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Saturday, November 21, 2015

Digital Challenge #1 - And the Winner is... #edtech #ipaded #wsdtech

Our technology department wanted to design an extension activity for our 1:1 students that wouldn't require the teachers to put in any effort, but would allow students to stretch their brains using their devices.  The idea that came about was a weekly Digital Challenge, or a a way for students to use their iPads and do some neat activities and projects outside of class.  We're using Google Classroom as our delivery tool and giving students one week to complete each challenge. So far we've had about 150 kids sign up!

Our first digital challenge wasn't too hard, who could take the best black and white picture.  Each student could enter up to three images and we had close to 75 we had to judge.  The winners are below.

This week's challenge is following the model of NPR's Story Corp and students have to interview someone over Thanksgiving break who can share their favorite story about family.

Digital Challenge #1 Winners:

Winner - Emily B "Sleeping Girl" Pioneer - Judges like the candid shot of the girl with the great lighting and contrast between the ruffles of the blanket and the smooth pillow and hair. This one told a great story without using any words.
1st runner up - Annalise "Garage with Hoop" - Judges liked the tough gritty look of this picture with the peeling paint and the clarity and lighting of the sky.
2nd runner up - Annalise  "Alley with Truck" - Judges liked the perspective of this picture and how it led you down the alley toward the mountain. It reminded us of a Depression-era photo with the old truck and rough features.
Honorable Mention - Abigail D "Frosty Leaf" - We really liked this image because of the frost on the leaf and the blades of grass. This was a great shot of nature.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

PollEverywhere Integration with Google Slides @polleverywhere #edtech #gafe #googleslides

It's like that old Reese's commercial, "You got your peanut butter stuck in my chocolate!"  Today PollEverywhere released a Google Chrome extension that allows you to add live polling to your Google Slide presentations.  Both of these tools are very useful but putting them together makes them both that much better.

Once I installed the extension and jumped over to a Google Slide presentation there was new contextual menu at the top for Poll Everywhere.  Clicking on that allowed me to insert a poll onto my current slide.  Pressing present showed the live poll results.  Awesome!  Now I'm hungry for a Reese's peanut butter cup though.

Wonderopolis - Great Short Reading Stories for Elementary #edtech #reading @Wonderopolis

So I was looking at Twitter and saw a Periscope about an online space for kids to read and take many times did we say that even two years ago.  Never.  But that's the reality of today's connected world.  But that's not the point of this post.

The reading site I saw is called Wonderopolis and it has tons of content.  The goal of the website, besides getting kids to enjoy reading, is to bring out their inner wonder; to help them ask questions about their world and discover the answers.

Some of the great features are the vocabulary support.  For example, many of the challenging words you can hover over and get an instant definition.  There are also content and vocabulary quizzes as well to keep the kids accountable for what they're reading.  Beyond that there are lots of tools for kids to stay engaged, including a place for them to ask questions that could potentially be the wonder of the day.  There's even a teacher space called WonderGround and a forum.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Minecraft Comes to Hour of Code #edtech #hourofcode #minecraft

The Hour of Code is a great introduction for kids to coding and way of understanding the language of the digital world around them.  In the past the Hour of Code has allowed students to create great games like Flappy Bird.  This year they've upped the ante and are bringing not only Star Wars but Minecraft.

If you've never participated in the Hour before, make time during the week of December 7-13th to help your students learn to code.

Free Twitter Visualizations #twitter #edtech

I've been playing with a few tools lately that display Tweets in a slideshow or presentation format.  These are useful when you're giving a presentation or at a conference and you want current, updated content to show on the screen.  A few that I like so far (that are free) include:

Friday, November 13, 2015

RowCall - Google Sheets Add-on for Easy Sorting into Tabs #gafe #edtech #googleclassroom @rmbyrne @alicekeeler

I've been working with a colleague to track students' work habits throughout the day so they are self-reporting on how they're doing based on Work Completion, Participation, and Citizenship/Behavior.  We created a Google Form that takes the kids about 5 seconds to complete and she gets data for every kid, for every period.  Whether or not the data is valid is another issue, but at least there is some reflection by kids on how they think they're doing and it gives the teacher a bit of accountability and helps start discussions with other teachers, students, parents and admin.

We even put in some conditional formatting to change the color of the students' responses so at a glance the teacher can get a good read on how students think they're doing.  We talked about sorting the data to clump a student's responses together so sorting columns.  But then another colleague showed me a Google Sheets add-on he uses called RowCall that looks at your data, finds a common denominator, like a student's name, and creates a new tab on the bottom of the sheet with all of that student's data.  He uses it for his bathroom pass so he can quickly see how many trips a student has been taking to check their phone in their locker go to the bathroom.  Pretty slick.

Even slicker is the fact that the newly tabbed sheets will update too with new data.