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!

Biome Project

The following videos highlight a biome project some students at Nimitz Middle School are doing. We will use Google Drive, Sketchpad 3, and Videolicious to accomplish the task of creating presentations that display student learning of various biomes and food chains.

All work will be completed with iPads.

This series of videos will introduce the project, and show where the links to biome pictures may be accessed through Moodle. Details on how to get those pictures onto an iPad are also addressed.

In short, students will access a Google Drive folder or a Weebly site, where the biome pics are stored. They will take a screen shot of the pics they want (or tap and hold to save the image), so that they are stored on the iPad in the camera roll. Then, they will open the app called Sketchpad 3 and bring in their photos and arrange them in a food chain order. They can add arrows between the pictures to indicate energy flow, and then export their finished chain to the camera roll. Finally…students will bring all their pics/videos together in the Videolicious app to make a video presentation of their learning. Did I say “in short”?

How to use Sketch Pad 3 and Videolicious are topics picked up in the videos that follow.

 

This video will show you how to use the Sketch Pad app to build your food chain.

This video will show you how to take all your creations and put them into Videolicious for the final product.

 

Video of the final product

 

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!

Adopt an Element

periodic table

I recently worked with a teacher at Nimitz Middle School who had her students adopt an element from the periodic table for the purpose of making an advertisement for the element. The students were charged with the goal of “selling” their element.

There are many free periodic table apps out there, but my favorite is The Periodic Table Project . Here is the iTunes description of the app:

Always at the forefront of innovation, the University of Waterloo initiated a collaborative student-design project to celebrate 2011 as the International Year of Chemistry. Chem 13 News together with the Chemistry Department and the Faculty of Science encouraged chemistry educators and enthusiasts worldwide to adopt an element and artistically interpret that element to eventually be brought together in a mosaic of science and art. A year later, with the project complete, we have designs by chemistry students from all Canadian provinces and territories, 20 US states and 14 different countries. Each element captures a unique and creative spark but together they ignite a passion for chemistry.

 

Here’s a screen shot of one of the pictures that students designed:

 

So we downloaded a few periodic table apps and made sure we had saved several web links to various periodic table websites as well. We then asked students to spend day one researching for such things as the symbol for their element, the atomic mass, the number of protons, the cost of the element, the person who discovered and named the element, interesting facts, etc.

 

Day two consisted of directing students to compile all their research, screen shots, and saved pics from day one into a presentation using either Pic Collage, Videolicious, or Skitch. Most students chose Pic Collage.

 

Here is an example of one student’s product using Pic Collage:

 

 

 

Integrating Science Instruction and Technology

There are many tools available to teachers who are interested in infusing technology into their instruction. Below are a few ideas that may help the science instructor.

Google Earth

This tool continues to grow in importance. At the most basic level, Google Earth allows teachers to guide their students through the exploration of the Earth. For science instructors, the potential is huge. Analyzing the theory of plate tectonics, surveying landforms, and studying weather patterns are only a few of the activities that Google Earth will put at your students’ fingertips. Add to this that you can create a custom tour and save it as a file, and you’ll find that Google Earth is one of those indispensable tools in the science classroom.

Edmodo

In these days in which Facebook is a household name, sites like Edmodo gain prominence. Using Edmodo as a learning management system is not far from your reach. The setup is minimal, because all you do is create a course (First Period, for example) and a code is generated. Give the code to your students, and they now may sign up on their own and join your group.

With Edmodo, teachers can send messages, alerts, links, assignments, quizzes, and polls to their students. Another great feature is the Library within Edmodo. This aspect may be used as a shared drive to upload to and share with students.

Don’t underestimate the value of Edmodo in the classroom.

Discovery Streaming

Many are familiar with this great tool, but not many of us use it to its full capacity. Besides the streaming videos that are available to you, there are also lesson plans, interactives, quiz builders, assignment builders, and the teacher resource center for instruction needs and also for professional development, only to name a portion of the resources at DS. Please see your campus librarian if you do not have your credentials to login.

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/ 
 

 Google Docs

Google describes their product rather well…

What is Google Docs?

Google Docs is a suite of products that lets you create different kinds of online documents, work on them in real time with other people, and store your documents and your other files — all online, and all for free. With an Internet connection, you can access your documents and files from any computer, anywhere in the world. (There’s even some work you can do without an Internet connection!) This guide will give you a quick overview of the many things that you can do in Google Docs.

 
http://support.google.com/docs/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=49008
 

If you are interested in learning more about using Google Docs in the classroom, let me know, and I’ll give you credentials for you and your students to start using this robust technology tool.

 

Web 2.0

You’ve probably heard the term, but what does it mean, really? Web 2.0 is a term used to describe the next generation of the web. “Back in the day” we used to access the internet strictly for information. Now we can do that plus a whole lot more. We can interact with sites and leave with a product. That’s Web 2.0. That’s empowering students and teachers.

Below is a list of some various Web 2.0 tools you may find helpful or intriguing:

  •  Fodey – generate your own newspaper clipping
  • Lino It – online sticky note message board
  • Educreations – create your own screencast videos with a white board as a backdrop
  • Diigo – collect bookmarks, make annotations and highlights, and organize them in your own library
  • How Big Really – compare the size of events or places in our world and in space with our local zip code.

 

Don’t Forget About SMART!

Remember that you can visit the SMART Exchange and set up a free account. While there, be sure to search for ready-made SMART lessons that can be used with a SMART board, with a slate, or simply with a laptop or desktop. There are many excellent lessons already designed that may be downloaded, saved, and changed to fit your TEKS. Visit the SMART Exchange today!

 

 

Creating a Tour in Google Earth

Screen Shot 2012-07-23 at 11.16.12 AM 2

The following series of videos will demonstrate how to create folders within Google Earth that will allow you or your students to take a virtual tour of the earth. Enjoy.

 

The next video that will take you on a tour of our Texas towns, and show how to adjust the tour settings.

The next video will explain how to add a link and a curriculum-related question to one or all of your Texas towns placemarks.

Watch the next video to learn how to place an image on a placemark, so that it will display as the student travels through the tour.


This video will describe how to change the label on a placemark as well as change the view of a placemark as seen on the tour.

This video will show you how to embed a video from YouTube or SchoolTube into Google Earth placemarks to make a Google Earth Documentary.

The final video in the series will show you how to turn all your work into a .kmz file that can be emailed to others or dropped into the student shared folder, or even uploaded to your teacher web. All these options make your tour available to others.

 

My Apologies…One last video. This one will show you how to direct your students to view the tour.