Lego Mindstorms Robotics Class

Image from Lego

You have played with Legos for years, now you can learn to build and program Lego Mindstorm EV3 robots. I wanted all of you Lego lovers to know that I will be offering and after-school enrichment starting on January 22nd. We will meet in the Library classroom to build robots and program them on the Library computers. The class will be on Thursdays from 4:00-5:00 from 1/22 – 5/14 (16 classes) with no class on 3/12 and a make up lesson on 5/21 if necessary. You can attend study hall before class at no charge. Students will work in pairs to design, construct, and program robots that perform a variety of movements and tasks. This Spring class will develop the skills needed to join the planned First Lego League competition teams starting in the Fall 2015. All materials will be supplied and stored at school. Class is limited to 8 students as we will have 4 kits with 2 students working together.

Learn more about EV3: https://education.lego.com/en-us/lesi/middle-school/mindstorms-education-ev3/why-robotics

Learn more about First Lego League: http://www.firstlegoleague.org

Send this link http://www.da.org/page.cfm?p=607 to your parents so they can register you.

Explain Everything and Creative Learning

I was so excited, and a bit nervous, after I found out that we would indeed be purchasing the incredible app called Explain Everything. I was nervous because the purchase represented a lot of money and while I knew the app could be a wonderful tool for our students and teachers, I was nervous that the use would be slow and isolated. I did prepare a tutorial for students and teachers after being approached by a teacher about using it in her classroom. She wanted her students to create tutorials that could be used by students and to show they understood the concepts. The old adage of really knowing something only after you try to teach someone else is very apt. One of the best parts of this app is that it does not require students have an account. Instead, we leverage the services we already use to store and share the completed projects. Configuring the accounts to share in Evernote and Google Drive was seamless. Eeoutside2After the initial instruction, students were off recording anywhere on campus since no internet connection is needed while working. The image above shows students outside working on math problems. They are using the Learner 3600 Headsets from ACP Direct. The use of the headsets helped keep the background noise level down and made the process more formal. Students do not need to use headsets if in a quiet room but kids like to be “professional” so the headsets serve that purpose as well.

The video below shows how two-eighth grade students use the app to create tutorials. These were shared in a Google Drive Folder so all students could listen, watch and learn.

My nervousness is gone and my excitement is growing as I know that Spanish and Algebra classes are using the app to create learning opportunities. The support from the company is also fantastic so if you do not yet, have this app, get it now!

NC GAfE Summit 2014

I am excited to be presenting at this years summit. At last years summit, I got serious about learning how I could help my school and other schools leverage these powerful tools by becoming an authorized Google Education Trainer. I will be presenting again on using Google Sites for student portfolios and introducing a new session called Google Apps and iOS are Jet Fuel for Learning where I will show how to harness the power of Google Apps to extend a 1:1 iPad program. After two years helping my school with our iPad program, I can attest to how these two corporate solutions are not oil and water, but rather jet fuel. There is still time to come and take part in the summit so register today at http://nc.gafesummit.com/.

Find links to my presentations as well as other presenters at http://nc.gafesummit.com/2014/program/sessions or at my other site http://www.digitalkarl.com/

Image is property of EdTechTeam

Teaching and Learning with the Unlinked Net

Unlinked

Images from OpenClipart.org

I have been thinking of this post for a while as our students begin blogging more this year. Most all students in the Middle School are now blogging through Language Arts classes using Edublogs. In grade five, students use a teacher’s blog to post with the teacher serving as the editor who must approve both posts and comments. In grade six students and teachers use the class blog feature in Edublogs so that each student has their own blog but are managed under the teachers blog. This system worked well last year as it provides the students with ownership and a place to find their voice. The teachers still serve as editors and must approve all pages, posts, and comments. This systems works well to establish solid writing, collaborative commenting skills, and learning how to interact in an online community. These are important skills that must be taught if we do not want a world of trolls on the internet. Starting this year, grade seven students and teachers will be expanding the use of class blogs with the students starting with restricted publishing as they start the new year. This will soon move to full editing and publishing done by the students with the teacher only serving the roll of monitor. In grade 8, the class blogs have no restrictions for what is posted and commented and the teacher serves as a monitor. While the blogs have different setups, the goals are the same: Write for an authentic audience, Write more, Learn to write collaborative comments, and establish a presence on the internet that showcases your work and yourself. I feel it is important for students to work at creating their own “Google Juice” so they are searchable with results ranging from silly photos to articles written by them. All of our blogs are open to the public and indexed by Google and other search engines.

The idea of cultivating “Google Juice” is also why four years ago we started having students create and manage digital portfolios with Google sites. These portfolios hold not only a link to their personal blog but also samples of exemplar work along with goal settings and reflections on the student’s learning. These portfolios live at the edges of what we do as all of our Google Apps services are private only to our school which means no one outside of our school or any search engine cannot access them.

This leads to the title of this post as I have been asked by teachers the following question: “How will parents find our blogs?” The quick answer was to send them a message with the link. While that works, it does raise the larger question in my mind of how do we expose all of the wonderful learning and teaching going on when it is not linked by our school or not accessible to anyone outside of our school? Should we expose this part of our school to the world? What are the risks? What are the rewards? I can make a page on Veracross which would allow anyone from our school to find the blogs. I do encourage teaches to list their blogs in the Edublogs directory as a way to engage with the world. 

 

Until I figure out the best solution, here is a list of the blogs so far. Some will have a link to class blogs on the side.

Grade 4 – Mrs. KarolMr. Mason

Grade 5 – Mrs. Goldstein, Mrs. Parry

Grade 6 – Mrs. WilliamsMrs. Donnelly, Mrs. Saffo-Cogswell

Grade 7 – Mrs. Howes,  Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen

Grade 8 – Mr. Sheard, Mr. Michelman (new this year and not doing it yet), Mrs. Engebretsen

Mapping Out An Apple Vanguard Group

 

 

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An exciting part of  the Apple Academy I attended in June is the chance to create and nurture an Apple Vanguard Group at our school. I have been working on how to organize, promote, and manage something like this so it is manageable and enticing for my colleagues.

I happen to get a message from Mindmeister yesterday with a notice about the new Mindmeister Academy so I took a few moments to go through the fundamentals course. I had to create a map as I proceeded so I created the one below. Mindmeister is an awesome tool as it works on any device and offers collaboration. I want to promote the use of it more to our students and teachers as there is power in mapping your thoughts.

I have embedded it here in what is called the Presentation mode which to me is much like a non-dramamine needed version of Prezi.

 
Create your own mind maps at MindMeister

Both a GET and an AFT with NDAs

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My summer is off to a great start already. Over the last 7 months I worked at becoming a Google Education Trainer and last week I attended Apple Academy in Cupertino, CA. I met some great people at the Academy and learned a lot about providing professional development with colleagues instead of at colleagues. While at the Apple Academy, I learned I had been accepted into the Google Education Trainer program. As I was only blocks away from Apple HQ, and using Apple equipment, I did not mention it to anyone by Pete who I instantly connected with when I got to the hotel. I had to tell someone and besides my wife, I figured he as a safe bet.

I signed the NDA (Non-Discloure Agreement) with Google on Thursday and another one with Apple on Friday to make the week a real twofer. I am so excited to be recognized by both of these leading companies who are using the wealth of resources to move education forward. I look forward to helping Durham Academy do even more with Apple’s products as I am limited to using the wealth of curriculum they provided with just my school. I plan to start an Apple Vanguard Group at school. I also know we can harness the tools and resources Google offers for Durham Academy and I am willing to work with other schools to help them as well. This is expected of me as an authorized Google Education Trainer. I have already worked with a few other schools and non-profits through my new consulting business Digital Karl and look forward to more learning opportunities. 

Poetry in Place with Audioboo and Cell Phones

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Each year, the 7th grade travels to Washington, D.C. where they engage in many different activities. Last year students did VoiceThreads about Words on Stone. This is one example.  When Ms. Howes and Ms. Starnes approached me this year about an idea, we came up with using Audioboo to record a poem in place. Students were writing and studying poetry so they had to choose a poem to recite in a place connected to the poem. To make it happen, we created a Google Doc that we shared with all students giving them the directions on how to setup the app and record their poem. I was most excited the day we brought the students into the computer lab and told them, “Get out your cell phones”. The looks on their faces was priceless as some thought it was a trick since cell phones are supposed to be in lockers turned off. Many students indeed did run to their locker and got their phone. They download the free app and set it up. Those without phones used a computer or found a poetry friend to record with. I want to find more ways to prove that students carry technology with them everyday that can be harnessed for powerful learning.

I think they turned out really well so I wanted to share them with you. There is an iTunes Podcast feed if you want to subscribe as there are 115 poems. You can view them at the MS Cav Studios Audioboo channel.

Here is one from a boy and one from a girl to give you a taste.  Sylvia S.  and  Jack P.





Happy 30th Birthday Mac

 

For those of you older then 30, today was a big day in terms of the history of the computer. 30 years ago today, The Macintosh Computer was introduced leading to a drastic change in how we use computers and other forms of technology. For those of you under 30, this is the foundation that lead to the marvels you hold in your hands today.

http://www.apple.com/30-years/

Where will the next 30 years take us, and what part will you play in shaping it?

Steve Jobs introducing the Macintosh which shows his marketing and presentation genius.

 

Students and Me Minecrafting

 
I have long wondered what the big deal was about Minecraft even though I think the power of games are something schools and teachers need to utilize. Over the years I have purchased games for our students to learn with like Gamestar Mechanic, Scratch, and Evolver from Dimensionu. In fact we have run Minecraft EDU at the Lower School for about 2 years now so most of the students now in the middle school have been exposed before they get to me. I no longer prevented students from downloading the Minecraft app so they could play at recess. Both labs are often full or near full because of this change. I had mentioned to some students that perhaps we should setup our own Minecraft EDU server even though I had never played. The students were listening (like they always do) so one day, I got a message that a Google Doc had been shared with me called
BugguCraft Server Proposal. Below is a portion of what was outlined in the now 34 pages outline of why we should setup a BugguCraft Server. Yes, that is 34 pages written with a plan on setting up, administering, creating, rules, contests, and other assorted information.
 

We (David, Tanner, Davi) have been considering making a server to house our mini-games called BugguCraft. We decided to create a server so we could ban, make rules, and make classes and games that are easily accessible and fair. Tanner’s contributions will include adding Bukkit to be able to make this game fun, which will make cheating almost impossible, and it will be more fair. Tanner knows Java so he can program the plugins that go in it. We will be the admins, and we can “Kick” people off of the server if they are being naughty (this means if they are griefing, spamming or cursing in the chat, or not obeying the rules), or “Ban” them, if the rule breach is more serious.

Rules:

No griefing

No swears

No hacking

No cheating

No trolling

Be fair

Be nice

Have fun

The 3 boys have really taken off with this and over winter break they purchased a Minecraft gift code to thank me. They wrote me a nice note about how they appreciate the help of Mr. Beck who setup the server hardware (an old iMac) and myself and how grateful they are. They even gave me a suggested username: Kartuffle. Today, at lunch recess I joined in for my first Minecraft lesson in the labs with the rest of the students. David was very patient with teaching me the basics and kept telling me I was a fast learner. Always nice to hear since I was trying to use the keyboard shortcuts and get a handle on what I was doing. The first thing I learned was that instead of destroying the objects I was harvesting. This is pretty big as most people, myself included, do not see the chopping as a mirror of what our civilization has done for years.

It was a great day and by the way, we are going to offer a student run Minecraft club using some of those 34 pages of ideas and rules. Later, I have to chop some wood!