Saturday, August 23, 2014

5 Online STEM Courses - Edudemic

There's so much out there to share with our students these days....
Here's some sites/apps to check out that range from Baseball to Computer Programming to AI Robotics and Game Design....

Check out these courses shared by Jeff Dunn on Edudemic -
Baseball Analytics - Learn about the math of selecting baseball players. You know, like that movie Moneyball.

Intro to Computer Programming

Computer programming basics – a great place to start.

AI For Robotics

Maybe someday, you can design your own Rosie to clean your house, make your dinner, and serve you up some sass.

Creative 3D Graphics

3-D graphics aren’t just found in your local IMAX theater anymore. And the red and blue flimsy glasses? Well, at least they’re a little bit cooler now (and not so red and blue and cheap). Learn about 3-D graphics in this course.

Intro to Game Design

A must for gamers, you can learn to design your own game! 

Minecraft, Learn to Mod and more!

 Lots of students enjoy playing Minecraft, a game that uses blocks to break and build things. Fantastic structures, mysterious castles, and gathering and crafting items are a big part of the lure of the game for players. It's also a game that with your avatar you can fight off creatures of the night and build your world as you'd like it. It's not as violent as many multi-player adventure games, though it involves some killing of creatures (no blood, just a grunting noise indicating that they have died).

For more on Minecraft read these couple of reviews - one from and avid and creative player Anthony Gallegos and one from a mother, Bec Oakley, of MineMum who appreciates and elaborates on the learning benefits of the game, and has put together a site that helps other parents understand the game better. She gives a thorough overview of Minecraft including how to install the mods/modifications that help enhance the game.

I need to spend some more time on Minecraft myself, as some teachers are finding it quite educational and helpful in their classes as a way to teach all kinds of curriculum from history to microbiology. Check out Minecraft EDU for further info on that.

Recently, ThoughtSTEM, (think Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), came out with LearntoMod.
Through this mod making program students create their own mods, and the great thing is, they are learning to program while they create. Learning programming is big, and if your students are enjoying what they are creating through their programming sessions, all the better!

Check out this recent article in Wired for further info on LearntoMod.

Monday, August 18, 2014

BYOD - Student Owned Devices in our Classrooms

We've been given the nod that students can BYOD - bring in their own devices to help with in-class research, video/photos, classwork, graphing trends, etc. Whether we're ready for it or not, experts claim that this is inevitable and the future, especially given the demand on school finances and not always being able to keep up the latest technology. So, we might as well find ways to start using them effectively in our classrooms now!!

Here's a good post from Katrina Schwartz on a recent edition of Mindset that will help give you some ideas on how to effectively use these devices in your classroom and maybe even help impress upon students how to use their devices for educational purposes, and something besides checking out YouTube videos or posting photos on Instagram. Along with elaborating how to establish some ground rules with BYODs in school, Schwartz also posts some "go-to apps" that some teachers like to introduce to their students to help with this engagement and learning with technology.

Share some here what and how you are using devices in your class as the year goes on!

Rita Pierson TED Talk

Rita Pierson delivers a powerful and positive TED Talk on being an powerful and positive educator.
"A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human and personal level."

A POSITIVE message start to the school year for all teachers.

Google Classroom

Google Classroom is coming to us this fall. Yes, I wish they came out with it this summer so we could play around with it some and get more familiar with it, but given this presentation "Google Classroom Training" posted recently by Joshua Keen / Aaron Svoboda, it looks relatively easy to set up and work in. GClassroom looks quite promising and helpful for us to create classes; add students; create, organize and track student/class assignments; share resources (Google Drive, You Tube, websites, etc.); and even set up grading.

Teachers in other school systems who have tried the Beta form of Google Classroom state that it is relatively easy to understand and set up, and many have dropped using Doctopus, as GClassroom pretty much replicates much of what Doctopus was set up to do for teachers.

Video on how to create classes in Google Classrooms.

For a fuller, more detailed review of using GClassroom, by Jenn Sheffer of the Burlington, MA High School Help Desk - read HERE.

I submitted my name and our school to get GClassroom a couple of months ago. Hopefully we'll be able to get it up and running soon, as the school year is upon us!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014


You and your students are going to have some fun with Blabberize. Using Blabberize you can make your images talk, no matter what they are - animals, plants, people, even inanimate objects! Blabberize is relatively easy to work with - if you've ever made on of those Jib Jab holiday elf creations you'll see some similar features.

Check out this article from Emerging Ed Tech on Blabberize which includes a video tutorial, and get started! Your students can have some fun recreating a great moment in HISTORY; or, like the example above, share some SCIENCE information/phenomenon; or, perhaps they can share their process on a MATH problem using an emcee to be the mouthpiece; some classes read poems and then draw an image that they then blabberize as they read the poem...the possibilities are endless, and fun!

BLABBERIZE - it's a fun one!!

From Edudemic - "10 Things Every Teacher Should Know How to Do With Google Docs"

A great short article from EDUDEMIC that shares 10 great things you should know about using Google Docs. This helps teachers go beyond using the Google Doc platform as just a word processor - things like share/collaborate; commenting; using Kaizena for audio comments; research tools; email as an attachment; etc. Check out the article, I think you'll find something new to try out that you'll probably love!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Cargo Bridge

For those teaching anything to do with Bridges, and the forces involved - compression, tension, torsion, you're students will absolutely LOVE CARGO BRIDGE.

Students need to construct various bridges so that the workmen can transport different loads of cargo (even an elephant!) over it successfully - which means it can't break! The bridges get steeper, longer, and basically more challenging, so students need to think about their placement of beams and how to maximize their dollars (the game "bank" issues players a certain amount of "money." As they build it uses up that "money", if they build a successful bridge they gain more "money" to continue on in the game). The game has multiple challenge levels that the students need to go through to move on to more difficult levels and now they've come out with a Cargo Bridge 2 which seems to offer even more challenges.

Students of all learning styles LOVE the game. As a teacher I like how they learn about the importance of bridges in our lives; they stick with it; it challenges them; they enjoy it and it's humorous when their bridges break and laughter erupts....I wish, however, that the game incorporated some of the terms that would help impress upon students what exactly the forces of compression, tension and torsion were and how they relate to their choices in building a successful bridge. (and these are always terms we see on the state tests!) Maybe the Cargo Bridge game developers will see this post and incorporate that into their next version?!
None the less, introduce your students to Cargo Bridge and see how much they enjoy it!

Sunday, August 3, 2014


Growing up I had a friend who was not the greatest student in the world, however he had this passion and ability for learning/memorizing two main things...
1) US Presidents, in order of their terms
2) States from the US and their Capitols.
He could win every class contest when it came to those categories....but, maybe not so much when it came to our Math work or homework!

To this day, Michael can dazzle crowds with his knowledge of those particular facts. If there ever was a Jeopardy match that relied on just those two categories - Michael would dominate, hands down! In the mean time he sticks with entertaining friends and strangers down at the coffee shop where he likes to start his day.

Michael would also do quite well on the site SPORCLE. Sporcle (spelled with a "c" not a "k"), is a fun assortment of thousands of timed quizzes/games that require similar memory work. Where, yes, one the the all-time popular quizzes is about US Presidents! There are 15 major categories that the Sporcle games fall into:
Gaming, Geography,
History, Holiday,
Just For Fun,
Language, Literature,
Miscellaneous, Movies, Music,
Science, Sports, and Television.

On a slow rainy weekend, or perhaps if your students have completed their work and you grant them some time on can really pass the time away...and maybe even learn a few facts! Like this one -
"Name the 10 Body Parts that are Spelled with Only 3 Letters"......

You have 2 minutes - Ready GO! - SPORCLE

Saturday, August 2, 2014

More on Students and Blogging with Greg Nadeau

Check out this TEDxBeacon Street video presentation by educational consultation, Greg Nadeau, who believes in the value of student blogging in a "Lifelong Learning Blog." He elaborates this in his TED talk as well as his own blog - "Blogs and Badges."

I like that Nadeau takes his beliefs on the importance of blogging beyond just helping developing good writing skills, but that he encourages whole families to partake in blogging together and sharing comments and ideas together. Nadeau also emphasizes how students will be able to take their blog writing skills with them into their future - add their blog to an e-Portfolio where they can show their life-long writing efforts to prospective colleges; include with job applications, etc. Truly taking the meaning of "LifeLong" with them as they move on in life.

Oh how I wish I had some of my writings from 5th, 6th and through 12th grade, and beyond!


For teachers who are interested in helping their students develop stronger writing skills, you'll be pleased to learn about KidBlog. The Basic package which includes 50 student accounts and 2 teacher accounts is free, including ad-free, and no student email addresses are used. They also offer a Class Premium as well as an Admin Pro format that offers more customized blogs, for a fee. In a short time teachers can set up students with their own individual blog. The formatting is simple enough for students from grade 4 through High School and, teachers and parents will appreciate, in a safe on-line setting.

Check here for a REVIEW from one teacher, Susan Lucille Davis, who saw her students writing efforts improve as well as their interest in writing increase. She includes comments from her students as well, as they evaluated their own writing experience over the course of a school year.

If you'd like to see your students have some fun while they learn to write, check out Kidblog!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Hour of Code

You've probably been hearing all the hype about learning to code and the need for our students to start learning to code. Indeed, coding is the FUTURE!
As a teacher not knowing how to code, I know that at first it was intimidating to me to think about diving into this with my classes. Fortunately there was some wonderful support and a main Hour of Code site that help us get started, and they are going to provide the same this year - December 8-14, 2014.

Ali Partovi and Hadi Partovi of Hour Of Code promoted a week in December 2013 with the mission of :
  • * Bringing Computer Science classes to every K-12 school in the United States, especially in urban and rural neighborhoods.
  • * Demonstrating the successful use of online curriculum in public school classrooms
  • * Changing policies in all 50 states to categorize C.S. as part of the math/science "core" curriculum
  • * Harnessing the collective power of the tech community to celebrate and grow C.S. education worldwide
  • * To increase the representation of women and students of color in the field of Computer Science.
But the best thing for teachers is, they made it accessible and self-directed, so teachers do not need to know coding to get their students involved. Students can just dive right in!

You can start your students using that link above. They provide several easy to follow games that require students to immediately start coding. They also have a section of coding practices for students to try once they have completed the first sessions. Beyond Coding

Get on Hour of Code's mailing list and learn about this coming school year's Hour of Code efforts and get your school involved! It doesn't take much effort, but your students will LOVE it!