I was looking through my RSS feed today, thinking about what to focus on for this post and came across Kasey Bell's post about using Google Docs/Slides to create learning menus or choice boards for learning. She has a lot of great ideas and free templates to choose from, so don't forget to check out her post. If you love Pinterest, she also posted the link to the collection of choice boards. Lots of ideas for various disciplines and age groups.
However, most of this sort of thing- student choice- seems to me to be more about UDL than something new. Utilizing Universal Design for Learning (and teaching) means that you offer students choice in how they demonstrate their learning, as well as in how you teach or explain the material. Lisa Highfill and friends, in their Hyperdocs book, as well as on their site, offer excellent choice boards as part and parcel of hyperdocs and offering student choice. They have templates to create hyperdocs. Lisa has a whole page of examples of ways to have students "Show What They Know".
As the teacher, or lead learner or ... how do you help your students find the path to become engaged, passionate learners, to show what they know, to demonstrate their learning?
This year I am trying to build upon the shoulders of many giants, including Seymour Papert and other constructivists and makers: @lloydcrew, @LFlemingEDU and @jackiegerstein and so many others that I have learned from over the years, as I endeavor in my small way to create a space for students to learn, to create, to build, to collaborate. The lessons I try to help teachers create allow for multiple means of expression, allow students to take different pathways to learning. It's not a smooth ride, as we all learn how to create these opportunities, but it is well worth the trip.
One of the resources I am building for the teachers at HES is a list (slidedeck) of all of the "stuff" we have in our STEAM lab with examples they can use, lesson plans to show how these tools, which may well be new to some, can be used to enhance learning, and can actually correspond to the "standards". In addition, I am always on the lookout for design challenges, especially those that are freely shared and use inexpensive materials. Kevin Jarrett @kjarrett shared this link the other day in response to a friend on FB. I had never seen this one and you may find it useful as well. It's the Ready, Set, Design challenge from the Cooper Hewitt Museum- not new, but new to me. Link to the web page and downloadable pdf with activities. Another response to the same query yielded another site I hadn't seen The 5 Clue Challenge. The resources shared by teachers on Twitter, on various FB groups are simply amazing. I could spend all day on the BreakoutEdu groups or the Hyperdocs groups and find new innovative ways to teach topics, to engage students and to allow student choice.
A quick post just to welcome everyone back to school after what I hope was a wonderful, fun-filled, relaxing break from the routine.
As promised, I spent a few weeks this summer going to conferences, workshops and an edcamp. In future posts, or perhaps as an afternoon workshop I would love to spend time with those interested talking about Hyperdocs, BreakoutEdu or some of the real hands-on coding for younger students that I learned more about and worked with this summer.
I did end up taking the Hyperdocs bootcamp course. The book is worthwhile ( I bought the paperback copy and I can loan it to you), the Facebook group is relatively active, the twitter group is worth following and the website is something I reference pretty continually. The course itself... not so much. I learned a lot from the Google Hangouts, from doing the assignments, but the instructors did not give feedback to the learners. They had reasons for this- that they could not evaluate how we would use these docs in the classroom, etc... but it was kind of like working in void. For those of you who don't know what hyperdocs are.... I wrote about them in the Spring, but essentially they are like the old webquests but on steroids- waay more engaging, more collaborative, more connected, and you can organize your lessons, your units, etc for both yourself and your students. Oh- and one plus for me was in the course of doing one of the assignments I chose to use Plotagon. It was fun to use, is free and is kind of a replacement for xtranormal.
Computational Thinking ( coding stuff)
I also attended the Scratch conference at MIT as well as a day each of ScratchJr and of Kibo Robotics over at Tufts. One of the themes of the Scratch conference was inclusiveness. When we hear that coding is the new literacy, that all students should learn to code, etc,, regardless of how you feel about those statements- who are we including/excluding? Do girls get to try these activities? How about students of color? How about students with disabilities or students who live in poverty? Some really interesting conversations. I even saw a poster session by a woman who is designing a version of Scratch (which is visual, drag and drop programming ) for the blind! Lots of really smart people, probably the most international conference I ever attend, and they are all thinking about, talking about how to help students and teachers connect computational thinking, creativity, and design in really interesting ways.
The 2 days over at Tufts were on computational thinking with real hands on programming. The Kibo robot- thank you Helping Hearts- has a low entry level and a very high ceiling. It is programming a wooden robot, using wooden blocks with bar codes- but includes loops, conditionals, etc. and you can use the stage to make really cool characters.
And of course #edcampCT
I love going to edcamps. Where else do you get to design and choose your own PD, walk out of a session that isn't meeting your needs and have great conversations with amazing educators? I attended edcampCT over at the Ethel Walker School in August. It is one of my favorite edcamps- beautiful facilities, excellent food, and of course a diverse mix of educators- from preschool and elementary through high school and college- librarians, classroom teachers, administrators... It is just plain fun and I learn a lot. I'm not a real big fan of augmented or virtual reality- so I attended a session on it- just to make myself think differently. I still don't like it personally, but am now convinced that I need to work on learning more about it and seeing if it is a good fit for some teachers/learners.
I said this was going to be a quick post- I lied. Google made lots of changes over the summer- some may be useful and I will go over those next time.
Fourth graders recently used an Adobe iPad app called Adobe Voice to make quick videos for their contribution to a global project, If You Learned Here. One of the things I heard back from their teachers was how easy Adobe Voice was to use.
Now Adobe has combined 3 of its apps (Voice, Post and Slate) into one- called Adobe Spark. You can use Spark to make videos, web pages and graphics- quickly and easily without having to be a professional graphic designer. Essentially it's a way to tell stories, make presentations, journals, portfolios- all in one place. The iPhone and iPad apps are still separate apps, but Adobe Spark is online- and it's free and it works on chromebooks.
Here are a few intro videos for you to check out.
This one is from Adobe
This is a review from CNET
And Finally a How to Use Spark video from Richard Byrne...
Richard also has some excellent ideas of how teachers and students can use this new set of tools onhis blog. Check it out!
Were you intrigued by the post on hyperdocs? If so... you're in luck. They are having avirtual bootcamp- a 4 week online course this summer. There are 2 cohorts forming and graduate credit is available.