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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Using Sumo Paint and PicMonkey in Elementary Art

Art by Jane, a 5th grade student.
This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Carrie Zimmer.

Andy Warhol was legendary for his work combining art and pop culture and his use of bright color and iconic images is known worldwide.

Warhol was provided as inspiration to American School of Milan 5th grade students several months back by art teacher, Julie Troyer. They chose a simple image that could be replicated and created the identical image six times in different color schemes.

Moving forward with the same inspiration, Julie and I decided to create different versions of one student selected photograph using our Dell tablets. We wanted to find programs that were web-based, free, and didn’t require registration. We selected Sumo Paint and PicMonkey as the best tools for our students. While copyright friendly pics can be found online in a Google filtered image search and several other places, this time our students used photographs that I gathered from my own collection.

Sumo Paint is a web-based photo editing tool. Registration is not required, as students are able to use the program and save files without creating an account. In our elementary program, this is key. We taught the students a few quick ideas using only the Adjustments and Filters, showing how they could change the image, but still maintain a reference to the original. Each student created three versions of their selected photo by experimenting with these controls, like Pixelate, Stylize, and Hue/Saturation.

Once their versions were complete, students used PicMonkey to collage their photos into one image. PicMonkey is an online photo editing and collaging tool. Again, registration is not required to use their site or save finished images. I find that this site is really easy for almost any user to understand as well. Users can drag and drop photos into collages and move them around as needed. The size and shape of the collage can also be customized to fit your needs.
Art by Nicole, a 5th grade student.

This project was completed in two 40 minute class segments. Written directions that can be modified for your situation can be found here.

A well deserved thanks goes to the amazing technologist, teacher and colleague, Tamara Wolpowitz, who shares her ideas and knowledge with me every day and provided the idea for this project. You, too, can find inspiration from her @tamwol.

Carrie Zimmer is a Technology Integration Specialist and Coach at the American School of Milan in Italy. She’s a Google Certified Teacher, Apple Distinguished Educator, but more importantly, a lifelong learner. Make your plans to come to ASM for Learning 2.016, the first Learning2 conference in Europe. Outside of the classroom, you can find Carrie reading, baking and blogging about life and travel in Europe at http://51500.blogspot.it/. You can also find her online at http://www.carriezimmer.me/ or @carrie_zimmer

Chromebook Rollout Through Teacher Leadership

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Todd Samuelson.

As the administrator responsible for technology in my school I had the opportunity to facilitate a Chromebook pilot project. Every grade seven student was loaned a Chromebook (CB) for the school year. The goal of the pilot was to determine the effectiveness of utilizing one-to-one devices to enhance learning in the classroom and to improve technology capacity among teachers as we move towards an eventual B.Y.O.D. school.

In early October nearly 200 Chromebooks were deployed and the journey began. Eight months later and the project can only be described as a success. One of the first steps in the process was to get CBs into the hands of teachers. We had an evening of professional development for teachers to receive support, but because CBs are so intuitive it did not take long for the majority of the teachers to become somewhat proficient. We created a google classroom that we used to communicate information, thoughts, concerns and tips. We sent a letter home to parents explaining the project and hosted an information night with presentations and an opportunity for questions.

For the students, in the beginning, a great deal of time was spent on building capacity regarding how to care for their device. Students were given formal lessons on proper care and respect for the device being loaned to them. This paid off tremendously as students took ownership for their CB and we were fortunate to have very little damage or issues related to misuse. Knowing that a goal would be to allow students to transport a device home, our teacher-librarian, Lisa, collected resources and created an extensive “Chromebook license.” The license required that students reach certain benchmarks regarding general care, responsible use and cleaning before being allowed to take a Chromebook home.

The teachers and students were amazing as they learned side by side. As much support as was requested was provided from our central office who were actively involved in the initiative. The Chromebook pilot team provided support throughout the year and organized PD time embedded into the school day. Teachers took ownership for their own learning and developed and shared lessons, strategies, struggles and challenges.

As I reflect on the project I feel the biggest influence of its success has come from the lead team that was formed. This team was composed of two “lead teachers,” Jen and Michelle, the school’s teacher-librarian, Lisa, and myself. These three guided, reflected and made decisions in every school-based aspect of the initiative ensuring a process that was ultimately best for students and most effective for teachers. They spent countless hours organizing, supporting, learning, taking risks and creating. The team shared a common belief, vision and passion for integrating technology into the classroom in a meaningful way to enhance learning.

By surrounding myself with people with skills and knowledge superior to mine in many areas and by encouraging and supporting these teachers to lead, it made for an extremely rewarding, transformative and powerful project.

I live and work in Medicine Hat, Alberta, Canada as a school administrator in a grade seven to 12 school of just over 1200 students and approximately 65 teachers. I am a supporter of challenging the status quo, innovative thinking, creativity, positivity, taking risks, technology in the classroom and wellness.
Twitter @todd_samuelson
Blog http://toddsamuelson.blogspot.ca/

3D Printers in Elementary School

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Terri Eichholz.

We were recently gifted with a Makerbot Replicator (5th Gen) to pilot in our elementary school library. Our librarian, Angelique Lackey, and I knew that time was short before the end of the year, but we wanted students to experience the power of creating with this device.

If you search the web for 3D printing curriculum to use in elementary schools, you will find a sparse number of appropriate resources. Most of the “curriculum” turns out to be instructions on using a 3D printer like this, or lists of manipulatives teachers can make on a 3D printer. Angelique and I were looking for something that would be more transformational for our students, however.

As we researched, though, we came across the CityX curriculum. Written to teach students about the design process, this free curriculum was exactly what we wanted. The downloadable Toolkit includes an instructor’s guide, printable student workbooks, Common Core alignment, and videos. Angelique immediately found a group of students who could meet with her each day to test it out before the end of school. It has been exciting to see how the steps of the design process unfold and the confidence, collaboration, and creativity this project has engendered.

If you feel like the City X curriculum doesn’t suit your needs, I encourage you to check out the #makered Twitter chat that occurs every week on Tuesdays at 8 CST. The contributors are extremely experienced and happy to answer questions or offer resources. When I asked for app suggestions for creating, here were some that they offered:
Software that you can use for designing includes:
I would caution you to try any of the above using student logins on your devices, as some may be restricted by district filters. This may be due to links to galleries, such as Thingiverse, that are great sources of inspiration, but may include inappropriate materials.

One of my 2nd grade students used Makerbot Printshop to design the medal below for our GT class.

A 5th grade student of mine, with no other instruction from me than, “See if you can design something for us to print in Tinkercad this weekend,” created the following. It is the sled from the book, The Giver, by Lois Lowry. (It was printed in white plastic, then painted with acrylic paints.)

Speaking of literature, another resource I was able to obtain through the #makered Twitter chat was a list of books that can be used with elementary students to connect to inventing and 3D printing. I have not read the following books, but they were recommended:
How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers
The Big Orange Splot
Galimoto
Leo the Maker Prince: Journeys in 3D Printing

An excellent book that my colleague recommended, and I have since read, is Skyjumpers. I would also suggest the following books for any kind of curriculum in which creativity and invention are encouraged:
The Most Magnificent Thing
Rosie Revere, Engineer
Iggy Peck, Architect
Going Places
Weslandia

A 3D printer should not be purchased for the sake of having the newest technology. However, you should not discount the idea of having one in an elementary school. Teaching our students about the design process is one of the most valuable skills we can give them. In addition, getting a chance to see the tangible results of planning, problem-solving, and collaboration can be the most powerful way to make an impact.

Terri Eichholz teaches Gifted and Talented students in San Antonio, Texas. She has been teaching for 24 years, and shares resources and idea at http://engagetheirminds.com. You can also often find her participating in educational Twitter chats (@terrieichholz). Angelique Lackey is Terri’s fabulous colleague, and is the librarian at Hidden Forest Elementary. She can also be found on Twitter (@lackeyangie).

Using Google Apps in a Math Classroom

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Bethany Mager. 

I have been teaching high school math for 12 years and I currently work to help teachers integrate technology in our 1:1 high school using Google Apps. I often find that math teachers are reluctant to use Google Docs in a math classroom, but Google Apps has completely transformed the way I teach. I will share some of my best practices and tips to get you started.

Collaborative Challenge Problems
The best part of using Google in the classroom is having students collaborate with each other on a document. I often start a lesson with a challenge problem (that two students sitting together work on) a shared google doc. Doctopus is the best way to easily share Docs with student groups or pairs. I set up a roster at the beginning of the year and put students in a group according to their table number so that they may work together to solve the problem.


Screenshots
I love using online math tools in my classroom, including Desmos and GeoGebra. Often it can be overwhelming to assess student work using these tools. In order to avoid an onslaught of emails with links or attachments, I teach my students early on how to take a screenshot on their device (try the extension Snagit if you have Chromebooks or laptops). This way they can paste an image of a graph, applet, etc. from another site or app into a Google Doc to share with me or submit through Google Classroom, keeping everything organized in my Google Drive.

Images
Of course, it’s true all math students must still do most of their work using pencil and paper. My students often prefer to work out problems by hand and then I allow them to take a photo of their work with a mobile device. Even better, let them work together using dry erase markers on their desks. You have no idea how excited a 16 year old can get about being allowed to write on a desk! If you are using Google Classroom, be sure to have them download the app on their phone or tablet. It is so easy to have them snap a photo in the app and attach it to an assignment.


Students submitting images through Classroom also makes it really easy to share and discuss their or student work as a class. I will project some of the images for all to see and have a discussion on the best methods and possible conclusions.

Forms
One of the first things I used when we started using Google Apps was Forms. I use them for pre-assessments, student surveys and as a grade reporting tool. I also use them to ask questions about videos students are asked to watch for homework and often use Flubaroo to grade simple quizzes and exit slips through Google Forms. Be sure to check out g(Math) for Forms to add math symbols and graphs to your forms. Also, consider giving a pencil and paper quiz, but asking students to enter the final answer in a Google Form to get more feedback on student understanding.

Bethany Mager is a Math teacher and Director of Technology Integration at a private school just outside of Chicago. She can be found on Twitter @msmagermath

Monday, June 1, 2015

Icebreakers and Discussion Starters with Nearpod and PollEverywhere

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Pamela Levine. 

Using technology for ‘First Week of School’ activities serves multiple purposes: 1) conveying to students that their classroom is a place where learning will be engaging, 2) emphasizing the importance of expression and peer learning, and 3) providing safe, low-stakes opportunities to build skills and appropriate practices around our classroom technologies.

I’ve had many First Weeks of School: in elementary school classrooms (in Washington D.C.), in Massive Open Online Courses (at Stanford), and even in Tanzania (as a Peace Corps Volunteer). I currently teach rising educators at the Stanford Graduate School of Education to incorporate technology into their teaching in pedagogically-sound ways. Below are two First Week of School activities using Nearpod and PollEverywhere that can build classroom culture and help establish technology norms and routines.

“1+1=1” Icebreaker on Nearpod.
This icebreaker inspires creativity and collaboration while familiarizing students with Nearpod. 1+1=1 involves combining two objects to design and describe a new invention. Nearpod’s ‘Draw It’ tool is great for this activity: it gives students a canvas on which to draw and insert images, and enables me to collect and share their work in real-time. Students (and adults) get a kick out seeing each other’s 1+1=1 inventions projected on the screen. Alongside engaging with the activity, students learn processes for connecting to, interacting with, and submitting work on Neapod. I also use this time to establish device usage cues and norms (such as “screens up/screens down”). The 1+1=1 icebreaker is appropriate for students and adults of all ages. Give it a try here, and download a copy to use in your own class or presentation here.

Community Building Discussion Starters with PollEverywhere.
Student response systems like PollEverywhere can be a great way to create a safe environment for participation, provide teachers and students with instantaneous formative feedback, and catalyze discussion, debate, and peer learning.

During the first week of school, I familiarize students with PollEverywhere while probing for their expectations and concerns and crowdsourcing their ideas. PollEverywhere’s Word Cloud question type can reveal shared student perspectives on questions like “How can we make the classroom a safe space?” and “When have you felt particularly successful in school?” The Clickable Image question type can be used to collect responses to visual questions, like “Where along this continuum would you describe your communication style?” After surveying the students, I display and use their responses to facilitate dialogue by asking discussion questions like “What trends do you see?”, “What response(s) make you think about the question in a different way?”, or by having students explain and elaborate with a partner about their answer. I think the real educational value in deploying student response systems for teaching and learning comes from these active discussions that follow from using the technology.

There are a myriad of ways to use Nearpod and PollEverywhere for teaching and learning beyond the First Week of School. Using education technology for introductory activities like the ones above provide opportunities to communicate values, teach skills, and model behaviors so that students are prepared to participate with these tools during later lessons and tasks.

It’s been my pleasure to share on Free Technology for Teachers! I welcome your feedback and continued conversation @PossiblyPamela on Twitter and at www.pamela-levine.com. Have a great First Week of School this Fall!

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