Monday, July 1, 2013

Cool Classroom App for Android

Found a cool app today using my Samsung Galaxy Note 8 inch.  It's called Notebooks.  Here's the link.  It is great because you can create various Notebooks, type or draw in them.  Then you can save as a pdf and save it in your Google Drive.  Also it has text to speech and will read back your notes.  Like!



Check it out in the Google Play Store.

Monday, December 31, 2012

Microcontrollers For Educators Workshop in Boulder



Just spent the weekend +SparkFun Electronics in Boulder Colorado for their Microcontrollers for Educators workshop.  Fun, fun!  Thanks a bunch to our instructors +Linz Craig & +Jeff Branson.












My Make2Learn class

I recently purchased 10 of their Inventor's Kits for my Make2Learn STEM elective class.  The kits include an Ardunio Uno board with lots of extras such as LEDs, a motor, resistors, etc.  It includes a GREAT instruction manual for setting up various circuits.  Great for a total beginner like me!

I started my class with the kits the week before the holidays.  Basically, we worked with the hardware, setting up the circuits then uploaded the code which is already written and can be downloaded at sparkfun.com/SIKcode.  We didn't get into the coding yet.  I spent some time over the summer reading Getting Started with Arduino but, of course, I forgot most of it.  I'm glad I was able to go to the Sparkfun workshop because it was a great introduction into coding with Arduino.

My students using Arduino



Basically, you can use the code they provide then show students how to make minor changes to it.  For example, to Blink Sketch blinks an LED for a second.  By changing two numbers in the code, you can change the blink rate.  So you can start easy and go as in depth as you like.

SparkFun's LilyPad E Sewing Kit







During the workshop, we also played with SparkFun's ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board and the LilyPad E Sewing Kit. These kits, I think, are designed to get girls more interested in coding and electronics because it incorporates crafting.  The E Sewing kit uses conductive thread so you can create a circuit in clothing or purses, etc.  Very cute!








We also practiced soldering using SparkFun's Simon Says Soldering Kit.  When you are finished, you have a Simon Says game in which you push buttons to copy the sequence in which the buttons light up.  It's a great beginners kit for soldering because there are not too many parts, but just enough.

I'm not sure if I'll purchase the LilyPads or the Simon Says just because they seem to be consumables.  I like the Inventor's Kit because it is reusable (no soldering required because of the breadboard) which is great because I don't have a lot of money to be buying components.




SparkFun tour with Nate Seidle

The workshop was great fun and I would highly recommend it to beginners as well as for those with experience.  The instructors have a lot of knowledge and a passion for getting this information into the classroom.

One bonus, I was fortunate to meet SparkFun's founder, Nate Seidle, who stopped in with some friends to give them a tour.  I got to tag along on the tour.  It was interesting to see how SparkFun  is set up and to hear about how has grown from a basement business to what it is today.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

SLOCUE Connects!

I want to tell you about a great opportunity for Ed Tech PD on the Central Coast.  SLOCUE Connects is a one day workshop at the New Tech High School in Nipomo.  The cost is a mere $20 and that includes lunch.

I will be presenting how to use Google Forms to create Formative Assessments.  You can see an example here.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Google Forms for Formative Assessment

I'm introducing my biology students to Google Apps of Education this week.  They are creating their ePortfolio websites where they will showcase projects.  They are following the tutorials on my YouTube Channel.  See the playlist for Creating a Google Site.  


Before they started crafting their websites, I asked them to watch a couple of youtube videos showing plants that move.  With my formative assessments, I'm finding students do not think plants are alive because they do not move like animals.

You can check out my formative assessment results on my website.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Marshmallows and Hermit Crabs

An exciting and busy first week of school for me.

I've created an elective class that is focused on the engineering design process and computer science.

This week students designed their Google websites which will be used as ePortfolios.  Students will showcase their projects and write reflection pieces regarding their work.  See my website for the class here.

Next students took part in the Marshmallow Challenge to give students a taste of design without a process.  Only one team got their design to actually stand up!  See slideshow from the challenge below.



Today students began the Boomerang Challenge using elements the design thinking process.  Today we focused on Brainstorming.  I gave students the challenge of coming up with 8 quick designs in 6 minutes.  I told students not to worry about getting it perfect, to just go fast and draw what comes to mind.  And the crazier the design, the better.  Sometimes we may not use that design, but it might inspire something else.

Next, teams looked for patterns among all of their team designs.  Then they chose the team design.

Tomorrow they will create their template and begin crafting.

In biology, we've gotten off to a great start.  We are investigating the concept "Is it living?  How do you know."  My intention is for students to devise a "rule" regarding how they know something is alive.  this will lead into our investigation of the cell.

I'm using the writing structure "claim, evidence, and reason" as described in the book Negotiating Science by Brian Hand & Lori Norton-Meier.

Teams started by observing 5 items:  hermit crabs, kelp, turban snails, water, and a rock.  Students pointe to the snail and crabs as being alive.  Their evidence/criteria was that they moved.  This is a limited notion that students have at this age.  I was surprised when I showed students a solar car and many of them concluded that it is alive also because it moves.

One technique I am using is NOT to tell students the correct answer.  Instead, I ask students in the class what they think.  I use popsicle sticks with students name and draw them as random.  I call another student and ask if they agree or disagree with the ideas of the first student.  Notice I said ideas.  We are not talking about right and wrong answers at this point.  This phase of the lesson is a mix of formative assessment and argumentation.  By asking students to comment on other student ideas, they are using higher level skills of analysis and argumentation.  I find a lot more energy in the class now that I use this technique rather than me just telling them yes that's correct, no it's not.

So to get back to the solar car.  The next day, I wrote on the board "if it moves, then it's alive."  I asked students to write whether they thought that was a good rule and why or why not.  I used this for my argumentation and analysis phase that I just described.  With guidance from my questioning, students arrived at the conclusion that a solar car is not alive.  (Phew!)


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Maker Camp on Google+


Be sure to check ou the Maker Camp on Google+ for cool ideas for Making in your classroom and at home.  I will be using many of these ideas in my elective class this year.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

MENTOR MakerSpace

On Monday, I was fortunate to spend time "tinkering" with innovative educators at the Exploratorium in SF.  You can read more about it here:  http://makerspace.com/2012/07/31/teachers-making-wire-automata-and-soft-circuits/

I plan to use these ideas as I create our LVMS MakerSpace which will be home to my Design Thinking elective class.