Welcome to my newly redesigned website! I hope it will prove a good vehicle for continuing to share the many exciting things going on in my world, and in the world of EdTech for K-12. I'm delighted to roll out this new site, and intend to do new blog posts on a regular basis. While starting afresh with my blog postings, I have retained the best of my posts from 2013 to 2015.below.
In addition to this blog section, I hope you'll take a look at the other pages on this site, www.susanswells.com, as well. And you may also like to take a look at my other newly redesigned website, www.camptechterra.com.
Again, welcome! Please let me know what you think.of my new sites! -- Susan
Posts from 2013 to 2015
December 6, 2015
Digital Dozen STEM Holiday 2015 Gift Ideas
It’s that time of year when we search for the very best gifts for kids. My Digital Dozen includes interactive digital learning tools for kids 2 to 102. I’ve used each one in my work with students and teachers, and find that they stretch thinking and learning while providing lots of fun. I'd love to know your thoughts on this Digital Dozen. Contact me on Facebook at facebook.com/camptechterra and on Twitter @wellssusan.
Happy Holidays! -- Susan
Osmo is hands on. It's a set of iPad games played with real-world pieces, and has a unique stand with a red plastic piece that redirects the iPad's front-facing camera to the game pieces as your child interacts with them on a table or floor. Great for kids 6 and up.
Skyrocket Chocolate Pen
With the Candy Craft Chocolate Pen, you can draw one-of-a-kind delicious shapes made with real confectioners' chocolate, write messages that melt in your mouth, and fill special candy molds with an incredible level of detail and design. Great for kids 6 and up.
The Finch is a new robot for computer science education. Its design is the result of a four-year study at Carnegie Mellon's CREATE lab. The Finch is designed to support an engaging introduction to the art of programming. It has support for over a dozen programming languages and environments, including several environments appropriate for students as young as eight years old. Great for kids 8 and up.
Sky Viper m200 Nano Drone
At 2.75 inches, the Nano is small enough to hold in the
palm of your hand and is suitable for flying both indoors
and outside. Great for kids 12 and up.
Dash & Dot Robots
Teach kids how to program with Dash and Dot, toy robots that make coding fun using apps on iPads, iPhones, and Android tablets and phones. Great for kids 5 and up.
Crayola Color Alive
With Color Alive, coloring flies off the page with characters that come to life in augmented reality, giving kids an interactive experience and fusing real-world creativity with digital play. Great for kids 4 and up.
Makey Makey Invention Kit
An invention kit for the 21st century. Turn everyday objects into touchpads and combine them with the internet. It's a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in-between.
Puzzlets combines hands-on play with interactive gaming to form one seamless experience, engaging the mind and teaching the player new ways of thinking. Great for kids 6 and up.
Mattel View-Master VR
This viewer is your portal to immersive, virtual reality adventures that will transport you around the world and beyond. Great for kids 7 and up.
Control Ozobot with color markers by drawing lines and codes for it to explore. Connecting to the tiny robot like a new friend, kids of all ages will mold their own state of play, one line at a time. Great for kids 8 and up.
Tiggly toys have silicone touch points so your tablet reacts to them just like your fingertips. Apps for kids 2-8 are free for Shapes, Numbers, and Words. Great for kids 2 and up.
The Sphero SPRK Edition round robot, making it even easy for teachers, parents, and kids to learn math, robotics, and programming. Great for kids 8 and up.
Bring TechTerra to Your School
Educators and Teachers: Learn to Implement Innovative 21st Century Education, using the key 21st Century Skills of creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication, at your school, through Mobile Devices, Makerspaces, Robotics, 3D Printing, Digital Storytelling, and More!
The TechTerra professional development workshop trains and certifies teachers, library and media specialists, technology coaches, and administrators in the Camp TechTerra curriculum and enables them to implement TechTerra learning experiences in their own schools. In addition, the TechTerra Workshop includes pointers on how to fund technology projects at your school through grants, Donors Choose, and other methods.
How will this workshop help your students? Today’s learners value connections and the creative process. They embrace the opportunity to solve real-world problems. The TechTerra training and certification workshop is designed to equip teachers and educators with innovative instructional strategies that engage and invest students in their own learning, positioning them for success in their future endeavors.
September 16, 2015
STEM FOCUS–NEED FOR MOBILE FLEXIBLE POWER SOLUTIONS
Use of Digital Learning tools in schools is expanding, with laptops, tablets and now STEM-based tools. With this expansion the heavy charging carts purchased when schools started laptop programs no longer meet learning needs. Likewise, STEM-based Makerspaces and Innovation Labs have gone beyond community-based programs to schools. With this expansion, schools and students need solutions for powering and charging STEM-tools for collaborative use. In this month’s District Administration news update, “Lockers give way to charging stations,” author Alison DeNisco writes about Albemarle County. These Virginia high schools are removing lockers and replacing them with charging stations and white boards.
It was a pleasure to have occasion to speak with Alison Dinisco about charging solutions that lend themselves to changing digital tool deployments.
And student devices are not the only tools that need power. The national STEM focus continues to grow, with digital learning tools such as robotics, virtual reality devices and 3D printers all needing to connect to an outlet, says Susan Wells, president-elect of the ISTE Mobile Learning Network.
Retrofitting classroom electrical systems is prohibitively costly for most districts. Instead, Wells recommends deploying charging solutions that are mobile and that are able to work with different devices to prepare for future changes in technology.
In my TechTerraTM STEM training I use Copernicus Tech Tubs for a digital charge, store and secure solution. I am able to customize the Tech Tubs and transport iPads, laptops, tablets, robots, drones, digital cameras and my 3D Printer. As schools examine ways to provide power to their digital tools, decision-makers must first consider flexibility so that changing program objectives are met.
Aug 24 2015
7 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE PD
Getting ready for my career change I’ve spent a great deal of time reading about effective educational professional development or PD. As a public speaker, consultant and trainer I’ve given presentations to teachers all over the world. As a principal I’ve provided in-house PD for many years. As an educator I’ve taken more PD hours than is easy to count.
Research and best practice are agreed on some effective practices. Based on this research and my own thirty years of experience in public education here are some things I know for sure about effective professional development:
#1 Honor individual interests and needs, in other wordsdifferentiate!
#2 Learning must be deep purposeful & relevant.
#3 Presenters are best as curators & coaches.
#4 Including the four C’s … Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, and Creativity … works for learners.
#5 Pre-teach/Flip/Don’t be a sage alone on the stage.
#6 Get active; experiment, create, integrate, play, reflect.
#7 Continue the conversation & the learning.
If you’re in a position to plan training for educators please consider these seven steps to effective PD. It is a privilege to present content and pedagogy to adult learners. Please make it effective and yes, enjoyable too. Our greatest responsibility as trainers is to personalize learning for each of our participants.
Jun 14 2015
TWEET CHAT CELEBRATING #NATIONOFMAKERS #WEEKOFMAKING
TUNE IN THIS EVENING 6/14 4-5 PM EST
#NATIONOFMAKERS #WEEKOFMAKING TWEET CHAT …
CODING, MAKING, & STEM EXPERTS Q&A
@SHODOR @CAMPTECHTERRA #STEM #3DPRINTING #CODING
,Enjoy conversation and sharing with Tweet Chat moderator @wellssusan Susan Wells, founder of Camp TechTerra, a curriculum bringing together technology and nature to help children better understand the world around them. Susan, a 30 year educator brings her expertise in Digital Learning, STEM and MakerEd to provide Camp TechTerra’s curriculum and certification for teachers and students.
Guests for this evening’s Tweetchat are from Shodor, a National Resource for Computational Science Education, @Shodor Levi Diala and @Aaron_Weedon Aaron Weedon. Levi is Shodor’s Managing Editor of the Journal of Computational Science Education (JOCSE) and an expert in Computational Science Education. Aaron’s expertise in with Programming and Parallel Computing.
We’ll be talking on these questions…
1. What is Shodor?
2. How and at what age do you recommend kids and teachers get started in coding?
3. Explain MakerEd and why it’s important today.
4. How can I get Camp TechTerra certified?
5. What is a STEM proficient student?
Dec 17 2014
HOUR OF CODE TO “YEAR OF CODE”
What an amazing week it’s been! 23 hours of coding instruction. Every single student and staff member at E. K. Powe
has had an hour or more of code. It’s been one of the most exciting weeks I can remember as a school administrator. Watching the thinking, collaborating and the “It worked!” moments of my students has been thrilling.
I started each coding lesson with a “human computer”, choosing a student to be the computer and walk a grid with commands. From there each group moved to the digital world of Lightbothttp://lightbot.com for collaborative coding. All the kids had an opportunity to work with multiple programs to learn that, as my 8 year ESL student stated, “…the directions parallel each other!” What a great way to see that once you’ve coded directions indeed take a similar course.
So…what’s next? For our students at E.K. Powe we’ll be using our $10,000 Code.org grant http://code.org
to expand our Makerspace with a 3DPrinter and Copernicus cart
http://www.copernicused.com/result_detail.aspx?group=3D-printer-cart&sku=TD5001 and two additional mobile labs of tablets, likely Dell Venues
or Samsung Galaxy http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/galaxy-tab/
These two tablets were named #2 and #3 best tablets of 2014 right behind the iPad Air. We’re working to get value for limited funds so we won’t purchase iPads for this round.
Finally with our existing and new labs I’ll be offering a Before-School Coding and Making Club for our kids. We’ll gather in our media center each week to continue coding and making too. Look for big news from Powe as our “Year of Code” continues!
Dec 7 2014
CEL-A-BRATE THE HOUR OF CODE TIMES COME ON!
Everyone around the world, come on!
1,000,000 more jobs …in computer sciences… than students by 2020 in the US alone.
“Learning to write programs stretches your mind and help you think better…”
Bill Gates, Founder of Microsoft
Our week is here! With over 72,000 events around the world, it’s time to celebrate #HourofCode and Computer Science Education Week. At my school we’ve been getting ready for our celebration kickoff for over a month. I found out two weeks ago that my Code.org grant was the North Carolina winner, great news and the kickoff got bigger.
Tomorrow morning at E.K. Powe Elementary we’ll host our students, staff and parents and the larger Durham and North Carolina community in a school-wide assembly. To help us we’ll have our school superintendent, school board members, our mayor and city council representative, in addition to representatives from our governor’s office and Department of Public Instruction. Durham, NC has become a hub for computer programming entrepreneurs and start-ups in addition to our larger computer-science focused businesses. We’ve invited our Durham business and non-profit community to come and join the celebration too. Finally we’ll have a representative from Code.org on hand to present our giant $10,000 award check.
From our assembly the real fun begins, kids learning to code! I’ll be teaching 21 hours of code this week with assistance from my Student Code Ambassadors. Our Code Ambassadors already spent last spring here at E.K. Powe in an afterschool coding club. These Second through Fifth graders helped us get ready and they’ll be on hand to help teach. With the help of our assembly guests, Kindergarten, First, and Second graders will work with LightbotJr http://lightbot.com and Kodable https://www.kodable.com on iPads. Our Third, Fourth and Fifth graders will begin learning with LightbotJr and Tynker http://www.tynker.com/hour-of-code/ and move to Code.org http://code.org/learn on laptops. We’ll be in classrooms, hallways, and in our atrium. As weather permits, visitors will find us coding in our school garden and on our playgrounds.#CodingEverywhere
Adding to learning for the week, on Tuesday December 9th Third graders will Skype with Lightbot CEO and coding expert Danny Yaroslavski. Mr. Yaroslavski began coding when he was 11 years old and is a great example of the power of coding.“Our goal with Lightbot is to provide the most engaging first point of entry for kids to start learning about Computer Science. If we’re going to get kids, the coders of tomorrow, learning about tech, programming and CS, we want to make sure that their first exposure to these concepts is as enjoyable as possible. What could be more engaging for kids than teaching them through video games?”-Danny Yaroslavski, CEO Lightbot Inc. Students have developed questions for Mr. Yaroslavski as they learn about coding and computer science.
Resources for coding and #HourofCode are abundant this year. As you’re getting ready for your own celebration consider the opportunities from the resource list below. Every student in the US and around the world can and should have an introduction to coding this week—online, offline, web and app based, even coding without devices. Celebrate #HourofCode with the world!
Educator Resources for Teaching Hour of Code http://csedweek.org/educate/hoc
Hour of Code Celebrations Continue with Free BrainPOP Movies and More http://www.brainpop.com/educators/community/2013/12/11/hour-code-celebrations-continue-free-brainpop-movies/
Hour Of Code: Get Involved! Top Five Ways to Participate http://littlebits.cc/hour-of-code-get-involved
Join the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education in Celebrating the Hour of Code http://stemeducation.nd.edu/news/53869-join-the-notre-dame-center-for-stem-education-in-participating-in-the-hour-of-code/
Top 10 Coding Apps, Part II: Gifts of STEM http://www.susanswells.com/apps/top-10-coding-apps-part-ii-gifts-of-stem/
From Google- Code a design that will help you light up the nation’s holiday trees IRL https://holidays.madewithcode.com/project/lights
Video review- “top 10 reasons to code” an introduction to computer programming http://www.flocabulary.com/coding/
Apple- December 11 for the Hour of Code, a free one-hourintroduction to the basics of computer programming http://www.apple.com/retail/code/
Hour of Code events around the world http://hourofcode.com/us/events/all
Nov 29 2014
TOP 10 CODING APPS, PART II: GIFTS OF STEM
My STEM gift-giving guide continues. Part II focuses on coding for kids. Why focus on coding? Because everything that runs around us has computer programming, or code, making it function and run. Learning to code allows learners to stop consuming and begin creating. And there’s another really important reason to learn, coding is fun! So take a look at my top coding app choices and grab a handful to include in your gifting this season. As you and your kids get started, head to Code.org http://code.org and sign the petition if you agree – “Every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science”. And then start learning with your first Hour of Code http://hourofcode.com/us during Computer Science Education Week December 8-14, 2014!
1. Lightbot and Lightbot Jr
Platform: iOS, Android, http://lightbot.com
Cost: Free to $2.99
Kids drag and drop basic commands including move, hop, light, and turn, into strings of instructions all led by a very cute programmable robot. This is a perfect starting place, begins with easy to attain success. As your child learns more the program gets more challenging.
Platform: iOS, Android, http://www.tynker.com/why-tynker
Tynker is one of my campers favorite coding apps. It provides games to teach programming. Kids engage with interactive learning modules, mini-games, coding projects and puzzles.
3. Scratch Jr.
Platform: iOS, http://scratch.mit.edu
Designed by MIT students and staff in 2003, Scratch was one of the first programming languages created specifically for young people. Scratch uses a visual programming language made up of bricks to drag to the workspace and animate sprites. Various types of bricks trigger loops, create variables, initiate interactivity, play sounds, and more.
Platform: iOS, http://www.gethopscotch.com
Kids make games, animations, stories, and other interactive programs by dragging and dropping colorful blocks of code. Use shaking, tilting, or even shouting at the iPad to control characters.
5. Daisy the Dinosaur
Daisy the Dinosaur is written by the makers of Hopscotch. This game is written for the youngest coders. There is a dinosaur to move and basic functions to use.
Platform: iOS, Android, http://twolivesleft.com/CargoBot/
Cargo-Bot teaches coding skills. The objective is to move colored crates from one place to another by programming a claw crane to move left or right, drop or pick up. Elementary students will learn the logical thinking required to eventually do text-based programming.
Platform: iOS, https://www.kodable.com
The free version includes the first level, Smeeborg, which introduces kids to the steps of programming, including if/then statements and loops. Additional levels include- Function Junction, which introduces functions, Bugs Below, to debug code; and Fuzzy Fun, playing with colors and letters.
8. Bee-Bot and Bee-Bot Pyramid
Platform: iOS, http://www.bee-bot.us
Kids use a bee to move through easy puzzles with directional language, forwards, backwards commands and turns. This app can be a companion to the Bee Bot, programmable floor robot.
9. Cato’s Hike: A Programming and Logic Odyssey
Takes kids on a story-based adventure through mazes to collect hearts and stars and find friends, using the logic of computer programming to guide their character.
10. Move the Turtle. Programming for Kids
Platform: iOS, http://movetheturtle.com
A friendly Turtle introduce kids to step-by-step basic concepts of programming in a fun graphic environment.
Nov 24 2014
TOP 10 STEM HOLIDAY GIFT PICKS
unning a STEM- Coding, Robotics and MakersEd kids Camp I have the chance to try out the newest coolest tools, kits and programs. My top picks don’t include toys exclusively although play is a critical foundation of any Science, Technology, Engineering and Math exploration. I have included favorites from camp and new finds. So…in no particular order, except that my absolute favorites may be a bit higher on the list, here are my picks! Let me know the great things I’ve forgotten, I’ll keep expanding the list! WIth kids of all ages this season- Innovate, Construct, Explore, Create, Play!
1. MaKey MaKey The Original Invention Kit for Everyone, turns everyday objects into touchpads and combines them with the internet. http://www.makeymakey.com/ Ages- Elementary and up.
2. Make: it Kits Make: and RadioShack teamed up to introduce a series of kits designed to spark your creativity and get you started making. http://www.makershed.com/collections/make-it-kits Ages- upper elementary and up.
3. Cubelets A modular robot construction system built with nature in mind. http://www.modrobotics.com/cubelets/ Ages- Elementary and up.
4. The Finch A robot designed for computer science education. http://www.finchrobot.com/ Ages- Elementary and up.
5. Squishy Circuits All about using playdough to create electrical circuits using battery packs, LEDs, buzzers, and small motors. http://squishycircuitsstore.com/kits.html Ages- Upper elementary and up.
6. littleBits littleBits puts the power of electronics in the hands of everyone by making your own electronic creations with no soldering, wiring, or programming required. http://littlebits.cc/ Ages- Elementary and up.
7. Snap Circuits and Snap CircuitsJr. Makes learning electronics easy and fun with all parts snapping together. http://www.snapcircuits.net/ Ages- Elementary and up.
8. Lego Toy building brick, endless imagining & constructing. http://www.lego.com/en-us/ Ages- All.
9. EZ-Robot Walking and talking humanoid robot built with EZ-Bits. http://www.ez-robot.com/ Ages- Upper Elementary and up.
10. Tegu Wooden magnetic construction blocks. http://www.tegu.com/building-sets#large-sets Ages- Preschool and up.
Aug 2. 2014
CAMP MERGING MOBILE, MAKING, CODING AND SCIENCE ED = RECIPE FOR FUN
Students ages five through twelve came together for a week of hands-on learning experiences resulting in amazing kid feedback. A rising third-grader whose brother had to miss the first two days said, “I hope he’s better tomorrow and can get here. This is the best time I’ve ever had.”
When asked what was so special about Camp EdTech Green www.campedtechgreen.com campers said over and over again, we’re learning things we never get to do in school… like coding…and how to make iMovies…and how to use real tools [when Making larger than life insects to represent the beetles and leaf bugs and butterfly they’d observed in their outside hikes]…and how to add circuitry to robots…and the list goes on.
Allowing time for learning. Provoking thought and then letting students move in individual directions with their projects. Supporting their learning in a just-in-time model. Allowing students to learn through making, with real tools for authentic projects in a safe environment. Providing time for reflection and student journaling. This is the work and the fun of Camp EdTech Green. This is what learning can be for kids anywhere, everywhere.
Student iMovies, including Stop Motion Animation, can be found on the Camp Tech Terra channel on www.youtube.com.
July 19, 2014
STRATEGIES FOR ADDRESSING FEAR OF FAILURE IN STEM EDUCATION WITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL CHILDREN
Somewhere early on really young kids turn a corner on excitement for STEM, science, technology, engineering and math, activities. Most young kids begin school excited about anything and everything involving STEM. And yet…far too soon kids are divided, kids begin to fail or to see themselves as failures. STEM becomes a club they just don’t belong in and are not smart enough for or don’t have high enough grades for. And this happens for many kids before they even leave elementary school!
UC Berkeley professor Martin Covington defines the Fear of failing –
If a person doesn’t believe he or she has the ability to succeed—or if repeated failures diminish that belief—then that person will begin, consciously or not, to engage in practices or make excuses in order to preserve his or her self-worth both in his or her own eyes and in the eyes of others.
When we consider world-famous inventor Thomas Edison we might name him a grandfather of STEM education. Edison said some things that impact our thinking today regarding tinkering, experimenting, data collection and failure.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ― Thomas A. Edison
When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this – you haven’t.” ― Thomas A. Edison
“Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
― Thomas A. Edison
As I have observed our youngest students, my own and so many others for 29 years in public education, I believe there are three ways we can help our elementary students avoid fear of failure in STEM education:
1. Students participate, hang in there! Adults, find paths for accessible participation through collaborative cooperative hands-on learning environments! Try, persevere, once you’re in, you’ll be able to get an idea of the pieces and parts you enjoy and you’re great at. And they are there!
2. Help students learn mindfulness and self-compassion in their own work as they succeed and as they fail. Young people, and all people with these skills, recover more quickly. They adapt to the ebb and flow of trial and error and the notion or experimenting.
3. Build positive relationships. Caring is motivational. Attachment leads to motivation.
Let’s keep kids grounded in trying and tinkering instead of searching for the correct answer. Let’s help kids follow Edison’s lead to 10,000 experiments.
June 24, 2014
FIND ME IN ATLANTA, ISTE 2014!
For EdTechies around the country, around the world, “Conference” week has finally arrived. Conference, otherwise known as ISTE is one of the largest annual international education technology conferences available for us. There are many others, a dozen large, fifty smaller, but ISTE is the conference most can’t wait for each summer.
Getting ready… My new Mobile Learning Network shirts are packed. The prizes and SWAG from vendors sent to the house for sessions and for Mobile MegaShare http://bit.ly/mobilemegashare14 are packed. My mobile devices are semi-packed. Chargers and power strip are ready for packing Thursday morning but will wait for that last charging. My Makers supplies and hands-on materials for my Tuesday session are stowed and packed. Next my back pack, no briefcase for me with so much to carry. They’re packed light for now but will be too full… Already have session notes and paper copies of slide shares, headphones, a pen, highlighter and notepad. Finally snacks are packed. Of course there’s plenty of great food in Atlanta but packing some healthy snacks in my briefcase works for me during the very full days.
Clothes are tricky. Comfort is critical. ISTE days are long days but every evening ends with opportunities for socializing. This is really one of the best parts of ISTE. There is no reason to sit in a hotel room or eat alone. Check out the MLN and ISTE2014 Conference at a glance listings http://www.mobilelearningnetwork.org/?p=722 for evening opportunities. Which comes back to the issue of clothes and packing. Casual is absolutely fine but getting a bit dressed up in the evening happens for many.
Less than two days and close enough for a rather long drive this year, Atlanta here we come! My sessions are listed below. I’ll also be working the MLN Community Networking Fair on Saturday and the MLN Member Lounge Gathering on Sunday. Stop by and introduce yourself. I’d love to meet in person. I promise to have great SWAG (Stuff We All Get) at every session! Happy ISTE2014!
Mobile Mega Share
Friday, June 27, 2:00 pm–6:00 pm GWCC A411
Join us for a MEGA opportunity to multiply mobile learning knowledge. Share, learn and collaborate! Recommended by ISTE’s Mobile Learning Network (formerly known as SIGML)
ISTE PLN resources to help with your 1:1 implementation
Sunday, June 29, 4:15 pm–5:15 pm GWCC B312
PLN leaders (1to1, Mobile Learning, Early Learning, Independent School Educator networks) share resources and information about 1:1 programs from their PLN activities and members. Recommended by ISTE’s Independent School Educators Network (formerly known as SIGIS), Mobile Learning Network (formerly known as SIGML)
Build your world: Mobile makerspace at the Mobile Learning Playground
Monday, June 30, 9:30 am–1:00 pm GWCC Building B, Level 3 (near Room B313)
Recommended by ISTE’s Mobile Learning Network (formerly known as SIGML)
Merging mobile, makers, and science education – Birds of a Feather
Monday, June 30, 5:15 pm–6:30 pm GWCC B405
Explore and share resources for incorporating mobile learning, makerspaces and science. Spark interest using PBL, discovery, coding and building activities for collaboration and creative thinking.
ISTE Mobile Learning Network: Merging mobile with the maker movement
Tuesday, July 1, 11:45 am–12:45 pm GWCC Murphy Ballroom 1/2
Participate in hands-on making, explore mobile environments, and immerse students in nature, engineering and experiential learning. Bring innovation and fun to your STEM program! Recommended by ISTE’s Mobile Learning Network (formerly known as SIGML), Science and Technology Network (formerly known as SIGSci)
June 23, 2014
THE BEST OF EDUCATION TODAY, MERGING MOBILE AND MAKERS
It’s time to get ready for summer camp. Afterschool camp ended only weeks ago but summer camp is different. We have a stretch of time to explore without boundaries and borders.
For that preparation takes longer. Many hours later materials and tools and supplies are sorted and a long list is up on the Camp Ed Tech Green Facebook site. That list stuck to building and hands-on challenges – Lincoln Logs, check…Duplos, check…Marble maze, check…Kapla blocks, check…Indoor croquet, check…Legos, check… It only began to scratch the surface of what’s available for kids to explore.
Another list needed to include Making supplies, recycled found items of cardboard, wood, plastic, metal, paper, cloth and tapes and glues and paint and tool kits to construct with, check…MaKey MaKey micro-processors to experiment with, check…BirdBrain Tech Finch Robot to program, check!
And of course Mobile devices to talk to the robot and the micro-processors and capture the incredible creativity and invention of the campers in video. And have a chance to learn an hour of code and then try out web-based and app-based code for fun! So MacBooks, iPads, Samsung Galaxy, Kindle Fire, Nook, Dell Venue…check! (cross-platform because it is never about the device it about the work that one imagines)
This past week the White House hosted the first Maker Faire and declared June 18th the first National Day of Making. President Obama said, We invited you here because today is “D.I.Y.” Today’s D.I.Y. is tomorrow’s “Made in America.” Your projects are examples of a revolution that’s taking place in American manufacturing — a revolution that can help us create new jobs and industries for decades to come. …But what’s happening is, is that the young people now are able to learn by doing. So math, science all gets incorporated into the task of actually making something, which the students tell me makes the subject matter that much more interesting.
Summer and afterschool camps cannot be the only opportunities kids have to explore without boundaries and borders. We must give all students the best of education beginning immediately with this revolution. Merge mobile and makers, allow student imagination, interest and excitement to drive learning. Join the Mobile Making revolution!
June 11, 2014
DURHAM’S GOLDEN BELT CELEBRATING NATIONAL DAY OF MAKING
Local organizations announce a free Mini-Workshop to support and celebrate a “Nation of Makers”. On June 18, the President is hosting the first-ever White House Maker Faire. In addition the White House has named June 18 to be a nationwide Day of Making with communities across America sharing and celebrating their involvement in the Makers movement.
Shodor http://www.shodor.org at Durham’s Golden Belt, with Camp EdTech Green http://www.campedtechgreen.com and Work it! Academy http://workitacademy.com and The Scrap Exchange http://www.scrapexchange.org will be celebrating the “National Day of Making” #NationOfMakers on Wednesday 6/18/14 from 4-6 pm.
They promise making, coding, building, creating, tinkering and fun. The mini-workshop is open to the public with a special invitation to elementary age students to come out and celebrate the first National Day of Making!
June 2, 2014
SUMMER FUN: FAVORITE CODING APP, LIGHTBOT
This one is for parents, certainly for summer camps too. First remember my last post was about iMovies and documenting lots of time outdoors. So, beginning there and remembering that the title of this post begins with the word -- summer-- I absolutely recommend getting outside and moving around a lot! But sometimes we’ll be inside. And sometimes we’ll be in the car. And sometimes coding will just be great fun. So for those times I want to recommend some terrific apps. In this post I’ll introduce a favorite, Lightbot.
I’ve talked about Lightbot http://light-bot.com CEO Danny Yaroslavski here before. My Camp EdTech Green kids had the opportunity to Skype with him this spring. He was gracious, patient, instructive and kind with these young students. His coding program Lightbot was available web-based through http://code.org which was my where students began their coding work. Lightbot became a great favorite.
Danny, as he introduced himself promised the kids he’d have cross-platform apps available and he has met his promise. Lightbot Jr Ages 4-8 and Lightbot Ages 9+ are out! The kids are thrilled. They are sure they heard it first, and directly of course from Danny the CEO. They’re thrilled too because they can keep playing one of their favorite computer coding games. My kids understood with Lightbot that they were in charge of telling the robot what to do, that they were writing the procedures and debugging the problems.
Lightbot is a win for summer fun. A group of after school students from first grade through fifth have already chosen it as one of their top coding programs, for learning sure, but for a really good time absolutely!
May 27, 2014
NO EXCUSES: CODING STARTS K-5
Kids come together to work after school. The buses arrive at 5:30 pm two hours after their school day is over and they ask to please just give them five more minutes to finish this line of code.
Seriously. This is real folks. Our youngest students working on the web, working with apps, writing code. They get it. At these very early ages coding is a puzzle, a game, a challenge. A chance to create a new path. The very best part is this. The more tools kids use the more they say to their fellow coders, “oh yeah , this is just like… and, we’ve done this before on the other program it just looks a little different…, and, here, I’ll show you.” Talk about standards at high levels and Bloom’s Taxonomy. This is analysis, evaluation and creation repeated and shared. Planning for 2014-15 is on. Before school, during the day, or in after school program, no excuses please for not including coding in the elementary day. The benefits are real. Your kids will thank you.
May 12, 2014
LEARN TO DO ANYTHING IN IMOVIE, TOP 3 TUTORIALS
I’ve recommended iMovie for Project Based Learning student archiving in my tweets, blogs, and webinar discussions. With its ease of use and broad capabilities iMovie is a tool for every classroom K-12. I’ve found that students easily understand the interface of iMovie and can make movies literally in minutes. To add expertise for teachers and students I want to share some of my favorite tutorial sites.
Izzy Video promises to get you up and running with iMovie. Handing students an iPad you’ll be up and running. With this tutorial your questions will be answered. As you and your students use iMovie questions will come up. This tutorial has a terrific iMovie Tutorial Contents. Click to play and you will learn something new. I come back again and again to this site.
Paul Hamilton uses iMovie in a lesson teaching Narrative. He models uses iMovie to move through this lesson for the instructor. Viewing this repeatedly has helped me master iMovie and allowed me to reference “stuck” areas for my students. I love that he places it in the context of teaching and learning with the authenticity of an authentic lesson plan.
*Note-You can actually meet Paul in person at the ISTE14 MLN/SIGML Mega Share Free Pre-Conference. He is an amazing educator coming to us from the Sunshine Coast, Australia.
Tentytech provides iMovie 10 tutorial: Beginners to Basic for those transitioning from iMovie 9. The new interface looks quite different. This video helps make it make sense.
April 22, 2014
TECH SOLUTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM
Sometimes solutions are right in front of us. One of my kindergarten teachers had been working really hard looking for a way to have a group of her students listen to a recording. This was an important recording she and her student teacher had made on an MP3 player. They wanted to provide it in a center. It was a truly exciting engaging recording. But there was a problem. Their listening center, many of you will recognize this style from the photo, had stopped working. Who knows why. A short somewhere…age…but it had stopped. They’d found others in the same style but those didn’t have the necessary adapter to fit the tiny MP3 player. They considered re-recording to a different format, perhaps not using a listening center. They decided they might need to ditch their center plan and have each student plug in and listen individually.
But this teacher was determined to have her students work and respond in groups and so she came to me knowing I keep many new tech devices handy. Sure enough I had what she needed. Take a look at the contrast in space alone the new listening center, a Belkin RockStar 5-Way 3.5 mm Headphone Splitter, takes up in the classroom. Consider also the cost, I purchased mine on Amazon for $14, far less than our old splitters/listening centers. The Belkin RockStar Splitter, a great affordable solution for classroom listening centers.
February 21, 2014
UDL MOBILE APP REFLECTIONS
I’m taking a course online Using Apps to Support UDL. I enjoyed this week’s instructional presentation focused on engagement (and mobile apps) as a one of the four UDL guidelines. It gave me a chance to reflect on my work of these last year’s in mobile learning 1:1 and learning lab environments and my passion for this learning. Engagement and access is what brought me to this work. Without engaged students we have brilliant instructors working very hard to no great end. Without access for all our work in education can never have full meaning.
When we started our first 1:1 deployment of mobile devices access for our Burmese students was a necessity. These students had come to us after years of living in camps. They had no English. We were in desperate need of Karen interpreters and Karen dictionaries. It almost goes without saying that these were extremely lacking. In fact we had none. That spring though we had begun a slow deployment of iPod touches. And so we had digital dictionaries.
Enter one of my favorite apps still today -- Merriam-Webster Dictionary, free for iOS, Android, Kindle. This dictionary has expanded in capability but even then it was a game changer for our students’ engagement. Today it offers text to voice, related words, noting-“favorites”, and recently looked up words.
Many devices have built-in dictionary capability today which is terrific. I continue to recommend Webster for all that it has offered and continues to offer our students.
February 18, 2014
HOSTING EDWEB WEBINAR WEDNESDAY FEBRUARY 19TH 4 PM
Igniting the Spark! Build, Play, Learn – Fun STEM Activities for School Year & Summer Programs
Presenter: Laura Briggs, Technology Resource Teacher, Loudoun County Public Schools, and SIGML President Elect, Professional Development Chairperson and ISTE14 Mobile Learning Playground Coordinator
Pre-registration is not required for Mobile Learning community members.
Join the webinar at the scheduled time with this link: www.instantpresenter.com/edwebnet3
January 21, 2014
JOIN IN FOR A DAY OF TWITTER CHATTING & TECH PD
SIGML Partners with ISTE/Verizon Innovative Learning Schools Program Virtual Conference with Mobile Learning Topic Tweetchats and we need you to tweet too! Gain all kinds of resources and collaborate with your PLN and SIGML for this virtual conference! Join us for Tweetchats on the topics below and share resources with our Tweetchat guests and all who participate. These are sure to be fun and valuable sessions!
February 11, 2014
11:30 am-5:30 pm
Eastern Standard Time
All use #sigml and @sigml
11:30-12:30 Mobile Apps- General Discussion
Caitlin McLemore @edtechcaitlin with Dacia Jones @dacia92
12:30-1:30 Special Education and Mobile Learning
Caitlin McLemore @edtechcaitlin with Chris Bugaj @attipscast
1:30-2:30 Social Media in Schools
Caitlin McLemore @edtechcaitlin & Susan Wells @wellssusan
with Susan Bearden @sberarden Chris Bugaj @attipscast Scott Merrick @scottmerrick
2:30-3:30 Using Mobile for a Flipped Classroom
Susan Wells @wellssusan with Scott Merrick @scottmerrick Dacia Jones @dacia92
3:30-4:00 Game Based Learning
Susan Wells @wellssusan with Scott Merrick @scottmerrick
Laura Biriggs@LauraBTRT with Kae Novak and guild @kzenovka @proximalzone
5:00-5:30 Maker Movement
Laura Briggs@LauraBTRT and Susan Wells @Wellssusan with Sylvia Martinez @smartinez
January 9, 2014
THE NEW PBL: MERGING MOBILE WITH THE MakerEd MOVEMENT
Thursday, January 9, 2014 – 4PM Eastern Time
Presenter: Susan Wells, current President of ISTE SIGML
Join the webinar at the scheduled time with this link: www.instantpresenter.com/edwebnet3
Be sure to join the Mobile Learning Explorations community:
· Receive invites and reminders to free webinars
· Access the recordings for past webinars
· CE quizzes (to earn your certificate for viewing a past webinar)
· Additional resources and discussions
Links for today’s webinar include:
8 Essentials for Project Based Learning
Project-Based Learning vs. Problem-Based Learning vs. X-BL
Mobile Learning, Defined
Makers Education Intiative
Upcoming Maker Faires
The Tinkering Studio
The Scrap Exchange
Invent to Learnhttp://www.inventtolearn.com
United Nations International School’s MakerSpace CoLaboratory
Free Makerspace Playbook
MaKey MaKey Arduino Board Projects
Learn to Code
October 19, 2013
IPAD BASICS: BREATHE INTO JUST 4 APPS
This year my teachers are working with iPads as personal tools each day. We’d love to provide students with these tools in a 1:1 configuration, just not there yet with funding. In the meantime we have mobile learning labs for students…iPads, iPod touches, NetBooks and MacBooks. Digital Cameras too. Tech integration is alive and well and getting better all the time.
Using iPads, making iPads your go-to tool when they’re new to your toolbox is challenging. Thank you to Richard Wells for the illustration above and for breaking this down into small parts.
At Mobile Learning Equity we’ve actually been talking about this, recommending it since iOS began. The iOS platform is incredibly powerful and can be amazingly simple taken in small bites. To begin, for teachers and students, we’ve recommended four tools. Working with the power of a search engine [Safari], notes [Notes], photos and videos [Camera] that can be saved, organized and sent and a reference tool [Merriam-Webster Free Dictionary] that speaks and listens we believe is a terrific start. See the app icons below.
Teachers have plates that were already full before the year began. As November approaches don’t feel guilty if you’re not using fifty apps. Or if your iPad sits unused under piles of work to be graded and and displayed and prepared. Instead give yourself permission to try just four tools for the next weeks ahead. And then just enjoy for a bit. You’ll get to fifty or maybe… you don’t actually need fifty…
Safari Camera Notes Dictionary
October 9, 2013
BIG 3 CHALLENGES FOR STRUGGLING LEARNERS, MOBILE APP SOLUTIONS
Speaking at Wireless EdTech Conference this week. Discussing my Big3 Struggling Learner Needs:
Mobile Free Apps to help:
· Organization= Edmodo, Evernote
· Communication= TapToTalk, iTranslate, Merriam-Webster
· Note-taking= Claro Magx, Dragon Dictation
Mobile provides unique solutions for challenges that otherwise stand in the way of student success.
May 18, 2013
DONATE YOUR USED MOBILES FOR STUDENT LEARNING!
Mobile Share kicks off with ISTE 2013 at SIGML’s Mobile MEGA Share pre-conference share event on June 22nd. Take time this weekend and in the days ahead to look through your desks, drawers, baskets and boxes. Find those old tablets and handhelds, including Kindles, Nooks, iPod touches, Chromebooks, iPads, even laptops you’ve replaced with newer and faster tools. Now…find the cords and cases and put it all together in an easy to organize and in case of handhelds and tablets, ziplock bag! You’re ready to roll for your journey to San Antonio or you can even ship direct to our project partner, the Kramden Institute, marking your package “Mobile Share”.
The Kramden Institute is working with us in refurbishing all donated mobile equipment so that SIGML can place it back in the hands of kids through schools and other other not-for-profit organizations working with students. Your tax exempt form will be available on our website sigml.org Thank you for recycling your equipment and putting it in the hands of kids for learning!
Ship direct to:
4915 Prospectus Drive, Suite J
Durham, NC 27713
May 15, 2013
ISTE 2013 SIGML “MOBILE SHARE”
SIGML Mobile MEGAShare is an opportunity to collaborate with other mobile educators from across the country for a pre-conference free event June 22nd from 2-6 pm. Mobile learning is exploding around the country and around the world. No one person, school, district and/or organization knows everything in this emerging field. MEGA Share provides a forum where mobile learning educators can sit together, share and learn from each other. There will be experts facilatating collaborative share sessions with rotations, so you can attend the topics that you find most interesting. There is no charge for MEGA Share. Instead an incredible opportunity to learn from experts in the field and share your own expertise!
With MEGA Share ISTE SIGML is leading “Mobile Share!”
With this event we’ll also begin a week of “Mobile Share” asking conference attendees to bring with them to conference all mobile devices they’re no longer using and donate them for redistribution to Not-For-Profit schools and organizations identified by ISTE SIGML. We’re accepting all tablets and handhelds including eReaders, iPads, iPodtouches, and even laptops. For this project we’re partnering with the Kramden Institute to refurbish the equipment for us prior to redistribution. Attendees who would prefer not to travel with the extra weight of devices can ship directly to the Kramden Institute marking their donation “Mobile Share”. All donations are tax exempt.
SIGML MEGA Share Registration link:
For Additional information email firstname.lastname@example.org or see:
March 10, 2013
BYOD AND THE SEARCH FOR CROSS PLATFORM APPS
The need is greater than ever to find cross platform apps. Devices in BYOD/BYOT schools vary from iOS to Android to Google.
Most of us have gotten accustomed to searching the iTunes App Store for apps for iPads and iPod touches.
The Educational Collections provide a jumping off place by content and specialty area for educators.
Amazon gives assistance to educators seeking Android apps for their Kindle Fire tablets. Amazon provides searches by content as well as price and including free.
Google apps are also easily searched by entering the content area into a normal Google search as in the attached photo, more will come up as an option, scroll down and choose Applications. This search provides cross-platform apps, Google as well as some iOS and Android.
The challenge for the educator is to find the best apps for the unit/standard and cross reference to provide equitable access to the necessary tool.