Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Finding Images with Google Advanced Image Search

Finding Images with Google Advanced Image Search This detailed video guides students through the process of using Google advanced image search to find images and record the author information about the image.

Downloading and Renaming a Publisher Template

Downloading and Renaming a Publisher Template This is a quick video walking my 4th grade students through downloading a publisher template from the blog (via Evernote).

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Programming with Sphero's MacroLab

My fourth grade programming students are getting started with programming the Sphero 2.0.  The first impression of the ball is very toy like and I let the kids "play" with the robot in remote control mode.  The second time the students were working with the Sphero I introduced them to the macrolab app.  This allows me to set controls to 'be executed line by line.  

I set up a super fancy course on the floor with masking tape.  I set two start points and the students worked in parallel.  They wrote and tested the program line by line.  Some of the macros were more useful than others.  The students discovered many features as they worked, and they were much more focused once I drew out to course.

How Do I Learn to Make Awesome Videos?

If you want to learn how to make really cool video content for your classroom, or your community group, or for any other reason, I have a perfect method: take the equipment you have on hand, learn how to do every thing it can.

I like to have an on-going "learning project" a place where I can make video content that allows me to try out a creation or editing platform when my entire lesson is on the line.  I like this format also because it allows me to make really short videos, a great way to test drive different work flows.

For example this video was shot and produced using iMovie all in my phone

And this video was created using the YouTube capture and edit tools

this video was shot with a conventional camera and imported into wirecast for our weekly techeducator podcast.  I like to use this ongoing video project to learn more about video and to always be trying new things.

This video I shot with my iPad, but then transferred the footage to my laptop and produced it with Camtasia.

Friday, April 25, 2014

You can Google Like a Boss

You can Google Like a Boss This is a screen cast to show my fifth grade students how I use Google to find the information I am looking for. I demonstrate how to use keywords, grade level, and reading level to refine the search. There are other tricks out there, but these seem most relevant to what my students need today.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Are Jim Henson's Doozers the Hipsters of the Maker Movement?

When I opened my email on Tuesday night I was sorting through the "promotions" section of gmail and I came across a Klout perk.  For those of you who don't know Klout, I would describe it as a mostly silly social media metric generator.  There may be ways to make it a useful platform, but mostly I find that paying attention to these sorts of numbers is a distraction from creating content that is actually useful to others.  With one email, Klout may have redeemed itself.  The perk I received was a preview of the pilot episode of a new HULU series "Doozers" based on the Doozer characters from Fraggle Rock.
I opened the episode out of curiosity, and was delighted from the opening theme song on.  As a teacher working with elementary kids I find myself looking for messages I approve of in media for kids.
 In this cartoon there was problem solving, cooperation, innovation and a strong m"maker" ethic.  When I referred to them as the hipsters of the maker movement, these muppets were doing this work long before it was cool, and the launch of the cartoon series is well designed to tap into the popular spirit of innovation and design combined with play.
As I watched I was really excited about the themes I saw developing and then the show started with a puppet show!  Through the episode the "pod squad," the main character group the show follows, work together to design a solution to a puppet show problem: spoiler alert- giant puppets.  I hope this series does well and while I don't often blog about shows, this is one I will keep on my play list.

Sphero 2.0 Unboxing

Sphero 2.0 Unboxing
I am exploring tools we might use for STEM integration. It looks like this programmable robot ball might be a great tool for math and science instruction, but I will only know once I get it out of the box.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Learning about Time, Speed, and Distance with Sphero

STEM integration can be daunting at first and it can be tough to know where to start.  Sphero's series of SPRK lessons begins with a very straightforward lesson on time, speed, and distance.  When I think about learning these concepts I can still see the word problems (R = D/T).  This type of computation only became real to me once I put a speedometer on my bike and started using it to commute.  I was always figuring how fast I needed to go to make sure I had time to shower once I got to work.
With a simple 2 line program written in Macrolab, an app that allows you to program Sphero without complicated syntax, your students can explore, measure, observe, and discover the relationship between speed, time, and distance.
The lesson provided by SpheroEdu is clear and has a teacher guide, a student guide, and a data collection sheet.  They are stored in a zip file and include both PDF and word files. This is great for those days, like today, when I open my computer and it tells me adobe acrobat has taken the day off.  The PDFs are key for me because we use notability on the iPads to have students work with PDFs.  So in my group of 3-4 students (Sphero's recommended group size, and a good recommendation at that) one iPad will be used to program the robot, one will be used to record data on the PDF and the other 2 can be used to take pictures and/or video if I want the students to create a video reflection afterwards.
The video below is a 4 minute walk though of the first lesson document.

Would you like to Win a Sphero and an iPad for your class?  Enter the classroom picture contest.
A big thank you goes out to Orbotix for providing 2 Sphero robots to make this review series possible.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Using iMovie for Group Reflection in Outdoor Education

Last week they sent me camping with the sixth grade to Pinnacles National Park.  Full disclosure, I LOVE camping, but sometimes I am challenged by class trips.  I also was struggling to figure out what value I could add to the trip as the "tech guy."
I have an iPhone 4s with iMovie and I have recently been trying to create movies, start to finish, in my iPhone. I have tried to make each movie more complex, exploring the capabilities of the platform.  In this video I use slo-mo, voice over, and added sound effects.  When I found myself at the back of the pack while camping, I thought I would see what I could do with my phone in a completely unconnected environment.
So I started shooting video clips of between 5 and 30 seconds.  I did this throughout the day, making an effort to get each kid in the video, but also not explaining what I was doing or why.
During dinner I imported the clips into iMovie and added titles to a few of them.  At this point I put all the footage into the program in order and the movie was 4 minutes long.  I showed the movie to the naturalist working with our group and asked if we could modify the evening reflection. -As a bit of context we have been talking about mindfulness as well as mindset with the sixth grade and this was the theme of the lessons on the trip.
After dinner my group hiked off to a quiet space in the camp ground and I gathered them around the table and showed them the movie uncut.  I also lead a short discussion about vlogging and blogging, to make sure they had a sense of purpose and audience.  It was already dark, otherwise we would have written out our reflections first, since it was dark I asked each of them to mentally compose a sentence or two about anything they did today.  We went around the table and each person practiced their reflection out-loud.  This practice session allowed me to respond to their reflection and push them further, as well as asking them to use more specific language.  Then most of the group started star gazing and I asked them to come to the table one at a time and record.  I would give a recording count down out loud so everyone knew when we were recording and no one talked during their classmates recordings.
After I recorded the narration I trimmed the clips down to what we had narrated, letting their voices and decisions shape the length of the movie.  I let them talk about whatever they wanted and when one student said "I should talk about the hike because everyone else has talked about rock climbing," I said "talk about what you want to, that is what will make this a good Vlog."


During the second day our naturalist had some great sensory awareness activities planned and she was really open to the idea of having the campers write during these activities.  Suddenly I found myself using a lesson I have done almost every year in English.  I would have my student s follow me around the school and sit, listen, and write down everything they heard.  Then we would write a poem from their word banks.
When it came time to record reflections from day two, which we did the morning of day 3 before the end of the trip, I asked each student to create one standard narration and one narration based on the sensory awareness word banks.  This video had almost 5 minutes of raw footage, and after narration was edited down to 2:24.


I have lead many reflection sessions in many contexts and I was really pleased with the results of this one.  I am sure I will use it again.  I think the video gave their reflections a sense of audience and purpose, and that can make all the difference.

If you want to know more of the how-to, let me know in the comments and I will get a screen cast together.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sphero, an Introduction

This is the first in a series of posts exploring the resources for teaching with the Sphero robot published at  The Sphero company made these posts possible by providing 2 robots for review purposes.

As a nerd I am excited about this robot ball because ROBOT BALL! and as a teacher of technology I am excited because in addition to having some great remote-control and augmented reality features, there are some really neat programming opportunities with Sphero, several apps allow you to program  the ball and there seems to even be a scratch interface.

The Robot

The Sphero robot is a motorized ball that interfaces with a phone/tablet via Bluetooth.  Both Android and iOS are supported.  I am using Sphero 2.0 and it is FAST, and durable.  So far my dog has attacked it enough to realize she cannot get her small mouth around it, one of my cats just hide when she hears it and I have run it into every piece of furniture.  The fact that the ball lights up is really handy when you are trying to figure out where it is stuck under the couch.
Sphero struggles on course gravel, but rips it up on dirt, carpet, rubber mats, and garden paths.  It skitters on ceramic tile in a noisy and frantic way (this noise scares the cat the most).
If this information is not specific or geeky enough, check out the specs page on their site.

The Apps

Fun for you, terror for your cat, driving apps
 Sphero Drive, a great place to start Sphero main app all of the settings and the "level up" game narrative gateway

Augmented Reality
Just one of the many apps that combine AR and Sphero


Macro Lab

This is the real selling point for me, while I love a new toy as much as anyone, the ability to program the ball really makes this a great tool for learning.  There are 2 main programming apps Sphero Macro Lab, which allows the user to create programs that Sphero follows.  This is great as it lets the teacher craft challenges that the students then program in response to.  These challenges can range from simple, who can get closest to the pin, to intense multi-color robot ball dance contests.  The second app for programming is OrbBasic, which allows programming in Basic that interacts with Sphero.

Room to wonder- I am now reading about how to get Sphero to connect with Scratch!  

The Contest

Do you want a Sphero for your classroom?  Why not enter this contest, all it takes is sharing picture of your classroom space and using a hashtag.

Over the next few weeks I will be crash testing the lessons at Sphero Education.

If you have a question, a wonder, or something you would like me to try, please leave a comment.

Retiring #PATUE Chat

I have LOVED running the #PATUE (pedagogy and Technology Used in Education) chat since November of 2012.  In that time, I have chatted about all kinds of topics with awesome educators and met so many amazing teachers.
Running a twitter chat has given me the ability to learn about a new topic every week.  I know things about augmented reality, movie making, standards, and running parent conferences that I would not have learned were it not for #PATUE.
That said, I started #PATUE because #Edchat was great, but hard to follow and there was not enough deep discussion of Pedagogy and I could not find a smallish pedagogy centered chat.  Thomas Murray, keeper of the uber-chat list, estimates that since I launched #PATUE there have been over 100 twitter chats formed in the ED world.
In the time since #PATUE has started almost everything in my professional life has changed.  Whereas I used to teach writing and literature to high school students, now I teach programming to kindergartners.  As my work has changed so has my learning, and so it is time for me to retire #PATUE from its weekly schedule.  I am sure I will run up the #PATUE flag on occasion and host a special edition twitter chat.  I am also sure you will see me more active in the #CAEDCHAT community.
Thank you for all of your participation and support and in the words of @EDUFELON "If you have never been to Twitter Jail you are not tweeting hard enough"

Friday, April 4, 2014

Webquest Introduction

Webquest introduction Sam and Wokka introduce the 3rd grade US government Web quest.

This video is a good example of the videos I make to intro a lesson, giving me a chance to handout iPads and other resources as the video plays.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

5th Grade Learns about Quality Videos

Our 5th grade has been making videos all year and they started off silly and now we are really looking to get kids critically engaged in making meaningful video lessons to illustrate their own understanding.  This is the lesson I started off our conversation with.  I tried to include engaging examples and several different types of onscreen interactions.

Below is the BLOG  page as I shared it with students:
Step 1 respond to this survey

Step 2 open this link in a new window and set you screen up with both windows visible.

2 Up Display like this

In order to think about how videos can be put together, let's take a look at a few.  Explore this gallery and be ready to share your understanding of WHAT these videos do and HOW they do it. [AS we watched the videos individually we interacted on the Today's meet space as a class.  That link is likely dead now as I built a short term room.  This lesson covered many tech skills (2up windows, chat skills, video fundamentals).

How To build a robot!

A second robot building video

and a third

This guy was making instructional videos before there was internet.

Here it is remixed

Which of these delivers information more clearly?

Please complete this second form:

This lesson was the beginning of a great conversation about how videos are made and what choices we make to keep watchers engaged.  Thanks to Cheryl and Andrew for their inspiration to share really engaging videos and talk with my students about why the videos work.