Featured Post

Boy’s Life Comic Creator

What it is: Boy’s Life Magazine is a great place to reach those boys in your class that are reluctant readers or writers.  On the Boy’s Life site, you will find a Comic Creator where students can create a comic strip.  The Comic Creator is easy to use, offering enough tools for...

Read More

Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2

 

What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Stormboard: Beautiful virtual brainstorming and collaboration

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Download, Evaluate, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 12-03-2014

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5

Stormboard-beautiful virtual brainstorming and collaboration

What it is: Stormboard is a super beautiful virtual sticky note brainstorming and collaboration application that lets classrooms or teams share online whiteboard space. In addition to virtual sticky notes, Stormboard makes it simple to add quality and usefulness to your shared space with photos and video. Each idea that gets added to a Stormboard has a comment thread attached to it, this ensures that everyone’s voice gets heard and conversations about specific ideas don’t get lost. Users can also vote on ideas, this is a quick way to get feedback. Stormboard lets you instantly generate “innovation” reports so that all ideas can be easily captured and saved as a spreadsheet or pdf. Shared space is flexible, you can share both synchronously or asynchronously. Stormboard works on any internet connected device making it ideal for a BYOD (bring your own device) classroom, and seamless regardless of what platforms your school uses.

How to use Stormboard in your classroom: I’ve seen lots of sticky note type applications over the years. Stormboard is hands down the most flexible and the most aesthetically pleasing. It gets all of that without being difficult to learn, it has a really great intuitive interface. Stormboard is a great way to capture learning that happens. In an inquiry classroom, we are regularly brainstorming, asking questions, following bunny trails of important thoughts and ideas, and sharing photos and video. Stormboard would be such an ideal place to capture all of this thought during an inquiry unit. I love the way that it threads conversations so that everyone’s voice gets heard and captured as it relates to an idea.

At Anastasis, our kids are constantly discussing big ideas. Stormboard would be a great way for the students to take notes and capture those ideas all together. As they go through literature, research, current events, science experiments, etc. they can capture all of their ideas, quotes, related images and videos in one place. When it comes time to write a report, reflection, summary or do some design thinking with their learning, students will have all relevant information in one place that THEY created together. This could be huge! Our Jr. High has been going through a book chapter by chapter throughout the year. So many of the discussions they have should be captured, the deep thinking is truly awesome! Stormboard would be a great place for this to happen. Learning and thinking process recorded.

Stormboard would also be perfect when you are implementing design thinking in the classroom. It is the perfect place for the ideation and research phases of the project to be captured.

Students can use Stormboard to work collaboratively with others in their class or with other classes in their school. It would also be a great tool to use with a collaborating school. Because it has options for sharing synchronously or asynchronously, it can be used with schools in different time zones around the world for collaborative projects.

Teachers can use Stormboard to collaborate on units or lessons with other teachers, make plans for new team undertakings, or just as a place to share or capture ideas.

Classrooms can use Stormboard on classroom computers OR on an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer to capture learning each day. This would make a cool living “textbook” where students could gather materials, resources, share ideas and conversations. Each day assign a different set of students to be in charge of the record. If you have a one to one device situation, each student can collaborate in this process together. At the end of the day, download the PDF or innovation report and save it. What a cool yearbook of learning and insight into your classroom.

As a school, plan new initiatives with your administrative team. We are currently dreaming of our own building (right now we lease space). This is the perfect place to share that dreaming with all stakeholders and capture conversations and thinking along the way.

I think it is awesome that Stormboard works on all devices, but also provides the option of downloading your work. This way you aren’t SO reliant on a tool that if it disappeared, all would be lost.

Tips: Stormboard is free to use. However, the free account is limited to 5 collaborators at a time. I’ve got my fingers crossed that when they see the awesome way that educators are using Stormboard, they will consider offering a free education account with enough for a class or two to collaborate. For $5/month/user you can add as many as you want. For $10/user/month you get unlimited users and unlimited administrators.

 

Rodan + Fields Consultant

ASCEville- Engineering Just for Fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 17-11-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

0

iLearn Technology ASCEville Engineering fun!

What it is: ASCEville is a good place for students to try their hand at civil engineering through online games, offline activities, videos, and contests.  In ASCEville, students can explore civil engineering history and where civil engineering is found in our daily lives.  Online resources for kindergarten through 12th grade will help you find just the right activity for your classroom!

How to integrate ASCEville into the classroom: ASCEville is easy to use in any classroom.  With activity ideas and games for every age level, this is an easy site to use and integrate into the math or science class seamlessly.  Students will appreciate the hands-on nature of the site, and the ability to see what all of that math they are learning gets applied to.  The activities on ASCEville will give your students a tangible connection point to math and science concepts that they are learning.

Create a mini engineering fair in your classroom.  Invite each student to independently choose an offline activity in the Just for Fun section of the site.  Students can choose to build a gumdrop dome, build a globe-shaped clubhouse, stack a tower of cups, test out pressure on paper, design a paper table, build a high-rise tower, or build a paper bridge.  Students should approach each activity expecting failure (love that!).  Ask your students to record their successes and failures as they build through drawings, pictures, and notes.  What tweaks made a difference?  Why?  On the day of the “fair” students can set up their final projects and include a small collection of observations they made and their pictures/notes along the way.  Ask students to share with each other the challenges they faced, what they tried, and if they were able to overcome the challenge.

This site is a great resource for students inquiring into civil engineering, how buildings and cities are designed and built, or how engineering can be used to keep us safe during natural disasters.  There is enough information on the site to spark new lines of inquiry and some great ways for students to use design thinking to further explore engineering concepts.

Tips: Don’t forget to check out the Educators section for some great additional resources, lessons, and ideas! Thanks to Anastasis parent Paul for sending us this great site!

What do you think?  How will you use ASCEville in your classroom?

Adobe Forms Center: Create & Share Interactive Forms

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Character Education, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 11-07-2013

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3

Screen Shot 2013-07-11 at 4.45.25 PM

What it is: Sometimes I come across a useful site and think, “how in the world is it possible that I haven’t discovered this before?”  That happened today with Adobe Form Central.  This free web application lets you create pdf’s that are actually web forms that can be filled out directly on the pdf.  Fancy.  Forms Central has a huge bank of templates that you can start with including a section just for education.  These are mostly application, appointment, quiz type forms.  But the best…the ability to create your own custom pdf form! Design items include text fields, date fields, email fields, single choice, multiple choice, drop down menu, single check box, rating scale, file attachments, formatted text, images, and page or section breaks.  When you have finished with the form you can set the form up to automatically email recipients, redirect them to a new url, or include a confirmation message.  You can even collect payments through PayPal (I’ll tell you why I find that feature useful!).  When you are ready to distribute your form you can email the link, embed the form or share on Twitter.  From within form central, you can view responses and save to Excel or as a PDF.  You can even sort responses from within Forms Central.

How to integrate Form Central into the classroom:  The obvious (and boring) use of Forms Central for education is for creating quizzes and tests.  Pass.  I’m not interested in using it that way so the custom feature is where I head.  Form Central is a great place for you to create a guided inquiry form where students can view the current inquiry question and fill in their own lines of inquiry and thoughts as they begin into a new unit.  Answers are collected in one place so that you can go through with your class and discuss options.  This could be a great twist on the ideation step in design thinking!

Forms Central could be used to create customized rubrics that you and your students can fill in.  Again, the great feature here is that everything is collected in one spot!  Students can create and use forms to collect scientific or mathematical data that can be analyzed and evaluated later.

Students can create their own custom surveys for collaborative projects and easily distribute their forms and collect answers.  Our students created their own not-for-profit (LSGW Foundation), because they occasionally host fundraisers, Forms Central would be really useful for collecting information and donations online.  The ability to connect the form to a PayPal account where they can collect donations is fantastic!

The PayPal function could also be used by you at the beginning of the school year.  If you’re like us, you have parents fill out loads of Q&A’s at back to school night so that you can get to know the family and child better.  You could include a short wish-list of items that you would like for your classroom.  Parents could choose to donate monetarily to your classroom fund through your forms.  Forms Central also gives them an easy one-stop place to quickly fill out all of the information online.

Do you host an after school club or tutoring?  Use Forms Central to create your application/enrollment form and collect payment at once.

Have your students evaluate your class using a course evaluation (template), collect feedback from colleagues at a conference where you hosted a session, collect interest for a new offering in your classroom, create a risk assessment sheet…the sky is the limit for what you can create.

One of my favorite things about the start of the school year at Anastasis Academy is the Learning Profile that we create for each of our students.  We survey students to learn about their multiple intelligence strengths, brain dominance, learning style preferences, and interests and passions.  Forms Central would be a really great way to collect all of this information (at least until the Learning Genome is finished!).

Tips:  You may be wondering…why not just use Google forms?  I love Google forms, I really do.  But Forms Central gives options that Google does not.  Those options are appealing to me on a number of levels!  The bank of templates they have to start from is also super helpful when time is an issue.

Are you using Forms Central in your classroom?  Share your experience in the comments below!

PowToon: AMAZING free animation tool

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 16-08-2012

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

3

What it is:  I have discovered my new favorite creation site.  Holy wow this is a cool tool.  Basically, it makes you (and your students) look like rockstars when they present.  You know all of those super cool animated videos that tell a story through drawings on a whiteboard?  Now you can make those all on your own with a super simple drag-drop tool.  Meet PowToon.  It is awesome.  I’m a little addicted to playing with video creation…no joke.

PowToon has a great mission: “to address all the frustrations that people have with power point and keynote and add animation and killer design.”  You don’t have to be super tech savvy or design skills to create spectacular animated presentations.   The goal here is to help people communicate in a way that conveys ideas.  Best of all…it is FREE!  Woot!  Also, PowToon loves education, they want to help teachers and students create great content that is visually engaging, captivating and fun to make.

Right now PowToon has 5 design styles (with more coming).  Added with your student’s creativity, these animations are going to be fabulous.  Finished videos can be shared all over: YouTube, Facebook, Google Plus, Pinterest, Twitter, exported or embedded.

PowToon is currently in Beta version. Sign up for an early look at this super cool creation tool.  I got my invitation within a few hours.  #bam

How to integrate PowToon into your curriculum: PowToon is a fantastic way to share ideas and story.  Communication is a vital skill.  The ability to express ideas and story in a succinct, clear manner is crucial.  Today, students have another facet of communication to learn…visual communication.

PowToon would be a great addition to the design thinking routine.  Students can use PowToon to share their ideas or to “prototype” an idea.  Students can create videos to show math processes, explanations of complex concepts, review new learning, teach others, explain processes, tell stories, or present research.  The possibilities are really endless and students will come up with hundreds of other creative uses.

Teachers can use PowToon to create animations for students.  This is a great way to present new information or ideas for discussion.

Tips: The PowToon Interactive Tour and How to Create series are very helpful to watch prior to creating your first animations.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using PowToon in your classroom!