Sunday, October 1, 2017

STEM Resources for the Elementary Classroom

Today, I want to share with you guys some resources that are freebies for STEM in your classroom.

CalAcademy's Science Video Vault - I know some of you are looking for additional video resources to use with your students. Take a moment to check out CalAcademy's Science Video Vault for hundreds of short videos. The site provides a search feature as well as the opportunity to drill down for grade level appropriate resources. While there, check out their Ideas for Using Video in the Classroom. 

NASA Knows! Elementary students are curious about the world around them, including space. If you are looking for informational texts and if your students have questions about airplanes, astronauts, rockets, planets, technology, and more, check out NASA Knows. You will find sections for  Grades K-4, 5-8, 9-12, and Higher Ed.

Water Cycle Resources:
For the past week or so, I've been in 5th-grade classrooms in our districts helping students with a water cycle project. The Story of Water in Dryville: The story takes students to the desert to start a new town and shows them how water plays a part every step of the way, from finding an initial water source to getting water to homes, creating a system for wastewater, and meeting additional needs as the town grows up. This would be a great PBL intro to rebuild an area devastated by a natural disaster. Also available as a downloadable script for a class play, students could recreate the story with a miniature green screen and Doink Green Screen App.

Last year I was fortunate to visit a Lego School in South Carolina. Who doesn't love Legos? (Ok, maybe parents that moment they step on them with bare feet.) You don't have to be a Lego School to tap into the learning possibilities. Check out Lessons with Legos to find lesson plans for using Lego bricks and other Lego educational materials. Maybe the lessons will spark an idea that you could use to write a proposal for funding through Donor's Choose.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Reader's Workshop & Technology Integration ... Yes It is Possible

You don't need me to point out that literacy is changing. Don't get me wrong, this digital girl still prefers to read books....that are, well, ... actual books. And my idea of reading is not to read to take a test. (Can I get an amen?) To quote The Book Whisperer (Donalyn Miller), "The only thing kids need to be doing during reading workshop is reading books, talking about books, and writing about books." And, oh, the ways technology can help kids do all three.

Reading Books:

First, let's have a balance of reading printed text and digital text. And let's examine the need to always have students read digital text just for research purposes. A terrific digital resource for elementary students is Epic Books. Did I mention it is free for elementary teachers and media specialists? Epic
offers thousands of high-quality children's books and even allows teachers to create a collection for students to read (think digital book box).

So by balance, I'm not just talking about reading printed and digital text, but let them respond to the text both digitally and with print. If they are reading a digital text, let them respond by writing their thinking, their stop and jots. If they are reading a printed text, let them respond digitally, perhaps a #booksnap. And yes, elementary students can do this, we just wouldn't use Snapchat.

Since digital reading requires a different set of skills than reading print, (clarity of words on a screen, hyperlinks, extraneous material on screen, etc) teachers have to model and teach students during mini-lessons how to successfully read digital text.

Talking About Books:

Turn and talk is prevalent in reader's workshop, we ask students to share their thinking about their reading, the action of the story, information about characters, and more. As a teacher, it is impossible to hear each child every single day. Let's harness the power of technology to get students talking about books. Have you tried Flipgrid yet? It's a digital discussion platform easy enough for Pre-K students, but also robust enough for adults. Give it a try with book talks and see what happens.  Build a community that talks about books, recommends books, and gives students an audience for their work. You will be amazed and surprised at the possibilities. Plus it gives you a chance to hear from your students more and adjust instruction to meet their needs.

Writing About Books:

Ever notice how popular Goodreads is? Ever notice how unpopular the reading log is? I have an idea...Let's use a digital tool such as Seesaw to transform the reading log. Students can use Seesaw to take a photo of their book cover, annotate on it, add an audio recording of their personal response, and even upload book trailers from other apps into a "Goodreads" folder. Students can comment and have conversations as they write and talk about the books within Seesaw.

Every tool I mentioned will work on iPads and Chromebooks. Every tool I mentioned is free. If you want help implementing any of these ideas or want to talk about ideas that have sparked in your head, please contact your ITF. We will be happy to help!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Tech Bytes September 2017

Happy Friday! I'm excited about the items in this post. I hope you find a tool that you want to try with your class. 

Be In The Know:

You may have noticed an additional extension that was pushed to you and your students called Share to Classroom. The extension supports your digital environment by allowing you to push websites to your students easily. The website will open on student devices as soon as you push. The extension also allows you to create an assignment, make an announcement, or ask a question in your Google Classroom right from the site. 
Watch this quick video from Google Guru to see how it works. By the way, you can also send them a visual to switch gears or stop working on the device.  

iPad App:

Camera app - Ever consider this is a powerful tool in the hands of our learners?
It's pivotal when doing app-smashing and it's a life skill. Imagine teaching our students how to be really good at taking photos. I found this course on iTunes, (lots of free cool courses) that you could use as a springboard for ideas to help students learn to be photographers. The course is called One Best Photo. Use the idea and think of your content to mesh the two. By the way, soon, iTunes courses will be found within the Podcast app on the device. 

Cool Tools Corner:
This news made my day, and I hope it will make yours as well. You have probably heard of Storyjumper. It's a great site that allows your students to publish stories easily. The site has tons of props, scenes, and characters that students can use as they publish or even upload their own images. Now, Storyjumper uses single sign on with our Google accounts. Yay, no extra user names and passwords to remember. 

As always, with anything mentioned in this post, if you want to give these things a try, let your ITF know and we will be happy to help!

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Tech Bytes - August 2017

August is coming to an end and school is underway. So excited to walk through my schools and see the excitement of the new year on everyone's face.

Thought I would share a few pieces of information to keep in mind for the new school year.

Be In The Know:

Screen Shot 2017-08-20 at 6.01.53 PM.png
Effective July 1, 2017, technology credits are being replaced with Digital Learning Competencies. If you renew on or after June 30, 2019,  you will need 2 DLC CEUs.

Digital Learning Competencies are broken into four focus areas. Check out this document that unpacks those areas for teachers. If you are an administrator, check this document designed for you to view the unpacking for the five focus standards.

DLC credit requires identified goals and objectives that are designed to improve teacher practice and drive student learning within teachers’ classrooms.

DLC PD should:
  • Align standards & DLC competencies
  • Be blended with content area & best practices
  • Continue through integration and/or application within the practice

  • Be demonstrated by evidence-based learning (from submitted artifacts such as teacher/student portfolios, classroom walkthroughs, etc.) showing teacher mastery
  • Positively impact student learning

Be on the lookout for things happening during the year at your school that you can participate in to start earning those credits.

iPad App of the Month:

Looking for an easy way to have your students showcase their learning via videos? Then check out a new favorite iPad app called Clips. Allows you to make videos with text and effects. Easy Peasy! Let me know if you want it pushed to your student iPads. Don't forget, we could plan and co-teach together. ;-)

Cool Tools Corner:

Cool Tools Corner:
Check out Flipgrid. This hot tech tool will allow you and your students to create a community of learners via video discussions. Easy for students as young as Pre-K. Great way to incorporate Making Thinking Visible strategies into your lessons. Let me know if you want help introducing to your students.
Flipgrid - Great tool for Making Thinking Visible! I’ll be happy to help get you started.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Another Blog Post about SAMR

Yes, I know what else can be written about SAMR? I just returned from a road trip vacation, which was awesome, thanks for asking. ;-) Anyway, I started thinking of how things have changed when traveling from back in the day, you know the day of paper foldout maps for each state you travel. We have come a long way!

Lisa Johnson, AKA TechChef, wrote a post on S.A.S.S.Y. SAMR in which she included four awesome questions to help guide educators in transforming instruction. So to give you an idea of real world SAMR application, I'm going to share the technology we used on our trip and let you think about how they relate to the four questions. Ready?

Does the technology/tool allow for collaboration (e.g. within a school, district, state, nation, globe, experts, PLN)?
Does the technology/tool allow for publishing to an authentic audience and archival?
Is the technology/tool student-driven?

Does the technology/tool allow for feedback and formative assessment?

Waze - GPS Navigation, Maps & Social Traffic

I highly recommend this app. It is real time routing based on a community of drivers providing real-time traffic and road info. Through the collaboration, we knew traffic jams, road hazards, cars on the side of the road, etc. so we could re-route if necessary. Easy to report what you see as you travel too. 

You have to eat while traveling, so let's use collaboration to find the best places to eat and even top things to do in that area. Enter the next two apps:
Yelp & Trip Advisor

With Yelp, you can filter the search results, so you can find things within in the neighborhood you are in at the moment and what is open. And it's easy to leave your reviews as well to help travelers that come behind you. 

With Trip Advisor, you can find hotels, restaurants, and things to do in the community. And it's easy to leave your reviews as well to help travelers that come behind you.

And last, but not least is Gas Buddy
Again, by crowdsourcing information collaboratively we can find out gas prices at stations close by for the best price. 

So notice how all these integrate into a trip? And how all were based on collaboration? Notice the tools are user driven, providing the information we need when we need it in an authentic way?

That is seamless technology use and that is what I love to see happening in classrooms. Talk to your ITF about tools that can help you make this happen for your students. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Tools to Help Struggling Readers

I'm a reader. I can devour fiction books in hours and nonfiction texts in a day or two at the most. My friends are amazed by my reading abilities. I'm fortunate, a love of reading was instilled early and I have never struggled with reading difficulties.

Some of our students, however, do struggle and the wonder of books are lost because of that struggle. We are a G Suite for Education district, so teachers are always looking for ways to help their readers while using Chromebooks and Google accounts. Below are a few options that may be worth checking out. Let me know what you think and if you have others to add to the list.

Books that grow - paid subscription
Closed captioning on Discovery Education Videos

Text to Speech extensions:
Announcify - reads aloud websites

Simplify text on screen
Beeline Reader - adds text gradient to help students with tracking

Audio Books
Librivox - public domain classics read aloud
OverDrive - must have an associated public library card

Monday, October 3, 2016

iPad Accessibility

Scanner & Translator App
I recently had a teacher asking for resources to scaffold instruction for students who are having difficulty reading. She was using an iPad app called Scanner & Translator which allowed any text to be digitized and then read aloud. It's a free app, but the drawback was it would start back at the beginning of the text when students really were needing to be able to select where to start.

So I immediately begin to think about the built-in functionality of iPads for accessibility. There is a plethora of accessibility features and one is called Voice Over. As long as the documents are true PDFs and not just a photo, the iPad will read the text. And yes, you can tap where you want it to read!
My thoughts are to encourage sharing of the PDFs with students through Google Classroom or Google Drive. Students then can open that PDF in iBooks and use Voice Over to read aloud.

I found this great resource online to show how to access it and how it works. It does change the normal touch features of an iPad, but I'm sure students can handle the changes.