Steaming for a Cause!

S.T.E.A.M is an educational term that refers to a means of teaching students how all things relate to one another, in school and in the real world.  The acronym S.T.E.A.M stands for:  Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. STEAM becomes a more engaging approach to learning for students because the learning is based on exploring and investigating. “S.T.E.A.M for a Cause” has proven to be a worthwhile challenge for our students.

“Steam for a Cause” offers students a chance to engage in lessons that not only incorporate science, technology, art, and math, but also seek ways to help make the world a better place. Learning to help others is a valuable skill for building strong friendships.  When children begin to see how everyone’s actions connect and effect the world, change is possible.  Books are always a good starting point and a few of my favorites are Stand in My Shoes, Kids Learning About Empathy by Bob Sornson , Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney. and Dolphin Tale the Jr. Novel by Gabrielle Reyes.

                 

Students’ learning can be pushed to a new level of complexity without the same level of stress that would be associated with a traditional classroom environment. Students begin to ask the natural questions of who, what, where and why without prompting.  With the correct activities, students will begin to volunteer their free time to work on projects that connect to the real world.  With careful consideration these same activities can open their eyes to how they can positively impact the world.

My first encounter with this type of teaching was brought to my attention while on a family vacation in Marco Island, Florida on the Dolphin Explorer Boat in 2011.  As my family and I were enjoying the scenic ride aboard the Explorer, the naturalist shared valuable information about the dolphins, manatees, birds of prey and mangrove forests.  It came to my attention the team of experts would be using Skype to connect with students around the nation.  An experience that  has changed my perspective of what teaching should truly embrace.  To gain a complete understanding of the program and how it turned out to be an experience of a lifetime,  visit the following links:

A Walk on the Beach

Saving Seymour the Dolphin

Seymour the TV Star

It’s Elementary My Dear Seymour- Sea Rescue

What I learned very quickly was that when learning connects to the real-world students will become active participants in their learning.  A goal I strive to achieve on a regular basis since my students showed me the way to “help to save a dolphin” all the way from Pittsburgh, PA.

A few of my students’ favorite S.T.E.A.M  activities include:

  1.  City of Bridges– Students read books such as Seymour Simon’s, Bridges.  Simon’s book incorporates interesting facts about the more than half-million bridges in North America and how they impact our travel. After learning about how bridges connect us to the world students then have a chance to build a bridge made from toothpicks, gumdrops or K’Nex.  (There are many more options but these are some of the materials my students worked with and found successful).  The topic of bridges lends itself to bodies of water and how the environment is effected by litter and pollution.
  2. Impact of Oil Spills– Students take part in a mock oil spill experiment and the challenges in saving the environment and wildlife.  A meaningful conversation about how  pollution can effect our health and safety concludes the experiment. A great link that offers free lessons to carry out this experiment can be found at Alaska Oil Spill Curriculum.  Prince William Sound by Gloria Rand and Oil Spill by Melvin Berger perfectly and would act as a wonderful introduction.Prince William
  3. Pillowcase Dresses– Students can learn about measurement and sewing and contribute to a worthy cause.  Visit the following link to learn more: Little Dresses for Africalogo
  4. Shoebox Recycling- Students initiate a shoe recycling project and learn about the importance of reducing, reusing and recycling in the process.  Also, all money earned can be donated to a favorite charity.  Visit Shoe Box recycling to learn more. Favorite books that connect with this lesson:  A Bag in the Wind by Ted Kooser and George Saves the Day by Lunchtime by Jo Readman.

Product Details       

These are just a few of our favorites.  The art portion of the projects usually lend themselves to the creation of environmental posters to hang throughout the school or using recycled materials to create artwork.

There are so many valuable lessons to investigate that will help to foster a love of learning, much more than any worksheet or website can offer.  I am certain there will not be another opportunity to share with the nation what my students and  I are doing in class, but I will definitely continue searching  for lessons that will prompt students to look more closely at the world.  By presenting opportunities for students to take a closer look at real-world problems we are preparing our students for their future.

 

The Technology Conversation

There will be no “last word” on how technology affects our society, and as a result our kids, education system, etc. Every new app, new device, new way to create a prosthesis or synthesize a formula has potential impact on the world, so as long as we make new things, there will be no finality to the conversation.

I would love to say I am a casual observer of the effect, but I am clearly not. I am a parent of technology-users, I am a product (in terms of learning), a consumer – my life is directly affected by the ability to use technology. Many things would be much more inconvenient for me, whether writing this article or conducting my banking without going to the bank.

Before I go any further, I am going to cite three folks who are absolute GOLD when it comes to this conversation. Consider following them on Twitter, because while their viewpoints are not all the same, they are resonant, credible and poignant.

Jordan Shapiro’s (@jordosh) column today makes me think about the technology conversation. It can be found here. In short, Shapiro expresses concern about Sherry Turkle’s (@STurkle) position on modern technology, which is that modern technology is not a surrogate for true conversation and connection.

What strikes a chord for me is that Turkle said the same thing Shapiro is saying about technology when she was a young advocate for the adoption of technology. Is it really just a conversation that moves from, “Hey, the kids are alright” to “Hey, the kids are not alright?” over the course of 30 years? Danah Boyd (@zephoria), the author of “It’s Complicated” may also promote the tenet that digital connection is the connection in this day and age, and in many ways reinforces stronger bonds for young people. Danah also reports the experiences of young people who have experienced the extremely damaging power of those connections when peers turn on you.

(And Danah, if you do read this, I love your Twitter banner right now! For everyone else: It’s all R2, R4 and R5 astromech droids with an R7 tucked in the bottom right hand corner. What’s an astromech? R2-D2 from Star Wars is an astromech. But I digress…)

That probably depends on who you speak with. Now in my mid-40s, I have observed first-hand the problems students incur when using technology unfettered and undirected. I have also observed the ease with which people can complete the process-oriented pieces of life that previously consumed the life of a high school student and parent. So, more than trying to take an adversarial position in any direction, what I need to tell educators working with any student is this: Every position in this conversation is important. Sherry Turkle has experienced and grown with changes in our culture and society. Danah Boyd has lived experience and has researched first-person how technology is affecting the culture of young people (who by the way, will generally become older people). Jordan Shapiro is enmeshed in how tech, simulation and gaming are changing the dynamics of interaction.

All three of these folks have a unique perspective and focus in the tech realm, and all three (as well as many others) have important things to share. Continuing to have thoughtful and meaningful discussion about how tech is affecting our society, our young people and in turn our ability to educate those young people academically and socially is probably the most important part. So please, read away.

I also like to share articles through LinkedIn and Twitter on current technology events that are shaping our world. Feel free to join the conversation at:

LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/ericjchancy

Twitter – @ericjchancy

Reaching 1 Million Kids with Augmented Reality ….

Reaching 1 Million Kids with Augmented Reality ….

Scan this image with the Blippar App

Augmented reality is a very powerful learning tool that transform the classroom like nothing else.  You can bring the world even the universe to your classroom.  My goal is to help teachers harness the power of augmented reality and help them use this powerful tool in their classroom.  I would love to reach at least 1 million kids.

All you have to do is try at least one Augmented Tool with your students and let me know how many students tried the tool.  There are several Augmented Tools you can try.  I have a Symbaloo Board full of tools you can choose from.  It is best to login to your Symbaloo and add this board to your list to view all of the tools.

After you have tried an Augmented tool please fill out this form.  This will help me keep track of how many kids we are reaching with augmented content. You can fill out the form for each time you try an Augmented tool with your students.  If you are using social media you can also share your experience with the Augmented tool by using the hashtag #AR4Kids.

I am working on creating lessons that are enriched with Augmented content.  Keep your eye in our AR Lesson section in the Augmented Reality for Education Google+ Group.  The next lesson I will be posting will be a unit over the book Charlotte’s Web along with a few Augmented STEM lessons.

AugThat is wanting to help reach 1 Million kids through Augmented Reality and will give teachers a sample of Augmented content to help with this cause.  To receive your augmented content please contact lisa@augthat.com and let her know you are helping us reach 1 Million kids please use the code #AR4Kids. She will set you up with an account and the give you access to their augmented triggers.

Blippar also has a Augmented building platform that is easy to use.  You will need to contact Stephen at Blippar and he will set you up with a free account so you can start creating your own AR content.  If you can drag, drop, copy & paste you can create simple Augmented content too.  You can also reach out to me and I would love to help you create AR projects.

Some of My Favorite AR Tools:

Together Let’s Reach 1 Million Kids with Augmented Reality!

The Art of Professional Development

Locally professional development is viewed as a utter mess. Often the local school districts will have a few in-service events each school year that are geared towards professional development. These are often exercises in futility. The primary reason is when they occur. For example, one district is having one on Columbus Day when every other district in the state is closed. The other is the focus. Most professional development exercises are focusing on some usage of educational technology. This results in two fragmented groups: those who already know how to use the technology and those who have no interest in using the technology. I recall the one year a district tried to force all teachers to create and use a Google Sites webpage. It didn’t work well.

So how can a school district provide better professional development? Realizing that one size fits all isn’t pragmatic. Have a few options available and make them known ahead of time or even have a signup sheet for each particular group. Addressing a wide range of problems is always a good idea too. Some teachers may be struggling with HIB policies and so the same old song and dance may not be useful to them.

We all know however that our school district isn’t going to provide us with all of our professional development needs. Luckily there are a number of professional development opportunities online that I’ve found enjoyable and will share.

SimpleK12:
I might be a little bias as an ambassador for SimpleK12, but I believe they provide a strong professional development presence online. They provide PD on a wide variety of topics from classroom management to ELL. Not only do they have a constantly updated list of active webinars [where you signup in advance for the scheduled view], but they have an extensive list of on-demand webinars. There are more than enough resources with the free model to advance your career, but you could always move onto the paid yearly model and access even more. Additionally there are countless other educators on SimpleK12 just waiting to collaborate and interact with you. It is essentially a new Personal Learning Network for you!

EdWeek:
EdWeek is likely well known for its articles about education, but they do offer professional development webinars through their website. While SimpleK12 probably has 20 live webinars scheduled at any time, EdWeek usually has 5. EdWeek also provides you access to their on-demand webinars with a PowerPoint associated with the presentation. EdWeek even provides a paid professional development toolkit in areas like classroom management and educational technology.

Simply Use Google:
You may navigate through various professional development websites and find what you’re looking for is missing. As is becoming a common phrase these days “just Google it.” Most professional development websites are looking to hit on a wide range of topics and your specific interest may not be broad enough for those involved to produce content. Googling your keyword with professional development will hopefully give you specific information helpful to your cause. For example, Adobe provides webinars on some of its products. That might be professional development to you if you are teaching a Multimedia course, but you may not know how to find this out. Google helps out here. You may even find that there are professional development websites devoted to your content area too.

There are even some local groups you can join as a school district and pay for individual teachers to attend professional development workshops, like is offered by the Southern Regional Institute and Educational Technology Training Center.

Remember some school districts will help you [including financially] in professional development pursuits, while others won’t. So understand you may be required to do the bulk of the work if you want to improve. It will be worth it!


SCRATCHJR: CODING AS AN INNOVATIVE APPROACH TO MULTIMODAL LITERACY

 

ScratchJr is an introductory programming language application designed for children ages 5-7 to create interactive stories and games. Both ScratchJr and its big brother, Scratch, designed for users ages 8 and up, were created by MIT Media Lab to teach coding to children. ScratchJr is a free app for both iPad and Android tablets.

In ScratchJr, users put programming character blocks together that are interactive and move, jump, dance, and sing. Users can edit voices and sounds, including adding their own voices, and they can even insert their own pictures to make the blocks come to life. The goal of ScratchJr is to make coding fun and a part of students’ literacy education.

According to the creators of ScratchJr, “Coding (or computer programming) is a new type of literacy. Just as writing helps you organize your thinking and express your ideas, the same is true for coding. In the past, coding was seen as too difficult for most people. But we think coding should be for everyone, just like writing.”

ScratchJr has an innovative approach to literacy as the goal of ScratchJr is to encourage children to create and express themselves via coding. Writing via code allows students to “write” interactive stories, games, animations, and simulations. They begin with planning, rough drafts, editing, and finally publishing as they share content they have coded. Not only do students move through the creative process, they are also given opportunities for problem solving skills, sequencing skills, and math and language skills. Students are constructing meaning through coding, and as ScratchJr states, “children aren’t just learning to code, they are coding to learn.” This multimodal approach to literacy and learning gives students the opportunity to take learning to the next level and create such things as animation, virtual tours, simulations, PSAs, multimedia projects, interactive tutorials and stories.

ScratchJr offers four projects students can work on. However, in addition to providing projects, the app also offers manipulatives, such as printable coding blocks, an animated genres curriculum, which has three modules: Collage, Story, and Game, a playground games curriculum in which students can recreate popular playground games, and activities that reinforce the Common Core standards, including upper and lower case letters and counting.

ScratchJr provides children an interactive, multimodal approach to learning coding as well as offering practice of highly transferrable literacy and learning skills.

Sources:

ScratchJr – Home. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2015.

Shapiro, J. (2014, August 6). Your Five Year Old Can Learn To Code With An IPad App. Retrieved September 9, 2015.

My Summer with Edmodo

For those that don’t know Edmodo is a Learning Management System (LMS) that looks like Facebook. In my opinion Edmodo is a LMS that is geared more towards a K-12 audience than a higher education audience. In a lot of aspects Edmodo seems more like a social media tool than a Learning Management System due to its interactive setup and visual appearance. Make no mistake though, Edmodo is one powerful educational tool.

Prior to 2014 I had periodically played around with Edmodo, using it sporadically inside my classroom. Then, EdmodoCon 2014 happened and I grew more and more involved with Edmodo after hearing about all the wonderful things students and teachers can do with Edmodo.

Then I received an e-mail earlier this year asking me to become an ambassador for Edmodo. I agreed and have been very happy with my decision. I am now actively helping my peers within the Edmodo community with any questions they may have and vice versa. I’m providing resources to my peers and offering feedback to those resources my peers post within the Spotlight section of Edmodo. My involvement with helping out on Edmodo has also made me a Luminary, which according to information at EdmodoCon 2015 will result in me receiving a cape [to show off my Super Edmodo Skills I’m sure].

Additionally, this opportunity has allowed me to connect with even more of my peers on Edmodo through the various challenges Edmodo has for its ambassadors to complete, through its Teacher Leader Network. We can connect on Facebook, Twitter, etc. due to setting up our Edmodo accounts to link to our social media.

I can’t wait to turn my enjoyable summer with Edmodo into continued and prolonged usage of the amazing Learning Management System and encourage you to do so as well.


Back to School Basics: Create a Classroom Tour Video

Lights, camera, action! Once you’re done preparing your room, it’s time get out a camera or your smartphone and create a guided video tour of your classroom. When you’re done, upload this video to YouTube, and share the link on a classroom homepage or social media site. If you have availability to student or parent email addresses before the school year begins, send the link out. You could also send this during the first week of school, but sending it before the school year begins helps students feel a little more comfortable and relieve the first day jitters because they know exactly what to expect when they walk in the door. This also introduces you to parents so they can put a face to your name – it is especially helpful with parents at the middle / high school level who may never come into contact with their child’s teacher.

Here are a few things you may want to cover:

  • The basic layout of your classroom. Show the student desks, your desk. Where are student accessible materials? Where do they turn in homework? Do students store coats, lunch boxes, etc in the classroom or in lockers in the hallway? Is there a restroom in your classroom? Cover all of these areas and any other relevant information you can think of.
  • Is there a place within your classroom, or in the hallway where you post information such as field trips, conference sign ups, or other important information? Be sure to highlight this area so that parents can find it easily!
  • Have someone record you sitting in a comfortable place within your classroom (or, be really hip and use a selfie-stick). Behind your desk may come off as a little too sterile or intimidating. Introduce yourself and convey your excitement for the school year. Share your goals for the year. Remind parents where they can locate your contact information (don’t share your contact info in the video unless you are keeping the link private.)

Creating this virtual tour should set the tone for your classroom. Let students and parents alike see your passion for teaching, and how you take pride in this space. Be confident and speak clearly.

Other information videos you can create for your own classroom vlog (video blog) series can include:

  • An overview of your homework / classwork / grading policies.
  • If you have a self-contained classroom, or your entire homeroom follows the same schedule, overview this schedule. If you’re tech savvy, you can overlay pictures over the different areas within the school that the children will visit or even walk the school as you explain where you are going.
  • A walking video of how to get to your classroom from the front door of the school. For students coming into a large, new school this can really alleviate some anxiety.
  • Explain personal electronics policy / computer usage within the school.
  • Video screen navigation of how to access student grades online, locate information on the class website, or social media links for the class.

Post in the comments what other ideas you have for “How to” or informational videos teachers can create!

Should Grammarly Be Used to Grade English Assignments?

During my MeD program at Bowling Green State University there were a number of courses that placed emphasis on grading in the same manner that an English professor or teacher would on writing assignments. Since none of these individuals were actually qualified to do so with the same eye an English professor or teacher would they turned to Grammarly, a paid tool for reviewing writing. I once asked why they use Grammarly and the response was simply that “everyone else does.”

In my experiences with these professors using Grammarly, the review Grammarly provided DID NOT match that of a trained English teacher on any occurrence. Grammarly seemed to be a tool used as a quick solution to those with limited proofreading and reviewing skills. It was like TurnItIn, which is an easy and quick way to check for plagiarism.

So the assumption is that Grammarly may be used by some graduate professors, but should it be used to grade English assignments?

Based on seeing the product in action I think it should only be used as a supplemental tool when grading English assignments. For example, you may miss something simple if you are grading late at night and Grammarly may catch it for you. This is solely based on my experience that the review Grammarly provided didn’t match the review of a skilled English professor or teacher.

With that said Grammarly can also be used as a supplemental tool for all educators, but bear in mind if you’re grading for punctuation, grammar, etc. to only use Grammarly’s findings as part of your grading. Feel free to try Grammarly today and be your own judge.


Free & Quick Proofreading from Grammarly!

Bring Augmented Reality to Your Class with the Help of PledgeCents….

Bring Augmented Reality to Your Class with the Help of PledgeCents….

I’ve been sharing with teachers from all over how the power of augmented reality can transform learning.  In order to help teachers seize this power I set out on a quest to find ways I could help them obtain augmented content/curriculum for their classroom and my search led me to PledgeCents.  Similar to DonorsChoose, PledgeCents is a type of crowdfunding that has come up with an innovated solution to help teachers obtain the needed funds to bring tools, supplies, & resources such as augmented reality content/curriculum to their students.  They can even help with obtaining funds to send teachers to conferences such as ISTE.

Harnessing the power of social media PledgeCents is connecting teachers’ causes with global supporters. Their only goal is to provide better education for children all over the world. PledgeCents is focused on providing an alternative means of school fundraising that goes beyond the limitations of conventional fundraising methods, and is investing in teachers and schools.  They are made up of a team of advocates who have a passion for making a difference in a life of a student.

The need of teachers come in all sizes such as obtaining augmented content, iPads, school supplies, and etc… They will help teachers with their causes through matching opportunities, helping find global supporters, and sharing via social media. One of the matching opportunities is through Facebook Likes and sharing. For example for every Facebook like pledges a $1 towards the cause. They will help you with your cause to make it a successful one. What I really like about PledgeCents is that even if the teacher doesn’t reach their goal for their cause the teacher will still receive what the cause raised. They get to keep what they raised no matter what! There is no list of approved items the teacher has to pick from for their cause, they receive the funds to get what they need. PledgeCents believes that teachers know best on the items that they need and where best to get what they need.

When it comes to setting up your cause they do have some very helpful tips, visit their 7 Steps to Success page.  Make sure you include pictures and video clips on your cause page.  This really does help make your cause real to supporters. Be creative, give lots of details about your cause, and come up with a very catchy name for your cause.  If you need a 360° trigger for your cause page feel free to contact me and I can set you up with one. Show supporters how you are bringing learning to life as well as bringing the world to your students through augmented reality.  I can envision causes with titles such as Bringing Learning to Life, Seeing a Different Kind of Reality, iOpen the World, and etc…

Augmented Reality Causes Ideas:

  • 4 iPad Minis, 4 iPad Mini Cases, & AugThat’s 360° Environment Triggers, AugThat’s 3D Triggers, & Your Class Level of Animated Lessons
  • 2 iPad Minis, 2 iPad Minis Cases, & AugThat’s Interactive Kindergarten Flashcards by Katie Ann, & AugThat’s Virtual Field Trips
  • A School Site Lessons for all of AugThat’s Content & a Teach Connect account for all Teachers

What ever your Augmented Reality Cause by PledgeCents may be AugThat’s sales team would love to help put Augmented Reality Curriculum together to fit your students’ needs.

AugThat would also like to help you reach your goal and get AR in your classroom, so any cause that includes augmented content from AugThat your school will receive a Free Pipeline account.  The Pipeline is when you add augmented content to your school’s logo or mascot.  The augmented content can be the school’s website, calendar, an intro video about the school, a message from the principal and etc… The school can change the augmented content monthly if needed.  AugThat would also like to give 100 3D augmented objects as well to help grow your augmented content library.  If you tell AugThat I sent you as well you will also receive a DISCOUNT! I am also working on getting teachers other types of augmented content, so stay tuned I hope I can help grow your augmented library even more.

Here are some examples of causes by PledgeCents:

For back to school PledgeCents is having a competition a #SchoolSupplied competition. The top 3 schools that participate in this competition will receive school supplies.  The winners will pick from a listed of basic school supplies and PledgeCents will deliver them.  This is a win … win situation.  Teachers submit a cause share it out via social media and earn points towards the #SchoolSupplied Competition. The school then could win up to $1000 worth of much needed school supplies. Below are more details about the competition and how to earn points.

When you set up your account for PledgeCents please enter my referral code kwilson328 so that they know I sent you.  The competition ends Sept. 30th so get busy and start creating a cause.  When you share your cause make sure you use the hashtag #SchoolSupplied then tag me @katieann_76 so I can help promote your cause and get it funded as well as getting you points for the competition.  The more we all share the better your cause will reach its goal.  Oh and I almost forgot if your cause goes beyond your goal you get all you raised.  Together we can make a difference and because every cent does counts!

#SchoolSupplied Competition:

Top 3 schools with the most points between Aug 3rd – Sept 30th will win #SchoolSupplied Prizes.

  • 1st Place = $1,000 worth of school supplies
  • 2nd Place = $750 worth of school supplies
  • 3rd Place = $500 worth school supplies

The winning schools will get to choose their school supplies upon completion of the contest.

You earn points by:

  • Dollar Raised: 5 points
  • Facebook Share: 10 points
  • Cause Created: 20 points
  • Every $500 Raised by your school (BONUS): 200 points
  • Reach Your Goal: 100 points

More details/FAQ about the competition please visit – https//www.pledgecents.com/schoolsupplied

WHY USE AR CHALLENGES …. THE SERIES …. PART 3