At my classrom site MrLosik.blogspot.com I just added a list of updated elementary level links for research. After doing some routine maintenance on the site, I discovered that many of my go-to links for years had bitten the cyber-dust or have been essentially left for dead. Here is a link to the updated list.
One late summer evening I was enjoying the company of several other educators who were all presenters at the next day’s large edtech conference. Somehow a little friendly razzing found its way in my direction. The other teachers in the group were giving me a hard time about all of the “corporate” ties I have.
Check out the whole article at the new MACUL Community: Opportunities Abound in Relationships with Educational Vendors | MACUL Community
As I get ready to embark on my newest adventure of switching from an elementary Infotech teacher to an elementary STEM teacher, I have been doing a lot of lesson planning.
Luckily there are tons of STEM lesson plans readily available on the web. Some obviously are better than others but here is a list of the best ones I have encountered. Check them out.
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NC State: The Engineering Place
Don’t let the last nine months of hard work simply slip away. Here are tens ways to keep the knowledge, creativity, and problem solving growing.
1. Read. Our local libraries are amazing places and wonderfully cool on hot days. Holland’s Herrick District Library has lot of summer activities planned and so does the Saugatuck Douglas Library. The Kent District Library in Grand Rapids does too if your family is up for a little reading road trip. Best of all, they are all free. Another free online resource is the Michigan Electronic Library’s kids section.
Your family can also sign up for Epic Books and have unlimited access to all kinds of digital books for your iPad or tablet. Think of it like Netflix for books with tons of the best titles like Big Nate and Bad Kitty. Epic is $4.99 per month and the first month is free. That’s less than a pizza and whether you like fiction or non-fiction, there is something for everybody.
2. Practice Math Facts. Teaching and learning are a lot like playing sports. Professional football players don’t just sit around all summer waiting for training camp. They are doing something everyday to become faster, stronger, and smarter. Whether it’s running, lifting weights, or perfecting how to better cover a pass, they know without it, they won’t be successful. The same is true with math facts. The more they become automatic, the more you can move on to more exciting stuff. Spend time on IXL and XtraMath this summer building your speed, strength, and brain. Here is the Blue Star IXL login.
3. Build Something. One of the main reasons we do math is so we can make cool stuff. Anybody can be a worksheet monkey but is really special to do something with your math skills. Whether you are just nailing wood together on a workbench or creating your own iPad speakers you have to be able to measure your pieces and solve equations. Check out Instructables.com and you will be amazed at all of the projects from simple to mind-blowing. Most even use things you just have lying around the house.
4. Get Outside and Explore. Did you know that in Michigan you are never more than six miles from water? West Michigan is literally one of the best places on earth to spend the summer. Whether it is a visit to a park, the woods, or the beach there are great places to explore just minutes from your house. The Shore Acres Park near the Felt Mansion has all of that and more. Walk the trails and check out the different trees and then look for fossils, sea glass, and special rocks on beach. The Lake Michigan Rock Picker’s Guide is a great book for identifying what you find. Here is a cool blog with some other information. Pier Cove, Westside County Park, Douglas Beach, and Laketown Beach are all free and close by.
5. Grow Something and Eat It. You might live on a big farm or you might live in a tiny apartment, but everyone has enough room for a flower pot or planter. Go big on a whole garden or just spend a buck or two on some green bean seeds and plant them in sturdy pot. Give them water and sun and soon you will have a beanstalk offering up a crisp healthy snack. Gardening Fundamentals is a great place to start. Print out the journal to track your gardening.
6. Learn to Code. Why just play video games when you can learn an entire new language and build your own? Visit CODE.org and work on a couple of challenges like the Mindcraft, Star Wars or Frozen ones. If you get caught by the coding bug, keep going and try one of their 20 Hour Courses. There is something for every grade level from pre-school on up. Completing these courses will actually give you a nice boost on a career in computer science or set you up to build your own game.
10. Do Something For Someone Else. No matter what you do this summer, do something for someone else. The real reward is the feeling you get inside. I’ve always believed true friendship is true service so just randomly decide to help someone do something like empty the dishwasher or even clean your room without being told. The more you volunteer your time and talents, the more likely you will return to school in the fall ready to be the kind of kid that makes any school a better place to be.
Our summer vacation is something we can’t take for granted. Find a nice balance of recovering from this school year, resting up for the next one, and finding ways to keep your brain firing while you make it the best one ever!
Here are the best six minutes and thirty seconds I have spent this school year when it comes to understanding and teaching the design process to my students.
You may not use the same D-Think vocabulary but watching these kids complete the steps it takes to address and solve a problem is a great tool for students to learn and internalize the approach.
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In addition, the Design Squad section on PBSkids.org is loaded with more videos, full episodes of the series targeted toward preteens and teens, as well as creative problem solving games. Our fourth graders are not only excelling at the activities they are also applying the design process to other projects we are completing.
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.
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.
BrainPop 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.
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
3) Prototype your solution.
5) Repeat the process until it is perfect.
Fidgits is a great exercise for practicing that mindset.
Check out the following Pinterest board from Apple’s App Store that is loaded with lesson ideas for using iOS apps in the classroom.
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Join Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins for an all-access pass inside EA SPORTS
Discovery Education, EA SPORTS, and the NFLPA have joined forces to give your middle school students an insider’s view of EA TIBURON (where the magic of Madden NFL is created). Join the EA SPORTS Madden NFL: Football by the Numbers team to see S.T.E.A.M. in action: we’ll meet the animators, producers, engineers, and designers who create some of the world’s coolest games. You’ll even get to see one student experience the motion capture process, with a special surprise result!
Good for athletes and mathletes alike, #MagicOfMaddenVFT is your chance to join Redskins Quarterback Kirk Cousins as we travel beyond the classroom walls and into the game!
April 14, 1:00 PM EST
Ask the Coach
Don’t forget to submit your students’ questions ahead of time and Kirk Cousins or EA SPORTS may answer them during the live event. Questions can be submitted HERE.
Prep the Team
Before the virtual field trip, explore a variety of educator resources at EA SPORTS Madden NFL: Football by the Numbers, including an educational interactive developed for grades 5-9.
Here are links for my EdCamp and MACUL MacGyver video making sessions
Only you can prevent Vertical Video Syndrome