Friday, September 30, 2016

Welcome Soundtrap, our newest Platinum Sponsor!

Dr. Chris Craft
Director of Strategic Partnerships
Interested in partnering? Contact Chris.

We are excited to welcome Soundtrap as our newest Platinum sponsor! With Soundtrap you make music and podcasts online. You can plug in your own instrument, use the software instruments available in Soundtrap or just record a song directly with your computer microphone. It's super-easy! Look for Soundtrap at an EdTechTeam Summit near you, and share your ideas for using in our community. Here's just a few ways community members are already using Soundtrap; try and share!

Picture the Magic of Coding!

Paul Hamilton
Head of Learning Technologies
Primary School
Matthew Flinders Anglican College
Queensland, Australia
Twitter: @PaulHamilton8 

Teachers who have introduced their students to coding will have witnessed a couple of things. Firstly, the deep level thinking and problem solving that occurs. That expression on the students faces that clearly says "I'm not sure what went wrong, but I'm going to keep going until I find out!" Secondly, the excitement of executing the code and seeing what their programming has created. And thirdly, the collaborative nature of coding. I can't count the number of times I've heard 'look what this does!' or 'how did you do that?'
Currently, there is a global push for coding in education. Coding is the new creation tool. It has the ability to create new products, bring people together and solve important problems in the world. However, our little learners learn concepts in many different ways. Their ability to connect concepts to their own lives is important. This book was written to fill this void. I hope our Wizard will be a stimulus for discussion, bridge the gap between the physical and digital, and provide a springboard into the magical world of coding.
So let me tell you a little about the story. While his fellow classmates are dreaming of becoming football players, architects, and doctors, Ralph dreams of becoming a wizard and helping his family and friends. ‘If I Were A Wizard’ introduces coding concepts to its readers through the enchanting imagination of a young boy. From ‘Repeats and Loops” to ‘Algorithms’, If I were a Wizard prompts discussion and helps build conceptual understanding.
Let's take a look at some of the examples from the book.
In this image, we introduce our readers to the concept of repeats and loops in the non-digital world.

Repeats and loops are ways of making things happen over and over again. Our wizard creates a perfect wave and then uses his magic to repeat the wave 10 times. What are some things that you spend a lot of time on that you would like to repeat?
In another example from the book Ralph uses his powers to help his Nan. This is a common thread to the book. The use of magic, just like code, to help others and provide solutions.

Think of variables as labels. They are great ways of keeping track of things. Nan would be helped by labels on the containers in the pantry. She would then know exactly which containers to grab in order to follow a recipe.
At the end of the book, we make connections between the imagination of the wizard and the actual coding concepts in simple terms.
Personally, some of my fondest memories in life are of reading to my girls when they were young. I still believe to this day that their love of books, incredible imagination, and ability to look at people, places and things ‘deeply’ and from different perspective’s stems from these early childhood moments of sharing great stories together. And it wasn’t just the stories that I cherished but the conversations we had as a result of the books we read together. My most recent project brings together two loves. Coding and Picture Books.
I sincerely hope that our little wizard brings about similar, cherished moments for parents, grandparents, teachers, librarians and children. Because it only takes a spark to ignite a passion and it only takes your imagination to create a little magic!

Pre-order your copy of If I Were a Wizard today!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

There's a Science to It! Google's CS First

Amber Klebanoff
Google Certified Trainer
Google Certified Admin
Twitter: @emergingteched

After completing the Hour of Code two years ago, I came across CS First when a Fifth grade teacher wanted to find a way to continue working on coding with her students but through a systematic approach. Here came in CS First.

Even though CS First has been created with the idea that it be used as an after-school club, we decided to infuse this program directly into the teacher’s classroom. It has great CCSS and ISTE alignments and can easily fit into most any curriculum. Before we began though, we needed to make a few adjustments.  

CS First is created for a 75-90 minute sessions, for which I was not going to have the students (maybe between 30-45 minutes); therefore I created a Google Sheet to tell me where each student would end off on each day (i.e. Activity 1 video 4). This spreadsheet helped myself and the cooperating teacher know where the students were throughout the course of the sessions, know when students were absent and maintain and understanding of which students were moving ahead and which were struck on a specific activity (see example spreadsheet).  

As the students continued working throughout the year, more and more classes came on board, and this class became the “Gurus” to other classes! They mentored the Third graders every Friday, and we even found that students that were hesitant or confused when working with a teacher, flourished when working with other students.  

While the students worked through their activities, I videoed to create a YouTube Playlist with them answering three questions:

  • What are you doing?
  • Why are you doing it?
  • How do you like coding?

The responses are mesmerizing from both Fifth and Third graders. Students were able to have a voice not just through their coding, but also through these videos. I shared these with the CS First team and through Twitter and the responses were great. Students were able to understand that what they were doing mattered, and, Jaime Sue Goodman, one of the leads on the CS First Team, even spoke about one specific student in her TEDX Talk “Lucky is a Lie”.  

By the end of the year, this core group of students had completed two CS First “Clubs” and even a Scratch project creating musical instruments with MakeyMakeys. Their overall reading and Math scores had improved and students felt more confident of themselves as learners and thinkers!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Google Mobile Apps Take Three!

Want to GO EVEN FARTHER in the classroom with EVEN MORE Google Apps on your mobile device? Here's a Google Apps Take Three list to continue your Googley Journey!

1. Google Cast

Allows students and teachers to share their screens wirelessly from everywhere in the classroom. 


Google Play

2. Google Keep

Grab a photo of a poster, receipt or document and easily organize or find it later in search. Google Keep makes it easy to capture a thought or list for yourself, and share it with friends and family.


Google Play

3. News & Weather 

Your comprehensive and personalized view of headline stories and local news & weather.


Google Play

4. Maps 

Navigating your world faster and easier. Find the best spots in town and the information you need to get there. 


Google Play

5. Google+ 

Explore your interests, group things you love into Collections, or join Communities of people around any topic right from your mobile device. 


Google Play

6. Chrome Remote Desktop 

Securely access your computers from your mobile device. 


Google Play

7. Google Analytics 

Monitor Google Apps activity on the go. Check key metrics in built-in reports, compare date ranges and apply segments, monitor real-time data, and more. 


Google Play

8. Google Spotlight Stories

 Using 3D and 2D animation, 360° spherical cinema -quality video, full-sphere surround sound, and sensor fusion techniques, the screen is now a window into a story that unfolds all around you. 



9. Translate 

Translate via text or use your camera to translate image to text instantly. Offl ine mode available. 


Google Play

10. YouTube 

Subscribe to channels you love, share with friends, and watch on any device. 



Sunday, September 25, 2016

C-H-A-N-G-E It Up! Using Google Forms for Spelling Tests

Nathan McEntee
Learning Coach in Wolf Creek Public Schools
Ponoka, Alberta, Canada
Twitter: @mrmacteach
Google+: +NathanMcEnteeTeach

Before I go into detail on how to make your life easier using Google Forms for spelling tests, I have to say, I don’t like spelling tests! I do believe that spelling correctly is important, I believe that practicing spelling (word work) is important and I believe that good (better yet, great) spelling is imperative to effective communication. I’m just not sold that spelling tests are the way to do it. Spelling practice and spelling tests are two very different things and “Word Work” or “Working With Words” in Daily 5, or centers or a Writers Workshop are all great ways for students to practice spelling and in a lot of cases put the practice in context for students.

A colleague of mine who I taught with, used to give students the 100 most used words in the English language (yes, she did a test first), to find out which words the students struggled with. For each student she would take the first ten (if there were that many) and put them on a cue card and the student attached it in their binder. She gave them opportunity to practice spelling the words but also encouraged practice at home. Once every couple of weeks, students would pair up and exchange their binders (this was a collection of their writing from the past two weeks in all subjects) and their cue card with their lists. Students would go through their partner’s work with the list of words they had misspelled, if the word was spelled correctly every time it was used in their work, they crossed it off the list, if the word was misspelled, the word stayed on the list and the student was encouraged to continue practicing. Contextual spelling practice like that I can get on board with. That being said, there are still schools/divisions in the world that require spelling tests and now you can use Google Forms (and some other Google tools or Add-ons) to make writing and marking spelling test quick and easy. If you’re not a Spelling test person you can use some features in Google Forms to give students immediate feedback to practice spelling.  

Create a Google Form to Send to Your Students
The first and most important step, create a Google Form and add questions with a short answer option for responses. In the “Question” section you can put the word number so students will know which “question” in the form is associated with which word. This will help direct them when you get the “What number was that?!” that inevitably comes up.  

Send the Form To Your Students

This can be done by emailing a link to the form, sharing it in Google Classroom, Hapara Teacher Dashboard (this is a product my school division uses) or having the URL (web address for the form) on the board (I recommend creating a shortened URL) for your students to type into the address bar (Omnibox) in their Chrome browser.

But Autocorrect Will Underline Misspelled Words!

Fear not my friends!! You can have your students go and disable the underlining of the words ( Click here for instructions). You may want them to go back and enable this after you’ve completed the test...or not!

How Do I Mark The Test?

Flubaroo is an add-on that will mark the test for you and send students their results, this can be done automatically or you can manually send out their results with a click of the button. Here’s a video made by Kelly Fitzgerald on how to use Flubaroo with the “new” Google Forms.

Want To Use Forms to Help Students “practice” for Spelling Tests or Word Work Stations?

You can use the data validation in Google Forms to give students “instant” feedback on their spelling instantly. Data validation gives student an “error message” until they spell the word correctly. This video shows how to use the data validation feature for this.

BONUS: Differentiating and AppSmashing Your Spelling Test

If you would like your students to have less words than other students you can create sections in your form. Students who have less words will be able to submit their tests/quizzes without having to type the other words. In the message to the student when they hit submit you can add a link to word practice site (Spelling City, Flocabulary or any other site you want to use as practice for spelling). I made this video to show how to do it and what it looks like from a student view as well.

Let’s say you would like students to be able to write their spelling test on their own time. You can record yourself reading the words, upload it to youtube and then insert the video at the beginning of the Form. Students can then start/stop/rewind the video as they need to.

Jacqueline Legaspi gives an example of a similar idea where she adds an audio file of herself reading the words for her students along with the “test” in Google Classroom here.

This may seem intimidating or overwhelming to some, but here’s a piece advice for those just getting started, “Start small and do it well, but START!”

Friday, September 23, 2016

Want to Transform Learning? Innovate with iPad today!

Gary Darling
English Teacher
CrossPosted on August 26, 2016 by Gary Darling

Have you ever wanted a book about teaching with the iPad that is light on jargon, gentle on the brain, with tried and tested lesson plans, valuable didactic information, and clear advice all included?  Did you even know that such a book existed? Well, it does, and it’s called Innovate With iPad: Lessons to Transform Digital Learning if only all technology books for teachers were like this one. Innovate with iPad is an immensely practical, but at the same time considered work that is immediately accessible to all Primary School (K-3) teachers, whether they are beginners or experts in the world of iPads and digital classroom technology.

“Innovate with iPad: Lessons to Transform Learning in the Classroom is the book you and every educator with access to iPad needs to make a fast transition to using iPad for learning.”
/Users/genesiskohler/Desktop/ITWiPad/Final cover/ITWI cover w pi
Don’t skip the Foreword and Introduction because like the main body of the book, they are worth the time. The Foreword is only a few paragraphs and sets the tone nicely. In the Introduction, the creators of Innovate With iPad, experienced primary school teachers Karen Lirenman and Kristen Wideen, share their thoughts and explain the layout of the remainder of the book. So far, so good, that didn’t take long at all, and we really wanted to read more.
“This book declutters and demystifies the question about which apps to use so teachers and students can quickly become fluent on iPad.”
Chapter 1: Getting Started, introduces the vital tools required for iPad lessons –  apps. The authors introduce their readers to what they call the five central apps, which are used extensively, but by no means exclusively in the lessons that follow. The iPad beginner has the chance to learn about much-used classroom apps and what they can do, the more experienced user finds familiar territory: A comfortable and intelligent beginning.
The apps that are central to the lessons in Innovate with iPad are:
There are other apps suggested for use in the lessons contained in Innovate With iPad but this approach of focussing on certain apps, keeps it simple and leaves room for choice and adaptation for the more advanced user, but still provides a solid foundation for those starting out with apps.
After this gentle beginning, the book divides logically into subject matter – there’s something for everyone:
  • Numeracy Lessons
  • Literacy Lessons
  • Science Lessons
  • Social Studies Lessons
  • Self-Assessment
This logical separation makes Innovate With iPad a good friend when it comes to planning classes.  As for the rest, it’s all very much hands-on, which is just what we like at Popplet.
Each lesson has roughly the same easy to understand format:
  • The Task
  • The Student’s Learning Intentions
  • The How
Screen Shot 2016-08-25 at 18.50.29
I addition to the main body of the lesson, there is an aqua colored panel containing essential didactic information:
  • Grade – Pre-K to Grade 3, most lessons can be adapted for more than one grade
  • Subject Area – Geometry, Reading Comprehension…
  • iPad Comfort Level Level – Beginner/Advanced
  • Suggested App
  • Quick Tip – very useful advice
  • Lesson Extensions – adapt, increase engagement
  • Student Task Card – digital instructions for students
With this information at their fingertips, teachers can make quick decisions about what activities they choose. Not only can lessons be planned by subject, they can also be planned by App, iPad Comfort Level, and Grade.
Most of the  lessons – like the Popplet lesson above – contain student examples, and when they don’t, examples can be accessed for free on the book’s webpage.  Student Task Cards for some lessons are also available on the website:
Screen Shot 2016-08-27 at 10.32.11
Popplet is a very versatile tool that works well with other apps, and it is completely at home whatever the subject of the lesson. So, not surprisingly, Popplet features numerous times in Innovate With iPad. In common with all the other fine apps that appear, Popplet has earned its reputation as a central iPad classroom app, and is a popular favorite with teachers, and students of all age groups. Take a look at these Popplet examples from the pages of Innovate With iPad:
iPads, tablets, and digital technology are in the classroom, the workplace and in our homes – they are here to stay. The question for school teachers is not if, but when will I use this technology in my classroom. If you are a Primary school teacher and you have been asking yourself that question, then Innovate with iPad, with its logical layout, considered content and it’s varied range of subject matter, is a very good place to begin.
This book isn’t just for beginners. If you already have some experience of iPads, or even if you consider yourself an advanced user, you won’t have any problem finding a use for a resource as rich and accessible as Innovate With iPad.

This entry was posted in iPad App, Popplet, Popplet Examples, Popplets in Education and tagged apps in the classroom, book review, classroom activities, popplet examples by Gary Darling. Bookmark thepermalink.