No math needed.
No computers either!
We live in a world surrounded by technology. But only a tiny fraction of students learn how computers work, or how to create software technology. Computer Science provides a foundation for virtually any career and all our students can benefit from learning the basics.
This year, for Computer Science Education Week, a massive campaign called the Hour of Code is introducing 10 million students to try one hour of introductory computer science. Sound interesting? I thought so too. Let me be honest - I am a person who grew up fearing the math/science rooms and dodging them whenever I could. I remember taking a computer "coding" class as a high school student and the group of 23 students, all girls, frustrated our male teacher so much that he ended up giving us the answers to every problem the entire semester. Easiest A I ever earned. So to say I am confident about coding, math, science etc. would be ridiculous. However, as my life has gone on, I have become more and more curious about things and less and less scared of failing. Who cares if I give this a shot and it doesn't work. At least I tried, right? I would love to know what all the fuss is about. Heck, I would love to figure out how to create my own app some day. That all begins with being able to create code. It might sound nerdy, but that's ok. So, whether you're interested for your personal learning or you want to share the experience with your classes, give this website a look and sign up. You truly have nothing to lose and everything to gain! And remember this...by doing something that takes you outside your comfort zone, you are setting a tremendous example for your students! Watch the videos below and click here
for more info!
This video gives an overview of what the Hour of code is. In addition, a handout with information and lessons can be found here.
This is a great little app for students in grades K - 5. The app embeds writing lessons into its animated screens, but is careful and clever enough not to remind your students that they are actually learning something! For example, this app asks them to story board before beginning to create their movie. It breaks the "film" into scenes labeled 'setup', 'conflict', 'challenge', 'climax', and 'resolution' -- all in that same graphic story arc we teachers use to teach writing. Once your student selects the scene he or she would like to animate, they have the option to either use a stock setting or illustrate their own. Keep in mind, to save cost, our district has opted for the completely free version scene choices are limited here. However, if students click on PAINT, they can create their own background and the only thing limiting them is their imagination. They have this same option for their characters - choose a pre-created character or create one with the paint palette. Then, they have the option of moving their characters around within the scenes they have created. Super cool if you're a student!
What's a good cartoon without a little mood music, right? Toontastic thought of that, too. And I do mean mood
music. After developing the visual aspect of their scenes, narrating the plot, and determining their plot sequence, students select the mood of each scene and its intensity. They use a sliding scale to modulate exactly how
happy, sad or frightening a particular plot element may be. What an incredible way to begin teaching mood and tone at a young age. But wait, there's more. (Sounds like a Shamwow commercial, right?)
Your students can upload their toons to ToonTube, and watch other students' award winners too. They can see creations from all over the globe. This app can be used for more than just ELA. With some creativity, I can see it being used for Science, Social Studies and even Math! Think CGI and showing a character solving a math problem with music in the background. Talk about engagement.
This app is currently installed on all elementary district iPads. If you want more ideas or an opportunity to brainstorm other possibilities, shoot me an email. From their website
" Toontastic inspires the artist and writer in every child while teaching key storytelling principles that help to promote Creativity at a young age. Toontastic’s drawing tools bring kids’ wildest ideas to life alongside virtual playsets chock full of pirates, princesses, far away galaxies, and many other characters and settings to spark the imagination. Cartoons can be shared online via ToonTube
, Toontastic’s Global Storytelling Network, to help children connect to friends and family and learn about other cultures, customs, and lifestyles through stories created by their peers around the world."
Ok, I know not all of you have an iPhone or an iPad, but my love of all things nerdy has me excited about the new iOS7 update for Apple devices. If you have a Droid, continue as you were and catch the blog the next time. For those of you who have an Apple device this is for you. On September 18, the update became available. I spoke with a teacher friend of mine last night and she had already updated her system and deemed it "pretty slick". So, I tried to update mine. It was a no-go because the update was not yet available on my phone. But no worries. When I woke up this morning there it was! It took my phone about an hour to update to the new system. That was from my home internet which has medium speed levels. I felt like it was a reasonable amount of time. How do you update your system?1. Go to settings.2. Click on General.3. Click on SYSTEM UPDATE.4. Download and Install OS7. **Because it is a big update, you need to be on WiFi to download it. In addition, it is smart to plug into a power source, as updating it can drain your battery.5. These same steps apply when updating your iPad! There seemed to be quite a few "policy" screens. I hate to say it, but I click agree and continue without reading a word. C'mon, you know you do it, too. I'm trusting that I haven't promised anything too outlandish by doing so. The next part is the fun part because it's time to play. Seriously, just like a kid does with a new toy, you have to allow yourself time to investigate all the new functions and the new look of your device. A few sites that I have found to help you are here:Apple This is Apple's website. They have a short video that will show you the new features of the iPhone and iPad with the update.iOS7 Tips and Tricks
This is a blog created by an Apple employee. She and her husband got the download early and have had a chance to check things out. Read further to hear their opinions. Troubleshooting Tips
This site offers help with downloading the update and information about auto-updating apps and how to turn certain functions off. There are a plethora of sites out there that will help you. Simply Google "iOS7 tips and tricks
" and you'll see quite a few. My verdict: While I love all things nerdy, I'm not completely sold yet. The look is a little too bright and shiny for my tastes. I know I'll get used to it eventually, but right now I'm not loving it. My battery seemed to drain at rapid speed today. Not sure if that can be attributed to the update or the fact that I kept playing with it.
I would recommend that to save battery you swipe UP to show the control center and tap on AirDrop. Turning this function off will save your phone from searching for other phones or iPads nearby. There are several other new features one can turn off to improve battery life, but until I try them I don't want to recommend them. I do love the swipe feature for the control center. That is pretty cool. In addition, by double tapping the home key and swipping up on the pages you see, you can close your apps. For some reason that seems to entertain me more than waiting for the wiggly x to show up. Have fun with the update. If you stumble upon a great tip that could help others navigate the update, please comment here!
Welcome Back! There's nothing like jumping into a new school year with a great plan to communicate with parents and students. Teachers choose sites like Edmodo, Facebook and blogs for that communication and they are terrific sources. To add to your bag of tricks is Remind 101. What is it?
Remind101 provides a safe way for teachers to text message students and stay in touch with parents for free. Teachers use remind101.com, the Android or iOS app to send texts to students and parentsphones without ever having to share their own phone number. Students and parents also never have to share their phone number with teachers. Ever
.How Might I Use It?
Field trip reminders, motivational messages, homework, exam reminders, schedule changes, fun facts, and trivia. It’s a great way to communicate information to students and parents safely! How do I get started?
Go to remind101.com on your computer, or download the Android or iOS app, then create your first class to see how it works. It takes less than two minutes to get started! My students are too young for cell phones.
That's when you use it with the parents. Busy parents would love reminders about field trip permission slip due dates and test schedules. They will LOVE this!Everyone has two minutes, right? And once your account is created, messages take seconds to write and send. Today's parents and students are more connected than ever. Remind 101 would be a great way to keep the lines of communication open between home and school.Here's the link: Remind 101
I've done Professional Development across the district singing the praises of SOCRATIVE. A few of the reasons I like it so much is that it makes student engagement soar, and it's easy to use. If you aren't familiar with SOCRATIVE, it's a student response system, that mimics "clickers", but that is web based. It can be used on smartphones, PCs, MACS and iPads. Teachers can design their own quizzes and activities in minutes. Another great thing about SOCRATIVE is the customer service they offer. Any time I have contacted them, I get a prompt, helpful response. In addition, they listen to their customer feedback and make changes accordingly. Recently, they updated their website with two new options - the ability to embed pictures in quizzes and gradable short answers.
Those sneaky folks at the SOCRATIVE team have made us sing for our supper, so to speak. Those awesome new features are out there, BUT....you have to give them some feedback in order to turn it on!!! (This is why their customer service ROCKS.)
Please navigate to this address: http://www.socrative.com/garden/
Enter your info and log in to your account and you will be good to go. Yes, it's FREE. All it will cost you is five minutes of your time. Below is a video that shows you how to use these new features. Enjoy!
Blogs - a ubiquitous term in our society today. However, what continues to baffle me is the fact that so many people don't follow them or write their own. Of course there's the age-old excuse of "no time", and I totally get that. It seems, of late, things have been going at warp speed both personally and professionally, and I know I'm not alone in that feeling. But one of the things I feel passionate about in education is professional development. As teachers, we need to stay up with best practice and crave collaboration with other teachers. In addition, we hate reinventing the wheel, so if we can find something to tweak or build on that will work in our classrooms and is aligned with Common Core, we're on it! That's why we should take some responsibility for our own professional learning; one way to do that is through following blogs. With curation tools/websites like Bloglovin
, keeping track of information and reading on your own time is a breeze. Not to mention...wait for it....they're free! Taking advantage of the incredible amount of information out there is a must. So, where do you start? One easy way is by visiting this Edublogs site. Each year, Edublogs holds a contest to find the "best of the best" in the blogging world and then they share that information with us. The link above is the best of the best in Education. Along the right side of the homepage, users will find a list of topics. Navigate through them and pick something that interests you. Math teachers who follow blogs will tell you that Dan Meyer's is a fantastic one. Heck, I follow him and I have never taught math. Mr. Coward's Teaching the Outsiders blog is fantastic. He has loads of followers - yet not all of them teach English. He is also hysterical...an added bonus. Don't even get me started on blogs I follow for personal use. Let's just say that I know way too much about the Pioneer Woman her Food Network show and her family and leave it at that. :-)
By reading blogs, you immerse yourself in new ideas and and give yourself the gift of collaboration - something every teacher can use. If you have questions about how to get started with reading or even creating blogs, contact me!
Folks across the district have said they are sometimes a bit confused when faced with how to use My Learning Plan and what the heck to do to get PDC points after they have attended a workshop or conference. In order to take some of the ambiguity away, I created a step sheet and video tutorial to help. Let me know if you have any questions.
One concept being discussed among tech integration folks right now is the creation and use of "infographics". What is an infographic? Well, for visual learners they are a dream-come-true! An infographic is a visual representation that uses data, text and images to explain complex information quickly and clearly.
Long story short, it's a different way to present information when researching that relies on visualization instead of text. Students begin by picking a topic - think thesis statement or process they want to explain. Research is key and subjects/sources have to be completely vetted before creating an infographic. In addition, all information used to create one must be cited. This is where the most time is spent when creating an infographic, and rightly so. When the information has been gathered, the student creates a storyboard or framework for their final project. They gather images, create charts and graphs and think in terms of mood and tone before they create their product. It's an interesting and engaging way for students and teachers to share large pi
As I said earlier, this is a dream-come-true for visual learners - heck for all of us. Think about yourself and the way you learn best. When you are gathering information, do you like a) text, b) images, c) graphs and charts, or d) all of the above. Did you answer "d"? I know I did and most of the students I taught would have, too. That's what an infographic can give you and your students. An "all of the above" approach to add to your toolbox of presentation methods. Watch this video for more information.
A group of teachers from our district went to the MACE conference a few weeks ago and some were lucky enough to attend an Infographics session taught by Janet Sauber from Salina. Her information was fantastic and she even provided templates for teachers and students to use. (see below) Give infographics a try or contact me and we will brainstorm ways in which they could be a benefit to you and your students.
The Compass of today is quite different than some of you are used to. Progress monitoring and reinforcing skills are just two ways this program can be used. With Common Core lessons and better graphics, Compass is a fantastic tool. Contact me if you need your login information. EDMODO http://usd308.edmodo.com/
Use Edmodo to manage your classroom, create polls and quizzes and communicate with parents. FURLY http://fur.ly/
This is a phenomenal site for students working on projects. Enter as many as 50 urls and they can all be located at one address via a pulldown menu at the top of the page. Incredible. GOOGLE DOCS http://docs.google.com/
Students can work on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations individually and collaboratively with this dynamic tool. GOOGLE EARTH earth.google.com
Allow students to travel all over the Earth, into the stars, and undersea with Google Earth! QR STUFF www.qrstuff.com
You and your students can create scannable QR codes to be used to give students access to information like:
REMIND 101 https://www.remind101.com/
- An online video that students can watch on their own
- Today's homework
- An article in a newspaper for current events
- An online quiz or poll
- A simulation or game
- An image or presentation
- A scavenger hunt
- A place for the students to write on a topic at hand
- A shared Google doc in which multiple students can contribute ideas
A free, safe way to text your students and their parents without revealing your phone number! A great communication tool. SMARTboard www.exchange.smarttech.com/
It’s called an INTERACTIVE whiteboard for a reason. Use your SMARTboard for something other than projection! Get your student actively engaged in their learning. Resources are unlimited. Use our technology website (http://usd308tech.weebly.com
) for templates and resources, SMARTexchange, or simple google “interactive whiteboard lessons” and see what’s available. SPELLING CITY
When teachers sign up for a free membership, they get their own homepages, where they can enter and save customized word lists that their students can access. These word lists may be used in a variety of games and activities. ToonDoo http://www.toondoo.com/
Have students create a comic strip using ToonDoo. Students can use this tool to show main idea, sequencing, predictions, and more! SUPER TEACHER TOOLS www.superteachertools.com
Create seating charts, groups, and randomly pick names within seconds! To maximize your use of this tool, take a couple minutes to create a class list that will be saved online. Pretty cool, and really easy to create and use.
is a simple web tool which allows users to automatically generate a range of interactive browser-based activities based on any text of up to 500 words. Once created, students can use the SMARTboard to complete the activity. Because it is a webb-based program, you do not need to open SMARTnotebook. Instead, create an account (it takes seconds and it's free) and start creating.
To use Textivate you simply type or paste a chunk of text into the text box on the textivate front page and click on the “textivate now” button to see the available exercises that can be generated from that text. The exercises are generated automatically based on the length of your text. You / your students are not expected to attempt all
of the activities available for a particular text. You should choose those activities which are most suitable, taking into account the length and structure of the text, the age and ability of the students, etc. In my example, I used the scientific method. I simply copied and pasted the steps into textivate and then was able to choose from the different assignments available.
Examples below show just a few of the options available. In the first, students would come to the SMARTboard and rearrange the steps into the proper order. The second, has students filling in missing letters, and the third, has another option for putting steps into the right order. (See below)