The last few weeks of the school year are an odd mixture of two parts celebration for what the students have accomplished and one part anticipation for what the next year will hold. Teachers teach classes up until the final moment of the year while making plans and setting expectations for next year. And sandwiched between what was and what will is that brief respite of time called "summer vacation."
As a classroom teacher it was always interesting to hear a non-teacher describe their expectations for my 'summer vacation.' They believed my vacation was filled with idyllic weeks at the pool, and lazy, lingering days on the porch with a book in my hand and a dripping glass of iced tea. I am happy to say that I did experience those things - but in brief snatches of time rather than weeks.
The truth of a teacher's life is that much of our summer is spent preparing for the next school year - in classes both face-to-face and online, studying and learning, and catching up on those new pedagogies that we didn't have time to explore during the school year. For many of us summer vacation is a time for personal, professional learning.
If you are ready for personal, professional learning,
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The first opportunity is from Atomic Learning.
This amazing site is a treasure trove of videos that break down online learning tasks into easy to practice snippets. If you live in the state of Iowa you have free access to this site through IowaAEAOnline with your school district's log in.
This summer Atomic Learning is offering an additional opportunity. With this link you can sign up for weekly emails focused on helping you learn something new - Google maps to digital photography!
The second opportunity is all things Google!
Google has recently revamped their training pages - moving the focus from the tools to integration of the tools into the learning environment. The training is broken into two options: Fundamentals and Advanced. These are the first two modules in the Fundamental course.
Each module includes learning opportunites, videos, quizzes and reflection prompts.
If your school district is a Google school, this professional development option may be just the one for you! Follow the highlighted links for all the information
The third personal, professional learning option is something completely different. Two school districts have created summer camp websites for their staff. One of them is brought to you by Augustus H. Burley School in Chicago, Illinois, and the other from Portland Public School in Oregon. Each of these websites includes a variety of challenges to earn badges - just like the camp experiences from our childhood.
These sites are great resources for you, no matter the school district where you work. Explore the challenges and take advantage of the reflection prompts on your own blog as you apply this learning.
Another very personalized professional learning option is Kathy Schrock's website. This website is an incredible plethora of knowledge! The link to the left is one example of the site's wealth of information as it focuses on online tools. The tools are divided into categories of use - with links to the actual tools.
Spend some time this summer exploring the many links included in the site. Feel free to reach out to the members of our team as well, each of us brings our own unique teaching experience to our technology consultant work.
I hope you have time to rejuvenate, renew and recharge this summer!
In the words of the German writer Van Goethe -
We must always change,
renew, rejuvenate ourselves,
otherwise we harden.
We owe that to our students, our family, and most of all ourselves.
Beth Swantz, Technology Consultant
This update contains information about iPadU 2016, our new Digital Learning Institute, opportunities for instructional/technology coaches, information about The Edtech Takeout podcast, Think, Make, Innovate Makerspace show, as well as some opportunities to learn about coding! Please feel free to share with other educators who may be interested in the content!
Please contact me or one of the technology consultants know if you have any questions!
~Stacy Behmer, Coordinator of Digital Learning, Grant Wood AEA
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There has been a robot invasion happening in schools. As coding has become more prominent, robots are often purchased to extend and apply use blockly coding that students learn with Hour of Code. Robots in the classroom lends itself to great application of students being able to see and control objects right in front of them through the code that they write.
Spheros, BeeBots, and Dash and Dot have been making their ways into our area schools. These robots are easy to use, can be coded with iPad apps, and have applications that can stretch wide age bands. As I've learned more about them, the traditional uses of these robots are great. You can drive them, code them, have them change colors or even speak, but there is the potential for them to do so much more.
TomBot & JerryBot - This blog details how you can rethink Bee-Bot. I had always seen the Bee-Bot as a lower elementary bot because of its simple coding buttons on top. This blog shined a light for me on the potential of game design and strategy with robots, as outlined in this blog & video post. Even older students, who have had zero coding experience, could be challenged by creating an elaborate cat and mouse-style game, with interesting rules or game levels. Or as I push myself more, these robots could serve as hands-on prototypes for working out an original computer game that students may be designing in Scratch.
Sphero Lightning Lab - This is a great free community for teachers to join and find a variety of different tested lessons for all age groups and subjects designed to incorporate Spheros, BB-8, or Ollie into the classroom. It’s easy to use and you can use the filters to help you find the lesson that will best support your curriculum. You can even create classes within the Lightning Lab to assign activities to students. My biggest takeaway from Sphero lessons is that robots are not meant to stand alone. Don’t just think about it as a round robot, transition that thinking to a motor. Allow students to be innovative and design carts or covers to fit over the Sphero will serve as the motor to drive and test out students designs in a variety of situations!
Wonder Workshop YouTube Channel - Creativity shines through on this YouTube Channel featuring Wonder Workshop’s robots Dash and Dot. They host several playlists and upload original video like their own kid’s show, where kids design new uses for Dash and Dot. I also gain so much insight from the Teach Wonder and Community Fan Projects to see new ways that people around the world are playing, learning, and innovating with Dash and Dot.
@mypaperlessclassroom Instagram Account - Sam Patterson’s Instagram account has pushed me outside of my bot learning and made me rethink ways that that bots can be used. A sphero is not just a round robot, and Dash is not just a robot that can move around. How can we rethink the parts of these robots for a variety of problem-solving uses? These images made me rethink EVERYTHING....
I love learning about ways to rethink robot use, if you have an idea or blog that inspired you, please share with me in the comments section.
2. The YT Full Fill Chrome Extension
However, be aware that adblockers do more than just block ads on YouTube. They will block ads on every website you visit. Sounds awesome, right?! Well, yes...and no. The internet that we know and love is mostly free for a reason. Ads pay for a lot of the sites that we use on a daily basis. If everyone installed an adblocker, the way we get content from the internet would likely change very quickly. In short, we would have to pay for a lot more of it.
Is it illegal to install an adblocker? No. Does it hurt sites that rely on ad revenue to stay afloat? Yes. I like to think that as educators in the classroom we get a pass on this, however, what you do at home with your personal devices is up to you. Many adblockers let you "whitelist" sites you want to allow ads to be shown on. This could be a good compromise in the free vs paid debate, but regardless of where you stand on this issue, adblockers will block pre-roll ads on YouTube.
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