When I sat down to look at what I had bookmarked this past week- Assistive Technology was clearly on my mind. I had read this article about video games having to be compliant with AT regulations. Essentially, the law enacted in 2010 said all the communication technology - eg. instant messaging, etc, used in video games had to be accessible. In 2012, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted rules that required these communication devices services and equipment to be accessible to persons with disabilities. Until earlier this year, the FCC had waived the ACS accessibility requirements for video game software. However, and here's the good news- now it is required! Let's see if it is actually enforced.
New AT tools from Google
This is an excellent synopsis of 11 different Assistive Tech Tools that you can use with Chrome or with Android devices.
Action Blocks is a feature that is designed for people with a cognitive disability (or their caregivers) is basically a way to pull all the various steps of a command into one easy to identify icon. Very cool idea to make things more accessible for all and to provide necessary independence.
ReadWorks has Audiobooks!
ReadWorks offers excellent free resources and has now added audio books. Check out the video here. Remember, although ReadWorks is a great source of leveled reading books, and passages, it's not just for students who are struggling with decoding and comprehension. All students can benefit from ReadWorks. They make it easy for teachers to find appropriate materials and help to pair texts as well.
Use Makey Makey to Create AT devices
I caught a few of Richard Byrne's Creativity Conference presentations live, including this one. If you have never tried MakeyMakey, it's easy to use and lots of fun. I like the way Art Spencer, the presenter, emphasizes empathy in the design process and uses MakeyMakey to create devices that are more accessible to students.
Listenwise will have Lexile Levels soon
We all know that listening to reading passages almost always increases comprehension levels. The last time I did a uPAR test with students at my school more than 88% of students showed an increase in comprehension scores. ListenWise may be something for you to investigate. The basic teacher account is free- no student accounts, and the premium version is a bit pricey. Check it out, try a pilot, free trial and see if this is a tool for you.
Learning 4 All
Just something to put on your calendar. Learning 4 All (formerly known as 4T: Teachers Teaching Teachers about Technology), is a free virtual conference coming up in February.
Check it out and register here.
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."
Must be getting to the end of the year. I looked through all my bookmarks/wakelets for the last week and there was a whole bunch of unrelated "stuff", no unifying theme whatsoever. Here you go...
Erin Riley's "The Art of Digital Fabrication"
I was lucky enough to meet and learn from Erin last summer at the Maker Educator Collective Bootcamp in Indiana. Erin was one of our facilitators for the week. Little did I know that she also works at Greenwich Academy, is the director of the @GA_EDLab and knows my cousin Jane, who also works at GA!
An artist, an engineer, a teacher, Erin helped me begin to learn how to design with a laser cutter. I love the new book and am looking forward to learning more this summer!
This course was shared recently in a FB STEM teacher group. It is simply a pretty comprehensive set of lessons for NGSS grades K-5, set down very clearly by teachers in classrooms in Michigan. It is a work in progress. If you are looking for ideas for elementary science and/or trying to transition to NGSS standards, this is a nice collection.
Rivet- Reading App
Richard Byrnes shared this one recently, Rivet- a reading app from Google. I had never heard of it. Check out the video below and the review Richard has on his blog. Sounds like something to check out... and it's free.
When I saw this article in the Smithsonian Magazine, I immediately thought of Josh Driver. A 5th/6th grade ELA and Social Studies teacher, he infuses his lessons with hands on games, Senet, Mesopotamia Surplus, etc. This article talks about a new find, an ancient Roman game board, found near the Hadrian Wall. It also cites other web sites that I had never looked at... like AncientGames.org, which has some really cool games on it- kind of like chess. Check it out.
Matt Miller: Awesome Lesson Planning
Matt has a new 4 part video series out, all about how to align, realign your lesson plans. I know you don't usually think of "lesson plans" and awesome in the same sentence... but Matt can help. "These are part of a NEW four-part video series called "Awesome Lesson Planning Made Easy." It's full of strategies to level up your lesson planning game, making you more organized and helping you to get more done." I love listening to/watching Matt's videos- full of practical ideas from a teacher who is actually in the classroom... Check out his whole series.
Lori Gracey, over at TCEA, shared a new word cloud tool- Word Wanderer. You can read all about it on her blog post. It's pretty easy to use and has some different comparisons.
EOY Google Classroom Cleanup
MassCUE has a new digital micro-credential program that you may want to check out. Here's their blurb... and the link: " This four-level program is available to all MassCUE members at no cost during the introductory roll out of the program. Many of the module tasks are embedded in the Hoonuit platform that is included in every MassCUE membership! After completion and review of each badge level, an educator will receive PDPs as well as a badge within a three-week period after completion and approval from the MassCUE PD Committee. We encourage participants to earn all four badges."
I just attended a Digital Promise webinar yesterday on micro-credentials. They have a pretty amazing platform of micro-credentials to choose from. Most are free, but sometimes the issuing agency will have a fee. Check with your school or licensing authority to be sure that they will accept micro-credentials.
Sorry- back to MassCUE News...
There will be another GooglePalooza in Western Mass again this summer- over at Gateway Regional in Huntington. I went last year, had a good time and gained new ideas to use in the classroom. Chris Parker does an excellent job hosting and helping to organize- and they have good food. Here's the link and the blurb" MassCUE’s Googlepalooza event is a full day of G Suite for Education (formerly Google Apps for Education) hands-on workshops taught by experienced Google Certified Trainers and Educators to promote better learning in the classroom. Participants will have a choice between presentations at varied ability levels – all covering a wide variety of G Suite tools, devices (Chromebooks, iPads, Android Tablets), teaching strategies, and implementation. All of this learning for just $65 (fee includes lunch.)"
Summer PD... I have not attended this online PD, but have heard great things about it- Check out Hive Summit- https://www.hivesummit.org/ They have not announced this year's speakers yet.
I recently read this article in EdWeek: Explicit Phonics Instruction: It's Not Just for Students With Dyslexia. What I got out of it- there is a move to reexamine reading instruction.
Then I read the Washington Post article which was referenced- "Want to read fast and well? Ignore the rules of the speed-reading gurus" A quote from Seidenberg rang true, “A look at the science reveals that the methods commonly used to teach children are inconsistent with basic facts about human cognition and development and so make learning to read more difficult than it should be. They inadvertently place many children at risk for reading failure. They discriminate against poorer children. They discourage children who could have become more successful readers.”
Finally I went back to the other articles referenced and chose " Hard Words Why aren't kids being taught to read? This was really interesting and kind of terrifying.
Look at the graph below-(You get more info on the interactive graph online). The author then goes on to talk about "balanced literacy" and concludes that it does not reflect the current brain/learning science. Really interesting article. Check it out: https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read
Ideas to Share
Looking through the links I saved recently, 3/4 of them came from Jen Giffen (http://virtualgiff.blogspot.com). Always a great resource- lately I think I have bookmarked most of her posts.
New England: Growth Mindset
Not even a big Pats fan, but if you need a demo of grit, perseverance, a growth mindset... here you go.
World Read Aloud Day
Friday brings us World Read Aloud Day, sponsored by Scholastic and LitWorld. This year, on the 10th anniversary, be sure to check out all the offerings on LitWorld andScholastic. This is one of many playlists available for World Read Aloud Day. Note: these are on YouTube, not safetube, viewpure, etc. as I couldn't get the playlist to work there.
Speaking of reading aloud: here's a link to the recent ASCD article, Why Every Class Needs Read Alouds, which goes into much more depth on why you should continue to read aloud to your students/children. Pernille Ripp is quoted, "One of the biggest misconceptions is that once kids pass 10 years old, they don't need to be read to—that there's no value in it. That's definitely not true."
Most of you are aware that Microsoft bought Flipgrid. Now, it's all free. Now things have changed- a lot. If you need to catch up on the changes, or if you are new to Flipgrid, have no fear, Sean and Karly have updated their Teacher Resource guide to version 3.0 and you can get it here.
Some Resources to Share
Hmmm... Who calls listening to a book ear-reading ? At any rate, several articles have appeared in the last couple of weeks about the use of audio books. Is it cheating? How does it help students or does it help only some students? I never listened to books as I drove myself and my children and their friends back and forth to school every day (50 minutes each way). I trained myself not to listen to anything in the car- sanity while driving middle school age children was a priority. Now I listen to books pretty much constantly- on the way to and from work, while I'm working outside, weeding, mowing, shoveling snow... I consider it reading. I read about 300 books a year, more than half are audio books.
Is listening to a book cheating? Well, are you working on decoding or comprehension? If you want your students to understand the material, let them listen to it, look at it, watch videos, etc... The only caveat I have is that videos are generally not true to the book and you lose the language, the flow that the author intended.
In the past I have used the uPAR test with students and found that the vast majority of students- something like 87%, demonstrated significantly better comprehension- up more than a grade level- when they also got to listen to the text being read. UDL works.
Both Edutopia and The New York Times have really interesting articles about this- check them out.
If you hadn't noticed, I really like FlipGrid. Since the acquisition by Microsoft, many things have changed, aside from it becoming a free resource. It seems like hardly a week goes back without something new- and it's usually good. I was so happy to see that Holly Clark is giving a FREE course, beginning this Friday to help you #Master FlipGrid! You can sign up here.
TED talks have teamed up with Brightline Initiatives to offer 21 Days of Ideas. Check it out
Live from the North Pole
Google has been tracking Santa for 15 years now. Check out what's new up at the North Pole.
There are books about chrome extensions. I just want to talk about a couple of them. I have used One Tab and Speed Dial2 for years and really like them. Recently I noticed that a similar extension Toby, has also been included in many favorites lists. I downloaded and installed it, but really haven't put it to a test. Perhaps one of you can let me know what you think.
One Tab is incredibly useful to me, especially when I am listening to a webinar and popping 20 or 30 tabs open as I listen. Not only does this suck the life out of my computer and slow it down, but it has caused Chrome to crash and then I lose all my open tabs. One Tab to the rescue. I can have a ton of tabs open, press One Tab and it scoots them all into one tab, lets me label it, share it out as a web page, etc. It supposedly works across devices- but I end up with different lists on my different devices. Here's a quick screenshot of what this looks like.
I use Speed Dial 2 as my start page. I have 3 tabs- one for sites I use at home, one for sites I use for work and one for sites I used for course work. I use this extension constantly. I have it set to be the tab that opens when I click on a new tab. Here's an example of this one.
So what does Toby do? Supposedly a little bit of both. "Toby is better than bookmarks, it's a browser extension that helps you organize your tabs on every new page." It sets itself up as the new tab page automatically. (I had to undo that in settings, since I really like SpeedDial2). It puts all the tabs you open in a list on the right and then you make collections- pulling the tabs in - so kind of like One Tab, but it's supposed to be a great way to organize. Reading through the comments on the Chrome Web Store, it sounds like it meets the needs of some folks perfectly and others wish there was an import/export and other features. The jury is still out for me, but I will try it and see if I want to add Toby to my toolbox or replace a tool with this one.
New Reading App
This app, Reading IQ, just came out and looks to be a great resource, very similar to Epic! You can read a lot more about it on their blog. Here's the blurb:
"As with ABCmouse, ReadingIQ is available at no cost to teachers for use in their classrooms, with the ability to assign an entire reading level of books to each student to read at home, completely free." Check out a short video from the site.
It is free for teachers- be sure to look up at the top right of the navigation and click on Teachers to get all the details.
Learning in a MakerSpace
One of the hardest things for me, working to integrate technology across all the grades and disciplines, is to allow students to have choices. We are so used to controlling all the aspects of teaching, that we forget that we don't need to control how kids learn. We just need to help them learn. Edutopia has a new series called How Learning Happens. The full series of more than 20 videos will be released in early 2019.
The video below is a preview from Learning Problem Solving and Growth Mindset in a Makerspace. The blurb for this one is "Makerspaces build students’ cognitive abilities while fostering independence, perseverance, and self-regulation."
I also picked up a couple of children's books this weekend- kind of along the same vein. One was Rosie Revere: Engineer. This is part of a wonderful series which includes Ada Twist, Scientist and Iggy Peck, Architect.
What I noticed, aside from the nod to Rosie the Riveter. was the theme of not giving up. Now, I am not a big proponent of jumping up and down for joy about failing. Yes, I know all the little acronyms that go along with FAIL... and not that these are wrong, it's just- I want to succeed. Accepting that a big part of the engineering design cycle is prototype, test, make changes, iterate, takes not an acceptance of failure, but the knowledge that it is a process. The ability to persevere through the process, to take constructive criticism and use it, is the hardest part for many of our students, as well as our teachers to learn. I was down at the Google HQ in Cambridge a few years back and listened to a panel of folks who work for Google. The one woman who truly impressed me said something to the effect of "I was always the smartest one in the class. I was used to being right. Now I am one of many and I have had to learn to learn from others and from my own mistakes. Accepting and learning to use criticism is hard."
So, where am I going with this? The other book I picked up was called, "What do you do with an idea?" I also found a whole book module on this in Teaching Children Philosophy, which was a course over at Mt. Holyoke, not sure if it is still offered. Curious, I started looking around the web and found that this book, this children's book, is being read and discussed in college engineering and design courses. I loaned my copy to First Grade, but see if you can find one. Short, easy to read, nice illustrations, but a pretty powerful message and great questions on the site. What makes an idea important? What does it mean to feed an idea and make it grow?
A couple of tools that I noticed this week included:
Google's bring AR to the web. We've all seen the fancy $ Occulus Rift, as well as the utilitarian Google Cardboard, but Google is actually working hard to bring AR to the web, and not as a novelty. They have a prototype called Article. Article is a 3D model viewer that works for all browsers. Read more about it here.
I saw a tweet from Leslie Fisher about Handwriting recognition in Google Docs, which got my attention: Handwriting recognition in Google Drive. Go ahead and read more about it on her blog. I'll tuck the video in here, too. But... this isn't quite as grand as it sounds. Google Keep can do OCR on an image and then you can send this text to Google Docs. Google Docs can take a PDF and pull the text out of it- not perfectly, and I hope you didn't care about the formatting. However, a combo of tools is getting a whole lot closer. I have a Rocketbook and it can recognize my handwriting and it can send it to docs, to evernote, etc. So- yes, it is cool, but there's another tool in there, not just Google Drive. Here's the link for Rocketbooks. They are also somehow affiliated with ThinkBoard- which is a whiteboard- that you can use the app on and send it to docs- does HW recognition, OCR from the whiteboard.
Looking for a cool STEM toy?
I was thrilled to see that Smithsonian Magazine choose Turing Tumble as the best STEM toy of 2018. This came along as a kickstarter a couple years back and was finally realized this past year. I brought one up to my brother's house and tested it on my niece. It was fun, hard fun, but really engaging for ages 8+. There are 60 puzzles to get through. We played for quite a while and did 15 of them. Check it out the top ten list here, and in the winner in the video below.
One of the Honorable Mentions was Chibitronics. I received one of these kits at the MakerBootCamp I attended last summer. Again- fun, lots of learning. Chibitronics Love to Code Creative Coding Kit. They offer good discounts to educators. Jie Qi, one of the founders, has created such beautiful work, check out some of her projects
Global Maker Day
Today is #Global Maker Day and students around the world shared what they are making and tried new challenges. Check out the landing pagehere, to get an idea of the structure of the day and then check out the video of the live stream. You can just click around the time line to view various classes, speakers in action. Thislink to the buncee slide show with the schedule can you a better idea of what to look for on the video timeline. Twitter was abuzz with great ideas from classrooms around the world. #GlobalMakerDay .
Dyslexia Awareness Month
It seems that even our governor, here in Massachusetts, has added something to celebrate Dyslexia Awareness month. Governor Baker signed a proposal on Friday, which would require the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to come up with guidelines for screening of students with at least one indicator for dyslexia or another neurological learning disability. You can read more about it here.
CTD Quick Takes
I got an email from CTD, Center on Technology and Disability, featuring something new to me, Quick Takes. I love this idea. This series of Quick Takes is all about EF- Executive Functioning. There are 2 short videos to give an overview and some nice ideas for apps and then a few links to longer articles to begin to dive deeper into the topic. Check out the videos they shared below, but don't skip heading over the their website to learn more. They have a phenomenal library with thousands of articles, videos, webinars, all searchable by keywords.
Leveled Readers- What's the Best Way?
I was listening to a podcast about the best ways to use leveled texts and had hoped to pop the podcast right into this post, but it seems to be flash based and gets stripped right out. Jennifer Gonzales - from the Cult of Pedagogy Blog did an excellent interview with literacy consultant and author Jennifer Serravallo recently. Check out the podcast as well as the write up here.
Speaking of reading... one of my favorite reading resources is ReadWorks. Whether you are looking for reading passages, paired text or the wonderful "Article a Day" series, chances are you can find it on ReadWorks. Need stories read in a human voice? Need stories to appeal to your ELL students? Need to enhance your social studies or science curriculum? Check out ReadWorks for great content and built in supports for your readers.
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