MuseForJews

muse: n. a source of inspiration

3rd and 4th grade teachers love Handouts!

My colleagues have been playing with the Handouts app and they’re simply loving it. It isn’t exactly earth-shattering or paradigm-shifting, but it’s simple, to the point, and elegant. The process is easy: create a handout (either make a PDF or take a picture of something), import it into Handouts and send it to your students. Students use the now-familiar method of joining a class via code, receive the handout and fill it in and send it back. Students can “write” or type their response. Simple and elegant.

My teachers are most excited for this in terms of its potential for a digital portfolio. That and the whole paperless part. Very cool!

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Education, Technology | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Email’s awesome, right? Well, not always. Check out CoolCatTeacher’s blog post with some great email etiquette tips.

Remind (which used to be Remind101) is the coolest thing ever! I’ve talked about this before: set up a class, ask parents and/or students to join online, and you can text (or email) everyone with one click of a mouse! It’s also the coolest because it was developed by my former student Brett Kopf. Remind has instituted some big changes this year – learn more here.

Newsela is a news site that’s designed to help build reading comprehension. Like so many sites, there is a free and not-so-free version. The free version, though, does provide multiple news articles every day at various reading levels.

If you’re planning to create a class webpage, here’s a great article that talks about what you should and should not be putting out there.

This is a great idea – here’s a website where you can share photos without jumping through a lot of hoops. Create an event, invite friends, and everybody can upload. Genius!

Food for thought…here’s an interesting article about why flunking is good.

GAFE tip of the week: if you’re doing a research paper in Google docs and want to locate and cite scholarly sources, go to Tools > Research and search for the source. Want to cite it? Click either Cite as Footnote or Insert.

GAFE tip of the week: This is not for the faint-of-heart, but those who are bold enough to hop over here to learn about how to use canned responses in their Google mail. Very cool!

September 12, 2014 Posted by | Links | , , , | Leave a comment

Why go 1:1?

One of my professional goals is to determine our course of action regarding a 1:1 initiative. We began this year with 3rd and 4th grades after a pilot of sorts last year with increased accessibility in 3rd grade. Each of the students in those grades has access this year to an iPad all day, regardless of class. The iPads stay in school.

This year we’re piloting using iPads in language arts in 5th grade. Week one brought the question of “where’s spellcheck in the Docs app?”

We’re also dealing with the issue of sharing iPads in 5th grade, since there are two carts for four sections. Students have to remember (and their teachers have to remember to tell them) to log out of the Docs app at the end of each session and to make sure they’re the one logged in at the beginning. It no doubt is cumbersome for the teachers, and I’m sure chaos will ensue at some point when that procedure isn’t followed.

So I started thinking about my own digital life.

I am not 1:1. I’m more like 3:1, with laptop, iPad and iPhone as my 3. I instinctively move from device to device, choosing the device based on the task I need to perform. If I need to do heavy word processing I reach for my laptop. If the laptop isn’t available (or, more likely, in the dining room and I don’t want to get up off the couch to retrieve it), the iPad is a suitable stand in, but only as a second choice. On the other hand, there are definitely things for which the iPad is better suited, like quick movie making. Apps like Show Me or Explain Everything are much more useful for video tutorials and much faster to use.

Is 1:1, defined as one specific device per child, realistic? Or does it make more sense to define 1:1 as the ratio of total devices available to the total student body as a 1:1 ratio, without assigning specific device to specific children?

September 2, 2014 Posted by | Mobile devices and apps, Technology, Thinking | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 8-29-14

Need to record a brief audio clip? Want your students to? Visit ClypIt, record your clip and get a link to share.

If you need some GIFs to explain mathematical concepts (and WHO doesn’t need those?) check out this website.

http://www.wordle.net is one of our favorite word cloud generators, but sometimes it gets cranky and stops working. This article has 9 more word cloud websites.

“Make it big, do it right, give it class…” Science teacher Steve Spangler’s science videos aim to do just that. Watch his videos here.

GAFE tip of the week: searching for a particular email message has gotten easier now that we’re using GAFE! Check out this article for tips on using Google search terms in Google Mail.

August 28, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | | Leave a comment

The Programming Dilemma

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading all the back-and-forth about the need to teach programming. Like everyone else, I’m wondering when we’re supposed to find the time to do it. “How many languages can we teach in one day?” I ask…

An article in Mother Jones addresses this issue, stating that “computer literacy is the key to winning the 21st century.” I’m not exactly sure what winning the century means, but I found the article a fascinating read.

During this past school year, I had the opportunity to run two specials for 6th graders who were interested in coding. As it happened, one was a small group of boys, and the second a small group of girls. The differences were interesting. For example, the boys were mostly interested  in designing games via Gamestar Mechanic, and the girls were more interested in a methodical class in an actual programming language; working through Khan Academy’s JavaScript course. Differences aside, one thing that I did observe across the board, though, was that we needed a lot of time to go through the lessons.

Time? We just don’t have so much of it.

One way our school addressed this was to start an extra-curricular Code Club run by parents. Students sign up (and pay separately) and come to school on a Sunday evening to learn how to code. It was immensely popular…with the kids who were interested in coding. Obviously, since this was a self-selected group, it was, well, great for the kids who identified an interest.

But it occurs to me that “winning the 21st Century” needs to be about getting everybody on board, or at least more students than the ones who self-identify as wannabe programmers.

The article at Mother Jones brings up a different tactic, one that I’m interested in exploring; the principle of computational thinking. This intrigues me. It’s about teaching kids how to approach solving problems in a systematic, logical manner.

I recently worked with our 7th graders to design digital scavenger hunts using ARISgames. It’s a terrific platform, and requires no programming skills. But it does require some careful thinking about what needs to be in place in order to make things happen. It also requires careful attention to syntax (and what 7th grader cares about syntax? Slashes…we don’t need no stinkin’ slashes…).

Most of the kids loved it.

Maybe that’s the way to go…computational thinking, not programming. If they want to learn to code later, so be it. But maybe, for now, we’ll teach them how to create, how to use systematic thinking to solve their problems and get from here to there.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Programming | , , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Planning to organize your smart phone or iPad apps this summer? Check out Mashable’s guide to creative organization strategies.

We’re so excited that we’re “going Google” next year! If you’d like to learn a little more about Google Apps for Education, visit Google’s overview.  There are some great tutorials here.

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Links | | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Need a place on the web to quickly post graphics or information? Check out Tackk.

Should schools still be teaching cursive handwriting? This New York Times article explores the issue. Read more here.

GoSoapBox is another student response website (like Socrative or Nearpod). You create an “event,” and your students join using a computer or mobile device. You can embed quizzes, polls or discussions. There’s also a cool “confusion barometer” so you students can let you know if they’re stuck (could we have one of those in life, please?). Teachers can download graded spreadsheets or activity reports.

June 10, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | | Leave a comment

What happens when you show kids an Apple II computer? Check it out:

For a fascinating look at how quickly data is generated on the Internet, check out The Internet in Real Time.

SAMR is a method of integrating technology into your teaching (SAMR – Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition). This graphic takes apps and websites and arranges them in a way that helps you decide what is the best technology to use to achieve your goals. Love it!

More free art from The Metropolitan Museum of Art! Full size images! Copyright-free for non-commercial use!

The Yivo Institute has just released their digital archive featuring some fascinating artifacts from life in pre-Holocaust Poland. There are photos, amateur videos, audio clips and more. Access it here.

If you’ve used PowToon before with your class, take a moment to check out the changes. If you haven’t used it, give it a glance. PowToons are animated presentations – think PowerPoint with oomph. My 7th graders are using it right now, and I think they’re really enjoying it!

May 30, 2014 Posted by | Links, Links You'll Love | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love – 5-16-14

The end is coming! Yes, folks, we are getting ready for the final days of school! Here are two great links for preparing end-of-year activities. Purpose games is a free site where you can create multi-choice games, image games and more. eQuizShow  is a site created by a student where you can create Jeopardy-like game shows.

If you have 15 minutes to spare, listen to this interview with Professor Elizabeth Lawley, and learn more about Rochester Institute of Technology’s efforts to introduce social gaming into the undergraduate experience. It’s just a fascinating experiment – and I think it could be modified for lots of other frameworks.

Teachers have long been using reflection activities such as exit slips, journaling and more. We just know that these techniques work! A new study finds we’re right (duh)! This article discusses the long-lasting merits of taking time to have your students reflect on their learning.

Okay – this is unique… Booktrack Classroom is a web service that allows your students (or you) to take a book or their own story and add a soundtrack. Basically it looks like you paste in your text and then add background music to enhance it. I like this a lot – I think it would be a fun end-of-year activity for your students! Learn more at Booktrack.

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Poster My Wall is a cool site to create a poster online. You can upload photos, customize the background and colors, and add text. You can download a basic quality image for free or order a printed poster.

There is absolutely no reason for This is Sand to exist, except that it’s really cool (and not a little zen) to be able to digitally “pour” sand onto your laptop screen and change the colors. Way cheaper than buying sand sculptures at the fair and no mess!

Wanna play a game? Check out National Geographic Kids. You can choose among geography games, action games, arcade games and more. Arcademics offers educational games (Demolition Division, anyone?) that are categorized by both subject and grade.

Go take a hike! Really! A recent Stanford study found that people are more creative while walking. Read more here.

For a while, it seemed like everyone was doing their own cover of the “Frozen” soundtrack. Well, finally, here it is… b’ivrit. Yup. You’re welcome.

If you want to quickly create a Jeopardy-like game show board to use with your student, check out FlipQuiz. The basic account is free and you can save your boards online.

Here’s a thought-provoking article at Te@chthought about the 22 things we currently do in education that will embarrass us in the future. I definitely don’t agree with all of them, but I think that it’s surely food for thought. Read more here.

Tal Fortgang is a freshman at Princeton University and is, by many accounts, an example of a young man who enjoys “being privileged.” He’s written a powerful essay about being middle-class, Jewish and white…and judged for it. Check it out here.

We love word cloud generators! You know, those fun applications that take a chunk of text and make it into a pretty picture where the most-often used words are bigger than the others… Here’s a great article that points you to ten – yes, ten – sites for creating word clouds, and gives you some neat ideas for using word clouds in the classroom.

If you’re thinking about flipping your classroom, check out hapyak, which allows you to add links and quizzes to videos.

There’s no question that the use of online video has grown exponentially over the last few years. The Pew Research has created a cool video on, well, video. Check it out here.

May 9, 2014 Posted by | Links You'll Love | | Leave a comment

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