Thursday, October 31, 2013

Podcasting with the Juno Front Row

Even though it is already the end of October, I feel like I am just getting settled in the new job.  When I was teaching in my own classrom I had a great deal of time to set things up and I didn't have to think about any other users.  This year I am working out of a tech lab and that means that whatever I set up has to be usable by pretty much the whole school.
In many ways I am excited about this because it means I can share my screencasting set up with my fellow teachers and even get kids making screencasts. 
I have also been trying to develop a space in the room that is easily convertable into a podcasting studio space.  The Heart of this effort is my juno Front Row speaker and amplifier.  If you have listened to many podcasts then you know how much difference a good microphone can make.  For a long time on the Tech educator opdcast I was using my phone headset on the computer and while it worked I was tethered to the front of the machine.  Now that I have the Juno mic connected I have full range of motion, which is really important as it seems like I am forever getting up to grab another puppet or move a light or background. 
I love how universal the Juno is.  If I can't get one of my machines to connect it is easy to plug the mic output into another machine and keep moving.  Also the Juno saves me the hassle of having to learn and set up a sound mixing board.  I can mix 2 microphones with any other audio source and have high quality sound production on the fly.  The Juno amp serves as a sound mixer.
So in addition to saving my voice everyday in the lab, this great amp is a constant partner in podcasting.  Got questions about how it works or how I use it? Leave a comment.  Please check out this great mic on the TechEducator Podcast.
TechEducator Podcast on Stitcher Radio

TechEducator Podcast.Audio Player  TechEducator Podcast Video Player iTunes Audio: iTunes Video:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Puppet Pals is a Stage for Learning

Working as a tech integration specialist allows me to participate in some great lessons and on a good day I help the teachers find a fun and meaningful way to integrate technology into their class.

The Idea

This week in first grade we are learning about the coral reef ecosystem. The students had created their own coral reef animals, and in the past they had shared about their invented animals to the class. This year we wanted to make their sharing more sharable and I suggested a video. (This is our first year with iPads in elementary and sometimes I think "make a video" is my goto move for almost everything.)
In this case we had an opportunity to connect to another project in the school. The middle schoolers had created a crocheted coral reef a few years ago, and since the first graders had created coral reef animals it seemed natural to bring these two together.

Read the rest at:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Student Videos in Parent Conferences 4th grade

As we finish the first quarter of school, the teachers I work with are preparing for parent teacher conferences.  We talked about the role of tech in the conferences up to this point and their hopes and reams for the parent conferences.  The teachers agreed that it would be great to invlove more student voice in the conferences in a way that helped students become ready for joining the conferences in 6th grade.
I suggested we have the students use Explain Everything, an IWB app that they had already used successfully once this year, to create a short reflective video.  The idea is to create a student voice foundation that the conference uses as a touchstone.  The teachers made up a great script sheet for the students to complete before they began filming.

When I arrived with the cart of iPads I did a very quick review of how Explain Everything worked (how to add a slide, how to import a picture, how to re-record something) and then we talked briefly about how they could use pictures to support their statements.  We talked about what kind of picture would show "I pay attention" or "I am helpful."
Although we only had about 40 minutes to create this film, most of the students finished during this block.  We have another hour reserved and I will have to bring in some "Next step" ideas for the early finishers.

Logistics/ workflow:
We made a spreadsheet of whose videos are on which iPads.  As the kids finish their videos we are exporting them to the camera role. 

One the videos are on the camera role we will be using the BOX app in order to upload them all to a folder shared by the teachers of 4th grade and myslef.  In the conference the teachers will play the movie from the box app or from their desktop computer.
Since we are not sharing these video publically this is the last step in the process.  The teachers will save these videos in case we want to use them as part of a end of year reflection.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

PLN Power, Uploading to a Google Form

I was in a meeting this morning and we were trying to create a simple introduction project between our school in Palo Alto, CA  and our sister school, in Israel. 
Using technology is challenging because not all websites support Hebrew and not all students have access to technology. 
We needed a way to send/upload/or submit a photo.  I thought I had seen something about this before, so I tweeted out the question.  About 30 seconds after I sent the question out Jeremy Macdonald responded with the resource I needed.  #PLNwin

And Forms+ does work well for quickly creating a form that takes uploads.  In the results spreadsheet you get a link to the picture or file in Drive.

Don't Innovate That! Tech Survival for Teachers

We are almost at the end of Connected Educator month and I have not yet recieved a single greeting card wishing me happy connections, so if this month was created by the greeting card industry, I think they missed the mark.
Last year I remember thinking, "Connected Educator month? I am working everyday to be more connected and to integrate tech into my class. How is this month different?" I don't think it is different. This month teacher are working just as hard to be engaging and stay relevant as last month. Everyday more teachers make the decision to "figure out tech," and everyday teachers in the online teaching community put their best ideas and greatest challenges out for other to read and watch.

Uploaded by WeHope to wikicommons
 One of the trickiest pieces of tech integration is keeping yourself in the game and knowing when to pull back. One of the teachers I work with (sometimes I say my teachers because I really feel like we are all a team) was asking about how she could use tech more effectively for a game show she hosts between students and parents. She calls it "Are You Smarter Than a Second Grader." She showed me the Prezi she built last year and explained it took forever to set up, she asked if I knew an easier solution. I told her about my experience with Jeopardy Powerpoint Templates. As we discussed how these are set up and how they work the teacher realized that this new set up would create issues about when students would read their questions and how questions would be picked.
We talked about how the questions are written and shared and I asked the teacher to show me the Prezi she used last year. As she was showing me the slides, I asked her what didn't work. The biggest issue with the Prezi was how long it took to set up. As we were talking it became clear that using the ppt or any other template would require serious setup time. In the end I suggested she edit last year's prezi to include this year's students and questions in order to get some more value out of the time she had already put into the project last year.
Mindful tech integration takes time and it can feel like we aren't doing enough if there isn't something new in every lesson. I support keeping teaching current, and lessons fresh. I also support keeping teachers going and working smart when we can. Don't be afraid to make the right choice for yourself and your class, even if that means that today you are not innovating your tech use. (There is always tomorrow).

Monday, October 21, 2013

Teaching With Tablets, Book Review

ACSD has released a great series of books, their Arias series. These are short, texts that run about 50 pages on paper, the busy teacher's version of a chapter book. There are four in the series and the first I read was Teaching With Tablets by Nancy Frey, Doug Fisher and Alex Gonzalez. My school ordered one of each of the first four titles, and a copy of each was provided to me for review.

The book is a great text for any teacher who will be teaching in a 1:1 environment for the first time. Although the text is short, they don't skimp on the fundamentals. The authors clearly develop a model of what teachers can do with tablets. The bulk of the book is dedicated to discussing tools such as Nearpod which allow a teacher to receive individual feedback from each student via their tablet in real time.
As a tech integration coach, I appreciate the focus on synchronous guided instruction with the tablet because this is the "game changer" use case. Most of the teachers I work with are just beginning to see the tablet as a way for student to have real time access to all their work via google drive and they have not yet begun to explore tools such as Nearpod and socrative.
This quick book even has some resources in the back. Now that I have read it I will be asking the teachers on my campus to read it. Since it is so brief, I wont feel like I am imposing on them unfairly.
Overall the book feels about as informative as a great conference session that is 1.5 hours long. I will have to dig around, but it seems like there should be some sort of companion resource including a slide deck of screenshots.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Daisy the Dinosaur, Code for 1st Grade: Review by the #EduPuppets

As I work with young students I am always looking for great ways to connect them with programmatic thinking.
I want my students to understand function and if statements.  Daisy helps me do just that.  I will be using this with grades 1 and 2.  Here you can catch a quick review by the EduPuppets:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Teaching "Ted Talk" Skills

There is nothing like a good model to help teach a skill.  Unfortunately when you are teaching PowerPoint there is nothing like a good model.  This year where the curriculum said "PowerPoint" I wrote in Ted Talk Skills.

We used Haiku Deck, an awesome app for iPad-based presentations. I love the creative commons search built in to the interface as well as the wide range of ways to share the deck. I have embedded the deck we used in class. The notes are visible on the website. The students came in to class and began downloading Haiku Deck. As this downloaded I gave the below presentation about presentations. Afterwards we put the kids to work.

Created with Haiku Deck, the free presentation app for iPad

One thing I learned today: everybody loves bullet points no matter how much you say they are a bad idea.

Notes: Student do NOT have to sign in to use Haiku Deck.  Once they are signed in go to settings and turn off "Commercial images only" and "Show premium images."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Can I use YouTube as a Timer?


I agree to give a speaker a heads up at the 30 minute mark.  Since my fingers were on my laptop I did a Google search for "Set timer for 32 minutes"  I was hoping for the Google timer.  I know it use to exist, but didn't come up in this case. It seems Google giveth and Google taketh away.  The search did return a YouTube video called 30 minute countdown counter.  This is so useful.  The video has 27K views, so I am not the only person who has found it.  Before this search I never would have looked for this video.  In fact I ALWAYS use the timer on my phone, especially since the iOS7 upgrade.

Here is a great interactive egg timer

Monday, October 14, 2013

SketchUp in Science, 3D Molecule Modeling in 7th grade

The Original Assignment

Seventh grade has created model of molecules using Styrofoam balls, or clay, or round fruit since anyone here can remember.
This year we decided to bring this science project into tech class and ask the students to create a 3-d model of their chosen molecule in SketchUp Make, a free 3-d rendering engine from the good folks at Google

The Obstacles

Once we decided on the program to use we needed to get it installed on our machines.  Even though I put in a request on Tuesday, the machines were not ready with the program by Thursday, so for Thursday's class we had students find and build 2-D drawings of their molecule and were prepared for 3-D drawing the following Thursday.

Class 2-Success

With the .net framework on the machines updated the program was loaded and the students were ready to go.  I did a quick walk through of the features and showed the class the 3-D model warehouse where I instructed them to download a sphere and get started designing their molecule.  Imagine my surprise when after the first class I discovered the students can download a 3-D model of a molecule tool kit!

Super Powers:Discovering the Molecule Model Tool Kit

Here is a short video with everything you need to get started with your class.  

What is next? Augmented Reality?

As far as I can tell we can't get these model out of sketch up and into an augmented reality program, YET.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Puppets Support Learning Across Grade Levels

I had a great time presenting for the Reform Symposium this weekend.  What an energizing event, great ideas on all sides.  Every time I went to the conference portal there was geat stuff going on.  I was even pulled into a couple sessions once I saw the tweets.

This was my best puppet presentation yet, and I am really grateful for the chance to organize my thoughts.
A full recording of the session can be accessed here:

This is the slide deck I used

Supporting Studnet Learning with Puppets RSCON 13 from Sam Patterson, MFA, Ed.D.

Here is a playlist of Wokka in Action

and my favorite Puppet Crafting Playlist

Links Updated Live Here

Do you want to see more of Puppets in education in action?  Please respond to this EduPuppets Feasibility Study.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Reading, Robots, and Rockets with Raz Kids

When I started in my new position as K-5 tech specialist my teachers had many questions, but the first was "What about Raz kids?"
Student Desktop in raz Kids
Raz Kids is a web-based reading support program that supports reading instruction at school as well as at home.  The program is set up to allow students to access it from a regulatr desktop computer through the browser, or through an iPad app.  If your goal is to have kids choose hi intrest reading at an appropriate level, Raz Kids is a tool that will help you keep track of their reading and deliver good content to them.
As a teacher you can control the level each student is reading at as well as whether or not they have access to the rocket and robot builder.
  Eack book has a read to me mode. 
In read to me the text is highlighted as the program reads it to the student.  The student can even record their own reading of the book if you would like.  (I think this could be used for reading assessments/ reading inventory, but I have not done this yet).
In addition to the assignments in book room, there are the rocket and robot builder modules.  The robot builder allows students to spend their stars (rewards for successful quiz completion) to create a robot avatar, complete with wings and a green tu-tu if that is what you like.
The rocket also allows students to decorate ntheir rocket and fill it with aliens, furnature, and even goldfish. 

Personally I am a big fan of these modes.  As I watch them work, students do not soend too much time on these options, but they are fun.  In general they find the text choices engaging and when they are working on Raz kids the program holds their attention.
The interface is really easy to use and even my first grade students needed very little suipport to be successful.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Codes for Kids, Desktop Programming Grades 2-8 Tynker and Scratch

Despite the fact that we live in a world powered by code, many schools, mine included, are struggling to find the time and resources to teach computer programming.  I remember learning to program on a TRS-80.  I think this was in 5th or 6th grade.  We had to draw a picture using basic.  We plotted each point in the picture and then printed it out.  This took several classess, but the lessons stuck with me.  Later we did some programming on an Apple IIe.  My computer teacher told us that programming was the language of the future, a language of power.

I walked out of that class with a profile drawing of a minecraft-style sports car and an understanding of syntax.  In my last post, I gave a quick profile of 3 apps for learning to code on a tablet for elementary students.  The focus of this post is web-based programming platforms for grades 3 and up.

Tynker Grades 3-8 Teachers can request a free Tykner Scholastic account.  This is a Browser based programming platform that guides students through making a movie, game, or presentation.  Want some inspiration? Check out these projects by 3rd Grade students in Palo Alto.

Scratch While Scratch is primarily designed for 8 to 16 year olds, it is also used by people of all ages, including younger children with their parents.  I have collected resources for learning Scratch in a previous post.  Scratch can be used to create games, presentations, or other interactive experiences.  The object-based programming is a great stepping stone into text-based programming.  Once studnets learn syntax and debugging in this environment thay con move into laguages like C++ and Java with more confidence. 

Scratch jr, the Scratch JR wiki is a great scaffolded approach to Scratch.  With larger buttons, less text and fewer choices of tools Scratch JR is an appropriate tool for fostering design thinking and programming skills in students as young as second grade. Although, this blogger suggests this would be a good fit even for preschool.

Looking for more coding with kids? Upcoming posts include Building for understanding with MineCraft and roblox and Robots, programs in action Lego Robotics, and WeGo.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Coding with the Littles, Where to Start on the Ipad K-4

Why Code with Kids

Is it unfair of me to assume that coding is a language of power that my students need access to?  If my students are going to be using apps, shouldn't they know how apps work? Shouldn't they be able to build an APP?  

My first coding with kids experience was through the Technovation Challenge,  a great program that connects young women in high school with women in technology from companies like LinkedIn and Google.  This program used object based programming in MIT's APP Builder platform.  Our teams went all the way through the process from design to protoype.  In addition the team had to develop a business plan and a presentation pitch.
working with these high school students was great, but many were not ready to code.

When can we start coding with kids?  Once I started working in a tablet-augmented environment, I had to find out what resources are available for coding on tablets.  There are some great tools for teaching programming skills and thinking to kids as young as kindergarten.  In my work I will ge getting these apps into the hands of kids and helping they think and work like a programmer


Where to Start

Learning to code on tablets

Kodable by Surfscore  ages 5 and up Just recently I got to meet Jon from Kodable, an app designed to teach coding fundamentals for kids 5 and older.  When I was tlaking to Jon he really stressed that fact that Kodable was set up to allow students with low literacy skills to engage in programatic thinking                                                                                                                         

Daisy the Dinosaur grades 2-3 This is an amazing app that gets kids working with object-based programming.  Daisy only moves on the x plane, so the coding is simplified, but all of the move, turn, and If -then switches behave just like they do in a more robust and complex programming environment. 

Hopscotch ages 8 + This app gives students a complex coding environemnt that is still object-based.  There are many sprites to choose from and students can also create text sprites.  This opens the opprotunity for using this platform for presentations or learning reflections.  If your students are almost ready for scratch, Hopscotch is a great app that lets them develop and practice skills on the iPad.


Saturday, October 5, 2013

Feed Your Passions with a Good Keynote: Alfie Kohn at #ISF13

Thanks to the great folks at IntegratED.  For their conference keynote they brought in Alfie Kohn.  I have always enjoyed reading and listening to Alfie Kohn.  He helped shape my understanding of what education can be on a large scale and in my classroom.
Getting to share the evening with such a dedicated voice in progressive education was energizing.  It was interesting that the audience was the most hardcore edu-tech folks I know, Dr, Kohn's flight had been delayed multiple times and the event has much later than had been scheduled, so by 7:30 only the truly dedicated where still in the room, and they were all tweeting.  Even when I wasn't following the #ISF13 hashtag, my feed was blowing up with Kohn tweets.
Thank you Alife Kohn for doing to work you do, for saying the sentences that guide us through the daily challenge of teaching better in a system that may not be designed to help us do that.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Highlights from Imagine K12's Educator Night

I was late to ImagineK12's educator night. I had Lego league, but still managed to get to Mountain View in time to see a few off the presentations and I got to talk to several of the teams.
I hope over the next couple of weeks to get a chance to talk to each of these great teams. Listening to their pitches is exciting because teachers need designers to think about the life of a teacher and how it could be improved.

Classwork a great system for viewing student work live in a 1:1 ipad environment. Allowing the teacher to see what each student is doing to facilitate assessment and real time feedback.

Netclick helps teachers convert thier existing slides into interactive tablet-based lessons.

EdPuzzle is a great tool for adapting existing video to your classes needs. You can select a portion of a video, add narration and annotations, and include quiz questions. This is a great program to help people who might not be comfortable making video to flip their class.

Kodable is a fun platform to teach programming fundamentals in a nearly text-free environment. I tried
it out and I loved the approach. I can't wait to give this to the kindergarteners and the first graders.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Paperless Kitchen, with Scansnap and Evernote Food

Paperless workflow is an amazing upgrade to a classroom, and I must have talked about this at home enough because my wife asked me what we could do with her recipe collection.  My wife is an amazing chef and she has collected handwritten recipes, as well as recipes collected from magazines.  She has collected these for years. 

Using the ScanSnap ix500 we began scanning in her giant stack of recipes into Evernote. Evernote was a great choice because the scanner will auto deliver the files into Evernote and both my wife and I can access Evernote from our phones, Ipads, or desktop computer.  Evernote also has an app called "Evernote Food."  As we scanned in the recipes we also setup Evernote food to draw the recipes out of our Evernote account.  Once we began scanning my wife took over.  She placed 20 or so recipes in the feed, pressed the scan button, and began labeling the files as they showed up in Evernote.
As she uploaded the recipes we did pause and upgrade our Evernote account to premium, this allowed us to upload 1gb of files per month.  This worked out to over 400 recipes scanned in over the course of 2 days.  Once we hit the quota we stopped, willing to wait for the first of the month to upload the next 400 recipes.

Why bother?

Once the recipes are in Evernote they are part of an active searchable database.  Now when I have left over cooked quinoa, I can search my Evernote for "cooked quinoa" and find all of the recipes that call for it as an ingredient.  Or more importantly I can find the pumpkin waffles recipe without dumping all those loose pieces of paper on the counter.

The Reviews:

My wife thinks this is the greatest thing to happen in her kitchen since the Kitchen Aid mixer.  She loves that all her favorites are tagged and searchable. She gives the Scan Snap ix500 high marks on ease of use and workflow automation.  She says that until this tool came along she cannot imagine how she would have organized these recipes.

Template for a 1/2 Legal Book in Publisher

Despite my obsession with a paperless classroom, I have a longstanding love affair with book making.  I like working with students to help them create their own books.

My school has MS Publisher in its suite of programs.  Publisher is a robust layout program with a powerful booklet maker that allows students to build a book in order and print it out "folio style" so it can be stapled together into a booklet.

In fourth grade we ask our students to write a book review book.  We have created a template in publisher for a 1/2 legal book.  I used Evernote to upload the template file and share it with the students.

I used "Cupcake Ipsum" for the filler text, the students opened the template and then used "save as" to create their own file.

Link to the MS Publisher Template

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

RSCON4- Join me and the EduPuppets for this Great Online Conference

In a few days, thousands of educators from various different countries are expected to attend a free 3 day virtual conference, The Reform Symposium, #RSCON4. RSCON will be held October 11th to 13th in conjunction with Connected Educator Month. The entire conference will be held online using the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform. Participants can attend this online conference from the comfort of their homes or anywhere that has Internet access. This amazing conference provides educators new or currently active on social networks the opportunity to connect with educators and professionals in the field of education worldwide.

Useful links (click on any item for more information):

We would like to thank the incredible organizers- Shelly Sanchez Terrell, Steve Hargadon, Clive Elsmore, Chiew Pang, Kelly Tenkely, Chris Rogers, Paula White, Bruno Andrade, Cecilia Lemos, Greta Sandler, Peggy George, Marcia Lima, Jo Hart, Phil Hart, Dinah Hunt, Marisa Constantinides, Nancy Blair, Mark Barnes and Sara Hunter

We hope you can join us for this incredible professional development experience!

Here is a brief interview I did just last week about my session, Puppets in Education.

Resources for Teaching The Water Cycle

So today the 1st grade is woerking with me to learn more about the water cycle.  It seems that the water cycle is HUGe in 5th grade, but for 1st grade we are building a familiarity with the concepts

AttributionSome rights reserved by Atmospheric Infrared Sounder


NeoK12 with many video links

Lesson for grades 3-4

Lesson for Grade 5

Comprehensive Grade 5 Water Cycle

Resources we are going to use in 1st grade

Brain Pop on the Water Cycle -this reaches beyond their understanding, but is good exposure to the vocabulary and ideas.  Along with lesson ideas.

Water Cycle Boogie with Learning support slides

Watercycle Boogie performed live

Class Plan (40 minutes)

Intro conversation with Wokka (puppet) on the Water Cycle
Sample Questions:
Where does rain come from?
What is the water cycle?
What are clouds made of?
When you sweat is that part of the water cycle?

After our intro conversation we are going to watch the Brain Pop on the Water Cycle.  After the video we are going to ask each table group to create a picture for every part of the water cycle.  We are not telling them to draw or take a live action picture, we want to see what they will come up with.  There will be 3 teacehrs in the room to help guide the process.

After they make pictures we will share the pictures to the board and then we will all do the Water Cycle Boogie!

Next week we are going to make a water cycle green screen movie!

Quick Connections 1: Ipad to Standard Keyboard

Using the "Camera kit," a 30 pin to USB connector or lightning to USB connector for the newer models, you can connect a standard USB keyboard to an iPad.

The process is really simple, connect the usb to the dongle, connect dongle to the ipad, ignore the message that pops up "This device is not supported."  The Dell keyboard I used worked great, despite the fact that it was "Not Supported" according to the pop up message.
As we have been rolling out Ipads to the elementary school one of the most common questions I have received is "What about typing?"  I know there are some out there who don't see typing instruction as needed, but it is.  I think students need handwriting instruction as well as typing instruction.  In the best situations we are developing these skills in context, but some discrete practice is needed.  Now that I have found a way to connect full size keyboards to the iPad, my next challenge will be to fins a great typing app. (I am open for suggestions.)
Why not a bluetooth keyboard?  We didn't want to go with BT because we have heard other school's frustrations with getting a whole class of BT keyboards to sync with the correct devices.  We also didn't want to give the teachers something else they had to charge.