November 28, 2018: Hour of Code

hour of code logoComputers are everywhere, changing every industry on the planet. Computing occupations are the fastest-growing, best paying, and the largest sector of all new wages in the United States. It truly is changing every industry on the planet.

The language of computing, coding, is a language that allows people to take charge of the device, and to go far beyond accessing information or utilizing activities (or playing games).

tynkerThe Hour of Code began as a one-hour coding challenge to give students a fun first introduction to computer science. It quickly grew into an annual activity with participation in the millions, and with students from kindergarten through college. It also has sparked a larger conversation about the value of teaching computer science in schools, and also about the amount of learning that takes place when students participate in the language of coding.

coding word cloudCoding is truly a new literacy. It provides students with the opportunity for personal expression and storytelling in incredible new ways. The logical progression of the coding process requires student to storyboard, plan ahead, and think critically. It provides them creative ways to share those stories with others, as well as to build upon the stories created by others.

Coding puts students in situations where they face frustration and find solutions for their problems. They need to think outside the box as they retrace their steps, fix their mistakes, “debug” their programming, and move successfully to the next step. As they move through their process students are continuing questioning, testing the steps, and refining their work.

When coding, students often work together, and are encouraged to collaborate and learn from others. They gain so much from participating in a project where communication and teamwork is required.

The increase of STEM in our schools has allowed for more coding practice in both the elementary and middle schools, where students are completing coding activities on their tablets and Chromebooks through Code.org, Scratch and other online coding programs. These activities are challenging for students, but provide a scaffolding of skills in a process that feels similar to playing games. Students are also utilizing coding when they work with robots and drones. Many classrooms are purchasing small sets of Sphero robots and Dot & Dash robots and providing time for groups of students to create strings of sophisticated code that cause the robots to perform complicated tasks.

While not every classroom has time to add any coding activities to their curriculum, and not every teacher feels comfortable attempting to teach coding, Code.org, in partnership with numerous companies, has created a huge resource of coding activities that take approximately one hour to complete. These activities are located at https://hourofcode.com/us and are sorted by grade level. Consider partnering your students together, or joining with another class and participating.

Screen Shot 2018-11-28 at 12.48.15 PMYou can start with the 2018 promotional Hour of Code video, and then direct the students to select the activities of their choice on the Hour of Code website: www.hourofcode.com. In lower grade levels you may wish to select only one or two activities and direct children to select the one of their choosing. By partnering younger students with an older class, or matching your students together so that stronger readers work with a struggling reader, you will allow for some reading/direction assistance that may be needed.

I would love to organize an Hour of Code with you, or help your class participate in the Hour of Code! Please contact me if you’d like some support.

Get started at http://hourofcode.com/us

 

Nov 21, 2018: DonorsChoose

Need Classroom Technology? Take Advantage of DonorsChoose
Step-by-Step Directions for Funding Your Project

DonorsChoose (https://www.donorschoose.org/) is an amazing method of requesting (and receiving!) those special items for your classroom that you’d like to provide for your students. In Century School alone, Donors Choose has funded iPads, Chromebooks, classroom libraries, flexible seating, green screens, document cameras, tablets, Sphero, Dot & Dash robots, 3D Printers, drones, and much more. Typical grants average about $500, although much higher amounts have often been funded. Smaller projects are more apt to be funded than larger ones.

DonorsChoose has been around since 2000, and has fulfilled over 1,292,000 projects! You’ve heard about the big giving days, right? On #BestSchoolDay 2018: Every Project Funded! Ripple fully funded every single live DonorsChoose.org classroom project. That’s over 35,000 projects in one enormous $29 million act of generosity. Although this type of broad-range funding doesn’t happen often, it does happen. And sometimes a local organization, such as 3M-Wonewok, will set a date and fund all local projects that happen to be posted. The odds of having your project funded are very high, especially if you assist in the promotion of your project, and posting a project is not difficult. DonorsChoose is set up with great suggestions and directions all the way through.

Steps to using DonorsChoose

First, set up an account. Visit https://www.donorschoose.org/ and follow these steps:

  1. Click Sign in and select Create an account at the bottom of the box under First-timer?
  2. You will follow the steps shown. Click on Set Up My Teacher AccountFirst time
  3. Answer the teacher eligibility questions and select I’m eligible! Let’s get started.
  4. Sign the user agreement and select your school by typing in its name. Then click Yes, Continue.
  5. Select the grade(s) you teach, or add your specific area in the space provided.
  6. Now create your contact and sign in information. You don’t have to include your birthdate. If you have an additional personal email address go ahead and use that one. You want to make sure that DonorsChoose can reach you, and all of your requests will be verified by the administrator at your school even if the email address isn’t your school address.

Once you review your information you will be able to view a very informative teacher tutorial. This is a really good thing to watch, and it’s only a few minutes long.

Now that you’re registered, making your first request is easy – and DonorsChoose supports you with the first $50 of your project’s budget. You’re already on your way! So let’s build our first project.

Creating a Project Request

There are tons of sample projects to view that can give you great ideas for writing your own. There are two types of requests that you can write:

A Standard Request:

  • Materials for students
  • A class field trip
  • A classroom expert/visitor

A Professional Development Request:

  • Support for online or live staff development participation, or materials that will help you as a teacher.

Begin by selecting Create a Project.

Then select the type of project you’d like to create. Most projects are for classroom materials, and would be a Standard project request. Click Let’s go!

On this first tab you will tell about your students, selecting their age group, number of students, and then telling something about them. Again, there are samples, but be sure to use your own words as you describe the unique combination of children you work with daily.

Continue through each tab, answering the questions about your project. Be as clear and compelling as you can. The reason people want to assist your classroom is for the opportunities afforded to your students and their learning. Tell your story.

On the tab labeled Go Shopping you will be able to look through catalogs and locate the items you are interested in.

A few notes:

  • Document cameras run between $86 (for a very inexpensive model) to $500 or more. Check with one of the teachers who have one to determine the model that will be most effective for you.
  • Chromebooks ($289) and iPads ($299) also need the purchase of a license and case. Todd assists with the final ordering.
  • Successful projects are everywhere, and you can read everything the teacher wrote to complete the proposal. Take advantage of reading through these to see what makes them successful.

Many teachers in Park Rapids have projects posted currently, or have had prior projects funded. They are willing to give you advice and pointers. If you need names of teachers to talk to, let Todd or Laurie know and they’ll point you in the right direction.

While your project is active, there are many ways you can share it with the community. Promote it as much as you can and you will be successful. If you use Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram you can share your project easily, but even if you don’t, there are other ways to bring attention to it. Use them!

Finally, when your project is funded, it is required that you send thank you notes. People (and companies) LOVE pictures. One tip – take some pictures of your class with large posters that say THANK YOU! and have them made into cards through Shutterfly. They will be handy to have.

Good luck!

Nov 8, 2018 – Video Tools

Many teachers use Youtube videos in class on a weekly, or even daily, basis. Finding and organizing those Youtube videos can sometimes be a challenge though. However, Youtube has a built-in tool for saving videos into playlists that you can create and use yourself and can share with others in many ways. This can be a terrific way to provide access to those movies you’d like to share with others quickly and easily. It’s also a perfect way to bookmark a video for future use, so you know you’re using the version of the video you’ve used in the past.

playlistA playlist is a collection of videos. Anybody can make playlists and share them, and you can have multiple playlists on your account, so you can create one for each topic or subject are you teach. Want to put together a collection of read-aloud story books, or one with videos highlighting specific directions for your math class? How about sharing a common experience for your students, or providing background information for a new topic? Playlists are for you.

Make & find your playlists 

  1. Start with a video you want in the playlist.
  2. Under the video, click Add to .
  3. Select Watch later, Faves, or a playlist you’ve already created, or click Create new playlist.
  4. If you create a new playlist, enter a playlist name.
  5. Use the dropdown box to select your playlist’s privacy setting. If it’s private, only you can view the playlist.
  6. Click Create.

To find your playlists, go to the Guide  and click Library.

To edit or delete playlists:

  1. Go to the Guide and click Library.
  2. Click on the playlist you wish to edit or delete.
  3. Click Edit
  4. Choose “Edit settings” to change the name or privacy settings. Choose the three dots on the right to delete the playlist.
    Edit playlist

When it comes to using Youtube videos, there are a few other tricks that every teacher should know. Teachers can specify a starting point for a YouTube video by clicking on the little ‘share’ icon that is below the ‘subscribe’ button and a little section will expand below with a checkbox called ‘Start At.’ Here you can decide at what point you want the video to start for your students.

Or, insert your video into Edpuzzle (shown in a recent blog post of mine) and crop the video so that only the section you want students to view is available. This works really well if you’re having a sub play the video. Just direct them to the correct video in Edpuzzle, or insert the link into your lesson plans. It also works really well when inserted into Google Classroom.

viewpureAn additional tool that I love, and that works with Youtube exceptionally well, is ViewPure, found at ViewPure.com. Using ViewPure, teachers can “purify” their video clip by removing potentially distracting add-ons, commercials or related videos. ViewPure also removes all comments allowing students to watch a video without the risk of inappropriate content. It’s a wonderful way to share a video with students! ViewPure also allows you to enter a start and stop time, so sharing the ViewPure weblink with subs would be a fantastic way to have them only share the portion of the video you want your students to see: no ads, no distractions.

Here is a quick video explaining how to use it: http://viewpure.com/viewpurevideo

And with a FREE ViewPure account you can create playlists within ViewPure (which you can also share, or keep private if you choose), as well as create your own personal URLs, such as the one I made above, to make it especially easy to locate the video.

Imagine creating a playlist for your sub, using the date for the playlist URLs! It would be amazingly easy to put together, and you could rest easy knowing that your students would view exactly what you had prepared. If you like sharing through QR Codes, this is another terrific way to share videos. Imagine taping the QR Code link to a read-aloud book, or a message from the author, in the back of your classroom books?playlist

One more note: the FREE teacher resources area includes a huge collection of videos that other teachers have already purified. They’re all set for you to use immediately, without having to do additional YouTube searches!!

If you want some assistance working with ViewPure, with Edpuzzle, or with Youtube, please don’t hesitate to contact me! I’d love to help!

October 29, 2018 – Flipgrid

flipgridcardAs educators we really want our students to speak and listen, to share and comment, and to find the confidence to use their own voice, but so often in classrooms this is difficult. There’s not enough time. There’s not a good platform for sharing. There aren’t enough devices to go around. I can think of a million reasons why amplifying my students’ voices just won’t work…but when you try Flipgrid I think you’ll see just what amazing things can be done when we do allow our students to talk.

Last week I was lucky enough to hear Dr. Charlie Miller, founder and chief design officer at Flipgrid. I was blown away! I had used Flipgrid once or twice over the last few years, and I was impressed with what it could do, but I didn’t have the vision to see what it could do in a classroom. Flipgrid is a discussion platform where teachers can post discussion topics and students share their answers. Its flexibility is amazing!

With your FREE Flipgrid account you create a grid for your classroom. Name your grid and set the privacy settings. Only those with the grid url can access it. Then add the topics – the questions and themes you want your students to discuss. You can start with just one…but then can add unlimited discussion topics throughout the school year.

A big positive of Flipgrid is that students do not need to create an account. They simply click on the grid url (or scan it from a qr code). There’s a free flipgrid app for all devices you can use, or students can use any computer. Then the magic happens! Each discussion is on its own url, so viewing is only allowed for those students with the link.

Using Flipgrid isn’t about recording videos though. It’s about learning! Learning that is social, personal, can happen anywhere and anytime. It’s about making connections, exploring deeply, and promoting the idea that everyone is a learner and everyone is a teacher. Check out the free complete Flipgrid eBook vol3.  It includes everything you need to know to set up your account, create your first board, and get your students talking!

Another great Flipgrid resource is the Flipgrid Tips post on the Flipgrid blog, posted at: blog.flipgrid.com/news/gridtips.

Curious about how Flipgrid can be used in your classroom? Here are a few examples from different grade levels:

High School

Act it out:

Take on the persona of a historical figure you have been studying. Offer up comments on what that person would say if he/she were alive today. Or tell an event in history from your person’s point of view.

Middle School

Show what you know:

It can be terrifying for middle school students to get up in front of class and share what they know. With Flipgrid, rather than creating the video, students can choose to upload a video they have recorded with Screencastify! Or they can simply use the Flipgrid to explain how to find the area in a triangle, or to pose their solution to any problem.

Elementary School

World Read-Aloud Day:

Sean Forde, a friend of mine who teaches in Italy, created a World Read Aloud Grid where people around the world read a page of a book to create a collaborative masterpiece. Here is Sean’s first World Read Aloud Flipgrid, reading Oh, The Places You’ll Go. 🌍

Through these projects, Sean’s students were able to see the power of connection, experience other languages and cultures, and see the world through a different lens. (I helped with the reading of Ada Twist, Scientist – flipgrid.com/fdfebf)

Any Age:

The 30-second Book Talk:

Have students write, and then read, a 30 second “book trailer” for a book they recommend to others. Check out this sample: https://flipgrid.com/c5fa6c

Would you rather?

Check out http://wouldyourathermath.com. Select a question and have your students record their answer, justifying their answer with mathematics.

Looking for another way to use Flipgrid in your classroom? Let me know – and let’s work on it together!

October 17 – Edpuzzle

In almost every lesson I ever taught, it seemed like there were students who hadn’t quite caught up to the rest of the class. Maybe they were sick that day, or maybe they hadn’t mastered the previous skill, or perhaps they were still learning the vocabulary (or the language) and it just took a little longer for them to listen and then comprehend my speech. One thing we find in education, in every grade level and in every subject area, is that some students just need more time. But how do we offer that extra teaching time in an already overwhelming day? Who has that kind of time?

In comes Edpuzzle. Edpuzzle is a huge clearinghouse of educational videos that include an interactive step – a point where the video stops and students have to respond, record an answer, take a quiz, or in some way prove their understanding. Edpuzzle is FREE. Edpuzzle’s content comes from Khan Academy, National Geographic, Numberphile, Crash Course, YouTube, and more, as well as from any video you record yourself. Plus, videos can be shared between teachers in the same school, so your team can produce instructional videos that can benefit more than just your class.

As students watch a video on Edpuzzle they are restricted from “fast-forwarding”. In addition, if they open a new tab, the video pauses. And, here’s the big one, you can view exactly how much time your students spent watching each video, and can tell if they watched certain sections more than once, and can see how they answered every question or quiz. Imagine having a student tell you that they watch the video you assigned as homework, and then being able to pull up the report and show that they viewed the first thirty seconds and then stopped. And your videos can easily be shared on websites, through email, in Google Classroom, with a QR Code, or any other way you get your work out to your students.

History and Social Studies teachers often want to add videos and music to enhance lessons and make them more enjoyable for the students. This makes history not just facts to memorize, but human events and interactions to understand and appreciate.

In traditional classrooms, the more vocal students get most of the teacher’s attention. These students ask questions, answer questions, and set the pace of the lesson, even if this pace is too fast (or too slow) for the quieter students. While some students answer all the questions, you rarely hear from others.

Edpuzzle tracks every student’s progress during each lesson. This allows you to “flip” your class by creating your own videos to cover simple concepts and walk through sample problems. By using Edpuzzle you can easily insert questions and comments to check your students’ understanding, as well as get feedback from students when they don’t understand something.

As much as we love it when students follow the lesson and are confident in the subject, some students need more time to grasp a concept. As a teacher, it can be difficult to move on to the next topic when some students are still stuck. Edpuzzle empowers students to keep up with class even if they learn at a slower pace.

The collection of videos available ranges from special ed, to ELL, to all school subjects and grade levels, and from preschool through high school (and beyond). As an Edpuzzle teacher you have access to all of these videos, plus the ability to edit the questioning throughout the video in any way you wish.

I can think of many incredible way teachers may wish to use Edpuzzle:

  • To reinforce and reteach concepts
  • To share a story, with comprehension questions throughout
  • To show a science video that provides a greater understanding through illustration
  • To provide review opportunities
  • To introduce a new topic
  • To share with families so they understand what you’re teaching
  • To give additional resources you don’t have time to cover in class
  • And so much more!

An additional tool that may be helpful in checking out Edpuzzle is this great blog post by Vicki Davis. It provides a step-by-step guide for using Edpuzzle in your classroom: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/Edpuzzle-review/

When you create your account be sure to use your school email address, and connect to Park Rapids Schools so you have access to all of the content available. Please let me know how I can help you utilize this excellent resource.

 

Oct 11, 2018 – I need a doc cam!

A document camera is an incredibly valuable tool in the classroom! It allows you to display images and objects to your entire class, and to take pictures of those images for later use. Doc cams are especially helpful for allowing students to view small objects – anything from that fragile bird’s nest a child brings in to show the class to the mold growing on the bread in your science station. Document cameras also allow you to project examples of your students’ quality work, highlight text in front of the class, and so much more.

However, most classroom teachers don’t have access to a document camera. Donor’s Choose, Itasca Mantrap, and our own Park Rapids Education & Activities Foundation are wonderful ways to get a doc cam for your classroom, but in the meantime, most of you have a tool that works similarly to a document camera and is readily available to you: your old school-issued iPad!

Our original iPads have definitely seen their better days. Most of them are iPad 2s, and are at least 4-5 years old. For many of you I’m guessing that this old tool has been set aside and relegated to a few games of Candy Crush, or even put in a drawer and forgotten. But your old iPad 2 still has a good functioning video camera that works extremely well as a doc cam!

If your iPad is filled with old apps you no longer use, a good start is to delete those extra apps. The next step is to make sure that you can connect your iPad to Airserver on your computer that projects to your SmartBoard. In order to do this you have to either have a laptop, or you need to have a wireless usb dongle on your computer. Turn on Airserver on your computer, and connect your iPad (or iPhone) using the following directions:

If you are using iOS 8 or higher, follow these steps:

  • Connect your iOS device and your computer running AirServer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the Control Center.
  • Tap the AirPlay (or Screen Mirroring) icon. You should now see a list of AirPlay enabled receivers available on your network.
  • Tap the name of the AirPlay receiver you wish to AirPlay to. This would be the name of the computer running AirServer.
  • To begin mirroring, toggle the mirroring switch.

If you are using iOS 7, follow these steps:

  • Connect your iOS device and your computer running AirServer to the same Wi-Fi network.
  • On your iOS device, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the Control Center.
  • Tap the AirPlay icon. You should now see a list of AirPlay enabled receivers available on your network.
  • Tap the name of the AirPlay receiver you wish to AirPlay to. This would be the name of the computer running AirServer.
  • To begin mirroring, toggle the mirroring switch.

Now you can open the camera app on your iPad (or iPhone) and hold it above the object or page you’d like to share. The trick is finding a great stand at a great (or no) price. You can buy iPad doc camera stands, but if you look around you’ll probably find exactly what you need in your classroom or around the house/apartment.

I’ve seen people use wire shelves, cardboard boxes, recipe stands, and all types of creative stands, but here are a few requirements:

  • The stand must be sturdy enough to hold the iPad.
  • It has to have openings at the top to safely set your iPad on while allowing the camera to peer through.
  • It lifts the iPad up from the “stage” below so you can fit objects of various sizes underneath.
  • There is a clear working area underneath to fit the demonstrator’s hands. This is especially important when annotating text or “modeling” for students.

In addition, there may be people in the district who have an older model document camera that they no longer use. If you have an doc cam that you would like to give up to another teacher, please let me know. I know of several people who would be happy to take it off your hands, even just to try it for a few days.

If you’re ready to try using your iPad as a doc cam, but want a little support, let me know. Or – stop in the Century library any time on Wednesday morning during church school, or after 3:15 on Wednesday, Oct 17th. Bring your iPad and we’ll talk all about how you can get yours running as a flexible document camera.


Don’t miss out on the continuous updates and new information coming out of Discovery Education – much of it free for educators! Check out the new content here: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/New-Content/ And use the teacher’s drop-down menu for additional free content.

Their virtual field trips, Puzzlemaker, and curricular resources for every grade level make them an important resource to always have on hand – especially for science and


Screen Shot 2018-10-11 at 10.20.31 AM

social studies teachers. For more information on how you can use Discovery Education in your classroom, shoot me an email.

Oct 1, 2018 Symbaloo

If you’re looking for an easy way to organize and share resources, Symbaloo is your answer! Visually, Symbaloo makes it easy for students to locate the websites quickly, and Symbaloo offers the flexibility to arrange those websites in any order you wish. You can update your Symbaloo on the fly, knowing that your most recent updates will be readily available to your students. And once you’ve created a Symbaloo webmix it’s easy to post it on your website or create a link or QR code directly to it.

I’ve used Symbaloo to create small webmixes for a specific class project, posting the directions in one box, a video explanation or example in another, weblinks in additional spots, all color-coded so that students know where to start, and where to go from there. And whether your students are in preschool or high school, or anywhere in between, Symbaloo is the perfect fit!

Symbaloo webmix

The best way for you to understand Symbaloo is to experience it, so take a look at my “How to Symbaloo” webmix: https://www.symbaloo.com/mix/howtosymbaloo7. This site has tutorials, sample webmix links, videos and more, that will have you making your own webmixes in minutes! Want to try one with your class? Let me know, and we can create your own webmix with all the links that you want to share with your students on one page!

And, did I mention that Symbaloo is FREE? You’ll want to check it out today!

Symbaloo is the tool I used to create links for each grade level, and the high school PR Digital Library.  All of these are linked on the Symbaloo above, as well as on our school library homepages, so you can check them out now if you haven’t been using them.

An additional part of Symbaloo, and the real power of it, in my mind, comes with Symbaloo Learning Paths. https://learningpaths.symbaloo.com/

With Learning Paths you can create digital lessons for your students, specifying the order they must complete activities you’ve handpicked. You can put in options, such as selecting different learning activities, and you can add quizzes, games, videos, and much more. Learning Paths are a completely flexible, exciting way to share your curriculum with your students! They make terrific center activities or homework activities, as the pathway is determined by the teacher. And Symbaloo Learning Paths comes with a Marketplace of activities, so you don’t have to start from scratch. Teaching a new lesson? Search for similar lessons for your grade level in the Marketplace to find some great resources to share with your students…already in the Learning Paths format, and ready for you to adjust for your students’ needs!

Symbaloo Learning Paths

Like Symbaloo webmixes, Symbaloo Learning paths are free. Sign up with your school email address (or choose to log in with your Google account) and start creating today!! And, as always, please contact me if I can help you set these up for your class.