Summer Video Series: Friday Favs Episodes 1 – 4

This summer I offered an option to our district staff to receive a weekly video I’ve been making called y Friday Favs.  In each video I share an educational resource that is one of my favorites that I think other people may like, but maybe they aren’t a broad enough topic to offer an entire training on.  Sometimes they are web resources, apps, books, activities, tech skills, or ways to save time so you can learn more about technology!

I have about 35 people signed up to get the videos delivered via email, and a couple have said I need to be sharing them on my blog and elsewhere.  So I’m going to share the first 4 episodes here and for the rest of the summer, I’ll post each as its own blog post.

As a reflection to this process after the first four videos, I’m glad I committed to doing them because it has made me continue to work on my own video tutorial/screencast skills.  I’m not a naturally personable and witty on-screen personality, so I trying to let some of “who I am” in to the process has been challenging.  But I know that as we move forward, video is only going to be more important for students and teachers and I’m glad I’m pushing myself in this way.  I’ve been using You Tube’s Creator Studio to record the videos as live events which is nice because then it automatically is saved to YouTube in one step when the even is ended.  Maybe more details on the technical side on another day.  For now, here are Episodes 1 – 4.  (Followed by the sign up form if you want me to add you to the mailing list to get the videos delivered directly to your email)


 

Archiving Google Classroom Classes at the End of the Year

Time for a little end of the year housekeeping lesson.  If you’re a Google Classroom user, at the end of the year please consider archiving your classes.  This helps keep your teacher account cleaned up AND even more importantly, keeps students’ accounts (including shared calendars) cleaned up for the future when they log in to Google Classroom!  Here’s a short video I made while archiving my own classes this spring.

ClassroomScreen: Web Tool to Checkout

I recently heard about and then checked out a new handy little web-based tool I thought I’d do a quick blog post about.  ClassroomScreen is a website you visit in your browser that has several handy built-in tool options I think many teachers would find valuable.  So for the rest of this post imagine having ClassroomScreen open with your computer hooked up to a projector and the image being displayed for your entire class!

Of first note is that the background images that are available:  they are beautiful and soothing.  Of course you can upload your own photographs and share those beautiful vacation pictures if you’d prefer!  So much more focused than a busy  computer desktop with hundreds of icons.

The entire screen is controlled by a simple toolbar that shows across the bottom of the screen.  Tools that are in use, have a simple red circle an “x” that will let you turn it right back off.  Some tools have options.  Here is a screen snip of just the toolbar:

Toolbar from classrooscreen.com

Toolbar from classrooscreen.com.

From left to right the tools are:

  1.  Language:  You can display the words for this tool in your choice of languages.
  2. Background:  Select from about 35 beautiful images or upload your own.
  3. Random name generator and dice:  Add your class list and you’ll always have a way to quickly select a student at random.
  4. Sound level:  This tool allows you to use the laptop’s microphone to measure sound in the room and the represent it visually so students can tell when they are getting too loud.
  5. QR Tool:  A handy little window you can pop open, paste in a website and generate an immediate QR code you can have your class scan to quickly visit the site you’re wanting.
  6. Full Screen Drawing Window:  Simple pens of a variety of colors and paper background options…including the option of graph paper.
  7. Small Screen Drawing Window:  A smaller window with fewer options.
  8. Text Box:  Great for collaborative writing with your class or leaving written instructions as “bell work.”
  9. Work Symbols:  Visual reminders to students about what type of work should be going on at any one time.  Included are:  silence, whisper, ask neighbor, and work together.
  10. Timer:  A visual timer that counts down from the time you give it.  Notice in the picture below, you can have multiple timers for various groups that may be working in your class or various reminders you may set for yourself.  You can also set this to a stopwatch feature to have it count increasing time.
  11. Clock:  Simple display of the current time.

Multiple tools can be open and in use on the screen at the same time.  Just drag them around for an arrangement that makes the best sense to you!  A few more screenshots follow this post, but the best way to learn about ClassroomScreen.com is to follow the link and try out the tools for yourself!  Let me know if you find it valuable!

Timers from Classroomscreen.com

Timers from classroomscreen.com.

The drawing window and example of a "work symbol" from classroomscreen.com

The drawing window and example of a “work symbol” from classroomscreen.com.

Example of a quickly-made QR code at classroomscreen.com.

Example of a quickly-made QR code at classroomscreen.com.

Reflections on K-12 Robotics: A Series

This was the “teaser” photo I sent out to teachers letting them know I had some exciting opportunities coming for them! A few had come to some optional summer training I had offered, but most had no experience!

During the 17-18 school year, I’ve had the good fortune to get to work with several K-12 students in USD 113 using Dash and Dot Robots by Wonder Workshop.  This is the first in a series of posts that are reflections on what I’ve learned and how I hope our district moves forward. 

Last spring I got permission to order a single Dash and Dot set to evaluate because I’d seen them at a couple of technology conferences and wanted to try for myself to see if they’d work as well as my first impression.  I loved them! A middle school student who was job-shadowing with us spent a little time experimenting an giving input, too. I had a colleague with another set, so I used the robots once last spring for about 40 minutes with each of the 4th grade kids in some small groups.  They just got a taste, but I was hooked as I watched the student enthusiasm, engagement, problem solving and collaboration skyrocket!

Over the summer we ordered a few more sets of robots and accessory attachments like bulldozer attachments, ball launchers and xylophones as a district, and I also applied for an Appleseed Innovation Grant, a super-cool, local program that encourages innovative projects in the USD 113 district.  My grant was innovative because it includes after-school coding and robotics opportunities for the kids in our district AND incentives for teachers who help me by staying after with the kiddos as volunteers!  Teachers who stay and help in the after-school programs are earning robots for their own classrooms which the grant helped to pay for!  In this series of blog posts, I’ll reflect on these after school opportunities as well as the work we do throughout this year using the robots in the classrooms of the district.  (Maybe I’ll even get a teacher or two to offer some reflections of their own!)

So far at this point, all 4 first grade classes in our three elementary schools have had about 8 sessions learning with the Dash robots through explicit instruction, experimentation and guided challenges!  So I’ll also share some reflections about my experiences with first grade!  The third grade classes at Sabetha Elementary School all invited me in to do a couple of 30-minute sessions with them focusing on the math concept of input-output machines.  At Axtell, the Dash robots were invited to be part of their high school’s first ever Career Day as an exploratory session to encourage students to consider coding and computer science as well as other topics that our small schools may not be able to offer as formal electives.  And I had a great time introducing the 3rd and 4th graders at our Wetmore school to Dash and Dot during Computer Science Education Week back in December.  I meant to start reflecting in m blog much sooner, but better late than never, I guess!  I hope you’ll check back to learn more in the next several days to read more about my reflections!!

A Listicle: 5 Most Versatile iPad Tools/Apps #EdublogsClub

20170221-150014.jpg

This week’s #EdublogsClub Blogging ChallengePrompt: Write a listicle.

From Wikipedia:  In journalism and blogging, a listicle is a short-form of writing that uses a list as its thematic structure, but is fleshed out with sufficient copy to be published as an article. A typical listicle will prominently feature a cardinal number in its title, with subsequent subheadings within the text itself reflecting this schema. The word is a portmanteau derived from list and article. It has also been suggested that the word evokes “popsicle“, emphasising the fun but “not too nutritious” nature of the listicle.[1]

So, my listicle post is about what I consider to be the top 5 most versatile iPad tools/apps for elementary educators:

The Top 5 Most Versatile iPad Tools/Apps for Elementary Educators

To make my top 5 list, apps/tools had to fall in to the “creative” category.  (I have a sign by my desk that reads, “I want kids to create, not just consume.”  Click here to read more about my “motivation” wall.)  If you haven’t mastered these yet, be sure you do!

  1. Camera and Photos (native iOS apps)
  2. Seesaw
  3. ChatterPix Kids
  4. Pic Collage Kids
  5. Book Creator

20170223-091123.jpg     Camera and Photos

Built right in to your iPad are a powerful camera and a tool for organizing, editing, and annotating over the top of your images.  If you don’t take time to get the most recent UserGuide when you update your iPad’s operating system, you might miss out on important and cool updates to the native apps that are part of the operating system like these are.  Here is a link to the current (10.2) iPad UserGuide that you can add to iBooks for free.  The userguide has a hyperlinked table of contents with links to chapters on the Camera and Photos Apps with great screenshots and easy-to-read instructions.  Some of the most recent useful additions is the editing option to “mark-up” a photo.  Think about having students snap a photo of something and then annotate over the top of it!  The annotations become part of the photo itself when saved.  Have them photograph and annotate text or go on a scavenger hunt for photos that contain a shape or other concept you’re studying and then annotate the photo to circle or even label what they want to draw attention to.

Many apps that encourage creativity use the Photos app as a project “library” where finished products are stored.  Any app that allows you to save a project as an image or video file, will likely send the finished product to “photos” for you to retrieve.  This means this app is often critical to being able to “smash” app features together.  Start a project in Chatterpix (see below), then save the “video” file to photos where you can then upload to Seesaw (see below) to share with families.  Understanding and being comfortable with managing your iPad’s Photos app is critical!

20170223-091946.jpg     Seesaw

Click here to see the teacher/student app in the app store.  Seesaw is an online learning journal that allows teachers to make a free account, add their class roster and share access with parents.  Students log in to the app on the iPad and make entries to document their learning using the built-in tools for drawing, recording audio and video, and annotating or labeling over images or pdfs.  Any other app that can save a product as an image, video or pdf can be appsmashed into Seesaw to share with families.  There’s so much more to this app, but that’s the gist of it.  You need to check it out if you haven’t already!

20170223-092010.jpg     ChatterPix Kids

Click here to see it in the app store.  So fun to use to let kids “show what they know!”  Find or take a photo of a topic you’ve been studying, give it a mouth and record your own voice to bring the image to life by chattering your words along the mouth you’ve drawn!  Save the finished project to the Photos app in video format and it can be shared anywhere you share videos:  Seesaw?  Sure!  YouTube? Yep?  Airdrop to a friend?  You Bet!  Set student examples up to play on their iPads on their desks and let your class roam around in a “gallery walk” to see and reflect on one another’s projects.  Don’t feel limited to projects that start with an image of a person because people are the only ones with a voice . . . give a mouth and voice to an inanimate object like a landform or an animal and have their “voice” share details students have learned about that topic.  If the 30-second time limit isn’t enough, teach students to record multiple video clips and piece them together using iMovie!  Or have students use Airdrop to share their projects with you and YOU can piece them together in iMovie to make a class video to share!

20170223-092001.jpg     Pic Collage Kids

Click here to see it in the app store.  So fun to put multiple pictures together in a creative way to tell a story or share what you know or can do.  Add pictures into provided templates, get creative with text, stickers, etc. to make it look nice, then save it to your photo roll as a single, finished image that can be added to other apps or uploaded into tools like Seesaw.  (Since Seesaw doesn’t allow multiple photos to be uploaded (yet), this can be a way to upload multiple pictures into one Seesaw journal entry.  Pic Collage Kids also has some search capabilities built into it that could be used to help teach kids about using digital images “fairly.”

20170223-091954.jpg     Book Creator

Click here to see it in the app store.  This is the only app on my list that isn’t free, but the full version of this app is worth every penny of the $4.99 it costs.  (If you’re lucky enough to be part of Apple’s Volume Purchase Program for Education, you can get it in bulk for $2.99.)  But give the lite version (which IS free) a try before you decide.  All the tools are in the lite version, but you can only have one active book at a time.    This versatile little tool lets students create digital books that can be exported off the iPad in a variety of formats.  Its tools include text, drawing, audio recording, importing of images and videos, and even hyperlinking.  Finished books will open as an ebook that can be read in the native ebook reader for iPad, iBooks.  But they can also be saved as a PDF or even exported in a “movie for web” version that goes nicely to Seesaw and web pages.