This article from TeachThought caught my eye recently. For those who know me, I often choose to do a "sandbox" day when introducing a new tool. I know that I learn best by hearing about something, watching someone/a video, and then messing with it myself. I need the verbal, the visual and kinesthetic modes to really get a handle on most of the digital tools and all of the physical tools. Although the article spoke to gaming and video games, like Minecraft, where the object is to build something, it also spoke to the need to "do stuff", "make stuff", to create. The digital tools I use every day stick in my head, the ones I use sporadically, I have to look up every time. The physical tools I use every day present no challenges,but new tools often take me a while and some "sandbox" time to get used to. Fellow teachers and I were watching students cut paper circles last week as part of a project and could not believe how hard it was for them. They apparently never have to use scissors. Last year I watched a student attempt to use a hammer to screw in a screw. If you have ever seen me try to use a sewing machine, you know, some of us just need more direction and practice. Thus, Sandbox Learning=hands-on, engaged, minds-on learning. It works. It brings out our strengths, allows us to learn and work through our weaknesses. Is this the way to learn everything? Probably not. I know how much I have hated being tossed into a project with no help. Sandbox learning can be structured, with scaffolded support as needed, but wide open enough to challenge to encourage. Lock-step, teach-to-the-test may give students high test scores, but are they learning?
I'm quite sure that as we head into election season here in the US, the "disinformation" in the media will only get worse. Commonsense Media is an excellent resource for educators. Their News and Media Literacy Resource Center has a wealth of material to use. I love the Sift, the News Literacy Project's newsletter for educators. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Did you know about the upcoming first National News Literacy Week, Jan. 27-31 ? The goal is to raise awareness of news literacy as a fundamental life skill. Read more about it here. I also didn't realize, and have not checked out their new app Informable. "The app, which is free, is designed to improve users’ ability to identify different types of news and other information." This is also an interesting site that I was introduced to recently- allsides.com .
What are you using for media literacy resources ?
Ideas to Share
Richard Byrne- FreeTech4Teachers is always an amazing resource. Looking through my bookmarks, it was clear that his contributions stood out, once again, as valuable to pass along. I will give you a really brief view of a couple of them- and the links to learn more from the source.
One of the tools he posted about this past week was ClassTools' new sorting game- Vortex. I tried out a couple of the pre-made games and thought they would be great for a review game. Gotta say- hate the font choice, but the game was fun and you can create your own. Can't find the original tweet or source, but check out this list of favorite tools of 2019
One other tool that Richard highlighted was Canva. I had looked at Canva back when it first came out, but have not used it extensively. Now that there is a free education edition, this tool is on my list to explore. Check out what Richard wrote and his video below.
Another tech guru that I get ideas from on a regular basis is Wanda Terral- Tech Director down at Lakeland School System down in Tennessee. Wanda is a Google educator and always shares great practical information. This past week she re-posted the links to the TCEA (Elementary) conference handouts from 2019. This is a fantastic resource with tons of wonderful presentations. Well worth spending time to check out for all elementary educators with presentations on all sorts of topics/tools. If you can't make it to TCEA conferences, the handouts are the next best thing.
Wanda also posted this image and the link to the site Retrieval Practices and a great article about Bloom's Taxonomy. Kind of turns the whole idea on it's head. And... she also pointed me to some excellent Google resources - Templates for Google Forms and Designing Infographics with Google Forms ( part of Applied Digital Skills )
Just before the winter break Tinkercad announced their new iOS app. We use Tinkercad for our 3D projects- on chromebooks. I downloaded the app and can't wait to have the students try it out. Looks like a lot of great new features too, along with the new interface. We haven't really ventured into much AR and this may provide a way to make this happen.
Cool Graph Paper
I started going through an online EdTech course -Primarily Google, over the break. The ideas for using Google in early elementary grades never cease to amaze me. One wonderful place to start is Susan Stewart's Primarily Google. Most of the time when I take one of these online courses, I come away with a couple of ideas, most of it- meh- knew that, etc. Not the case here. Yes, I know how to use these tools, but the creative ideas Susan comes up with... well check out her site and I think you'll agree- primarilygooglerocks!
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.
This is a new one to me. Mathshare. I just got a promo from Benetech, the same folks who put Bookshare together. I asked about it in one of the listservs I follow and one person had played around with a bit, but not very much feedback so far. Check out the video below and let us know how it worked with your students.
Here's the blurb:
" Mathshare is a free problem-solving tool that makes learning math easier. With Mathshare, students can solve problems step-by-step and explain their reasoning with a note. This helps students stay focused and shows teachers how they got their answers. Mathshare is free for teachers and students.How Mathshare Helps Students
Many students struggle with learning math. Some need help staying organized, some have trouble with legible handwriting, and others may have learning differences like dyscalculia or dysgraphia. For all students who want to learn math, Mathshare makes it easier to learn and helps build positive math experiences.
Lots of Advent Calendar Style Lists
My task list keeps filling up with stuff that I might do, given time. Lots of ideas that folks are sharing, mostly in an advent calendar style.
Aaron Maurer started out my list of lists with his 25 days of Making Challenge. These are lots of fun to try, by yourself or with your students. You can check out Aaron's 25 Days of Making Challenge here.
#CreateWithChrome- a Google Slide Based Advent Calendar with teachers sharing project ideas. I think the original creators are Brian Briggs @bribriggs and Ryan O'Donnell
@creativeedtech. Check it out here and add your own ideas!
Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) shared a wonderful 25 Days of STEM calendar on her Teacher Reboot Camp site. So many ideas to explore! Thanks Shelly!
Need more Media Literacy Ideas?
I hadn't seen this site before, AllSides.
I had used FactCheck in the past, and of course Snopes, but this one is different. They also have an AllSides for Schools, but realistically, reading their TOS, very few of our kids qualify to use it on their own; " you represent that you are of legal age to form a binding contract", although it says it is for middle school through college. Perhaps the best use would be as a teaching tool with younger kids.
Here's how they describe the site.
"AllSides strengthens our democracy with balanced news, diverse perspectives, and real conversation.We expose people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other. Our balanced news coverage, media bias ratings, civil dialogue opportunities, and technology platform are available for everyone and can be integrated by schools, nonprofits, media companies, and more."
If you haven't followed Eli Pariser and his work on filter bubbles and algorithms, check out his original TED talk or his talk about algorithms from last December(2018).
There was an article in Forbes this summer by Kalev Leetaru which reiterated that "Fake News" is not a technology problem, but a societal problem. The gist of the article was,
"To truly solve the issue of “fake news” we must blend technological assistance with teaching our citizens to be literate consumers of the world around them.Societies must teach their children from a young age how to perform research, understand sourcing, triangulate information, triage contested narratives and recognize the importance of where information comes from, not just what it says.
In short, we must teach all of our citizens how to be researchers and scientists when it comes to consuming information.
Most importantly, we must emphasize verification and validation over virality and velocity."
Sadly, this is not news.
Starting out with a little social studies. Did you see the article inThe Washington Post the other day? Ken Burns has come out with a new collection for educators. Here's the gist of it: "Created for sixth- to 12th-grade educators, the new one-stop destination houses a full library of classroom-ready content — aligned to state and national standards — about historical events and issues that Burns has highlighted in his films.“Ken Burns in the Classroom” includes hundreds of video clips, lesson plans, activity suggestions, discussion questions, handouts and interactives to help educators integrate the films into their classroom instruction.
I checked out the site- part of PBS Media and loved what I saw. I also learned about his other site "Unum" which I had never seen before. It was inspired by the motto of the U.S.
KEN'S NOTE "E pluribus unum was chosen as the motto of the United States in 1782. It means “out of many, one” which captures the very soul of this project. It’s all one story. It always has been."
EdSurge ran an article about a renaissance for Social Studies. Their 3 major points to focus upon are :
1. Focus on student engagement above all.
2. Ensure a diversity of voices.
3. Listen, build, learn, repeat . Read the whole article here.
And of course, a little geography too. Richard Byrne wrote a blurb about this the other day, so I went over to the Google blog to check it out. https://www.blog.google/products/earth/new-google-earth-creation-tools/ "With new creation tools now in Google Earth, you can turn our digital globe into your own storytelling canvas, and create a map or story about the places that matter to you."
On to Science articles this week: We hear about/talk about diversity and equity a lot lately. These articles relate these topics back to STEM.
Kathy Renfrew and Amber McCulloch did a NSTA blog post recently where they discussed "Ensuring All Elementary Students Have Access to Science Learning". The problem, as most of us are aware is that teachers in elementary school have little time for science. The students are tested in Math and ELA on the state tests, thus most of the teaching time is devoted to those core subjects. One of the resources they mentioned is easy to access and worth 22 minutes of your time. It's called Elementary Science Video Workshop and will "walk you through some learning tools centered around why elementary science, what does good science instruction look like, and how building leadership teams can best implement changes to what science instruction looks like in your school." Check out the blog post for more tools to explore, including this one about integrating STEM into the curriculum. The NGS Navigators podcast did an encore of Jay McTighe and Dr.Judy Willis talking about Upgrading Your Teaching: Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience
A bit about accessibility. I noted an interesting article and a great resource shared online by Dodie Ainslie over at BT BOCES in NY state. Dodie shared an excellent resource to help access learning through #Chromebook and #Google accessibility features. She said to feel free to share and adapt. I really appreciate having all these tools listed in one handy slide deck. Thanks @djainslie! Just click on the image below to make a copy for yourself. (File>Make a Copy)
Edutopia shared a nice article on Developing Executive Function back in January. Don't you just wish that we could go through a checklist and miraculously all have perfect executive function? This article is aimed at the middle school student and walks you through setting up priority lists with students. The with is important, not for the students. Here's the article and here's the video
And last but not least esports.
I have seen several articles of late raving about the importance and popularity of esports. Within the last year this has become a hot topic. Since the first and last video game I played was pong, gotta say, not up on this topic. But- if you are into video games, or even if you're not, you need to understand a bit more about esports. Here to help you out..
EdTech Magazine with the recent article: Fact or Fallacy: Why Esports Are Here to Stay in K–12 Schools Tech & Learning University also ran an article about esports in highered.
Looking through my Wakelet for things to write about and once again either Google Slides has the most interesting articles out there or I just gravitate to them.
But, before I forget, last week was World Kindness Day. Rather than just being kind 1/365th of the time, why don't you check out some of the ideas on the Random Acts of Kindness site. They offer free curriculum ideas for K-5 and for 6-8 centered around the 6 core concepts of Respect, Caring, Inclusiveness, Integrity, Responsibility, and Courage.
Check it out here: https://www.randomactsofkindness.org/
Google Slides Add On
This one comes from Julie Smith, The Techie Teacher. It is a Google MarketPlace add-on that lets you slip additional slides into a slide presentation that you have assigned on Google Classroom. For example, if you have students working on an ongoing science journal in slides and you want to add a few explanatory slides to the assignment- this add-on lets you just slide them right in. Read more about it here and grab the Add-On here.
Google Slides as Narrated Storybooks
This is from a post that Greg has on Medium. It's a really nice simple, easy to do idea. Greg describes a 6 step process. He gives excellent examples of programs to use, where to find audio, etc. I will have to check out his suggestion of using 123apps.com to record audio on chromebooks. Do check out his article and follow his suggestions to create narrated storybooks in your classroom. We haven't yet gotten the magical add audio button on our chromebooks yet... but it's coming! I was thinking that this would be a really nice simple way to use Storyboardthat images/comics, download them as images, pop into a Google slide deck and then narrate. As soon as we get audio, I know the students will have lots of ideas.
Ideas to Share
Upcoming Free Workshops
Please share with your students too! This coming Saturday, Nov 23, will be a Maker Jam sponsored by Holyoke Codes over at the MGHPCC center in Holyoke. Check it out . https://holyokecodes.org/events/maker-jam/
Digital Storytelling Tools
I was asked recently about the best tools for video on chromebooks. I recommended Adobe Spark and Screencastify. We Video is OK, but the free version is limited. Then I remembered a couple of nice posts that Richard Byrne published about digital storytelling and thought I should pass that link along as well. Richard almost always gives you a nice little video tutorial, which I always find helpful.
Handwriting & Notetaking
I keep on hearing that students remember best when they physically write/draw than if they type it. I have also seen some really interesting articles about the benefits of teaching handwriting. Do you teach handwriting? Do you have students type notes or write them out? Do you see benefits one way or the other? This is an article from Edutopia called How to Teach Handwriting and Why It Matters.
This article from the Univ of California tells students to take notes by hand to get better grades. I wonder why the research they quote is almost 6 years old and if that makes a difference? I also wonder if sketchnoting is better or worse- more or less effective.
Audio in Google Slides...almost
According to Google, by the end of November, all users should have the "insert audio" capacity. I just checked my accounts. My personal account- Yes! I can insert audio. My school account- nope. I expect that it will roll out soon. Here is a quick video from Richard Byrne to show you how to do it ( when you actually have the magic button).
Scientific Method or Engineering Design Process?
I truly had not given this conundrum much thought until this summer when Kathy Renfrew, The Science Lady, and I were chatting at an edcamp and Kathy was pretty adamant, saying that scientists use EDP, not scientific method. I don't know if all scientists do this or those in a particular field or academics vs lab or field based, etc... Then, just the other day I saw this infographic that Vivify STEM shared online, showing the differences between the two methodologies and it got me wondering again. Here's the infographic from Vivify STEM. What do you think? Is this a binary choice? What do "real" scientists use?
Links to Share
The Age of AI
Wes Fryer shared the link to this article/video series recently and strongly recommended it as a must read. I haven't watched all the episodes, but wanted to share the link, as it is interesting and important information for all to begin to wrap our heads around. Is AI a threat or does it offer wonders not yet imagined? Here's the blurb that came with this installment: "FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society."
KQED published a downloadable guide The MindShift Guide to Understanding Dyslexia"This MindShift Guide to Understanding Dyslexia is meant to serve as a primer to: • Better understand, recognize and identify dyslexia • Discover new tools and teaching strategies to support dyslexic students in improving their reading skills • Be aware of resources that can support dyslexics of every age"
Closing the Gap- Resource Directory
As always you will find many resources here. However, the key to finding the right resource is SETT- Student, Environment, Task, and then Tech... and this is not a one and done deal. The student will change, the environment and required tasks will change- so the tech will have to change as well.
Veterans Day Reading Passages
Getting Started with Google Sheets
Brain Pop Standards Alignment
New Tool from EdCite
Articles I've Been Reading
Social Media Has Not Destroyed A Generation
Leveled Reading Groups Don't Work. Why Aren't We Talking About it?
AR/VR in K-12 Virtual Summit
The Global Education Conference
Coming up November 18-20. Register here.
Upcoming Assistive Technology Webinars
Click on image for live links
I got this in an email today from Steve Hargadon and Library 2.0. This looks like an excellent mini-conference- just 3 hours of learning, tomorrow, Wednesday 10/30/19 3-6 EST. Free and it will be recorded as well. It's not just for librarians! Check it out!
"We're excited to announce our third Library 2.019 mini-conference: "Emerging Technology," which will be held online (and for free) on Wednesday, October 30th, from 12:00 - 3:00 pm US-Pacific Daylight Time (click for your own time zone).
Tomorrow’s technologies are shaping our world today, revolutionizing the way we live and learn. Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Internet of Things, Drones, Personalization, the Quantified Self. Libraries can and should be the epicenter of exploring, building and promoting these emerging techs, assuring the better futures and opportunities they offer are accessible to everyone. Learn what libraries are doing right now with these cutting-edge technologies, what they’re planning next and how you can implement these ideas in your own organization.
This is a free event, being held live online and also recorded.
I've been meaning to share this link for a while now. I love this site, SmARThistory, https://smarthistory.org/. It reminds me of Google Arts and Culture, but is easier, at least for me, to navigate and seems to have been curated with educators in mind. I like the collections, the images, the videos and they even offer free books that you can download as pdfs. Here's a couple of videos to watch from the beginner course: Introduction to the Visual Arts, informative and funny. Do check out the web site for a lot more!
While I am in my social studies folder, have you used Facing History.org? This is their mission statement, "Facing History fosters empathy and reflection, improves students’ academic performance, reinvigorates teachers, and builds safe and inclusive schools."
Aimed at secondary school teachers and students, I found a nice mix of material- some for students, other for professional development for teachers. You can check out their recent course (microcredentials offered), Teaching with Current Events: Practicing Media Literacy and Understanding Human Behavior by clicking on this link. They also offer a lending library of materials, as well as a large section on teaching strategies. I like the database, which sorts by subject, media, lesson, featured collection and much more.
I recently attended Edcamp Worcester and tried out a site that was new to me, called Ever Fi. It has some good units to try out. I'm not quite sure what you would call this sort of digital platform. Here's their blurb- "EVERFI empowers educators to bring real-world learning into the classroom and equip students with the skills they need for success–now and in the future. Thanks to partners who share this mission, EVERFI’s online resources for teachers are available at no cost."
So, for example there are courses in finance for K-12, courses focused on wellness, on SEL, etc. It's free. A teacher I met from central MA, really likes it and demo'd it for all. It is worth checking out. The one unit I am particularly interested in for K-6 age is The Compassion Project- aimed at grades 2-4. They even have a financial literacy course for grades 4-6. If you teach middle or high school there is a far greater selection of courses to choose from. Whether you use some of this for bell work, or an intro to a subject or as a mini course on its own, it is worth your time to check it out.
These last couple of weeks I have been inundated with science professional development, science in the STEAM lab and over the weekend, computer science PD. What could be more fun? I really enjoyed learning more about Project Lead the Way recently. Our students, grades K-6 at HES, along with middle school students at Hopkins, all participated in the Massachusetts STEM challenge. I worked with grades 3-6, on Zero Energy Waste, making and testing solar fans. The curriculum was robust, with a solid 10 hours that could be worked into a gen ed classroom easily. I enjoyed, and from the sounds of it, the students enjoyed, making and testing our solar fans. I hope to have our school begin to participate in the PLTW program.
I also got to test out the NICERC curriculum for microbits. I love using microbits in the STEAM lab. They are inexpensive, versatile, easy to use and can be integrated into the curriculum. I hadn't tried out the NICERC curriculum (it's free) and found it easy to follow. It is an NGSS based curriculum, and is phenomena driven. Here's their blurb. "We’re the National Integrated Cyber Education Research Center (NICERC). We offer grant-funded cyber, STEM, and computer science curricula and professional development to K-12 educators at no cost. Our goal is to empower educators as they prepare the next generation to succeed in the cyber workforce of tomorrow." The focus is 3 fold- STEM, computer science and cyber science.
I spent most of the time working in the STEAM fundamentals program: "STEAM Fundamentals is a project-based, hands-on curriculum designed to engage students in real-world applications. In each module, students study natural phenomena and investigate fundamental concepts while developing social, observational, descriptive, and higher-order thinking skills. Each module develops concepts in a logical and practical manner that students can relate to and teachers can easily implement." Right now they have units for 2nd and 3rd grade, with 4th and 5th coming soon. We played around with the force and motion for 3rd grade. We also spent time with the STEM EDA curriculum. This one is aimed at middle school, grades 6-8. The modules are well-developed- and fun. Did I mention that it's free?
Want to check it out? You do have to sign up to request access.
Looking for free STEM lesson plans for K-5? Snoopy may have something for you from the Space Foundation.