Useful Links

Texting in the Classroom (or using Fake texts to connect & engage students). The Brown Bag Teacher A discussion about different ways to use the tool “ifaketext” It allows users to create faux iPhone text conversations. The website lets you fit between 35 and 50 words on one screen (a conversation between 2 different people). Then, you can take a screen shot of the conversation or right-click to save the picture as a Jpeg. Here are three different ways I see myself using this free resource.”
50 Insanely Useful Websites College Students Need To Know – SOCIETY19 “There are many apps and websites for college students that make the learning process a lot easier. Here it has been simplified by consolidating 50 good websites for college students into one list you can access any time, any place.”

Cultivating Mindfulness in the Classroom | Getting Smart “Mindfulness: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness is about more than the stereotypes that might pop into your mind when you hear words like “meditation” and “guided visualization.” Teaching kids how to be more mindful and aware of their thoughts and feelings has been shown to improve memory and attention, boost learning outcomes, decrease behavior issues and more.”
What Constitutes Plagiarism? § Harvard Guide to Using Sources “While it may seem obvious that copying someone else’s words verbatim and submitting them in a paper with your name on it is plagiarism, other types of plagiarism may be less familiar to you. These more subtle forms of plagiarism are actually more common, and you should make sure you understand all of them, as well as how to avoid them by conducting your research and writing carefully and responsibly.”
Top 10 Things You Didn’t Know Your Makerspace Needs | Getting Smart Some makerspace components are very commonly known. Educators planning makerspaces know they can start small with simple circuitry materials, cardboard and hot glue guns, or go to the biggest level with 3D printers and laser cutters. The level of sophistication/extravagance of the space will vary enormously depending on each institution’s choices and funding but there were a few surprises as we developed our space, noticing or finding unexpectedly critical makerspace components that have made our space more successful. Here are 10 unexpectedly critical makerspace components, clickbait countdown style!
EdTechTeacher | How to Design Your Own MakerSpaces – From Courtney Pepe “What is a MakerSpace?  Makers build, fix, and create.  They are students, teachers, tinkerers, cooks, technology buffs, architects, crafters, performers, hobbyists, builders, artists, engineers, scientists, and writers.  They use the MakerSpace to solve real life problems with access to tools and materials.  A MakerSpace is not confined to a school setting but can also be a community space like a public library where community members of all ages, means, and abilities can design, prototype, and create original works.”
Adding value: Principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher-librarian | QUT ePrints “This paper reports on a study into principals’ perceptions of the role of the teacher-librarian. Nine principals in Australia were interviewed about the role of the teacher-librarian and library in their school. The findings indicated a range of ways in which the teacher-librarian adds value to the school, including in their role as teacher, providing the principal with a broad perspective on the workings of the school, providing advice and ideas, and providing leadership in the use of information and communications technology (ICT) at the school. It also identified a number of personal qualities valued by principals.”
How to STEAM ” Once you have the foundations of what STEAM is and why it’s important, the next step is to understand how to implement STEAM with integrity.  Many schools claim to be “STEAM Schools”, and yet their model of implementation is weak or simply brushes the surface of what STEAM truly requires.  The authors’ core belief is that STEAM has a foundation of integration at it’s core, which means that each curricular area should be both taught in its own right, as well as connected through standards and assessments when used in tandem.”
8 digital skills we must teach our children | World Economic Forum   “How can we, as parents, educators and leaders, prepare our children for the digital age? Without a doubt, it is critical for us to equip them with digital intelligence. The digital world is a vast expanse of learning and entertainment. But it is in this digital world that kids are also exposed to many risks, such as cyberbullying, technology addiction, obscene and violent content, radicalization, scams and data theft. The problem lies in the fast and ever evolving nature of the digital world, where proper internet governance and policies for child protection are slow to catch up, rendering them ineffective. 8 skills suggestions and a great infographic to visually set out different area.”
5 Ways to Make YouTube Safer for Kids – YouTube Youtube short pPublished on 1 Jul 2015 by Common Sense Media. Kids love watching funny videos, learning cool stuff or uploading their own creations on YouTube. Discover 5 ways to make YouTube Safer for kids, whether they are watching or creating a channel. “
5 Social Media Rules for Teens & Tweens – YouTube Short video published on 2 Oct 2015 by Common Sense Media. “Social Media is a way of life for many teens, and even some tweens. Here are 5 rules to share with your kids before they start posting, uploading or sharing online”
12 Reasons To Teach Searching Techniques With Google Advanced Search… Even Before Using The Basic Search | 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning “Google Advanced Search, when used correctly, can facilitate student’s to expand their digital abilities while promoting productivity and learning in the classroom.”
20 Awesome BYOD and Mobile Learning Apps | Edutopia Post from Vicki Davis. “Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) have been in her schhool for three years. Students certainly took to it. They bring it all! We have iPads, Surface, iPhones, Droids, Chromebooks, Macs, and PC laptops. Here’s her thinking about some of the tools she likes.”
Smithsonian Learning Lab :: Discover. Create. Share A great resource. “The Smithsonian Learning Lab is about discovery, creation, and sharing. ” The Smithsonian Learning Lab contains more than one million resources (videos, photos, and documents, etc.) on topics from the Discovery space shuttle to the French and Indian War. Students and teachers can organize content into “collections” and set up quizzes or assignments, among other things. The Lab’s Senior Digital Strategist Darren Milligan also says that the array of content will grow over time, both with user-generated resources and new digital museum artifacts.
Part 2: STEM, STEAM, Makers: Over 40 Amazing STEM Resources | 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning “Welcome to this second post in a series that brings STEM, STEAM, and Maker Space together with Project Based Learning and proper technology integration in the classroom. You will discover around one hundred resources in this series along with some great ideas for finding student success.”
Hanyu@Narralakes: Screencasting on a budget Screencasting (making a video recording of your computer or tablet screen” can be used for making a presentation.  Teachers can find this resource valuable as it is a recording that can be used by students to learn or revise lessons or can be reused for future use. It can also be edited if need be.
Upper Elementary Snapshots: Reading Strategies that Work! “6 simple strategies that we can teach our students to drastically improve reading comprehension.” Link to downloadable posters
Google Arts & Culture A useful resource. An aggregator like Google Cultural Institute can bring together collections from multiple institutions from around the world.
A Handy Infographic Featuring 10 Things Every Teacher Should be Able to Do on Google Classroom ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning “An Infographic that features 10 of what we believe are basic things every teacher should be able to do on Google Classroom. Instructions included are only for Classroom on the web, check out Google Classroom Help to learn more about how to use these features on mobile devices.”
Three schools reforms that will lift student outcomes Analysis piece. “A federal election is an opportunity to take stock of how Australia is doing, where it’s going, and what governments can do about it. This series, written by program directors at the Grattan Institute, explores the challenges that Australia faces and advocates policy changes for budgets, economic growth, cities and transport, energy, school education, higher education and health.”
Part 4: STEM, STEAM, Makers: Turning STEM to STEAM… 24 Resources | 21 st Century Educational Technology and Learning “It is the STEAM that allows students to not just be technology consumers, but technology creators! Proper infusion of the Arts will create a STEAM culture that engages and promotes intrinsic learning. In the post the author has included some sites that may just allow educators to integrate the Arts, allowing STEM to become STEAM! While there is a lot of talk on STEAM Education, it is difficult to find a lot of material.”

Character Scrapbook Teaching Guide | Character Scrapbook, produced by Scholastic, is a web resource that is a simple to use. It offers a reader’s response activity that students can use to analyse any character in a book or story.

The template allows them to include details and reflections about a character through text, but it also provides the students with an opportunity to create a visual representation of that character. Once created they can save or print it as a type of scrapbook. .
It offers is a simple way to engage students and also offers an opportunity to help them form a deeper understanding of a book’s character(s).
Character Scrapbook could be utilized with fiction or non-fiction text as an individual, small group and/or even whole class assignment
There is a detailed teacher’s guide on the Scholastic site that has a detailed how-to as well as lesson extensions.
Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Sculptris: 3D modeling software

Tonight I have had some fun playing with a new tool. I will not be putting in my creation just yet as I need to do some work on them. At the moment they look more like something out of an alien movie.

From the Sculptris image library

From the Sculptris image library

The program I downloaded was called Sculptris. It is free 3D modeling software for Windows (there is no Mac option). Sculptris is designed to create models of sculptures and 3D objects with an almost hand-made aspect. It allows you to sculpt a figure in three dimensions,is based on a ball. It is really very simple and reasonably intuitive to use and requires no special knowledge of 3D modeling. I simply started to shape  the “ball” with the different tools just as though it were a block of clay.

The designer, Tomas Pettersson, created this application for his own enjoyment as a hobby and it is free. He does envisage developing it further and states that any donations to him would be used to help him fix any problems.  It amazes me that someone has spent so much time and effort creating these tools and are willing to share them with us.

It is an amazing tool and to get a better idea of how it works have a look at the videos below. They show, in a much more effective way than I can put into words, just how to create images using this program.

This looks as though it might be a good tool for students in the visual arts area. They could use this program to design models for claymation models or sculpture projects. I haven’t used it a lot but it might also be useful in other subject areas where models could be created such as geography, geology and science.

Audio book options

Uploaded from Flickr by Colleen AF Venable

Audio books are becoming more important/useful in many ways. It does not have to be sight-impaired students that benefit from audio books. We have students who have trouble with reading for a variety of reasons but who are perfectly capable of understanding and assimilating the spoken word. Many students enjoy listening to a book being read or there are those who have long journeys to get to school or who have training runs. Many use their portable device (be it iPod or others) already to break up the boredom so why not still listen to a podcast of a book reading.  It is a way of using otherwise “down-time” as reading time.

There was an interesting article in the Age Greenguide last Thursday about Bolinda Audio Books. Entitled “Telling stories to the world” the history of this company was outlined in terms of their development into a thriving audiobook company.

I remember buying a number of the Large Print titles for a vision impaired student from the earlier version of the company. In some respects it does not seem all that long ago but I must admit that I have become a much bigger fan as they have developed the audio book business, especially when I drive out into the country areas and I am faced with 3-6 hour drives.

Bolinda has become a large audio book publisher with a great  line up of authors and titles, especially Australian, and they are also beginning to offer simultaneous releases of audio books. This has been a boon to me as I want to “read” the new titles as I introduce them into our library. I am always trying to keep on top of the current literature and this is a great way for me to “read” a number of titles. I have also tried a few audiobooks for my iPod and it is very easy it is to download/use their MP3CD’s.

I have yet to investigate Bolinda digital which is a fairly recently decided to offer an option that will enable libraries to offer eAudiobooks to its library customers from its Library’s website. This will enable users to download time-limited version of the novel. How and if I can make use of this in a school library is yet to be seen, but I am interested.

There are also options for free books as well. If a teacher decides to study a book that is in the public domain, they can access the text from the site. ManyBooks has public domain books already formatted for various handheld devices.

Another advantage is that if you download a book for an iPod, for instance, Manybooks can provide it in iPod notes format. The text is divided into various files and each file is linked to the file that comes before it and the file that follows it. This is done because there is a limit to the number of characters allowed in one iPod notes file but no limit to the number of “notes” files than can be uploaded to an iPod. The user can then  access the text and audio of a book at the same time from the same device whenever they want to. I do not like reading from small screens but the iPad will change this.

Mp3 files can be downloaded and uploaded to handheld devices just like music is uploaded. If we want free books another option is LibriVox. This site hosts free public domain audiobooks that are read by volunteers. The quality of voice varies but it is still a good option.

From Fiction Focus there comes another audio option – in the form of podcasts. Entitled “Listen Up”, this sounds like an interesting idea and I plan to check it out tonight.

Audiobook Community is a US-based ning. The largest of its groups (104 members) is called Sync: YA Listening. During the months of July and August, the group is offering two free audio downloads each week to support the summer reading programs held by many school and public libraries in the US. Administrator Kirsten Cappy is still fine tuning the list, but here’s a glimpse. She is playing with pairing modern and classic books.

We are fortunate to have many options to enable us to give our students a gateways into literature. The above options only scratch the surface.

Social media is part of our world

The above is a short but interesting video that all those in education should pay heed to.

Social Media Revolution 2 is a refresh of the original video with new and updated social media & mobile statistics that are hard to ignore. Based on the book Socialnomics by Erik Qualman

Agree or disagree with the statistics and/or the sentiments, you can’t deny that social media is part of our world. Educators ignore it at their peril. At my school all our students are involved in varied aspects of the social media, in one way or another. I do not say they all use it well, or that they all understand how it works or the ramifications but they are there. Schools, and the educators in them, need to educate students in how to best use the media available to them. Parents must not  use the excuse “I don’t know anything about….” as an excuse for not knowing or understanding the world their children inhabit. Adults and mentors need to be aware of and, at some level, know about the various media. We all need to educate ourselves and apply our understanding and knowledge of the broader world to help educate our young people. Our young people need to know how to use the media safely and how to get the best out of it in the time available.

There is a lot of material online to help us, parents and teachers, to gain better understanding. You do not have to do a formal course, “playing with”  with the tools is most often the way our young people learn. Many schools offer parents introduction to various media and building up our own Personal Learning Networks, inhabited by like-minded professionals, is a great way for teachers to learn/share ideas. I also find students a good resource and always happy to help increase my technology skills.

Here is some more information about more learning tools. Multimedia Training Videos is  a series of completely free and open educational resources for learning a variety of multimedia and ICT tools and was mentioned in a post by Patricia Donaghy, on her Using ICT in Further Education blog.  The site has been created by members of the in the media area of the University of Westminster and offers training videos that step you through using tools such as Flash, Photoshop,  Dreamweaver, Director, Audacity and HTML. These are all useful for many e-learning tasks.

One tab takes you to a set of Student Tools Videos. This a great resource for teachers as well.   This section covers info links, second life, the social bookmarking tool Delicious, mind mapping tools, better searches, creating surveys, RSS and Blogger. The mind mapping tool, is a very good example of how to make the most of the on-line tool and how it can be used as oth a single user and collaborative tool for class.

These are great professional development for those who have not used the tools before. There is also a list of useful External Training Videos Links for further education.

EyePlorer – beta visual search engine

eyePlorer2I have been looking at other visual search engine alternatives to SearchMe. Beta visual search engine EyePlorer is a reference search engine that takes your initial keyword search term and displays related terms in a color wheel of information based around that term. When you hover over the different areas of the color wheel or click on a topic, information (from Wikipedia) is revealed about that term in the default eyePlorer facts window that opens up. If the information is useful and you want to save for later use, you can drag it  onto the EyePlorer notebook at the side. These facts you put into the notebook can be rearranged as needed. Once you have your notes, you can either save, copy or email them.You also have the option of choosing websearch view, that offers links to other sites or an images window (results from Bing). The images are also linked to their sites of origin.eyePlorer-images

These short explanations from Wikipedia could help give students an overview of the topic without having to read the whole article. They could then go on to do a more indepth search with a better understanding of the topic. All students I know understand about checking the data for accuracy.

Other options for EyePlorer users include:

  • “i” button under the search box. Click on this to get a quick summary of the topic
  • “+” button to add search parameters
  • the paper button to go to a Google search.

Class use:

This is a an interesting way for students to think about research and explore for new information.  Students very easily create a visual guide to their inquiry. It is then a very easy step to drag and drop what they find out into a notebook. This can form the basis for more in-depth research. The brief notes could enable students to see note making as a way taking down main points and important ideas, rather than copying whole slabs of text. The way that the information in the notebook can be rearranged could  also help them to go on to think about or work on organising ideas into some sort of order to form the basis of some structure for an argument, conjecture or essay.

It could also be used on a class wide basis.  When a teacher wants to introduce a new concept/idea. Using a data projector, so the whole class can watch, the teacher could type the subject into the search and then the whole class could work together to decide which information they want/need to save in the (class)notebook for later. It would also allow the whole class to work on the above ideas.

eyePlorer was created in Germany so you can choose to search in German or English. I had heard that you need to manually choose English but I typed in search terms with English spelling and it automatically searched for results in English for me

How has the world changed?

During this week, our year 8 students have been immersed in one single topic that is basically “Why is the world worth saving”. They were shown some excerpts from the video “The day the earth stood still” and then told that aliens were looking at the Earth and expect that, after a week’s notice,  humans will be able to argue on behalf of their world.

They have been looking at all sorts of things, things that they are passionate about. Many are looking at how we have developed in the areas of technology, medicine. There arguements have been that on the wholoe we keep learning and trying to improve things. It is enlightning to see how optimistic they are although they can also see the results of pollution, environmental changes, climate changes etc. Yesterday they were sorting out the big statements and questions and today they were starting to do the research to support there arguments. I was looking around and came across GapMinder.

In the video below, Hans Rosling  demonstrates GapMinder, a tool that can even make statistics look beautiful.  The content for this brief video is the change in the life expectancy & income throughout the world in the last two centuries. You can have a look for yourself by going to the the tool here.

I always love the way we can “use” statistics to support our arguments and GapMinder looks like an interesting tool. The trends described through the tool here are certainly useful to provoke thought.

Hans Rosling has also presented TED talks. Have a look at the TED talk where Hans Rosling, with insightful data backed by his spectacular charts, shows how some pre-conceived notions and grand generalizations (about the Third World countries, in this case) can be sharply in contrast with the facts.

Useful Links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.