This article from TeachThought caught my eye recently. For those who know me, I often choose to do a "sandbox" day when introducing a new tool. I know that I learn best by hearing about something, watching someone/a video, and then messing with it myself. I need the verbal, the visual and kinesthetic modes to really get a handle on most of the digital tools and all of the physical tools. Although the article spoke to gaming and video games, like Minecraft, where the object is to build something, it also spoke to the need to "do stuff", "make stuff", to create. The digital tools I use every day stick in my head, the ones I use sporadically, I have to look up every time. The physical tools I use every day present no challenges,but new tools often take me a while and some "sandbox" time to get used to. Fellow teachers and I were watching students cut paper circles last week as part of a project and could not believe how hard it was for them. They apparently never have to use scissors. Last year I watched a student attempt to use a hammer to screw in a screw. If you have ever seen me try to use a sewing machine, you know, some of us just need more direction and practice. Thus, Sandbox Learning=hands-on, engaged, minds-on learning. It works. It brings out our strengths, allows us to learn and work through our weaknesses. Is this the way to learn everything? Probably not. I know how much I have hated being tossed into a project with no help. Sandbox learning can be structured, with scaffolded support as needed, but wide open enough to challenge to encourage. Lock-step, teach-to-the-test may give students high test scores, but are they learning?
I'm quite sure that as we head into election season here in the US, the "disinformation" in the media will only get worse. Commonsense Media is an excellent resource for educators. Their News and Media Literacy Resource Center has a wealth of material to use. I love the Sift, the News Literacy Project's newsletter for educators. If you haven't seen it, check it out here. Did you know about the upcoming first National News Literacy Week, Jan. 27-31 ? The goal is to raise awareness of news literacy as a fundamental life skill. Read more about it here. I also didn't realize, and have not checked out their new app Informable. "The app, which is free, is designed to improve users’ ability to identify different types of news and other information." This is also an interesting site that I was introduced to recently- allsides.com .
What are you using for media literacy resources ?
Ideas to Share
This is a new one to me. Mathshare. I just got a promo from Benetech, the same folks who put Bookshare together. I asked about it in one of the listservs I follow and one person had played around with a bit, but not very much feedback so far. Check out the video below and let us know how it worked with your students.
Here's the blurb:
" Mathshare is a free problem-solving tool that makes learning math easier. With Mathshare, students can solve problems step-by-step and explain their reasoning with a note. This helps students stay focused and shows teachers how they got their answers. Mathshare is free for teachers and students.How Mathshare Helps Students
Many students struggle with learning math. Some need help staying organized, some have trouble with legible handwriting, and others may have learning differences like dyscalculia or dysgraphia. For all students who want to learn math, Mathshare makes it easier to learn and helps build positive math experiences.
Lots of Advent Calendar Style Lists
My task list keeps filling up with stuff that I might do, given time. Lots of ideas that folks are sharing, mostly in an advent calendar style.
Aaron Maurer started out my list of lists with his 25 days of Making Challenge. These are lots of fun to try, by yourself or with your students. You can check out Aaron's 25 Days of Making Challenge here.
#CreateWithChrome- a Google Slide Based Advent Calendar with teachers sharing project ideas. I think the original creators are Brian Briggs @bribriggs and Ryan O'Donnell
@creativeedtech. Check it out here and add your own ideas!
Shelly Sanchez Terrell (@ShellTerrell) shared a wonderful 25 Days of STEM calendar on her Teacher Reboot Camp site. So many ideas to explore! Thanks Shelly!
Need more Media Literacy Ideas?
I hadn't seen this site before, AllSides.
I had used FactCheck in the past, and of course Snopes, but this one is different. They also have an AllSides for Schools, but realistically, reading their TOS, very few of our kids qualify to use it on their own; " you represent that you are of legal age to form a binding contract", although it says it is for middle school through college. Perhaps the best use would be as a teaching tool with younger kids.
Here's how they describe the site.
"AllSides strengthens our democracy with balanced news, diverse perspectives, and real conversation.We expose people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum so they can better understand the world — and each other. Our balanced news coverage, media bias ratings, civil dialogue opportunities, and technology platform are available for everyone and can be integrated by schools, nonprofits, media companies, and more."
If you haven't followed Eli Pariser and his work on filter bubbles and algorithms, check out his original TED talk or his talk about algorithms from last December(2018).
There was an article in Forbes this summer by Kalev Leetaru which reiterated that "Fake News" is not a technology problem, but a societal problem. The gist of the article was,
"To truly solve the issue of “fake news” we must blend technological assistance with teaching our citizens to be literate consumers of the world around them.Societies must teach their children from a young age how to perform research, understand sourcing, triangulate information, triage contested narratives and recognize the importance of where information comes from, not just what it says.
In short, we must teach all of our citizens how to be researchers and scientists when it comes to consuming information.
Most importantly, we must emphasize verification and validation over virality and velocity."
Sadly, this is not news.
Veterans Day Reading Passages
Getting Started with Google Sheets
Brain Pop Standards Alignment
New Tool from EdCite
Articles I've Been Reading
Social Media Has Not Destroyed A Generation
Leveled Reading Groups Don't Work. Why Aren't We Talking About it?
AR/VR in K-12 Virtual Summit
The Global Education Conference
Coming up November 18-20. Register here.
Upcoming Assistive Technology Webinars
Click on image for live links
Math & Reading
I got an email over the summer from a veteran teacher asking me about eSpark. I had never used it and after checking around a bit, advised the teacher to go ahead and do the free pilot for the year. Today, another veteran teacher decided to try it as well, since the first teacher (5th and 6th grade) has reported that she is getting useful data and the kids are engaged. So, what is this eSpark? It is differentiated reading and math instruction for K-5. It has some good reviews on both edsurge and commonsense media. Does it stand out from the crowd? I don't know. Is it expensive? Probably. Is it worth checking out? Sure. Here are a couple of videos to hlearn a bit more about it.
I was looking around for something to do with cards for young students and came across this site with 16 Math Card Games posted by Jill Staake for We Are Teachers. They look like a lot of fun. And, of course while I was clicking through them, I found this treasure trove of math resources from Mrs. Weigand! Wow! so many choices! Check it out when you have a chance.
If you haven't been by Jo Boaler's YouCubed site recently, take a peek at her work on Data Literacy and listen to her interview on the Freakonomics podcast entitled, America’s Math Curriculum Doesn’t Add Up (Ep. 391)
This article from The Book Whisperer, Donalyn Miller, hit home for me. She talks about kids becoming Readers, In Spite of School. I just had a conversation with a teacher at school today who was having her students use Epic- just to free read for 15 minutes. She was successful in engaging her students, at least in part, because she wasn't telling them what to read, or what not to read, or regulating the reading level or whether it was a graphic novel or an audio book or testing them on their reading fluency or comprehension. The kids simply choose what to read and they read it.
I have to admit, I don't like graphic novels. Never liked comic books as a kid. Would rather read a 300 page novel than a 32 page graphic novel. So, I went out and bought George Takei's memoir, They Called Us Enemy. I haven't really gotten into it yet- but I will- just because I need to look at graphic novels through a different lens. You can borrow it when I'm done. Do I have to love graphic novels? No, but I have to respect that some people do- and that they are reading, obtaining information and maybe even learning to love reading. Check out Donalyn's article, she is far more articulate than I.
I saw a tweet from Lucy Gray referencing Glide Apps the other day, so I decided to take a quick look at it. Similar to some other app creators, you can very quickly and easily make an app. Check out their video. Take one of your spreadsheets- try it out! There is also a nice little tutorial on Online Tech Tips.
Ideas to Share
I was excited to see a hyperdoc by @nadineglikison to help kids learn to more effectively use Read and Write for Google Chrome. We have this for our district, but not everyone knows how to use it or how to help students use it. However, when I opened the hyperdoc and found that topic was all about poop and farts- not so excited. Honestly, I can't justify this in a classroom. The how to part is fine, but seriously... Oh well. Perhaps the version for younger kids will be created with a topic that I can use. Here's the link if you want to check it out. Nadine has shared it, CC: By: NC: SA.
The Feedback Fallacy is an article from the Harvard Business Review that I found interesting on two levels, both as an adult working with other adults, and as an adult working with children. The immediate message is, of course, we're doing it wrong. Our standard beliefs are not based in reality. So, what then? According to the article:
So, how does this translate to education? I liked the very last sentence:
"We excel only when people who know us and care about us tell us what they experience and what they feel, and in particular when they see something within us that really works."
Grecian Urn Lessons?
This post from Jennifer Gonzalez still resonates with me, years later. If you have never listened to this podcast or read the write up on her blog, it is well worth your time. Essentially a "Grecian Urn" lesson is one that takes up more time than the educational value of the lesson merits.
I know that I had have given some real Grecian Urn lessons in the past. It may be a really cool project that I like to do; the kids love, the parents and even the admin think it's amazing. But, at the end of the day- is it a good use of time or is it just cool?
Sometimes it's a case of TTWWADI. This quote from Grace Hopper sums up her feelings about TTWWADI. "“The only phrase I’ve ever disliked is, ‘Why, we’ve always done it that way,’ ” she was once quoted as saying. “I always tell young people, ‘Go ahead and do it. You can always apologize later.’ ”
Just because you've always done that project to go with that unit of study, is that really a good enough reason?
Ideas to Share
Storyboardthat is having a 48 hour sale on their TPT site. It ends on Wednesday 9/25 at 11:59 pm. Although I'm not a big TPT fan, since so many teachers freely share their work every day... I am a fan of Storyboardthat and this sale- $1 for 100 pages of Mythology ideas or $1 for 200 pages of creative writing ideas and so much more, can't be beat. Check it out quickly before it goes away!
Global Collaboration Week
Miguel Guhlin recently shared a tool that I hadn't seen yet- Creative Studio for Google Slides. This is a chrome add on that allows you to export your slides as gifs, videos or even video with background music. Looking at the stats, not many users yet and mixed reviews. Try it and see it works for you. I usually end up downloading slides and flipping them to PowerPoint or just using Camtasia to get the videos that I want. This may be a tool to consolidate all that work. It is not free, by the way. There is a trial period, then $29/year. Check out Miguel's review here, and watch the developer's video below.
It's often hard to talk about world issues with students. We all come to school with different backstories, different issues that we have had to deal with in life. As an educator no one wants to make a student feel vulnerable, or uncomfortable. So, how do you talk with kids about first world problems vs the rest of the world problems? Or do you agree with Patrick Gothman that this sort of thinking is divisive and we should stop saying, "first-world"? How do you address the social inequities that we deal with in the US and compare/contrast them to what others face on a daily basis? The video below is made of combined images from artist Uğur Gallenkuş. You can read more about the images here.
By this time tomorrow, we will all know what this magical new product is, but so far Jay Silver is just sending out teasers. For those of you who have loved using MakeyMakey in the classroom, Jay is one of the inventors. Here's a short blurb from a longer EdSurge article. "According to a project summary from the National Science Foundation, which has given Gamebender $1 million to pilot its wares in museums and schools, the product “is composed of a projection system that allows real-time programmable interactions between everyday and virtual objects without a computer screen.” According to Andrew Sliwinski, Co-director of Scratch, “GameBender will bring the power and magic of coding to kids in a totally new way."
My Twitter feed seems to be filling up recently with warnings about copyright violations after a school district in Houston got sued- and lost- big time, to the tune of $9.2 MILLION! I know that some teachers are pretty casual about copyright, using the educational "fair use" clause as a reason not to follow the rules. Back when I taught a grade 9 computer class, one assignment was to create a page for a field guide, in conjunction with a trip to the Everglades. The kids were thrilled to see so many hits on their work, over 4000 for one year's version. I explained to them that that meant that any copyright violation was seen by 4000 lawyers. Fair Use is used in a court room- you do not want to go there. Please review the basic copyright rules! You may be surprised that some of the things you take for granted as OK, really aren't. Check out Richard Byrne's blog post about this here, or watch the video of his webinar with Dr. Beth Holland below.Copyright for Teachers.
#InnovatingPlay - #iplay019 Creating a Global Play Box
When I saw this slide deck from the #InnovatingPlay, Creating a Global Play Box, I knew that many other teachers would love to see this resource. Jessica and Christine's website/blog posts and twitter chats simply contain a wealth of resources that they have created or have been shared through their PLN. So, check out the slidedeck here- Global Play Box. When you have time to spare and you are looking for amazing ideas for Early Childhood or Elementary curricula, just spend the day following the links on their blog
STEM Lab Challenges
Karly Moura has done it again! She has created and shared an excellent collection of STEM challenge cards and badges. She gives links to all the instructions and has each task clearly defined. I don't have exactly the same array of STEM stuff that Karly has, but now that I have this slidedeck to use as a template, perhaps I can go through and decide to make some microbit or edison challenge cards. It would be a challenge to make some Cubetto or BeeBot cards- using mostly graphics for the non-readers. As always, Karly makes me think of new ways to use materials and to organize lessons, and provides ideas for assessment.
Ideas to Share
Math with Bad Drawings
8 Things Every School Must Do To Prepare For The 4th Industrial Revolution
Aeon, Medium, EdSurge...etc.
As I was following links shared by my PLN on Twitter the other day I came across Aeon. I had never heard of this unique digital magazine. It is really interesting, providing 3 channels, Essays, Ideas, and Videos. It was one of the video links below that hooked me. The tweet was something along the lines of "Watch a single cell become a complete organism in six pulsing minutes of timelapse". Through this I also clicked around to find out more about the filmmaker, Jan van IJken. Jan has a vimeo channel, andhis own site- with gorgeous graphics and images. Check it out here.
I also try to check in with both Medium and Edsurge digital magazines. You can find interesting topics, alternative viewpoints and many new writers you may not have read yet. I love the recent article about the new Scratch 3.0 . Scratch just keeps on getting better and better... and it's free. Here's a real quick minute with Mitch Resnick on using Scratch with kids.
Edsurge had an article which seemed to be congratulating Massachusetts on how well the students fare on tests, although it was entitled 'In the Future, Today’s Education Will Look Like ‘19th-Century Medicine’, with an image similar to the one below and quoting Education Commissioner Riley: “But I think in a few years, this will start to look like 19th century medicine: Get your solder out, because the best we can do is amputate. Instead, we need scalpels.”
Interesting article, but have to say whenever someone starts talking data and testing I kind of drift back to this Alfie Kohn quote.
If you use Pear Deck, you have probably already seen these templates, but if not- here you go. Preview and Download the all new Pear Deck Math Templates
The 3-Act Tasks are really fun and a great way to teach/learn. If you want to learn more about them... check out Graham Fletcher's site here https://gfletchy.com/ But if you just want to go to a spreadsheet with a ton of great links...click here for K-12 ideas.
Not familiar with 3 Act Tasks? They came from Dan Meyer (link is to Dane Ehlert's site) and can be used across thegrade levels. Still unsure? Try one out... go over to Graham's list and pick one-like this. You can download the lesson, see the videos and the suggestions.
Black History Month
As we celebrate Black History Month, here are some of the many links that have come across my feeds lately. Please feel free to add more links to share in the comments.
You can find tons of resources for teachers at African American History Month including Library of Congress, National Archives, NEH, National Gallery of Art , and the National Park Serivce among others. https://www.africanamericanhistorymonth.gov/for-teachers/
Multiple Google Accounts?
This week a teacher asked me about the logins on Google accounts. Since most of us have at least two logins- school and personal, it's important to know and to control which account you are in. I noticed this just last week as I created a doc in my personal account and then shared- unsuccessfully- to students, who cannot share/view out of district docs.
I have used the directions Kasey Bell shared a few years back. Alice Keeler also has a really nice step by step. My extensions are different on different accounts. You can also change your backgrounds, etc- to make it much more apparent to you. Check out Kasey's how-to video below- or if you like written directions to follow- go to Alice's blog.
Advice from Austin
I get Austin Kleon's weekly newsletter. Admittedly, I skim it, rarely reading the whole thing. But, this past week, I actually spent time on and enjoyed his post "We are verbs, not nouns". Go ahead. Read a short article. Less than 5 minutes. You'll like it.
The tools that caught my eye this week, include physics simulations, digital math and a really nice article about using Book Creator and Adobe Spark.
had a really nice article featuring Holly Clark and Tanya Avrith:
How To Use Chromebooks For Powerful Creation in School.
Great examples of both tools.
Need more PD?
Did you miss EdTech Team's ANZ Summit last weekend. Have no fear- it's available on YouTube. Check out the line- up here. Here's the blurb, "Introducing the theme CREATE, we’re mixing it up to unveil new and ever-evolving content on the most relevant topics and learning principles in the classroom today, including mindfulness, accessibility, creativity and personalized learning. Expect engaging sessions covering everything from Creating with Chromebooks to Creating Real World Problem Solvers and Teacher Leaders."
The Birdville ISD down in Texas is hosting a 12 Days of Innovation Summit.
Tony Hylander posted about this on the Future Ready Instructional Coaches group. Sign up is FREE! You will get an inspirational video via email each day. Our featured speakers include Matt Miller (Ditch That Textbook & Google Teacher Tribe), Damen Lopez (No Excuses University), Sean Gaillard (The Pepper Effect), and more! For each video you will have the opportunity to reflect and earn a certificate of professional learning. Sign up today!
WMass Scratch Meetup
I'll just repost their announcement here. If you have never tried Scratch, if you are a Scratch expert...all are welcome. Especially with the upcoming release in January of Scratch 3.0- Perfect Timing!
"Calling all educators, K-12 teachers, out-of-school leaders, tinkerers, and makers. We've got tech prizes, Scratch 3.0 updates, and a great learning community for you to join at the upcoming Meetup. And...we will be joined by a leader from the ScratchEd team at Harvard. Don't miss this opportunity to hear from the ScratchEd team first hand and share tips, tricks and questions in real time!
Scratch Meetups are designed like an unconference. We will build the agenda together and dig into topics that you want to learn about. Join us for a unique learning opportunity. Share your Scratch experience, meet new colleagues, and stay for dinner.
If you are a seasoned teacher looking to learn new Scratch tips and tools, or someone recently inspired to learn about Scratch, this is the learning opportunity for you.
Certificates of participation will be available for teachers who need documentation.
Feel free to bring friends! RSVP at https://www.meetup.com/ScratchEd-WMass/"
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
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?