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?
Changes in GMail
Google has made some pretty significant changes to GMail. This will give you a list, or you can listen to Matt Miller and Kasey Bell tell you more about it in their GTribes podcast.
There has been a lot of discussion in the aftermath of Facebook exposures, credit data exposures, etc... I see two things that need clarification.
One- personally: "Free" is NOT FREE. You are paying for the use of websites by giving them access to your data, be it personal data: lists of friends, preferences or commercial data: what you tend to buy or look at online. Each of us deals with this in our own way. You can read more about this here. Remember that Google tracks your entire search history. Some other search engines supposedly do not do this, for example Duck Duck Go. When you are using a managed machine at school, the IT department can pretty much track and/or control everything you do.
As an educator, one of the concerns I hear is about is Google's compliance with COPPA and other rules to protect our student data. Some of the websites we have traditionally used in education, such as Today's Meet will no longer be available because of new GDPR. While data protection regulations are necessary, I am sorry to see some of the useful websites close their doors. If you're wondering about Google and chromebooks in schools- here's a nice article that I hope answers your questions and puts your mind at rest.
"Should I be concerned that my kids' school uses Google Chromebooks?
Online Safety Magazine
This is a free ~monthly magazine that you can download.
Articles this month include:
Click HERE to download the April edition.
New Feature in Book Creator
For those of you who have yet to try Book Creator, it is now on chrome, as well as iOS and is super easy to use.
The new feature that I am excited about is Read to Me. Here's the blurb from the blog:
"With this great new feature your books can be read aloud using your device’s text-to-speech capabilities. Book Creator can highlight the words as they are read and turn the pages automatically."
Check it out yourself here.
Jo Boaler on Math
For all the "I'm not a math person" folks out there... Jo Boaler wants everyone to love math. She has a great new article in Stanford Magazine. Check out the write up here. If you have not visited youcubed.org- amazing ideas there. There are tasks, challenges, resources for students, parents and teachers. Check it out. Jo also posted her new math mindset guide as well. Check out the hexagons below...
Google Mystery Animal
One of the curious tweets I saw over the Thanksgiving break was about Google's Mystery Animal, a Google AI voice experiment. This is essentially a 20 questions game. How can you use this in class? Well, aside from having fun, it is an excellent way to hone questioning skills. Do you need special equipment? Nope- you can connect with Google Home, if you have that, or simply use your browser. Try it! You may like it. Your students may be inspired to find out more about this sort of coding works.
2 Great Resources from...#FlipGrid... of course
One of the projects I have been thinking about offering in our STEAM space includes various visual illusions, recognizing and creating patterns. I saw-yet again on twitter from my PLN- this very cool Scratch project with speed illusions done in Scratch. Check it out below. It may take a minute to load.
Visual Illusions to Sierpinski Triangles to fractals and more
As I investigated visual illusions, I got sidetracked by patterns, including Sierpinski Triangles, patterns and finally fractals. The math involved in these is interesting. It may help students to build/draw these patterns in order to increase their understanding of the math, and their appreciation of the art. Try the fractivities at fractalfoundation.org.
Sierpinski Triangle Project
These projects can be toned down for younger students or go 3D and fancy with older students. Erica Clark has an excellent blog post and directions on her website.
Want to try decotropes? These 2 sided optical illusion toys are fun and easy to make. You can even download the template from Ana's site
But I think my favorite project wasn't an illusion, but a math pattern. I had never heard of spirolaterals. These are really cool patterns. Try these with your students. H/T again to Erica Clark.
Technology Petting Zoo
If you're interested in checking out some of the technology available in our makerspaces and a whole lot more, come to the Technology Petting Zoo on Thursday, 10.19.17, from 4-6 down at the Mass. Green High Performance Computing Center in Holyoke. The October CSTA-Western Mass' monthly meeting will feature a Technology Petting Zoo in conjunction with Eduporium. Please join us - by registering at this link: http://bit.ly/CSTA-WMA1019. Here's the link to the flyer with more info and registration. All are welcome!.
Google Keep for Research
Vicki Davis recently posted a couple of excellent tutorials on using Google Keep to take notes and keep track of your research, especially if you're a Google App school. I know I find it useful to grab info, tag it and quickly flip it into a Google Doc.
Check out Vicki's tutorial below and read more about it, get an additional video with EdPuzzle embeds on Vicki's blog.
Math in Google Chrome
The other day a friend asked me how to put superscripts and subscripts into a Google Sheet. I had never done this on sheets- just on docs and kind of assumed that it would work the same way. It doesn't. And to be honest, I looked and looked and did not find a way to make it work. Using unicode did not work- it put the superscript in, but sheets read it as text- not a number; and the same with copying and pasting from a doc- looks good, but reads as text, formulas do not work. So- if you know how to do this- please share and put it in the comments!
Luckily there are some amazing teachers in my PLN who have shared great ideas of ways to use Google Chrome to help teach math and to help kids show what they know. Miguel Guhlin down in Texas, wrote a great blog post the other day- laying out eight tools/extensions you can use to enhance your math instruction. You can read more about it here.
I do want to highlight 2 of these extensions- Equatio and Desmos. Equatio, from texthelp has been flying of late. So many improvements! Those of you who struggled to get LAtex to work properly, and have tried every tool in the book to get math equations to work on a computer, check out Equatio. You may be pleasantly surprised.
Desmos is so much more than a graphing calculator. A teacher at a workshop I attended this summer did a demo and I was amazed. Not a math-oriented person myself, it was easy to see that this tool has come a long way and has a lot to offer teachers of all grades. Check out some of the ideas here.
I know there are whole websites out there, full of videos to inspire teachers and students. This video was shared today on Terri Eicholoz' blog and it worked for me. I'd like to think that as teachers we can all break out of our simple cogs in a wheel dynamic and make a difference as well as helping our students to do the same.
I know, I know, let's finish up this year, before we talk about next year, but my reality has always been that if I did not plan, get PD or just get my ideas in order over the summer, that when September rolls around, I am plumb out of time and need to be ready to go. I cannot take the time for reflection and planning once the school year starts. So, here goes...
One of the things I have heard from teachers is that "this year" they are going to start a blog, or begin to use student portfolios, or find better ways to communicate with parents. There are many ways to do this, but you can't change your mind midstream and expect parents to follow along. Most parents have access to the internet, either via phone, laptop, or computer. If you can "train" them to check your website, not the bottom of the backpack for the newsletter, you may find that they begin to look to your blog, or site for information and may even interact online. But, if you give them the paper newsletter, they may or may not read it and they will certainly not look in yet another place online for the same information. No one has the time or energy to check your blog or site if the information comes home in what may be a more familiar format. So, what are some options to explore?
New Google Sites
Interested in Global Projects?
Windows 10 updates
- One idea is from Amanda Wilp's PrimaryGal blog. She does "Scoot Math". Essentially she has the kids write their own math problem using chalk on the sidewalk and then scoot to the next problem(s) and solve them as they scoot along. You can read more about it here, and grab the free recording sheets from TPT here.
- The other math idea I saw came from Terri Eicholz's blog Engage Their Minds, about doing clothesline math. Terri got the idea from Chris Shore's website- Clothesline Math. He has lots of resources on the site and between the site and the video below you may get a better idea of what this is and how to do it in your class. Looks adaptable and fun for all ages and abilities.
Google Keep (again)
Google Quick Draw and now AutoDraw
Google Drawings for Graphic Organizers
Pattern Blocks with Google Drawing
"NEXT.cc is an eco web that develops ethical imagination and environmental stewardship. NEXT.cc introduces what design is, what design does, and why design is important. It offers activities across nine scales – nano, pattern, object, space, architecture, neighborhood, urban, region, and world. NEXT.cc’s journeys introduce activities online, in the classroom, in the community and globally. ." It's a great site to pull together a lot of resources and show the connections between the disciplines. For example, I clicked on the "journey "Animals" and it brought me here. Looking for a new way to teach a topic, check it out.
Another New Tool from Brain Pop!
Math in Google Docs?
This will be a compilation of things that I thought were cool/useful/interesting over the last couple of weeks.
Some Shortcuts I Learned
- To get a "clean" version of any youtube video, simply eliminate everything in front of the Y ( in youtube) and insert the word quiet.
- To download any youtube video, simply eliminate everything in front of the Y (in youtube) and insert pwn.
- To make an animated gif from any youtube video, simply eliminate everything in front of the Y ( in youtube) and insert gif.
- One last one... did you know that you can take a list of options from a spreadsheet and simply copy and paste them into a google form and it will populate your choices?
- Not a shortcut... but you can now add gradient backgrounds to Google slides and Google Drawings. (Actually this has not rolled out for our district, but should soon. It's already available in personal accounts)
Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Chromebooks
Add Videos from Google Drive to Slides
More Math Resources
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.
Black History Month
Google Add Ons
Google Cast For Education
Google Docs Story Builder
Google Lit Trips
Google Tour Builder
Google Tour Creator
Stop Motion Animation
Teaching And Learning
Virtual Field Trips