Use Swift Playgrounds Resources with any Coding Program

Apple’s  Swift Playgrounds app and their “Everyone Can Code” initiative is a great program for learning the coding language that powers iOS apps. Not only is there a puzzle-based app an immersive learning experience, there are numerous teacher resources in both iBooks and iTunes U. For iBooks there are three teacher guides: Level 1 and 2, Level 3, and App Development.

Now, the Swift Playgrounds program might not be a fit for every classroom because it has to be done on an iPad running iOS 10 and be one of the following generations:  iPad Air, iPad mini 2 or newer, or any size iPad Pro. I work out of four elementary schools and only one has iPads that can run the app.

Even though I use other others like studio.code.org and Google CS-First in my other buildings, there are still a lot of great resources that Apple offers that I use as demonstration even when our activities are Scratch-based. Fellow Apple Distinguished Educator Gabriella Meyers hosts a number of videos within the iTunes U course that explain concepts like algorithms and functions but don’t reference Swift specifically. I have found them to be great, concise explanations my 2nd, 3rd, and 4th graders really understand. Sometime you just need someone else to explain it.

So, it doesn’t matter what coding instructions you are using. Take a look inside of what Apple offers for Swift Playgrounds. You might find a lot that is useful.

Apple Distinguished Educator Gabriella Meyers explains functions in an iTunes U course.
Apple Distinguished Educator Gabriella Meyers explains functions in an iTunes U course.

Find Great Apple Teacher Resources In iBooks Store

Whether you are pursuing the various badges that Apple now offers as part of its Apple Teacher program or just looking to sharpen your Mac and iPad skills, the iBooks store is full of great resources. Two series of multi-touch iBooks are available for using iPads and Macs in the classroom. Here are some of the titles available.screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-41-34-am

Each iBook contain video tutorials that allows the user to actually see the skill being performed in detail. Below is a page from the iMovie for Mac guide.
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Additionally, Apple Teacher just began offering a path for earning badges for its new coding tutorial app Swift Playgrounds.

Below is a direct link to  the iBooks resources. For more information about the program, click here.
Apple Teacher Resources

 

Top Gifts for Young Engineers – 2016 Edition – Left Brain Craft Brain

The Top Gifts for Young Engineers gift guide is packed full of STEM toys and activities that will keep kids having fun and learning this Christmas.

Source: Top Gifts for Young Engineers – 2016 Edition – Left Brain Craft Brain

Win an Agricultural Grant for Your Middle School #ScienceOfSoil

Official Discovery Education Release:

 

Second Annual Let it Grow Contest is Now Open! 

Discovery Education and the Nutrients for Life Foundation have joined forces again to give six lucky schools a chance to win big with the Let it Grow Contest

Open to educators and community adults nationwide, the Let it Grow Contest encourages entrants to vote DAILY for a middle school* of their choice for a chance to win an agricultural grant, which could be used towards a school garden or gardening supplies, and more! 

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Check out the Prizing: 

  • One Grand Prize winning school will receive a $5,000 agricultural grant and an introduction to a local agronomist!
  • Five Runners-Up will each win a $1,000 agricultural grant and an opportunity to win a celebratory winner event.
Entering is Easy: 

  • Answer five soil related quiz questions to unlock the contest application
  • Find Your school and provide your contact information
  • Most importantly, come back and enter daily
  • Don’t forget to share with your friends for extra entries!
*Includes all 6-8 public, private, and parochial schools, or schools with a middle component, e.g. K-12 institutions.

For more FREE soil science resources, click here


FTAF 1
Questions? Email us at FromtheGroundUp@Discovery.com 


NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. PURCHASE WILL NOT INCREASE CHANCES OF WINNING. Voting open to legal residents of the 50 U.S. and D.C., age 18+. Subject to Official Rules. Voting ends 3/14/17 at 5:00PM ET. Void where prohibited by law. 

Remix…Don’t Reinvent STEM Lesson Plans

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.

CUE SteamPunk 

Sphero SPRK Lessons

Dash and Dot Curriculum

Polar 3D Printer Cloud 

Brian Briggs • Rock Star Drone AcademyCoding Playground

Engineering is Elementary

Cogniflex is a nootropic equation that guarantees to soar your fixation and lift your inventiveness utilizing research-upheld regular fixings. Here’s our Cogniflex Review 2017. Cogniflex is a dietary supplement that comes in bundles of 60 cases. By taking two cases each day, you can purportedly appreciate nootropic benefits.

STEM Collaborative2

NC State: The Engineering Place

STEMpact: Lesson Design ResourcesSample Plans

Lesson Plan Template2

10 Ways To Stop the Summer Slide

The following was posted for my elementary kids on my classroom blog mrlosik.blogspot.com.  I am sharing it here to offer up some ideas teachers can use to help their own students avoid the “summer slide”.

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.

7. Catch the Olympic Spirit. The world’s best athletes are headed to Rio de Janeiro in August for the 2016 summer Olympics. Sharpen your geography and boost your knowledge by digging into the history of the games, researching your favorite athletes, and making the flags you find most interesting. Teachervision.com has a great site for getting started. NBC will provide hundreds of hours of coverage but you don’t have to wait until August. Check out NBCOlympics.com now to learn all about what is coming up from Rio.
8. Play60. Just go outside and play. You don’t have to spend money going to a sports or summer camp. It doesn’t even matter if there are any other kids around either. Speaking of Olympics, set up your own events even if you just draw a line, pick up a rock, and jump as far as you can. Set the rock down next to where your back heel landed. Try to beat it. If you want to do some moving with a pro athlete, check out Washington Redskins’ Ryan Kerrigan leading some agility activities from Discovery Education and the NFL. Getting creative outside is great for mind and body.
9. Go new places. If you have opportunity to take a trip, understand how lucky you are to be getting out and experiencing new places. Just paying attention to how the scenery changes or the importance of physical and human-created landmarks is the best social studies lesson anybody can have. Even if it doesn’t work out for your family to embark on an epic journey just go somewhere different like a park you’ve never explored. Try to unplug as much as possible but if you are going to bring along a device use it to capture and then share the adventure. Here are some great apps for that.

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!

10 Ways Glowforge Can Disrupt Education

It’s been a long time since I have been more excited about the introduction of a piece of technology than I am for the Glowforge.

Aside from all of the personal ways I can see Glowforge help bring my creativity to life, this single device has the potential to revolutionize so many of the ways we do things in the typical school. I have often said, “There is a lot of money to be made in education…just not in teaching.” Schools spend a ton of money that goes to vendors, but here are 10 ways a single Glowforge can change that.

1. Die Cut Letters – The Ellison die cut machines have dominated the bulletin board making market my entire career and their stuff is expensive. A single set of alphabet tiles runs $500 and it takes a ton of time to plan and cut that “Hurry Spring” signage. With a Glowforge you can throw a stack of construction paper into the machine and have your whole set of cut-outs zipped out in a couple of minutes…and you’re not stuck with one font either. If you can type it on an device, you can cut it out of construction paper.

2. Mothers Day Gifts – Think about the huge ramp-up in production value that the average elementary school class could do when it comes to personalized gift crafting. Goodbye paper plate bouquets and hello personalized wooden votive candle holders.

3. Awards and Trophies – Athletic departments and honor societies spend huge amounts of their budgets on trophies, plaques, and awards. Think about the amount of money that could be saved if schools just bought the raw materials and engraved all of their own awards. What if a school created a class where kids designed and created all of the awards? A teacher may have to do final names but 90% of the work could be student driven and done at a fraction of the dough Ned at the trophy shop is charging.

4. Inventory Engraving – Speaking of engraving…instead of a jittery hand with an engraving pen or a sticker that is easily removed, schools could engrave items like laptops and iPads with attractive, permanent identifiers. Check out what Glowforge designers have done with a Macbook.

 

5. Staff ID Badges – Get creative and save money by creating personalized staff or visitor badges by cutting and engraving them from your choice of materials.

6. Pro-Style Locker Labels – If you have ever seen an interview from a professional or big-time college sports locker room then you’ve seen the fancy headers above each locker sporting the athlete’s name, number, and team logo. With some creativity and cheap 1″x2″ lumber, a school could give its athletes the pro treatment.

7. School Spirit Items – Lots of schools sell items as fundraisers and to boost school spirit. Instead of eating up profits by going to one of the national suppliers, schools could begin buying blank stock items and doing the engraving and laser cutting themselves with a Glowforge. You can’t screen print with it but you can create some amazing luggage tags, pendants, and other personalized signage that can generate spirit, pride, and revenue.

8. Etsy Class – Think of all of the economics and entrepreneurship that can be experienced when students begin to design, create, and market products with a Glowforge. With sites like Etsy and Mercari as global marketplaces, individual students may begin to peddle their wares  to the far reaches of the Internet. It sure beats 180 days of PowerPoint lectures and worksheets.

9. Trick Out Your Office Space – With every Glowforge purchase comes access to the members’ catalog that features projects ready to print and assembly. This iPhone stand is one example of the cool stuff that staff can create for themselves and add a high end, start-up, feel to the workplace. There are a ton of neat items like this available. Glowforge features a similar computer stand in many of its promotional materials that was cut as flat pieces and then glued together.

10. Hands-on Classroom Products – Instead of buying any of these items, just create your own.

•Wooden or Acrylic Cut-out Letters and Numbers for the early elementary classroom

•Wooden or Acrylic Cut-out Shapes or other math manipulates that can be used K-12

•3D Geometrical Shapes that can be cut from all kinds of materials from cardboard to plastics

•United States or World Puzzles cut from plywood or plastic. Team with the art teacher and have kids paint and label each state or country.

•3D Models of Landmarks can be elaborately created by cutting flat slices and assembling a bunch of pieces like this Space Needle or just cut and engrave a 2D image on piece of wood thick enough to stand up on its own or with a small additional brace.

Like I said, I haven’t been more excited about a piece of technology in a long time. It can turn all kinds of creative dreams into reality but it has nearly infinite potential to impact how we do things and what we can create in our schools.

PBS Kids: Design Squad Explains Design Thinking

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.

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.

Honor an Educational Superstar With a DENny Award

We are surrounded daily by great educators who change lives daily and are inspiring to their colleagues. Honor their greatness by nominating them for Discovery Education DENny Award.

 DENny Awards

2016 DENny Awards- Call for Nominations

Have you seen a colleague sharing his or her passion for Discovery Education? Do you know someone who is transforming learning in the classroom with Discovery Education? Is there a school or district administrator you believe deserves recognition? We know amazing things are happening in the classrooms and schools of Discovery Educators every day. We need your help celebrating them. Help us discover all the great examples of Discovery Education in action in your school and district by nominating a fellow Discovery Educator for a DENny Award.

Nominate a great teacher today.

MACUL Announces Spectacular 2017 Lineup of Keynote Speakers


2017 MACUL CONFERENCE

March 15-17 | Cobo Center | Detroit, MI

We’re announcing our keynotes for #macul17! See below:

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS

Sir Ken Robinson
Opening  – March 16
Internationally Acclaimed Expert on Creativity and Innovation and Author, Finding Your Element, The Element and Out of Our Minds
 
 
 
FridayMarch 17
World-renowned game designer, Inventor of SuperBetter, Author of the NYT bestseller Reality Is Broken, and Advisor and affiliate researcher with the Institute For The Future


Jennie Magiera
Closing – March 17
Chief Technology Officer, PLAYDATE Co-founder, White House Champion of Change, Google Certified Innovator & Apple Distinguished Educator
Visit maculconference.org for more information.