Saturday, February 13, 2016

NUMBERROCK Music Videos Approach Math from a New Angle

Note: This post was written and submitted by NUMBERROCK. We thank them for sharing their product with us.

NUMBEROCK is an ongoing project producing free educational songs and music videos for kids.  It was started by an innovative 5th Grade teacher who envisioned a new kind of classroom where students got energized for math and where high levels of engagement drove facilitated mastery while unburdening the teacher's role in classroom management.  While using these songs, videos, worksheets, and interactive lesson materials in his own classroom math centers, it became clear that students responded positively and were more motivated to tackle the various math concepts behind the music.  Parents of his students even noticed their children singing math songs around the dinner table well beyond school hours.  Math lessons were making it out of the classroom!

Seeing his students so enthusiastic when it was time for math was welcome, to say the least!  But the epiphanous moment was when students were singing math songs in class all-day long like they were in the American Top 40!

Each of these rhythmic music videos are currently targeted at students from 2nd-5th grade.  Each song can be enjoyed free-of-charge on YouTube at the following link: click here . We cordially invite you to browse through the full library and hope you'll find that the songs lighthearted, instructional, or just plain awesome.

It's not too late - judge some student videos for Next Vista for Learning

Wanted to get a quick post out about this contest - there is still time to help support the students that have created educational videos for Next Vista for Learning, a non-profit run by friend and colleague Rushton Hurley.

Here's part of his recent note to me - please help out if you can. It will not take long to look at thise videos and provide your valuable input!

If your time allows, please go to the link below and watch the ten 90-second videos, casting a vote for the one in each strand you think most creatively and helpfully explains something. The links to the sets of videos are in the ballot. We have already established that the rules were followed, so it will simply be a matter of watching and going with the ones you like.

You can certainly cast your vote by watching them yourself or with friends. However, if you have students, I hope you would also consider showing the videos to them and asking them to choose the best one from each of the three categories. Ideally, this will spark an interest in expressing what and how they are learning through digital media tools. If you do watch these with your students, please tally their votes and cast one collective vote (in each strand).

Judges Form for Creative Storm (with links to videos)

Voting ends tomorrow (Sunday) February 14!!!

Thanks for helping Next Vista for Learning - and the student participants - out!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Help a grad student by completing a short survey

I'm helping a Northeastern University graduate student distribute her edtech survey that is part of her master's degree requirements. Can you take 5 minutes to help her? Click this link and complete the survey! Thanks for your assistance.  

Monday, February 8, 2016

Google Classroom info and tips- repost from T. Watanabe's blog!

Here's an excellent post with lots of information - practical ideas, how to's and tips - on integrating Google Classroom into your curriculum.

Thanks to Tracy Watanabe for this informative blog post! Also - check out her excellent blog here.

Monday, February 1, 2016

BYOD Brings New Possibilities

The advent of 21st century learning, the call for the use of technology in the common core standards, and the new standardized testing required have placed growing demands on schools to provide learning opportunities with technology delivering content and being used to create outcomes. These initiatives have placed a huge financial burden on schools, including the cost of hardware, software, support and training. Shifts in attitudes have been slow in coming, leaving students at risk of not having the skills necessary to succeed. One way schools have chosen to soften the cost issue has been the implementation of BYOD, or Bring Your Own Device. Students bring the laptop, tablet or smartphone they already own to school to communicate, collaborate, create and deepen their learning.

Clearly there are management issues associated with BYOD, but those can be mitigated with strong planning, established rules and a quality school-wide student technology use agreement. The benefits of BYOD do outweigh the issues when one considers the possibilities for learning and skill building that can occur.

Students learn early in life that they have to take care of their toys. It’s the same with their technology. When parents have a financial investment in the devices students bring to school, students tend to take better care of them. This is not always the case when students used the classroom “loaner” devices. Devices are left uncharged, logged in, and “the cart” is often in disarray. Care became a teacher issue, not the student’s responsibility. The reverse is true with  BYOD.  Students, not the teacher, are responsible for the care and feeding of their own device.

One “detriment” of BYOD that’s mentioned is the teacher’s inability to require certain applications on all student devices. Let’s turn that around, instead. Teachers can create lessons that offer students choice in the outcomes they create. This allows flexibility in the use of applications. If the teacher wants a visual presentation, students can use any application - from Animoto to Haiku Deck - to create their outcome. Students get a choice to use the app or tool with which they’re comfortable. The focus is on the learning, not fumbling around learning the tool, or force fitting what they know into the teacher-chosen tool.

Students move the result to the web, and can then share the resulting URL with the teacher through the classroom Learning Management System, a Google Form, a Padlet wall, or even email.  The URL can also be shared among students and more globally over social media, which encourages students to produce something “great” and not just “good enough.” The novelty of different presentation software holds viewers’ interest too!

Since thousands of school have implemented Google Apps for Education, students can produce work on any web-enabled device. Cloud-based creation and storage of work eliminates the need for identical hardware. Students can create, save and access their work on any device, anywhere in the world. No longer are they tethered to school to work on a school device. Opening up the four walls of the classroom  so students can “do school” anywhere, anytime is another BYOD benefit.

The BYOD platform also encourages student collaboration and teamwork. As students determine the best way to demonstrate their learning, they have not only their own apps, but multiple options to research, curate and create. Most current web applications allow for the sharing of work, and many are device agnostic. Some even allow work to be done on both a mobile device (iOS or Android) OR the web, another ease of use benefit.

There are certainly issues regarding BYOD that must be addressed to successfully implement the approach. Digital equality - equal technology access for all - is critical, and must be supported. That said, in many schools there’s a golden opportunity to open up the effective use of technology in the classroom, and one way to rapidly do so is to implement a thoughtful BYOD approach to maximize student learning and better prepare students for our modern world.

Here is a list of free applications that work well in a BYOD environment:

Google Apps Suite - Includes Docs, Sheet, Slides and Forms. Students can create, share, store and organize their work and access on any device. Promotes student collaboration. Many third party applications (e.g., LucidChart, SnagIt and Notability) seamlessly connect to Google Apps for Education.
YouTube - Find, edit and curate videos. Upload student-created video and create playlists to share class products.
Thinglink: Using the web version or the app, students can add web-based content to images, making for a new type of learning tool.
Canva: For graphic designs of all kinds - with free icons, shapes, image frame, text design. Easy to use, lots of training and ideas available too.

Curation and Note-taking
Evernote - A note taking app that syncs across all devices. In the classroom, students can use Evernote to take notes, develop their writing, and share their notes through chat or email. Use the Chrome Web Clipper to curate sites for later reading.
Padlet - Teachers create a wall, or “pad”, for students to post their thoughts, images, and videos. Teachers can choose if the wall is shared just with the class or to a broader audience.
Symbaloo: Teachers create a webmix of tiles that take students to vetted websites. Great way for students to start organizing their own links.

Learning Management
Google Classroom - Teacher shares announcements and assignments with students. Students complete work, then turn in to teacher. Great way to create the “paperless” classroom.
Edmodo: This tool posts assignments, announcements, and quizzes to students, as well as space to blog and comment to each other.

Formative Assessment
Socrative - Teachers can quickly assess students by creating an online quiz or exit ticket that students can access on any device.
Kahoot - Create a fun, interactive multiple choice quiz that students can take on any device. Include video and music to add interest.