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Numberphile: a series of numberly videos

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Inquiry, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 28-01-2013

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What it is: Numberphile is a series of “numberly” videos by Brady Haran.  This is the same guy behind some other great projects including periodicvideos and sixtysymbols.  These videos reveal some of the mystery behind numbers and math in fun, short snippets!  I could give a long, drawn out explanation about the site…but really, you should go have a look and play a few videos. Or, try out the video below:

How to integrate Numberphile into the classroom: Numberphile can make a math geek out of anyone, myself included!  I don’t tend to geek out very much about numbers or math, but show me pattern and reveal some of the mystery that numbers hold and I am in.  This is what Numberphile does beautifully!  Numberphile would make a fantastic opening for math class.  Start each math class with these short videos to get your brain’s math muscles working.  I’ve watched 3 videos in a row and I am seriously geeking.

Ask students to each choose a different video to watch.  Students can learn a new math “trick” or pattern in math to teach their classmates.  The goal: creatively teach the concept!  They could create their own video, stop motion animation, infographic, story, illustration, etc.  Hold a math day  (3/14 would be fun…pi day) where students get to spend the day teaching one another.

You may assume that these videos are best for older students, not so!  At Anastasis, our 2nd and 3rd graders had a ball learning about Fibonacci and will happily explain it to any who enter their classroom.  Find an area of interest and share the passion!

Tips: All of the videos on Numberphile are YouTube videos.  If you don’t have access to YouTube in your building, try one of these methods for accessing the videos:

  • YouTube for Schools- This is a YouTube that has been created just for schools.  Network administrators must be involved so that they can add this option for YouTube into your filtering system.  This is a completely customizable option that lets teachers and administrators add videos to a playlist that you have predetermined you want students to watch.  Teachers can find videos by Common Core Standard, subject or grade.  Students can watch videos that teachers and administrators have approved or any YouTube Edu video (think Kahn Academy, PBS, TED, Stanford, etc.).
  • SafeShare TV- This site lets students watch YouTube videos without ads, links, comments and related videos.  You also have the option to crop videos and share videos with a unique URL.
  • YouTubeXL- This is a service that YouTube provides that lets you watch videos on large screens without the ads and comments. Neat tip: if you time “quiet” before the YouTube url, it takes you to a safe page where you can watch a YouTube video.  WAY cool and easy to do on the fly!
  • Clean VideoSearch- This site lets students search through YouTube videos without the comments, ads and busy sidebar.  It has additional features like the ability to choose how many videos you want to see on each page in your search.
  • Clea.nr– This service (a browser plugin) deletes all of the obnoxious extras that hang around videos (ads, comments, related videos). You can also search YouTube without all of the extras showing up.
  • ViewPure– This site cleans out all the clutter and gives you just a video.  Bonus: There is a quick button that you can add to your browser so that you can go to a video, click on “Pure” in your bookmark bar and instantly have a clean video.
  • Dragontape– This service lets you drag videos into a timeline and share them easily with students.  This is great for mashing up several videos, or cropping multiple videos into one.
  • Movavi– This is a video conversion service. Wonderful for teachers who can’t or don’t want to access a video directly from YouTube.  Copy/paste the url you want to convert, choose a file type, done!
  • Zamzar– This is another great video conversion service.  Works quickly and easily!
  • SaveYouTube- This site used to be called KickYouTube.  Here you can enter the url and download it to your computer to play offline.

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

The Making of the Learning Genome Project

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Blooms Taxonomy, education reform, For Teachers, Grade Level, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 28-10-2012

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So many of you have offered tremendous support, donations and a megaphone to spread the word about the Learning Genome Project.  I am so grateful!  Today I thought I would lift the curtain just a bit and share a behind the scenes look at the Learning Genome Project.  My plan was to do this in video form using Screenium or Screeny. Those plans were foiled when NEITHER worked even with updates.  #sigh  Instead, I’ll write out my story and take you on a picture journey of how it all took place.  If you haven’t had a chance to lend a helping hand, it is not too late.  Honestly, even $1 makes such a BIG difference!  If everyone of my readers gave just $1, this would be taken care of tonight and we would be able to start the next phase of development. Click here to help out now!

I come from a family of entrepreneurs.  If it doesn’t exist or it can be done better, that is what you do.  This mind-set can be a bit of a curse…once I get an idea in my head, it is like a broken record that plays over and over until I do something about it.  My dad is prime example of this, he started Koostik with a styrofoam cup and an iPhone. Once the idea was there, it stayed until he saw it realized…in this case that means a growing company and product in Restoration Hardware and Red Envelope.  He is awesome.

For me this process started as I dug through curriculum and worked to supplement it with technology tools.  The idea was to “fill” the gaps with technology tools that would make the curriculum work better for students.  As I went through publisher after publisher, I started realizing that the problem wasn’t a lack of technology (if you have read this blog for any amount of time, you know that is a BIG realization for me). The real problem was that we were trying to address the needs of an incredibly diverse population of kids with a one-size-fits-all curriculum.  The troubling thing for me was that I sat on the committees that made the curriculum decisions.  I was sold (just like everyone else) on the premise that these curricula had “differentiated” instruction.  I have come to hate that term.  You know what it means?  It means that curriculum companies can sell more curriculum because they add in a highlighted section that says “differentiation!” and gives a one-size bigger or one-size smaller approach to the exact same problem.  As I went through all of this curriculum, I couldn’t shake the feeling that adding in a bit of technology wasn’t going to solve the problem.

As a computer teacher, I taught 435 students every week.  I taught the same 435 kids for 6 years.  I saw them grow up, learned what made them tick, watched the frustration grow when they didn’t understand a learning objective.  These kids were amazing. They were brilliant. They all had strengths and weaknesses that made them special. They all have a different understanding and approach to the world.  We were stripping all of that uniqueness away and making them learn everything the same. We were expecting that they would learn the same things, the same way, and at the same time.  Ludicrous! Nothing in life or growth and development happens this way, and yet that is what our education system is built on?  This was really troubling for me.  I couldn’t shake that it shouldn’t be that way.

In 2010 I took a year away from teaching for health reasons.  During that year, I acted as an educational consultant for many area schools.  This period of time re-emphasized those stirrings that I was having about education. This curriculum wasn’t working because it assumed too much sameness. I saw brilliant, gifted kids losing their passions because it wouldn’t get them into the swanky private high school (that looked just like every other school). How sad that we ask kids to give up their areas of gifting to get to the next level of learning.  Something is wrong!  One day I was working my way through curriculum, supplementing the holes with technology tools.  I was listening to Pandora Internet radio.  A song came on that I had never heard before, by an artist that was also new to me.  I frantically searched for something to write on so that I could remember this new find.  I remember thinking, “how amazing that we have come to a place in history where we can use technology to predict something as personal as music.”  I was truly amazed that I could put in one piece of information and through a series of algorithms, Pandora could predict other music I would like.  If it can work with music, surely it could work with curriculum.

This was the birth of that niggling thought that wouldn’t go away.  This was the beginning of the Learning Genome Project.  I had recently been introduced to a programmer (@ianchia) through @Doremigirl on Twitter.  Ian and I had shared many conversations about what education apps could look like.  This time it was my turn to ask a question.  I wanted to know if it was possible to program what was in my head.  “Well of course.”  Ian introduced me to some wireframing tools and I was off and running.  Over the next months, I dreamed up how the Learning Genome would work.  I thought about the students that I wanted something better for. I thought about the frustrations I had as a teacher. I dreamed about a tool that would make the whole process easier.

Teachers share something in common: we all want the very best for our students.  There are a few problems with this.  First, we don’t always get to choose what we will teach. Many times our school or district hands us the curriculum and says, “go.”  This is not conducive to doing the best we know how for every child.  Second, we don’t always know that their is a tool/lesson/resource out there that could make all the difference for each student.  Third, we have a limited time to search for that perfect tool/lesson/resource.  A lot of system problems to overcome.  If Pandora can do this for music, I can do it for education.

I started researching how Pandora works, what happens in the background that makes my experience possible?  Pandora is called the Music Genome Project because it used the Human Genome Project as its inspiration.  In the Human Genome Project, genes are mapped out.  In the Music Genome Project, the “genes” of music are mapped out.  I called my version the Learning Genome Project.  Together, we will map the genes of education, those attributes that help us find commonalities that match the right content to each student at the right time.

First, we need to collect information about the learner. If we don’t know the learner, we can’t know what content best fits their needs.  This is, in short, the best student information system ever.

Next, we have to know enough about the school and the classroom to make recommendations. It does us no good to recommend an iDevice app if the school has no access to that device.

We also have to know something about the lead learner (the teacher).

After we have the profile information, it is critical to know where students are in their learning. What needs to be learned?  This is the individualized learning plan…each student has one.

 

From within the ILP, teachers, students and parents can create and have input on the learning goals.  These learning goals inform what happens in the hub of the genome.

When the learning goal has been identified, the genome “hub” comes into play. This is where resources (lessons, videos, apps, experiments, activities, etc.) are matched and recommended for the student.  Much like Pandora, a learning channel is created.

Teachers (and students) can expand the results to view more information about the recommendation.  From here it can be added to teacher and student planners, and materials for the curriculum can be selected.

Teachers can see all student assignments within their planner. Here they can create groups for overlaps of student learning.  They can also create whole-class events.

After a student completes an activity, they record it within their ePortfolio.  This is all completely integrated.  Within the portfolio they can keep notes, documents, pictures, video and badges.  Badges help students have a bread trail of where they have been in their learning.  Portfolio’s are forever associated with a student, from year to year it travels and grows with them.  Students can also have the option of downloading their portfolio for offline viewing.

In addition to portfolios and planners, the Learning Genome Project includes wiki, blog and photo tools.

Community tools keep students, teachers and parents in collaboration.

My brother and I had many of the same teachers growing up.  We are very different people with 5 years separating us.  My favorite teachers were not his.  We had very similar experiences, the same outstanding teachers. But some teachers connected better with me than him.  How do we help every child have influence of a “favorite” teacher?  I created Twitacad.  Even if that teacher isn’t in the child’s school, there is a blended learning component that makes that connection possible.

Twitacad offers teachers and students a platform for sharing, communicating, and learning.  It is all tied in to the Learning Genome. Everything works together.  Virtual teachers are listed as teachers for parents, students and other teachers to interact with.

The Learning Genome Project has assessment tools built in.  Assessment is based on mastery of a skill or concept.  This is directly related to what is happening in the student portfolio so that students, teachers and parents can view evidences of the learning.

How does content, resources, tools, lessons, apps, videos, etc. get into the genome?  It gets tagged with its learning attributes by incredible teachers around the world like you.  We all contribute to this project and we all benefit from it.

The hub (resource aggregation) portion of the Genome is free to everyone.  Every child deserves an education tailored to them.  Additional portions of the Learning Genome Project (planners, ePortfolios, blogs, wikis, Twitacad) will be a subscription based service.

The Learning Genome Project is not curriculum.  It is a sorting tool that pulls the best options for every child.  Teachers will be able to sort results based on price, Bloom’s Taxonomy level, standard, subject, and type of resource.  This will tell you what curricular resources will best meet every child’s needs.  Every time a resource is used, it gets rated by both student and teacher. Resources that are highest rated will be recommended first.

This is truly a quick overview of the Learning Genome project.  There are so many intricacies and features that will make it revolutionary to education.  The one hang up? I need help funding it!  Sure, I could go and get some venture capitalists to fund it. The problem: I want the force that drives what happens to the Learning Genome Project to be what is best for kids…not what best impacts the bottom line.  I believe that if we all put a little into this project, that we can create something revolutionary.  We can all have a part in transforming education for the world.

I hope you will join me.  I hope that you will realize that $1 and a few minutes is a small price to pay for a resource that has the potential to reach every child in the world.  This is a small price to pay for our future.  We can do this.  Please click here and donate now…then spread the word to everyone you know and encourage them to do the same.

10 ways to eliminate the distractions around YouTube videos

Posted by admin | Posted in Character Education, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 13-06-2012

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What it is: YouTube is a truly wonderful learning resource.  What isn’t so great: all of the garbage that can come along with it (i.e. advertising, comments, related videos…in short-distractions). Luckily, schools have some great options for using YouTube differently.  Some of these tools I have written about before and some are new additions…hence the new post! 🙂

  • YouTube for Schools- This is a YouTube that has been created just for schools.  Network administrators must be involved so that they can add this option for YouTube into your filtering system.  This is a completely customizable option that lets teachers and administrators add videos to a playlist that you have predetermined you want students to watch.  Teachers can find videos by Common Core Standard, subject or grade.  Students can watch videos that teachers and administrators have approved or any YouTube Edu video (think Kahn Academy, PBS, TED, Stanford, etc.).
  • SafeShare TV- This site lets students watch YouTube videos without ads, links, comments and related videos.  You also have the option to crop videos and share videos with a unique URL.
  • YouTubeXL- This is a service that YouTube provides that lets you watch videos on large screens without the ads and comments. Neat tip: if you time “quiet” before the YouTube url, it takes you to a safe page where you can watch a YouTube video.  WAY cool and easy to do on the fly!
  • Clean VideoSearch- This site lets students search through YouTube videos without the comments, ads and busy sidebar.  It has additional features like the ability to choose how many videos you want to see on each page in your search.
  • Clea.nr– This service (a browser plugin) deletes all of the obnoxious extras that hang around videos (ads, comments, related videos). You can also search YouTube without all of the extras showing up.
  • ViewPure– This site cleans out all the clutter and gives you just a video.  Bonus: There is a quick button that you can add to your browser so that you can go to a video, click on “Pure” in your bookmark bar and instantly have a clean video.
  • Dragontape– This service lets you drag videos into a timeline and share them easily with students.  This is great for mashing up several videos, or cropping multiple videos into one.
  • Movavi– This is a video conversion service. Wonderful for teachers who can’t or don’t want to access a video directly from YouTube.  Copy/paste the url you want to convert, choose a file type, done!
  • Zamzar– This is another great video conversion service.  Works quickly and easily!
  • SaveYouTube- This site used to be called KickYouTube.  Here you can enter the url and download it to your computer to play offline.

How to integrate less distracting YouTube videos into the classroom:  This one is really a no brainer: want to use YouTube? Clean it up!  I find great content I find on YouTube (as do my students). All of the “extras” around the videos can be SO distracting as a searcher and viewer.  These options are outstanding for making videos less distracting so that your students can focus on the learning happening.

I find that students head to YouTube (even before Google) when they want to learn something new.  They are generally pretty successful at finding a video that will teach them how to do what they want to do.  Very handy for self guided learning!

Tips: Always try these tools out at school BEFORE using with students.  Some of them won’t work depending on your school’s filters and policies.

Leave a comment and share how less distracting YouTube videos are rocking your classroom.

TED-Ed: Lessons (videos) worth sharing

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Art, Evaluate, History, inspiration, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 26-04-2012

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What it is: I have long been a TED talk fan, so much so that I started a lunch group at my previous school called TED Talk Tuesdays where teachers could gather over lunch, watch TED Talks and discuss it’s implication on education.  TED has a brand new education site that I am excited about.  TED-ed is a collection of educational video lessons that have been animated.  These lessons can be used as a supplement in any classroom.  Each video on the TED-ed site has an associated lesson, a Quick Quiz with multiple choice comprehension questions, Think which asks questions to help students think more critically about what they have watched, and Dig Deeper which helps students to explore the topic further.  In addition to the videos, TED-ed gives educators the ability to “flip” videos.  You can use, tweak, or completely re-do any lesson that is featured on TED-Ed, or even create lessons from scratch based on any video from YouTube.  You can re-title a lesson to fit your classroom, add context, questions and follow-up suggestions, and create a custom URL for your video lesson.  You can even track your student’s progress to see who has viewed the assigned video, the number of questions they attempted, the answers they provided, and the answers they got correct.

How to integrate TED-Ed into the classroom:  TED-Ed is a fantastic new resource for the classroom.  The videos can be used for flip teaching.  Flip teaching changes up the classroom model.  Normally students come to school to get instruction and do their practice work at home as homework.  In a flipped teaching model, the instruction is watched at home as “homework” and the practice happens in the classroom where students can receive teacher support.  This means that the focus in the classroom is on higher-order thinking and learning skills instead of on instruction.  How novel. 🙂 Student can come to class ready for deeper inquiry, critical thinking, discussion with classmates, collaboration and get more personalized attention from the teacher.  You maximize classroom time by “going home” with the students.

Video is a great medium for learning because it allows students to learn at their own pace and gives them the ability to replay as many times as they need to.  Visuals are always useful when learning something new, video is a great medium because of the way that it helps enhance understanding through the use of visuals. 

Videos are searchable by those that have been featured, those that are part of a series or by subject.  Students can learn about the arts, business/economics, design/engineering/technology, health, literature/language, math, psychology, science/technology, and social studies.  The library will continue to grow as teachers flip the videos and TED-ed adds content from educators around the world.

The videos are great in a flipped classroom model but can also be used within the classroom.  Videos can be watched and discussed as a whole-class or put on classroom computers as a learning center.  When I taught second grade, I made sure that I had time individually with my students each week.  In the mornings, my students worked on groups with “tub work” to make this time possible with individual students.  These videos would make a great “second teacher” in a blended learning classroom where students could continue their learning while you work with students individually. 

Tips: Remember, if you don’t find a video that meets your classroom needs, you can always flip any video you find on YouTube!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using TED-ed in  your classroom!

Learn Zillion: Learning without limits

Posted by admin | Posted in inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 05-12-2011

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What it is:  Today I learned about a resource called Learn Zillion in a Skype conversation with Sam Schillace, creator of Google Docs.  Learn Zillion has a tagline that resonates with me: Learning Without Limits.  This is why I love technology, it enables learning without limits.  One of the things I have dreamed about, is a world where the very best teachers around the world could be connected with the students that need them.  Learn Zillion does just that through asynchronous video lessons organized by the Common Core Standards.  Learn Zillion was started by E.L. Haynes public charter school who had a passion for sharing best practices across classrooms and to connect students with just the right lesson, at just the right time.  The site started small and grew along with the passion that every child should have access to incredible teachers and resources.  Learn Zillion is now a place where teachers can learn by “sitting in” on other teacher’s lessons, and students can get a playlist of lessons that meet their needs.  Pretty awesome!
How to integrate Learn Zillion into the classroom: It has always bothered me that I only had access to the teachers I had access to.  Let me explain that a little: I had some really incredible teachers growing up; my first, third, and fifth grade teachers were beyond exceptional.  I think about them often and model my own teaching based on what they did.  I had an incredible creative writing teacher in high school.  I had an Algebra teacher who made me believe that I was a gifted math student (I’m average at best).  I also had years with so-so teachers, teachers who didn’t really inspire the best in me.  That is not to say that another student didn’t connect with them and remember them years later.  It always irked me that I didn’t get to pick ANY teacher in the world to be my teacher.  I knew that there were amazing teachers out there, why didn’t I get to learn from them?  Would my education have been different if I was matched up with the very best teachers in the world?
Learn Zillion is the first step in this direction.  It may not be the rich experience you get from clicking with someone on a personal level AND learning from them, but does give students the ability to learn a concept in a new way from a teacher who may “click” with them educationally differently than you can.  Sometimes it is just a matter of being able to pause, rewind and repeat a concept at will that makes all the difference.  With class sizes that are growing out of control, the ability to work one on one with students is diminishing quickly.  Learn Zillion allows every child to enter their learning at the right level, it is available on demand (day or night), it utilized fantastic educators from around the world, and it helps teachers create custom playlists of learning for students.  Using this technology, students can get the extra support they need with foundational concepts.
Learn Zillion would make a fantastic support center in the classroom.  Students can visit the center to find out where they are in their personal learning journey, watch videos and practice new skills and concepts.  Because the videos are based on Common Core Standards, your students will get extra support for the foundational skills that support additional learning.
Learn Zillion is a nice resource in a “flipped” classroom where homework looks a lot more like preparation for practice that happens in the classroom.  Students can watch the preparation video at home and come to class prepared to practice and explore using the new knowledge.  The great thing about a flipped classroom is the ability to offer students support where and when they need it-in the practice and honing of skills.

Tips: I’m impressed with the quality and organization of Learn Zillion.  Be sure to take some time to explore some lessons and dream up how you might use it with your students or even as a learning tool for yourself.

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

1-to-1 iPad ePortfolio solution

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Blogs, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 11-10-2011

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Today @j_allen asked how we handled eportfolio’s at Anastasis Academy.  The 140 characters of Twitter felt a little too limiting to explain the hows and whys of what we do…bring on the blog post!

Anastasis has a one-to-one iPad program.  Our students own their iPads in a modified BYOD (bring your own device) setup.  I say modified because we requested what device they brought.  The iPad was the ONLY supply on our supply list. Anastasis supplies all other materials (pencils, papers, crayons, markers, paint, glue, etc.).  This has been a fantastic setup for us.  Families are in charge of keeping the iPads in working order, synced with the student iTunes account and charged for class.  We made the decision not to own the iPads as a school to keep costs low for technical support, replacement of broken or out-dated devices and so that our students could take ownership over their own devices.  Students can add any apps to the iPad at home using their own iTunes account.  As a school, we purchase curricular and productivity apps for students.  Students download these apps using redeem codes so that they can stay signed into their own iTunes account.

Anastasis has 60 students in 1st through 8th grade.  At the beginning of the school year, we sent home a list of recommended restrictions for parents to set up on student iPads.  We taught families how to enable parent restrictions on the Internet, movie/app/song ratings, and how to block in app purchases.  We asked all parents to restrict student access to Safari.  At school, we downloaded the MobiCip app to every iPad so that we could filter the Internet.  MobiCip allows us to set up broad category filters based on age. A premium MobiCip account lets us filter exactly what we want to and allow those sites we want to.  (For those who are wondering our students do have access to YouTube.) 🙂

I digress…the question was about ePortfolios.

We use a combination of Evernote, Edu 2.0 and Edublogs to keep and share our work.  Evernote has been a fantastic app for our students.  Students can record text, images, and audio directly in Evernote.  Each note can be emailed to teachers and parents.  A link can also be generated for each note making them easy to share on blogs.  Better yet? There are SO many apps that have the ability to share with Evernote.  Very handy.  Students do quite a bit of writing directly in Evernote.  This is a good place for all of student writing (even those pieces they don’t want to, or aren’t ready to, share).  Evernote makes it easy to organize all of their notes into notebooks (the learning curve here is teaching students to use some organization).  The ability to record audio and take pictures of their work in Evernote is great.  This means that students can capture learning that isn’t natively digital-digitally.  All of those awesome inquiry projects that they construct and build can be captured and reflected on in Evernote.  Another HUGE benefit to the Evernote/iPad combo: it goes with them everywhere.  Recording learning on a field trip? Check. Recording learning at home? Check. Recording learning on the fly? Check. Teachers often send students a PDF instructions for an assignment or a picture to the student’s Evernote account. Parents can login to their child’s Evernote account from any computer or iDevice to see what they are working on.

Edu 2.0 is our education portal.  In Edu 2.0 we can share things as a school community.  Edu 2.0 has a built in e-portfolio (we don’t often use this), a blog, a post feed, calendar, and message system.  Edu 2.0 makes it easy for us to stay connected as a school community.  Because we teach young students, this “walled” community is a safe place for students to share any, and all, of their work and thoughts.  Students often write blog posts in Edu 2.0 about their learning.  Other students, parents and teachers can comment on the Edu 2.0 blog posts.  Teachers use Edu 2.0 to send students assignments, make class announcements and communicate quickly with parents in their classroom.  Students can link any content from their Evernote account to their blog in Edu 2.0 to share it with other students, parents or teachers.  The school calendar is updated with all birthdays, learning excursions and school events so that students, parents and teachers are always up-to-date.  The live post feed makes it easy for teachers and administration to make school-wide announcements.  This feed shows up on the home page of every student, parent and teacher.

Each of our teachers has a class Edublog.  This is where the teachers write blog posts about the happenings in their classrooms.  Students can also contribute to the class blogs to get input and comments from a global audience.  The Edublog is the place for interaction and collaboration with the world.

We have a school YouTube account where students can upload videos and stop motion animations.  The school account has become a nice central place for students to share their work with the world.  I act as administrator on the YouTube channel so that I can moderate comments and videos.  Students can easily link to, or embed, videos they have created in Evernote, on their Edu 2.0 blog or on Edublogs.

This combination of tools has worked well as an ePortfolio for student work. I love that at the end of the school year students have ALL of their work with them.  Because they own their iPads, the Evernote content goes with them.  Even without the iPad, students can access their Evernote account from anywhere and continue using it.

Do you have a one to one program?  I would love to hear your solutions for an ePortfolio!

Science Fix: Video demos and experiments

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 16-02-2011

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What it is: Science Fix is a fantastic video blog that I learned about from my friend and PLN colleague Kyle Pace. The videos are all recorded science experiments and demos from middle school science teacher Darren Fix.  The majority of the videos are chemistry related but there is also some good physics videos in there as well.  The videos are hosted on YouTube so if you don’t have access, you may have to use one of those tricky ways to download and save from home. (See Tips below for ways to do that.)

How to integrate Science Fix into the classroom: Science Fix is a great place to find demos and science experiment videos to share with your students. These videos will help your students better visualize and understand the concepts that they are learning in your class.  We don’t all have robust resource budgets, sometimes we have to pick and choose what we will be able to demo for our class live. These videos are a big help in bringing those experiments to our classrooms when budgets don’t allow us to do it live.  There are great descriptions and additional links and resources along with each video.

Tips: For those of you who don’t have access to YouTube in your building, you can still use these awesome videos in your classrooms with a little bit of pre-planning.  Download and save YouTube videos so that you can show them at school without accessing the YouTube site. UseKeepVidYouTube DownloaderHDKick YouTubeSaveVid, or Zamzar.  Some of these tools will even let you download at school if you know the YouTube url.  The downloaded video should have no trouble playing at school!

You can follow ScienceFix on Twitter here.

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

LiveBinders: Chemistry!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Knowledge (remember), Middle/High School, Science, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 27-12-2010

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What it is: LiveBinders is one of my favorite ways to quickly gather and share information with others.  Whenever someone asks me for a collection of resources, I immediately start gathering them in a LiveBinder.  I have written about LiveBinders in the past, you can read those posts here and here for ideas of how to use LiveBinders in your classroom.  A few days ago a friend asked if I had any good Chemistry websites I could recommend.  I had a few but thought I would call on my Twitter network for their favorites.  This Chemistry LiveBinder is the result.  Thank you PLN for all of your help and recommendations, as usual they were spot on!

How to integrate LiveBinders: Chemistry into your curriculum: If you teach Chemistry (or have a friend who teaches Chemistry) this binder is a great one to pursue! I separated resources into videos, periodic table, games, simulations, and websites.

Don’t teach chemistry but are interested in using LiveBinders?  Here are some ideas for using LiveBinders in your classroom:

Live Binders can be used as online digital portfolios for students.  Any Word or PDF documents that they create can be added to a binder along with any web content that they create.  The binders are easy to keep track of and share.  Each tab can represent a year in school and each subtab can represent a subject within the school year.  The Live Binder can easily be used from year to year creating a digital portfolio. Live Binders can be placed on desktops so that students don’t have to type in long URL’s to access a website.  Everything can be organized and easily updated in a Live Binder for students to access the web through.  This is a great time saver for the computer lab or classroom computers.   Create your own ‘textbooks’ for students to access as a Live Binder.  You can easily add content to it and students can access the materials from any Internet connected computer.  Create an assignment Live Binder with all worksheets and classroom materials.  Students can access any classroom materials from home, no more lost papers!  Students can create Live Binders to keep themselves organized as they complete research projects.  Students could turn in a final project as a Live Binder that includes all of their web research, notes, and final written work.  Live Binders would be a great way to go paperless at your school.  Create a binder with important school information, meeting notes, calendars, etc. for school staff to access.

Tips: Educators are making some really fantastic LiveBinder collections, if you are looking for a specific subject or topic, search LiveBinders, someone may have already created the perfect go to guide!

Yep, that is my smiling face you see in the banner at the top of LiveBinders, I am going to be joining LiveBinders and Dean Mantz on January 12 on learncenteral.org for a live podcast.  I hope you will join us too!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using  LiveBinders: Chemistry in your classroom!

Study Jams!

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, Video Tutorials, Websites | Posted on 03-11-2010

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What it is: Scholastic Study Jams is a fantastic collection of over 200 learning resource collections. Study Jams are videos, slide shows, and step by step explanations for science and math that will have your students discovering everything from invertebrates to the water cycle and the rule of divisibility.  Each Jam includes a teaching video/step-by-step/slide show, key vocabulary, and a test yourself section where they can practice what they have just learned.  Each Jam also suggests related jams where students can expand their learning and dig deeper on a subject.  To be honest, this is more like the textbook of the future that I envisioned.  I love that each concept is introduced in the context of a story.  Students learn the concept from fun Study Jam characters and can pause and rewind the learning as needed.  In the test yourself section, students can check for understanding and receive immediate feedback on their learning.

How to integrate Study Jams into your curriculum: Study Jams is a truly incredible collection of learning opportunities for students.  Use Jams to introduce your students to a new concept, or reinforce learning.  In Math students can learn about numbers, multiplication and division, addition and subtraction, fractions, decimals and percents, algebra, geometry, measurement, data analysis, probability, and problem solving.  Each topic has several sub-topics for students to explore.  In science topics include: plants, animals, the human body, ecosystems, landforms, rocks and minerals, weather and climate, solar system, matter, force and motion, energy, light, and sound, and scientific inquiry.  Again, each science topic has several sub-topics.

Study Jams can be used with your whole class as an anticipatory set for learning using an interactive whiteboard or projector connected computer.  After viewing the step-by-step, video, or slide-show check for understanding by having your students complete the “test yourself” as a class.  This can be done with personal whiteboards where students write down their answer and hold it up, a raise of hands, or student response systems (clickers).  Use this as formative assessment to guide your lesson.  Study Jams can also be used as a center activity in the math or science classroom.  Students can visit the Study Jam as part of a larger group of related activities.  In a center, students can visit individually or in small groups and self direct their learning.  For those students who have already mastered the concept, they can view related Study Jams to extend their learning.

Study Jams is ideal for students in a 1 to 1 or lab setting.  Here students can explore at their own pace, pausing and rewinding as necessary.  They can also extend their learning based on their personal interests by choosing a related Study Jam.

Can’t find a Study Jam that fits what your students are learning? Ask students to create their own Study Jam video, slide show or step by step.  Students can use tools like Animoto, Voice Thread, or Domo Animate to create their own.  Students can create their own “test yourself” using a Google Form or survey tool.

Tips: I learned about Study Jams from someone in my blogging alliance (sorry I didn’t make note of who!) If you aren’t already following these amazing blogs, I highly recommend them (alliance #1, alliance #2).  I learn SO much every day from each one of them.  If I learned about Study Jams from your blog, leave me a comment so I can thank you here!

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


Wiggio: Group Collaboration made easy

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, collaboration, Create, Evaluate, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 28-10-2010

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What it is: Yesterday as I was scanning through my Twitter stream when I came across this tweet from my friend @jasonshmidt123:  “Holy buckets of love, this is cool! RT @plugusin: Checking out Wiggio:  http://wiggio.com/ for collaborating.”  Now, any time buckets of love are involved I am intrigued- I had to check it out.  I must say, Wiggio is a way cool tool for collaboration.  Wiggio is a completely free online toolkit that makes it easy to work and coordinate with groups.  Wiggio is SO very simple to use and has a very straight forward interface that makes it easy for even those who are low-tech.  Wiggio lets you share and manage files, manage a group calendar, poll your group, post links, set up conference calls (including voice, webcam, shared whiteboard space, and screen sharing), chat online, send out mass text messages, and send voice or email messages to the entire group.  Wiggio has a lot of features that remind me of Google Groups but some additional features that truly make it a “holy buckets of love” experience.  Everything is in one place, handy and easy to use!

How to integrate Wiggio into your curriculum: I can see a lot of possibilities of Wiggio in the classroom.  Use it to create a class group with student families each year.  Keep families up to date with the latest happenings in your classroom, volunteer opportunities, and class projects that will need some parent support.  Share all important documents, videos, and resources that you use in your classroom for easy access from home.  (I can’t tell you how many, “I’ve lost the permission slip could you please send a new one?” I get in a year!).  Keep all those documents in your Wiggio group file and parents will never have to worry about lost paperwork again.  Live meeting opportunities mean that you can hold a virtual parent university where you catch parents up on the new math/reading/science/writing curriculum.  Teach your parents everything from reading strategies to use at home to working through math problems together.  Parents would love a little support in this area!  Offer virtual conference opportunities for parents who are unable to make it for a live conference due to long-term illness, job travel, or in multiple parent homes.

Use Wiggio to create student groups where you keep students up to date with classroom happenings and resources.  Offer your students a study hour where they can meet with you virtually for a little extra support or mentoring.  Remind your students of upcoming assignments by creating to-do’s.  Collect digital assignments using Wiggio files.

Students can create study groups of their own for collaborative projects.  As they work together they can meet virtually, share resources and links, and create a schedule to keep themselves on task.

Working with a class outside of your school?  Maybe in another state or country?  Wiggio is the perfect platform for connecting them, they can work together with shared space and chat live from your classroom.

Wiggio can be used with teaching staff to keep teaching teams organized and give them a place to share resources, ideas, and share a common calendar of events.

Have ambitious parents?  They can use Wiggio to collaborate and work with other parents for fundraiser events, coordinating volunteers, and special days.

I am currently using Vyew as my virtual classroom meeting space but Wiggio offers so much more functionality all in one place, I think for the next round of virtual class I will be making the switch!  To quote Jason again, “Holy buckets of love, this is cool!”

Tips: Wiggio has a demo area where you can play with all of the features yourself without registering or creating an account.  Note to all web 2.0 companies…this is a really nice feature, I wish you all would do it 🙂

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