Tech Salad

With Crunchy Bits and Bytes

Month: September 2012

Scratch En Español

The students in Mrs. Barnes’s Spanish 2 class are using Scratch to create games to help the students in Spanish 1 learn how to conjugate regular verbs. I stopped by for a visit earlier today and got to watch what they were doing and chat with them for a little while, in Spanish, of course.

What do they like the most about Scratch? In the students’ own words, “We can make up our own way of creating a game and there is no wrong answer.”

Parts of Speech Campaign

Students in Mrs. Abbott’s class (blog) have been making some really funny videos on their iPads. They are running political campaigns for parts of speech. So far, Action Verbs has my vote.

This is their first attempt at making videos on the iPads, and they were given a tight deadline, so many of the videos have little or no editing. I’m glad to see the students being creative and humorous, and getting their point across about parts of speech.

I have never had so much fun learning about action verbs. Check out Mrs. Abbott’s YouTube channel later in the week to catch the full collection of campaign videos.


iPod and iPad Cameras

There are so many people in Goochland with iOS devices now, and it is becoming a habit to document everything with photos and video. Sometimes people are disappointed with the resulting images, so I’ve made a video to share a few tips that might help.

I apologize for the shaky footage and lack of full-screen capture, but the app I use for this sort of tutorial was not cooperating when I switched to full-screen mode. You can still get the idea, I hope.


Math Doodles

Yesterday I posted about Daren Carstens and his talk on learning and developing empathy for the children we teach. Today I finally had a moment to review his app, Math Doodles. I love this app. I think it is my new favorite math app, surpassing even Motion Math and Logo Draw.

Here’s a video (about 5 minutes) showing you why I like it so much.


Virtual Guest

Last week I invited a friend to address the seniors in our Government class via Skype and tell us what it is like to be on strike. Carolyn Skibba, an elementary school teacher in Chicago, talked about working in a closed shop environment, contract negotiations, picketing requirements for striking teachers, and much more that our students might not find in their textbooks. The students were able to ask questions from someone directly involved with issues that might have repercussions for school divisions across the country.

It was really fun being in the room, my friend on the screen, the students around me, and Ms. EYP beaming proudly as she listened to the great questions the students were asking.

The best part, however, was walking down the hall this morning. Several of the students who’d been in the class stopped me along the way to remark about the strike going into its second week. I wonder how many other seniors in high school across the country are now closely following the teacher strike in Chicago.

Giving students memorable experiences in the classroom is the key to engagement, academic and civic.


Empathy for Students

Over the weekend I bought Math Doodles, an incredible app for my iPad. I will review it when I have a bit of time, but for now, I would rather tell you about a presentation given by the creator of this app, Daren Carstens.

Our newest addition to the G21 Framework is empathy as a skill we develop through working on projects, either individually or as a group. In his talk, Mr. Carstens discusses his own experiences in learning to play a song on the cornet. He discusses his feelings of frustration, fear, pride, excitement, and more as he learns, finds roadblocks, and overcomes them. The point is, having gone through the experience reinforces his empathy for the children we teach.

For some reason, I am unable to get the embed code from YouTube at the moment, so here is the link to the video. I will update later.

Our newest version of our G21 Framework includes empathy as a 21st Century skill. While this framework is aimed at student learning, I find Mr. Carstens’s talk conveys an invaluable message for our teachers. We must always remember what our students feel like when confronted with new material they must learn. Just because it seems simple to us, the expert, the adults, it does not mean the students in our classroom find it simple.

They might be bored, frustrated, or scared. If we are more aware of how our students feel, we can design instructional activities that mitigate negative feelings and encourage positive ones.

From Paper to Pixels

Today am spending my morning in Mrs. Abbott’s room to help answer questions about what will be going on in that room for the rest of the year. Mrs. Abbott’s room has been designated as a 21st Century Classroom, and we will have fifteen MacBooks and fifteen iPads permanently housed there. Rather than relying on paper, students will have access to everything digital. We will use Moodle, Google Apps, Edmodo, and many other tools. Students will have access to much more than any textbook could ever hope to hold within its pages, and their projects will reflect this. At the end of the day, I will be in Mrs. Yearout-Patton’s room with a guest speaker. Carolyn Skibba, a friend who teaches in Chicago, will join our Government students to discuss the teacher strike. Again, we are moving away from what a textbook might say about unions and contract negotiations to hearing it first-hand from a stakeholder in a real-life situation. I hope the students enjoy their conversation and get all their questions answered. I guess this post will require an update at the end of the day.


Where Did My Post Go?

Over the past few days, I have had several teachers ask this question. It seems some blog posts are disappearing. Or are they?

Watch this brief video to find out where your blog posts have gone. If you are not missing any, watch so none go missing in the future.


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