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
Chrome Extensions: Productivity
This week I whitelisted a few more chrome extensions for our students. As most are aware, having too many extensions up and running can really suck the life out of performance, so it is best to use something like Extensity to manage them.
The extensions I added are Save to Google Keep, Internet Abridged and Reader View.
Google Keep is becoming more and more robust, a great place to take quick notes, an easy way to collate ideas and save to Drive; it has the ability to OCR text in images, etc... I have been using it more and more of late and like to be able to right click on a web page and Save to Keep. I can add labels as I go.
I was trying out new summarizers. When looking for resources, I tend to skim through articles to weed out the fluff before settling in to actually read something closely. Summarizers can be tricky, as I am never sure of the algorithm used and so many times, they simply don't work. This one, Internet Abridged, seems to work and the summaries actually makes sense to me vs. some I have tried which seem to simply leave out 50% of the words.
Another extension added this week is Reader View. For many who regularly use iPads you are used to seeing those little lines that indicate a web page can be viewed in Reader View- cleaned up, minus all the distractions. Now, you and your students can do the same thing in Google Chrome. Try it!
Some of the other extensions I recommend include: OneTab, SpeedDial2, and Mercury Reader, along with AdBlock and TextHelp's Read and Write for Google Chrome. . Honestly, I do have at least 150 extensions, but I regularly use a very small percentage and leave the rest off until I need them.
Science Games That Give You Superpowers
H/T to Fred Delventhal for sharing Larry Ferlazzo's post on this science games site. It does appear that Legends of Learning is really free.
"Over 1000 curriculum aligned science games for elementary and middle school students within the Legends of Learning adventure. Legends of Learning is always free for teachers and students in school." Here's a review of the site.
Fake News- again...
Here's another resource, new to me, Mind over Media, from the Media Education Lab. I first met Renee Hobbs years ago at Educon in Philly. She is an internationally-recognized authority on digital and media literacy education. Ten years ago we all thought that the CRAP test would be all the students needed to help them verify web sources. Needless to say, times have changed as evidenced by Alec Couros' recent article for EdCanNetwork: How do we teach students to identify fake news? In a world where it is increasingly dangerous to simply trust what we read and see...
We keep hearing about how everyone needs to learn how to code. Do they? I've been seeing a lot of headlines about how computers and AI will be talking over all the jobs in the very near future. I recently saw a couple of interesting videos online and went back to read a bit more about where they came from. This one called The Future of Work: Will Our Children Be Prepared? comes from What School Could Be and basically shows computers taking over all sorts of jobs from milking cows to flipping burgers.
So, I went looking for more information and found a recent Edsurge article , interviewing Ted Dintersmith, a businessman who is now on an education "crusade" (my term). In 2015, he funded and produced “Most Likely to Succeed. My first inclination was that he was yet another Bill Gates sort of guy who thinks he knows more about education than those who are actually working in the field. However, I think he is spending his time investigating and has some good points. One quote from the article resonated with me. "To me, it’s not computer science. It’s computer literacy. It’s understanding and making yourself far more productive with the tools and resources that are out there. That’s what we need to teach—to encourage kids to learn and be confident that they can figure things out, whether they’re a philosophy professor, journalist, scientist or engineer."
On the other hand, but perhaps related- we keep hearing about resilience, grit, perseverance, and a growth mindset as the key components of success. This video has been making the social media rounds of late. Jay Shetty tells us that the real test is life, asking "when were you were taught perseverance, determination, or persistence even for one day? And tells us that "The real challenges we will face are being empathetic understanding people's challenges."
So, I need computer literacy, perseverance and empathy... and then I read this; "We’re Teaching Grit the Wrong Way" from The Chronicle of Higher Education. The author tells us that "grit alone simply isn’t enough. It matters what path people use. As one example, grit combined with gratitude is a strong predictor of resilience."
But... Nigel Coutts thinks that we are wrapping kids in the equivalent of cognitive cotton wool. And, once again, pieces of his argument resonated with me. " We are so keen to make learning easy and accessible that at times we completely remove the challenge."... " We provide endless scaffolding of processes with pro-formas and checklists until the task is reduced to a set of simple steps, manageable with no real mental effort. We then applaud the success achieved and yet wonder why our learners are unable to apply their learning to new situations or transfer their skills from one discipline to another. " Coutts quotes a lot of Jo Boaler's work, which also makes so much sense to me.
Need to learn to code? Need to be more resilient? Need to have more empathy? Which is the key to the future for our students?
Looking for ideas? Google has an online course on Digital Literacy, which actually does help with some of the soft skills that employers are looking for, like collaboration. It's called Applied Digital Skills. You can find out more in the video below, or check the website or YouTube channel.
Back to Ted Dintersmith on innovative schools: "They’re helping each kid in a different, very specific way to discover their strengths, learn more about their interest, and begin to gain the skills and confidence that they can use their life to make their world better."
Hmmm...so maybe I need to add personalized learning to my list... innovative, personalized, resilient, empathetic, creative, collaborative and digitally literate.