I have enjoyed attending edcamps for the last ten years or so, attending #edcampBoston, #edcampCT, #edcampKeene, #edcampNQ, #edcampwesternmass, #edcampGrafton, #edcampWorcester, #edcampAccess and more. What do I find appealing about edcamps? I get to choose what to learn, get to share what I have learned/tried, get to find answers to questions that I have, make connections with others who face the same challenges, brainstorm ideas. I don't have to sit 'n git through presentations that have nothing to do with me; I can get up and leave a presentation that isn't working for me and find a conversation that works. If I cannot meet my needs at edcamp, it is on me- not the fault of a well-meaning admin team who is trying to meet the disparate needs of a district and failing to address my needs.
So- what did I learn at #EdCampBoston?
My biggest take away by far was a session with Laura Beals D’Elia, one of the tribe of library goddesses on
Diversity in Picture Book Collections.
Laura is now over at Westborough and she has created an amazing padlet of diverse books. She led us through her discovery of how to assess a collection and how she is addressing diversity in her library. Not being a librarian, I hadn't a clue. I wish I lived closer so that I could take her course, sounds like an intense learning experience that we could all benefit from. So- what did she share? Here are the notes that Nancy et al took for the session. Here is the searchable database. One thing to note- this is a database- a list... not a list of recommended books- just a list. You can learn more about the way this came togetherhere. Laura's padlet has various categories, from family and friends to poetry to science. These are books that she has chosen to buy for her school library. Below is just a small sample of what you will find https://padlet.com/lauradelia11/tx9e8r7f2x0z
Another session that I enjoyed was Streamlining Classroom Routines with Tech. This seemed to be more middle/high school teachers, but there were things that I have not tried that seem to work for others, thus are well worth checking out.
We started out with using QR codes for sign out sheets- bathroom, hall passes, etc. I have seen various versions of this over the last few years. Since not all classrooms allow student cell phone use- a simple way is to have a spare chromebook with a link for the qr code- or just to the google form for the hallway/bathroom/nurse pass. This will document who signs out- when and where. Joli had a blog post with examples a while back.
A lot of teachers were excited to share their success with ZipGrade and GradeCam- neither of which I have used ( nor anticipate using). If you have a lot of this kind of grading to do, these apps must be a godsend. https://www.zipgrade.com/ or https://gradecam.com/
Teachers seem to promote using the chrome add-on -Pear Deck for Google Slides This is a quick and easy way to change a static presentation into an engaging lesson.
Another site that I haven't used is ClassCraft. The teachers who use this- love it. It is not free. The teachers at edcampBoston were talking about $60/year- but it sounds like it double that... It is gamified PBIS as far as I can see. You can add quests- like school work and give points for all sorts of things, collaboration, etc. So check out the videos below and see if you like it.
There were several others shared, EdPuzzle, Flippety.net, etc. You can check out the noteshere. And these were just 2 of the sessions I attended on Saturday. It was worth driving down to the Microsoft HQ in Burlington, learning and connecting with friends.
But, you don't have to travel that far if you live in western Mass, because EdCamp North Quabbin is right around the corner. Check it out here: https://www.smore.com/dhv24-edcamp-north-quabbin-is-coming?
One last thing to share...
Lisa Highfill created a great multimedia text set for Read Across America 2020. Check it out here Remember you can just go to file>make a copy to have your own copy of this that you can share with your students. It doesn't matter if it's March 2nd or not... great resources.
More Ideas for Black History Month
Since I took my vacation week off I have a backlog of "stuff" to share. Some of it can certainly wait, but I did want to share these Black History Month resources that I had collected.
Steve Wick shared a resource that I hadn't seen- Google Earth Voyage "Black History Month: The Journey of Us". The geo-tagged stories are a treasure.
Storycorps celebrates both Black History Month and the 150th anniversary of the 15th amendment with "a special collection featuring themes of representation, universal suffrage, and Civil Rights. The 15th Amendment, one of the cornerstones of civil rights, granted men of all races the right to vote in 1870."
JStor compiled an amazing collection of stories, ranging from MLK to Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, “The Black Swan” to Billie Holiday.
Facing History has an excellent collection of resources to not only learn about the history, but to connect history to current events. You can see so much more here.
Teaching Tolerance focused on honoring the history of black civil engagement. " The official theme of Black History Month 2020 is “African Americans and the Vote.” Black changemakers and activists have been fighting for equal rights since before our nation began. This week, we’ll be sharing resources on the history of Black civic engagement and the continuing fight for full equality under the law."
One of the resources referenced is a film kit -Selma/The Bridge to the Ballot. You can see the trailer here.
Ideas to Share
I shared some of the presentations I attended at the MassCue Winter Googlepalooza last week with teachers at my school. Here's the rest of the schedule with the associated resources. Nothing actually beats attending, but you can learn a lot from the slide decks. One weird thing- some of the links are to gg.gg/ and my Malwarebytes doesn't like it. It opens fine on other computers, and I saw nothing that looked fishy... but just in case you see it too- not to worry.
Smithsonian Open Access & Tinkercad
Great Hyperdocs Resources
International Day of Women and Girls in Science
Today marked the 5th annual International Day of Women and Girls in Science. We, in the U.S. are still losing the battle to get more girls and women into science. There have been some positive notes, legislation that passed last year may help, but overall, women are not equally represented in science. Strange, since the first step in solving most design challenges is empathy. If women are not equally represented in the sciences, how can we expect the same level of empathy to guide the design process? Check out the video below and a couple of links to share. From the UN, this link, from Forbes magazine- this linkwww.womeninscienceday.org/, and from Women in Science Day, this link. Or follow some of the great links with this hashtag, #WomenInScienceDay.
One way to get more girls into STEM fields is to introduce it early. This is a FREE course from Engineering is Elementary. The PDF link for the syllabus is here.
More Black History Month Links
Rob Morrill has been making a series of lithophanes to celebrate Black History Month, sharing his results on Twitter and his instructables online, as well as the Thingiverse files. These are pretty amazing. I've tried printing them a couple of times, not terribly successful, yet. However, Ken, the infamous art teacher, gave me some great tips to try to improve them tomorrow. I'm still at the copying stage- have not played with codeblocks yet.
Ideas to Share
Before I share all of the great links from TCEA, a couple of others that caught my eye this past week.
The SheetsCon 2020 free online conference is coming up in March (11th and 12th). This is a 2 day conference to help you learn more than you have ever imagined about using Google Sheets. They have some great speakers lined up. This will range from super practical, you can pick this up and use it in your classwork tomorrow, to super geeky, you, or at least I, watch and wonder what the heck that one was...
Resources from TCEA from Wanda Terral
I embedded Wanda's Wakelet below, but what got me really interested in checking out the presentations from TCEA was Wanda's Data Dashboard presentation. This is something I want to learn more about. Enjoy all of Wanda's links, as well as Miguel's. I didn't embed all of Eric Curts' links, but here you go.
Resources from TCEA from Miguel Guhlin
Using Split Screen
I saw this (split screen image) the other day on a ad for ReadWorks and it struck me that we aren't always aware of some of the simple tricks that we can teach students to use to help focus their attention and to assist in reading passages. Some sites/extensions like Insert Learning, EdPuzzle, etc. will allow students to ask questions, answer questions, reflect on text or videos as they are reading/watching. How many times do you have to flip back to a passage to find an answer when you're reading? Let's help our students keep the work in front of them, to comprehend, to reflect, to learn.
Here's a partial list from my long time friend, my teacher, and outstanding Assistive & Educational Technology Consultant, Karen Janowski. If you haven't checked out her UDL Toolkit or her Executive Function Toolkit- you are missing out!
Black History Month
I will be adding to the list over the next few weeks, but many of the resources I shared last year are well worth checking out, some have been updated:
NPR has a really interesting new spin on Black History Month with CodeSwitch.
" Black History Month is here, and it's the perfect time to listen to Code Switch! We've got episodes all about the hidden heroes and buried history of black America. To help you dive right in, check out our new playlist. It's got stories on everything from sports activism, to the Black Panther Party, to one woman's fight for respect that went all the way to the Supreme Court. So as you grind through the middle of winter, listen to our recommendations to be inspired, enlightened and moved."
When I saw this article last week, it made me laugh at first, but then got me thinking... how many more powerpoint presentations will I have to sit through? You know the ones where the presenter apologizes in advance that you can't read the text on the slide, or god forbid, starts reading each slide to you. I remember showing Death by PowerPoint to students more than a decade ago. Here's the article- so you can laugh/cry...It's 2020. Why Are You Still Using PowerPoint? Don't miss clicking on the link to give you ideas of what you can do: Do This Instead.
New ways to capture and share learning seem to pop up on a daily basis, but these two tools are not the new kids on the block. Both Screencastify and Book Creator have been around for a while now and both keep on making more and more improvements.
When I saw the tweet below and a blog post by Richard Byrne, it reminded that I need to go back and give Screencastify another look. Take a look for yourself here.
Embedded below is a Book Creator book with 50 Ways to use Book Creator in your classroom. This tool is easy to use, and if you happen to run into any problem, you know that you will get a quick, helpful response back. Just this week they announced some great accessibility changes too.Here's a great post to learn more about all the wonderful new features- 230+ accessibility improvements added to Book Creator.
This is a long one- but it show you all kinds of great ways to use Book Creator in Special Ed
You don't have to be a special educator to learn more about UDL. This is a Don Johnston webinar from last week with Hillary Goldthwaite-Fowles, who can help dispel some of the myths around UDL.
Ideas to Share
Two posts from amazing educators stood out for me this past week. One was about Daniel Pink's new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing; and the other was from Jessica Twomey and Christine Pinto's #Innovative Play- 2 great resources- Connected Play Centers and MLK Character Traits Study .
I actually saw images with Pink's "controversial" statements about the research on timing of math in school, not realizing that this was part of Pink's book, until Matt Miller tweeted about Pink's keynote at FETC. So, I haven't read the book yet. I ordered a hard copy (so I could lend it out after I read it), which should be arriving today. But I was intrigued by the research cited and have questions about it.
Here's Matt's sketchnote:
Images from Keynote attendees' posts
So, what subject comes first in the school day? Is the data only related to math or all subjects? What does later in the day mean... how subjective is this? And last but not least- breaks... How do you time all of this? How much control do teachers have/should teachers have over scheduling?
How ? The #Innovative Play Way
I have always found that early childhood and elementary teachers come up with the best ways to learn. The connection to play is so important. This week I saw two great resources, one on Connected Play Centers- embedding character traits, which connected so nicely with their presentation on MLK - Character Trait Study, using stories to make this important connection. I love the way these teachers think and their creative ideas. They also take so much of the work out of a project by including the links, the videos, but spark ideas that let you incorporate your own materials.
Check out the Connected Play Center's updated play board here:
Check out MLK Character Traits here:
Ideas to Share
I often get asked about using Google Read and Write for Chrome. It is a pretty amazing tool set, which is often underutilized. Texthelp continues to add more and more features. This, although helpful, can put folks off. I remember the first time I saw the Kurtzweil dashboard- pretty much made me walk away. Student and teacher time is precious. Things need to work with no fuss, and no one really has a lot of time for a steep learning curve. So- Check out the training Texthelp offers online. You can spend less than an hour and get a lot of the basic skills, or just watch a 3 minute video to help you figure out one tool. Remember- use the Chrome browser- log into your school account. Teachers get all the features free, students get a free trial, or if you get lucky, your district can get a great deal and include everyone. Here's the basic training link . Here's the Resources link. Scroll down and check this one out. There's a whole series of resource material for ELL students, including this handy PDF. Need a quick video to learn a tool? Check out their YouTube channel.
Edutopia has a nice article called, " Preparing Social Studies Students to Think Critically in the Modern World", which can give you ideas about using primary sources.
Check, Please! is geared for older students, but I think high school students or any teacher could pick up a few pointers. Here's their info: "In this course, we show you how to fact and source-check in five easy lessons, taking about 30 minutes apiece. The entire online curriculum is two and a half to three hours and is suitable homework for the first week of a college-level module on disinformation or online information literacy, or the first few weeks of a course if assigned with other discipline-focused homework."
To Share with Parents
The UK has a great organization called National Online Safety, which puts out a weekly post/pdf around various topics that parents, and teachers, should stay informed about. A recent one was on TikTok, but check out all of their free, downloadable resources here.
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
Richard Byrne- FreeTech4Teachers is always an amazing resource. Looking through my bookmarks, it was clear that his contributions stood out, once again, as valuable to pass along. I will give you a really brief view of a couple of them- and the links to learn more from the source.
One of the tools he posted about this past week was ClassTools' new sorting game- Vortex. I tried out a couple of the pre-made games and thought they would be great for a review game. Gotta say- hate the font choice, but the game was fun and you can create your own. Can't find the original tweet or source, but check out this list of favorite tools of 2019
One other tool that Richard highlighted was Canva. I had looked at Canva back when it first came out, but have not used it extensively. Now that there is a free education edition, this tool is on my list to explore. Check out what Richard wrote and his video below.
Another tech guru that I get ideas from on a regular basis is Wanda Terral- Tech Director down at Lakeland School System down in Tennessee. Wanda is a Google educator and always shares great practical information. This past week she re-posted the links to the TCEA (Elementary) conference handouts from 2019. This is a fantastic resource with tons of wonderful presentations. Well worth spending time to check out for all elementary educators with presentations on all sorts of topics/tools. If you can't make it to TCEA conferences, the handouts are the next best thing.
Wanda also posted this image and the link to the site Retrieval Practices and a great article about Bloom's Taxonomy. Kind of turns the whole idea on it's head. And... she also pointed me to some excellent Google resources - Templates for Google Forms and Designing Infographics with Google Forms ( part of Applied Digital Skills )
Just before the winter break Tinkercad announced their new iOS app. We use Tinkercad for our 3D projects- on chromebooks. I downloaded the app and can't wait to have the students try it out. Looks like a lot of great new features too, along with the new interface. We haven't really ventured into much AR and this may provide a way to make this happen.
Cool Graph Paper
I started going through an online EdTech course -Primarily Google, over the break. The ideas for using Google in early elementary grades never cease to amaze me. One wonderful place to start is Susan Stewart's Primarily Google. Most of the time when I take one of these online courses, I come away with a couple of ideas, most of it- meh- knew that, etc. Not the case here. Yes, I know how to use these tools, but the creative ideas Susan comes up with... well check out her site and I think you'll agree- primarilygooglerocks!
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.
Although it is CS education Week and we are all doing the Hour of Code, rather than reiterate all of the great ideas and sites that have been shared already, we will look at some of the other things that are going on as well. However, I love the emphasis on #CSforGood!
I just saw these posters and playing cards today. Wish I had seen them earlier!
One more list of ideas to check
I knew I would forget at least one of the advent calendars or other lists that I had seen and of course I forgot the 12 Days of Innovation from Birdsville Schools. You can check it out here.
Richard Byrne recently posted some ideas that you may not have seen before for accessibility. He did an excellent job of summarizing some of the major accessibility options for Safari, for Chrome and for Edge. Microsoft used to be a leader in accessibility options, lost the race to Apple, then to Chrome and has come back strong with all of the Immersive Reader adaptations. One thing to note- these are NOT just for students on IEPS, or 504 plans. I use some of these tools all the time. Want to get rid of all the clutter- use the Reader View, need to quickly adjust the font size, Ctrl+/- and then back to Ctrl 0. Do check out Richard's post. It's really useful.
Research- Year in Review
You can always count on Edutopia to pull all the edu research for 2019 together into one article. From Growth Mindset to getting more sleep, they summarized many of the topics we have seen in the news this year. A couple things I found interesting- Paper did beat screens, but it wasn't a study that actually compared the two equally (not a real apples to apples kind of study) and the results were underwhelming. The other study mentioned that was interesting to me was debunking the decades old myth of the "summer slide". I found that one interesting, but challenging since we all know the reboots we end up doing after even short vacations- even long weekend! Check out the article here.
Interested in 3D printing?
I'm a novice when it comes to 3D printing. We have 2 small printers, one works, one doesn't... and the only software I have used for them is Tinkercad. I love Tinkercad and find it easy for the kids to use. I have used SketchUp in the past, but that was before we had 3 D printers. It has a pretty steep learning curve. So, when I saw this article comparing 3D software, I was happy to spend some time exploring and plan to spend more time trying out a few ideas.
Still looking for Techy Gifts?
Gary Stager posted his list to the ISED listserv and of course there are things on there that I have not seen yet. Check out Gary and the Invent To Learn team's list here. There are things for kids, and things for teachers too. One thing that I found last year and still really like is the Turing Tumble game. It is good hard fun for one and all. They also offer an edu discount, talk to them. I brought up to NH last year and played it with my niece. Luckily her uncle, who is a master electrician and a great puzzle solver, was there to help us out. One thing you'll probably find out the hard way if you play this game- put a container under it- otherwise you get to chase tiny marbles all over creation.