Who knew how much work it would be to transform what you do every day as an educator in a K-12 school and magically try to make it all work remotely? Well, we're all finding out. I continue to see colleagues in my district and around the world struggle, work harder, reach out and begin to come together, with, if not the same lessons done remotely, lessons that work. Even with my job in tech integration, doing it remotely is simply not the same- at all. Hilltown internet with speeds slower than dial-up (which, at least didn't drop continually), make it pretty challenging.
I'm sure that you all have been overwhelmed with offers from literally hundreds of edtech companies, as have I. A couple that we will be offering district wide include Loom pro, WeVideo pro and access to all Texthelp edtech applications, including Equatio. Look for more information coming via email. We have also rolled out a new EdTech Tools site, with a curated list of tools to help you teach remotely, as well as some of the basic tutorials. The link was sent out yesterday and also lives in the shared drive in the ICP folder.
It feels like I am attending anywhere from 1 to 3, 4, or more webinars a day lately. One presenter, aside from Greg and Avra at EdTechTeachers stands out this week, Leslie Fisher. I attended one of her webinars on using Merge Cubes last week, enjoyed that one, so I signed up for one of her book creator webinars this week. Now, I have used Book Creator with kids, and honestly, didn't think I would learn a whole lot. I was wrong. Not only have they added over 200 accessibility features to Book Creator, but Leslie came up with very cool ways to use it- for all ages, not just elementary. I plan on attending another one this coming Friday- Book Creator and Accessibility. You can register for it here. The one I liked the other day is still open "on demand" til Monday 4/20.
Resources to Share
Here are a few resources that you may find useful, either in your teaching or to share with parents who are looking for alternative activities.
Sorry I seem to have misplaced a week or two as we all scramble to get up to speed and to help one another figure out what we are actually doing and how we can do it. Now that I think we have some of the basics down, or at least have figured out some of the parameters, what's next? Hoping to get some guidance from the state level as to what we, here in Massachusetts, are doing- enrichment?- distance learning?-dealing with equity issues? Lots and lots of questions. My biggest concern at the moment is how to provide continuity- both academically and to maintain the fabric of community- while we deal with the many aspects of accessibility.
So many of the edtech companies have come forward to offer their products for free as we try to reach out to all of our students and families. Although this is cool, a word of caution, don't introduce brand new tools if you can help it. Enrichment only, not for assignments if there is a learning curve. If your students have been using digital tools in class, try to stick to the known, as the whole method of lesson delivery is totally new to most of us. It overloads the teachers, the students and all of the families as we struggle to find the time, the tools and the means to distribute lessons or enrichment or just to reach out to build and sustain community.
One of the many webinars I have attended over the last 2 weeks was the SEDTA webinar last night, Supporting Students with IEPs During eLearning Days. After registering, I , along with 8000 others tried to get onto the edweb system. Needless to say, it didn't work. Luckily there is a recording, which you can access at edweb. AEM is offering a series of webinars coming up to help teachers use UDL in their lessons to reach all of the learners.
Here is more info from their page:
The AEM Center is hosting a series of webinars, each providing a deeper dive into a specific topic related to accessibility. Visit our AEM Events page for full details about each webinar.
So where do you sign up for any of these? Right here. A word of warning- hop onto the webinars on the early side if you can- they fill up fast. They are recorded if these dates/times don't work for you.
So what's next?
Our district is working hard to take the continuity plan and pull the teacher resources into our shared drive and to look carefully at the resources we are presenting to parents. Right now it is pretty overwhelming. Hopefully by the end of the week, we can begin to have it a bit more organized and have all of the HPS teacher resources in one place instead of filling your inboxes.
Ideas to Share
I could fill a book right now with all of the links I have collected, friends have shared, etc... It is a bit too much. If you like overwhelming - check out my Wakelets or this one. Here's a spreadsheet for all the spreadsheet lovers out there... and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
When I saw this article last week, it made me laugh at first, but then got me thinking... how many more powerpoint presentations will I have to sit through? You know the ones where the presenter apologizes in advance that you can't read the text on the slide, or god forbid, starts reading each slide to you. I remember showing Death by PowerPoint to students more than a decade ago. Here's the article- so you can laugh/cry...It's 2020. Why Are You Still Using PowerPoint? Don't miss clicking on the link to give you ideas of what you can do: Do This Instead.
New ways to capture and share learning seem to pop up on a daily basis, but these two tools are not the new kids on the block. Both Screencastify and Book Creator have been around for a while now and both keep on making more and more improvements.
When I saw the tweet below and a blog post by Richard Byrne, it reminded that I need to go back and give Screencastify another look. Take a look for yourself here.
Embedded below is a Book Creator book with 50 Ways to use Book Creator in your classroom. This tool is easy to use, and if you happen to run into any problem, you know that you will get a quick, helpful response back. Just this week they announced some great accessibility changes too.Here's a great post to learn more about all the wonderful new features- 230+ accessibility improvements added to Book Creator.
This is a long one- but it show you all kinds of great ways to use Book Creator in Special Ed
You don't have to be a special educator to learn more about UDL. This is a Don Johnston webinar from last week with Hillary Goldthwaite-Fowles, who can help dispel some of the myths around UDL.
Ideas to Share
When I sat down to look at what I had bookmarked this past week- Assistive Technology was clearly on my mind. I had read this article about video games having to be compliant with AT regulations. Essentially, the law enacted in 2010 said all the communication technology - eg. instant messaging, etc, used in video games had to be accessible. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that required these communication devices services and equipment to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Until earlier this year, the FCC had waived the ACS accessibility requirements for video game software. However, and here's the good news- now it is required! Let's see if it is actually enforced.
New AT tools from Google
This is an excellent synopsis of 11 different Assistive Tech Tools that you can use with Chrome or with Android devices.
Action Blocks is a feature that is designed for people with a cognitive disability (or their caregivers) is basically a way to pull all the various steps of a command into one easy to identify icon. Very cool idea to make things more accessible for all and to provide necessary independence.
ReadWorks has Audiobooks!
ReadWorks offers excellent free resources and has now added audio books. Check out the video here. Remember, although ReadWorks is a great source of leveled reading books, and passages, it's not just for students who are struggling with decoding and comprehension. All students can benefit from ReadWorks. They make it easy for teachers to find appropriate materials and help to pair texts as well.
Use Makey Makey to Create AT devices
I caught a few of Richard Byrne's Creativity Conference presentations live, including this one. If you have never tried MakeyMakey, it's easy to use and lots of fun. I like the way Art Spencer, the presenter, emphasizes empathy in the design process and uses MakeyMakey to create devices that are more accessible to students.
Listenwise will have Lexile Levels soon
We all know that listening to reading passages almost always increases comprehension levels. The last time I did a uPAR test with students at my school more than 88% of students showed an increase in comprehension scores. ListenWise may be something for you to investigate. The basic teacher account is free- no student accounts, and the premium version is a bit pricey. Check it out, try a pilot, free trial and see if this is a tool for you.
Learning 4 All
Just something to put on your calendar. Learning 4 All (formerly known as 4T: Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology), is a free virtual conference coming up in February.
Check it out and register here.
Although it is CS education Week and we are all doing the Hour of Code, rather than reiterate all of the great ideas and sites that have been shared already, we will look at some of the other things that are going on as well. However, I love the emphasis on #CSforGood!
I just saw these posters and playing cards today. Wish I had seen them earlier!
One more list of ideas to check
I knew I would forget at least one of the advent calendars or other lists that I had seen and of course I forgot the 12 Days of Innovation from Birdsville Schools. You can check it out here.
Richard Byrne recently posted some ideas that you may not have seen before for accessibility. He did an excellent job of summarizing some of the major accessibility options for Safari, for Chrome and for Edge. Microsoft used to be a leader in accessibility options, lost the race to Apple, then to Chrome and has come back strong with all of the Immersive Reader adaptations. One thing to note- these are NOT just for students on IEPS, or 504 plans. I use some of these tools all the time. Want to get rid of all the clutter- use the Reader View, need to quickly adjust the font size, Ctrl+/- and then back to Ctrl 0. Do check out Richard's post. It's really useful.
Research- Year in Review
You can always count on Edutopia to pull all the edu research for 2019 together into one article. From Growth Mindset to getting more sleep, they summarized many of the topics we have seen in the news this year. A couple things I found interesting- Paper did beat screens, but it wasn't a study that actually compared the two equally (not a real apples to apples kind of study) and the results were underwhelming. The other study mentioned that was interesting to me was debunking the decades old myth of the "summer slide". I found that one interesting, but challenging since we all know the reboots we end up doing after even short vacations- even long weekend! Check out the article here.
Interested in 3D printing?
I'm a novice when it comes to 3D printing. We have 2 small printers, one works, one doesn't... and the only software I have used for them is Tinkercad. I love Tinkercad and find it easy for the kids to use. I have used SketchUp in the past, but that was before we had 3 D printers. It has a pretty steep learning curve. So, when I saw this article comparing 3D software, I was happy to spend some time exploring and plan to spend more time trying out a few ideas.
Still looking for Techy Gifts?
Gary Stager posted his list to the ISED listserv and of course there are things on there that I have not seen yet. Check out Gary and the Invent To Learn team's list here. There are things for kids, and things for teachers too. One thing that I found last year and still really like is the Turing Tumble game. It is good hard fun for one and all. They also offer an edu discount, talk to them. I brought up to NH last year and played it with my niece. Luckily her uncle, who is a master electrician and a great puzzle solver, was there to help us out. One thing you'll probably find out the hard way if you play this game- put a container under it- otherwise you get to chase tiny marbles all over creation.
Media Literacy Week
This week is Media Literacy Week in the U.S. October 24-31st is Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2019
What is it? Why is it important? From Wikipedia: Media literacy encompasses the practices that allow people to access, critically evaluate, and create media. Media literacy is not restricted to one medium. Wikipedia
These stats are from 2 years ago- and I'm quite sure that they are worse today. At a time when misinformation and fake news spread like wildfire online, the critical need for media literacy education has never been more pronounced. The evidence is in the data:
When I saw this post by my old friend Wes Fryer, I knew I would have to share it with you. I first met Wes back in 2007 or maybe 2008 at NECC, now ISTE, spoke with him on most Saturdays on the Classroom 2.0 Live series for years and I have continued to follow his work online ever since. Wes is currently the Technology Integration and Innovation Specialist and Digital Literacy teacher at Casady School in Oklahoma City. This link is to an excellent post that Wes originally created to help teach his 5th and 6th graders. Great ideas for one and all. Click on the link or on the photo below. Thanks, Wes!
More Googley Stuff
When I first looked at my list of things to share this week, it seemed that 90% of them were ideas using something Googley. Easy to use, versatile. Check out some of the wonderful ideas folks have shared recently.
I love this quote from Sylvia Martinez. I get tired of the buzz words used in education- from "learning styles" to growth mindset to grit. I think we all just want to find ways to reach kids, to light those fires and help them learn to love learning. Yes, compliance is nice. I did compliance as a young girl in school- got the A's, never learned much math- but could follow the recipe, and honestly, never really cared about school. I liked it because it was easy for me, my friends were there and I just like to read. Now, as an educator, I still work on trying to find ways to make school meaningful for students, especially those who struggle. I fail every day. Not in the ever popular "first attempt in learning" manner; I just make mistakes, miss the cues, and more. It is certainly not my first attempt. But, I have learned to care about what I do, or perhaps, I do what I care about... and that helps me persevere and demonstrate if not mastery- grit.
If you ever get a chance to hear Sylvia speak, go for it. She is an engineer, an educator and goes around the world talking with and helping educators. Her latest book is a new version of Invent to Learn, co-authored with Gary Stager. They also run a makers conference every year up in Manchester NH.
Andrew Roush wrote a great article on the TCEA blog about Interactive Maps. I had never looked at these National Geographic Maps. They have lots of very cool features. Andrew goes through these in his post with some good examples. If you just want to investigate on your own, head on over to National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive. There's a playlist with 9 short videos to get you started.
I had never heard of this site before and it was explained to me as sort of an ask the expert type of site. Not so much from what I can see, but really interesting and is much more about learning about people. This is from their About page:
"DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER
The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers.
A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered."
Lots of "books" to explore and it looks like they will be starting a Human Library for children this summer.
Here's a TED talk to learn more:
I first skimmed through this article about how Google is working to make devices more accessible to all, but was utterly transfixed by one of the projects- Project Euphonia. This project is to expand the capabilities of speech recognition to all. I'm sure that you all have had students who were difficult to understand, for various reasons. I know that when I am looking for assistive tech solutions, I sometimes just plain run into the wall with artic issues- and speech to text just plain cannot work. This project, although still in its infancy- has real promise for those with articulation issues due to development, medical issues and more. Just watch this short video and see what you think. The article is here- there are several other projects to check out.
Ideas to Share
2019 STEM for All Video Showcase
Every year NSF sponsored video projects are displayed in a giant video showcase. Enjoy, learn, get new ideas...
From the website:stemforall2019.videohall.com/ "More than 240 federally funded projects, highlighting innovations in STEM education, share short videos of their work. Researchers, practitioners, policy makers and the general public are invited to post to the discussions. Share your perspectives, ideas and feedback. Vote for your favorites. Voting and discussion ends on May 20 at 8PM EDT."
Build a Better Book
Related to the STEM for All showcase, I watched a webinar today which featured presenters who have a video in the showcase. The webinar was with Colleen Graves and Stacey Forsyth
and part of the focus was using the Makey Makey. What I really liked about this project- it involves students in improving accessibility for others.
This is a blurb from the project website to give you a brief overview:
"The Build a Better Book project works with school and library Makerspaces to engage youth in the design and fabrication of inclusive media, including picture books, games and graphics. Using both low- and high-tech Makerspace tools, such as 3D printers, laser cutters, Makey Makeys, conductive boards and craft materials, youth design, fabricate, test and refine multi-modal books, games and STEM graphics that incorporate tactile and audio features. These products are designed by and for learners with visual impairments as well as other physical and learning disabilities. Through the project, middle and high school youth develop technology skills and learn about STEM careers as they design and create multi-modal picture books, graphics and games that can be seen, touched and heard!"
The link to the showcase presentation is https://stemforall2019.videohall.com/presentations/1438.
The project website link is: https://www.colorado.edu/project/bbb/
Don't miss the project gallery https://www.colorado.edu/project/bbb/design-gallery
This film has been around for a couple of years. I have yet to see it in an IMAX theater. Next time someone takes a class to the Boston Science Museum... Anyway, the film is inspiring and they have created an excellent pool of resources for educators. They have free teacher's guide with step by step lesson plans. " It includes multidisciplinary activities for students in grades K–12 and has been written to meet Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as common state science objectives. Each lesson presents students with an engineering challenge inspired by the work of real engineers and can be used to help introduce the engineering mindset to the classroom or your home. " Access the guide from the website. They also have a series of short videos to introduce topics as well as 10 hands-on activities. You can go even further with an additional 30 activities from film partner DiscoverE’s website:
http://www.discovere.org/dreambig/activities. Well worth your time!
Global Problem Solvers
Science Buddies has teamed up with Cisco to create a free STEM Superheros video series. Here's the blurb: "A free animated series from Cisco emphasizes teamwork, social, and creative skills in solving world challenges. With a team of teens each with a real-world superpower, the GPS series educates kids about STEM-based problem solving and social entrepreneurship and inspires them to find and use their own superpowers."
Check out what they have to offer here.
Ideas to Share
Global Accessibility Awareness Day
National Day of Action
Teach With Tech Conference
Using Google Tools to Support Writing
Wait! I Can Run Linux on a Chromebook??
National Poetry Month
Yes, it's April and it's National Poetry Month. I wrote a long post on this last year, see this link. One new link to add is theListenwise Blog. They have an excellent selection of poetry and lesson plans. Best of all, you can listen to them! I had never explored this web site before and am really impressed with the breadth of the offerings across disciplines, including social studies, science, ELA and current events. If you're interested in hearing a new poem every day, be sure to check out the Poetry Foundation. NYPL is posting a new poem every day . You can find many more ideas on Twitter #NationalPoetryMonth.
Learning and Movement
Jennifer Gonzalez wrote an excellent blog post on learning and movement. I embedded her podcast below, but her actual blog post has real examples, links and a whole batch of great video examples. Don't miss this one! Some of her videos referenced TPR, which I had never heard of, as well as a web site that was new to me- Teacher ToolKit. So, after you finish listening to her podcast, and reading her great ideas on her blog, watching all the videos, you can go check out Teacher Toolkit, too.
Now this sounds like a really cool idea from Book Creator and Elevate Books Edu. Here's a short version: "âThey have a growing library of hard copy books that weâll be converting into microbooks â short, bite-size, multimedia versions that give a glimpse into the concepts contained within the book. This gives teachers an opportunity to sample the book before committing to a deeper dive into the full book."
Read more about it in this month'sBook Creator newsletter, and check out an example below.
You know all those articles you've read arguing about screen time? How about all the ones about digital equity? Well, it seems that the latest thing is that the "elite" schools are moving away from screens and putting value on human contact. This has been a hot topic on the independent school list servs of late. I think it is just a pendulum swing myself. What do you think? Here's a recent NY Times article to get you thinking. Love the subtitle. Human Contact Is Now a Luxury Good Screens used to be for the elite. Now avoiding them is a status symbol.
Ideas to Share
Inclusion Benefits All
This short film has gotten rave reviews around the world. The film sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included. Check the write up on Respectability.org
Here's the blurb from YouTube: " A short film that appeals to emotions. A crush on the heart so that we all participate in the construction of a more inclusive world. Ian was born with cerebral palsy. Like everyone else, he wants to have friends. Like no one, he needs to work hard to get it. Discrimination, bullying and indifference keep him away from his beloved playground. But Ian won’t give up easily and will achieve something amazing. Ian is not alone. In Argentina there are five million people with disability. In the world, more than a billion. Inclusion is vital for our society, it makes us richer, more diverse and more just."
Less than 10 minutes... take the time.
12 Days of Techmas
Nadine Gilkison has shared a great slidedeck filled with wonderful ideas. She has given me permission to share the first slide (above) and to link it to her work. Check out her video below which explains a bit more about her motivation, the big picture. I first became aware of Nadine's work via Twitter and then was amazed all the wonderful hyperdocs that she shared. Lots of great ideas in the slide deck and don't forget to follow her work online for more.
A Holiday Gift from Lisa Highfill and HyperDocs
Lisa and her co-authors, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis, as well as all the teachers who freely share their work on the Hyperdocs.co site, or on the FB group deserve a standing ovation from all who benefit from their work. I was in the first cohort to take the Hyperdocs course, back when the book first came out and have to say that the ideas shared then combined with all the new hyperdocs shared online, are amazing tools which can really help you connect with and make a difference for your students. Click here or on the image below to see all the goodies Lisa shared today.
Ditch Summit 2018 & Access to all 35 Videos!
I know I already posted about this free online PD, but I didn't know that Matt Miller was going to open up all 35 videos in the series! These are only available through Dec 31st- so watch as many as you can before they disappear again. Today is Day 5 and I am already behind... but plan to catch up.
Don't Forget- Free Master FlipGrid course is live!
The debate around screen time is heating up once again. I have my own personal take on this, being one of the only tech folks in the universe who does not own a cell phone. But, aside from all the personal engagement/social issues that we can all acknowledge as adults- what is this doing to our kids' brains?
60 Minutes did a whole show on this recently and it was written up in the NY Times. This is an excerpt from the NY Times article: " As part of an exposé on screen time, “60 Minutes” reported that heavy screen use was associated with lower scores on some aptitude tests, and to accelerated “cortical thinning" — a natural process — in some children. But the data is preliminary, and it’s unclear whether the effects are lasting or even meaningful."
So NIH is doing a big longitudinal study to help clear this up. This is all well and good, but it also means that there is no quick and easy answer. I get a bit frustrated when I hear complaints about screen time in school. Our goal is to use this as an additional tool, to create, to learn. When the complaints come from folks who hand off a phone to a toddler in the car, it bugs me. Is this generational? Perhaps. When I see a group of students on a really cool field trip looking at natural wonders through a lens, instead of being present, in the moment, I think they are missing out. I see tech as a cool tool, but it should enhance, not limit, our world.
The various press releases around this study are already pointing fingers... more than 2 hours of screen time negatively affects the brain; brains of 9 and 10 year olds who use screens more than 7 hours a day show "thinning cortex", and on and on. It is a really interesting study, but it is far too early to say what these initial findings really mean. However, it is not too early to remind ourselves, parents and children to be aware of screen time and to balance our activities.