Doug and I were lucky enough to meet Randall Monroe when he came to speak at Christopher Newport University (his alma mater). He seemed genuinely shocked to have fans. His creative commons comic XKCD is a staple in our family.
This cartoon means a lot to me and I think speaks volumes about who I am as a person (although I do not consider myself a scientist...I consider myself plagued by curiosity).
When I was a young girl, my mother bought an encyclopedia set for our house. She had to buy it section by section (it came through the mail). But when it was complete, it wasn't unusual for things to be settled at the dinner table by pulling out either the blue world books or the massive dictionary that had it's own pedestal in the study.
I have a clear image of questions about pimentos popping up at dinner and my mother's shock and amusement to learn they were peppers. If you never think about where those little jarred things come from, you never have to pull out the world book at the dinner table.
I like being a curious person. However, it has taken me many years to understand that not everyone is curious and not everyone finds curiosity enduring. People who are motivated purely by the joy and novelty of discovery
Being curious in the Covid-19 age is a double edged sword. On the one hand, I find it fascinating from a mathematical and sociological perspective.
On the other hand, I'm terrified and scared for my life, my country, and my ideals,
With that in mind, I try to function in my job and in my life in accordance to a religious principle I developed very early on. Being raised a Universalist Unitarian, one of my church school assignments was to come up with how I thought souls got into heaven. Even as a young human, I decided that once I die, all the barriers to remembering what I learned on earth will be removed. If I've learned enough, I pass on to the next realm. If I haven't learned enough, I'm reincarnated and have to learn the next round.
Funny, I never thought that it would be a specific quantity of knowledge. The golden ticket into heaven was "did you learn all that you could?"
I hope that I have.
There's a pretty pervasive ice breaker in the tech world where the presenter asks the attendants to come up with innovative uses for a paper clip.
I've been on both sides of this ice breaker. As a leader, I like to talk about the innovations folks come up with and point out that typically, children generate the highest number of innovations--usually because they make more choices like "Well, what if the paperclip were the size of a pea or what if it were as big as an airplane." Children do not let the physical representation of a paperclip in the lesson inhibit them.
A few weeks ago, I lead a professional development on Google Slides as a PDF maker and profiled some of the innovated uses the teachers in my building are employing while using Slides. We've had Google Slides for years now, but since the push for the online classroom, the notion of using PDF documents as class organizers has really taken off both in the online and real life worlds of education.
Make your own Google Apps
This would be awesome for the ACC room.
Everything you could ever want for templates.
I started playing @Ghostoftsushima because it looked really cool and felt like the same kind of graphic experience I had liked while playing my FIRST ever video game @Horizonszerodawn (love the story arc on this one as well with all the twists and turns),
This morning, I had prepared for a great gaming experience. "Past Santha" set up coffee for "Future Santha" as part of my #bekind movement to myself. At 4:50 my sister texted me an article and by the time I finished it, I was off to the coffee pot and ready to game.
I enjoy @Ghostoftsushima for the visuals and the story. As part of my explorations this morning I came upon a character that told me if I go to certain spots and write Haiku it will clear my mind and help me focus. I'd get a cool "headband of serenity"-->who doesn't want that? And the special feature of this headband? I get to read the haiku I compose every time I look at it.
Y'all. That's it. This video game got me to sit down and write a haiku for nothing more than the promise that it would be made "pretty" and given to me to review when I like.
In truth, creating the haiku in game was fun. The character sits down and a multiple choice option comes up on viewer to look at different items in nature. Those items when view show a line of haiku (first thing it lets folks look at only has five syllable choices). The next items it lets the player focus on has choices for the second line (all consisting of seven syllables).
The teacher in me was FREAKING OUT. I had so many questions:
I can do better.
I know that. What I am uncertain of it HOW do I do better? The famous quote right now is "When you know better, you do better." It would follow that "knowing better" is the key to "doing better."
So, that leaves me with the question, "how do I "know better."" Easy answer. Research. Reading. Practicing habits that will propel me to learn more about my field, my life, my soulmate, and my universe.
Every year, I put forward a simple set of goals in my bullet journal and then record my progress along the way. Here's an example from one of my teaching years.
As you can clearly see, I messed up a LOT. Especially on the twitter chats. But the idea isn't to get everything perfect. The idea is to try new things, record how I interact with them, and evaluate their use in my life.
I usually don't share my lists (with the noted exception of it things on my list have to do with my job, then I pilfer the pre-written list to copy and past the answers on the annual "what are your goals" document for work).
So, here's the big professional goals for this school year. Let's see how I do.
It is hard to explain exactly how much fun I have putting robots into the classroom. I have to say, I love my @dashrobotics. I've used them for several years now and every Dash I have ever encountered has been tough enough for the classroom and versatile enough for the programming to be adaptable to multiple levels of students..
One final reason I love them:
They are extraordinarily cute.
For the past three years I have used them almost exclusively (withs some time out for flying drones with programing).
The iPad app Blockly connects easily to these robots to allow students to use a "Scratch" like code to program the robot's movements and sounds.
I'm betting any TKAM fans can easily guess which section of the novel this represents.
I think one of the best parts of this lesson was hearing how the students fought over the text choices and dialogue. Mrs. Rhodes and I were pretty adamant in the plans that we wanted student to focus on creating theme based vignettes.
Mrs. Rhodes and I were both please with the results of the Hour of Code integration into the English curriculum. We both agreed that one more day would have made this unit much better for reflection and polish on the finished product.
I loved this unit and these classes.
.Students recorded the fastest kid in the school (Trevor) running down the hallway. They then filmed themselves running the same distance as fast as they could. Using the time on the films, they set up equations and solved to see at which point Trevor would have overtaken and bypassed them. Math, for the win!
To create the doubled effect in iMovie we simply stacked to videos.
Then, we move to the controllers on the top right tool bar and simply adjust the opacity of the layered videos.
I have to say, as far as student engagement goes, this lesson was through the roof. I also think that the tech was simple enough that it made the learning curve on building the video pretty manageable.
All in all, a great project!
October saw the launch of two different sets of ebooks. First, Mrs. Schulte had her students using the Apple products suite to design iBooks. Students first studied common myths from Greek and Roman mythology. Then, they used those models to build their own myths to explain a natural phenomenon using Pages to save stories as ePub files. From there, we published the stories in iBooks so they could share!
The Spanish II students embarked on a similar journey, but they used a web based app called @bookcreatorapp. The teachers in the case chose to pay the subscription fee for a month or two in order to get all the features of the app. Total cost was about 10 dollars.
Differences in the products and outcomes:
Pages + iBooks
Book Creator + Google Classroom
With the objectives being to force students to include higher order thinking skills and consider issues of scale, ratio and proportion (in addition to the original objectives of calculating distances and midpoints on a coordinate plane), I knew this could be a a great fit for this activity.
The pre-stage of the iPads was a heavy lift. Thanks to @esu3pl and @21centtech, I was able to borrow 10 iPads with the scanners that would enable to project. After that, I used @tearagon7's innovative @Keynote hack to create the rides that we would import into the amusement park. When I finished loading the rides, I turned to the organizational challenge of creating the teams and the jobs for the teams. Knowing this tech might be a harder sell to this specific population, I tired to focus on giving everyone in the group a job that was essential to the success of the project.
We did make one change on the fly in between the first two classes. We changed the measurements from just inches to inches times two to make the surface a little bigger. This resulted in projects that were much easier to see and manipulate.
Thanks again to @keynote and @armakrapp for making these awesome project possible. Always remember: #everyonecancreate!
I did a "brave."
I've taught English and writing based curriculum for many years now (well, a few more than twenty). The farthest I've branched out is journalism at the high school level.
I had been itching for a change before I got the job as the technical coach for Gretna Public Schools. To feed that desire the switch things up, I applied to teach computer programming in summer school for Logan Fontenelle Middle School. Luckily, I was approved and I started working with the Apple "Learn to Code 1" materials to design a four-week course.
Every year, students create end of the year projects where the only guidelines are to be creative and do some writing. Some students did "8th Grade Survival Guides" while other put together scrapbooks of the year's highlights.
Brianna took a different route. She wrote a song about the highs and lows of being an 8th grader and pretty much hits the nail on the head. I have to say that I was worried about the disclaimer she gave, but after listening, I think the football players can stand a bit of ribbing (and also the second period trumpets).
So, please enjoy the musical commentary of Ms. Brianna's end of the year project.
I'm a technology curriculum facilitator, and I'm excited about integrating technology in the classroom.