Living Timelines

Use your class set of iPads to make a living timeline!

One Possibility – Students use the iPad as a presentation tool

  • Assign each small group of students to a specific event within a broad timespan, such as the Battle of Bull Run within the timeline of Civil War battles.
  • Direct the students to present on that topic by using their iPad as a display of their presentation.
  • Students may gather photos from the internet and keep them stored in the camera roll on the iPad, and bring them into any app that may serve the purpose. See this post as one option for presenting.
  • Once students have compiled all their research, a gallery walk around the room commences, allowing the whole class to experience the Battles of the Civil War, or the highlights of the American Revolution.

Another Possibility – Students (or teachers) create QR codes to direct learning

  • Create QR codes (instructions here) that drive the presentation.
  • Either students or teachers may create QR codes and place them around the room with labels that describe the event they represent.
  • Students may then travel around the room scanning QR codes and viewing the web site or text or YouTube video.

Educreations Interactive Whiteboard

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Take a look at this tutorial video for a wonderful whiteboard/screencasting app called Educreations Interactive Whiteboard. You can acquire a free account at Educreations.com, and any videos you create on the iPad will upload directly to the cloud for later reference. This is a great app. I hope you explore the possible uses.

 

 

 

STEM Awesomeness

Cool STEM Stuff

I recently had the pleasure of peeking into the goings-on of a STEM class at Nimitz Middle School (the class happens to be on the Lee campus), and I walked away amazed at what I saw. The teacher, Sandra Geisbush, is doing some amazing things with her students! Where do I begin?

First

Sandra spoke to me about some of her students who will be aiming for top prize this summer in the national competition known as eCybermission. The competition is sponsored by the US Army, and is held in Washington DC. Here’s a description from the eCybermission web site:

eCYBERMISSION is a web-based Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competition free for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for State, Regional and National Awards while working to solve problems in their community.

Our hopes are high for them as they prepare for this wonderful opportunity to represent our district!

Second

So the question arises…”What type of community problem is this group exploring?” The answer is very relevant to our times, and will likely grow in relevance as time passes. The group is interested in exploring the impact of battery disposal on plant growth, and thus the indirect impact on humans.

I was impressed with the lengths to which Sandra and her students have gone to to achieve their goal. They crushed up some batteries, and put them into the dirt surrounding seeds of the plants that they would study. Of course, they also prepared soil untainted by batteries as well. They then used a document camera to take time-lapse photos of the plants while they grew, so they could chart the growth and display the results with media. I am interested in hearing of their findings.

Third

Another thing I enjoyed hearing about was a new tool that Geisbush and her students are using with their microscopes and their iPads. It’s an adapter that replaces the ocular lens on the microscope, and plugs into the iPad to allow for viewing of magnified slides on the iPad. In addition to this, there is an app that accompanies the adapter that allows for taking photos of the magnifications, as well as for measuring each image to scale. Pretty cool! The company who produces the adapter is called Exo Labs.

Fourth

The last thing (I’m sure I’m missing something else, but this is all I saw) is that the class discovered a way to monitor the soil’s moisture level with a sensor that is usually used in conjunction with the NXT brick for a Lego Mindstorms Robot. They are using a humidity sensor to monitor the condition of the soil, so that they will know when to water.

I am amazed with the amount of real-world thinking going on in Geisbush’s class, and how they are using the technology tools that are available to them to get the job done. We wish them well in their competition.

 

Below I have included some points that Sandra wanted me to add to the post:

 

Please acknowledge Lorraine Bratcher and Clarissa Ruiz (NEISD Science Specialists).  They facilitated an engineering session as the kids worked through designing and automating the watering system.  It is programmed not only to sense the moisture levels but also to automatically turn the water off and on, as needed, robotically!
Team I.O.N. stands for Improving Our Nation.  This name is also appropriate because the team is comparing the regular runoff to the contaminated runoff for ionization and also for evidence of various substances that are known carcinogens (causing cancer) and teratogens (causing birth defects).
For winning State, each member of Team I.O.N. won $1,000.  For winning Pacific / Southwest Regionals each team member received an additional $2,000.00 and an all expenses paid trip for a week in Washington DC to compete in the e-Cybermission National Judging and Educational Event. If the team wins Nationals they will each receive an additional $5,000.00!
The National Showcase will be streamed live from the e-Cybermission http://www.ecybermission.com site during the week of June 16th to 21st.

You may download and read the press release here. e-Cybermission Press Release or visit this page for a summary, and to provide the team with valuable data for their research.

Edmodo!

Edmodo is a fantastic tool for the classroom teacher! It brings social learning, collaboration, creativity, and efficiency closer togetheredmodo  for you and for your students. It’s not a new tool for me, but I’ve recently become more interested in it.

Here are a few things you can do with Edmodo:

  • Create classes for your students to join
  • Send notes and alerts, give assignments, quizzes, and polls
  • Create a “library” of resources that may be freely shared with any of your connections
  • Gather ideas from other teachers around the world
  • Link to your Google account so you can have access to your documents

Watch this Getting Started video to find out how you can use Edmodo in the classroom:

 

Edmodo is a wonderful learning management system that I believe you and your students will enjoy using. If you are interested in learning more, let me know. I’ll be glad to help!

Using Voice Thread in the Classroom

Check out this embedded Voice Thread! I had fun making this example, and I hope you’ll give it a try with your students. If you’d like me to come to your classroom to show how to use this tool, let me know.

Note:

Voice Thread requires you to set up a free account in order to use their service. You may click on the picture while it’s playing in order to zoom in.

Feel free to leave a comment!

Video Conference Victory

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I recently had the pleasure of learning about the Polycom units that are available for conducting video conferences in our district. Travis Kersten, a teacher at Jackson Middle School, asked me to assist him in the endeavor of participating in a Region 7 videoconference related to Texas History.

Our three participants (shown above) did a super job of explaining the learning acquired during research projects and field trips related to El Camino Real, a name given to the travel route taken by explorers from Mexico to East Texas. The amazing thing about the conference is that approximately 1,200 students across the state participated that day. What a way to collaborate and share information!

This new experience opened my eyes to the various opportunities afforded to the classroom teacher of the future. Making the world smaller is a viable option these days. Classrooms from their respective corners of the world can now be connected with the technology at our fingertips.

I look forward to the educational adventures that could spring from this activity!

 

Polycom Video Conference Unit

Connecting Math and Technology

Using Video to Help with Instruction

Whether you use Khan Academy or some other similar resource, the power of video instruction is huge. Your students are given the power to review your teaching repeatedly until the learning is cemented.

Understand that you may also make your own videos with sites like Educreations or Show Me, and embed these lessons in your teacher web, or share the link through email. Both of these resources are also available as apps for the iPad.

You may also use the SMART recorder in conjunction with your SMART board to make video lessons that can be distributed for student consumption.

A thought that has occurred to me in the past is to have the students use the above-mentioned technology to explain their own learning. The students could just as easily access these technologies and make videos that will explain their thought processes as they solve a math problem. In this way, you could have them submit a paperless assignment.

A Medium for Videos

So once we have some videos made, how do we share them with students? This is a great question. Fortunately, we have several tools at our disposal that help answer this question. Here is a list:

  • Teacher Web – you may upload a video file and link it to a page for student access.
  • Weebly – you may sign up for a free account, and use the site as a host for videos.
  • Edmodo – this is education’s answer to Facebook. This amazing tool really is powerful. Contact me for the school code, so you can start uploading videos today.
  • Edublogs – this blogging platform is essentially the same as WordPress, and there’s much you can do with it. Let me know if you are interested in setting up a blog for your classroom.
  • YouTube – each teacher has an educator’s account with YouTube. Once you are signed in to Google Docs, YouTube appears as one of the apps.
  • TeacherTube and SchoolTube – these are also viable options for hosting videos.

Response Systems

Make raising your hand a lot more fun! Use one of the many response systems that are on the market. Some exist on campus (Turning Point Clickers available for check out in the library) and others are free online.

Some online possibilities are as follows:

Each of the above tools have varied learning curves and features offered. Make it your goal to use a couple of these in the classroom this school year.
 http://www.stanforddaily.com/2011/02/02/something-just-clicks-in-large-lectures/ 
 

Web 2.0

There are free sites out there that will allow us to do some amazing work for free. One that comes to mind is Board800. This site allows the user to create on online whiteboard and invite collaborators. Users can even expand their collaboration across multiple boards! This seems like a powerful tool for learning math.

Another amazing tool is Google Docs. Each teacher and student has an account with Google Docs. All they need is their login credentials. The power of Google Docs is the power of collaboration. Unlike most of the other programs we are used to, Docs allows multiple users to work on a particular doc at the same time. Simultaneous collaboration even allows for greater productivity beyond school hours, since the students would be able to access their Docs accounts from home.

Watch this video that shows how easy it is to make a spreadsheet and a graph in Google Docs.

Another thing Google Docs does well is that it provides an online quiz capability. All you have to do is create a form, ask students to submit their answers, and then run a script called Flubaroo to grade the responses. Really easy.

Here is another list of resources:

SMART Resources

Another very useful resource is found at the SMART Exchange. This online resource allows users who have set up a free account to download ready-made SMART Notebook files that may then be modified to fit the needs of the downloader. Users may search for lessons by TEKS! This is a great resource that should not be ignored.