a free resource this past week that she has created. "This book is for educators working with students of all ages, especially those in a Chromebook classroom. This free ebook is called Using Book Creator for Formative Assessment: 15 Tips for Checking for Understanding." Read more about it and download this free resource on her blog, then head right over to Book Creator and read more about using Book Creator and Adobe Spark
We are reminded that this week is Assistive Technology Awareness Month by Leslie DiChiara. She shared a great intro to AT video by Chris Bugaj on herblog. Just a reminder, CTD has an excellent library of Assistive Tech resources, including Quick Takes.
It would be hard for me to decide which one of the new-to-me tools I learned about this week is the coolest.
I really loved Jen Giffen's quick post about PDF Candy. I have the full version of Adobe Acrobat at home, but not at school. It drives me crazy when I need/want to make changes to a pdf and cannot do it right away. This tool may solve that problem. It's called PDF Candy. Just head over to the site, choose what you need/want to do with the pdf and click on it. You upload your PDF, make changes and download it. If you don't want to wait, there is also a free downloadable program for Windows. Check it out here.
Another cool tool I learned about is actually software called Pepakura Designer. It is used to take a 3D file, for example a file from Tinkercad, and"unfold" it to make a 2D paper design which can then be printed and folded. I see this as a great way to do some rapid prototyping vs the much slower and more costly 3D printing. I haven't tried it out yet, but check out Stu Lowe's Tweet.
Merge Cube-Co-Spaces Add-on
This new add-on has been released and so far, it is getting great reviews. I tried Co-Spaces back when it first came out, but it took forever to load for me. Partially because I have pokey internet, but it seemed cool, but clunky. It has come a long way. I am not a huge Merge Cube fan, but I know some teachers- and some students love them and have found great value in using them to demonstrate learning. This new combo sounds great- and easy to do. However, the caveat is that you need a Pro license. This is for a minimum of 30 students and will cost $105/year. Check out the video below and see what you think.
A few years ago, I backed the Neuron on Kickstarter. It's still in the box. But, after watching this little guy programming with Neuron and Swift playground, it's got to come out of the box, even if I just bring it to school and let some brilliant students give it a go. If you're wondering- Neuron is a lot like Little Bits- but it seems sturdier to me.
Articles to Ponder
Last week I noticed an article by George Couros about balance. I first met George back when Beth Still brought him to ISTE (it may have still been NECC), as the "newbie". Little did I know that Alec's little brother was going to go on to become a rock star educator. But, Balance: This is a goal of mine, so I was interested to see what George said. I was struck by his first paragraph: “Balance is stupid.”
Of course, he goes on to talk more about this and about how he now views balance today. Then I saw another article by John Spencer who delved into this same topic. Take the time to read his whole article. Or... just watch the video below- then go read the whole article, it's worth your time.
Last week I wrote briefly, about some of the issues we all deal with in education. Apparently, I am not the only one feeling like there are some gaps, with an undue emphasis on acquiring and regurgitating information, instead of doing and learning. As a strong believer in UDL, I believe that we need to look at how we are teaching, how students are learning and how they are showing their mastery. Jennifer Gonzalez of The Cult of Pedagogy, blogged about this and created the podcast embedded below.
Modern Learners shared this viral video and responded to it in their post back in September. Check out the blog post for the video response to Prince Ea. What's your response? Mine has been to create the STEAM space at HES. Still a work in progress, students can come in and DO something.
Three Quick Shares
Add Math Playground to Google Classroom
Richard Byrnes wrote a great blog post about this back in September. I love Math Playground games. I've been a fan of Colleen King for years. She is an amazing educator, math wiz, web design and coding magician and a wicked nice, shy, unassuming person. She was my hero about 10 years ago as I was struggling to get through a workshop that was simply not working for me. I had no clue about what I was trying to do, coding stuff etc... and Colleen took me under her wing and very gently showed me how to do some basic things. She also allowed me to use her as a mentor for one of my former students when he wanted to learn flash and I didn't know it. But... back to Richard's post. He noticed that you can put Math Playground games right into Google Classroom and referenced Tony Vincent's post about how one could add materials. Check out Richard's post here and start adding more fun, educational Math Playground games to Google Classroom. If you've never tried the Logic games, be sure to check them out.
I've been hearing more and more about Eduprotocols for the last 6 months. The book, by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo came out in March and everything I have heard about it is wonderful. Hate to admit it, but I haven't purchased a copy yet. I tend to buy paper copies of edu books, so I can lend them to people. The trade-off is not being able to click on the links. Check out the videos below. The first big one is a review of the book. Vicki Davis did an interview with Jon and Matt Miller takes on one of the protocols in his video. It may be something that some of us can look at for a PD session. Interested? Check out some of the templates- for free. See if this would help you in the classroom.
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