Time to celebrate, all the #NOW Classrooms books have arrived! I spent the morning yesterday racing around to deliver the 9-12 books to three high schools in the Chicago area. Once the books arrived each of the schools did some type of surprise for my five co-authors. It was so fun to watch Twitter to see the surprises. Here are a few pictures.
In honor of Hour of Code, one of our former 6th grade students blogged about their coding experience in health.
For my science project, I coded on Scratch Jr. In my project, there were two girls talking to each-other about carbohydrates. They went from a bedroom to the kitchen to eating pasta. Today, I will tell you how to code projects like that.
- Download the app Scratch Jr. It’s free!
- Open the app, press the “home” button and then press the blue plus button to create a new project.
- The first character (the character/s will be the things that you code) that will pop up is an orange cat. If you don’t want the cat as a character, hold down on the picture of the cat at the left side of the screen until the picture starts wobbling. Then you press the red “X” to get rid of it.
- You can also pick additional characters or objects to code. Just click on the blue plus sign on the left side and pick the character or object you want. If you don’t like the color, you can press the paintbrush symbol on the character’s picture and color it however you want.
- If you have multiple characters, press on the character you want to code at that time and then start. If you only have one, the same thing happens but you only have one person to code. Once you’re finished coding one character, you can go onto the next character.
- To start your coding sequence, put the character you are coding in the position you want by touching their picture in the middle of the screen and dragging them to the position. Next, go to the yellow section near the bottom of the screen. Click on the button and five different buttons will pop up. There will be: a green flag, a person with a finger, a mirror image of a person, a letter and a letter being sent. The easiest way to start is to drag the one with the green flag.
- Pick the color button at the bottom of the screen that you want to use. Follow the instructions below for that color group. Just drag the blocks you want into the coding section for the character you want animated. Put the blocks in the order you want them played.
There will be 8 different blocks to pick from. The order they go in (from left to right) is: Move Right, Move Left, Move Up, Move Down, Turn Right, Turn Left, Hop and Back To Original Position.
Purple– Talking and disappearing
There are 6 different blocks to pick from. The order they go in (from left to right) is: Talk, Enlarge, Shrink, Normal Size, Disappear and Appear.
Green– Creates your own noise/sound
There are 2 different blocks to pick from. The order they go in (from left to right) is: Pop Sound and Record Your Own Sound. For Record Your own Sound, click on the block, and press the red button that pops up to start recording. To stop recording, click the checkmark. If you do not like that sound after you record it, press and hold that block and a red X should pop up. Click on that X and the sound should delete.
Orange– Waiting, speed, repeating and grouping coding blocks
There are 4 different blocks to pick from. The order they go in (from left to right) is: Wait/How Long to Wait For, Stop, Speed and Group Blocks/ Repeating Sequences. To repeat sequences, put the blocks that you want repeated into the “middle puzzle piece area”. Then, set the number to the amount of times you want that sequence repeated.
Red– Repeating and ending “scenes”.
There will be a minimum of 2 blocks to pick from here. If you have multiple pages, those will pop up here too! The order they go in (from left to right) is: End and Repeat Scene. The following might not always pop up, since they only apply if you have multiple pages. The order would go Page 1, Page 2, Page 3 and Page 4. However, one block won’t be there. It will be the one of the page you are coding on at the moment. Regardless, those blocks mean to go straight to that page.
- Also, if you want to add text to your project, click the button with letters on it in the top middle section of the screen. Type whatever you want to, then you can change the size and color of the text. If you want to delete the text, you can press and hold the words on the screen and press the red X that pops up.
- If you want to share your AMAZING coding project with friends, click on the yellow tab in the top right corner. You can also rename your project here.
Written by: Julia, former 6th grade student
Posted by: Whitney Cavanagh, 6th grade teacher @MrsCavanagh8 & Janice Conboy, kindergarten teacher and former 6th grade teacher @Mrs_Conboy
I’m thrilled to present a session with co-authors Dr. Jamie Reilly and Cathy Fisher next week in Orlando Florida. This is the first presentation about the NOW Classrooms book series and we are excited to share what we learned on the journey! Learning Forward is a fantastic organization focused on the best practices for professional learning in education. Follow the excitement on Twitter!
This is the session we will be presenting Monday afternoon from 2:30-4:30.
1411 — Excellent Teaching Everyday Showcased on the District Hashtag
It was March of 2011. I had just returned from maternity leave after my second child. The day of my return was a teacher institute day. It was a great way to ease into my return. You see, I had spent most of the winter in the house with a little one and didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the world. A world that had just released the first iPad.
The focus of this institute day was technology. Our district had just purchased iPods for the library at each school and we were learning how to use them. Later, we also got to try out some iPads as well! The day was mostly structured as a demonstration of apps that we could use at our grade level. We talked about how a game such as Bert’s Bag taught kindergarten students 1:1 math skills. My colleague (fellow writer Nicole Ring) was sitting behind me and was beyond excited. If Amazon Prime had existed right then, I think an iPad would have been delivered with two-hour delivery right then and there to the school. However, she was able to wait until that evening before purchasing her own personal iPad. Excitement in the room was high and enthusiasm about these new devices was visible at our inservice and in the days beyond.
The following year, a school set of iPads were purchased. That summer, before leaving, each teacher got their OWN iPad to play on and learn with over the summer. The joy and excitement continued throughout the next year. Over the next three years, nearly every inservice was about technology. We were always learning something new and exciting. Teachers were beginning to move through the SAMR model. It started with substitution, and moved to augmentation. Some teachers stopped there, some were able to progress to modification and redefinition (check out our books for a better understanding of the SAMR model and its significance).
Then came curriculum changes, leadership changes, Common Core, and about a million other things (no surprise to you teachers reading this!). Thus, the deep instruction on technology began to fade, even as the district became one to one. Additionally, in the last three years, over ⅓ of 300 teachers in the district have 5 years of experience or less. Meaning that many of our teachers were handed an iPad for themselves and a classroom full of iPads with little to no direct instruction or guidance. While many new, young teachers were born when technology was readily available, the instruction on ways to meaningfully use technology was minimal. This left most new teachers having to figure out how to use iPads in the classroom in a meaningful way on their own.
My hope is that by reading this, you will remember that we cannot assume our newest teachers know how to integrate technology in a meaningful way. Even veteran teachers continue to need refreshers on how to continue to evolve in their use of technology in the classroom. So please, I ask you, as you continue in your technology quest, to continue to teach new teachers, and veterans, how to use technology in a meaningful way that will build and enhance the wonderful learning that is already happening in the classroom.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Twenty-Seven Educational Experts from Across the Nation Share Best Practices for Using Technology in Classrooms
Bloomington, IN (November 1, 2017)—The NOW Classrooms series, published by Solution Tree, presents classroom-ready lessons that support the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards for Students. Educators can use the lessons, which are grounded in the essential four C skills—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity—to connect technology to key learning outcomes and prepare learners to succeed in the 21st century.
“My books are written with the classroom teacher in mind and contain strategies that are practical and easy to implement in the classroom,” explained author Meg Ormiston. “The tech-rockstar teachers get everything quickly and are racing on to the next tip, app or tool. Most teachers need more time to practice as they familiarize themselves with various digital tools—I write for these teachers.”
The books are organized by grade bands of K–2, 3–5, 6–8 and 9–12. Each book’s chapters are divided into several sections containing three lessons each—one novice lesson, one operational lesson and one wow lesson (spelling out “NOW”)—that readers can choose from, based on their experience with the technology and their students’ needs. The series also includes a leader’s guide, which outlines a flexible framework for driving instructional innovation schoolwide or districtwide.
Carole Colburn, a technology teacher at Highlander Way Middle School in Michigan, praised NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8, stating, “I love this book and how the authors organized it around the ISTE standards, including terrific lesson ideas that teachers can immediately implement in any middle school classroom. It is a great resource, and I highly recommend it for any middle school teacher who wants to create a classroom environment full of engaged, 21st-century thinkers and learners!”
Readers interested in getting technology updates from the authors can follow #NowClassrooms on Twitter or Facebook.
The NOW Classrooms series is available to order at SolutionTree.com.
Books in the NOW Classrooms Series
NOW Classrooms, Grades K–2
By Meg Ormiston, Beth Hatlen, Kristy Hopkins, Kirstin McGinnis, Lissa Blake and Nicole Ring
NOW Classrooms, Grades 3–5
By Meg Ormiston, Sheri De Carlo, Sonya Raymond, Grace Kowalski and Justin Gonzalez
NOW Classrooms, Grades 6–8
By Meg Ormiston, Lauren Slanker, Jennifer Lehotsky, Megan K. Flaherty, Janice Conboy and Whitney Cavanagh
NOW Classrooms, Grades 9–12
By Meg Ormiston, Scott D. Parker, Tom Lubbers, Gretchen Fitzharris, Ellen K. Lawrence and Katie N. Aquino
NOW Classrooms, Leader’s Guide
By Meg Ormiston, Cathy Fisher, Jamie Reilly, Courtney Orzel, Jordan Garrett, Robin Bruebach, Steve M. Griesbach and Becky Fischer
About Solution Tree
For nearly 20 years, Solution Tree (https://www.solutiontree.com) has worked to transform education worldwide, empowering educators to raise student achievement. With more than 30,000 educators attending professional learning events and more than 4,260 professional development days in schools each year, Solution Tree helps teachers and administrators confront essential challenges in schools. Solution Tree has a catalog of 515 titles, hundreds of videos and online courses and is the creator of Global PD, an online tool that facilitates the work of professional learning communities. Follow @SolutionTree on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Solution Tree.
800.733.6786 ext. 247
There are hundreds of websites that make QR codes. But how do you know which one to use? And which apps are the best for scanning? And what are QR codes used for in the classroom? You’ll learn how to do all this in the next few paragraphs.
To make a QR code, first you need to find a website. There are a lot of them out there. Some require you to sign in and others are just plain bad. The one I used is called QR Code Generator. (A lot of them are called QR Code Generator though, so you’ll scan a QR code to get the ULR.) First you chose what your QR code will open up when you scan it. You can choose from websites, locations, contacts and text though there are more to chose. Pick your designated material and type in what you want to. Once you do that, find the QR on the right side of the page. Underneath it you’ll find two options: embed and download. Press download. Then some options will pop up. You can change the border, background, and foreground. But if you want to download it, find the four options of downloading in the bottom right corner. You can use any of the options but I used PNG, or image. When you click it, the finished QR code will pop up on a new page. If you’re doing this on an iPad (like me) just press and hold until save image appears. Press that. Your QR will be in your photos. You’ve just successfully made a QR code!
To scan a QR code, you first need a scanning app. Scan is a suggested app. Aim your iPad at the QR code so the square on the screen surrounds the QR. When it successfully scans the code, what ever you just scanned will pop up. Go to the website, read the text, or watch the video.
QR codes are a fun way to convey information. Whether you want to send them a link without emailing it to all of them or you want to do a picture walk without everyone getting up. They’re also perfect in Breakout EDUs.
Now that you have the basics, you can do anything you want.
Written by: Sophie, former 6th grade student
Posted by: Whitney Cavanagh, 6th grade teacher @MrsCavanagh8 & Janice Conboy, kindergarten teacher and former 6th grade teacher @Mrs_Conboy
Educational leaders are often called upon to plan and facilitate professional development, team meetings, and other events that require engaging the audience in learning and/or collaborating. This provides a wonderful opportunity to show staff various methods of using technology, and place them in the position to feel the effects! Below are a few ways I have used technology:
This free online tool has a variety of applications! During instructional coaching meetings, each coach posts her celebrations to a Padlet. Team members read the celebrations and are invited to ask questions to learn more about the post. At the end of the year, we have a record of where we started, and where we ended up. At a recent meeting for new staff, a Padlet was set up for posting questions. Columns with headers included categories for questions, and participants added their “posts” below the corresponding header. During the meeting answers were added. This provides a place for new staff to refer back to as the information is needed.
Part of my role as an administrator calls for conducting informal observations. At the start of each school year, I create a new Google Doc to record informal observations and provide comment access to staff being evaluated. Sometimes the coaches I evaluate will send me video of their meetings with teachers and request feedback. I link their video to the Google Doc, adding feedback and items to consider. Then, we use the comments feature to communicate. This method provides a record for me and the staff being evaluated to refer back to, and a meaningful way to document growth throughout the year.
Earlier today I facilitated a middle school social studies department meeting where we needed to examine our grade level priority standards and how they vertically align. Accessing a Google Doc for each grade level and accessing another for the vertical 6-8 look allowed for quick and easy collaboration. Staff were able to refer to their grade level doc, edit the 6-8 doc, and include additional information that will inform our upcoming curriculum revision work.
This social media tool helps me to share information and celebrate what I want to see more of for students. I follow other educators and experts in the industry, re-tweeting their helpful ideas and sometimes tagging staff members I know would benefit or are interested. Often times during professional development I tweet out pictures of what participants are doing and learning. By following many of the educators I work with, I am able to see what students are doing and share it with others. It has also been a nice surprise to see how digital connections can morph into human ones- I have been in multiple settings, including a yoga class, where I have met new educators simply because we follow one another on Twitter!
Please share some of the ways you use technology with your staff in the comments below!
Written by: Becky Fischer
“That’s it! I’m done. No more Technology – I don’t get it, my students don’t get – I certainly can’t use it to teach.”
That was my 8am “Good Morning” from a talented teacher as I walked into the teacher lounge.
I am an Instructional Coach and my primary role is to work with my fellow teachers to support student learning and growth – many times utilizing “technology” as a tool to enhance the student experience. After all, we are a 1:1 district. Strategically, my goal is to coordinate efforts with teachers in our district with a focus on the development and implementation of instructional strategies in all content areas and to support effective planning, instruction, and assessment for learning.
I have been her coach for the last 5 years. When I heard this – I thought of so many different ways to respond:
- “Oh, that stinks!”
- “I’m sorry to hear that.”
- “Having a bad day?”
Instead, I looked at this teacher and said, “NO! You are not allowed to say that. You can go to a corner and scream into a pillow all you want, but you won’t quit!”
She looked at me and….laughed!
We all need to remember that there are going to be times we want to pull our hair out, say “the kids can’t do it”, and “I quit!” In these moments we need to remember we have a choice!
We have a choice to continue to learn or give up.
We have a choice to challenge ourselves to be better or take the easy way out and quit.
This teacher’s choice…She chose the opportunity to get better and continue to move forward!
We sat down later that week and talked about all the ways she can continue to use technology with her students to engage them in their learning. Ideas such as using “Explain Everything” to show what they are thinking in math or students creating books about the science unit they are studying using “Book Creator”.
Sometimes all we need is a good idea or direction on where to begin. No doubt, all of these changes in today’s education process can be overwhelming. I am here to tell you that is “OK!” You are not alone in your frustration, your fading confidence or your feelings that you will never “get it.”
Our book, NOW Classrooms K-2-Lessons for Enhancing Teaching and Learning Through Technology, will help you get started! We aren’t promising that you won’t have frustrations, but we are promising your kids will be engaged in the meaningful lessons we share and you will have a starting point!
Even if it means you might spend a minute or two in the corner of your room while screaming in a pillow!
Post by Nicole Ring, instructional coach
Technology can be a powerful tool for communication and learning if used properly within the classroom. Recently a teacher told me, “If teachers aren’t using Seesaw, they are really missing out!” Whether is it Seesaw or another Learning Management System, the ability to share learning with families at home, peers and teachers, is a strategy worth trying.
In my new role as Reading Specialist, I am able to see many different ways in which teachers in a 1:1 iPad district use technology in a meaningful way.
One fun way to integrate reading, writing and art is through app smashing. In a first grade classroom that I was recently in, the teacher read Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. The students then talked about verbs. The teacher wrote down the words that students brainstormed on the board. She then took the following picture and uploaded it to Seesaw explaining the lesson to parents at home:
After the brainstorming a lesson on verbs, the students were asked to take a leaf and create a picture of a “Leaf Man” and show him acting out one of the verbs of their choice. Students then wrote a sentence about their “Leaf Man” using the verb of their choice describing their picture.
Then came the fun part. App smashing! Combining two apps at once! The students opened up ChatterPix and and took a photo of their picture. They read their sentence as if they were the “Leaf Man” talking.
It turned out like this:
Student says: “I’m throwing a ball.”
The students then downloaded their video to their camera roll, and uploaded it to Seesaw to share with their families and teacher.
What a powerful way to learn about verbs in a meaningful way! Read-aloud, art, writing, reading and technology, all rolled into one. Now THAT is a powerful lesson!
To learn more about app smashing, check out our NOW Classroom books!
Exploring and playing with manipulatives is one way that our students start to develop an understanding of shapes, counting, patterning, sorting, and other early math concepts. At the beginning of the year each year, I give my students time to just play with the manipulatives we have and I observe. You can learn so much from seeing how they build, organize, and communicate about their work. Some kids like to sort objects, some like to make patterns, and some stack things high into the sky. All of these are valuable experiences for both the student and his/her peers.
Fast forward to mid-year, when we break out the manipulatives again, this time to be used with our iPads. We work in partner centers to design with tangrams and mirror those designs on our iPads. Partners design patterns with tangrams on the table and then use the tangram objects on the iPad to mirror their designs. This helps the kids with motor planning, creativity, and communication. They make larger shapes and designs form smaller shapes. They manipulate the objects and challenge themselves. Most importantly, the students communicate with each other, describing what they made and how to mirror the image on the tangram app.
We complete a similar activity with our rubber bands and geoboards. I just love watching my kids problem solve and figure out the app without my explicit instruction. So much of kids learning to work with technology and make it applicable to their learning is allowing them time for play. When they play, they make connections and their learning can expand, allowing many students to innovate beyond our expectations.
How do your students connect and collaborate over tech use in your classroom? Do you mesh hands-on activities and tech?
Post by former kindergarten teacher turned instructional coach Kirstin McGinnis