Friday, September 25, 2015

Science Center Rotations

Each summer our district puts on a three day Summer Institute for teachers. Those who attend get a $100/day stipend and re-certification credits. We have trainers across the district, the state, and consultants come in for those three days who run various classes. As tech coaches we are required to present at least two out of the three days. This year our training focus was to target technology integration into specific curriculum areas. Surprise, surprise...I choose science as my curriculum area.

I decided to train on Science Centers in the Classroom. I used the S.T.E.A.M (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) as the model for my rotations (with each letter being the focus of a rotation).

For a complete copy of the presentation click HERE.  For a copy of the science center rotation instructions for each center click HERE.

If you are interested in adding science centers to your classroom you might want to consider a rotation focus (like the STEAM model). It really helps with planning and focus. A big question I got was how often do you do the rotations? You can do it however works for your class. When I did them in the class each station was a day (so it took the entire week to cycle through each station...but I had limited time with the students). I only did one week like that a unit because it took so much planning (it just depends on the teacher, the time, the resources, and the curriculum).

I had a teacher email me after the start of the year writing:

I was in your summer institute training for steam and utilized what I learned this past week. I wanted to share with you because my students and I both LOVED it!! My team is now doing them too and we are trying to integrate it into our social studies as well! So thanks!! I attached some pictures :)

FYI - It meant a lot that she emailed. A lot of times we never hear back from teachers and that email just about made my day!

Here were her pictures. 

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Glue in the Notebooks

This idea came across my news feed on Facebook and I loved the literacy connection to notebooking. Gluing is always an issue in the notebooks and this is a great way to introduce the problem of "too much glue". See the entire blog post about it HERE.

I am passing it along in the hopes someone finds it as helpful as I did.

Friday, July 10, 2015

ISTE Idea #1 - TouchCast

This was my "WOW" moment at ISTE and to think I might have missed it! 

When you sign up for an ISTE conference you register for three ticketed sessions. I didn't get any of the three I wanted (or any at all). Not sure why considering the rest of the people I was with got theirs. If you don't get a ticket to a session you can stand in a "wait list" line outside of the room and they open it up five minutes prior to people without tickets (if there is room - learned that lesson the hard way at ISTE in Atlanta last year). Anyway I lucked out on this trip and a random person gave me one of her tickets to a session that she couldn't go to and then my friend Beth gave me hers to this one - "TouchCast How to Make Interactive Touchable Videos"...she had opted for a different session offered at the same time...BIG MISTAKE (which being the good friend that I am texted that to her :).

Touchcast is a FREE app. It allows the user to:

Create an interactive presentation that mixes video with web content. The app lets you record a video and overlay elements such as web pages, maps,  photos, Twitter streams, polls, quizzes and more. Users watching the video can click on these multimedia elements and interact with them while the video continues to play .

This was such a cool app that I am dedicating a large portion of, what is left, of my summer vacation to playing with it. Imagine being able to make interactive videos where you can click on popups on the screen! I'm story boarding a book review video right now that I want to try out as my sample. 

At the session (which was sadly only an hour long) they broke us up in groups in the corners of the presentation room and had us work with TouchCast ambassadors (people who really knew what they were doing with the app). See picture below (I'm in the middle of the green screen shot on the screen).

I was also excited to see The Padcaster being used in the session (see this early post on The Padcaster). If you have a green screen the app has chroma key software built in. The break out session had my head spinning because there are a lot of features within this app...from chroma key to teleprompters to vapps to titles, etc...The ambassador assured us that if she, and her students, could do it that we could. She warned there would be a learning curve but I'm ready to take that on for such a cool product. 

I've already started reviewing their huge library of "how to" videos and can't wait to get started.

So that is it Top Ten ISTE Ideas for 2015. I am hoping that our budget will allow me to go to ISTE 2016, which will be held in Denver next summer. If ISTE is something you want to attend but you don't have the money you might want to consider THIS GRANT - which I wrote about last year. Sadly I am ineligible for the grant due to the nature of my job but any classroom teacher who works with students 70% of the time can apply. If you manage to go (and I manage to go) look for me on the first day of the conference (the opening keynote day) rocking this t-shirt and say hi!

ISTE Idea #2 - Random Poster Session Ideas

Before I get to the #1 ISTE Idea I was looking at my notes and ran across a few random ideas I got from the Poster Sessions (which is basically a walk around showcase environment where you can see a lot of projects in a short amount of time). None of them were giant IDEAS more like small ideas and thoughts about other people's projects that I wanted to look into and see how it could work in our schools (modifying as necessary).


One poster session hosted by Connecting Creativity had an "Out My Window" project that I really liked. Essentially students took a picture out their window...put it in some design app...they used PicMonkey...and wrote a poem based on the five themes of geography (they had to explain what those were to me...having never taught geography). I'm not sure I could sell that exact project to the teachers I work with but I definitely felt like it had modification potential. Several of our schools are allowing students to take home their iPads at the end of the day and teachers are going to need homework ideas. I thought I could modify the "Out My Window" project as a potential monthly homework assignment.


In another poster session I saw a student book review blog being showcased.  The middle school students wrote book reviews using a google form that got sent and published on a WordPress blog. I liked that they had the process thoroughly explained on their blog so a teacher could walk through the steps. Here were my thoughts that I wrote down...there is no way to publish a picture of the book (I would need to look into that because I think pictures are powerful and a book cover is more likely to generate interest in the review then just the text itself). If a teacher didn't want to blog her students reviews they could set the form to go straight to them (the teacher) - which is basically taking a book report and digitizing it (but I liked that it used less paper then a traditional book report and you can customize the questions in the book report form to get some high order answers). I asked about plagiarizing. Honestly we have a ton of students who would go to Good Reads or Amazon and copy and paste reviews. One of the presenters said...and I hadn't thought of this...if you suspect plagiarism you can copy and paste the review in a google search and see what comes up - once students know that can happen they might be less likely to copy and paste. Then I asked about certainly don't want a cruddy book review posted! The presenter suggested that all submissions go to the blog moderator before allowing for publication as a means of controlling quality and he also suggested...which I liked...that students have to "earn a blogging badge" before they are allowed to post to the blog. They would earn their badge but submitting samples of quality work.


Legos...I'm not a huge fan of them but they are quite popular in our schools from Lego Labs to Lego Robotics. So when I ran across this poster session I had to stop. These two presenters were from Australia and Mr. Gallagher was showcasing an extensive 16 week stop motion lego movie with his students (get this...ages 6 and 7!). He had picture books documenting the process on the table and he put together an iBook Case Study of the project that can be download for free. This was what impressed me (other then working with legos, stop motion animation, with students in K/1 grades ;) the end of the project the 25 minute movie was screened at a local theater that was booked out for the event (what a cool idea!). He put out a challenge school wide for classes to do a short lego stop motion movie and his kids voted on which one was the best and that became a "short" which was screened before their big movie. I downloaded the book...and forwarded the link to our Lego lovers and am thinking of ways to rent out a theater to showcase a massive student project.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ISTE Idea #3 - Google Translate

I attend a Google Apps for the iPad at ISTE (click for full presentation) mainly because my boss asked me to. This year I have had a love/hate relationship with Google apps on the iPad (up until was hate) and I think she was trying to turn my thinking around mainly because we are a GAFE (Google Apps For Education) school district. However last year it seemed everything I wanted to do using Google with the iPads has been troublesome. For example, the Google Slides app wouldn't allow you to put in pictures. WHAT?!?!...You can imagine the four letter words I was thinking when I discovered THAT!. I couldn't get Google Classroom to play with the other apps (like Notability...which we use a lot with students). I pretty much gave up and have been promoting Edomodo as our classroom management platform, at least in our iPad classrooms (grades 3-5).

Thankfully I ran into several teachers/presenters at ISTE that assured me that these problems have been addressed and fixed (when the presenter mentioned the picture problem had been fixed there was an eruption of clapping in the apparently I wasn't the only one frustrated :). I haven't tried the PDF to Notability linkup yet but a teacher swears it works now. 

The presentation was a little overwhelming..she went through a lot of things - some of which I already knew (which is why I bookmarked her presentation because I started to zone out at the things I knew). I'm not going to lie though once she showed the Google Translate app I perked up and got distracted :). In my defense the two people I was with got distracted by something they thought was cool in the presentation (For my friend Beth it was the PhotoSphere App - where you can take 360 degree photos - and she proceeded to play with the app annoyingly while we were walking around Philadelphia. My friend Rebecca got distracted by Google Cardboard and was trying to figure out ways to use it with old iPod touches they have at their can't...which made her sad).

Back to Google Translate...

Several years ago I took a trip to Japan and it would have been the most useful app particularly when looking at signs and menus (although a reporter posted this YouTube video on her use of the app in that country). My favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican place for lunch is Spanish only (I went the other day to try out the app only to find the only day they are closed!). 

It got me thinking of ways to use it in the classroom. We have a very high Spanish speaking population in several of our schools and I was wondering if students could point it to text and instructions and have them translate (I'm playing with that now with passages from ReadWorks). I also liked the voice translate and need to play with it with one of our Spanish speaking tech coaches to see how accurate it is - can we conduct a full conversation using the app? This BBC video on YouTube testing the app makes me think that it would only be useful in the most basic of conversations but that might be enough in the classroom. 

Once I have investigated it more I'll make a recommendation to have it added to to our app list in our schools and showcase how it is being used.   

Monday, July 6, 2015

ISTE Idea #4 - Text to Table (and Wordle)

This idea was presented at a Poster session titled "Unleash Cool Unknown Tools with Microsoft Word and OneNote." It wasn't on my list of Poster sessions to check out but I stopped in my tracks when I passed by her table and saw the presenter go over this Word feature I never knew existed and then she showed how it can be used in the classroom.

It is a feature in Word which is called Text-to-Table and it allows students, after typing their draft copy of a writing piece, to look at their document (for revision purposes) in a different way - by changing their paragraphs into single rows of text in a table.

Anyone who has taught children know that they HATE to review and revise their writing. They always think it is good on the first go round. I thought this was a unique way to teach students how to look at their writing line by line (in a table format), make their changes, and then revert it back to the paragraph form. 

The presenter (Gwynn Moore - click for her ISTE presentation) put together the instructional video above on how it works. To see the video on YouTube - CLICK HERE

This would be an idea for our middle and high school students (who have 1:1 Dell Tablets). I plan to pass it on to our literacy coaches in those areas to highlight its use in the classroom.

Where does Wordle come in? I was sharing this idea with another teacher in a session and she said she has had students copy and paste paragraphs of their writing in Wordle. The premise of Wordle is that the more you use a word the bigger it becomes in the Word Cloud. She has students look at those words that are large and asks them to look at overused words to see if they can make any changes to improve their writing. I thought that was a pretty original way to use Wordle in the classroom, and it went along with this post, so I included it. 

ISTE Idea - #5 - 100 Word Challenge

I saw this at a poster session and am very excited about getting some classrooms to try this 100 Word Challenge this coming year.

In a nutshell The 100 Word Challenge is for children under the age of 16. They are given a prompt and are allowed to use 100 words to produce a creative piece of writing (there is a 5 sentence challenge for younger writers). Prompts are given which can be anything from an image to a series of individual words. Students receive encouraging comments from their dedicated 100 Word Challenge Team and Peers.

It looks like in the past you had to have a blog and link back to the 100 Word Challenge but they posted this on their site:

"The new 100WC will launch in September 2015.  It will still be free to enter but you won’t have to have a blog to take part and for those of you who comment, all the posts will be in one place! So much easier! "

Not having to have a blog is definitely a big help in selling it to teachers...we don't have many dedicated classroom bloggers in our district. The sign up is free and it starts September 2015. I just signed up so I can get their emails.

I like the idea of using it for homework (middle schoolers take their tablets home and some schools are allowing the iPads to go home at the elementary level). At this point my only questions are will the site be available on the iPad and has the district blocked the website? I won't get those questions until we head back to school so I will keep you posted.