Embrace The Learning Curve This Christmas Morning

The more I talk to kids about what they are dreaming about showing up under the Christmas tree, the more I hear about really cool, high tech gadgets like virtual reality headsets, 3D printers, robots like Spheros or Ozobots, and drones.

Here is a newsflash. All of those items are amazing and all of those items can be really hard to use at the start. I am not trying to play The Grinch here; I am telling you now so you can be ready for the learning curve.

When kids dream of drones, they don’t dream of a parent muttering words that could get them on the naughty list while trying to assemble it. They don’t dream of an endless series of 3 second flights either. They dream of that thing lifting off in the living room and capturing with its camera the majesty of a Christmas morning. Reality is that these toys can make many dreams come true but it will take time. Here are some tips.

1. Prepare yourself. Whether you receive the gift or give the gift, understand that the cool stuff you saw happening in the YouTube promotional video probably was highly edited and performed by the inventors of the device. Make that kind of high level use your goal….someday, not right out of the box.

2. Seek out help. Speaking of YouTube, most companies now post many product support videos online. When I bought my XYZ Mini Maker 3D printer I found their online support videos to be far more detailed and helpful than the printed instructions. You can also often find videos created by other users of the product that share their own tweaks and helpful hints. Use all of the knowledge that exists and that people are willing to share. It can make a big difference.

3. Make it about the journey. Instead of pouting that your first 3D printed phone case turned out more like something stuck to the pan at the bottom of great grandma’s egg casserole, have a laugh and know your skills will greatly improve. Try and figure out what went wrong so you can improve upon future designs. Keep that lumpy pile of goo so that when you are cranking out really cool stuff you can look back and see how far you have come. It has taken me months to produce anything really useful with my printer.

4. Remember 1 thing. Everything is awesome! We are so lucky to be living in the day and age we do….especially over the holidays. If you need a reminder, just listen to the old Christmas carol “Up on the Housetop.” Here is what those kids got from Dear Old Saint Nick:

“Next comes the stocking of little Will
Oh, just see what a glorious fill
Here is a hammer and lots of tacks
Also a ball and a whip that cracks”

No VR headset for little Will? Bummer. Poor Will probably had to go fix the roof and then drive the oxen to town that day once all of the wrapping paper was cleaned up. The point is…..if you get something amazing, be grateful, and when (not if) it doesn’t work perfectly right at the start, be happy about that. Don’t get mad. Getter better at it.

Epic, Brain Pop, and Seesaw Lead the Educational Migration to Apple TV OS

Just a couple of weeks ago it was hard for me to justify paying nearly double for the newest generation of Apple TV for classrooms compared to the previous generation. In my living room tons of great entertainment apps make the difference well worth the money. In the classroom there have not been many reasons to not just buy the cheaper model since Airplay is really  the feature most want.

My thinking is starting to change now that educational entities are starting to code for the TVOS platform. There is still a lot of space for growth but three key players are charting a course through these open waters.

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 9.55.06 AM

Epic – Think “Netflix meets Childrens Lit.” This great site is full of the latest children’s fiction and non-fiction and is 100% free for elementary teachers and librarians. These aren’t poorly made ebooks; they are digital versions of some of the most-loved and newest books on the market. With the AppleTV app teachers can display the book on the big screen and read it aloud to the class. No more sore arms and no more hearing, “I can’t see,” as you try to read a picture book aloud to the class. Several books even have a “read to me” feature.

114_jr_ios_landing-main_screenshot-largeBrainPop Jr. – Movie of the Week – BrainPop has been producing great non-fiction animated shorts for years and now has brought its K-3 focused “Brain Pop Jr. Movie of the Week” to TVOS. Check out a different one each week with included educational activities. BrainPop Jr. subscribers can also login and access even more content.

Seesaw – This digital portfolio suite is taking classrooms by storm and now it comes to the Apple TV.  Teachers can log in to their classroom accounts and share on a big screen examples of student work or create slide shows and galleries. Think of how cool that would be to have playing during conferences or parents’ night. Parents can log in to the app at home and then be connected with their child’s individual portfolio. Now there is a great way for kids to show off some accomplishments the next time grandparents come to visit.

There are other non-education-specific apps too that could lend themselves to the educational setting. Word Girl and Super Why are great programs available through the PBS Kids app and a number of virtual planetariums are now available on TVOS.

Let’s hope that more educational entities continue to write for Apple’s newest platform, further bolstering an argument for choosing the newest generation of Apple TV over the previous generation.

 

 

Fidgits: Fabulous Design-Thinking Problem-Solvers from PBS Kids

PBS has a great show called the Design Squad and with it comes a ton of fabulous challenges at PBSkids.org where users have to save little robotic creatures called Fidgits.

Teaching the design process has found a home at the core of a ton of my teaching in our elementary technology classes. “Fidgits” lets kids design their own fictional robotic creatures or perform a number of challenges to save Fidgits in danger.

How many challenges can you complete?

Although I use a pared-down version of the formal design process, I start in second grade at teaching kids that every challenge requires them to follow the design process.

1) Define the problem

2) Ideate

3) Prototype your solution.

4) Test

5) Repeat the process until it is perfect.

Fidgits is a great exercise for practicing that mindset.

Play now.

Makey Makey Just Got Easier With Makey Makey Go

Image result for makey makey goIt is not like inventing with the original Makey Makey was extremely hard to begin with, but things just got more simple and more mobile with the “Go” version.

Makey Makey Go will begin shipping in December and is the size of a thumb drive making it totally mobile and less likely to get you taken “behind the curtain” by TSA when on the way to some nerdfest you’re carrying kits with lots of wires, panels, and alligator clips through airports (I know a lady who experienced this.).

What exactly is the “Go”? Well, this video can explain and describe it way better than I can.

MACUL 2015: Get to the MichShift Idea Slam!

Check out this great event for Thursday March 18 at MACUL in Detroit.

ShiftMich Idea Slam

What better place than here? What better time than now?

A unique event during MACUL week

Are you a Michigan educator who is….

creative/inspired/adventurous?

Are you ready to…

connect with others/start something/tell your story?

If you are passionate about innovation in education…

Meet in Detroit!

The Idea Slam is a fast paced “pitch fest” and networking event for educators. Selected projects will be presented and attendees will vote on their favorite ideas. Winning projects will receive up to $1,000 towards their innovative educational idea. The rest of the evening is an informal meet-up with fun conversations and delicious offerings from Detroit Beer Company.

The concept of the Idea Slam was inspired by the Detroit Soup and TED Conference formats.

GET YOUR TICKET

200 tickets available- Sellout anticipated

All proceeds given back to the winning educators who pitch their impactful idea!


Detroit Beer Company

WHEN

Thursday, March 19th, 7:30-11pm

WHERE

1529 Broadway Street – Detroit

MORE INFORMATION

Detroit Beer Co. is located just a few steps off of the Detroit People Mover! Exit at the Broadway Street Station.

Driving? Your best bet is the Opera House Garage located at

1426 Broadway St

Detroit, MI 48226

Get Directions

Great city

Great space

Great people 

7:30pm- Doors open

8:00pm- Opening remarks

8:15pm- Idea Slam pitches

9:00pm- Voting

9:15pm- Winners announced

9:15-11:00pm: Networking and idea sharing

Have an innovative Idea that could make a positive Shift in your school or education in general? Pitch it and you could walk away with money to get it off the ground! (Use the above link to apply for one of five pitch spots at the event. Organizers want to ensure presenters are organized and ready to SLAM. Only the top five selected will get a chance to pitch.)

Event flier on SMORE

iPad Apps for Film-making | A Listly List

Here is a great post I came across today highlighting 9 apps for film-making. These are great app smashers where each one performs a certain task and those products can all be mashed into one project.

iPad Apps for Film-making

Listly by Cathy Hunt

These apps provide us with endless possibilities for innovative teaching and creativity in the classroom. Introducing apps and workflows should be a derivative of considered instructional design and pedagogies that stems from a focus on the learning.

See Cathy’s full post: iPad Apps for Film-making | A Listly List.

Turn all of the sensors in your Android devices into learning tools

I recently read a great article from Matt Miller’s Ditch That Textbook blog about utilizing all of the different sensors that are part of so many mobile devices and turning them into learning tools.

Matt, a fellow Google Certified Teacher, recently did a Hangout with Rebecca Vierya. Rebecca and Matt met at the Austin Google Teacher Academy and she shared some of the Android software she and her husband developed to tap into all of the power that phones and tablets possess but isn’t easily accessed for learning.

The Vierya’s free Suite of Tools at Google Play is simple to use and contains the following apps:

  • G-Force Meter – ratio of Fn/Fg
  • Linear Accelerometer – acceleration
  • Gyroscope – radial velocity
  • Barometer – atmospheric pressure
  • Roller Coaster – G-Force Meter, Linear Accelerometer, Gyroscope, and Barometer
  • Proximeter – periodic motion and timer
  • Hygrometer – relative humidity
  • Thermometer – temperature
  • Magnetometer – magnetic field intensity
  • Light Meter – light intensity
  • Sound Meter – sound intensity
  • Tone Generator – frequency producer
  • Orientation – azimuth, roll, pitch
  • Stroboscope

According to the developers, “Useful for education, academia, and industry, this app uses device sensor inputs to collect, record, and export data. in comma separated value (csv) format through a .txt file sent via an e-mail or through Google Drive. All analog data is plotted against elapsed time (or clock time) on a graph. Users can export the data for further analysis in a spreadsheet or plotting tool. The app also allows for a tone generator output.”

Through the user interface a number of the sensors can be used together for all kinds of different explorations of math and physics concepts in the real world.

On her own site, Rebecca has compiled a ton of links where the tools have been referenced at all levels of academia from elementary schools to higher education.

A Great Use of Space

Check out the picture that Oklahoma’s Jeff Lay shared on Twitter.

All areas of a building can be utilized to encourage learning and something like this sends a message to the kids that multiplication facts are important more than during that sliver of the day when the class practices them.

mathstairs