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
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