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

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!

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

Media Literacy – More than just using Ed Tech

I spent an amazing day earlier this week at “Yes, And… A NAMLE Preconference Symposium on Media Literacy Education in Early Childhood.” If you’re not familiar with NAMLE – National Association for Media Literacy in Education – (I wasn’t), you can check out their website. I received a free invite to the symposium and conference and, because I never turn down free learning, I was pretty excited to go. In my mind, this session was going to be about getting preschoolers on iPads and other fun tech. What I didn’t realize was there is WAY more to media literacy than knowing how to connect to the WiFi. I had a few Oprah-worthy “a-ha moments” as I sat in the room where 10% of the  attendees were subject matter experts and book authors.

The session started with NAMLE’s founding president and symposium faciliator Dr. Faith Rogow. Behind her on the projection screen was a horse running a beach. She gestured to the screen and asked us, “What do you see?” Answers seemed obvious: a horse, a beach, waves, the ocean. Then she smiled and said, “It’s a PICTURE of a horse.” As the chuckles subsided, I hadn’t yet realized how well that statement set the stage for unveiling a whole new way to consume media.

NAMLE makes it very clear from their core principles that media literacy is a mindset, a way of thinking, and a way of interpreting all media around us:

The purpose of media literacy education is to help individuals of all ages develop the habits of inquiry and skills of expression that they need to be critical thinkers, effective communicators and active citizens in today’s world.

Habits of inquiry and skills of expression. This is way more than being tech savvy. Critical thinkers, effective communicators, and active citizens. This is 21st century skills meeting a healthy dose of creativity with a sprinkle of well-needed cynicism.

Look at that graphic I posted above and all of the higher level thinking skills going on there! We’re talking about those top rungs on Bloom’s Taxonomy! Cyndy Scheibe of Ithaca College’s Project Look Sharp shared three very important rules for constructivist media decoding (a way to encourage students to examine diverse media):

  1. Always start with your goals
  2. Consider your audience
  3. Ask, don’t tell – then probe for evidence

It seems pretty simple – but these three rules can apply to so much more than evaluating media. We spent a large portion of the day on the importance of questioning. Instead of accepting what children say to you, ask : How do you know this? Where did you learn that? Why do you think this happens? Where can we look to learn more? The focus was not just on getting children to soak up knowledge like  sponges, but to think carefully about the process of researching and learning, and carefully drawing conclusions based on multiple sources of evidence. Oh yeah, and we were STILL talking about working only with preschoolers. Think about it – the preschool years are so full of wonder and inquiry about everything from categorizing dinosaurs, to learning the letters in my name, and wondering how boogers got in my nose before I pulled them out with my finger. (That last one truly came from a former student of mine.) It only seems logical that we can extend this inquiry and “let’s find it out” mindset to media.

We talked in the symposium about how in every television show, commercial, or YouTube ad there are actors wearing costumes – even if it’s an average looking person dressed in everyday clothes. There was equal talk of getting children to show what they know in multiple ways – through pictures, images, voice recordings, tweeting and even blogging. Yes, we talked about preschoolers blogging – and it’s being done with great results! We talked about getting children to be careful consumers of media from how they look at a cereal commercial on TV to what advertisements are on a website. Gail Lovely of Suddenly it Clicks shared experiences of using iPads to create dual language picture and audio books to help children preserve their Cherokee culture and language. We ended the day sharing tips and tricks for “tweaking” our professional practice to help encourage media literacy and be more mindful of how we present and create media within the classroom (these were videoed and will be featured on NAMLE’s YouTube channel). The backchat on Twitter was full of great quotes from the day along with link after link for more resources. We had become intent on sharing what we know and working together. A list of media literacy outcomes (pic below) was shared and we were challenged as a group to analyze this list and wonder what else we should share. Totally different than just a day of presentation, this was a true collaborative experience.

Over 8 hours, I was immersed in a roiling sea of great minds colliding with novices, swirling through resources, links, and examples, and surmounting in waves of discovery. Together, this group was able to excite and engage my mind and get me excited to share what I saw and heard. Upon reflection, it was a type of engagement that I have only experienced on several other occasions. I thought I was going to get the general, “Use tech as a tool, not a treat” lecture… instead, I learned how to probe with questions, use media to support learning, and make children critical thinkers. It was mind-blowing. I’ll wrap up here with a quote from Dr. Vivian Vasquez of American University:

We want them [children] to be able to think more deeply about media, culture, and the world all the time – not just when we demand it of them.


 

Here are some links that can help you if you’re interested in media literacy at ANY age level and links for using technology appropriately with young children:

Citing Social Media Sources

Recently I read an article on Teach Thought about the proper way to use social media as a source when conducting research. I was intrigued to see that there was actually a format setup for both APA and MLA style formats for how to reference social media.

The chart for this:

how-to-cite-social-media

The display of these sources seems to work in line with the associated format and publication style mentioned. The article details how APA has setup a style guide associated with using social media sources and offers it to the public for a small fee, but MLA hasn’t expressly released a style guide associated with social media sources.

I wanted to take a look at whether or not individuals who are writing scholarly articles should be considering the usage of social media within their research. I’m to understand there is no differentiation with respect to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, etc. and that all social media could in theory be used for research purposes, only if a few are mentioned in the chart.

I wanted to take a look at the pros and cons of using social media sources from the perspective of scholarly journal writing.

Pros:

  • Social media offers the most recent resources you can find. Often when conducting research this is one of the primary concerns of publications, that an article features more recent references than a collection of older literature.
  • Social media is always on. You always have access to social media, as long as you have an internet connection through your phone or computer. You don’t have to worry about a database being down for maintenance in the way you might in other search situations.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. Every second on social media thousands of posts are being created and published. Journals on the other hand will be published, at best, once a month and only feature a handful of articles.
  • Social media offers a wide range of opinions. In the internet age individuals are more able to express themselves. If you are studying a certain topic you may find a more wide array of opinions on social media than you would through journals, textbooks and more traditional norms.

Cons:

  • Anyone can get on social media. I know a friend’s daughter who is two and knows how to use YouTube quite well. There is nothing to stop her from publishing a comment on YouTube if her mother is logged in. What this boils down to is that the sources on social media may not be vetted as they would be through a review of a publication.
  • Accuracy may not exist on social media. Since everyone is able to produce content on social media you may find that there are multiple opinions on the same topic all claiming to be factual.
  • Social media offers more content than any other search tool. While this is a pro, it is also a con. It will take a keen eye and a lot of time to sift through the extensive content published on social media. Your search terms have to be perfect for everything to work for you. Too broad a search results in too many results, but too specific a search results in no results.
  • Using social media as a source for research has not been studied, so it is difficult to determine how successful using social media sources might be or if there is any adverse impacts from using social media as resource when conducting research.

Overall, my view point at this time is that it may be far more productive to use social media to promote your research than it would be to conduct it.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.

Instagram Instruction

Prior to August 2014 I was hesitant to use Instagram for any purpose. I’m not the selfie type or really even like taking pictures. But I noticed a lot of my friends were using Instagram and had great looking pictures. So in late August 2014 I finally joined. At the moment I seem to be using it in the same manner a lot my friends are: showcasing pictures of our canine chums and our food/beverage interests. I use Twitter in the classroom and wondered if I could use Instagram in the classroom as well.

If you use Instagram in a different way, tell us about it in the comments!

Student Based Ideas:
Featuring student work is ideal with Instagram. Not only does it allow you to have a record of great student products, but it allows you to display it to other classes, parents, etc. This will likely encourage greater production if students know their work will be viewed by other eyes. The student work doesn’t have to be specifically visually aesthetic items. A great poem is just as worthy as a great picture.

Featuring a student of the week is another great way to have a productive classroom Instagram, while encouraging students to do their best. The student of the week can send out pictures of where the sit, their favorite aspects of the classroom and much more. There should be some criteria in place to determine the student of the week for these purposes.

Students can interact with their classmates in a way they did not before. They will have more to talk about now that they the creativity of their classmates. Featuring student work allows classmates to learn more about each other such as hobbies and interests.

Teacher Based Ideas:
Since you’re presenting student work and providing students with a platform to express themselves it is also a good idea to chronicle what they’ve done. You could make a collage for each student using sites like collage.com. You could make an end of school year timeline for each student using Dipity. With either choice you can document all of the wonderful things your students did all year.

You can also capture important moments for the students. Things like field trips should be remembered. Things like graduation should be recorded! These items, if student specific, can also be added to their display of progress.

Remind students of reading assignments. Send a picture of the book you’re reading and include the page numbers that need to be read before the next class meeting. This gives students an interactive reminder of what they need to do.

In this same regard Instagram can be used for all homework reminders. Need to remind students a worksheet is due tomorrow? Send it out with a reminder in the description. You can do the same for anything: book report, homework problems, PowerPoint assignment, essay, etc.

While there are items out there like Remind101 administrators often frown upon text messaging type reminder systems, so use Instagram. Send out reminders about class trips, end of marking period, school closings due to holidays and delays/closings associated with inclement weather. This can also be used for sports and clubs.

You should also use your classroom Instagram account to send out encouragement. There are a lot of standardized tests these days, so make sure to encourage students via inspirational items you can find or create.

Finally, I think I will use Instagram to assign some fun homework or extra credit. NOTE: Students must be 13 years of age or older to join, so this may only be plausible in a high school setting. I would provide a visual prompt for students and expect them to synthesize the prompt and create an articulate response. I would encourage net etiquette so there are no arguments in the responses.

Originally posted on FAAET Blog.