Monday, March 28, 2016

The Wonder of Virtual Reality

We had a little WOW factor in media class last week. Google Expeditions Pioneer Program visited Jeffers Pond and Glendale Elementary Schools.  Students in grades 2-5 participated in a virtual reality experience unlike any other available to them - yet. Students were diving into the ocean learning about the life of an aquanaut, grasping for leaves in the Rain-forest and flying to outer space in search of Neil Armstrong's shadow on the moon.

The experience exceeded all of my expectations. The app, Google Expeditions, which will be available next fall, was very user friendly. There was both a teacher application and a student application.  The app on my teacher device allowed me to guide students through the virtual field trip on their 3D viewing devices (using Google Cardboard).  As the tour guide, there were guiding questions, points of interest, and notes about each destination available on my device.





I discovered the Google Expedition opportunity while scanning my favorite place for educational resources: Twitter.  Today I found this quote by Jeff Goldstein (@doctorjeff) on Twitter too: "A classroom is not a place, it's a frame of mind. It's anywhere a teacher patiently & artfully takes a student on a journey."  Google Expeditions is making that literal journey a little more tangible for our students and a little easier for our teachers. The figurative journey we want to take our kids on is always up to us as educators and the attitudes we share with one another. Thank you to all of the classroom teachers for your participation with the Expedition journey and for being so supportive. Thanks to those people that helped to make the day run smoothly too - My generous colleagues: Anne and Lia (@DauerAnne, @MediaLiaQuin), our fabulous Media Support: Denise and Val, student teacher Laura, Sara (@sara_plsas) and of course Dr. Warner (@warnerkrw) and Mr. Richardson (@SamRichardsonMN)! 



Thursday, January 21, 2016

FETC 2016


FETC 2016

Minnesota's bitter cold adds to the yearning to go to Orlando for a little professional development and hopefully a little sun. When I was accepted as a presenter at FETC (Future of Education Technology Conference and Expo ) I could not pass it up. My session was scheduled for the first night of the conference, during the opening reception. The opportunity to connect with colleagues was a highlight. A fellow Minnesotan, Mark, stopped by to say. Roger from Atomic Learning (a Minnesota based company) came by too. Jennifer stopped by as well. She was the first teacher our class "mystery skyped" with over a year ago.

When my presentation was finished it was onto the Polynesian resort to meet up with a few favorite people in my Twitter network. Thanks to Dr. Howie, we had a nice evening getting to know one another and visiting about our passions.  My Disney Class is a project Dr. Howie is deeply passionate about. He is part of the creative team that keeps the project alive. The website is full of innovative design, storytelling, and collaborative ideas for your classroom. Check it out!

FETC can be overwhelming for the first time attendee. I found out that it helps to do a little planning ahead of time. I had about four different topics for each hour I wanted to attend on Thursday. My priorities were to hear Kathy Schrock, Shannon Miller, and Nicole Feeney share ideas. Below is a brief outline of resources that were new to me. 

I have been following Kathy Schrock's work for about 20 years! I was excited to attend her "EdTech Hokey Pokey: Put Your Whole Self In" presentation. It is no surprise that there are many new technology tools that can aid student (and teacher) learning. A couple of the favorites Kathy referred to include the new Skype Translator (in Beta) and Mindwave available through Amazon, 

Shannon Miller's AASL Best Websites - 25 That Rock Each Year was resourceful. A list of this year's best websites can be found on the AASL website. I can't wait to try out Flipsnack and Meograph with our students. Another site Shannon referred to was Storyboardthat. I had begun using this site with my fourth graders before the conference. I know why it made the list of best websites, they love it!

Rewordify.com was a website referred to by Niole Feeney during her Tech Tools for Students With DYSLEXIA presentation. I can think of many uses of Chrome's Speak It and the speech selection tools she referred to as well.  Nicole mentioned The Prizmo app  to use with text.  The Start to Finish online accessible library (which houses leveled fiction and nonfiction books) is a tool I need to check out soon. 

Another highlight was listening to Reshma Saujani, Founder & CEO of Girlswhocode.com. Girlswhocode work to inspire and equip girls with coding skills to pursue 21st century opportunities. Listening to Ms. Saujani reaffirmed my passion for trying to spark an interest in coding, robotics, and technology in my students!

I enjoyed my time at FETC! I came back with resources to use with my students, fostered my PLN connections, and expanded my thinking about technology. 

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ties Take Away 2015

Ties Take Aways 2015


This time of year brings lots of excitement for students nearing Winter Break. There is excitement in the air for teachers attending annual conferences too. I was fortunate to present at the TIES conference in Minneapolis this week. The great thing about presenting is the opportunity to attend sessions the day of the event! There was so much information shared. Here are my most valuable take aways from the day.

3D Printers

Thanks to Lisa Reed and Jeremy Engebretson for sharing their journey with 3d printers. I have been nervous about incorporating 3d printers into our Makerspace. With the help of knowledgeable colleagues (from sessions and the playground - shout out to Kelly Iverson- Egge) I felt equipped to begin TinkerCad with our group of 5th graders the next day.  The big message from these people was it is the design process that should be focused on, not the printing. That makes it easier for me to wrap my head around. Thank you! The following are some resources you may find helpful in your 3D printer journey:
Maker Newsletter Sign-up (Maker Faire)
Students using TinkerCad

Tammy Worcester's Tech Tips, Tricks and Tools (www.tammyworcester.com)


I loved Tammy's presentations in Evernote! I have been using Evernote for some time and find it useful. A very useful tip she shared with us pertained specifically to me as a media specialist. I love the fact that we can add images, citations and all, in Google docs. The filter to find Creative Commons images will be so useful with my classes conducting research. Thank you! Some more great websites shared by Tammy are below:
Flippity.net
Favorite Non-Educational Tools 
Lark - Health and fitness “coach” - free app
      7 minute workout!
       website
       free app   
Plan To Eat - A Meal and shopping planner

Digital Citizenship 

Deanna Kovash shared her Digital Citizenship Resources at a Poster Table not too far from mine. I am so glad I stopped by. Her handout had some fun websites. One I can't wait to look into is Creatubbles

Distance Learning

At another poster table I reviewed many distance learning opportunities. Wow! I even interacted with someone at the History Center. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration List is quite extensive. I encourage you to check it out. The lesson here is to be sure to stop by the poster sessions. You never know when you'll discover something new - or remind yourself of existing opportunities.

Connecting with Colleagues

A conference would not be complete without connecting with others in my personal learning network or people whose work I follow. It was fun bumping into Doug Johnson and chatting a bit with Brian from Mackin. Of course, our keynote speaker, George Couros, was fun to listen to and had an inspiring message. George reminded us that "Innovation often begins... with empathy." I want to thank everyone for sharing their innovation with me and look forward to sharing what I learned with our students! Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 3, 2015