Who knew how much work it would be to transform what you do every day as an educator in a K-12 school and magically try to make it all work remotely? Well, we're all finding out. I continue to see colleagues in my district and around the world struggle, work harder, reach out and begin to come together, with, if not the same lessons done remotely, lessons that work. Even with my job in tech integration, doing it remotely is simply not the same- at all. Hilltown internet with speeds slower than dial-up (which, at least didn't drop continually), make it pretty challenging.
I'm sure that you all have been overwhelmed with offers from literally hundreds of edtech companies, as have I. A couple that we will be offering district wide include Loom pro, WeVideo pro and access to all Texthelp edtech applications, including Equatio. Look for more information coming via email. We have also rolled out a new EdTech Tools site, with a curated list of tools to help you teach remotely, as well as some of the basic tutorials. The link was sent out yesterday and also lives in the shared drive in the ICP folder.
It feels like I am attending anywhere from 1 to 3, 4, or more webinars a day lately. One presenter, aside from Greg and Avra at EdTechTeachers stands out this week, Leslie Fisher. I attended one of her webinars on using Merge Cubes last week, enjoyed that one, so I signed up for one of her book creator webinars this week. Now, I have used Book Creator with kids, and honestly, didn't think I would learn a whole lot. I was wrong. Not only have they added over 200 accessibility features to Book Creator, but Leslie came up with very cool ways to use it- for all ages, not just elementary. I plan on attending another one this coming Friday- Book Creator and Accessibility. You can register for it here. The one I liked the other day is still open "on demand" til Monday 4/20.
Resources to Share
Here are a few resources that you may find useful, either in your teaching or to share with parents who are looking for alternative activities.
Starting out with a little social studies. Did you see the article inThe Washington Post the other day? Ken Burns has come out with a new collection for educators. Here's the gist of it: "Created for sixth- to 12th-grade educators, the new one-stop destination houses a full library of classroom-ready content — aligned to state and national standards — about historical events and issues that Burns has highlighted in his films.“Ken Burns in the Classroom” includes hundreds of video clips, lesson plans, activity suggestions, discussion questions, handouts and interactives to help educators integrate the films into their classroom instruction.
I checked out the site- part of PBS Media and loved what I saw. I also learned about his other site "Unum" which I had never seen before. It was inspired by the motto of the U.S.
KEN'S NOTE "E pluribus unum was chosen as the motto of the United States in 1782. It means “out of many, one” which captures the very soul of this project. It’s all one story. It always has been."
EdSurge ran an article about a renaissance for Social Studies. Their 3 major points to focus upon are :
1. Focus on student engagement above all.
2. Ensure a diversity of voices.
3. Listen, build, learn, repeat . Read the whole article here.
And of course, a little geography too. Richard Byrne wrote a blurb about this the other day, so I went over to the Google blog to check it out. https://www.blog.google/products/earth/new-google-earth-creation-tools/ "With new creation tools now in Google Earth, you can turn our digital globe into your own storytelling canvas, and create a map or story about the places that matter to you."
On to Science articles this week: We hear about/talk about diversity and equity a lot lately. These articles relate these topics back to STEM.
Kathy Renfrew and Amber McCulloch did a NSTA blog post recently where they discussed "Ensuring All Elementary Students Have Access to Science Learning". The problem, as most of us are aware is that teachers in elementary school have little time for science. The students are tested in Math and ELA on the state tests, thus most of the teaching time is devoted to those core subjects. One of the resources they mentioned is easy to access and worth 22 minutes of your time. It's called Elementary Science Video Workshop and will "walk you through some learning tools centered around why elementary science, what does good science instruction look like, and how building leadership teams can best implement changes to what science instruction looks like in your school." Check out the blog post for more tools to explore, including this one about integrating STEM into the curriculum. The NGS Navigators podcast did an encore of Jay McTighe and Dr.Judy Willis talking about Upgrading Your Teaching: Understanding by Design Meets Neuroscience
A bit about accessibility. I noted an interesting article and a great resource shared online by Dodie Ainslie over at BT BOCES in NY state. Dodie shared an excellent resource to help access learning through #Chromebook and #Google accessibility features. She said to feel free to share and adapt. I really appreciate having all these tools listed in one handy slide deck. Thanks @djainslie! Just click on the image below to make a copy for yourself. (File>Make a Copy)
Edutopia shared a nice article on Developing Executive Function back in January. Don't you just wish that we could go through a checklist and miraculously all have perfect executive function? This article is aimed at the middle school student and walks you through setting up priority lists with students. The with is important, not for the students. Here's the article and here's the video
And last but not least esports.
I have seen several articles of late raving about the importance and popularity of esports. Within the last year this has become a hot topic. Since the first and last video game I played was pong, gotta say, not up on this topic. But- if you are into video games, or even if you're not, you need to understand a bit more about esports. Here to help you out..
EdTech Magazine with the recent article: Fact or Fallacy: Why Esports Are Here to Stay in K–12 Schools Tech & Learning University also ran an article about esports in highered.
I love this quote from Sylvia Martinez. I get tired of the buzz words used in education- from "learning styles" to growth mindset to grit. I think we all just want to find ways to reach kids, to light those fires and help them learn to love learning. Yes, compliance is nice. I did compliance as a young girl in school- got the A's, never learned much math- but could follow the recipe, and honestly, never really cared about school. I liked it because it was easy for me, my friends were there and I just like to read. Now, as an educator, I still work on trying to find ways to make school meaningful for students, especially those who struggle. I fail every day. Not in the ever popular "first attempt in learning" manner; I just make mistakes, miss the cues, and more. It is certainly not my first attempt. But, I have learned to care about what I do, or perhaps, I do what I care about... and that helps me persevere and demonstrate if not mastery- grit.
If you ever get a chance to hear Sylvia speak, go for it. She is an engineer, an educator and goes around the world talking with and helping educators. Her latest book is a new version of Invent to Learn, co-authored with Gary Stager. They also run a makers conference every year up in Manchester NH.
Andrew Roush wrote a great article on the TCEA blog about Interactive Maps. I had never looked at these National Geographic Maps. They have lots of very cool features. Andrew goes through these in his post with some good examples. If you just want to investigate on your own, head on over to National Geographic's Mapmaker Interactive. There's a playlist with 9 short videos to get you started.
I had never heard of this site before and it was explained to me as sort of an ask the expert type of site. Not so much from what I can see, but really interesting and is much more about learning about people. This is from their About page:
"DON’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER
The Human Library™ is designed to build a positive framework for conversations that can challenge stereotypes and prejudices through dialogue. The Human Library is a place where real people are on loan to readers.
A place where difficult questions are expected, appreciated and answered."
Lots of "books" to explore and it looks like they will be starting a Human Library for children this summer.
Here's a TED talk to learn more:
I first skimmed through this article about how Google is working to make devices more accessible to all, but was utterly transfixed by one of the projects- Project Euphonia. This project is to expand the capabilities of speech recognition to all. I'm sure that you all have had students who were difficult to understand, for various reasons. I know that when I am looking for assistive tech solutions, I sometimes just plain run into the wall with artic issues- and speech to text just plain cannot work. This project, although still in its infancy- has real promise for those with articulation issues due to development, medical issues and more. Just watch this short video and see what you think. The article is here- there are several other projects to check out.
Ideas to Share
Upcoming Free PD
This week brings some great free resources your way with a webinar from CAST on UDL:
UDL Stories from the Field http://castprofessionallearning.org/free-udl-webinars/ Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 26 from 3:30 - 4:30 p.m. EST.
EdTechTeam is sponsoring a live webinar on Tuesday May 6, featuring the new Google Earth
LIVE Webinar LINK
Google Earth News
Many of you have probably heard/read about the great new changes in Google Earth. It is now accessible online- like on chromebooks. I have not tried this at school with a class of students and have no notion of how the bandwidth holds up. But it is good news. You can get the gist from EdTechTeam's blog post here. I wanted to share a couple of the blog posts and videos that have been posted about this change and that you may find helpful.
First- Richard Byrne's video overview
One thing that Richard notes is that it is hard to create tours in the new online version- but he followed that up today with a blog post about GE Teach Tour "a free tool that you and your students can use to create tours to play in the new web version of Google Earth." See his full informative post here.
Google Lit Trips on Chrome: Another interesting post about using the new Google Earth came from Eric Curts. Eric will explain in detail in the video below and in a great step by step tutorial on his site- how you can now use Google Lit Trips on chromebooks. Check it out below and be sure to vist Control, Alt, Achieve to get the full picture.
You have to try Voyager!
This is the coolest thing I have seen in awhile. Remember way back when you could find your house on Google Earth? You thought that was cool, right? Bet you spent a lot of time just spinning the globe around, checking things out. Voyager is way cooler. They have created these fantastic lessons- cooler than lit trips (sorry). Before you click on the links- know that you will be sucked in, so get your "work" done first. But, as you immerse yourself in Voyager, imagine what you can do with this tool with students, what they can do... It is really fantastic. Check them out here. Here is the NY Times article about it.
Solar Eclipse Resources
I attended an excellent webinar from WGBH Education on the upcoming solar eclipse. This will not be an total eclipse for us, and it will be just before school starts up again. So, if you are interested, you will need to plan ahead. PBS Learning Media has you covered with a solar eclipse toolkit
You can get more information here.
As I mentioned last week, the citation feature is back in Google Docs. Below are a few videos from Richard Byrne to help you learn to use the tool in the new configuration.
One of my pet peeves is students who do not cite images... or use images that are not labeled for reuse and figure it's OK as long as they cite them. In this video Richard explains a bit more about using the explore feature to cite images in Slides and Docs.
One of my favorite places to find images is photosforclass. I also tend to use pixabay and the noun project. We have a whole symbaloo of multimedia sources. And once again, Richard Byrne has a video to show you 5 great sources free images.
Explore the World
I just want to briefly showcase two different ways you can get your students involved, virtually, with some great explorers. Seat of Your Pants offers web camera seats to many different venues- feeding a giant octopus or exploring a volcano. You can check out theweb site here, or explore the YouTube channel here. Of course, National Geographic a whole Explorer Classroom! They have a really cool YouTube Channel and you can learn a lot more, get lesson plans, and sign up for their program on their web site.
Our 4th graders have once again participated in this project, as they have for the last several years. This project has been developed by Lisa Parisi, a teacher on Long Island. Students create videos using a central theme of peace and a song as the background. This year's choice was K'NAAN's Wavin' Flag. Lisa splices all of these together into one video. This year the children made 2 videos- one playing a game and another singing the song. There were 20 participating schools from the US, India, Germany, Australia, Malaysia, Greece, Venezuela, Ireland and Guatemala.
Here's the final cut... HES is there~ 42 seconds in. I will put the full HES only videos at the bottom of the post.
So what does Peace Day have to do with Global Literacy? The more we know about the world we live in, the people who share this planet with us, the more empathy we and our students develop, as well as increasing more awareness of the issues faced by others. Without this knowledge and empathy it is difficult to even begin to solve some of the global issues we all face.
I was fortunate to participate in a webinar recently by Laura Krenicki, a middle-school social studies teacher (Gr. 6) at William J. Johnston Middle School in Colchester, CT. She is also a teacher consultant for the Connecticut Geographic Alliance (the outreach division of National Geographic), and adjunct faculty at the University of New Haven & Eastern CT State Univ.,Connecticut. The webinar is recorded and can be accessed here.
Laura shared an absolutely amazing livebinder of resources for geography, social studies, global literacy... which can be found at http://www.livebinders.com/play/play?id=2060427
(Note: Click on tab for "Laura Krenicki - Global Literacy and Geography" in the Livebinder).