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.
Media Literacy Week
This week is Media Literacy Week in the U.S. October 24-31st is Global Media and Information Literacy Week 2019
What is it? Why is it important? From Wikipedia: Media literacy encompasses the practices that allow people to access, critically evaluate, and create media. Media literacy is not restricted to one medium. Wikipedia
These stats are from 2 years ago- and I'm quite sure that they are worse today. At a time when misinformation and fake news spread like wildfire online, the critical need for media literacy education has never been more pronounced. The evidence is in the data:
When I saw this post by my old friend Wes Fryer, I knew I would have to share it with you. I first met Wes back in 2007 or maybe 2008 at NECC, now ISTE, spoke with him on most Saturdays on the Classroom 2.0 Live series for years and I have continued to follow his work online ever since. Wes is currently the Technology Integration and Innovation Specialist and Digital Literacy teacher at Casady School in Oklahoma City. This link is to an excellent post that Wes originally created to help teach his 5th and 6th graders. Great ideas for one and all. Click on the link or on the photo below. Thanks, Wes!
More Googley Stuff
When I first looked at my list of things to share this week, it seemed that 90% of them were ideas using something Googley. Easy to use, versatile. Check out some of the wonderful ideas folks have shared recently.
Social Studies Links
I shared some of these links over the summer with a few teachers, but they are worth repeating/adding to.
A wonderful friend and talented NYC teacher, Kate Meyer, introduced me to the 1619 podcast.
This link will bring you to all the available podcasts. This is the main link to the trailer. Below are some videos to tell you even more.
Can you identify each state by one photo? Fun quiz for all ages. Studying the 50 states? Regions? Or just for fun. Check it out here.
Free Primary Sources from the LOC
We had an interesting social studies PD with Laurie Risler recently, focused mainly on teaching students to differentiate between primary and secondary sources. Laurie also mentioned this collection from the LOC- free ibooks.
I downloaded several of them, but have yet to figure out how to distribute them on a set of ipads via Apple School Manager and Jamf, without having to log into each one with an apple id. If you know the magic, please leave some directions in the comments or email me.
East of the Rockies- AR app plus Learner Kit
This is aimed at high school age students- 12-17. It is an AR app (the cost is either 1.99 or 3.99- I've seen both.) Here's the synopsis: "The East of the Rockies app is an experiential augmented reality (AR) story written by Joy Kogawa, one of Canada’s most acclaimed and celebrated literary figures. The story is told from the perspective of Yuki, a 17-year-old girl forced from her home and made to live in the Slocan internment camp during the Second World War. As Yuki and her family adjust to their new reality inside the camp, they struggle to make life as normal as possible" The author, 84 years old, is a former internee at one of B.C.’s Japanese Canadian Internment Camps.
Richard Byrne recently shared a couple of links to two versions of a game called Bad News, used to teach students how to recognize disinformation. One is for older students, one for younger. It looks like a fun way to work on these skills that we all need every day. You can check out his post here.
Links to Share
EL Tech Tools is a google site filled with ideas, especially for EL teachers and their students. Created by Kelly Martin and Josh Harris for an ISTE presentation, you will find a solid selection of tools, nicely sorted into categories.
Chrome Extensions: Productivity
This week I whitelisted a few more chrome extensions for our students. As most are aware, having too many extensions up and running can really suck the life out of performance, so it is best to use something like Extensity to manage them.
The extensions I added are Save to Google Keep, Internet Abridged and Reader View.
Google Keep is becoming more and more robust, a great place to take quick notes, an easy way to collate ideas and save to Drive; it has the ability to OCR text in images, etc... I have been using it more and more of late and like to be able to right click on a web page and Save to Keep. I can add labels as I go.
I was trying out new summarizers. When looking for resources, I tend to skim through articles to weed out the fluff before settling in to actually read something closely. Summarizers can be tricky, as I am never sure of the algorithm used and so many times, they simply don't work. This one, Internet Abridged, seems to work and the summaries actually makes sense to me vs. some I have tried which seem to simply leave out 50% of the words.
Another extension added this week is Reader View. For many who regularly use iPads you are used to seeing those little lines that indicate a web page can be viewed in Reader View- cleaned up, minus all the distractions. Now, you and your students can do the same thing in Google Chrome. Try it!
Some of the other extensions I recommend include: OneTab, SpeedDial2, and Mercury Reader, along with AdBlock and TextHelp's Read and Write for Google Chrome. . Honestly, I do have at least 150 extensions, but I regularly use a very small percentage and leave the rest off until I need them.
Science Games That Give You Superpowers
H/T to Fred Delventhal for sharing Larry Ferlazzo's post on this science games site. It does appear that Legends of Learning is really free.
"Over 1000 curriculum aligned science games for elementary and middle school students within the Legends of Learning adventure. Legends of Learning is always free for teachers and students in school." Here's a review of the site.
Fake News- again...
Here's another resource, new to me, Mind over Media, from the Media Education Lab. I first met Renee Hobbs years ago at Educon in Philly. She is an internationally-recognized authority on digital and media literacy education. Ten years ago we all thought that the CRAP test would be all the students needed to help them verify web sources. Needless to say, times have changed as evidenced by Alec Couros' recent article for EdCanNetwork: How do we teach students to identify fake news? In a world where it is increasingly dangerous to simply trust what we read and see...
I was so fortunate to attend a webinar with Tiffany Whitehead on Saturday on Classroom 2.0 Live. Tiffany Whitehead, aka the Mighty Little Librarian, is an amazing librarian (aren't they all?) from Louisiana. A 2016 recipient of the Louisiana Library Media Specialist Award, Tiffany is an internationally recognized librarian and a past President for ISTE’s Librarians Network.
She did an excellent presentation. You can access the livebinder here, and I will put the video recording below.
BUT- she shared a couple things that I don't want you to miss! Tiffany shared this excellent 35 page reference google doc: False, Misleading, Clickbait-y, and/or Satirical “News” Sources, with tons of tips and tricks for you and your students.
And... She shared the NLP (News Literacy Project) site called Checkology: a virtual classroom, "where students learn how to navigate the challenging information landscape by mastering the skills of news literacy." You can get the premium version free for the rest of the year. Three videos featured below- an overview, a student view and a teacher view.
Participating on the sidelines of a global project in 4th grade this term, it is amazing to see the students making connections with kids across the globe. One lesson that I saw featured on The Global Oneness Project this week really stood out for me.
It is called A Tapestry of Multicultural Diversity. Check it out here.
Great book for a Read-Aloud
I just read this book over the weekend on the recommendation of a friend. Wishtree by Katherine Applegate is sure to make it to the top of your list to read to your class- elementary on up. There is a downloadable teacher's guide aligned with Common Core Standard for 5th grade but can be applied to grades 3-8.. You can even set up your own community "wish day".
Day 3 of GEC is coming up!
Monday, Nov. 13th, 10am to Thursday, Nov. 16th, 4pm. This is an online event.
Great ideas from Eric Curts
Eric publishes 4 separate Google Docs with interesting/useful links that he has collected every month. His blog is always a treasure trove of ideas that will help you as an educator and can be used tomorrow in your classroom. Check out his blog and subscribe to updates. Or if you are pressed for time today, these are the links to his documents you will enjoy checking out.
The problem with fake news is not anything new. The terminology has changed a bit- from yellow journalism to media literacy to "fake news" and “post-truth” but the message is still the same. Educators and students need to sharpen up our CRAP detectors. You can take Howie Reingolds' mini-course, teach your students a memorable acronym or check out the plethora of lessons on offer from Kathy Schrock.
We all live in our own little bubbles and we often create our own echo chambers - listening to, watching the news, videos from - only the folks that we agree with. It may be outside of our comfort zone, but we may well get closer to ferreting out the truth if we look, and train our students to look- outside our bubbles. Check out the graphic below from i.imgur- sorry not sure about the attribution- maybe Vanessa Otero@vlotero. See full size.
Here's a list of sites with Lesson Plans you can use to learn more about fake news and to help teach your students how to be more critical of information from news sources.
One of the new resources this week is the updated Diigo chrome extension. Diigo is used for bookmarking and annotating. The new chrome extension streamlines these features and adds a new screenshot annotation tool. So, why should you care? Diigo can help you categorize bookmarks and share them across all of your devices. It can be used as both a research and a note-taking tool. You can create groups in Diigo and share bookmarks with your peers or create student groups. I've been using Diigo since 2008 and have over 11,000 bookmarks! Now, some of these sites no longer exist- but the premium Diigo version also offers a way to save a page cache- so you never lose the resource. You can sign up as a teacher for a free accounts and get a teacher dashboard to monitor student accounts. Students at HES in grades 4-6 have Diigo accounts.
Big Changes in Google Classroom
I sent out an email blurb about this last week, but essentially you can now differentiate your assignments in Google Classroom. Matt Miller of Ditch That Textbook has created a brief tutorial.
Last, but not least... 3D Toontastic. Google bought out Toontastic a while ago and has just released a new app for digital storytelling- 3D Toontastic. The really cool thing about this- it works on "some" chromebooks. I haven't tried it out on the chromebooks at HES- but my personal chromebook is on the list. It is also an android and iOS app. And- it's free.
So- if you have the time- and the right device- check it out!