More Hour of Code events than ever are being organized for CS EdWeek December 5 - 11.
Join the Hour of Code movement at https://hourofcode.com/
Have you ever had difficulty explaining to your students why it's important to learn the Periodic Table? Here's a great interactive resource that actually let's students know the real world uses for every element currently known!
The tech tip of the day: Use a Bitmoji Avatar for feedback on your students' digital work! Use it in Google Classroom or anywhere else your students would submit their work digitally. (take a look below...pretty good likeness, right? lol)
Check out these couple of links for instructions from:
Alice Keeler (Teacher Tech) http://alicekeeler.com/2016/09/18/bitmoji-feedback-google-doc/
Julie Goode (The Techie Teacher) http://www.thetechieteacher.net/2016/09/bitmojis-new-sticker-for-students.html
Discovery VR - http://www.discoveryvr.com/
This month I was asked to do a training for a group of teachers and help them explore virtual field trips. Over the years, I've done multiple classes on this topic and each time I try to begin my pre-training research by pretending to be one of the teachers looking for information. I find a few sites or live locations and I then let the teachers explore them....but this time was quite a bit different.
So, I type in my keywords and begin looking for virtual field trips that might be ones that the teachers may not have looked into before. With so much technology out there, the resources are always changing, so I like to do new research every time. The first site that comes up is something called "Google Cultural Institute" and it literally...blew...me...away! It explored something radically new called "360 Degree Video" which is an interactive view into a video. Picture watching a video on your computer and something goes past the camera and you missed what it was....with 360 Video, you can drag your cursor on the screen and turn your view in another direction WHILE THE VIDEO IS STILL PLAYING!
I have to admit, I actually lost about 2 hours playing around with this site and exploring how this was possible. Take a look for yourself at one of the videos :
I was absolutely amazed by the interaction possible for students and began exploring YouTube for every educational related 360 Video ever made. Needless to say, it wasn't long before I realized that many of the YouTube videos weren't going to work for the teachers as virtual field trips, because of the...ahem...questionable videos that come up during a YouTube search on 360 Videos (Note: Don't do this search at work! lol)
After scratching my head for a bit, I remembered one of my co-workers was doing a refresher course for teachers on the uses for Discovery Education. Within seconds, I had found a sub-section of Discovery Education called Discovery VR. http://www.discoveryvr.com/
Jackpot! Not only was every video educational, but they were also sorted by curricular area, viewable on computer or Google Cardboard and they were completely interactive! (Note: This time I lost about 3 1/2 hours exploring....lol. Here's an example of a video that you can get lost in "On the Board with a Big Wave Pro" ) Click on it and explore.
Students can explore various videos ranging from rollercoasters to 3D robotics to spelunking in the heart of Texas, just to name a few. All videos are 360 interactive, but can also be switched to complete VR if you ever want to view using Google Cardboard or something similar.
So, the next time that you are interested in taking your students on a field trip, take a look at Discovery VR first. You won't regret it, because they are on the cutting edge of Educational VR!
Raise your hand if, every time you go to your email, you find more junk than anything else. I am pretty good about not signing up for subscriptions from too many different companies, yet somehow I still receive more junk than I think I should. I've also found the the Unsubscribe process is either vague or intentionally so time consuming that most people won't bother. It's just easier to continuously delete the emails than it is to try and unsubscribe and that's done purposefully by the companies that want your business!
Now, there is finally a simple way to stop receiving those unwanted emails: Unroll.me
Unroll.me is an online service that will look through your email, list all the subscriptions you have and then give you the option of just checking an X and you will automatically be unsubscribed from those companies. I usually do this twice a year on both my work email and my personal email. I took a screenshot, below, of how many subscriptions were found in my work email (I was too embarrassed to show you the 270 that were found in my personal email! lol)
Once you click continue, it simply lists each subscription and gives you a couple of options:
1. Click Unsubscribe. This will unsubscribe you from all future emails from this company.
2. Click Add to Rollup. Instead of unsubscribing you from the company, you will receive a digest of emails they send based off of a time preference you set and they will no longer show up in your inbox. They will be in a special Unroll.me folder.
It's as simple as that to stop all of those annoying emails you receive with the Unroll.me service and it works with Gmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook.com, Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live, iCloud Email and AOL Email. Try it for yourself and see!
In one of my previous blogs, I explained that I was a big proponent of Social Media being used within the classroom environment. With the new Facebook feature of being able to Live Stream directly from your News Feed, every classroom across America should now have an account!
*Note: this is currently for the IOS App only and will not run on a Facebook Page or Facebook Group. These will be coming soon.
Picture this scenario: Your students have been working on a major project for the past few days and will be presenting to the class next Monday. Before you leave for the day, you log into your Facebook account and let specific followers (like parents) know that you will be streaming live from your classroom next Monday at 10am.
As you go live for each presentation on Monday, you can enter the title of the group presenting, viewers can comment on the video and then, afterwards, it is posted to your News Feed as a Status Update. It also gives you the option of saving to your camera roll, so that you have another copy of the video.
Each of the viewers can interact with the video and comment, creating a spontaneous online conversation that benefits parents and students. You also don't have to worry about the content of those live comments, because you are the only one to see them on your phone. They are not saved in the finished video that is posted, nor in the one you save to your camera roll.
If you'd like training on how to use this new feature in your classroom, just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
If you've been anywhere except under a rock for the past several years, you've probably heard of the movement of Game-based Learning (GBL) and it's effect on the classroom environment.
In my last few years in the classroom I, personally, transferred as much of my classroom instruction into GBL format as I could. The reactions were quite interesting and varied from both my peers and my students.
My best example is the game of Kahoot that I played every Friday afternoon with my students. After only a few weeks, it was rare that I ever had a student absent Fridays, even if they were not feeling well. Students looked forward to the game and I was able to use that in all of the other areas of my classroom management. On the other hand, I would have co-workers ask me, " How do you have time to play GAMES (yes, said in THAT tone of voice) when I don't even have enough time to get all of the curriculum taught?" After stopping myself from answering with a not-so-nice comment, I normally would start explaining myself by using the definition for Game-based Learning:
Game-based Learning - a type of game play that has defined learning outcomes. Generally, game-based learning is designed to balance subject matter with gameplay and the ability of the player to retain, and apply said subject matter to the real world.
If, by then, they hadn't already walked out of my room rolling their eyes, I would go on to explain that all of my activities were based off of my end result of what I wanted my students learning and that I probably spent more time preparing my "game" than any lesson taught straight out of "the book."
Starting with my end result in mind, I would design my Kahoot game around the concept my students needed to understand and I would incorporate the concept into real-world understanding. (yes, I threw in just plain fun questions in addition to randomize it, so they wouldn't realize they were learning)
If I STILL had my co-workers attention, I would continue explaining to them that, in addition, I was able to assess my students' knowledge by observation and data analysis during this half hour on Fridays and it helped guide my instruction for the following week.
Lastly, if they were still interested enough to be listening to me, I usually showed them the data I had collected (ranging from scratched notes to graphs, spreadsheets, etc.) over that year and the previous years. That information helped shape my classroom instruction, not only for the current year, but, by comparing it to previous years, I was able to improve my students' understanding on a continual basis. I also believe that forced me to reexamine my instructional methods on a continuous basis and made me a better teacher in the end!
Most of the time, though, I lost their interest as soon as I showed them the definition, because they had already made up their mind I was just playing another one of my GAMES......
If you've not considered trying Game-based Learning in your classroom, I highly recommend it. If you're not sure how to get started, I recommend the following video by Alice Keeler: Getting Started with Games Based Learning (Click here to view)
This month, our theme is "Productivity Tools" and I just came across a new tool that will help everyone immensely with staying productive. It's called "Take A Five" andis built off of the Mission Impossible theme of "This message will self destruct..."
Picture this....it's Sunday night about 9pm and you are 100 papers into the 250 that you still have to grade. You say to yourself, "I'm going to take a break for 5 minutes and go look at Facebook (or Pinterest or whatever your favorite social media is)." So, you open a new tab, surf the social media for a bit.....and suddenly it's 11:30pm and you're not sure where the last 2.5 hours went! Sound familiar? lol
Now, let's rewind this scenario using the Take A Five tab. You decide to take a break and, instead of going directly to your social media, you go to the website http://www.takeafive.com/index.html (below is a screenshot of what it will look like)
This site will open a screen giving you the option to open a self-destructing (Mission Impossible Theme Song) tab based off of the time you specify.
You choose 1, 5, 10 minutes or a custom time, then hit enter. A new tab opens that looks like this:
You can now do anything you want with that screen (as you can see, they even give you links to what they consider the most popular pages to save you time). As you use this tab, a timer is slowly counting down on the other tab:
When the timer gets to 0, the tab you are using self-destructs and you know it's time to go back to work!
When I first found this, I thought it was a cute trick to show people and I had fun playing with it. Now, though, I've found it's actually a great productivity tool to keep me on track. Everyone needs breaks from the tasks we dread doing, so it's easy to get side-tracked for long periods of time.
Take A Five is one productivity tool that will help you use your time wisely and I highly recommend it!
About 4 years ago, I was your typical teacher. I was teaching 5th grade and I was pretty good at integrating technology into my classroom. I was always looking for "new, shiny toys" for the classroom and I had gotten very good at being able to show my students "an inch deep" about how to use most forms of technology to help them in their daily classroom lives.
Then, I was introduced to a video created by Erik Qualman (@equalman) called "The Social Media Revolution" and I knew I had to concentrate in one particular area of technology and it's future in education: Social Media. Before I go any further, look at the video that he did back in 2011:
This video and the facts within it are now 5 years out of date, but they were staggering to me even then!
Here's a few new facts that have been updated since this video
Facebook users could now be the largest country in the world, even in front of China!
LinkedIn's age limit has been lowered to 13 (yes, that's correct....13!)
53% of Millennials surveyed would rather lose their sense of smell than their technology (I would be one of those!)
More people own a mobile device than a toothbrush!
Take a look at the latest updated video, complete January 2015:
These are the many reasons I changed from teaching my students and co-workers about all forms of technology and concentrated on Social Media in the classroom.
I believe this is the future of education and you're either onboard or the train will drag you along unwillingly....there is no going back!
Stay tuned for more from PHSEdTech.
Technology Integration Specialist
Port Huron Schools
810-388-0363 ext. 4018
After more than 25 years in both the Corporate I.T. world and the Educational Community, I have many thoughts on what the current/future trends in Ed Tech will be. This is my page dedicated to those thoughts and tips.