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Friday, December 27, 2013

Stop Motion

Here's the 6 second stop motion clip my daughter and I made with her Doctor Who Character Building TARDIS set. What a fun idea for kids to use to sequence and script concepts to show their classmates. We used Vine and Youtube again. Once we set up the Lego Heartlake City sets on a table we'll try the Lego Animation app with the iPad and post the results.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Reading by the Numbers in Kaneland

Running some year end reports, I decided to put together a few of the numbers in an infographic I made on Piktochart in a few minutes using one of the winter templates, and included a Vine of what some of our kindergartners are reading right before break.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

An Hour (or six) of Code

For this year's Computer Science Education Week,, a nonprofit organization that promotes and supports students' access to computer programming education and resources, put together an initiative to get lots of kids and educators to do an hour of coding. At home, after taking a graduate class in Android App programming for educators (which was fun, frustrating, and humbling) using MIT's AppInventor, I tried out their programming site for a younger audience, Scratch, on my 8-year-old daughter. She was immediately hooked. The ability to "see inside" other programmer's projects and remix them is a great way to learn by trial and error what different types of code do. Using's progressive tutorials, however, grew her conceptual understanding by leaps and bounds. I lifted the screen time limit, and she worked through the stages off and on over a large part of a Saturday (with breaks for playing in the snow and painting). Because the programs are similar, she's easily able to transfer her understanding and mathematical thinking from one program to another. I kind of wish I'd gone through them myself before trying the more complicated AppInventor tutorials for my class. Here are a few things I observed watching an eight year old code:
My daughter is in third grade, and hasn't learned degrees of angles in geometry yet. She now knows that a straight line is 180 degrees, a circle is 360 degrees, a right angle is 90 degrees and you can split it by half into 45 degrees. (And she knows what those look like.) She also learned that if she repeats a sequence like a line being drawn by having the center point rotate a few degrees and repeat she can create patterns, and change them by varying the degrees of the angles. Pretty cool considering when she started that morning she didn't know what angles were.
Most of the new math concepts she learned, she learned by a little explanation, a little modeling, a problem that was given to her, and unlimited time to try and fail repeatedly (and safely) until she succeeded. There was never a test, just a chance for her to solve the problem given a set of tools and as much time and as many attempts as she needed. And I was there to coach her a little if she needed some help.
Ultimately, because she was doing the work, and going through the process of trying, failing, and figuring things out primarily on her own, she was highly motivated to continue working. Watching her satisfaction as she learned new things was satisfying for me. And even if she never goes beyond moving a zombie around on a screen, the math she's learning will be invaluable.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Expanding Your PLN

If there's anything I've learned from the 21st Century Pilot, Professional Learning Networks are essential to anyone's (especially anyone in a quickly changing field's) growth. Here are three things I learned about growing my professional learning network.
The SAMR model is a good way to approach this idea. Dr. Puentedura in his website provides examples of how technology looks when we simply substitute up to when we use it to have students do something they would never be able to do without it to create new knowledge. Although there's a lot of discussion about this topic, I think most of us have to go through substitution and augmentation before we can start truly transforming what we do. Fascinating mind candy. Ask questions of others who have done similar things, and start the conversation with others locally and elsewhere who are transforming their teaching.
Other educators went through what you're going through as you're navigating virtual waters. You can't blow anything up, no one will think you're stupid (really, they won't), and you'll be amazed at what wonderful people you'll meet when you start tweeting and posting and Skyping and hanging out. Play, experiment, and don't be afraid to fail. Learn from the things you do that don't work out so well, and learn from others.
Keep your brain turned on. You're going to make some mistakes, but make sure to keep your professionalism. There was a great article in Edutopia on my Twitter feed this week about that very thing. When you're connected, you're opening yourself to learning all the time. The more comfortable you are with being connected, the easier it will be to start helping your students find their voice in many new formats.

Augmented Reality

So yesterday I started working on an augmented reality tutorial using the Layar app for Destiny Quest that I can make available for teachers or kids who missed the lessons. I am using tools that are new to me, but that I have found from other librarian's blogs or tweets. One tool I really like is Recite This. It is a simple tool to create more polished speech bubbles or text boxes. Looks like this:
For my augmented reality tutorial, I'm using Recite This to make direction and explanation buttons. Another tool I'm using is Tellagami. I created an avatar of myself(ish) and recorded my voice giving directions and explanations. I exported the Tellagami to my Youtube channel and made it unlisted so it is only accessible with the link, and then put it in Layar as a movie by inserting the Youtube link. I made the Tellagami on my phone, and for the background took a picture of the Quest screen on my computer.
For Layar, I took a screenshot of Destiny Quest, and inserted the YouTube link and the Recite This word balloon. I created the Layar campaign on my computer, and downloaded the free Layar app on my phone. When I wanted to see what it looked like, I clicked "test", opened the Layar app on my phone, and scanned the screen. The Youtube video of my Tellagami pops up and so does the Recite This word balloon. This campaign isn't finished, but I put the first screen below for you to play with. Make sure to download the Layar app from the app store on your iPad or other device first. I got the idea from Shannon Miller. Go here to see my first simple attempt.