In October, we talked about finding safe sites that are just right for kids (elementary). The internet can be a great place for children to learn and explore and it can also be a dangerous place to learn and explore. We compared websites to field trips. Some places would not be safe places to visit on a field trip. We used the example of going to a construction site with 125 1st graders. While it might be fun to look at, it wouldn’t be safe. In order to make sure students are safe, they should ask a trusted adult about a site before going to it. They should ‘stay with the group’ and stay on the site that is just right for them. They should also let an adult know right away if something seems wrong. We visited two sites that were just right for them – the San Diego Zoo Kids website and the Museum of Modern Art website. Both great resources for students. I may even be a bit addicted to the live cams on the San Diego Zoo website. I love watching the giant panda!
So my personal goal of blogging a minimum of once a week has been blown out of the water. August has been a blur of starting back to school and taking on additional outside ID development projects. A great and challenging August but not good for the site. This summer I attended professional development for using Engineering thinking in schools and I loved the ideas people shared and their projects in development. But that was the summer. Now we are in the school year and between switching to standards based grading and the amount of testing and curriculum adjustments being given to teachers so far this year (I believe the phrase is ‘building the plane while flying’), there is little room for more. My goal then is to take the engineering thinking and model it in my technology time with my students. I am working on creating a curriculum that includes engineering thinking, technology, digital literacy, and digital citizenship in the 30 minutes I see students each week. I will be working on this curriculum this year and sharing some of the lessons (what works and doesn’t) here. I would love to hear suggestions from anyone who has implemented these ideas in their classroom curriculum. I am looking forward to the challenge and building something that benefits students and supports what teachers are doing in their classrooms as well. Hopefully, you’ll hear about it more often than every other month.
August 21st is the big day here in Nashville and, while we initially not going to be in school, we will have students that day. Here is a list of resources for learning about the eclipse and some activities that can be done in your school/classroom. I will keep adding to it as I find ideas and info.
American Astronomical Society – links for K-12 educators to learn about the eclipse
NASA – links with info and printables and activity ideas
Article on Preparing for the Eclipse (elem)
The Big Eclipse (elem age book that explains and comes with a set of glasses and how to build a simple solar projector) and The Big Eclipse Activity Book
Austin Peay has some great curriculum resources for teachers. (Brainpop, Nearpod, Socrative) More here.
More to come…
Day Two Conference Fun Tips (well one of them anyway)
So many good videos are posted on youtube
you never know what ads or followup movies will pop up while you are showing them in class.
So here are two sites you can use to safely show youtube videos. The idea is that you copy the link of the youtube video you would like to show and paste it on one of these sites. The site will then give you the opportunity to watch the video safely. It will also give you another url (website address) that you can copy and paste in your address bar. That link will take you to your video without ads or unrelated video clips popping up. This is great if you are creating a resource guide for students and you don’t want to direct them to youtube.
Well, it did not look like this, but it was refreshing in focus and allowed time to build a good list of ideas for the 17-18 school year. One thing that always strikes me at conferences or meetings where we work in groups is how great collaboration is for the greater educational system. So good to listen to ideas being shared and new ideas being incorporated into already amazing classrooms. Our focus is design and innovation with a subtext of STEM (or STEAM) which also focuses on design and innovation. I’ll post links to resources as the week goes on, but the main idea I took away from today came from a table mate as we talked about optimism in designing and innovating for the classroom. She said something to the effect of new projects require optimism to succeed – the bigger the project the more optimism you need. Here’s the video we were watching and discussing (among others).
How valuable is optimism to the success of your school? What about the greater field of education?
Summer is a generous term for June and half of July (not to mention the PD days I’ll be subtracting from those few weeks). But that’s okay, ’cause SUMMER. I listened to a great podcast recently that talked about ways to use your summer to get organized. I’ll admit I have a list on my desk with all the things I am going to get caught up on over summer and I’ll also admit that if I check one box I will dub this summer a success. But that doesn’t keep me from making lists.
Back to the podcast. Angela Watson from Truth for Teachers has a great episode about ways to get organized. My favorite – getting your files organized in a cloud based setting such as Dropbox. I love this idea especially since I have two computers (work and personal) and two jobs (tech coach and instructional designer) so this has the potential to make me twice as crazy. I have a pretty good file system set up on my computers, but it would be great to have one space for it all just in case. Anyway, I love the ideas in this podcast and think classroom teachers would benefit immensely from the advice. Maybe you could add it to your checklist of things to get caught up this summer…
…the teacher makes the technology. One of the things I hear from teachers is that they do not feel like they are good at integrating technology in the classroom. I think the technology push has made teachers feel substandard if they can’t implement every new web tool into their curriculum. Technology should be a tool. Great teachers are great teachers no matter what tools they have to work with in the classroom. I would rather a teacher be comfortable using one piece of technology well than using lots of technology inconsistently. For those teachers who desire adding technology to their curriculum, here are a few steps to take.
1 – Find a lesson or unit that you have already mastered and feel comfortable teaching. This is great starting point for adding technology. There is nothing worse than test driving a lesson and technology at the same time. You will feel much more confident handling technology issues that arise if the content is solid.
2 – Play around with the technology on your own before you use it in the classroom – on the hardware you will use in your classroom. There are so many nuances to websites and software that seem to work fine at home but on school wifi and with locked down devices things may not work as smoothly. There are lots of online tutorials for learning new programs. I would choose a program that allows you to create in any subject area – like Word or PowerPoint for starters. (Those are standard fare in our district – but Google has great basic tools as well.)
3 – Your students know more than you about technology and are less afraid of the consequences. I have taught students to use PowerPoint to create research presentations. I spent a lot of time teaching them how to set up the slides and helping them plan. What I didn’t expect? They not only perfectly laid out their slides and photos, but added sounds and animations without any instruction at all. 2nd graders! The beauty of it all was that I was just the guide and they were the researchers and publishers. Of course, for some students it was still scary but for others it was their time to shine.
4 – Try it multiple times. You will learn right along with the students what works and what doesn’t.
An example – students in 1st grade do animal research projects every year. They love it and the teachers know the research unit thoroughly. So, we added creating a powerpoint (I like tools that work even if the internet doesn’t!) to the instructional unit. The students did their research and then came to the computer lab to create their slides. I love this addition of technology because it allows for great diversification among the students. Some students will do a great job and make a beautiful presentation with their 5 slide requirements. Others will find technology to be a great incentive to create 10 slides and will research as many resources as they can to create more.
Just adding this one tool to the research unit will allow you to integrate technology in many lessons. Even if that is the only tool you use throughout the year, if you use it well it is all you need. The next year you can add a second tool. Technology moves fast and the changes and additions are hard to keep up with for someone who works with it everyday let alone for teachers where it is priority number 25. Don’t worry about all the noise. Learn one tool and use it well. You are still a great teacher with or without technology. You can just be a great teacher who happens to know PowerPoint.
The first steps are the hardest part. Here is a great article on how to begin integrating STEM in your classroom.
Occasionally, I am able to spend some time in the Spanish classroom. This past week, the teacher was beginning a unit on parts of the body. The K and 1 students begin with basic facial features (including head), hands and feet. In order to strengthen students’ retention of the parts, we had them use the app Drawing Box (free) on their iPads to create exact replicas of their own heads and bodies, labeling the parts they knew from the lesson. The pictures were then emailed to myself and I used iMovie to put them together in a slide show presentation. The end result was very entertaining and a great way to review the lesson the next time the students were in class.