We got a Silhouette cutting machine for our new innovation lab, and I could not be more excited! A Silhouette is used to (are you ready for this?) cut stuff out of paper, cardboard, cardstock, fabric or vinyl. You use the Silhouette Design software (which is a free download) to design your image, and then send it to the cutter. There are lots of ways that we’ll be able to use this – let me know if you want a demo or to play. And check out my Pinterest board for ideas!
If you’re looking for vintage photographs, check out Shorpy. You can search or just browse to see the amazing photos uploaded by users. It is crowdsourced content, so you may want to be careful having students use it.
Passover is on its way! For links to Passover websites, videos, games and more, check out Jacob Richman’s site.
This summer, we’re repurposing a computer lab into an innovation lab and I could not be more excited! The new lab will be a collaboration and creation space, with movable furniture, writeable walls, and awesome equipment. We’ll be sporting iPad Pros and Chromebooks in there, a poster printer, color printer, 3D printer, and a Silhouette Cameo machine.
What’s a Silhouette? It’s a crafty teacher’s dream – a machine that hooks up to your laptop or computer, and cuts where you tell it to cut. Essentially, it’s a die-cut machine on steroids. You can buy designs for it, or create your own. The machine will cut paper, cardstock, sticker paper, and fabric.
I spent a couple days playing with it (sigh…the tsuris of a tech ed director), and I really think this will be transformative for my colleagues. I’m seeing creative uses for bulletin boards, classroom aids, bookmarks, stickers as well as a myriad of possibilities for student work.
One of the projects I’d like to see is teaching stop-motion animation using an iPad app. As preparation, the students will create a background (set design) using the poster printer, print inanimate objects using the Silhouette and then create articulated characters using the 3D printer. Imagine we were retelling “Little Red Riding Hood” – students would print the forest background on the poster printer, trees and grandmother’s house on the Silhouette, and Red Riding Hood and the Wolf using the 3D printer. How cool would this be?
One of the features I think will be most exciting to my colleagues is print and cut. With this feature, you print your design to a regular printer using the software-supplied registration marks. Then, you put the printed piece through the Silhouette and the machine magically reads the registration marks and knows exactly where to cut. It’s magic, I tell you! Check out the image on the right – how amazing is the detail cutting around the music notes at the bottom and the waving hand at the top?
Stay tuned for more creative uses for the Silhouette cutting machine and our innovation lab adventures!
From Richard Byrne:
Unfiltered News is a new site that uses an interactive cartogram to help you find trending news stories from around the world. Open the website and click on a topic listed within one of the circles on the map. Once you’ve made a selection a list of stories will appear on the right side of your screen. Click on a story to read it in full. From the menu on the right side of the screen you can choose a different location and a new list of stories will appear.
JoeZoo Express is a free Google Docs Add-on that could change the way that you grade students’ work in Google Documents. JoeZoo enables you to give feedback on students’ Google Documents by simply highlighting text then selecting feedback statements from a huge menu of options. This is awesome!
Here’s a great template to use if you want your students to create fake social media profiles for historical figures: https://drive.google.com/a/schechter.org/previewtemplate?id=1-nCxDCLcEAuge4wac5I5F_83GH9QNZpXpKCGMRl2utk&mode=public&ddrp=1#. As a reminder, it’s against Facebook’s TOS (terms of service) to allow your students to use Facebook for fake profiles, and Facebook is developing some sophisticated tools to ferret them out, so use this instead!
And from my “Tech Tuesday” column on SAMR:
The Technology: SAMR
SAMR is a framework for integrating technology into teaching. Developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura, SAMR tackles the use of technology in the classroom through four-steps:
Substitution, Augmentation, Modifcation, and Redefinition.
SAMR can be a useful blueprint for teachers who are interested in infusing technology into their classrooms in a thoughtful way, rather than just throwing in, “technology for technolgy’s sake.” In this four-part series, I’ll look at different kinds of technology that can help you with each of the four SAMR steps.
Note that my above explanation of SAMR is very cursory. You can find much more information about SAMR here.
The first step in the SAMR framework, “substitution”, simply refers to taking something that you regularly do in your classroom with traditional tools, and shift to using new technology tools in their place. This is a great place to start for teachers who may be a little wary of using technology, and it’s typically fun for students to try something new and different.
- Instead of writing things out longhand, invite your student to create documents with a word processor. Google is a free and easy tool for this. For more information about Google and its uses, see this Technology Tuesday.
- Electronically distribute handouts. The Handouts app, which Technology Tuesday covered last week, is terrific for this.
- Use a Google form in place of exit slips. At its simplest, this is merely a substitution activity. There is an added benefit, though, for the teacher, since the students’ answers populate a spreadsheet, making it easier to assess.
“Rainy days and Mondays always get me down…” Ahhh – spring is near, and that means rainy recess and squirmy kids! I just wanted to remind you about the fabulous website GoNoodle, which features brief videos to get your students moving.
Shoutout to the folks at PosterMyWall. I had some concerns about how the website performs on iPads and reached out to their tech support. They responded immediately, and sent me some tips on how to use the website to our best advantage on an iPad. Impressive response!
Were you aware that there’s an election going on? Newsela has a site where you can set up a class account, access articles about the primaries, and your students can vote.
If you’re using Google Slides, you’ll want to check out these great tips for a powerful presentation.
Here’s a great video to share with your students to help visualize the world population.
How has technology changed campaigning for president? This article talks about the increasing impact of data, the Internet and smartphones.
We’re so excited that we’ll be acquiring a 3D printer over the summer. I’ve started thinking about awesome ways to use it in the classroom! Here’s a great place to begin.
We just acquired a poster printer. It is so cool! Here are a couple of great sites to help you create terrific posters:
My former student Jon Youshaei has a really terrific website geared to twentysomethings in the workforce. It’s entertaining, well-written, and beautifully designed (I take FULL CREDIT for his tech skills!). Check it out!
The Strategic Education Research Partnership has a nice tool for teachers that provides a series of discussable dilemmas designed to promote students’ academic language and argumentation skills. It begins with questions like “What is the purpose of school?” Supporting materials for teachers and students are provided free of charge. There are resources for fourth through eighth grades.
From the University of Michigan…”ImagineNation Matters “virtual tour” modules are like storybooks come to life, in which upper elementary students can explore the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald, experience the human drama of the Underground Railroad, or traverse the history of Mackinac Island. Each of our modules is in the form of a story that involves protagonists of the approximate age of our student participants.”
Spark101 features engaging, well-developed STEM video case studies for classroom use. Each video focuses on a problem and how it was approached in a professional context. For instance, a nine minute video on the Innovation Process at the Garfield Center described challenges facing healthcare and investigated how technology could provide a solution. Teacher resources and student packets are provided.
Like its sister website, haggadot.com, Custom and Craft gives you the tools to create a customized service. Just create an account and click “Create a service,” and begin!
Need to type something quickly in Hebrew? Pop over to Lexilogos for an easy, web-based keyboard.
If you’re looking to learn something new about EdTech and Google Apps, check out ControlAltAchieve. Free webinars are posted as well as blog posts with tips and tricks.
“Digital news platforms make it easy to find any information about any topic on any device. But they also push us into a “filter bubble”, a silo of information that validates our opinions more than informing or challenging them…” Such begins a fascinating article about how social media and online news platforms ironically make our world smaller. Read the article here and to see a great TED talk by author Eli Pariser here.
TeachThought is an easy-to-navigate website with lots of great information for teachers, “dedicated to supporting educators in innovation in teaching and learning for a 21st century audience…with ideas and resources for K-20 teachers through our site, and extends to our design of school models, learning models, curriculum, technology, apps, and other learning tools through collaborations with other organizations.”
Check out the TeachersFirst website. Sign up for a free account, and you can search for lesson plans, projectables, articles and more.
The Maccabeats and Naturally 7 teamed up to do a lovely cover of James Taylor’s Shed a Little Light. What a great video to share with students! And if you want to share the lyrics as well, I’ve created a Google doc with them.
Creative Commons. Creative Commons. Creative Commons. I can’t say it enough. What’s Creative Commons? That’s the licensing protocol that allows creators to share their creations and say it’s okay (or it’s not okay) for people to use/reuse/remix their stuff. With our digital citizenship curriculum materializing, we’re doing our students a disservice if we continue to allow them to simply do a web search for images and use whatever they find. One solution is to use a search engine that only returns results that are copyright-free. One such resource is Pixabay. You can do a search and then filter by photos, videos, or illustrations. Give it a shot!
Got plans this summer? Check out the National Endowment for the Humanities summer programs website for an impressive listing of summer programs. Stipends are available.
NoCamels is an innovative name for an innovative website about, well, innovations in Israel. It’s ad-supported and a little annoying, but there’s good info on there and it would be a great destination for a student seeking current events articles.
The Google Cultural Institute website is an extraordinary collection of works that are searchable and browsable. A search of “Chagall” returned information about the artist, links to four exhibits and 278 items. There are 950 collections in this impressive resource, including museums, Carnegie Hall, Yad Vashem, the Metropolitan Opera, Life’s photo collection and more.