The Stem Circle

Last week I had the pleasure of attending and doing a short presentation at a STEM workshop for Teachers. It was a  free workshop run over 2 days by Christian Williams, he is a teacher here in Melbourne, Australia that has been recognised as one of the worlds best.

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Google Motion Stills

So I came across a cool App by Google for iOS, if you have an iPhone that’s capable of taking Live Photos (6s or better) it will take these Live Photos and turn them into GIFS for you.

I went through some old photos and made some super cute pictures of Poppy. What’s best is you can export them to video and use the video as your Facebook profile picture too.

 

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Kids Coding

For those of you out there looking at getting your kids into coding or maybe you’re just looking for some constructive activities for the kids to do online here are a few resources you may find helpful.

Blockly Games – https://blockly-games.appspot.com/

Handy resource for age 6+, it gives the foundations for coding and understanding logical sequences. It has a bit of maths too!

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Scratch editor 2.0 by MIT

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Fizzy Space

So some of you may know, I just love space. Not only being outdoors, but the big black void that surrounds the world.  I love the unique things you can do in space that you would never be able to experience on earth. One such thing is a video in found on YouTube of a effervescent tablet in a floating ball of water.

Enjoy!

Firefly Children’s Home

I experienced one of the nicest things today, I had organised to visit Firefly Children’s home in Kathmandu. After a fair bit of researched I emailed them asking if I could visit and bring some resources – Laptops, pens, lined paper.

Hari picked me up from my hostel in the morning. I can’t say id ever been on the back of a motorbike carrying 6 laptops in peak hour traffic not wearing a helmet. I now can! Continue reading “Firefly Children’s Home”

Carrying your burdens over time

This is one of my most favourite stories that I have often see floating around the internet:

 

A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?” Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g. The lecturer replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it.”

“If I hold it for a minute, that’s not a problem If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you’ll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it’s the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

He continued, “And that’s the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won’t be able to carry on.”

“As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while and rest before holding it again. When we’re refreshed, we can carry on with the burden.”

“So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don’t carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you’re carrying now, let them down for a moment if you can.”

“Relax; pick them up later after you’ve rested. Life is short Enjoy it!”

 

5 Easy things to do with Google forms in the classroom

I am a massive fan of Google Forms in the classroom. It’s brilliant way of giving feedback to students straight away on assessments and also proving us insightful information straight away and showing any potential patterns.

Here is a list of 5 things that you can use Google forms for in the classroom to help save you time & make learning more engaging.

1: Formative and Summative tests

Forms is a wonderful way of creating pre-tests and post tests for students or exit tests. You can enhance it will extensions like Flubaroo to automatically grade the students work and email them the results. The students will love the instant feedback, and it will save you a night of marking! Try it for multiplication and spelling tests first.

2: Collecting Student information

At the start of the year its often nice to find out information about the students such as friends, hobbies and interests. Forms makes it nice and easy to do this, also its very easy to email it to parents for collecting contact information.

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3: Observations

When students are proving feedback to one another for talks or presentations, why not have a form open that helps score the students. Instant feedback and you can see a summary in one place. This can also extend to observations you may make about the students learning.

ObservationObservation

4: Conversation starters

It may be a nice way of gaining opinions in staff meetings anonymously and having conversations about more difficult topics.

5: Classroom Surveys & Graphing

It’s a nice easy way of gathering information from your students for a task, it could be about likes/dislikes, height or anything else you can think of. Students can then easily work with this data to create graphs using Google Sheets

 

I hope you found some of these useful, give them a try and see how you go. What do you use google forms for?

 

 

Flight to Mars

NASA have a pretty exciting program at the moment, in March 2016 they will be sending another robot to Mars as part of the Insight Mission.

As part of this mission the cargo will include a microchip which is a 0.8cm square (pictured below)

http://mars.nasa.gov/layout/embed/image/420/?i=6752

This microchip will contain the names of over 1 million people!

You can register your name here, once you have registered you are issued with your boarding pass and NASA frequent flyer details. Its pretty cool and definitely something that the kids will like.

I’ve got my pass, do you?
http://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/insight/?action=getcert&e=1&pid=3&cn=40524596809

Introduction to ChromeBooks

ChromebookChromebooks are becoming more utilised in schools, until recently I had thought them to be:

  • Underpowered
  • Limited functionality (who can do everything they need to do, within a chrome browser)
  • The next netbook (remembered those? If not, there is a reason for that)
  • Limiting a students and teachers ability to be creative.

Cheap laptops have been around for a while, there is nothing new about a sub $350 notebook running Linux, Asus built the EEEpc around 2007 in order to put laptops in developing nations. These took off around the world and formed the netbook category, however they were extremely limited in power, storage and the build quality was generally terrible not forgetting to mention the tiny 9″ screens.

Subsequently we wanted more from these and they began running Windows, either XP, 7 or 8; and did they slow down!

So here we are today, cheap notebooks running Linux again, in the shape of ChromeOS. But it’s different this time, the manufacturers seem to have learned from their mistakes. We have much larger screens (11″ – 15″), faster processors and a connectivity has developed around “Cloud Storage”, so having a 32gb drive is no longer limiting, not to mention the incredible battery life of up to 10 hours.

The ChromeOS is an operating system based off the open source Linux system, specifically Gentoo. It is ultra light weight and importantly very simple. Google have designed ChromeOS to be a simple OS to use and cause as few issues as possible. Essentially anything in your google account gets synced with the Chromebook, Google docs, Google Drive, Google calendar and Gmail amongst many other 3rd party apps.

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Like every modern OS, it has an App Store, in the way of Google Chrome Browser extensions. There are over 1 billion extensions in the store ranging from safe browsing to video editing, it’s these extensions which bring the real power and innovation to Chromebooks. The store leverages on a new technology called HTML5, this brings in greater integration between the user and web browser and also some new features such as offline website storage (so that apps can run without the internet) and the ability to stream video without Adobe flash (check out http://YouTube.com/html5 ).

Being based on the Unix OS, there are no known viruses, making them even safer for children and adults especially when paired with web filters and ad-blockers. You also don’t have the added expense of those costly anti-virus programs. Should you want to wipe the Chromebook, you can perform power wash which takes only a few moments and put it back to a factory state.

To login to the Chromebook, users just need to use their Google account (this is the same as your gmail login), parents can set up kids with their own accounts and be able to manage these through supervised accounts http://goo.gl/oFyk1c .

So when would you buy a Chromebook, and when would you buy a PC/Mac? Well, like anything it depends on what you do and need it for. The Chromebook is perfect for kids, grandparents and adults who just want a computer in order to access the Internet safely and are confident in using the Google suite of apps (Docs, Drive, Calendar, Gmail).

If you have large photo libraries, require the Microsoft office programs or rely on specific PC/Mac apps then this is probably not the machine for you.

Chromebooks can be a fantastic way to get students and teachers comfortably and safely using technology in the classroom, especially when it is paired with apps such as Hapara , where teachers can monitor students and ensure they remain on task. Chromebooks offer extremely quick bootup times and have lower maintenance overheads and fewer chances of issues arising, allowing your students to use technology when they need.

Whilst the Chromebook may not suit every school and you may be skeptical, I would definitely try one out and experience it.

You can read more about Chromebooks here https://www.google.com.au/chrome/devices/

 

Do you use Chromebooks at your School, workplace or even at home?

Edu-TED

TedTalks

I have always been a big fan of TedTalks , I love the volume of incredible information as one of the most positive things that technology has brought to the world.

Ted-Ed

It turns out that a year or two ago Ted Talks expanded this to Ted-Ed, these talks are based for teachers and students in putting across information for many topics in your class. The list is fairly limited at the moment. However like anything the more we talk about it the more people with publish to it.

The content is for primary through to tertiary students and features animations in addition to talks (normal TED videos aren’t animations).

Another little perk of TED-Ed is that you can create lesson plans including quizzes and notes from any content on YouTube, TED Talks and TED ed. This is a really nice way of creating basic interactive lessons.

How does this differ from YouTube?

Many of the videos are hosted through YouTube, however many of the videos are done by leaders in certain fields any have to be recommended and go through a panel before they can talk. We all know the quality ‘control’ on YouTube, with that said there is a lot of amazing information on YouTube. Ted talks is also what peer-reviewed journals are to Wikipedia.

I hope at a minimum this gives you another source for information and maybe inspiration when you’re looking for big ideas, you may just stumble across someone who shares your vision.