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.
I got an excellent list of resources the other day and will just share the DM I received:
THANK YOU for your ongoing support of our mission: to engage and empower every classroom on earth with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Many of you have asked for the best resources to help you get started.
Here are our suggestions… and they’re all free!
If you would like to serve the @TeachSDGs movement even more effectively, consider turning on your notifications if you haven’t done so already. We are only as strong as you are active. Please continue to share and celebrate how you #TeachSDGs and, again, THANK YOU!! Wishing you a wonderful and well deserved summer break, The #TeachSDGs team http://www.teachsdgs.org
The amazing Alice Keeler has put together a great set of videos on how to get the most out of Google Slides. Check out her post here.
I was happy to catch Michelle Luhtala's webinar a week or so ago on Data and Data Literacy. I was kind of thinking that this was going to be more fake news kind of material, but she really took it in a different direction which I hadn't looked at in a while. Those of you who teach middle and high school social studies or science, probably know these sites, but if not- check them out. Even if you teach elementary students, some of the basics are also highlighted- check the scale of the graph, etc. I simply find Hans Rosling and his data visualizations to be pretty amazing.
This site was new to me- Social Explorer. As you might expect-lots of maps and data visualization. There's also a youtube video to demonstrate how to add your own data. She also shared some of Mark Liddell's work on statistics.
The other two links that I really liked were Lea Gaslowitz' How to spot a misleading graph- which can easily be used across both grade levels and disciplines, and David McCandless' Information is Beautiful site. Check out his visualization of Snake Oil Supplements and so many more!
Please check out Michelle's webinar recording on edweb.net or her Pearltrees links. If you have never explored Gapminder... check it out either link. I couldn't decide on my favorite Hans Rosling video... but put one below. The world certainly misses Hans, but we are so fortunate to have so many videos available to view and review.
Googlepalooza in Western Mass
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.
Before I hop onto my soapbox, here's a few interesting/fun links to check out.
Eric Curts- who always comes up with great Googley ideas, posted a great template for Build a Jack-O-Lantern with Google Slides. Check it out here
Tom Mullaney posted a nice short video about Google Keep's new integration into Google Slides.
Richard Byrne pulled all of the new Google Slides features together in his post here. Although there are quite a few new features to check out, the one I was most interested in was how to insert a timeline into Google Slides. Lucky for us, Richard has it covered. Check out his blog for more.
Those of you who know me, know that the whole "mindset" verbiage is something I don't really buy into as anything new and wonderful. But, this summer and this fall I have been focused on trying to renovate the "old" computer lab into a STEAM lab. Thus, I have been diving into the whole maker movement, maker "mindset" and trying to figure out how our elementary school, our students, our teachers, our culture- can all work with a makerspace, a STEAM lab. It's exciting to see it begin to build.
A little history...
Back, maybe 10 years ago, Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez started doing something called the Constructivist Consortium before NECC and then ISTE. I went to a couple, didn't get it. I wanted it get it, but I didn't and found it frustrating. Then they started having summer workshops called Constructing Modern Knowledge. I went to the first one- hated it, actually left a day early. I really wanted way more direction than Gary was willing to give. He wanted folks to stretch themselves, take risks and take charge of their learning. As I said, I hated it. When their book Invent to Learn came out, I read it. This is not the way I was taught, nor the way I ever taught, and certainly not the way I felt I learned best. But, after pushing back on this and all the language associated with it, it's worth doing. Students can take risks, can extend their learning. Even their teachers can try it and see how it feels to be the learner, to have the questions, to find the solutions.
Yesterday I was lucky enough to go with Judi, our HS media specialist, over to Mt. Holyoke to visit their makerspace, courtesy of former HA teacher Janet Slocum. I had never been to this new space and was really impressed by the variety of choices the students are afforded. But, keep in mind, this is Mt. Holyoke College, so they have the funding to do it up right. After seeing all the cool projects Janet has done with her students, seeing the fancy laser cutter projects, and the molds that had been made- to fill with chocolate, we sat down to talk about how to make the connections between the school/state curriculum and makerspaces. I was a little surprised to hear that even at a facility like Mt. Holyoke, that the professors, instructors aren't leveraging the makerspace and all the cool stuff they have there. Students are coming in and doing more personal work. The only exception I saw, heard about, aside from Janet's work was a print-making course. We talked about how to make the curriculum tie-ins, without making it yet one more thing for teachers to try to cram into a very busy schedule.
Today, I watched a group of 4th graders work in our STEAM lab with Sphero robots. They used Blockly drag and drop programming, and programmed their robots to make a square. Their next job was to make a maze on the floor with painter's tape and see if they could program their robots to maneuver through it. Aside from some very basic instruction before they began, they were not given a lot of directions. Some asked for more help. Some just went for it. They had 3 values to put into each roll command- time, speed and direction. I could easily see how this could be a math lesson, a physics lesson and a communication lesson- all rolled into a programming activity. Luckily, I am not under pressure to get through a set curriculum. Many of you are. How can we embrace this "maker mindset", learning by doing, when our students, our teachers, the administrators and parents are so heavily invested in test results? I watch students walk in, take control of their learning, work past the time to leave, and leave excited and smiling.
What is this mystical maker's mindset? Beats me. It's hard for me to just go for it. to try to something with no real directions, to fail sometimes. I do it because I don't have a lot of choice. There's no manual for this, no scope and sequence, no pacing guide. I ask others, I seek help from youtube, from twitter, from my PLN... but, like the kids in my STEAM lab today, I sometimes just have to try it and see. I spent half of lunch time today beginning to learn how to program the little Edison robots we have- along with the help of a 6th grader. We did a pretty good job learning as we went, learning from each other. Tomorrow we will try again and see what else we can make them do.
When we were at Mt. Holyoke, I asked the woman who is in charge of the makerspace how she learned everything she needed to know to grow and run the space. Guess what- she is self-taught. If you like to read about mindset, Dale Dougherty, one of the founders of this movement, wrote about it here; EdSurge has a list of 6 "must-haves"; read some of Colleen Graves' work here or check out some of my friend Jackie Gerstein's work here. I steal ideas from Jackie on a regular basis. She has also pointed the way to great resources like the Destination Imagination Challenges.
If you haven't tried design challenges- go ahead- give it a try. You may discover that you have a "maker's mindset".
Eduporium, one of my favorite STEM retailers, since they really try to help you find the best STEM products for your school, has been running a contest every night since May 1st. It's an educational trivia contest- with a $100 coupon prize to the person who has the right answer the fastest. I have been incredibly lucky and have won 5 times! However, they have decided to revise their rules and get more people involved- so if you win once, lucky you and then you are done. So, now that I am out of the running... here's the info you need. Sign up here and they will send you a reminder email at about 6:45 pm EST with the link for the contest which is at 7 sharp. Some of the questions are common knowledge... eg. the chemical formula for table salt, where others are not so easy- eg. the country completely surrounded by South Africa (Lesotho) and you have to google really fast! (Use OK Google voice search) So- it's fun and you can win a prize. Go for it, have your students go for it. Some questions are tough for a high school student, others are OK for elementary... and it's fun.
I spent some time today with one of the 6th grade classes, helping students use Google Slides for their yearbook pages. Using Google slides gives you way more flexibility than docs and the page size is easily adjusted to 8.5 by 11 (File>page setup>custom) and can be exported as a pdf. It reminded me that I wanted to share this Google Slide info, which I didn't know til this week. Alice Keeler and Matt Miller have created a new chrome extension called DriveSlides for Google Slides that allows you to take a folder of images and create a Google Slide show with a press of a button. The functionality reminds me of the ability to create a slideshow out of a folder in powerpoint. Quick and easy. Alice wrote more about it here. She also has a really cool screenshot to slideshow extension that she explained in a previous post. It automatically takes a screenshot every minute and saves it to a folder for a slideshow.
Looking for more ideas with Google Slides? Check out Matt's post here.
Summer PD- Google Drawings
I'm excited to take a class with Tony Vincent on Google Drawings this summer. Tony is an internationally known educator and speaker. His blog Learning in Hand has been a staple in the edtech world for years.
When I saw the notice about the class and went to sign up, I also learned something new...you can present a clutter-free image of a google doc by changing the url. Tony explained it here.
Last, but not least ReadWorks!
ReadWorks, as many of you know, is a fantastic resource for students and their teachers. Many teachers have tried their Article-A-Day series with great success. ReadWorks does a great job of pulling together text sets for you. Here's a couple of promo videos to give you some ideas.
I haven't been able to find the summer packets collection on the new site, but will write and ask them if they are offering this again- or something similar. This is last year's page. www.readworks.org/rw/beat-summer-reading-slump
Welcome back after such a beautiful week of spring-like weather for our winter break here in Massachusetts!
This will be a compilation of things that I thought were cool/useful/interesting over the last couple of weeks.
Some Shortcuts I Learned
I spent a day down at Lunenburg HS this past week at MassCue's GooglePalooza. One cool thing about this sort of conference is that, much like an edcamp, resources are usually shared online. So head over to this link, check out the 4 sessions and all of the resources that were shared. I really enjoy learning from a couple of these presenters and would highly recommend that you attend anything that Jenn Judkins or Jennifer Lowton are doing. Both are incredibly knowledgeable, funny and I always, always learn something new from them. Jenn Judkins is my go-to resource for Google Forms, and Sheets. She makes up great workflows to save everyone time (and a few trees). Jennifer Lowton is a great resource for both Google Admin type questions, as well as Special Education and tech questions.
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Chromebooks
Steve Wicks has published a new Chrome resource website. Just about anything you care to know... you can find here at Chromebook 101.
Add Videos from Google Drive to Slides
Shawn Beard, as well as many others, posted about the new ability to add videos from your Google Drive to Google Slides. This is very handy, in case YouTube is blocked and it also enables you to have student videos which can created and uploaded right to Drive and shared on Google Slides.
More Math Resources
I attended a webinar featuring a man named Steve Sherman recently. I had never heard of him, but he was talking about global education and math. Well, I wish I had included him in the last post about math! To give you an idea: here's his intro blurb:
Steve is the Chief Imagination Officer of an Educational NGO in Capetown, South Africa called Living Maths. It is a mathematics, problem-solving and science enrichment program. He teaches approximately 4500 students weekly in schools around Cape Town and now recently, the world. He is passionate about sharing knowledge and empowering young people. He is also a multi-award purchasing educator and was voted most adorable educational innovator by his unbiased mother. He feels that it is his destiny to spread the joy of problem-solving and creative thinking to anyone who is willing to listen and even to those who are not. He knows Karate, Ju-jitsu and 2 other Japanese words. Steve is an Olympic medallist for the short jump and an accomplished Yo-yo winder.
Check out his website: Livingmaths.com. He does cool stuff with math; he connects kids around the world; and he's funny.
I've been enjoying the opportunity to catch a few of the great presentations available- free- online from Matt Miller's Ditch That Textbook Digital Summit. 9 days with 9 great presentations. For nine days (Dec. 16-24), a new presentation will be available each day. It’s recorded video, and will be available til December 31st. They are available online, on demand- but when the summit is over, the videos will also go away. So don't miss out. They run about an hour each. These are real teachers, who are working in schools, much like yours-not just talking heads telling you how it "Should be". If you have a few hours over the next week or so- take some time to check them out.
One expression I've been hearing more and more about is "machine learning". What the heck does that mean? Is it AI (artificial intelligence)? Is it something new and different? We have seen some of this in the new "explore" button on Google Slides- using our content to make presentation design suggestions. So, is this big brother, peaking in at everything we do? Kinda, sorta... Google has some great experiments you can check out online and learn a little more about what is coming down the line. Here's the link. I liked the Quick Draw myself. Here's an article that you may find interesting as well from SAS... Machine Learning- what is it and why does it matter?
WhaT COULD BE MORE FUN THAN SNOWMEN?
As usual Eric Curts has some great ideas over on his site. The other day it was Build A Snowman- Google slides- with a template and used as a writing prompt.
Check it out here.
O.K... it's impossible.
No one keeps up with all the changes, however we can try to stay on top of the changes that affect what we do and how we do it. One of the nice changes I saw recently was a training push by Texthelp... the good folks who created Read & Write for Google Chrome, They have created a training portal on their site to help you walk through how to get the most out of Read & Write for you and your students. This fundamentals course covers use of R & W in Google Docs, in the web toolbar and in PDFs and ePubs. They have also updated their quick reference guide- downloadable here.
Explore - New functionality across Google Docs, Sheets and Slides
This just came out last week. You can read more about it here. Essentially the goal is to make you work more productively. However, there is already a hue and cry in the edtech edu sector because the research tool in Google Docs has "disappeared". The explore button does some of what the Research Tool did, but you cannot search easily for dictionary meanings or quotes. The ability to search for images by license is missing. However it does return images which seem to be copyright-free, but it also sticks the attribution right under the image instead of in the footnote. It looks like you will need to use Easybib or Noodle Tools, etc. to build the bibliography as that is also missing from the explore button. So, either they will respond the numerous complaints they are getting online, or we can get used to a different, "improved" version.
The functionality improvements in Sheets look pretty cool. It looks like they are continuing to try to make working with data easier and more intuitive, allowing questions in more natural language. You can read more about them here. John Sowash created a quick overview of the Explore button in sheets. Richard Byrne also created a little video about the changes in Google Slides.