Tuesday, May 20, 2014

A Tale of Helping My Freshman Son Use Technology

My son, Ryan, needed help with a project in his zoology class.  He had 6 projects to choose from and had to use technology with whichever project he decided to do.

Ryan chose a project which required him to view a webcam (4 times / 20 minutes each time) of a mammal and then record and describe what he observed using technology.  The technology requirement was that Ryan needed to incorporate images, text, audio and video.

Now, my son is fairly literate with computers and his Chromebook, but he really had no clue about which tools were available to him to accomplish this project.

So here is how I helped:

Effectively search for a webcam:
First, I introduced Ryan to Symbaloo, a bookmarking site. I remembered coming across a Symbaloo of animal webcams not too long ago.  As soon as Ryan went to the Symbaloo site and searched animal webcams, he was hooked!!!!  We found a webcam on jaguars, which interested him.  I explained to Ryan the importance of thanking someone if you are able to, so we left a comment for the author of the Symbaloo thanking them for helping us with the project by creating such an awesome webmix.

Click here to see the Symbaloo.

Platform for the assignment:
Ryan chose a Google Doc to create his project.  It would allow for all of the requirements and it was something he was familiar with. (Wouldn't it have been awesome if Ryan could have collaborated with a classmate on this project through the use of a Google Doc?)

Video and attaching a link to text:
To show the webcam and the video, I showed Ryan how to attach a link to text by first copying the URL of the webcam site, then highlighting the text and use the link icon to attach the link.  Ryan thought this was magic and had not been taught this simple skill of linking websites to text.

Images with cropping and borders:
I showed Ryan how to use the Chrome store to add the app Awesome Screen Shot to his apps.  I then showed him how easy it was to take a screen shot of the jaguars.  I also showed him the ability to annotate, but he chose not to use this feature.  Teenagers!

Once he had a screen shot, Ryan was able to insert the image onto his Google Doc and then crop and add a colorful border around his image.

Audio using Vocaroo:
I then showed Ryan a site called Vocaroo which allows you to record audio and then share the link to that audio.  Ryan recorded his observations after each viewing of the webcam and then linked the audio to text below each screen capture.

Click here to listen to one of Ryan's recordings.

Final step - adding text:
The final step was for Ryan to write a paragraph about his observations and a paragraph about the technology that he used. This was a simple task given that he had plenty of information and background knowledge to write about his experiences.

Click here to view Ryan's final project.

I'm so glad that I was able to help Ryan with this project. I think we both learned a lot.  Ryan added some new technology skills and tools to his digital tool box and I learned that my 15 year old son will embrace technology when given the tools and enjoyed recording himself, getting screen captures and putting the whole project together into a Google Doc.  

Every student should have their digital tool box filled with ways to incorporate technology into their projects and assignments, my son included.  And every student should know how to interact with digital literacy and compile information into a multi-media project, especially a 15 year old who is interested in zoology. :)

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Chat with Deb - Makerspaces

This week we are starting something new to wrap up our school year.


Makerspaces are do-it-yourself spaces where people can gather to create, invent, discover, tinker, and learn. They are often found in libraries, but we will have ours right in our classroom.

Watch this Chat with Deb to see the five different categories of maker spaces that we will be exploring. This is a longer video, so I posted the timestamp for each of the 5 categories in case you would prefer to watch a portion of the video. 

0:53 - Hands-on Creations
6:42 - Programming and Coding
11:36 - Rube Goldberg
14:18 - Science and Physics
18:01 - Gaming

Here is the presentation that we will be showing the students to get them started.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Makey Makey

Makey Makey is an invention kit that I just ordered off of Amazon. Imagine a circuit board that can be connected to any object using alligator clips.  The circuit board is also connected to your computer via a USB.  Then objects, which can be food, paper, play dough or pretty much anything, can be substituted for a spacebar or other keys on your keyboard. 

Perhaps you would like to watch this video to see Makey Makey in action.


I can't wait for our students to invent and create with Makey Makey as we finish the year by implementing some Maker Spaces and personalized learning time.  More to come in my next Chat with Deb on the topic of Maker Spaces.

Monday, May 12, 2014

In Case You Didn't Hear. . .

Here are a few blog posts and articles that have come my way recently telling us about things that are up and coming or have just arrived.

#1 Smartamp - SMART (the company that makes SMART boards) has unveiled a new way for students to collaborate and connect.  It is calles Smartamp.  I watched the live webinar last week to see the introduction to Smartamp, and I am impressed and excited for this new software.

Click here for the Smartamp site.  Click here for a blog post by Vicki Davis.

#2 Adobe launched a new iPad app called Voice, a storytelling tool.  Click here for a blog post.  Click here to download the free app.

#3 New mobile apps for Google Docs, Sheets and Slides.  The apps have been updated to make things quicker and easier to find, create and edit.  Click here for a blogpost.

#4 Google Maps also has some great updates!!

#5 Plickers is a new solution to polling a class without the need for clickers.  Plickers doesn't even require that students have a device! Watch this demonstration:

#6 Common Craft has made a video to explain computer programming.  I love the way that Common Craft explains complicated things. 

#7 Microsoft introduced Office Mix, a new plug-in for Powerpoint that allows for multimedia and interactive elements.

#8 Kahoot now allows the teacher to kick out inappropriate names. Click here to see how.

#9 Google Classroom - Google will be releasing Classroom, a LMS, that will be available next September to anyone with the GAFE suite.  Click here for a blog post.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Chat with Deb - Remind 101

Do you have a lot of end of the year events and happenings going on at your school?  Today I share a great way to keep students and parents up-to-date and privy to what is going on.

Remind 101 is a great way to communicate with students and / or parents via text messaging.  

Watch this new episode of Chat with Deb to learn how:

Remind 101 App
Remind 101

Thank you to Intel and the Teachers Engage Community for supporting this video.