Math & Reading
I got an email over the summer from a veteran teacher asking me about eSpark. I had never used it and after checking around a bit, advised the teacher to go ahead and do the free pilot for the year. Today, another veteran teacher decided to try it as well, since the first teacher (5th and 6th grade) has reported that she is getting useful data and the kids are engaged. So, what is this eSpark? It is differentiated reading and math instruction for K-5. It has some good reviews on both edsurge and commonsense media. Does it stand out from the crowd? I don't know. Is it expensive? Probably. Is it worth checking out? Sure. Here are a couple of videos to hlearn a bit more about it.
I was looking around for something to do with cards for young students and came across this site with 16 Math Card Games posted by Jill Staake for We Are Teachers. They look like a lot of fun. And, of course while I was clicking through them, I found this treasure trove of math resources from Mrs. Weigand! Wow! so many choices! Check it out when you have a chance.
If you haven't been by Jo Boaler's YouCubed site recently, take a peek at her work on Data Literacy and listen to her interview on the Freakonomics podcast entitled, America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up (Ep. 391)
This article from The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, hit home for me. She talks about kids becoming Readers, In Spite of School. I just had a conversation with a teacher at school today who was having her students use Epic- just to free read for 15 minutes. She was successful in engaging her students, at least in part, because she wasn't telling them what to read, or what not to read, or regulating the reading level or whether it was a graphic novel or an audio book or testing them on their reading fluency or comprehension. The kids simply choose what to read and they read it.
I have to admit, I don't like graphic novels. Never liked comic books as a kid. Would rather read a 300 page novel than a 32 page graphic novel. So, I went out and bought George Takei's memoir, They Called Us Enemy. I haven't really gotten into it yet- but I will- just because I need to look at graphic novels through a different lens. You can borrow it when I'm done. Do I have to love graphic novels? No, but I have to respect that some people do- and that they are reading, obtaining information and maybe even learning to love reading. Check out Donalyn's article, she is far more articulate than I.
I saw a tweet from Lucy Gray referencing Glide Apps the other day, so I decided to take a quick look at it. Similar to some other app creators, you can very quickly and easily make an app. Check out their video. Take one of your spreadsheets- try it out! There is also a nice little tutorial on Online Tech Tips.
Ideas to Share
I was excited to see a hyperdoc by @nadineglikison to help kids learn to more effectively use Read and Write for Google Chrome. We have this for our district, but not everyone knows how to use it or how to help students use it. However, when I opened the hyperdoc and found that topic was all about poop and farts- not so excited. Honestly, I can't justify this in a classroom. The how to part is fine, but seriously... Oh well. Perhaps the version for younger kids will be created with a topic that I can use. Here's the link if you want to check it out. Nadine has shared it, CC: By: NC: SA.
The Feedback Fallacy is an article from the Harvard Business Review that I found interesting on two levels, both as an adult working with other adults, and as an adult working with children. The immediate message is, of course, we're doing it wrong. Our standard beliefs are not based in reality. So, what then? According to the article:
So, how does this translate to education? I liked the very last sentence:
"We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works."
New England: Growth Mindset
Not even a big Pats fan, but if you need a demo of grit, perseverance, a growth mindset... here you go.
World Read Aloud Day
Friday brings us World Read Aloud Day, sponsored by Scholastic and LitWorld. This year, on the 10th anniversary, be sure to check out all the offerings on LitWorld andScholastic. This is one of many playlists available for World Read Aloud Day. Note: these are on YouTube, not safetube, viewpure, etc. as I couldn't get the playlist to work there.
Speaking of reading aloud: here's a link to the recent ASCD article, Why Every Class Needs Read Alouds, which goes into much more depth on why you should continue to read aloud to your students/children. Pernille Ripp is quoted, "One of the biggest misconceptions is that once kids pass 10 years old, they don't need to be read to—that there's no value in it. That's definitely not true."
Most of you are aware that Microsoft bought Flipgrid. Now, it's all free. Now things have changed- a lot. If you need to catch up on the changes, or if you are new to Flipgrid, have no fear, Sean and Karly have updated their Teacher Resource guide to version 3.0 and you can get it here.
Some Resources to Share
Inclusion Benefits All
This short film has gotten rave reviews around the world. The film sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included. Check the write up on Respectability.org
Here's the blurb from YouTube: " A short film that appeals to emotions. A crush on the heart so that we all participate in the construction of a more inclusive world. Ian was born with cerebral palsy. Like everyone else, he wants to have friends. Like no one, he needs to work hard to get it. Discrimination, bullying and indifference keep him away from his beloved playground. But Ian won’t give up easily and will achieve something amazing. Ian is not alone. In Argentina there are five million people with disability. In the world, more than a billion. Inclusion is vital for our society, it makes us richer, more diverse and more just."
Less than 10 minutes... take the time.
12 Days of Techmas
Nadine Gilkison has shared a great slidedeck filled with wonderful ideas. She has given me permission to share the first slide (above) and to link it to her work. Check out her video below which explains a bit more about her motivation, the big picture. I first became aware of Nadine's work via Twitter and then was amazed all the wonderful hyperdocs that she shared. Lots of great ideas in the slide deck and don't forget to follow her work online for more.
A Holiday Gift from Lisa Highfill and HyperDocs
Lisa and her co-authors, Kelly Hilton and Sarah Landis, as well as all the teachers who freely share their work on the Hyperdocs.co site, or on the FB group deserve a standing ovation from all who benefit from their work. I was in the first cohort to take the Hyperdocs course, back when the book first came out and have to say that the ideas shared then combined with all the new hyperdocs shared online, are amazing tools which can really help you connect with and make a difference for your students. Click here or on the image below to see all the goodies Lisa shared today.
Ditch Summit 2018 & Access to all 35 Videos!
I know I already posted about this free online PD, but I didn't know that Matt Miller was going to open up all 35 videos in the series! These are only available through Dec 31st- so watch as many as you can before they disappear again. Today is Day 5 and I am already behind... but plan to catch up.
Don't Forget- Free Master FlipGrid course is live!
The debate around screen time is heating up once again. I have my own personal take on this, being one of the only tech folks in the universe who does not own a cell phone. But, aside from all the personal engagement/social issues that we can all acknowledge as adults- what is this doing to our kids' brains?
60 Minutes did a whole show on this recently and it was written up in the NY Times. This is an excerpt from the NY Times article: " As part of an exposé on screen time, “60 Minutes” reported that heavy screen use was associated with lower scores on some aptitude tests, and to accelerated “cortical thinning" — a natural process — in some children. But the data is preliminary, and it’s unclear whether the effects are lasting or even meaningful."
So NIH is doing a big longitudinal study to help clear this up. This is all well and good, but it also means that there is no quick and easy answer. I get a bit frustrated when I hear complaints about screen time in school. Our goal is to use this as an additional tool, to create, to learn. When the complaints come from folks who hand off a phone to a toddler in the car, it bugs me. Is this generational? Perhaps. When I see a group of students on a really cool field trip looking at natural wonders through a lens, instead of being present, in the moment, I think they are missing out. I see tech as a cool tool, but it should enhance, not limit, our world.
The various press releases around this study are already pointing fingers... more than 2 hours of screen time negatively affects the brain; brains of 9 and 10 year olds who use screens more than 7 hours a day show "thinning cortex", and on and on. It is a really interesting study, but it is far too early to say what these initial findings really mean. However, it is not too early to remind ourselves, parents and children to be aware of screen time and to balance our activities.
Hmmm... Who calls listening to a book ear-reading ? At any rate, several articles have appeared in the last couple of weeks about the use of audio books. Is it cheating? How does it help students or does it help only some students? I never listened to books as I drove myself and my children and their friends back and forth to school every day (50 minutes each way). I trained myself not to listen to anything in the car- sanity while driving middle school age children was a priority. Now I listen to books pretty much constantly- on the way to and from work, while I'm working outside, weeding, mowing, shoveling snow... I consider it reading. I read about 300 books a year, more than half are audio books.
Is listening to a book cheating? Well, are you working on decoding or comprehension? If you want your students to understand the material, let them listen to it, look at it, watch videos, etc... The only caveat I have is that videos are generally not true to the book and you lose the language, the flow that the author intended.
In the past I have used the uPAR test with students and found that the vast majority of students- something like 87%, demonstrated significantly better comprehension- up more than a grade level- when they also got to listen to the text being read. UDL works.
Both Edutopia and The New York Times have really interesting articles about this- check them out.
If you hadn't noticed, I really like FlipGrid. Since the acquisition by Microsoft, many things have changed, aside from it becoming a free resource. It seems like hardly a week goes back without something new- and it's usually good. I was so happy to see that Holly Clark is giving a FREE course, beginning this Friday to help you #Master FlipGrid! You can sign up here.
TED talks have teamed up with Brightline Initiatives to offer 21 Days of Ideas. Check it out
Live from the North Pole
Google has been tracking Santa for 15 years now. Check out what's new up at the North Pole.
There are books about chrome extensions. I just want to talk about a couple of them. I have used One Tab and Speed Dial2 for years and really like them. Recently I noticed that a similar extension Toby, has also been included in many favorites lists. I downloaded and installed it, but really haven't put it to a test. Perhaps one of you can let me know what you think.
One Tab is incredibly useful to me, especially when I am listening to a webinar and popping 20 or 30 tabs open as I listen. Not only does this suck the life out of my computer and slow it down, but it has caused Chrome to crash and then I lose all my open tabs. One Tab to the rescue. I can have a ton of tabs open, press One Tab and it scoots them all into one tab, lets me label it, share it out as a web page, etc. It supposedly works across devices- but I end up with different lists on my different devices. Here's a quick screenshot of what this looks like.
I use Speed Dial 2 as my start page. I have 3 tabs- one for sites I use at home, one for sites I use for work and one for sites I used for course work. I use this extension constantly. I have it set to be the tab that opens when I click on a new tab. Here's an example of this one.
So what does Toby do? Supposedly a little bit of both. "Toby is better than bookmarks, it's a browser extension that helps you organize your tabs on every new page." It sets itself up as the new tab page automatically. (I had to undo that in settings, since I really like SpeedDial2). It puts all the tabs you open in a list on the right and then you make collections- pulling the tabs in - so kind of like One Tab, but it's supposed to be a great way to organize. Reading through the comments on the Chrome Web Store, it sounds like it meets the needs of some folks perfectly and others wish there was an import/export and other features. The jury is still out for me, but I will try it and see if I want to add Toby to my toolbox or replace a tool with this one.
Last week I wrote briefly, about some of the issues we all deal with in education. Apparently, I am not the only one feeling like there are some gaps, with an undue emphasis on acquiring and regurgitating information, instead of doing and learning. As a strong believer in UDL, I believe that we need to look at how we are teaching, how students are learning and how they are showing their mastery. Jennifer Gonzalez of The Cult of Pedagogy, blogged about this and created the podcast embedded below.
Modern Learners shared this viral video and responded to it in their post back in September. Check out the blog post for the video response to Prince Ea. What's your response? Mine has been to create the STEAM space at HES. Still a work in progress, students can come in and DO something.
Three Quick Shares
Add Math Playground to Google Classroom
Richard Byrnes wrote a great blog post about this back in September. I love Math Playground games. I've been a fan of Colleen King for years. She is an amazing educator, math wiz, web design and coding magician and a wicked nice, shy, unassuming person. She was my hero about 10 years ago as I was struggling to get through a workshop that was simply not working for me. I had no clue about what I was trying to do, coding stuff etc... and Colleen took me under her wing and very gently showed me how to do some basic things. She also allowed me to use her as a mentor for one of my former students when he wanted to learn flash and I didn't know it. But... back to Richard's post. He noticed that you can put Math Playground games right into Google Classroom and referenced Tony Vincent's post about how one could add materials. Check out Richard's post here and start adding more fun, educational Math Playground games to Google Classroom. If you've never tried the Logic games, be sure to check them out.
I've been hearing more and more about Eduprotocols for the last 6 months. The book, by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo came out in March and everything I have heard about it is wonderful. Hate to admit it, but I haven't purchased a copy yet. I tend to buy paper copies of edu books, so I can lend them to people. The trade-off is not being able to click on the links. Check out the videos below. The first big one is a review of the book. Vicki Davis did an interview with Jon and Matt Miller takes on one of the protocols in his video. It may be something that some of us can look at for a PD session. Interested? Check out some of the templates- for free. See if this would help you in the classroom.
Don't Miss the Latest FlipGrid Newsletter
Everyone Can Create
Apple released this relatively new curriculum back in March, but just this month announced that these teaching guides/ideas are now available in iBooks. Yes, they are free.
This is the original post, from back in March, which gives you the basic info and links to download each book on iTunes. So what is covered: " Everyone Can Create project guides introduce the language, fundamental skills and techniques of video, photography, music, and drawing." "The Everyone Can Create collection is designed to allow teachers to easily incorporate creativity into their existing lesson plans in any subject, including language arts, math, science, history, social studies and coding. " "A new teacher guide helps bring these projects to life in the classroom with 300 lesson ideas across media, projects and subjects"
Quotes from : Apple Newsroom Update 10.1.18
Real Time Captions in Google Slides!
As part of Accessibility Awareness Month, Google is adding a new captioning feature to its Google Slides. This could be a real game changer for many of our students, as well as a huge boon to educators and their virtual audiences. This news just came out today. You can read the article here. I have not tested it out yet, but the word on social media is that is has great potential. It is currently only in US English, but the plan is to add other languages. It will be rolling out over the next few weeks. To activate it, using the Chrome browser, simply click the CC icon at the bottom of the slides and click Present. It will be interesting to see if this lives up to its potential.
I don't know how everyone stays organized and remembers all the myriad details of their day to day work. I know that I have tried so many ways to do this- Google Keep, Livescribe Pens, Alexa, and more. I saw this article the other day and I think I may well try it. I still use post-it notes- both physical and virtual. Have you tried printing on Post-Its? We Are Teachers has a nice tutorial to follow and free templates.
FlipGrid Mix Tapes
I love FlipGrid. It is an easy tool for both educators and students and has an amazing community of educators who share tips and ideas to use in the classroom. In addition to #GridPals (Think penpals, only digital) and the "Disco" library ( as of today over 4662 topics are listed in the library!) a new feature is Mix Tapes. Flipgrid can actually be a great way to build a portfolio. Now teachers can go through all the various grids and pull an individual student's work out and compile it all into a new "mix tape". Check out the video below. If you are new to FlipGrid or if you want to catch up with all the new changes- Karly and Sean have once again compiled a new Teacher Guide- check out the link, make your own copy.
After a mostly wintery April vacation, it was nice to finally see the sunshine. Hoping to have the last of the snow leave my gardens this week. I have a lot of little catchup items to share this time.
I went down to Connecticut today to attend the Greenwich Country Day School's Maker Faire. Although I was very disappointed that the scheduled keynote speaker, Colleen Graves was unable to attend due to a family emergency, I did enjoy listening to Ron Beghetto speak about creativity.
A couple points that resonated with me:
My favorite workshop of the day was with Rush Hambleton- "Meet the Microbit". It was fun to experiment with this relatively inexpensive, easy to use pocket size computer that lets you get creative with digital technology. I had played around with these a little bit, but working in small groups I learned a lot more than I had previously tried by myself. With the new version of Scratch coming out in August children will be able to program physical devices (like micro:bit).
Catch Up Time
Finally, the wonderful set of tools is free for both teachers and students- and is now COPPA compliant so kids under 13 can use it with supervision. A couple of our 4th grade classes have used this on some of the global projects they have done in the past and now we can give them accounts that they can use for so many projects! Richard Byrne has a nice roundup of the features on his blog.
Images for student work
We have a tab on our HES Symbaloo with a lot of these links, but Tony Vincent recently put up a nice post with some that we don't currently have listed. Check them outhere.
Checkboxes in Google Sheets
One of the things I really like about Google Keep is the quick and easy way to create checkboxes. Now, for all the spreadsheet fans- you can create checkboxes in Google Sheets. Alice Keeler writes about it here and shows you how- step by step.
Two great updates from FlipGrid to share. First- and this is happening soon- Wednesday, May 9th - World Record Wednesday.
Quote from the blog:
"It starts with you. It starts with us!
On May 9, 2018, you can be part of history! Our Global Classroom will aim for the student voice record books and attempt a World Record on Flipgrid. 24 Hours, all nations, all learners, across the globe, sharing the same message. We are calling on students, educators, digital citizens and global ambassadors to join together using your phone, tablet, or computer to record a message uniting The World"
One more from FlipGrid... AppSmashBash. Want to do more with FlipGrid? Looking for ideas? Check out the webinar #App SmashBash.
Did You Know?
Before I share links about the Olympics- I have 3 quick things to share.
Duck Duck Moose
You may have known this for months, but I just happened across an article about Khan Academy and apps for littles. Did you know that Khan bought Duck Duck Moose? Did you know that all 21 of those apps are now free?
Unicheck Plagarism Checker
Richard Byrne has an interesting post on his blog about a plagiarism checker that is integrated right into Google Classroom- via an add-on from UniCheck. The article was written by a staffer at unicheck. Read the post here.
2018 Winter Olympics
My colleagues in 3rd grade who are doing a unit on the Olympics kindly haven't complained yet about all the resources I have been bombarding them with, but there are so many fantastic ideas out there.
There's a whole set of 16 videos from the National Science Foundation to illustrate the math and science of some of the sports.
Today I happened on this series of photos and links on Twitter. These math related ideas come from Desmos. Dennis Sheeran has a great collection of links on his site, all nicely collated on a hyperdoc. Check it out here.
The folks over at SpheroEdu have been hard at work coming up with a new video, using Spheros participating in curling.
Olympics Hyperdocs are all the rage online. Please remember that if you use these to #FILEMAKEACOPY.... and then give credit to the original creator. When I use a hyperdoc that someone else made, I make sure to go through each and every link to make sure they all work and to be sure that any info being collected from students is only being collected by me, not another school or teacher.
Here's some links to check out:
Just in case you haven't visited BreakoutEdu recently, the platform has changed a bit- with a free section and a premium section. You must register on the site for access. These are both Free.
Other Olympic Collections
Excellent PD Opportunity
I attended this digital conference last year and this year it looks even better! I didn't have a chance to attend this weekend, so I have some catching up to do. "The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit is a nine-day, FREE virtual event. It brings together some of the brightest minds in education to discuss technology, pedagogy and more." Sign up here. There are new speakers featured each day. The videos will only be available online til December 31st. Try it- great PD, on your schedule, and it's free.
New Assistive Tech Book
Chris Bugaj has a new assistive technology book coming out in April, but you can pre-order now. I have had the opportunity to read a bunch of different books on various aspects of assistive technology and to be honest- most are just "textbooks"- read 'em once and done. Chris's first book was the standout in a series of typically informative, but boring, textbooks. It was funny; it was informative; it was inspirational. I kept it. I even still look inside it. Now how many textbooks have you used for college or post college courses that you can say that about?
Here's the blurb: " School districts often struggle to develop consistent practices for meeting the assistive needs of special education students. This playful yet professional book will help public school educators select, acquire and implement technology to help all students, but especially those with special needs."
What's blog post without #FlipGrid?
I got to introduce Karly Moura and Sean Fahey on Classroom 2.0 live this weekend. These two educators have been at the forefront of #Flipgrid Fever and have come up with so many ideas that you can take and use tomorrow. This is thelivebinder link from the show. There are resources for all age groups and disciplines. Here's a whole padlet full of ideas embedded below.
But- what I wanted to tell you- something new this month is the ability to get
transcriptions of the videos- automatically- in 26 different languages!! You can set up captioning in the admin panel. It worked well for me in English- although I don't know how to tell it to put in punctuation, etc. I tried speaking English and having it transcribe in French. It didn't look to me like it translates and transcribes, only transcribes, but I could be wrong. Play with it and see. My thought was that this could be a way to make the videos more accessible- with the captions. Have to check this one with my AT experts and let you know.
A Welcome Addition to Osmo
I just got myCoding Duo game pieces and downloaded the new app. This is the latest game from Osmo and I think it's one of their better games. It is a "collaborative coding experience that features Awbie and Mo, and is designed for all kids who love Osmo Coding. " The coding game introduced last year is fun, but it's meant for an individual to use. This game is collaborative by design. You do need to have both the Awbie coding game and the Coding Jam game in order to play (you use those game pieces). While I am not a fan of the Coding Jam game, not having a musical bone in my body, using the pieces for this collaborative game was fun! With the exception of the Hot Wheels Mind Racer game (what were they thinking??), the entire line of Osmo games can be a welcome addition in the classroom.
Google Mystery Animal
One of the curious tweets I saw over the Thanksgiving break was about Google's Mystery Animal, a Google AI voice experiment. This is essentially a 20 questions game. How can you use this in class? Well, aside from having fun, it is an excellent way to hone questioning skills. Do you need special equipment? Nope- you can connect with Google Home, if you have that, or simply use your browser. Try it! You may like it. Your students may be inspired to find out more about this sort of coding works.
2 Great Resources from...#FlipGrid... of course
One of the projects I have been thinking about offering in our STEAM space includes various visual illusions, recognizing and creating patterns. I saw-yet again on twitter from my PLN- this very cool Scratch project with speed illusions done in Scratch. Check it out below. It may take a minute to load.
Visual Illusions to Sierpinski Triangles to fractals and more
As I investigated visual illusions, I got sidetracked by patterns, including Sierpinski Triangles, patterns and finally fractals. The math involved in these is interesting. It may help students to build/draw these patterns in order to increase their understanding of the math, and their appreciation of the art. Try the fractivities at fractalfoundation.org.
Sierpinski Triangle Project
These projects can be toned down for younger students or go 3D and fancy with older students. Erica Clark has an excellent blog post and directions on her website.
Want to try decotropes? These 2 sided optical illusion toys are fun and easy to make. You can even download the template from Ana's site
But I think my favorite project wasn't an illusion, but a math pattern. I had never heard of spirolaterals. These are really cool patterns. Try these with your students. H/T again to Erica Clark.