Friday, July 20, 2012

Morphing into Me

Paralyzed with the horror unfolding on television, my thoughts of those individuals affected by last night's massacre in the movie theater in Aurora, Colorado made it difficult to turn the channel.  We all callously throw around the adage that life is too short, but so many times what we say in the moment is not our reality.  I am particularly moved by the story of the NHL Blogger (Jessica) that escaped the Toronto Mall shooting last month, only to be felled by the bullets of a psychopath.  She had written a blog post after her Toronto ordeal, detailing how the incident had changed her life and sweetened her relationships with those she loved and adored.  The irony of her plight did not go unnoticed, and I began to mentally chronicle my own life's fortunes. 

I have not blogged in months, as life tends to get in my way.  My blog postings have always been geared towards my occupation (technology), but my life involves so much more.  I realize that my movement away from blogging and social media is parallel to my personal escape from a 24/7 job. 

However, I have a passion for writing.  My other passion which has been discovered is my affinity for baseball.  I know blogging about my passions will be confusing to those who read my posts, but I just realized that life really is too short.  It is now going to be all about me.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Angry Birds for Education

One of the greatest battles as an educator is helping students understand the see the relevance of what we learn in school to their everyday lives.  I recently stood in front of a group of upper elementary students and asked, "how many of you play angry birds?"

Every single student in the classroom raised their hand.  Was I shocked?  Absolutely not!  Did I see this as a teachable moment? ABSOLUTELY!!!  Recently I came across information about NASA producing a video for the new Angry Birds Space game.  After explaining that many video games are related to math and space concepts, I brought the NASA site up and showed the video that used Angry Birds to explain microgravity.

Click on the link to go to the NASA page

Teachable moments come in all shapes and sizes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Reference Tools for Elementary

When trying to give sources for teachers to remediate skills for the encyclopedia, atlas, almanac, and thesaurus, I ran ashore with no luck.  I could not find anything that broke down each book and provided a sysnopsis of what information the source provided.  Therefore, some students and I created what we needed in the form of a video. 

Hope you enjoy!

A Google A Day

Teaching someone how to research and come up with effective descriptors when using a search engine is a very difficult task.  The ability to summarize and come up with key terms is a higher level thinking process, and being able to apply those same skills to a search engine such as Google makes searching for content a nightmare,  Being able to teach that concept is just as difficult as the mastering of the skill.

Enter A Google A Day. Started by Google on January 1st of 2012, each day a question is posted in a split screen format.  The top screen above the question is the Google search engine, and you can use the search area to find a document to help you answer the question below.  Once someone has discovered the answer, they can type it in and find out if they are correct.  You can use the back directional arrow to access previous day questions, to provide additional practice in searching and locating information.

Make sure to teach the concept to students first.  You have plenty of additional practice prior to today's date for them to attempt the concept individually, and it is important for students to see a skill modeled first.

Tablets for Kids

We are preprogrammed to only think of the Ipad when it comes to tablets, and the Ipad rocks, but they are not the most user friendly when it comes to education.  Their price is prohibitive when trying to go 1:1 with student access to technology, and with budget cuts across the board, cheaper alternatives are the go to for student integration.

Welcome to reality. 

The Kindle Fire is a new alternative to tablets, and the cost (around $200) makes this tablet more affordable to schools.  You can access the internet and can load apps on to the Kindle Fire, but you use the Market platform (not itunes) to find applications. 

The newest addition to the tablet family is the Nabi.  Built for children under 5, this parent controlled tablet allows children to access apps that have been chosen by the parent without fear of accessing inappropriate content.  It comes with a protective case, and gives your child the same benefits of using interactive content in a form that they can more readily understand.  The Nabi comes in at around $199, and parents choose the content they want displayed on the screen before turning over the Nabi to their child.

Finally, the Android Galaxy is a tablet alternative that shares the same cost as the Ipad... but runs flash unlike its Apple Counterpart.  It comes with the Microsoft Office suite and runs all of the Google Mobile services.