Hour of Code
This week most of my time and energy has gone into going through some of the new features on Code.org and a few of the many third party educator resources. This is such an amazing resource, and so much of it is free. This year I decided to change up the offerings for grades 4-6 and use the time to introduce microbits. Across the board, the students did a great job. We'll have to look at investing in more of these, as well as more peripherals- sensors, servos, etc. I'm looking forward to seeing what these students can create. K-2 students worked on the iPads with challenges in Scratch Jr and Kodable. Third graders were the first class to try out the new Dance Party. It was an exercise in close reading; those pesky directions! All of this from Day 1... Here's the link to this year's HES Hour of Code site.
Google Expeditions Guide
I've written about Google Expeditions before, but Nick LaFave has created an excellent guide that you may be interested in. You do not have to have fancy glasses or viewers to see these.
This statement was important to me: "No Fancy Equipment Required Originally designed for viewing with a virtual reality headset (or Google Cardboard and a phone), expeditions now work on any mobile device (iPad, tablet, smartphone); just click “View Full Screen” when you open the expedition."
Check out Nick's guide here. He also has a great detailed spreadsheet with a searchable list of all available expeditions.
Adam Bellow posted a link today to showcase the Holiday Breakouts that are available on the platform. It made me realize that I haven't done any breakouts at HES so far this year. We'll have to pick a couple to try.
Insight Mission Activities
Wow! How exciting! A new Mars landing! These are just a few of the resources available to teach students K-12 about Mars, about coding and creating. My friend, Adriano CyberParra Parracciani, one of the original members of the Global Educator's group, created this template in Scratch for you and your students to try.
JPL has a very detailed project, again using Scratch, with various tasks to complete. You can check out that one here.
You can find some great NGSS aligned K-12 lessons about Mars here.
And of course the NASA Journey of a Lifetime Resources are here.
Looking for PD?
Well, I can't make to a teeny percentage of all the wonderful conferences offered. Luckily some share their resources online. VSTE, down in Virginia, just finished up and shared these sessions. I will have take notes on this one: 10 Things to do When the Wi-Fi goes Wonky
Don't forget about the 12 Days of PD from The Birdville ISD down in Texas https://sites.google.com/g.birdvilleschools.net/12daysummit/home
Ditch Summit is coming soon! This is where you get your ticket. It's free.
"The Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit is a FREE virtual event from December 14-31. It brings together some of the brightest minds in education to discuss technology, pedagogy and more."
I was really curious to learn about some of the edtech tools Brandee Ramirez is using and enjoyed listening to her presentation: “Creating the Perfect BLT: Balanced Literacy and Technology. Brandee, an instructional coach at TUSD gave an interesting presentation to Classroom 2.0 Live, which you can see, along with a ton of other resources here. Along with going through TPACK and SAMR with some nice examples, she also highlighted some of the edtech tools that she is using in her schools. One of these, ABCMouse, was a surprise to me. I had seen the site, played with the app a bit, but thought that it was a premium service. Much to my surprise- it is totally free for teachers! You just have to click on the tiny "teacher" link to sign up. It seems to work much like Epic- teachers and their students can use it for free in school, and they try to market it to parents on a subscription basis. It has a nice selection for preK-2 and they are adding a couple more grade levels. Check it out, as well as some of Brandee's other resources in the livebinder.
Updated Google Expeditions
Google announced a great update to their free Expeditions app. Now students can take new augmented reality tours. The original list of tours is here, but I don't know if all of these will also be AR tours. There are hundreds of really cool places to check out. Simply print out the marker/trigger sheets and the AR content appears on the tablet/phone screen. One thing that I really like is that you don't have to use Google Cardboard or an AR viewer to use this app. You can still get much of the AR experience without the "stuff", which we simply don't have in elementary schools. You can read more about it here.
Animated Videos on Chromebooks
This is a post from Richard Byrne that I know I will be going back to. He lists 5 different websites to use to create animated videos on chromebooks, especially since the service we currently use- GoAnimate will be closing next year. Check out his great post with examples here.
Summer PD plans?
I know that everyone is incredibly busy finishing up their year, but what are you going to do this summer for PD? Kids, family, other jobs, breathing... all take precedence, but aside from working in my gardens, I use the summer to try to catch up on all the edtech "stuff" I missed or didn't have time to explore. This summer I will be going to the Raspberry Pi Academy in NJ in June, then July will be a week at the Pathfinders Makers Collective Bootcamp in Indianapolis and of course the Scratch conference at MIT. August brings the GooglePalooza in Huntington and EdcampCT down at the Ethel Walker School.
What do I want to learn? I want to learn how to get more buy-in/time allotted for the makerspace through connections to existing standards and curriculum- not as a special or add-on. I really would like to be able to use raspberry pi and not drive myself crazy with mistakes on the breadboard. Scratch is coming out with Scratch 3.0 this summer and it will be non-flash... so it will be usable across more devices and it will be integrated into more hands-on devices, like microbits. I really want to learn to use microbits in the classroom. The price is right, at ~ $15/each and there are more and more sensors and add-ons and you can even do all the coding online with a simulator. Oh, and I need to take the Makerbot 3D printer certification course. And I want to learn more about how to use Merge cubes in the classroom. That's my "short" list.
Summer is such a great time to learn, to relax with friends and family and to refresh/re-ignite your passions for teaching/learning. If you're looking for edtech learning opportunities, check out KQED https://teach.kqed.org/ They are offering free media literacy courses. Want a more hands-on course- check the various tinkering courses from Exploratorium. Feeling like you want more Google in your life- check out the Applied Digital Skills. Want to learn more about the "Maker Movement" and how it could apply in your classroom, check A Year in the Making.
If these lists don't inspire you and you actually need help finding some edtech PD, let me know. If your plan is to go to the beach and hang out with your grandkids or your own children, to travel to exotic places or to sleep in the hammock in your own back yard- Enjoy! You certainly deserve all the best!
Looking for a book to read? I really liked the Google For Littles book and plan to pick up Chris Bugaj's The New Assistive Tech: Make Learning Awesome for All!. Out of all the books I had to read when I did my assistive tech degree- his first book was the best- funny, and actually useful.
If you're still on the fence about using Google Suite with younger students, check out Google Apps for Littles: Believe They Can by Alice Keeler and Christine Pinto. You will find creative, easy to use ideas to get you started.
Don't miss out on Voice Dream Reader
This is a great app, especially to support readers and is on sale thru 6/9 for half price.
Another call for Western Mass GooglePalooza
I got an email from Chris Parker asking to spread the word, so here's a repeat of last week's post:
Don't miss out on special pricing- only $45 thru June 30. A full day of PD and breakfast and lunch! I know I always end up driving for hours for PD- this one is just over the hill with some great presenters.
Gateway Public Schools and MassCUE are looking forward to hosting its first ever Summer Googlepalooza on 8/8/18 in western MA. Register today for the special rate of $45 for a full day of learning and breakfast and lunch! (Regular registration rate of $65 will resume on 7/1/18.) Extra bonus: any educator who attends will be able to purchase a MassCUE membership for half-price.
Hope to see you at the Summer Googlepalooza at Gateway Public Schools in Huntington, MA