One Small Step
My friend, Victor Tam, shared this online recently. As educators, we often don't realize how much we influence our students every day, helping them take that one small step. I didn't realize that this story was also nominated for an Oscar. Producer, Shaofu Zhang also hopes that One Small Step can help inspire young girls and women to pursue their dreams in the STEM fields.
Merge cubes have been in the news for the last year or so. They recently won an Award of Excellence for Classroom at TCEA. I picked up a bunch of merge cubes when they went on sale last year, but have not had time to dig into how to integrate them into general ed classes. Also- all of the AR/VR stuff makes me seasick- instant vertigo. I've tried sitting, tried using the fancy Oculus goggles, etc., but I can't do it. Lucky for me, the art teacher next door, Ken Richards, took the materials I have on hand and started exploring to show his grad class. The HES students he has shown this to loved it. We don't have devices to fit into googles for all, and only have a few pairs of them anyway, but we do have ipads. Many of the apps are free. You can learn more about Merge Cubes here... and here. If you have a project you'd like to try out, or if you just want to test it out yourself, stop by and see me. We don't currently have a subscription to co-spaces, which is a topic for another day, but it is easy enough to get trial access.
One of the new free apps that is getting a lot of press and some rave reviews from folks who do AT and SEL is Moment AR. Here is a full demo of Moment AR, an evidence and research based tool using the Merge cube for Autism, Mental Health, Language, and Social Skills.
This was shared recently on twitter by Don Yerks. It is a nice little graphic to show a trackpad checklist with all the basic gestures you and your students can use on chromebooks. Click the image to see the shared gsheet with more info
Finding Images Online
This is probably the topic I get asked to help students with more than just about anything else. Yes, images must be cited. Yes, not all images online are available for you or your students to use. Jennifer Gonzales wrote about this recently and did a really nice job covering all the currently available options in this post. Although I have to say that when students are using Gsuite products the image search feature can be set and I think the default is CC or PD images. But, that said, students often just do a Google Image search and forget to use the filter dropdowns to target their search. I tend to use Pixabay and Unsplash when I am searching for my work.
Ideas to share
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.
Google Tour Creator
When I saw the announcement last Wednesday that Google has created a really cool, easy to use tool to make VR tours right on a chromebook, I envisioned using it for a current 4th grade project on regions. Well, we're still waiting for it to roll out for our district. But, I do have access on my personal Google account and will keep checking the domain settings to see when it lands out heah. Essentially, you start here, then you go to Google Maps, street view (grab that little peg man and plop him where you want to look around), use the images found there or upload your own 360° images. So, I decided to test it out by looking around on the Kenai Peninsula where my son is doing some forestry work. Guess what- no roads= no Google street view- duh! But I did check out Yellowstone and found some good street view images there- although of course not everywhere I wanted to see.
But, if you want a couple of really good tutorials- turn to Richard Byrne's blog and learn more. I will put the 1st tutorial below, but he has another one to add even more detail. Check out his second tutorial here.
Applied Digital Skills
I posted a video about this back in March, and although I signed up to try it out for Digital Skills Week, life intervened and I didn't get back to it. Since then, I have talked with other educators and some are using pieces of this all the way down to 3rd grade- or at least upper elementary. EdTechTeam hosted a couple of half hour webinars that you can check out on YouTube. There is so much to explore in this well organized system that is already made for you. I loved the clickable pdf that Heather Sanders made. If you have a few minutes, check out a tiny piece of the curriculum- theIf-Then adventure stories are great for all ages.
I know- too early to even think about... let me get through the year... BUT I just wanted to let you know that MassCue is sponsoring yet another PD opportunity in Western Mass! This one will also be at Gateway- over in Huntington. Their IT director-Chris Parker- is a Hadley native and I have to say, having met him all of one time at #EdCampWesternMass - he's kind of awesome. Lots of ideas, runs a great program in his district. So- this will be in August. My all time favorite Google Guru to learn from- Jenn Judkins will be there. Honestly, I can sit in her sessions all day long and come away with something new every time. She actually uses these tools, has incredible work flow ideas, and she's funny. It's $65 for the whole day. I can pretty much guarantee that you will come away with ideas that you can use in the classroom, as an admin, etc. Check it out here.
Those of you who know me, know that Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality both make me feel seasick. I can be sitting down, I can hold a 3D image way out away from me, but I am the Dramamine queen. But, that does not mean that I don't see the value in this for some of our students. I have a whole box of Merge Cubes that I picked up when they were on sale at Walmart for $1/each, but haven't had the time to mess around with them. If you have time, stop by- I'll share. I love the Merge Cube educator group on FB. The ideas being shared every day are really amazing.
I was fortunate enough to catch Michael Fricano's webinar on Saturday. It went long- so you can watch the whole hour plus if you have time, or just check out the resources he shared in the Livebinder. He is also consolidating all of the AR/VR stuff into a nice new website- check it out here.
Click here to open this binder in a new window.