As I'm sure most of you are aware, Google Classroom made some changes over the summer. Aside from what I consider the 3 big changes, two things I have noticed over the last couple weeks as we begin our year: One: Don't forget to click on the gear for settings! This is where you can adjust who gets to comment. Depending on your class, you may well not want student comments on your assignments. Two: You can now turn off notifications for some of your classes. Getting too many emails from classes you co-teach? Turn them off by going to Menu/Settings/Notifications/Class Notifications. H/T to Jenn Judkinsfor the gif.
The 3 big changes:
This is a new site for me. I had never even heard of this until #edcampCT in August. At a session on Primary Sources (notes) folks from CT public TV, as well as CT teachers brought this site up several times. So, what is this Thinkalong? Created by CT public television, its goal is "to help students become better critical thinkers and media consumers by giving classrooms access to news-based learning activities made to enhance their curriculum." Aimed at middle and high school students, it can help students learn to discuss difficult topics and have important, serious discussions. I love the approach they take. Check out the intro video... or just go ahead and check out the topics.
I have enjoyed using Storyboardthat since it first came out. It provides a clean, safe, easy way for students to visually organize and tell a story. Great templates are provided as well as lesson plans. This afternoon I attended a webinar which featured the new story cube and worksheet design tools. These are pretty easy to use and if you use worksheets in your classroom, you may want to check them out. They have over 40,000 objects to choose from and lots of pre-made diagrams, and instructional templates. One thing that came up at the end of the webinar was that they are having a one day sale at TPT on all of the "stuff" they have created. Each packet is going for $1.00/each. Some of these are usually 5, 10 or even $20 each. Great deal if it's something you can use...and it's a One Day Deal- Wednesday 9/12/2018
Microbit Global Challenge
As many of you know, I spent time this summer learning more about makerspaces, raspberry pi, new features of Scratch 3.0 and more. One of the things I really liked learning about was physical computing... making "stuff" and using tech to code it to do something.
Microbits have been used extensively in the UK as part of their national coding instruction. Now Microbit.org has combined forces with The World's Largest Lesson and ARM and will run a global challenge, based on UN SDGs ( Sustainable Development Goals). Cool idea! Read more about it here.
Windows 10 updates
This may not apply to everyone, but I stopped to check out the updates coming in Windows 10. The one that caught my eye was the Story ReMix. It looks like it is easy to use, kind of reminds me of Animoto. If you haven't used Animoto for quick and easy videos... the free educator version info page is here. Back to Windows 10 Story ReMix... more info here and in video below.
I saw an article recently which basically said that teachers are doing DOK wrong. Now, since I still remember having to look up what DOK meant (not coming from a teacher prep program I am easily confused by edu acronyms), I was interested in knowing more about this. Robert Kaplinksy has a great matrix about this here and he also sent me an email today about DOK and referenced his blog post here. So go read more about what educators need to know about DOK- below is one of Robert's graphics to get you started..
I saw a couple of great ideas to have fun with math (I know, coming from me that's kind of an oxymoronic phrase).
Google Keep (again)
I tend to use Google Keep every day. Steve WIcks posted a hyperdoc today to help put all the Google Keep info in one place. He wrote about it on his blog Recharge Learning. Try it- you may like it. Click here to access the doc- To keep your own copy: File>Make a copy.
Brain Pop has a new movie maker! I liked the way you could pull images from the movies before to help show learning, tell your story with the materials, but this is even better. Here's a quick tutorial from Joli Boucher. We have the premium version for HES, in case you're worried about the access level. See me if you do not know how to access Brain Pop at the elementary school. You can read more about it on BrainPop Educators - and go thru the step by step tutorial or print out a guide if you'd like. They have resources on using Brain Pop's Make a Movie tool with ELL students and more, complete with curriculum connections and rubrics. Check it out!
Pixar in a Box
"Pixar in a Box is a behind-the-scenes look at how Pixar artists do their jobs. You will be able to animate bouncing balls, build a swarm of robots, and make virtual fireworks explode. The subjects you learn in school — math, science, computer science, and humanities — are used every day to create amazing movies at Pixar. This collaboration between Pixar Animation Studios and Khan Academy is sponsored by Disney."
Using the Khan Academy interface, which many of our students are already familiar with and have accounts on, Pixar in a Box goes through lessons step by step. Teaching storytelling? Teaching animation? Writing? Science? It's all available in an easy to digest format. Try it!
CoSpaces is a relatively new platform. Using a 3D modeling system- online or Android or iOS app, students can make simulations, tell stories, model cell structures and much more. It is 3D/AR type system, which on first look will kind of remind you of Second Life (another one of my least favorites). I am not a big AR fan, but for many kids this a brilliant way to show what they know or to explore new content. It is a bit of a bandwidth hog, as you may imagine, but it was easy to use. I showed this to some 5th and 6th graders this fall, just for fun and they had no problem using it with little instruction.
So, if I compare this with SketchUp- it is far easier to use, is online and free (altho there is a premium version) and is collaborative and dynamic. You can use this on an ipad, on a phone and on the web and it updates almost automatically as you make changes. Oh... and it now lets you use Blockly to program your space. Very cool! Take a quick look at the videos below, and then head over to check out the platform online. They have some great examples of student work you can check out. This first video below is a bit on the long side (10 Min)- but it's a good, fair review of the system.
You can find more VR videos from Discovery Education at http://www.discoveryvr.com/
I spent the day on Saturday over at #edcampGrafton. One of the sessions, which I did not attend was on Google Cardboard, and VR video. Google Cardboard has been out for at least 18 months, if not more. Click here to see the shared notes from that session. However, I did win a Google Cardboard set up in the door prize drawings. Have to say, I will probably never use it, and anyone who would like to borrow it to check it out- come see me. This fancy dancy new version of the old ViewMaster simply makes me seasick. It is very cool… but not only do I not own a smartphone, I quite literally cannot stand the 3D immersive view. I hated Second Life back when that was popular too. But- you may love it and find it incredibly useful… so here’s some info.
Check out the Google Plus community or look around on the Twitter hashtag... see embedded example below.
You can buy or make your cardboard viewer. There are also fancier Oculus Rift VR systems, pricey. Just to clarify- these are not just headsets for gamers- altho a lot of content is being developed for playing immersive games. Think of the possibilities- visit the jungles of Belize, walk along the Great Wall of China, check out models of Ancient Rome… The VR version can be very engaging for your students. There are lots of apps you can try out for both iOS and Android smartphones. There are good starter lists on the notes, as well as some of the links.
If you’re not really ready for all this- check out the VR or 360° videos on youtube- you can maneuver around just like you can when in street view on Google Maps.
Here’s a couple of examples: Remember- zoom in/out and move around with your mouse or arrow keys or use your google cardboard and your smartphone.
Looking for more ideas? VentureBeat had a nice write up a while back, Science Beyond the Boundaries has some great links and Ronnie Burt over at Edublogger recently posted about using it on a trip.
TRY IT... You might like it!
Or.. you may enjoy the April Fools Version, which works so much better for me.
My favorite tools to use with students tend to be those used for digital storytelling. Digital StoryTelling is a huge umbrella and many tools fall into this category. Not just for the primary grades, these tools offer wonderful alternatives to traditional papers or powerpoints.
If you have access to iPads or tablets you can use a myriad of tools to make books, video or slideshows. My favorites in this category include:
You can also use tools on your computer or laptop to create digital stories. Prezi is available online, as well as Google Slides. You can leverage slides to create much more than your typical powerpoint type presentations. Check out this Google Slide presentation on Washington’s Presidency- lots of engaging features. Check out Animoto for a quick, engaging way to display content. You can get a free educator account as well as 50 accounts to share with your students or colleagues. You can make beautiful posters with Canva or Smore or use the Lucid Press tools right in your Google account (Go to Drive>New>More>LucidPress). You can produce a beautiful book with StoryBird, complete with professional artwork.
The hardest thing about digital storytelling is choosing the right tool to enhance and display your content, or your student’s content.
Believe it or not, this is a very short list of what is available online, on devices. What’s your favorite tool?
Powerpoint is not evil… but check out some tips from the experts:
Thoughts & Tips on Presenting Naked.
Aren’t you glad you read to the end?
Keep it simple! Try one new tool this week!
An old favorite