Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Osmo Words

I love Osmo.  And while I love all the Osmo apps, I find Osmo Words to be the most versatile, the most flexible, and well.... I guess it's probably my favorite!  From letter recognition to geometry vocabulary, Osmo Words can do just about anything.  Whether you're looking for short vowels or site words, the hundreds of albums are a great way to integrate technology into whatever it is you're doing.

Once you've explored the albums created and shared by other people, the next step would be to create your own.  For me, I create using Google Slides.  I'll put a clue of sorts - be it a definition or a sentence, along with a royalty free image on each slide.  Then I download the deck and upload it on myOsmo.  From there, you add a word or words to each image (you can choose to level the images as well, adding multiple words to each), set your cover, and then download to your iPad or Kindle!

However.  My new favorite thing to do with Osmo Words is to have kids create the word decks!  I created a printable template that I used with sixth graders to have them create images to create a deck for learning Hebrew.  On the dashed line near the top of the page, kids wrote the word.  They then illustrated it, keeping their illustration in the black box.

At that point, you have two options - scan or snap.  I scanned each deck into my drive, then cropped each along the large grey box.  (If you don't have a scanner, snap a picture of each card.)  By using the boxes, it keeps everything lined up so that nothing is cut off when you're playing.  The kids loved making the decks and we're really excited to use them with the rest of the school!

Feel free to download the templates - one word per page or two words per page - and have fun creating your own decks!

Friday, February 22, 2019

Refresh. Recharge. Un-plug.

Ahhh, nothing like a nice cool, refreshing sip of unplug, amirigiht?  For today's adolescents, though?  Being unplugged is often the result of being grounded and likely to induce an anxiety attack.

In mid-December, research was released regarding the effects of technology on the developing brain.  60 Minutes, along with many others, reported on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) study, with full results being released later this year, and I am sure I'm not alone in looking forward to reading more about their findings.

This generation was literally born into technology.  I mean, you can even buy a toddler potty with a built in iPad stand.  Seriously.  And to be honest, it kinda bothers me.

Dr. Jean Twenge, psychology professor and author, says, in regards to using smartphones, that "it should be a tool that you use, not a tool that uses you."  I couldn't agree more.  In fact, last week I wrote a guest blog about the importance of balance in regards to technology use.  Go check it out!

"Life at Our Fingertips, Thanks to ENIAC"

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Twitter. Yes, Twitter.

Tweets.  They are NOT just for birds, at least not anymore!  

Like anything new, the Twittosphere can be a bit overwhelming.  I mean, my Twitter account lay dormant for a good two years before I actually posted anything.   Kinda like sitting in the back row of conferences and workshops, which is where I sat my first few years when I attended education trainings.

My Twitter time began as a stalker lurker.  I followed people who were interesting - authors, educators, app creators - and just watched.  I learned a lot while watching.  Apps to try, websites to visit, books to read.  After a while, I started retweeting things that others posted - apps I actually tried, websites I now used in class, and books I read.

From there, conversations began - I started posting questions and requests my students or I had, and looked forward to responses from my newly formed professional learning network of peeps.  We actually did a very cool project where the kids collected data via surveys shared on Twitter, and we used that data for a multitude of things in class!

The next step was joining in on Twitter Chats.  Remember AOL?  Instant messaging?  Instant messaging was a highly motivating factor in my learning to type.  I digress.  A Twitter Chat is kind of like an AIM chatroom.  Full of people sharing a common interest.  Full of wisdom (wanted or not).  Full of energy (my favorite part!)  And yes, they can be fast moving.  But the good news is that you can use the tag form the chat to read the archives so you can find what you might have missed during the chat!

List of chats
Looking for some incredible on-your-own-time professional development?   I highly recommend a Twitter Chat. (Thank you to those who organize the site and host the chats!) There are chat topics that cover everything imaginable in the education world.  Chats for music educators and principals, PBL and Cultures of Thinking, IB and GAFE, and a variety of regional chats hosted across the globe.  Most chats happen in the evening, and are a meaningful way to grow your teaching and learning.  As the chats have a set start and end time, and most even have a topic or agenda with questions for the chat, you've got a decent chance of using the chat toward the on-your-own-time professional development hours most schools now require.

Many thanks to V. Hurst for the Video!
If you'd like to spend a little time diving into how to start on Twitter, and how I found it to be useful in the classroom, please check out my video presentation on Twitter, that I shared with my district a few years back.  I'm happy to answer any questions, too!

Well?  What are you waiting for?!  Go spend some time Twitter stalking learning!

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Plugo Count: Tales of Numero

On to the third installment of the Plugo Saga!  This time, we're visiting Tales of Numero, the second of the three currently available games for Plugo Count.

The concept behind this is that you're following Numero the fox through the forest as she tries to find the ingredients to make the brew of Ulo, some sort of magical potion.  Along the way, she encounters barriers only passable by solving a math problem.  Sometimes the barriers are big ones, because they're guarding ingredients to the brew.  Sometimes the problems are simple, single digit solvers.  Other times encounters involve multi digit math.  

Either way, I think this is an engaging math game for kids.  While the story is a little slow for me (love the ADHD adult brain!) it builds up enough suspense to keep kids engaged.  While it IS obvious they'll be practicing math skills, at least they'll be having fun along the way!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Spy Time?

A parent sent me an interesting article today - Schools are using AI to track their students - and it has prompted some thoughts.

The gist of the article is that schools are now monitoring students every move online to protect them, which, unfortunately, while keeping kids safe, is also encroaching on their privacy.

It's an interesting dilemma. On the one hand, yes, schools have a responsibility to keep kids as safe as possible at school, online and off. Schools have the responsibility to help kids learn how to interact online and off, and how to be a responsible digital citizen. However, adolescences hits, turbulence ensues, and things happen.

That said, while we do have software at my school that both filters the internet, keeping key words on alert at all times and blocking inappropriate content, as well as monitors student work online, nothing is failsafe. Which is why it's so crucial that teachers know their students, and luckily, that relationship is in the forefront of everything we do.

If a teacher notices something off with a student, a behavior change or concerning comments, or catches someone searching for inappropriate content, then IT can go in and do a deep search of a student's online activity. But for a district or school to have someone constantly monitoring online activity? That would be a full time job and not necessarily the best use of time or money.

The disorganized chaos that is online changes so rapidly, it seems that time is best spent teaching teachers and kids to look for signs of unrest, vs monitor their every move. To be proactive instead of reactive. At least that's what we're trying to do!

All I have to say is that I am SO glad to have grown up when I did.  I feel like I got the best of both worlds - playing outside until the street lights came on, and excitedly waiting for the 1200bps modem to take over the phone lines so I could log into Prodigy and play Carmen SanDiego!  Growing up today?  Yikes!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Plugo Count: Life of Theo

Now that Plugo has been unboxed, and I've gotten a few bonus days (thank you, Mother Nature, but I'm ready for a full week of school again!) it's time to explore the apps of Plugo.

I started with Plugo Count: Life of Theo.  On the plus side, it's a great opportunity for students to interact with number stories in a more engaging way than the standard pencil paper practice.  Plugo does a nice job with simple animation, relatable number stories, and setting a purpose for the practice.

Theo is introduced as a 6 year old boy from Denver, which may make it a little young for older grades.  I do have my app set up to be used by third grade, so I'm not sure if his age/story adjusts for the age of students.  At any rate, 6 may be a bit young for third graders, but we'll see.

The concept is great.  Theo has to practice his math and is working to balance fun and learning.  Unfortunately, even with the great concept, the actuality of it isn't quite working.  While there was an update pushed out prior to the making of this video, even after trying it with the update, the app is still struggling to read the digits.  I am hopeful, though, that this is just the beginning and more improvements are ahead!

Monday, February 4, 2019

Meet Plugo!

I am a big fan of educational technology toys tools that help engage students in their learning in new and meaningful ways.  The fact that part of my job is to keep up with the latest and greatest in ed tech still kinda shocks me.  I mean, I get paid to play with technology?!  Doesn't get much better than that!

Enter Kickstarter.  One of my favorite resources.  Actually got my first two sets of Osmo from Kickstarter.  So naturally, when I saw another Augmented Reality toy tool on Kickstarter, I had to jump in and give it a go.

Enter Shifu's Plugo.  Purchased an Early Bird special on Kickstarter back in early August 2018.  It finally arrived last week, just in time for some snow day fun!

Check out my first unboxing video, which was my first time playing with Plugo!  It's just about 4 minutes long, and it goes through the unboxing and the set-up/install.

Next up, the apps!  Can't wait!