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Nov 20 14

Digital Citizenship Academy

by fsanchez

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The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has officially launched Digital Citizenship Academy, a collection of online modules designed to support educators in understanding and teaching issues of digital citizenship. The site comes with videos and lesson plans designed to show educators how to be their own best examples of digital citizens.

Nov 20 14

New Guide to Gaming in ED

by fsanchez

EDsurge recently posted that KQED’s Mind/Shift has published a comprehensive guide of ideas on game-based learning, complete with assessments and teaching strategies. It’s written by Jordan Shapiro. Check out the full guide here.

Here are the topics that found in teh guide: 

  1. What the Research Says About Gaming and Screen Time: Much of the research around digital games and screen time is evolving. Pediatricians, academics, educators, and researchers are working to find answers to how games and technology affect
    learners of all ages.
  2. How to Start Using Digital Games for Learning: Since each learning environment is unique, here are some steps to assessing your resources before committing to a particular game or platform. See how some educators are using digital games in the classroom and how they find support.
  3. How to Choose a Digital Learning Game: The sheer volume of games classified as educational can be overwhelming. This section gives you a starting point for game selection by providing an understanding of the types of games available in the marketplace and how to go about selecting them.
  4. Overcoming Obstacles for Using Digital Games in the Classroom: As game use in the classroom continues to grow, barriers to deployment also need to be addressed. A recent survey of teachers outlines exactly which obstacles get in the way of successful implementation; solutions to those concerns are outlined in this section.
  5. How Teachers Are Using Games in the Classroom: Examples of how teachers use games are embedded throughout the guide (including video examples), but this section takes an in-depth look at how some teachers are using games Getty in the classroom and their real-life struggles and victories.

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Nov 10 14

AP Support with Learnerator

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 11.16.47 AMHave you tried Learnerator yet? If you are an AP student or AP teacher, it is a MUST!! Basically, it is an incredible archive of AP/College Entrance test questions. It has a freemium model, so you have to pay if you want the entire access to all the questions for a specific subject, but I the free access is really good too!

So I signed into AP European History, and then I was able to take tests on specific units. The questions were of high quality; in fact if I still taught that class I would use some of those questions on my own tests!

Learnerator also has a blog. Here are my favorite posts from the past week:

1. One-Month AP Comparative Government Study Guide: If you’re taking AP Comparative Government this year, bookmark this page right now! We wrote a day-by-day study guide for you to rock your exam in the spring!

2. The Ultimate List of AP World History Tips: We created a comprehensive list of AP World History hacks and then shared it with teachers. Teachers responded and we now have 50+ AP World History tips! Have a tip we didn’t include? Drop us an e-mail!

3. How to Study for AP English Language: If you had a long week in AP English Language and just need a few pointers on how to get back on track in class, we wrote up 7 tips to keep in mind for tackling AP English Language.

4. 12 Steps to a 12: ACT Plus Writing: What’s the right strategy when it comes to tackling the ACT Plus Writing section? In this post, Alyssa from our team breaks down how she got a perfect score on her ACT essays.

5. Learnerator Ed-PR Implementing a Flipped Classroom: Why is having a flipped classroom all the rage? More importantly, how do we apply the flipped classroom into our very own? In this Ed-PR podcast, we welcome Noel Pauller to discuss this new educational model.

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Nov 10 14

MotionSavvy: Sign Language App

by fsanchez

Here is an interesting post from Inside Mobile Apps:MotionSavvy is a tablet app that can understand your sign language.

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Developed for the hearing impaired, MotionSavvy utilizes the technology behind LEAP Motion to provide real-time translation of a user’s sign language into digital text or digital voice.

Founders Ryan Hait-Campbell, Wade Kellard, Jordan Stemper and Alex Opalka are deaf, so they truly understand the benefit to having a sign-to-text translator for everyday use. The team met while attending the deaf-education branch of Rochester Institute of Technology, when MotionSavvy won 3rd place in ZVRS‘s product competition based on its initial prototype.

Since then, the team, which now comprises of six deaf individuals, has been developing MotionSavvy in LEAP Motion’s Axlr8r incubator program.

YouTube Clip (Click on link)

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About 90 percent of the deaf population was born into hearing families, who don’t know anything about how to raise a deaf child. I am one of those – my parents did their best and provided me with all the tools I needed. But in a lot of cases, parents and children have trouble communicating, and this can lead to tremendous problems.

Not just that – once they try to enter the workforce, deaf people still face problems communicating with their peers. This creates just another barrier for them in terms of personal and career growth. We’re trying to solve all of that by providing a device that can allow them to freely communicate, whenever they want, in their native language.

The whole MotionSavvy package, a Windows Tablet with LEAP Motion, will cost $600 with $20 additional per month for software subscription. It’s competitive with translation services, but will allow users to use their own device whenever they need. MotionSavvy is currently capable of understanding about 100 words, but there are currently 800 beta testers signed up to use the program, which will increase its word-recognition ability.More beta testers are being accepted.


Oct 20 14

Digital Citizenship Week

by fsanchez

Picture 9Happy Digital Citizenship Week (Oct. 19-25)! In preparation for a week of web safety and ethics conversations, get students warmed up with some of Common Sense Media’s resources, including a Scope/Sequence to help you generate great digital citizenship lesson plans. Common Sense Media has great resources for K-12 students!

Edutopia also has some great articles and resources related to Digital Citizenship.

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Another great resource is A Platform for Good. Here are three recent blog posts from their site:

Oct 20 14

Steps to Designing Maker Spaces

by fsanchez

On this blog we have talked about revamping school libraries by making them true MEDIA centers. To do that we have talked about Maker Spaces. Here is a great post by consultant Parker Thomas who recommends that you consider these six things before dropping a couple thousand on cool gadgets and gizmos. Learn how you can fit your makerspace design into the culture and curriculum of your school here.

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Tom Friedman argues in The World is Flat that all we really need to know to be successful in life is how to come up with an idea and execute on it. Children have the first part down–they are hardwired for creativity. The challenge is what comes next. That’s what makerspaces teach kids: the confidence and the competence necessary to execute their creative vision.

Makerspaces have made headlines recently. Several weeks ago New York City hosted the World Maker Faire. The White House had its first Maker Faire this summer, and schools and libraries across the country are installing these spaces.

It is certainly tempting to start thinking about all the amazing tools you could put into your makerspace. If you know anything about Makers, you are probably thinking that you need a CNC machine, a 3-D printer, Dremels for everyone and a laser cutter since they are the gateway tool for making things.

But buying a bunch of tools without first stopping to think about how they will be integrated into the culture and curriculum of your school is a recipe for a dusty and underused workshop.

From my experience installing makerspaces in several dozen schools, I’ve developed a process that helps you think through your makerspace and how it fits into the culture and curriculum of your school. Skipping this process, or one like it, will almost certainly result in tension, missed teaching opportunities, and overspending.

1. List the hopes, dreams and ideas you and others have for the space. Be sure to include stakeholders such as parents, board members, administration and other members of the community. It’s likely that if you’ve made it this far, there have been lots of conversations about the space. If you need some help, try telling stories about what kids will do in the space and what they will learn. Write down words, sentences, or pictures.

2. Define the skills, knowledge and habits that kids will learn or develop in your space. Then describe what and how the space will help kids develop these skills. For example, if you would like a student to learn the skill of backwards mapping a project to create a plan and a timeline, then how are you actually going to teach this? Or if you want students to have a habit of employing Design Thinking to solve a complex challenge, how are you going to instill this? Similarly, if you want students to be competent on all the tools in the space, how are you going to teach and assess this competence?

3. Define the culture for the space. In other words, how will people behave in the space and how will those standards be communicated? How will you deal with safety around tools? How will you teach in the space and will it be different from other classes? How will you encourage and perhaps even celebrate failure?

4. Based on the culture and the desired skills, knowledge and abilities, determine appropriate integration points in the rest of your curriculum and the life of the school. Sometimes this is as easy as working with the most (or least) enthusiastic teachers. Math and science are fairly straightforward to integrate into a makerspace, but there are many integration points in history, social sciences and art. Where are you going to start?

5. Based on your integration points, define the arc of the year and the projects you are going to include. For example, if your kids have never held a hammer or turned a wrench, it might make sense to start with simple skill builders before you get to Arduino robots and electric cars. When you pick the projects, consider how you’re going to teach them.

6. Design your space and pick the tools based on the decisions above. When designing the space, remember to consider power requirements, guidelines for safety, restricted areas around tools and what zone needs eye and ear protection. Make sure to include workspace for teams and set aside 30% of the room for project storage. As you think about tools, remember that magic of making can start with hot glue guns, string, soda bottles, soldering irons, hammers, nails and other very inexpensive equipment. Don’t be tempted by the sexy CNC and laser cutters if you don’t need them. Just taking apart a blender offers a wealth of learning opportunities.

This process is a lot of work. But going through it dramatically increases the chance that the makerspace will be integrated into your community and used by many. Next month I’ll cover two schools and how this process shaped their experience in creating a maker space.

Oct 9 14

Google Search Cheat Sheet

by fsanchez

Picture 10Google is much more than a search engine, but it is still is one of the best places to go to search. I always think students can improve their use of Google. After all, there are so many tricks and tips to google.

So, please check out this concise diagram of ten Google modifiers that’ll help students refine searches, get numerical ranges–even convert measurements and translate foreign languages!

Here is an excerpt of the infographic:

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Oct 9 14

Game Changer?: New MOOCs for High Schoolers

by fsanchez

001354_23At Mountain Lakes we have made great strides this year with blending learning experiments in AP Economics and Latin. In addition, we have created our own online course, Pschology Honors, to complement our Online Academy where students can enroll in MOOCs on their free time and earn digital badges. That is why this new blog post, “edX Turns Attention to High School MOOCs,”  from E-School News caught my attention.

Read the article in its entirety below, but basically edX will be launching nearly 30 MOOCs specifically tailored to high school students. I know as an AP teacher, I will be very interested in seeing how I can have my students take the course along our class to supplement our curriculum. Of course, it also brings up thornier questions about scheduling as well. Will students be able to register for these classes in lieu of classes that high schools offer? Although we may not know the answer to that question now, we can still get excited about the great materials that will soon be at our finger tips (and for free no less!).

edX turns attention to high school MOOCs

High school students now have access to massive open online courses (MOOCs) through a new effort fromMOOC platform edX, which says it intends the courses to help students prepare for college-level work.

edX collaborated with institutions such as MIT and Georgetown to produce the 27 courses, which include Advanced Placement (AP) sciences, math, and history, as well as French and Spanish.

In addition to helping students better prepare for college and make them less likely to need remedial courses, edX said on its website that teachers can use the MOOCs to enhance their classroom curriculum.

Anant Agarwal, CEO of edX, said that because “nearly 150,000 edX learners are high school students, [developing] courses to specifically meet the needs of this student population is a high priority for us.”

While the courses are not offered for high school credit, students may pay a registration fee ranging from $25-$100 for a completion certificate.

The certificates are “a great way for students to give themselves an incentive to complete the course and celebrate their success,” according to edX. “If students want to list the MOOC on a college application or resume, they may prefer to have a verified certificate.”

If students opt to earn a certificate, they’ll be asked to submit a photo ID, and as the course progresses, they might be asked to verify their identity via a webcam.

Like edX’s other online courses, Agarwal said, student progress will be tracked in a progress page that “features a student’s overall score on the top in a bar graph with assignments and scores listed below by week.”

Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, the School Superintendents Association, said MOOCs are not yet at the point where high schools will be offering full credit for their completion.

For that to happen, Domenech said, MOOCs will have to address a number of key issues. For instance, the courses will have to earn the endorsement of a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Also, most states still require students to be taught by a teacher who is certified in that state.

But when taken for enrichment or to supplement traditional instruction, MOOCs “do have value” for high school students, Domenech said.

Oct 6 14

Cool Web 2.0 Tools

by fsanchez

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 11.57.43 AMWhat tools were most popular amongst educators this past summer? Of the 50+ “S’Cool Tools” that EDsurge has published,  they measured popularity (via our clicks) and created this list of top 10 (and they’re all free!).  Check out the full #1-10 list here, or sample a few of the tools below.

  •  CLASSFLOW – FREE! If you’re looking to communicate with your students in a BYOD classroom, Classflow may be for you. The software enables you to create and upload lesson plans, share them with students across devices and evaluate their responses. Think of the time you’ll save uploading and downloading those pesky attachments. 
  •  SOAPBOX – FREE! Want to give confused students an opportunity to voice opinions and ask questions without feeling embarrassed? Try out Soapbox, a web-based clicker tool with several features designed to engage students and measure comprehension, including crowdsourcing Q&A and a “confusion barometer” (as well as more traditional tools like polls and quizzes).
  • CLASS TECH TIPS – FREE! Looking for more S’Cool Tools? On her blog “Class Tech Tips”, education consultant and former teacher Monica Burns offers daily posts on her experiences and recommendations for resources, ranging from Flickr to Scholastic News to tips on QR codes.
  • The California Dept. of Education just released Digital Chalkboard, a collaborative online platform where you can find 300,000+ digital resources for your classroom.
Oct 6 14

Celebrate Connected Educators Month

by fsanchez

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EDSURGE is celebrating “Connected Educators” Month this October by sharing articles, tools and resources on this fast-track journey of creating authentic learning for students and educators. Each week, they will release new resources for each part of the journey:

  1. Getting Connected: Where do you start?
  2. Taking Action: From lurking to participating
  3. Changing Practice: Applying your learning 
  4. Expanding Your Influence: Where do you go?

Here is what they posted today:

  • For teachers, the Connected Educator Starter Kit (PDF), a treasure trove of resources and activities to help you use free, everyday web tools to turn the wild, wild web into a powerful, personalized professional learning community;
  • For administrators and district officials who want to lead by example, the District Toolkit (PDF) offers ways to engage staff in connected learning.

Also, here’s our special contribution: the beta version of EdSurge Reflect & Connect

Take our five-minute diagnostic quiz and–based on your responses–we’ll give you recommendations about who to follow on Twitter, relevant Twitter chats and hashtags and EdSurge content tailored to your interests and priorities. (Yep, all free!) You only need a Twitter account to get started.

Get Connected Today 

Step 1: Getting Connected

Popular tools used by teachers to connect (available on both mobile and desktop) Price
Twitter: Get started with the basics. Use this tool to share and find quick thoughts, resources and opinions from your own curated list of Tweeters! Free
TweetDeck: This tool helps you schedule your Tweets, create lists that help your organize your friends and followers, and follow your favorite hashtagged conversations. Free
HootSuite: In addition to features offered by TweetDeck, HootSuite allows you to monitor multiple social accounts (including Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn) at once. And it offers analytics data to let you know your reach. Freemium; plans start at $9.99 per user per month
Voxer: It’s basically like a group walkie-talkie! You can create groups, record your voice and listen to what others have to say. Almost as good as an in-person conversation. Freemium; plans start at $2.99 per user per month
Yammer: Ever wanted to crate your own private Facebook? Well, that’s kind of how Yammer works. Popular among teachers, this tool lets you create private groups, share comments, send messages, documents and even post a poll. Freemium; plans start at $3 per user per month

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