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Sphero: the coolest robot around

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! ūüėČ Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include: Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome. Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century. Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero. Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding. GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits. Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions! Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it. Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends. Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero. Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more? Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging. Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive. Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot. DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room. Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator. Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone. Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero. orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot. Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party. Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better. Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life. Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors” Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun. Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction. Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside. Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations. Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with. Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever! Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise. The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing! I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.  

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myHistro: timeline/story/map/picture mashups created by you!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Create, Evaluate, Geography, Government, History, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), Virtual Field Trips, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 23-10-2012

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What it is:  myHistro is a really great site (and app!) that lets students combine maps and timelines seamlessly into one great presentation of information and understanding.  myHistro is more than just data collection, it is a way to share stories.  With myHistro, students can create a rich timeline/map mashup complete with additional text, pictures and video.  The result is truly incredible!  It is easy to get started, just create an event and associate it with a time and place.  Events can be gathered together and turned into stories.  Stories, in turn, can be used together to create a collection.  Stories can be viewed in multiple ways, by events on a timeline, in chronological order with a page flip feature like an album, or as a story summary of chronological events.  Create as many events as you would like and add as many photos as you like, all for free!  The finished product can even be downloaded into Google Earth format for offline storage. Completed Histros can be embedded in other blogs and websites for maximum usability.

How to integrate myHistro into the classroom: myHistro has SO many uses!  At Anastasis, we just completed an inquiry unit on who we are.  myHistro was a perfect tie in for students exploring family histories, heritage and tradition.  Students could add pictures, and stories along with the interactive map of where events were taking place and a timeline where they could see it all unfold chronologically.  This is like a family tree on steroids. Pretty outstanding.  Even better? It ties directly into Geni (blogged about here).  

myHistro isn’t just for family trees. ¬†It could be used for students mapping out history chronologically, mapping out a fictional story, creating a story map for their own writing, mapping how ideas and invention spread, looking at explorers, migration, etc. ¬†As I said, the options are endless!

myHistro is collaborative, students can create projects together and even invite parents to join in the learning.  Pretty cool!

As a teacher, you can ditch the text book and help students really visualize that history in new ways.  A completed myHistro can be embedded in your class blog or website for students to access without having to visit multiple sites or login.

There are a number of fabulous myHistro stories that you can borrow to share with your students.  They can view these to learn more about events in history, or they can go on a fact checking mission to double check the validity of the stories created by others.  Definitely worth doing!

Tips:¬†myHistro also happens to be an app. ¬†Find it in the iTunes store. ¬†This can be your first download on your new iPad mini ūüėČ

Leave a comment and tell us how you are using  myHistro in your classroom.

Help me personalize education for EVERY child!  Donate (even just your coffee money!)  and spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.

Comments (2)

Dear Mrs. Tenkely,
I really enjoyed reading your blog post. I actually went and checked out the website. I felt as though it was really help through matching the maps. I have a lot of trouble with geography in general and I feel like this would really help me. I cannot wait to try and incorporate this into my classroom. I feel like it will be interesting and fun for students to learn to use and find out where they came from. I may actually get the App on my phone.
Thank you for your great post and I enjoyed reading it!

Dear Mrs. Tenkely,
I have really enjoyed reading your blog post and find it extremely interesting. I feel that this site will be very useful to me due to the fact that I will be taking Geography coming up. I have already gotten the App and I am ready to try it out. I find that this will also be useful in my classroom. I feel as though this will show students that history is fun to learn and it is all related to us. They can also do fun things like find their heritage. Thank you for this great post and I look forward to using it.

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