Must be getting to the end of the year. I looked through all my bookmarks/wakelets for the last week and there was a whole bunch of unrelated "stuff", no unifying theme whatsoever. Here you go...
Erin Riley's "The Art of Digital Fabrication"
I was lucky enough to meet and learn from Erin last summer at the Maker Educator Collective Bootcamp in Indiana. Erin was one of our facilitators for the week. Little did I know that she also works at Greenwich Academy, is the director of the @GA_EDLab and knows my cousin Jane, who also works at GA!
An artist, an engineer, a teacher, Erin helped me begin to learn how to design with a laser cutter. I love the new book and am looking forward to learning more this summer!
This course was shared recently in a FB STEM teacher group. It is simply a pretty comprehensive set of lessons for NGSS grades K-5, set down very clearly by teachers in classrooms in Michigan. It is a work in progress. If you are looking for ideas for elementary science and/or trying to transition to NGSS standards, this is a nice collection.
Rivet- Reading App
Richard Byrnes shared this one recently, Rivet- a reading app from Google. I had never heard of it. Check out the video below and the review Richard has on his blog. Sounds like something to check out... and it's free.
When I saw this article in the Smithsonian Magazine, I immediately thought of Josh Driver. A 5th/6th grade ELA and Social Studies teacher, he infuses his lessons with hands on games, Senet, Mesopotamia Surplus, etc. This article talks about a new find, an ancient Roman game board, found near the Hadrian Wall. It also cites other web sites that I had never looked at... like AncientGames.org, which has some really cool games on it- kind of like chess. Check it out.
Matt Miller: Awesome Lesson Planning
Matt has a new 4 part video series out, all about how to align, realign your lesson plans. I know you don't usually think of "lesson plans" and awesome in the same sentence... but Matt can help. "These are part of a NEW four-part video series called "Awesome Lesson Planning Made Easy." It's full of strategies to level up your lesson planning game, making you more organized and helping you to get more done." I love listening to/watching Matt's videos- full of practical ideas from a teacher who is actually in the classroom... Check out his whole series.
Lori Gracey, over at TCEA, shared a new word cloud tool- Word Wanderer. You can read all about it on her blog post. It's pretty easy to use and has some different comparisons.
EOY Google Classroom Cleanup
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.