Sorry I seem to have misplaced a week or two as we all scramble to get up to speed and to help one another figure out what we are actually doing and how we can do it. Now that I think we have some of the basics down, or at least have figured out some of the parameters, what's next? Hoping to get some guidance from the state level as to what we, here in Massachusetts, are doing- enrichment?- distance learning?-dealing with equity issues? Lots and lots of questions. My biggest concern at the moment is how to provide continuity- both academically and to maintain the fabric of community- while we deal with the many aspects of accessibility.
So many of the edtech companies have come forward to offer their products for free as we try to reach out to all of our students and families. Although this is cool, a word of caution, don't introduce brand new tools if you can help it. Enrichment only, not for assignments if there is a learning curve. If your students have been using digital tools in class, try to stick to the known, as the whole method of lesson delivery is totally new to most of us. It overloads the teachers, the students and all of the families as we struggle to find the time, the tools and the means to distribute lessons or enrichment or just to reach out to build and sustain community.
One of the many webinars I have attended over the last 2 weeks was the SEDTA webinar last night, Supporting Students with IEPs During eLearning Days. After registering, I , along with 8000 others tried to get onto the edweb system. Needless to say, it didn't work. Luckily there is a recording, which you can access at edweb. AEM is offering a series of webinars coming up to help teachers use UDL in their lessons to reach all of the learners.
Here is more info from their page:
The AEM Center is hosting a series of webinars, each providing a deeper dive into a specific topic related to accessibility. Visit our AEM Events page for full details about each webinar.
So where do you sign up for any of these? Right here. A word of warning- hop onto the webinars on the early side if you can- they fill up fast. They are recorded if these dates/times don't work for you.
So what's next?
Our district is working hard to take the continuity plan and pull the teacher resources into our shared drive and to look carefully at the resources we are presenting to parents. Right now it is pretty overwhelming. Hopefully by the end of the week, we can begin to have it a bit more organized and have all of the HPS teacher resources in one place instead of filling your inboxes.
Ideas to Share
I could fill a book right now with all of the links I have collected, friends have shared, etc... It is a bit too much. If you like overwhelming - check out my Wakelets or this one. Here's a spreadsheet for all the spreadsheet lovers out there... and this is only the tip of the iceberg.
More Ideas for Black History Month
Since I took my vacation week off I have a backlog of "stuff" to share. Some of it can certainly wait, but I did want to share these Black History Month resources that I had collected.
Steve Wick shared a resource that I hadn't seen- Google Earth Voyage "Black History Month: The Journey of Us". The geo-tagged stories are a treasure.
Storycorps celebrates both Black History Month and the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment with "a special collection featuring themes of representation, universal suffrage, and Civil Rights. The 15th Amendment, one of the cornerstones of civil rights, granted men of all races the right to vote in 1870."
JStor compiled an amazing collection of stories, ranging from MLK to Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan” to Billie Holiday.
Facing History has an excellent collection of resources to not only learn about the history, but to connect history to current events. You can see so much more here.
Teaching Tolerance focused on honoring the history of black civil engagement. " The official theme of Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote.” Black changemakers and activists have been fighting for equal rights since before our nation began. This week, we’ll be sharing resources on the history of Black civic engagement and the continuing fight for full equality under the law."
One of the resources referenced is a film kit -Selma/The Bridge to the Ballot. You can see the trailer here.
Ideas to Share
I shared some of the presentations I attended at the MassCue Winter Googlepalooza last week with teachers at my school. Here's the rest of the schedule with the associated resources. Nothing actually beats attending, but you can learn a lot from the slide decks. One weird thing- some of the links are to gg.gg/ and my Malwarebytes doesn't like it. It opens fine on other computers, and I saw nothing that looked fishy... but just in case you see it too- not to worry.
Smithsonian Open Access & Tinkercad
Great Hyperdocs Resources
Richard Byrne- FreeTech4Teachers is always an amazing resource. Looking through my bookmarks, it was clear that his contributions stood out, once again, as valuable to pass along. I will give you a really brief view of a couple of them- and the links to learn more from the source.
One of the tools he posted about this past week was ClassTools' new sorting game- Vortex. I tried out a couple of the pre-made games and thought they would be great for a review game. Gotta say- hate the font choice, but the game was fun and you can create your own. Can't find the original tweet or source, but check out this list of favorite tools of 2019
One other tool that Richard highlighted was Canva. I had looked at Canva back when it first came out, but have not used it extensively. Now that there is a free education edition, this tool is on my list to explore. Check out what Richard wrote and his video below.
Another tech guru that I get ideas from on a regular basis is Wanda Terral- Tech Director down at Lakeland School System down in Tennessee. Wanda is a Google educator and always shares great practical information. This past week she re-posted the links to the TCEA (Elementary) conference handouts from 2019. This is a fantastic resource with tons of wonderful presentations. Well worth spending time to check out for all elementary educators with presentations on all sorts of topics/tools. If you can't make it to TCEA conferences, the handouts are the next best thing.
Wanda also posted this image and the link to the site Retrieval Practices and a great article about Bloom's Taxonomy. Kind of turns the whole idea on it's head. And... she also pointed me to some excellent Google resources - Templates for Google Forms and Designing Infographics with Google Forms ( part of Applied Digital Skills )
Just before the winter break Tinkercad announced their new iOS app. We use Tinkercad for our 3D projects- on chromebooks. I downloaded the app and can't wait to have the students try it out. Looks like a lot of great new features too, along with the new interface. We haven't really ventured into much AR and this may provide a way to make this happen.
Cool Graph Paper
I started going through an online EdTech course -Primarily Google, over the break. The ideas for using Google in early elementary grades never cease to amaze me. One wonderful place to start is Susan Stewart's Primarily Google. Most of the time when I take one of these online courses, I come away with a couple of ideas, most of it- meh- knew that, etc. Not the case here. Yes, I know how to use these tools, but the creative ideas Susan comes up with... well check out her site and I think you'll agree- primarilygooglerocks!
When I sat down to look at what I had bookmarked this past week- Assistive Technology was clearly on my mind. I had read this article about video games having to be compliant with AT regulations. Essentially, the law enacted in 2010 said all the communication technology - eg. instant messaging, etc, used in video games had to be accessible. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that required these communication devices services and equipment to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Until earlier this year, the FCC had waived the ACS accessibility requirements for video game software. However, and here's the good news- now it is required! Let's see if it is actually enforced.
New AT tools from Google
This is an excellent synopsis of 11 different Assistive Tech Tools that you can use with Chrome or with Android devices.
Action Blocks is a feature that is designed for people with a cognitive disability (or their caregivers) is basically a way to pull all the various steps of a command into one easy to identify icon. Very cool idea to make things more accessible for all and to provide necessary independence.
ReadWorks has Audiobooks!
ReadWorks offers excellent free resources and has now added audio books. Check out the video here. Remember, although ReadWorks is a great source of leveled reading books, and passages, it's not just for students who are struggling with decoding and comprehension. All students can benefit from ReadWorks. They make it easy for teachers to find appropriate materials and help to pair texts as well.
Use Makey Makey to Create AT devices
I caught a few of Richard Byrne's Creativity Conference presentations live, including this one. If you have never tried MakeyMakey, it's easy to use and lots of fun. I like the way Art Spencer, the presenter, emphasizes empathy in the design process and uses MakeyMakey to create devices that are more accessible to students.
Listenwise will have Lexile Levels soon
We all know that listening to reading passages almost always increases comprehension levels. The last time I did a uPAR test with students at my school more than 88% of students showed an increase in comprehension scores. ListenWise may be something for you to investigate. The basic teacher account is free- no student accounts, and the premium version is a bit pricey. Check it out, try a pilot, free trial and see if this is a tool for you.
Learning 4 All
Just something to put on your calendar. Learning 4 All (formerly known as 4T: Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology), is a free virtual conference coming up in February.
Check it out and register here.
I enjoyed meeting old friends and lots of new folks at EdCampNQ on Saturday. This edcamp is relatively small, with about 40-50 teachers. This is the link to the Board with the topics. Some have great notes associated with them, others not so much. What I found interesting- one session about SPED/Gen Ed pretty much reinforced what I see at our school- in both positive and negative aspects. There was a lot of discussion about push in vs pull out. I enjoyed the session on makerspaces since we got to visit their new space. This is new this year (or maybe last year), but has a bunch of rooms- for CAD, for woodworking, etc. It is a required semester course for middle school. Right now it really seems like a choose your own adventure space, where kids come up with projects and work with their teams to make "stuff". It much more about entrepreneurship, problem solving and working collaboratively than robotics or electronics. I'll be curious to see where they go with this.
One other new thing I enjoyed over in Orange was seeing a demo of Jamboard. "Jamboard is a collaborative digital whiteboarding experience, available through a physical board, tablet and mobile apps as well as on the web." So, it's a very fancy interactive whiteboard- but it is easy to use and you can collaborate with folks anywhere. You don't actually have to have the fancy board to try this out. You can use the app, use the web interface, etc. Check it out.
Trying to keep up with the constant changes in Google tools isn't always easy. Even when you learn how to do something, unless it is something that you use all the time, it's often hard to remember. One solution, of course, is to Google it... watch a YouTube video, etc. The Applied Digital Skills curriculum is a great place to start for many. Now Google has a new place to find training, The Teacher Center where even your students can earn digital badges. Teachers who are interested can do these tests as well, but they recommend that adults go through the certification process. The tests are not free. What I like about this site: there are two paths- fundamentals and advanced, and most importantly there is a whole section called First Day. If you are new to Google Docs, Google classroom, etc... this may well be a great way to start. This is an example- First Day in Google Classroom.
Student Chat via GDocs
This is not news to most of us who are actually in the classrooms, but has gotten a ton of media attention of late. Yup, no surprise, kids use docs to chat in class. It should not be a big surprise is that they sometimes use these digital tools inappropriately, even using them to bully others. You can read more of the hoo-ha about this in The Atlantic, Inc, Gadget, Parents, Lifehacker and more. So, is this a problem? It is a violation of most school AUPs and can be and is addressed that way at our school. There are several different software solutions to help schools monitor this- for example Securly. In the classroom, it is just another classroom management issue, at least at the elementary level. However, if students are unsupervised at home, or if their parents assume that if they are on Google Docs that they are just doing school work, that may be a parental issue. Just as we cannot control all other things that come along with using technology, we cannot control ethical use, aside from educating our students, ourselves and the parents and guardians in our community.
PBS- Inspiring Young Scientists Series
Starting today- March 19th, PBS will be showcasing a new 3 part series Inspiring Young Scientists through STEAM Education. Read more about all of them and register here.
"Data,data, data..data is everywhere! How do we teach students to care about data? To interpret data? To understand all the cool things that can be done because of data? Look no further: join us on this LIVE conversation with NASA experts to explore how they brought visualizations of the Earth to the palm of our hands all by using, you guessed it, DATA!"
Part 2 “Live-Learning” Experience #2: Teaching Computational Thinking
March 26, 2019
“Live Learning” Experience #3: Exploring Models Inspired by Nature
April 2, 2019
Ideas to Share
VoiceIn Voice Typing
Science and Social Justice
Western Mass Science for the People with Arise for Social Justice
A two-part workshop on integrating science and social justice in
elementary and middle school classrooms. This series features
presentations and facilitation by community organizers, K-12 teachers,
scientists and historians of science on themes including:
* ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
* WORKING WITH COMMUNITY EXPERTS
* INTEGRATING SOCIAL STUDIES AND LANGUAGE ARTS INTO SCIENCE CURRICULA
* TRAUMA-INFORMED YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Participants will be provided with concrete examples and resources,
guidance on fulfilling NEXT GEN SCIENCE STANDARDS, and time to develop
and workshop individual plans for innovative curriculum units.
Saturday, April 13 and 20, 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH PROVIDED!
Space is limited to 30 participants and registration is required!
More Info an REGISTER HERE!
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
Choose Your Own Adventure
With the new Black Mirror: Bandersnatch getting rave reviews, (So I hear: no TV reception where I live & no broadband to stream anything) I thought that it sounded an awful lot like "Choose Your Own Adventure". Since many of your younger students have probably never made their own choose your own adventure story, it seemed a good time to review what is out there to do this.
Sylvia Duckworth has an excellent presentation on using Google Slides to create your story. You can access her work here. Sylvia has built a wonderful set of resources; check out her web site for more. Alice Keeler has directions for this as well. If you're looking for a Dragon Quest, try following Eric Curts' directions here.
Another option is to use a Google Story Speaker add-on. This is fun, gives you a template to start with. The caveat- you need to have a Google Home device.
Google Forms is a great option to try. Justin Birckbichler shared a template to do this with his class. You should check out his blog post for the whole story. Sylvia also has agoogle doc with step by step directions for this type of story.
Wes Fryer worked with teachers on this at a VT workshop. You can get the templates and a lot more information on his blog post.
Steve Wick sent out a 12 Days of Techmas to occupy all of your spare time over the holidays. If you didn't get a chance to check it out: Here's the link
I finally watched all the new Ditch Summit videos. I liked most of them, but I learned the most from Tony Vincent's presentation. If you missed it- maybe Matt will put it up again next year, but thepdf with his links is still online. He has lots of great, really practical ideas you can use. My favorite links: Draw your own Illustrations, and somewhat a complementary resource to the Noun Project was the link he shared- Visuals for Foreign Language.
Jen Giffen produced a series of sketchnotes to go along with the Ditch Summit. You can see themhere. Full resolution available here. But here's the one from Tony's presentation, since it was my fav. Thanks for sharing your work Jen @VirtualGiff!
New Resources Available
Not really random... this was shared with me recently by a friend as we talked about immigration. I found it really interesting, maybe you will too.
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.
New! from Google
Google announced a new set of shortcuts that you may find useful. Now to open up a new doc, sheet, or slide, simply type new.doc or new.sheets, etc. into the omnibox (address bar).
This should prove to be a time saver and is easy to remember!
Check It! Finally a spelling/grammar checker in Google Docs, courtesy of Texthelp and Read&Write for Google Chrome! We are fortunate to have R & W pushed out to the entire district, so everyone can benefit from this new feature. Kasey Bell, over at Shake Up Learning has a nice post about this. Remember, if you need to boost your skills in Read & Write, or just want to explore their offerings, they have a great training resource here.
While I was meandering about on Texthelp's YouTube channel, I noticed something else that was new to me- DataDesk. This enables the teacher to lock in features on a student's R&W toolbar for a period of time. It is hooked into Google Classroom. Now, I don't think this tool has widespread use- but for example, if I have a student who is easily distracted and I want him to work on highlighting and defining all the vocab words in a passage, I could shut off all the other features and just leave the highlighting tools on. Check out the video below and see if this tool is useful for you.
Math Type for Google Docs
I know that some of you have been waiting for this one to come along for awhile. MathType is now up and running in Google Docs as an add-on. Note- it is currently free, but they are giving you a heads up that it will require a license in the future. So, if LaTex or Equatio aren't making you happy, now you can try MathType. There is also built-in support for chemical equations.
Now for "Secrets" from Matt Miller
I try to keep up with Matt Miller's blog, his podcasts, his tweets, since he is in the classroom and has great practical ideas. This week's blog post has 10 "secrets" "Find the tips, tricks and features of your favorite G Suite tools that you didn’t know existed!" Take a quick trip over to Ditch That Textbook and check out Matt's ideas. There were a couple I didn't know.
Stop Motion Movie Making
To Test or To Teach/Learn
I was reading through some recent work on Modern Learner and I have to say- the title:
"The Testing Emperor Finally Has No Clothes" hooked me. Bruce Dixon has pulled together a very thoughtful article around the "tyranny of testing". Although I don't often agree with Alfie Kohn, thinking that he likes to stir the waters and stand back and watch, this quote, "90 percent of the variations in test scores among schools or states have nothing to do with the quality of instruction." really struck close to home. Just go read the article.
Then come back... and read about how they are changing education in Singapore. This is the title of that article: Children in Singapore will no longer be ranked by exam results. Here's why A quote: "“Learning is not a competition,” states Ong Ye Kung, Singapore’s Education Minister. The Ministry of Education (MOE) is planning a series of changes aimed at discouraging comparisons between student performance and encourage individuals to concentrate on their own learning development."
If you still feel like reading, try this one from the Irish Times: Classroom of 2030: A flashforward to learning techniques. Education to not only use technology as tools but also to inculcate computational thinking.
The world is changing rapidly. Our education system is not. These kids are our future.
Are we gonna just test 'em or learn with them?
Global Collaboration Week
It's here! All week! Online! Free!
Look at the flyer below and check out all the ways you can participate!
New From Google Teacher Tribe
Kasey and Matt are back with more great tips. Listen to the podcast, download it to your device and listen on the way to school. One tip that I really like is the new sidebar on Google with Save to Google Keep. Try it! Check out the show notes here for clickable links.
Googley STEAM Resources
Deb Norton presented a great selection of some of the lesser known Google tools. Some of these experiments I had seen before, but some were new to me. One app that I didn't realize the potential of is the Google Arts and Culture app. Using the app, you can access Google street view and virtually tour some of the greatest museums on Earth. I can see our HES students loving Meme Buddy and Mystery Animal and all of the wonderful AI experiments.
Please click on the image to see her slidedeck. Thanks Deb!
Great Green Screen Resources
Several teachers have asked about using GreenScreen videos in the classroom. Tricia Fuglestad has pulled it all together! Check out her great ideas below. We have a green screen in the STEAM lab, which is pretty portable, as well as a small box for stop motion animation. We also have the DoInk Green Screen app on the ipads in the STEAM lab. One other resource is Camtasia Studio software, which is installed on the PC in the STEAM lab.
Science Resources for ALL
I attended an excellent webinar presented by Tia Cooper recently. She showed so many amazing science resources- for all ages. I asked her if I could share them on the blog with everyone, and she very graciously said yes. Connect Create and Collaborate - a 30 minute webinar with more than 30 resources shared! Click on the image to check it out.
Coming soon for Read & Write for Chrome...
We are so fortunate to have a district subscription to Read and Write for Google chrome. It is a phenomenal tool for all, not just for students who struggle with reading/writing. If you haven't looked at it lately- check it out! The updates below will be rolling out over the next several weeks- so keep an eye out.
I have only read about these upcoming changes, but would love to see a new spelling and grammar checker and the Data Desk for Google Classroom certainly has me curious.