I enjoyed meeting old friends and lots of new folks at EdCampNQ on Saturday. This edcamp is relatively small, with about 40-50 teachers. This is the link to the Board with the topics. Some have great notes associated with them, others not so much. What I found interesting- one session about SPED/Gen Ed pretty much reinforced what I see at our school- in both positive and negative aspects. There was a lot of discussion about push in vs pull out. I enjoyed the session on makerspaces since we got to visit their new space. This is new this year (or maybe last year), but has a bunch of rooms- for CAD, for woodworking, etc. It is a required semester course for middle school. Right now it really seems like a choose your own adventure space, where kids come up with projects and work with their teams to make "stuff". It much more about entrepreneurship, problem solving and working collaboratively than robotics or electronics. I'll be curious to see where they go with this.
One other new thing I enjoyed over in Orange was seeing a demo of Jamboard. "Jamboard is a collaborative digital whiteboarding experience, available through a physical board, tablet and mobile apps as well as on the web." So, it's a very fancy interactive whiteboard- but it is easy to use and you can collaborate with folks anywhere. You don't actually have to have the fancy board to try this out. You can use the app, use the web interface, etc. Check it out.
Trying to keep up with the constant changes in Google tools isn't always easy. Even when you learn how to do something, unless it is something that you use all the time, it's often hard to remember. One solution, of course, is to Google it... watch a YouTube video, etc. The Applied Digital Skills curriculum is a great place to start for many. Now Google has a new place to find training, The Teacher Center where even your students can earn digital badges. Teachers who are interested can do these tests as well, but they recommend that adults go through the certification process. The tests are not free. What I like about this site: there are two paths- fundamentals and advanced, and most importantly there is a whole section called First Day. If you are new to Google Docs, Google classroom, etc... this may well be a great way to start. This is an example- First Day in Google Classroom.
Student Chat via GDocs
This is not news to most of us who are actually in the classrooms, but has gotten a ton of media attention of late. Yup, no surprise, kids use docs to chat in class. It should not be a big surprise is that they sometimes use these digital tools inappropriately, even using them to bully others. You can read more of the hoo-ha about this in The Atlantic, Inc, Gadget, Parents, Lifehacker and more. So, is this a problem? It is a violation of most school AUPs and can be and is addressed that way at our school. There are several different software solutions to help schools monitor this- for example Securly. In the classroom, it is just another classroom management issue, at least at the elementary level. However, if students are unsupervised at home, or if their parents assume that if they are on Google Docs that they are just doing school work, that may be a parental issue. Just as we cannot control all other things that come along with using technology, we cannot control ethical use, aside from educating our students, ourselves and the parents and guardians in our community.
PBS- Inspiring Young Scientists Series
Starting today- March 19th, PBS will be showcasing a new 3 part series Inspiring Young Scientists through STEAM Education. Read more about all of them and register here.
"Data,data, data..data is everywhere! How do we teach students to care about data? To interpret data? To understand all the cool things that can be done because of data? Look no further: join us on this LIVE conversation with NASA experts to explore how they brought visualizations of the Earth to the palm of our hands all by using, you guessed it, DATA!"
Part 2 “Live-Learning” Experience #2: Teaching Computational Thinking
March 26, 2019
“Live Learning” Experience #3: Exploring Models Inspired by Nature
April 2, 2019
Ideas to Share
VoiceIn Voice Typing
Science and Social Justice
Western Mass Science for the People with Arise for Social Justice
A two-part workshop on integrating science and social justice in
elementary and middle school classrooms. This series features
presentations and facilitation by community organizers, K-12 teachers,
scientists and historians of science on themes including:
* ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE
* WORKING WITH COMMUNITY EXPERTS
* INTEGRATING SOCIAL STUDIES AND LANGUAGE ARTS INTO SCIENCE CURRICULA
* TRAUMA-INFORMED YOUTH LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT
Participants will be provided with concrete examples and resources,
guidance on fulfilling NEXT GEN SCIENCE STANDARDS, and time to develop
and workshop individual plans for innovative curriculum units.
Saturday, April 13 and 20, 8:00 am - 3:30 pm
Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center
100 Bigelow Street, Holyoke, MA
BREAKFAST AND LUNCH PROVIDED!
Space is limited to 30 participants and registration is required!
More Info an REGISTER HERE!
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
Global Collaboration Week
It's here! All week! Online! Free!
Look at the flyer below and check out all the ways you can participate!
New From Google Teacher Tribe
Kasey and Matt are back with more great tips. Listen to the podcast, download it to your device and listen on the way to school. One tip that I really like is the new sidebar on Google with Save to Google Keep. Try it! Check out the show notes here for clickable links.
Googley STEAM Resources
Deb Norton presented a great selection of some of the lesser known Google tools. Some of these experiments I had seen before, but some were new to me. One app that I didn't realize the potential of is the Google Arts and Culture app. Using the app, you can access Google street view and virtually tour some of the greatest museums on Earth. I can see our HES students loving Meme Buddy and Mystery Animal and all of the wonderful AI experiments.
Please click on the image to see her slidedeck. Thanks Deb!
Great Green Screen Resources
Several teachers have asked about using GreenScreen videos in the classroom. Tricia Fuglestad has pulled it all together! Check out her great ideas below. We have a green screen in the STEAM lab, which is pretty portable, as well as a small box for stop motion animation. We also have the DoInk Green Screen app on the ipads in the STEAM lab. One other resource is Camtasia Studio software, which is installed on the PC in the STEAM lab.
Science Resources for ALL
I attended an excellent webinar presented by Tia Cooper recently. She showed so many amazing science resources- for all ages. I asked her if I could share them on the blog with everyone, and she very graciously said yes. Connect Create and Collaborate - a 30 minute webinar with more than 30 resources shared! Click on the image to check it out.
Coming soon for Read & Write for Chrome...
We are so fortunate to have a district subscription to Read and Write for Google chrome. It is a phenomenal tool for all, not just for students who struggle with reading/writing. If you haven't looked at it lately- check it out! The updates below will be rolling out over the next several weeks- so keep an eye out.
I have only read about these upcoming changes, but would love to see a new spelling and grammar checker and the Data Desk for Google Classroom certainly has me curious.
Why $$$ Textbooks? Why "canned" digital curriculum?
As we move to a more digital environment in education, why are we still hanging onto old outdated textbooks? Why are we spending our limited funds on buying textbooks that become outdated before they are published? Why do we invest 10s of thousands of dollars on canned curriculum- which may well be digital, but is limiting- both in scope and content as well as limiting as far as UDL lessons go. If all lessons are delivered by the mini lesson, the reading, and a quick assignment, how does that address the needs of all of our learners? Multiple means of expression? Action? Representation?
OER or Open Education Resources are getting better and better, and more ubiquitous all the time. Studies have shown that students learn just as well from free resources as from costly resources. One OER report states that “Results indicated that although costs were substantially lower, student learning outcomes and perceptions of quality were similar or better with an open-source textbook.”
Today more and more states, as well as even the US Congress are allocating money for OER resources for higher ed. This will go a long way to help level the playing field for students who cannot afford to buy textbooks. For example: The FY18 omnibus appropriations bill was signed into law on March 23, 2018, including the $5 million open textbook grant program. "This marks the first major investment by Congress explicitly in open educational resources (OER) as a solution to the high cost of college textbooks, and underscores that course materials are a significant factor in making higher education affordable." Both VA and CO recently enacted legislation to either require all public higher education institutions in the state to take steps to adopt open educational resources or to study these proposals. If it's good enough for higher ed, perhaps those of us in K-12 could benefit as well.
Where can you get more information, find resources for your class? Check out New America's resources to get started. Make the Leap!
Make the Leap!
Ideas to check out
OK Go Sandbox
I'm sure that many of you have seen the OK Go videos in the past, but now they are actively helping teachers and students with science and math! Check it out here.
ClapMotion: Make stop motion animations by clapping your hands
VoiceInVoice: Use Speech to Text on any web page. This one comes from dictanote and seems to have about the same accuracy as Voice typing in docs, but is not tied to Googley stuff and can be used on any page.
For Littles...and their teachers
I love the new book by Christine Pinto- Google Apps For Littles, filled with great ideas that you can use tomorrow. For those in my school- I have a copy that you can borrow. Christine has an excellent blog with templates you can use and lots of #GAfE4Littles ideas. You can follow her on Twitter @PintoBeanz11 and find new ideas just about every day or follow the #GAf4Littles hashtag or the #InnovatingPlay #SlowFlipChat hashtags.
STEM for Littles
There are so many wonderful STEM sites online for young children. Sesame Street offers a STEM toolkit that you may find useful. I continually check STEAM Powered Family VivifySTEM and more. Although many of these sites seem to be connected to a TPT store, keep looking and you will probably find the same/similar resources freely shared.
H/T to all the gracious members of my PLN who share resources every day!
Code for Life
I had not seen Code for Life until Richard Byrne wrote about it in his blog. Although it does seem that we have a plethora of coding resources to choose from, I liked both the simplicity of the drag drop interface as well as the curriculum alignment for the teachers.
I'd been hearing about this since last spring and finally took the time to check it out. Since I don't teach in a traditional classroom, I sometimes don't spend the time to check out some tools that I would otherwise find indispensable. This is a quick and easy way to let students know what the expectations are, to help teach, and has a pretty extensive, easy to use tool bar. Even if you love your current tool set, check out all that this classroomscreen has to offer. Lori Gracey over at TCEA wrote up a great post about this tool today. Check it out here.
I had hoped that the 3rd grade would be able to try some of these, but with the NGSS transition, perhaps not. If you are working on anything to do with space- check out these really cool STEM challenges from VivifyStem. I hope to be able to take some of these ideas and use them for STEAM challenges as well.
Black History Month
There are some excellent resources online for Black History Month. One of my favorite new resources is the hyperdoc shared by Randi Merritt. ReadWorks has featured Reading Passages for the month. PBS has an excellent collection-Black America Since MLK- And Still We Rise. Our local station is hosting a special screening of More Than a Month- Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart on Thursday 2/1 at 1pm ET
Storyboardthat offers a collection of storyboard ideas for students to learn from or use to start their own creations. We also have 2 tabs on our HES symbaloo for Black History month. The 2 tabs are pinned to the beginning of the navigation tabs for the month.
Last, but certainly not least- Adobe Spark
When I read about the changes in Adobe Spark for students under 13 last week, it really made my day. Adobe Spark is a beautiful, easy to use tool, but the TOS was limited. Teachers essentially had to create one account and then have all of the students log in and use it. Now, beginning in April- students under 13 will be able to use Adobe Spark. You can read the whole announcement here. Many different bloggers wrote more about this, but perhaps you'll enjoy Monica Burns' post here
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.
I was looking through my RSS feed today, thinking about what to focus on for this post and came across Kasey Bell's post about using Google Docs/Slides to create learning menus or choice boards for learning. She has a lot of great ideas and free templates to choose from, so don't forget to check out her post. If you love Pinterest, she also posted the link to the collection of choice boards. Lots of ideas for various disciplines and age groups.
However, most of this sort of thing- student choice- seems to me to be more about UDL than something new. Utilizing Universal Design for Learning (and teaching) means that you offer students choice in how they demonstrate their learning, as well as in how you teach or explain the material. Lisa Highfill and friends, in their Hyperdocs book, as well as on their site, offer excellent choice boards as part and parcel of hyperdocs and offering student choice. They have templates to create hyperdocs. Lisa has a whole page of examples of ways to have students "Show What They Know".
As the teacher, or lead learner or ... how do you help your students find the path to become engaged, passionate learners, to show what they know, to demonstrate their learning?
This year I am trying to build upon the shoulders of many giants, including Seymour Papert and other constructivists and makers: @lloydcrew, @LFlemingEDU and @jackiegerstein and so many others that I have learned from over the years, as I endeavor in my small way to create a space for students to learn, to create, to build, to collaborate. The lessons I try to help teachers create allow for multiple means of expression, allow students to take different pathways to learning. It's not a smooth ride, as we all learn how to create these opportunities, but it is well worth the trip.
One of the resources I am building for the teachers at HES is a list (slidedeck) of all of the "stuff" we have in our STEAM lab with examples they can use, lesson plans to show how these tools, which may well be new to some, can be used to enhance learning, and can actually correspond to the "standards". In addition, I am always on the lookout for design challenges, especially those that are freely shared and use inexpensive materials. Kevin Jarrett @kjarrett shared this link the other day in response to a friend on FB. I had never seen this one and you may find it useful as well. It's the Ready, Set, Design challenge from the Cooper Hewitt Museum- not new, but new to me. Link to the web page and downloadable pdf with activities. Another response to the same query yielded another site I hadn't seen The 5 Clue Challenge. The resources shared by teachers on Twitter, on various FB groups are simply amazing. I could spend all day on the BreakoutEdu groups or the Hyperdocs groups and find new innovative ways to teach topics, to engage students and to allow student choice.