Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tweets and Sheets

Tweets and Sheets

I really want to figure out how to tweet from a spreadsheet, and I am always looking for a better tweet archiving solution. So this morning I am warming up with some research before my brain really gets moving.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Wokka Explains Brushes 3

I another in a series of puppetcasts I create to serve as mini lessons: Wokka Explains Brushes 3 In this Puppetcast Wokka shows you how to use the Brushes 3 app to draw a turkey.

Presenting the mini lesson as a video allows me to get the iPads out of the cart while the lesson is presented.  For this lesson the students were sitting on the floor watching the video while I set up their iPads on their desks.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Puppet's Guide to iMovie

Last week we had an iMovie class with the 5th grade.  The class was 50 minutes long and the challenge was for the students to create a 30 second film in iMovie.  I look at this as a multimedia version of a quickwrite.  Below are 2 movies I made for the class, the instructional puppet cast  and the brief "pro-tip" movie.

Wokka's ProTips Wokka Explains iMovie

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blogging for Reflection

NOTE: this is not a lesson plan, review, or screencast. This is a reflective post. I recently decided to blog all in one place, so there will be a greater variety of posts appearing on this blog.
This is a busy time of year, and in many ways it feels like all of the other times of year. When you believe in what you are doing it seems there are always ways to do more of it. I have 5 blog posts in draft and another 10 on the to do list, and this blog post is none of those.
One of my Lego Robotics Teams, not relevant to the post, but cute
I got to share the K-5 tech journey at my school with the school board last night. It was a reflective process as I had to build a slide deck that connected my goals (support skill building a differentiation, "level-up" existing curriculum, bring programming to ALL grade levels) and examples of the work we have been doing in class. Sitting here on the other side of the meeting I can say uit went very well and I enjoyed sharing my work, but prepping was a little stressful. Most people don't care for public speaking, but I really like it. The stressful part about the meeting last night was the fact that I was live testing a tool I had not used before.
The board meeting was held in a long and narrow classroom. The projector and screen are located at one of the far ends of the room. I suggested to my tech director that we us nearpod for the meeting. the conversation was something like this:
me: "We could use Nearpod."
TD: "What does that do?"
ME: "Broadcasts the PPT to the iPad in the audiences hands."
TD:"Sounds good, how does it work?"
ME:"There is a website and you upload the PPT."
TD:"Have you used it before?"
ME: "No."
TD: "What could go wrong with this? What are the pitfalls?"
ME: "I don't know."
TD: "Ok, so what do you need from me?"
My tech director was nervous about the fact that we had NO experience with the platform we were using, but in my classroom teaching I rarely "present" in a conventional way. Nearpod was a great match for the board meeting as it allowed us to put the high res pictures of kids actively working with tech directly into the hands of the audience and we were able to put videos in the presentation.
Nearpod allows you to insert web pages into your slide deck. So we started with some videos on the box web site and others on youtube. After a few test runs I migrated all the videos we used into my Google Drive account for 2 reasons: 1. the videos would not play from BOX (flash-based player?) and 2. the YT page had too much "noise" (suggested videos etc). Hosting the video on drive and then dropping the share address into Nearpod worked very well and the audience had the video in their control directly in their hands.
Overall the presentation was well received. Cute pictures of good work is a winning combination. There was at least one unintended consequence of the meeting. . . The board wants to use the iPads for all of their meetings, “Why are we using so much paper.” Coming soon to a blog near you My Paperless Boardroom.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Wokka Interviews Bo from Play-i

Wokka Interviews Bo from Play-i Wokka investigates the claim that robots can help kids as young as 5 learn to code. Join him for an interview with Bo, the Play-i robot who you have seen everywhere.
Image from

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hour of Code, a K-8 Community Day Approach

We are talking about hosting a 3 hour community event for Hour of Code.  I thought I would share my thinking as I put it together.  On a first draft I came up with this plan.
Possible Outline of activities

All ages in CourtYard -Kodable’s Paper-Based programming Activity (page 14)

Kinder-1 Kodable on Ipads (6 Kinder Pads, 6 from Bag)

Grades 1-2 Daisy The Dinosaur (6 first grade Ipads, 6 second grade Ipads) Donna’s Room

Grades 3-4 Hopscotch (6 third grade iPads and 6 fourth Grade Ipads)

Grades 5-6 Scratch in LS lab 24 PC's

Grades 7-8 Code Academy in MS Lab 24 PC's

I am thinking about making the PC labs rotate content at least once as there are several other programming opprotunities that we could explore, but we only have so many PC's and so much lab space.  This schedule makes the most of our iPads and we have others we can deploy.  I would imagine that the  participants will bring their own devices also.  (My site will need to plan for that bandwidth load).

Are you looking for more ideas for hour of Code?  Check here.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Livescribe 3 Live Demo

I started working with the Livescribe 3 pen recently, the most recent offering from Livescribe, the smart pen people.
Photo By Sam Patterson, pen provided for review
I am pretty impressed with the pen.  Unlike the previous pens,  this one works in tandem with an iPad.  All of the audio recording is handled by the iOs device.
The iPad app called "Livescribe +" is a great interface offering multiple views of the written work, notebook view, feed, and pencast view.  The feed view shows you the writing from the pen in the order it was written.  The notebook view shows the writing by page as it happens in the notebook.
Below is a quick video I made to show how quickly the writing appears on the tablet.  As a teacher I will be mirroring my iPad to the front screen in order to share my notes and then I can export the PDF to my school's LMS.  I love the Livesribe as a tool for easy digital content creation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Building your PLN: Twitter Chat

I was just working on the questions for the 48th #PATUE chat.  #PATUE is the chat I began as the Palo Alto Tech Using Educators, I have since co-branded it as the Pedagogy and Technology chat.  I started this chat to build community around the conversation about mindful tech integration.  I have had a great deal of help along the way.  From moderators of other chats welcoming my questions to co-moderators that have helped keeping the conversation going, there have been many hands in building this community.  The greatest debt is the one I owe to the great teachers who show up every week to share their experience and ask critical questions.
illustration by Sam Patterson
If you are more of a blog reader than a twitter chatter I understand.  Chats are often overwhelming and it can feel like the quickest people to respond get heard the most.  Yet, I would encourage any teacher to give a twitter chat a try, and let folks know you are new to chat.  When I started a chat I wanted to use it to connect teachers and ed tech professionals.  I have been lucky enough to do this with regular success.  It isn't always easy getting everything in line for the Tuesday afternoon chat, but there isn't a chat that I have regretted.  In fact I always finish the chat tired and invigorated, my mind spinning with the new ideas and my brain spinning from the interaction.
There are many great chats and I hope you try a few out.  Stop by #PATUE and say hi, we will make you feel welcome and learn from you.  In the end we will all be better for the time we spend together

Monday, November 11, 2013

What is STEM?

Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics

illustration by Sam Patterson
What I like most about the STEM education movement is the co-mingling of disciplines and the emphasis on real world project based learning. At its best STEM education engages students in a process of design, implementation and revision. There are many schools and education programs that are adopting the label STEM to show their commitment to teaching students math and science skills, as well as a commitment to project based learning.
One of my favorite things about teaching robotics is that you get to teach problem solving and logic along the way. The best in STEM education allows students to create interesting things and teaches them skills along the way. The school I work in has a Tech class and in many ways we are trying to make this one of the footholds of a STEM learning experience. When they were learning about molecules and their structure in 7th grade science, the tech class used SketchUp3D to create models of molecules. When the 1st grade was learning about clouds, tech class used sonic pics to record some information about clouds.
As the tech teacher I view the interest in STEM is an invitation into science and math class. Now when the science class experiments with roller coasters, we use the iPad as a high speed camera and take measurements from the images.
If you read a survey of blogs about STEM education you will read about everything from boat design to making ice cream. This isn't about introducing math worksheets after the science vocab review. This is about putting kids in the position of designer of engineer. They are attacking real work problems and they won't always solve them, but they will learn so much in the process. From testable skills like content area mastery to livable skills like resilience and problem solving, they will master these skills because of their engagement. When we empower students they learn more. One of our current invitations to empower students is called STEM education, I hope to do awesome things while following the STEM banner.
At my school site the interest in STEM is accute. People assume that since we are 2.5 miles from Google HQ that we are on the leading edge of technology instruction. The reality is that in all schools there is ongoing tension about which subjects get time in the schedule. When the context is a private religious school the conversation can get more complex as we work to balance our dual curriculum. The external expectation of tech instruction and the internal commitment to STEM is really empowering for me. In the planning discussions I am always looking for the bridge into classes for tech. In reading have they encountered a problem they can explore? How are they going to apply the research they are doing to learn research skills.
Some STEM goals at my site this year:
1. Develop and implement a programming curriculum K-8
2. Improve current projects which ask students to design solutions to real problems
3. Find more opportunities to use tech to bridge subject areas in meaningful inquiry

Some STEM Links

A very few of the awesome STEM teachers in my PLN
@ClintJohns -edtech innovator + advocate of education reform movements: STEM, CSed, Career Technical Education, Maker Movement, 3D printing, Robotics ; serial optimist
@DoriFriedman -Collaborative Teacher and Tech Integration Specialist, Lifelong Learner, Robotics Enthusiast and Teacher, Active Maker & Tinkerer, Gadget Guru, STEM-minded..
@TanyaPSnook -Dual credit Comp Sci and Govt with focus on PBL - work at STEM/ECHS I believe in kids and in high school redesign/reform.
Waxahachie, TX
@Pronovost ISTE Emerging Leader, CUE Outstanding Emerging Teacher, 30 Under 30 Innovative Educator... a teacher trying to stay connected with the rest of the world
You can also check out #STEMCHAT a great community of STEM teachers on twitter

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Fostering Grit, Book Review

illustration by Sam Patterson
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 second I read was Fostering Grit by Thomas R. Hoerr A copy of each title was provided to me for review, by ASCD.

Fostering Grit is a great primer on active teaching for socio-emotional growth.  I like Hoerr's perspective on frustration challenge ans support.  It is really about helping students become empowered and resilient problem solvers.  I thought his connection between project based learning and GRIT was a great example.  
The book is clear and it reads like a well-planned PD session.  There are solid examples and resources as well as invitations to create your own plans and to connect to your own experience.  
I think it is important that we teach kids to keep trying, to view frustration as an invitation for innovation.  I think this quick read is a great place to start and there are many resources mentioned in the text for further exploration.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Livescribe 3, This Smart Pen Works Smarter

While some my find the "unboxing" a bit cliche, I love it.  When I found out that I was going to get to review the new LIvescribe 3, I was more than excited.
There are apple Fanboys and Android fanboys and I am a Livescribe fanboy.  I wish I had one of their first pens, the Pulse, but I don't.  I do have an Echo, which connected by USB and stored pencasts online in a Flash-based audio embedded PDF.  I also have a WiFi, originally called a SKY, which connects via WiFi or USB and stores pencasts in Evernote.  I love the concept of the smart pen because it makes digital content creation easy.  In fact it takes something you do already, write on paper with a ball point pen, and leverages it into a platform for creating and sharing an amazing record or notes.  The Livescribe 3 connects to your iPad or IPhone via bluetooth and the pencasts are stored in the Livescribe + app.  In fact the pencasts are created in the app.  When I promised in the title that this pen works smarter this is what I was talking about.  While the other 2 Livescribe pens I have record audio directly in the pen, with the Livescribe 3 the audio records into the iOs device.
So back to the unboxing.  The box arrived and it was very light.  I was tempted to stop paying attention to the class I was teaching and send them away so I could be alone with the pen, but I didn't. I didn't send them away, I did continue to obsess over the pen.
I finally gave in and cut the tape revealing this great packaging, this new pew looks slimmer. The bottom corner of the box says "Compatible with iPhone 4S or newer and iPad 3 or newer."  These devices have the bluetooth needed to run the pen. The pen seems almost lonely in its packaging.  The Basics Guide is well named as it tells you how to turn on the pen and download the app and little more. The only accessory is a micro usb with is well stowed in a small box on the back of the pen's packaging. This clean approach continues inside of the notebook.  There is no "control panel" of buttons on the inside cover, users of the Sky or Echo pen know this control panel well.  Just after I notice there is no control panel I see there is no display on the pen.  This is a different pen. 

I downloaded the app and connected the pen via bluetooth to my iPad4.  It worked instantly.  There is about 4 seconds or less between when I write on the paper and it shows up on the iPad. So now I have a pen that writes easily on my iPad and I can share this writing out as a whole PDF or as individual snippets from the "feed"

The App
From the Livescribe + app you can view your writing by notebook page in page view.  This allows you to see the writing as it appears in the notebook you used.  This is useful but what really impresses me is the feed view.  In feed all of your writing is displayed chronologically, regardless of the notebook you used.  The feed is auto-cut into snippets they seem to separate writing at about 3 lines but images or drawings get their own snippet.  I made 2 drawings next to each other in the notebook and they display one above the other in feed view.  Each of these snippets is shareable.  I have really been enjoying handwriting tweets to @JeffHerb, one of my cohosts on the  We talked about Livescribe pens on his podcast last year.
this was a 2 line snippet
note I say "your" handwriting ;)

The App does have an "Edit" mode to convert your hadwriting to text that can be edited or captured and used in another document or a calendar.  
I love that in full screen the app clearly shows the writing you are doing on your paper notebook in real time.  I am planning on mirroring my iPad through Apple TV or Reflector app to be able to give my classes notes simply by writing.  I often build flipboard slides for the promethain board to give the kids directions for the beginning of tech class, but this does take time and prep and I never do anything else with the flipboards because it isn't easy.  This is easy to create and simple to share.  
I am working on a video to show the pen in action and to demo the app.  

My favorite improvements in this pen
1. It sends directly to the iPad
2. There is no cap to lose, the pen tip retracts.
3. The back of the pen is a stylus.

Livescribe 3 pens was provided to MyPaperlessClassroom for review, for this we are grateful.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing Dialogue in 5th grade with Gdocs

Writing Dialogue
Use descriptive words and dialogue tags to bring you writing to life, to fill your characters with emotion.

1. How does this work?
Let's look at the excerpt below and see how it is formatted. What do you notice about how punctuation is used?

From the creative writing Dialogue linked below
Look closely and answer:
1. How do you know when the speaker changes?

2. Which words clue you in to how the characters FEEL?

3. What is the difference between Mandy and Motimer? How do you know?

1. Let's do this (part one)
Here is your first "Let's do this" challenge. Write a dialogue between 2 characters. Begin by listing the 2 characters, and their setting. Then write a dialogue with at least 10 statements. This dialogue should reveal something about the two characters, how they relate to each other, whether or not they know each other, if they have a common interest.

2. Let's do this (part two)
Now you are going to add two more characters, and write a conversation. One new character you will get by reading a dialogue from a classmate and including one of their characters in your conversation. The other character in your conversation will be someone from history or current events. Try to make it a specific person and try to have them speak from their perspective. Have at least 15 statements in this conversation, but try not to stop there, allow the characters to come to life and have their say.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Ipad Green Screen from Do Ink

This video was shot on my Ipad, and the green screen was applied in the moment using Green Screen by DO Ink.  I was pretty happy with the apps ease of use.  It did what I expected and the controls were simple.  I was able to film this in front of my puppet green screen using a tripod for my Ipad.  I used the front camera, even though the back camera is a better lens.  I needed to see what I was doing.  I had the images loaded onto the camera role of my iPad.
Workflow note: I used my desktop to find the images using Google's advanced image search to find images I was allowed to use or modify, even commercially.  I saved all the images onto the drive and attached them to an Evernote note.  I opened the Evernote note on my iPad and saved the images to the camera role my clicking and holding on the images once the "album" opened.
I shot this film using the Do Ink app, but I combined and annotated it in Camtasia.  I have uploaded the final to but will cross post to youtube.

Monday, November 4, 2013

My Paperless Past, Archiving Notebooks with the ScanSnap ix500

When I was packing up my English teacher office last year I was not surprised by the number of books I have.  I know that most people don't haul 30 plus linear feet of books with them everywhere they go, but what can I say I am exceptional.  I also doubt that very many K-5 tech integration specialists have the complete works of Ogden Nash, Allen Ginsberg, and Frank O'Hara in their lab. 
What surprised me was the number of binders, notebooks and course readers I was hauling around.  Although I am in love with technology, these collections of paper are important.  The course readers contain essays that helped shape my thinking.  Some of the essays even have notes I wrote in response.  There are texts that my teachers curated for me, and I paid good money to have access to, so why would I throw those away. 
Where my typewritten journals used to live
The binders of typewritten journals from college and grad school, beg to be saved even though I have NEVER read through them again.  This monolith of paper has traveled with me, saved but largely useless.  Now, with Evernote and the ScanSnap ix500, I can scan all this work in easily and have searchable access to it from any connected device.
Last weekend I took the plunge and started feeding these docs and notebooks into the ScanSnap.  Over the course of the day I created an Evernote notebook with over 100 documents, some of them 50+ pages long. 
It was amazing to be able to get through all of my unbound journals and course readers in a single day.  I filled the recycling bin and didn't feel any guilt that I was getting rid of so much original writing because I still have it, now in a more accessible form than ever.  Check out the quick videos I made of how each type of document scanned in easily.

Archiving a Pocket Notebook

Archiving a Course Reader

Archiving a Poetry Portfolio

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Building your PLN : #SVSUMMIT thanks to EdSurge

:A Great Day at EdSurge #SVSUMMIT13

A Great Day at EdSurge #SVSUMMIT13

Yesterday was an amazing day of learning and PLN building. Edsurge got a great group together for this event. There are some great companies out there looking to connect with teachers. Here are some great tweets from the day.
  1. Here is a great Resource, Thanks for sharing Lucy!
  2. So exciting today to see so many educators eager to share their opinions on #edtech products at #SVsummit13! Gr8 work @EdSurge !
  3. Great day at #SVsummit13 yesterday. Thanks to all that stopped by @theanswerpad to learn more. We really appreciate your feedback.
  4. How do 30 companies and 600 educators look at the @edsurge EdTech summit @ComputerHistory? Like this #SVsummit13
  5. Had a great time at #SVsummit13 learning! Didn't win an iPad mini but you can help my Ss get one: #edsurge #flipclass
  6. Hey devs, I'm curious if anyone is looking at non-math, non-CS STEM solutions. They exist, I swear! #science #SVsummit13
  7. Turns every incorrect response into a tutoring experience? Interesting… @LearnBop #SVsummit13
  8. Student Panel
  9. 4th grader at #SVsummit13: I want to be a scientist b/c it's really fun to make things and I want to change the world
  10. #svsummit13 Kids talking edtech, teachers trying out products... It doesn't get much better than this.
  11. The kids have so much 2 teach us about tech. The adults have to start trusting the kids and be prepared 2 learn from them. #SVsummit13
  12. This group of kids are so dynamic, and just a pleasure to listen too. Each one shared their experiences on how they use tech. #SVsummit13
  13. #SVsummit13 stu tech "another note to developers: pay more attention to the user interface...!" Another truism!
  14. This high schooler is already angling for a job on the Android dev team at @google! #SVsummit13 Love it.
  15. Kids are a great addition to summit, articulate and bright, great future ahead for these kids #SVsummit13
  16. Hearing about how kids see their future is the greatest inspiration. It's our job I help them make their drama a reality. #SVsummit13
  17. High school student- "When I get stuck programming, I need someone to provide real-time guidance & support" @CodeHS #svsummit13
  18. Think of minecraft blocks as pixels and design a better world -Justin at #SVsummit13
  19. "I love programming but I need tech support!" student panelist suggests need 4 Comp Sci experts in schools @EdSurge Tech Summit #SVsummit13
  20. "I want to an architect because a lot of things in this world are not designed very well" #SVsummit13
  21. Collecting data using Legos to iterate ideas? Loving these students on the panel at #SVsummit13 and the work they are doing!
  22. Overwhelming interest in the use if mind craft in education #SVsummit13
  23. Elementary kids talking about their design processes when they play #minecraft #SVsummit13
  24. My 11 yr old son Henry would love this Minecraft contingent on the kid panel at #SVsummit13. Next year, he's coming with me!
  25. Talking about planning out on paper ... i.e. a blueprint drawing and then using the data to build in @Minecraft #SVsummit13
  26. "When I am stuck where do I go?" The help students need #SVsummit13
  27. Kids loving Tumblr... because of the ability to play around with the CSS? Love it! #SVsummit13
  28. I think Todd Nails it here
  29. The more I listen to high school students, the more I believe that we need to bring coding to our middle school. #SVsummit13
  30. Kids on games and learning: some games are just "pow pow pow" but others allow us to discover things on our own. #SVsummit13
  31. Ronan: "we love interactive videos! We love to get our hands dirty" @EDpuzzle is working on it! #SVsummit13
  32. "I wish all my homework was on the computer because my hand gets tired" #SVsummit13
  33. #minecraftedu - young students building cool things. Future urban planners and makers #edtech #edgames #SVsummit13
  34. The funniest thing I've ever done with tech was use MinecraftEdu - Jayvyn, student speaker #SVsummit13
  35. "Let's play minecraft... he had a program called  Met more friends at summer camp" via Justin #SVsummit13
  36. I want this tweet to be bigger than the rest
  37. @all_of_that_one: #SVsummit13 stu edtech " my school shd take the tech up a notch"” out of the mouths of 5th grade babes
  38. "Scratch where you program stuff to do stuff" student at #SVsummit13
  39. "Teachers who have been teaching for a long time... They're kind of used to an old fashioned lesson plan." -Archita, Lynbrook HS #SVsummit13
  40. Not one of them. . . .. 
  41. Why didn't they say... "I want to be a teacher?" Things that make you go hmm #SVsummit13
  42. Pitches
  43. Having an awesome time @ #SVsummit13! Awesome feedback & kudos fr administrators & teachers. Team @MyiResult is super thrilled!
  44. Gobstopper, Learnbop, EverFi @EdSurge #SVsummit13 are my fave new apps today... Off to learn more
  45. "Students want to tinker... play... bring that passion to the technology tools in the classroom" via Chris, moderator #SVsummit13
  46. Meet sleek-geek, at #svsummit13, were a teacher led startup building mobile solutions for all stakeholders.
  47. The more excited you are about what you are teaching, the more engaged children will be. #SVsummit13 #ukedchat #edchat #edtech #satchat
  48. Whew! Just hit overwhelmed at #SVsummit13 need a quite time break, then... Back into the Ed tech breach!
  49. Awesome EdSurge! Check out Zaption  to make YouTube, Vimeo, etc clips interactive #SVsummit13
  50. What a great day for seeing the latest tech ideas for educators! With my amazing counterparts @KristlWong @jadelynchang #SVsummit13
  51. Ending a busy day #svsummit13 looking forward to a great night of #edupuppets filming