Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Free Android and iOS Game That Teaches Coding

Tommy the Turtle helps kids learn how to code by making it a fun experience.  It's a free app that is available on Android and iOS (both iPhone and iPad). Kids learn about sequencing, looping, and following commands. Click here for the link. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

Making Math a Movement Based Learning Experience

Students master content when they are provided opportunities to learn it in a variety of different ways. 

Kelly Mally shared a great interactive Math lesson that can easily be applied to other subjects. The tables have equivalent fractions to the ones written on the balloons that are on the floor. Students walk around the classroom trying to match the equivalent fractions on the balloons to the ones on their tables. Think of the math discussions being had by the students as they are trying to find a pair. 

I think that teachers often underestimate the value of students being able to stand up and move around. My control freak peers that don't want students to flinch without their permission. 

You try to sit for long hours a day and see if you can focus on what's being said without being distracted by how uncomfortable you are. 

Let's not forget what it feels like to be a student. Let's provide students of all learning types, the opportunity to master the concepts. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

3D Printing Student Samples

Many schools are experimenting with 3D printers. I've unfortunately not had the privilege. 3D printers are still very costly. 

What is a 3D printer? It's a printer that allows you to print out an image in 3 dimensions, instead of just a flat piece of paper. The computer tells the printer how to print out the object in layers so that it achieves a 3 dimensional effect. 

This tweet shared by Matt Hiefield shows a few useful items that his students have created. Among them: a cell phone stand, a butterfly shaped paper clip, and a tripod. 

I love how Matt's class projects are creative and useful. Students can take what they have made home and share the excitement of their lessons with their parents. 

STEM/STEAM teachers: Are you doing 3D printing with your students? How are you determining what the students should create?

Teaching the Art of Animation with Pixar

If you are a cartoon lover and Disney fan like I am, you probably are aware of the many Pixar films. Pixar recently had an exhibition in the California Science Center where they taught children the process of animated a character. Pixar provides educators with activities and guides aligned with Common Core Standards with the focus of helping students learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)

While the exhibit is no longer available and not everyone lives close enough to have experienced it, I'm sharing the link that contains the video resources and activity sheets. Click here for the link.

You might also be interested in Pixar in a Box.

It's a series of free lessons available through Khan Academy that teaches students about the steps involved in animation. Khan Academy is also a great resource for Math students. 

Pixar in a Box provides an insiders view of what animator at Pixar goes through from concept idea to creation. Animations are being used in a variety of ways these days, not just for cartoons. We can use animation as a way to motivate students to bring their creations to life, while learning about STEAM. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Star Wars, Virtual Reality, and Google: Force for Change

Star Wars Force for Change is donating money for the purchase of 270 Starlight Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and equipment for children hospitals across the U.S. Lucas Film will provide Star Wars themed content for the VR headsets! Can you imagine being a sick child in the hospital, feeling sick, bored, and being able to travel to another galaxy and fight with Obi-Wan. 

The grant also includes the delivery of Starlight Brave Gowns. Picture a hospital gown, but with a Star Wars theme! Makes wearing a hospital gown that much cooler. 

The Starlight VR Set will include both a stationary and a mobile unit. Google will provide all the content they already have available for VR: Google Expeditions, Virtual Field Trips, Daydream, Google Earth VR, and Tilt Brush. 

You can join the force and help make these experiences possible for children. Donations give you tickets for a chance to win 3 amazing Star Wars Experiences:

  • Spend the night at Skywalker Ranch
  • A visit to the Han Solo Set and a chance to be in the movie
  • Meet the Star Wars Cast at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Flights and accommodations provided for the winners and a guest 
A chance of a life-time for any Star Wars fan and your contribution will help thousands of sick children.

Click here for more information. #ForceForChange

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When did Maker Spaces Become Solely Robots, Coding, & Circuits

The maker mentality has been popular among educators. It focuses on the importance of (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Some argue that it should be (STEAM) with the A representing Art. 

Many schools throughout the U.S. and the World are creating some type of maker or STEM project in their schools. Some have maker spaces or rooms and others, give students opportunities to learn about STEM as it applies to their curriculum. 

While exposing children to technology at an early age continues to be important, I feel like we are missing other opportunities. As educators and administrators have narrowed their scope to just the proponents of those subjects mentioned above, they are limiting the opportunities available for students to develop a true maker mentality. 

The maker mentality is not limited to just Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. There are many hobbies and professions that use this type of thinking process in the day to day. For example, does a chef not make delectable culinary masterpieces? Does a knitter not make functional objects, like scarves, hats, and more? Can a maker space then have culinary opportunities? The current wave of thought is no, because it's not technology related. It doesn't blink and make noises when you program it. 

Perhaps this is the splitting point for both STEM and STEAM supporters. In order to reach all students, we need to provide them with a variety of experiences.  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

STEM Club Toy Subscription

Amazon has come up with a great new concept, a STEM monthly toy subscription. It's $19.99 a month and it is divided into age ranges: 3-4 year olds, 5-7 year olds, and 8-13 years old. 

Teachers know the importance of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) in a school's curriculum, but it is great to see a product that parents can use to help children start developing those skills at home. After all, not all kids have an engineer for a parent. 

Kits come with a variety of experiments, toys, robots, chemistry sets, and math learning tools. 

It looks like you can cancel your subscription at any time, so you can try it once and decide whether or not it's right for you. Amazon seems to be receptive to feedback, so if you have suggestions, they want to hear them. 

Have you tried it? What did you think? Let me know.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Students Get Feedback on Their Work From Others Online

In a traditional school, a student is asked to complete an assignment. The teacher grades it, gives feedback, and then returns it to the student. Wouldn't it be nice if other people across the world could view the work and give their feedback to the students? But, how about the online safety of the students? 

Ms. Candiano is using Kidblog with her students. Kidblog provides a safe environment for students to share their work with a global audience and receive authentic feedback on their efforts. 

In this day in age, one could argue that just writing isn't enough. Students are also learning to blog and be part of a global community. This practice also motivates the student. It's one thing to write for your teacher to see and a different one for the world to see. Students typically put more effort into their writing. A win win for both teacher and student. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Make a game and review for a test all at one time

Third grade teacher, Carol Karna shared on Twitter how she used a free edtech tool to help students take a quiz and make it more fun. 

Class Tools has many sample games or you can customize it and create your own. I love that instead of Ms. Karna customizing it for her class, she gave the task to her students. In doing so, she started teaching them a little about the maker mentality that is a necessary part of STEM learning.

Here's the link to the Pac-Man game

Signs of Depression with Social Media

I'm not by any means a Psychologist, Social Worker, or Counselor. I'm simply a classroom teacher that observes student behavior and tries to grow as a professional. 

Recently my 17 year old son was riding in my car and shared some astonishing news. The older brother of a friend of his had passed away. He had taken his own life. He had posted a good-bye post on Instagram and that proceeded to commit this horrible act. 

I asked my son what had happened, what had caused his friend to feel so low about himself that he chose to take matters into his own hands. My son said, "he had problems with his parents". 

As an experienced teacher, I can tell you that it's not easy to tell the difference between a normal teenager that hates his parents and one that truly needs your attention. My suggestion is to take each sad child seriously, as if they could be depressed and suicidal. You never know. As teachers, we are on the front line. Our words can guide and nurture a young soul. Let's not lose sight of that.

Some signs of depression:

  • Online posts of ways of killing themselves (poison, weapons, hanging, etc.)
  • Images or online posts that show a sad or defeated person
  • Talking with friends about feeling worthless
  • Sits quietly in the back of the room and does not interact with others
  • Lack of interest in their own personal hygene or style

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

A Free Bachelor's Degree for Mountain View Residents with eLearning Solution

Public education is free to all students until grade 12. Why can't higher education be free too? For some students, pursuing a bachelor degree who don't have have the financial means to pay for it, rely on student loans and scholarships. Graduating with over 80K in student loans isn't right. partnered with the City of Mountain View, California to offer a free option to college students who are residents of their city. It's called Mountain View Working Scholars. In order to qualify for the program, you have to live or work in the city of Mountain View. The program allows qualified students to take a series of online courses on their site and then transfer those courses for credit towards their bachelor's degree with Thomas Edison State University. The remaining courses are funded by donations. 

Finally, a debt-free solution to higher education. I would personally like to see this program expand into other cities across the U.S. Higher Education should be an option to all those who want to pursue it, not just those that can afford it. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Princess Cruise Line to Offer Wearable Technology

Are you a technology lover? Do you enjoy the ability to use to technology to make life easier? Wearable technology has already seen a presence in the hospital industry. Disney World for example, offers Magic Bands to their guests, which allows them to enter the park, get fast passes, photo experiences, and make purchases.

Princes Cruise Line is working on a new revolutionary idea in the cruise industry called Ocean Medallion Class. It will personalize guest experience, speed the embarkation process, allow you to open your stateroom door, and make purchases onboard.  

The sleek medallion or coin design will allow it to be placed in watch type wrist band, a necklace, or a key chain holder.

Debuting on November 13, 2017 on the Regal Princess. Followed by the Royal Princess on January 19, 2018 and the Caribbean Princess on March 18, 2018

Want good deals on these sailings? Visit us at Sweet Travel Group

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Drones Used For Artistic Purposes

If you're into technology, you've at least heard of the concept of drones and probably one one or two yourself. Drones are typically used for fun as a way to take photos and video from an aerial point of view. I recently traveled to Disney Springs in Orlando where I was amazed with what Intel and Disney have put together. They have designed an aerial light-show with drones. They are definitely pushing the boundaries of what is possible with drones. 

Aerial drone light show video.  Keep in mind when you watch this video that each speck of light is a single drone and that they are being controlled and orchestrated from the ground in order to create this beautiful light effect.

 YouTube VideoIf you are wondering like I was as to how this show was designed and developed, you'll want to see the video The Making of Drone 100 Intel.