Friday, November 2, 2012

Videos in the Classroom

There is so much power in videos. They are meant to supplement curriculum, enrich curriculum, reinforce curriculum, reteach curriculum and take learning to the next level. Following are some of my favorite videos sites:

YouTube: One can subscribe to several existing channels. If you don't like the existing videos, go ahead and create one, upload it to YouTube. Share it with your students, colleagues. Since we have Google Apps for Education at our district, YouTube is linked directly to the account. Here was an article yesterday on some Science channels on YouTube. It is all free of course.  Just got this from a friend: How to make your YouTube videos interactive.

Vimeo: This lesser known sometimes (compared to YouTube) website also has a wide range of videos. Again, you can create an account and upload your own videos here.

Ted and Ted-Ed: Two of my favorite websites because of the amount of learning that can happen with them. On Ted Ed, you can take a lesson and flip it. The length of the videos is just right, even for a kindergarten class. 

At our district we also have subscriptions to BrainPOP (an all time favorite with all elementary age groups), BrainPOP Jr (the primary age version), BrainPOP ESL (for English Language Learners) and Safari Montage.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Images and Photos to use

It is probably easiest to go to Google images and get images from there. However, it is important to look at other sites that teach students about photo permissions. The following websites are from an article in the September/October issue of Learning & Leading.
1. Pics4Learning: Safe, free library of pictures

2. FlickrCC: Creative Commons images.

3. Fotopedia: Endless scrolling, no wait time between loads.

4. Flickr Storm: Similar to FlickrCC

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Student Blogging

One of the most rewarding experiences for both the children and me has been the classroom blog in terms of how each child has enjoyed the writing experience, how they grow into the role of commenting respectfully, giving constructive feedback and most of all, their creativity. The following link explains why blogging is a great tool for students.

Student Blogging

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Game making websites

Scratch has been the programming tool (as well as gaming tool) that I have used with my fifth graders for a couple of years which can be used to teach language, Math, Science and Social Studies.

However, with the popularity of creating video games and with more children demanding it, it has lead to more tools. Here are some:

Roblox: Sign up for a free account


Stencyl: Create iOS and Flash Games

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ISTE 2012 - June 26th and 27th

There was always so much happening, and, being my first time at ISTE, I really needed to have some discipline in terms of what to let go/filter out and what to focus on. The events are simultaneous, and several times, equally interesting. Given all that, I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the poster sessions. It was truly gratifying to see so many little students there explaining their projects. Following are the highlights from Tuesday and Wednesday:

1. The Cat Scratch Club: I have been using Scratch for two years and wanted to learn from a more experienced instructor. The presenter has been mapping the Common Core standards with elements of Scratch; hence I got see one of her preview lessons. It was terrific. She said that in Wisconsin they noticed a huge jump in Math test scores of those children who had computational thinking. I liked the concept of the cat moving left so that little children can start grasping the concept of negative numbers. The other tips were giving meaningful names to the costumes and sprites instead of calling them Costume1, Costume2, etc. In addition, I had not noticed the number of resources that were available for elementary students at ScratchEd all the way from age 7. Also learned about Google's Computational Thinking page. Here is another Scratch lesson resource.

2. More on iPad cases. Found a few more vendors. OtterboxHigher GroundTrident

3. Some iPad Links: Link1: Exploring and Enhancing Learning with Mobile technology from Wilkes University.
    Teaching and Learning with iPads in the ClassroomHow to use iPads effectively in the classroom
    Apps in Education organized very well by grade
    Toontastic is a popular app for children's writing and ELL students. Here is a second grade example for using Toontastic.
    This particular teacher has lots of links on her web page, apps and otherwise.
4. Glogster: These fourth grade students createed projects using Glogster. Examples.
5. RushtoKnowledge: Several links and resources.
6. Engaging Education: A teacher's blog with engaging links
7. Using Goodreader to read any kind of document on an iPad.
8. Beyond Four Walls: How technology takes learning beyond the classroom.
9. Publishing documents to anywhere using Calameo: Some fourth grade students used this tool to make their own magazines.
10. Encinatas School District: This district adopted a 1:1 iPad program. Excellent link.
11. June's Blog: Lots of useful information.
12. The Smithsonian: The history section has everything about American history; resources include videos, books, artifacts and activities. Check it out for history lessons - it is a fantastic resource.
13. iPad apps for children with special needs: A good resource with alternative apps.
14. UDL lesson planning; another UDL link.
15. Links to apps and tools for struggling readers.
16. More on iPad Apps.

The keynote speaker on Tuesday was very inspiring I am told. I had to miss the session due to a workshop but for those of you who may have missed it, here's the link. The actually speaker starts at about 50+ minutes into the video.

Amazing conference; lots of ideas... so much to do... so little time....

Monday, June 25, 2012

June 25th ISTE Useful Links

The student poster sessions were very interesting. Some of them had very good ideas. What was frustrating was that some of the tables only catered to middle and high school. I will try and write up what I can on the ones I got information on:

Links for Active in Interactive Whiteboard. This contains several links that have interactivity ideas for whiteboards.

Some good links at this site.

This is a good notetaking app - does not have voice recognition/speech yet.

A great app that was recommended: Readability: This filters out all the clutter from a text, thereby, reducing the distractions for children, so they can focus just on the text.

Build a Wall

Got Books?

Some great resources at Alice Christie's website.

Got this from a friend: From one of the poster sessions.

Finally, co-presented at the Digital Playground Google Apps. Here is the site with example links.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

EPortfolios Helen Barrett ISTE 2012

It has only been two years that I started to build ePortfolios with my students. Reflecting is essential to all of us and we need to ensure that our students do it too. Helen Barrett is considered the guru of ePortfolios. I met someone yesterday who attended her session. Thereafter, found the following information about her work. I now have a great deal of food for thought in terms of improving on my ePortfolio process and thinking of how I can introduce it in the primary grades. I strongly believe in ePortflios being an essential component of 21st Century learning. ---------------------------------------------------------- Portfolios ---------------------------------------------------- Ted talk

Day one ISTE 2012: The Design Thinking School

Having come a day earlier to attend The Design Thinking School workshop by Ewan McIntosh was really worth it. Not only did Ewan have an excellent sense of humor, he is very knowledgeable, approachable and experienced. He has worked with the Stanford D school and works with the IDEO office in London. ____________________________________________________________________________________ Following are my notes from the session. June 23rd: The Design Thinking School by EwanMcIntosh very humorous speaker. Loved the way he started. tosh is Scottish word for crap! Design thinking : when students come with the problems, not the students. only 1% of creative people will succeed. if your students are problem solvers, they don't have a chance to analyze because they don't make mistakes. they need the opportunity to fail. Alan November: find a problem in your community and solve it. if we don't have students find the problems, we get substandard, lower standards. Design thinking process from Stanford's dschool brainstorm the ideas, think and break up the ideas. understand whether you have depth or breadth. the language used by the kids is so important. get the whole process of learning is what we need to get to the students. Bobby Mcferrin: world science festival what do you immerse yourself if you would like to give a great talk? you need to listen to lots of great talks. You then get what is involved in great talks. how do you tell a good lie? using video games to do creative writing. Give 20 mts; show them this castle picture and they get to complete the story. machinarium app star moment.. They could remember each one's talks. They all started their talks with a question. Total inclusion in these schools in the UK. Design thinking to take PBL to the next level in student choice. 6 key points in great learning: 1. Challenge. 2. Video games lend a lot to learning. Scotland is #2 in producing video games after Canada - very fascinating game designers read educational books because the games need to an individualized experience for each child. 3. Young people want to try alone and want the chance to collaborate when things get harder. They make the decision knowing that help is on hand. We in education have a fetish on collaboration. 4. Give responsibility to the children in their learning journey.  God analogy - like a gps - tilts them to the right path but let's them veer off. 5. Kids want real things. Not ski lifts. 6. Choices. Give at least 3 choices: kids always need project choices. Have someone from Finland sitting next to me - she is a mentor for teachers. Had a good discussion with her on what she does and Finland does that makes them so great in education. Very interesting person; she has presented at "n"sessions worldwide in the past 6 months. How might we improve the learning environment? inte grating with the learning environment. first, one person talks, the other listens. Now, dig deeper. Ask more. third step:  capture findings. Immersion highlights. Did you hear a good idea? The idea I liked most: in Finland there is this deep integration between the industry and schools. Entrepreneurship is embedded in their standards. So the kids get to go through the entire process of entrepreneurship. Also, the corporations that work with the kids are those that really want to. The challenge lies in finding meaningful projects. fourth step: define problem statement: synthesis, point of view. I think the problem is creating a meaningful and relevant learning environment for students within schools. Step five: is the problem you found meaningful? Epic? Worth solving? examples: taking a look at the learning space to help with the work with each other How might we care more? does your problem feel wispy washy or sound weird? next draw your picture. Then you get to share them. if you cannot draw it, it probably will not happen. next, reflect and generate a new solution. Re-ideation. How is that piece of feedback god for redrawing? observe, interview dig deep synthesize choose a problem and scrutinize it ideas: quantity prototype feedback and reflection pace was fast. set up iPads with qr codes of videos/studios that the kids had done. So the children did the tour for the management. write to Ewan about the loose ends. Gever Tulley: great quote from him how can you entice people to watch for 3 hours when there is so much else vying for attention? check out flight radar. Really cool. Checklist for generative topics - Does it pass the "So what?" test? - Is it epic and big scale, not tiny and "fake"? -Does it cover more than just one curriculum subject or topic, or have four or more ways of solving it? - Does it spark natural curiosity? - Is there enough potential material in which learners can immerse themselves? - Can it be made accessible, feasible to access for every learner? we should not be splitting kids by ability but letting each one move up at his/her own pace. what are some topics you would use with your kids? What points will you put into the box for that topic? the most important step is before you get started.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Build up to ISTE

This year's ISTE conference is from June 23rd - 27th in San Diego. While it is my first time at ISTE and I am really excited about going, it is all the more exciting because I get to see Sir Ken Robinson give the keynote speech. While I have heard his talks multiple times on TED, seen the RSA animate version of his original TED talk, his follow up talk, and the changing of the education paradigms, it will be the first time I will see him talk in person. I have to make the time to read his book as well, Elements

Saturday, May 19, 2012

1:1 iPads in the Classroom

With more places going in for 1:1 iPad programs, I am trying to compile a list of those articles that will be useful when implementing such a program. It is always easier to learn from someone than reinvent the wheel :-)
1. Buffalo, NY iPad project
2. Top 10 things not to do in a 1:1 iPad initiative
3. What you want to do with the iPads
4. The use of Google docs on an iPad: What's available and not
5. Uxbridge Schools 1:1 iPad study
6. Encinitas Union School District's implementation of their 1:1 iPad program.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Computational Thinking

The NYT carried an article on March 31st on teaching computational thinking from an early age and that got me inspired to write this blog post.

I do Scratch with the kids and am planning on introducing Alice next (this year if I can but it depends upon the kids) and the whole experience is just awesome. I would love to see people actually realize the importance of teaching this; in addition it is not something "extra" - it can easily be combined with the curriculum, particularly Language Arts and Social Studies.

Recent articles (other than the one in NYT) on computational thinking that are really useful:

1. Why Kids should be taught Computational Thinking - The Guardian

2. Teaching girls coding: The point I liked best about this article: "In my opinion, Year 8 is too late. We need to start teaching digital literacy and coding as a part of the curriculum in Year 5, when most children's maths is strong enough. The curriculum has fostered a familiarity with computing and computers and the young minds are ready to start learning programming languages. Indeed primary school children are creative, excited and less likely to have developed associations, good or bad, with certain subjects."

3. Young coders

4. How to teach coding

5. And finally, a not-so-new publication but written by a friend of mine in 2009.

6. A more recent article by the same friend.This one has several useful links and a break-down by age which is really helpful. Just discovered that there is Google Computational thinking.

7. Another recent article - why coding should be taught in the mainstream classroom, not an elective, and why it should be taught earlier rather than later.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tech Showcase

This week we had our first tech showcase at the district. As a part of the demos to show seamless integration between technology and teaching I created this document.

Saturday, March 24, 2012


I attended SV CUE today. I was pleased with the sessions I attended. The following two links have a great wealth of resources, most of which are free.

2. Free Online Resources

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Primary grades and digital education

I found this website of a teacher using digital portfolios, bringing their own devices and a whole lot more for six year olds.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ocean Environmental Links

There is a previous entry which is related to Oceans per se. However, given the number of problems facing our Oceans today, here are some links that help identify and work with issues related to the ocean.

1. One World Ocean: If you heard Sylvia Earle's award winning TED talk, this is her organization.

2. Mission Blue

3. Conservation for Oceans Foundation

4. Blue Legacy

5. Sea Save


Scratch is a free programming language developed by MIT. Last year I got hooked onto it due to its ease of use for children, the fact that it gets children to think logically, work co-operatively and work on problem solving. It was a very satisfying experience both for the children and me as well as to know that some of them continue to use it as they have moved onto middle school. Today I came across this talk which I really enjoyed and reinforces not just the power of Scratch but also the power of certain skills that the kids need - imagination, role play, co-operation, problem solving, decision making, all of it while having fun. Mitch Resnick's talk

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Personalized whiteboard apps

The following apps allow you to record and create your own mini-lessons for any topic. You can add voice, images, pictures. There are multiple videos on Youtube showing you how to use these apps. These can be used for teachers teaching/explaining topics, for children explaining concepts, for children to record themselves and a host of options across the curriculum.

1. Showme

2. Educreate Read this article on educreate

3. Explain Everything

If you would like to compare these apps, here is an interesting article.