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5 Ways to Bring Computational Thinking and STEM Together

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 April, 2018 - 21:30

Stephanie Zeiger on episode 290 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

STEM and Computational Thinking go together. Today’s guest is a PhD, Biomedical engineer and STEM Teacher. Stephanie Zeiger helps us see the potential of STEM and computational thinking.

Legends of Learning has awesome free science games and activities to celebrate earth day on April 22. coolcatteacher.com/earth Check out their NGSS aligned Science games for grades 3-8. Listen Now


Enhanced Transcript 5 Ways to Bring Computational Thinking and STEM Together

Link to show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/e290
Date: April 13, 2018

Vicki: Let’s talk about bringing computational thinking and STEM together with Stephanie Zieger. She works with science and coding at a school in Nashville, Tennessee.

So, Stephanie, what is our first way to bring computational thinking and STEM together?

Stephanie: Well, first, thanks for having me on your show. I was very excited to get contacted by you to talk about this because I’m super excited about it.

The first thing I want to say is that as teachers, you need to know that STEM and computational thinking are not exclusive. In fact, the way scientists and engineers approach problems is very similar to how a computer scientist thinks.

Scientists and engineers approach problems like programmers do

So, for example, when we look at the engineering design process… First, you’re going to identify problems, you’re going to do the research and know what your constraints and criteria are, and that’s going to be something you do whether you’re designing an airplane or an app. You might need to learn some concepts to understand the problem better, but it’s very similar.

Identify problems and do research

When you go and you imagine and brainstorm to think of those solutions, you might need to break down the problem into more manageable parts before you imagine how to even solve it. This is actually called decomposition in computational thinking.

Decompose the problem before brainstorming

Next, you get to plan. Just like an engineer or a scientist, you’re planning out your experiments or designs, you’re going to design an algorithm when you are programming. That’s a step by step way to solve the problem.

Design the algorithm or create your plan

Then last, when we get into the create, test, and we redesign You get to test your design and learn what’s working, what general concept you figured out and what needs to be modified. To redesign, you have to look for those patterns, analyze the data, and figure out what’s responsible for the result. This is similar pattern recognition and abstraction computational thinking.

Create and test and analyze results

Finally, my favorite thing is when you’re coding, and you run that program and it doesn’t work, and you have to debug, you’re actually have to be learning from failure. We know as science teachers, that’s definitely something you’re doing in the science and engineering field.

Debug and modify

Vicki: Wow. So have we already gone through all five now? (laughs)

Stephanie: (laughs) We haven’t!

Vicki: (laughs) OK, so we’ve gone through four. So let’s back up a second.

So first of all, you said, STEM and computational thinking are not exclusive. So some people think, “OK, now we’re going to do science. Now we’re going to do engineering, Now we’re going to do math. And then we’re going to do coding.” So you think all of them can kind of come together, right?

Stephanie: Right. Definitely. I think with the right project design, you can actually incorporate all of these together.

We’ve had some experience with that, and what we’ve found is that it tends to get the students more excited about what they’re doing in the science class. It also really helps them feel like they can change the world when it comes to using STEM and computers.

Vicki: OK, so give me one example of bringing these together, Stephanie.

An example of computational thinking and STEM together

Stephanie: So, in one instance, one of my favorite projects we do has to do with an electricity unit in our seventh grade. We ask students to develop an interactive toy. They are “hired” (laughs) by Mattel — which is just to get them excited — to design an interactive toy.

So students work as mechanical and electrical engineers to learn about circuits, like series and parallel, current and voltage. Then they design a toy that’s going to incorporate a push button, an LED, or a motor.

What we found was that our students were like, “Oh yay! My button works! And the LED works!” But they really want a more interactive toy that does a little bit more than light up or spin. So we took the project to the next level and added in what’s called physical computing.

Now our students are using Arduinos to actually light LEDs in patterns, spin a motor to a certain degree that they want so they get more control over their toy, or actually just even play a song by changing the frequency of sound waves using a buzzer.

So the excitement of this project just grew exponentially. Our students are even more excited when they finally get through that trying things out and finally get a working toy that incorporates Arduino.

Vicki: That’s incredible. And what age are the kids?


Stephanie: This was in a seventh grade class.

Vicki: Excellent. OK, so you’ve given us an example of how STEM and computational thinking come together. That’s a fantastic example. It’s obvious that the kids have to do number two, which is planning things out.

Then number three, which is testing and learning and figuring out how to modify.

Let’s park for a second on number four. Now here is a frustration that I see a lot of teachers — or I guess a misstep — that a lot of us make. I did it at first, too. We feel like we have failed as a teacher if it doesn’t work the first time. Do you agree or not?

Stephanie: I do not agree. Are you talking about if the student’s project doesn’t work the first time?

Vicki: I’m saying that sometimes teachers tend to to feel like a failure if the student project doesn’t work the first time, but that’s not really how we should feel, is it?

Stephanie: No. Definitely not. Having been a scientist and an engineer in my previous life before teaching (laughs) I have to say that there’s more failure than success in these fields.

What you want is for student to be like, “OK. That didn’t work, so let’s see what went wrong. Let’s step back and work through it, and see how I can redesign and build a successful prototype.”

We really want to push the process, not the product. We want — even at the end of the project — we want the students to really reflect on where they started and where they ended up. They can see where they’ve grown in their learning.

As a teacher, we don’t want it to work out perfectly, because that’s no fun. The fun part is when we actually teach our students how to persevere and problem solve when things don’t work.

It’s no fun if it works out perfectly the first time

That’s where debugging comes in with computational thinking, and where in science and engineering it’s just a natural part of those types of jobs.

Vicki: Well, and I’ve seen teachers who’ve done things like, “OK, design a building, and I’m going to cause an earthquake to happen. See if you can keep it from falling down.” Or putting some stress on it, so it’s an actual competition for it, I guess, to hold up in some way.

Stephanie: Right. We do a bridge project with some of our students in our classroom. We intentionally make the bridge fail. We put on as much as we can until it breaks. The reason we do that is we want them to go back and redesign and figure out how they can improve it. That’s a very important part of the process.

I would encourage teachers to find ways for students to have projects that aren’t always going to work out perfectly, and then help model to them how they problem solve and work through that. Students tend to think failure is a bad word. In my line of work, I actually think it’s a great word. (laughs)

Vicki: So is that our fifth, to help model how to problem solve, or is it something else?

Stephanie: Well, I had some more, but… (laughs)

Vicki: OK! Give us some more!

Stephanie: (laughs) Alright!

I did want to point out that part of when you are modeling… so let’s just model… I always give an example for computational thinking. When students can realize how much STEM goes into computer generation or animation or games, they can use programming to design their own animation of a STEM concept, such as how to get to a rocket’s velocity or angle of projection accurate so that it can make it to the moon.

There are resources like code.org, CS Discovery’s curriculum, or MIT’s Scratch program that can be really useful for teachers to create a project that allows the students to express their creativity while using programming and modeling to deepen their understanding of the scientific concept.

We’ve applied this across several projects, including one that’s been done in our history classes, where the students actually wrote code to model Greek mythology (laughs) as they were learning about the gods and goddesses.

Vicki: Awesome. So we’ve talked about a lot of ways to bring computational thinking and STEM together.

Stephanie, let’s finish up with a short 30-second pitch on why these two things belong together. Why do computational thinking and STEM belong together?

Stephanie: So computational thinking and STEM belong together because they’re really going to complement each other in helping your students become more STEM knowledgeable. I want to encourage teachers that while you can see the benefits of computational thinking, you might be overwhelmed to know even where to start.

So reach out to the Computer Science Teachers Association. Membership is free! They have great resources. Just jump in. Step out of your comfort zone. Be the student, and just try to program. You’ll be amazed at how much you grow in your learning, and the new perspective you’ll have about your students as they’re learning STEM concepts.

Step out of your comfort zone

Vicki: I totally agree, because I know when I first helped kids make video games in Scratch, it scared me. I know when I first helped kids make apps, it scared me. When we first got Arduinos, it scared me.

Stephanie: (laughs)

Vicki: It’s kind of scary and nerve-wracking, but these are things you can do. So get out and try and experiment and be a creator along with your students.

Stephanie: Yes. I completely agree with that.

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted

Stephanie Zeiger is an engineer and scientist that has embraced bringing the world of STEM to students of all ages. She has undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering and a PhD in biomedical engineering where she first learned to code. As a research assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, she became involved in many STEM educational outreach programs and found a passion for teaching science. Today, she is an instructor with the Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth and a Harpeth Hall School science teacher where she teaches and develops STEM curriculum including multiple coding classes that emphasize computational thinking.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post 5 Ways to Bring Computational Thinking and STEM Together appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Legends of Learning: The Game-Based Science Platform for Grades 3-8

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 April, 2018 - 09:10

Sponsored by Legends of Learning

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Students love to play games, and they also need real-world examples to help science come alive. With this in mind, Legends of Learning is a fantastic platform full of NGSS aligned science games that does both. Kids in grades 3-8 will love these science games. As shown below, game selection is easy for teachers. Just pick the Next Generation Science standard that you want to teach and choose from several options. For the purpose of teaching, science games are fun ways to engage students and reteach and review material! Sign up is free.

Sponsored by Legends of Learning.  

To demonstrate the power of effective game-based science learning, look at the research. For example, Vanderbilt University has recently found how this approach leads to a more engaging science classroom.

Popular Activities: NGSS Science Games for Grades 3-8

Here are some examples of popular topics and games:

For the purpose of seeing what fits in your classroom, check out the other standards by signing up for a free account. Understandably, right now is a perfect time to review the concepts you’ve been teaching all year.  In light of what I’ve shared about Legends of Learning, sign up and see what these NGSS aligned science games can do for your classroom.

Select the Standard and Start Playing (and Learning!)

In Legends of Learning, it is simple for teachers to select the standard and find games that they can add to student playlists. Signing up is free.

So, whether you teach elementary or middle school earth science, life science, or physical science, you’ll find fun, exciting games for your students to play and learn. Understandably, we teachers always need to find new ways of reinforcing and reviewing concepts. Legends of Learning is the solution I recommend for engaging kids and exciting them about the science concepts they’ve been learning all year.

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored blog post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies that I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Legends of Learning: The Game-Based Science Platform for Grades 3-8 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Can We Afford a Digitally Illiterate Congress?

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 12 April, 2018 - 23:11

Like many people I found the Zuckerberg Congressional Hearings disturbing on several levels. Yes, there are some serious issues with Facebook and other Internet services with regards to privacy, security, and social impact. We clearly need to deal with them. That is probably a topic for more discussion and blog posts. The lack of understanding of how technology and the Internet works on the part of people who can and likely will pass laws about them was also deeply concerning.

Doug Bergman talked about this at length in his post “The Elephant in the Room.” That’s a great read and I recommend it highly. But I have to stick in my own two cents.

Someone asked me if we required deep aviation knowledge in the members of Congress who questioned Howard Hughes. I think their point was that we don’t expect our Congress people to be deeply technical on all subjects that come before them. That’s a valid point  but at the same time we would hope that they would consult with experts before making decisions. And frankly some of the questions should have been general knowledge and were not deeply technical.

A lot of people who disturbed when Senator Hatch asked how Facebook could maintain a business model where its users didn’t pay for the service. I know I was. Advertising support is a model that predates the internet. It’s a model that allows us free radio and TV for example. To not know that this is how Facebook supports itself is worrying to me.

That and other questions could have been and should have been explained during staff preparation of the Congress people while they prepared their questions.  They are pretty basic.

These hearings were one of the best arguments that everyone needs some computer science knowledge. Not just the computer people. Not just the STEM people. Everyone! And just maybe, with the way things are going,  its particularly important for those planning on a career in politics.

It also seemed that several people had trouble understanding the answers even though Zuckerberg tried to make them simple. It seemed like one Congress person had no real understanding of what an encrypted message was about. That’s not just a Facebook or even internet thing. Though we do often discuss it in digitally literacy units (I know I do.)

Categories: Planet

Understanding ADHD and Helping Kids Succeed

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 12 April, 2018 - 21:30

Katherine Firestone on episode 289 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Katherine Firestone helps parents and kids with ADHD. Having been diagnosed with ADHD herself, Katherine is uniquely positioned to help us understand what to do to help children with ADHD and their parents.

Legends of Learning has awesome free science games and activities to celebrate earth day on April 22. coolcatteacher.com/earth Check out their NGSS aligned Science games for grades 3-8. Listen Now


Enhanced Transcript Understanding ADHD and Helping Kids Succeed

Link to show:
Date: April 12, 2018

Vicki: Today we’re talking with Katherine Firestone founder of the Fireborn Institute.

Katherine, we’re talking today about kids who have ADHD and helping them succeed and thrive.

But you in your story, you have ADHD. You were diagnosed as a junior.

Help us understand, for those of us who don’t have ADHD, what this feels like. Helps us empathize with what you live and what kids with ADHD live with every day.

What is it like to live with ADHD as a student?

Katherine: Yeah. So it’s different. ADHD has a lot of different manifestations.

But for me, what it really felt like was I felt like an imposter.

I felt like, “I’m tricking everybody that I’m smart. I don’t really belong in these classes.”

When I was young, I had a very hard time learning how to read. Through high school, I had a difficult time reading. I would skip ahead. I would forget things. I literally couldn’t read the sentence because I couldn’t track it. I would have to highlight the words just so my eyes would stay on track. So it just felt like it took me SO much longer than everybody else to get my work done.

When you have ADHD, it’s very difficult to not also have anxiety, because you’re thinking about everything, right?

Like I’m constantly worried about my friends, how what I had just said was affecting something, or how what I was doing was being interpreted.

So you’ve got that constant thought going on. It’s very difficult to focus on one thing.

UNLESS you’re super interested in that one thing. Then it’s totally like, I don’t have to think about (anything else). I’m totally focused on that.

So, like my parents would say that I had a one-track mind. That’s absolutely true when I cared about something.

So this is why parents who have kids with ADHD, they see their kids, and they’re like, “My kid can focus! He’s playing videos for like hours!”

Vicki: (laughs)

Katherine: That’s because that’s what really interests your kid, and so they’re going to spend their time doing that. They can focus on it.

And it feels really good to be good at something, and video games provide that.

So again, with kids with ADHD, who often struggle with being good at a lot of things because they can’t focus, it feels good to be good at something!

So naturally, are going to focus on those things.

Vicki: So Katherine, what did it feel like when you got your diagnosis? How did you process that, and did it improve things in your life, and if so, how?

How did you deal with your own diagnosis?

Katherine: So for me, it was a relief.

Because it felt like, “This is it! This is what makes me different from other students. It’s not that I’m an imposter. I actually am really smart, but I do have something that’s, you know, holding me back to some degree.

But now we can do something about it. Now that we know what this is, you know, we can hire an executive functions coach, we can think about strategies, I can go on medication.”

It really empowered me and boosted my confidence.

And I know that it is not the same for all kids. A lot of kids feel that there is something wrong with them.

You know, I’m on a mission to tell you that, “No, there isn’t! You are fantastic!”

I credit ADHD with a lot of my success, and I think it actually helped me in the long term.

But I just needed some help, you know, sometimes, staying focused, showing the teachers how smart I really was. Having the diagnosis really helped that.

Vicki: So how do you help parents? I know that this is part of your work that you do now.

How do you help parents, who, they either suspect that their kids have ADHD, or they realize their kids have been diagnosed with it, and they’re just trying to get an understanding of where do they start?

How do you help parents who are just beginning to learn about ADHD?

Katherine: Yeah. That’s a really good question.

So, most kids who struggle with ADHD have a really difficult time with executive functioning skills. These are all the skills that you need to be a good student:

  • to focus
  • to sustain your attention
  • to organize
  • to plan
  • to inhibit your responses
  • to stop doing something fun and start doing something boring, like homework.

Vicki: (laughs)

Katherine: So, a really good place to start is to learn about executive functioning skills. And Peg Dawson and Richard Guare are some of the leading researchers in executive functioning skills.

Consider a survey about executive functioning strengths and weaknesses

They have a fantastic questionnaire that asks you questions to figure out where your strengths and weaknesses are.

I strongly encourage parents to fill this out for themselves and also think about where their kids fall in this lines because it will help you as a parent figure out what your executive functioning strengths and weaknesses are. And what are your kids’?

And then you’ll be able to empathize with them when you see, “Oh, my strength is organizing. But my kid cannot organize at all.”

That’s going to give you an understanding, “OK, I can see where this is coming from now. OK, let me help my kid with this.”

Seek help from experts

And then, also you know, I definitely recommend finding a psychiatrist who can help your kid. I definitely recommend finding an executive functions coach. The earlier you can get the interventions going — you know, not just medication — but, you know, figuring out how to study, how to read effectively. Those kinds of strategies. The sooner you can help your kid develop the strategies, the better off they’re going to be in the long term.

Vicki: The big thing that I think is important, because two of my three kids have learning differences — is creating an organization system that works for them. You shouldn’t be the one who keeps them organizing.

Create a system that works for your child, not for you

Katherine: Yes.

Vicki: Like my son has a big iron clipboard. We call it the Iron Planner. He puts everything he needs to do in there. He clips everything to the front. It’s a big kind of hard-sided metal case. I wouldn’t ever, in a million years, use that system. But it totally works for him.

His grades will typically go up 5-10 points average when he’s using his Iron Planner.

So, isn’t part of it, saying, “OK, let’s find what works for you — and not what I do —

Katherine: Oh, absolutely! You know, it’s very difficult. We can’t force our kids to do what we did, or what worked for us. It really has to come from them, what works for them.

Everyone’s got their different organizational style, and we have to just figure out whatever it is for our kid that’s going to make them work, because that’s going to get their buy-in, and then they’re going to use it.

If you try and impose something that works for you, or that the school has decided works, if it doesn’t work for your kid, then it’s not going to work for them, and they’re just not going to use that.

So definitely being innovative with those ideas is so important.

Vicki: So, you help kids with ADHD and their parents and help them succeed, but I also know that you’re kind of big into Social-Emotional Learning (SEL).

What is the emotional side of this, that you have to help students come to grips with?

So much of teaching is helping kids believe in themselves.

How can we help ADHD kids with the emotional pieces of their diagnosis?

Katherine: Yeah. Yeah.

Well, so there’s definitely that anxiety piece that I talked about before. Like I said, when you have ADHD, it’s very difficult to not have anxiety about it. Because you know you’re different.

And if you have more of that hyperactive part, you know that other classmates are not as active as you and maybe are not getting in as much trouble as you are.

So knowing that about yourself is important, and you can learn some strategies.

I’m a huge proponent of meditation, and yoga, and taking brain breaks.

These are all things that are very helpful for kids with ADHD, to be more mindful about what they’re doing, and then that’s going to help calm their anxiety.

It’s going to help them think in the moment of being active, being more present, and thinking about, you know, “What should I be doing right now?”

Or helping then with that response inhibition so that they can feel more comfortable at school and more like they fit in.

But, I’m not saying that they shouldn’t have the opportunity to run around and get their energy out. They need that, too. We need to provide them with opportunities for that as well.

Vicki: So Katherine, as we finish up, would you give a 30-second pep talk to teachers who are struggling with all the ADHD kids they have in their classrooms — so that we can reach and encourage those kids to help them to be their best?

Katherine: Sure!

What should teachers know about those “difficult” ADHD kids in their class?

You know, the thing to remember about kids with ADHD is that they really do want to please you. They have so much to offer, and I know that they’re so difficult.

But if you can empathize with them and understand, you know, they’re not acting out because they want to, it’s because they have this innate need.

If you can figure out with them and work with them to figure out what can fill that need in another way, you know, they can do amazing, creative, really high thought level kind of stuff.

Vicki: Especially, wouldn’t you agree, Katherine, if we can find those things that they love?

Katherine: Yes. Yes. Exactly.

Vicki: Yes. I’ve had kids who love Minecraft, or who love different types of things — whether a sport or a genre of books — and once I know that, you know, you can really unleash so much learning if you can get them excited.

So you know, educators. I know that… I’ve heard people sitting around the lunch table, saying, “Oh, years ago, this…” Well, OK, but we live in today. (laughs)

Today is that we have a lot of precious wonderful students with ADHD that we love and we want to reach. Understanding them and helping the parents, teachers, and the students all be on the same team. We all want them to learn. We all want them to succeed. And we want our classrooms to be a better place by understanding ADHD.

Take a look at the resources at the Fireborn Institute and look at the environment

and the wonderful resources for parents and for kids to help with these things.

We’ll also link to this fascinating executive functioning skills quiz that I think I’m going to take a look at and maybe use with my students.

So thank you so much, Katherine, for helping us to understand.

Katherine: Oh, it’s my pleasure. Thanks for having me!

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted About Fireborn Institute

Fireborn Institute is a non-profit that provides parents with practical and easy-to-remember strategies to help their children in school. Through our lectures, podcasts & handouts, we coach parents on topics such as helping with homework or conquering a messy backpack. Our ultimate goal is to help parents help their kids thrive at school.

About Katherine Firestone

Katherine had a hard time in school because she suffered from undiagnosed ADHD till her junior year of high school. What made her successful during this time was the support system she had around her. After college, she worked as a teacher, and saw that parents wanted to help their kids at home, but didn’t know what to do. She started the Fireborn Institute to give parents ideas on how to help because success at school is enhanced at home.

She is also the host of The Happy Student, a podcast for parents on promoting happy academic and social lives. The show provides practical strategies on a variety of topics based on Fireborn’s 4 pillars.

Blog: http://www.fireborninstitute.org/

Twitter: @SisuFireborn

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Understanding ADHD and Helping Kids Succeed appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

The “Push” That Comes With Being Valued

The Principal of Change George Couros - 12 April, 2018 - 09:23

Feeling valued.

We all want to feel that we are valued for the work that we do daily, and when you don’t feel it, “checking out” becomes an option.

When one is truly valued, they are not just commended for the work they do but are pushed to the possibilities of what they possibly could do.

My best boss always found the balance of ensuring she appreciated me, but asking me questions and pushing my thinking on where I could go. The majority of my conversations with her ended with me feeling that I am on the right path, but I have work to do. She was masterful in how she maintained that balance.

Personally, there are many people that I mentor who I know that I push to their limits because I know what they can achieve. I do my best to make them feel appreciated (working on getting better), but because I care, I push them.  Sometimes when you don’t push, that is a sign of giving up.

I also know that there are people that do not build relationships with people they push. That feels more like an “ego” thing than a support thing. The balance is necessary.

As you read this, think of the people who have shown you that you are appreciated while simultaneously frustrating you with their challenges. Think of the students you cared for, but you still focused on getting them to their best. The feeling you had and your students had, were probably quite similar.

Categories: Planet

Merge Cube Mania in Middle School

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 11 April, 2018 - 21:30

Karen Bosch on episode 288 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Karen Bosch explains why Merge Cubes are so hot, how they are being used in classrooms, and how she’s using them to build critical thinking and creativity in her school. Join Merge Cube Mania!

A big thank you to Karen. She couldn’t stand that I wasn’t able to get the Merge Cubes in my local Walmart and sent me one! I got in the mail TODAY (Tuesday) as I’m prepping this post to go live. Thank you Karen for not only being an amazing educator but a kind, thoughtful person.

Legends of Learning has awesome free science games and activities to celebrate earth day on April 22. coolcatteacher.com/earth Check out their NGSS aligned Science games for grades 3-8. Listen Now



Enhanced Transcript Merge Cube Mania in Middle School

Link to show: www.coolcatteacher.com/e288

Date: April 11, 2018

Vicki: Today we’re talking to Karen Bosch.

She, I just found out, was MACUL 2017 Tech Using Teacher of the Year. So she is in Michigan. Today we are talking about Merge Cube Mania in middle school.

So, Karen, what is a Merge Cube?

Karen: So, a Merge Cube is an augmented reality device. It looks like a cube, a black cube. It’s squishy, foamy, very flexible. And it looks like it has a QR code on each side of the cube.

A Merge Cube is a 3D augmented reality device

Those codes serve as a trigger. When you scan the cube with your mobile device — it will work with an iPhone, an iPad, and it works with Android, but you have to have the Merge Cube app on it.

When you scan the cube, and you’re holding the cube in your hand, when you look at it through the iPhone, instead of seeing the cube, you’re going to see something else in your hand. It might be a human heart. It might be a fire. It might be a castle.

But it is very, very cool to see something else being held in your hand. It’s a little bit different than a lot of other augmented reality. A lot of times, with augmented reality, you have a trigger that you print out and you scan it flat.

But because this is a three-dimensional object, you can turn it and interact with it. So it’s pretty interesting.

It allows you to take photos and videos of what you are seeing

And it also has, within the apps, the ability to take photos and to take videos. So you can actually video and document what it is that you are seeing through the augmented reality.

Vicki: So we’re kind of looking through the screen — and we’ve done shows before that we’ll link to about augmented reality. You’re looking at this cube. And it probably doesn’t look like a cube.

Karen: It doesn’t.

Vicki: It could like like all different kinds of things. So what’s an example of something it might look like?

Karen: So there are things where it will look like maybe a castle, or an aquarium, or it might look like a human skull. They have probably about a dozen or so different apps that you can download — and many of them are free.

There are several apps for it, and most of them are free

Some are interactive games.

So you might find something like Tiltball, where there’s a marble that’s rolling down the different faces. As you turn it, the marble rolls different directions.

Or there’s a Starfighter one, where you’re actually doing like a little space battle. As you turn the cube, your little starfighter will move in different directions.

They’ve also got apps — one’s called Dig. It’s kind of like a little mini Minecraft, and you can actually create things by tapping onto the cube and you know, build holes and different things will appear.

One that I really like is a Choose Your Own Adventure Story. This is called 57 Degrees North. It starts out, the cube looks like a crate.

But as you turn it, the story opens, and you see inside of the cube you see a scene, and you hear a voice of somebody talking and narrating the story.

As you turn the cube, it will say, “Which direction do you want to go? Do you want to do this or do that?” As you turn the cube in that direction, then that box opens to show you the next scene.

I would LOVE to have my students be able to program something like that and create their own stories. I think that would be pretty neat.

They also have interactive — more learning type games — called Mr. Body, where you see a human body, and as you tap on different parts of the body, the organs will open up, and there will be some information about it. Again, with the cube, you can turn it so you can see the things, all from all different angles and sides.

My favorite one is one called [Galactic] Explorer, which is a solar system. It actually looks like you’re holding a spinning solar system in your hands. I was doing this one last week with some preschool students, and I said to the teacher, “You’ve got to come over and see this!”

My favorite one is the one about the solar system

And she was just blown away, because she’s been trying to help her preschoolers visualize what the solar system looks like.

And you know, a poster on the wall is one thing, but to be able to take this cube, and use the augmented reality.

She was projecting it up on her screen, and now she can tap on Jupiter, and Jupiter will come up. She can turn it, and they can see the moons and all the different aspects of the different planets. So that interactivity is pretty, pretty neat.

So there are a lot of things that you can do with them that’s pretty cool!

Vicki: Incredible! OK. Now, we had never heard of Merge Cube, and now all of a sudden, everybody started talking about Merge Cube.

So how did this Merge Cube mania start?

This Merge Cube mania came out of nowhere! What happened?

Karen: About a month ago, I started seeing stuff on social media. I saw Leslie Fisher first talking about it, and then I saw all of my friends talking about it. The Merge Cube was originally about $15-20.

But WalMart had an overstock, and so they were selling them off for $1.00 each.

Vicki: (laughs)

Karen: And so, you know? Technology is expensive.

But when you can — for $1.00 each — put something into the hands of everybody? You don’t have to share. You don’t have to do it in stations. You don’t have to have partners. You know, for a dollar, you can’t go wrong.

So everyone was out buying hundreds and hundreds of these Merge Cubes. I ended up buying 32 of them. I figured even if I just do one lesson with them, I can get my dollar’s worth of use out of each one. So that’s kind of how it started.

Did you get any of them, Vicki?

Vicki: I couldn’t find them in my WalMart.

Karen: Oh no!!!

Vicki: Of course, I’m in the middle of nowhere. And I’m like, “Why do I not see these things?” And they just weren’t there. And by that time, there were pretty much just pictures of educators with them in their shopping carts everywhere, you know.

Karen: It was crazy.

Vicki: So here’s the question. If apps for the Merge Cube are limited right now. You said there are like eight or so apps…

Karen: Yeah…

Vicki: How…? Your favorite thing is the solar system. Do you have any other ways that you are using it with your middle schoolers?

What can we do with these, besides marvel over them?

Karen: Well, what I decided to do is… It’s not so much right now what you can learn with the cube, but I think that there’s a great learning process that you can go through with your kids, again because in their hands, everyone has one, and the threshold to get them started takes about 3 minutes.

I demoed it. I said, “Skip the activation code. Skip the login. Say, “YES,” when it asks if you want to use the camera and the photo. Here’s the little tutorial. Run through that.”

That basically was all the instruction I needed to give. Then I said, “OK! You’ve got a bunch of apps on your iPad. Figure it out yourself. Explore. Find out what you can do.”

And so they basically were learning to use the technology themselves, which is what they’re going to have to do for the rest of their lives.

So I didn’t have to put together tutorials. They just explored.

And what I started seeing happening was, “OH! How did you do that?” or “OH! Did you know you could do this?”

They started discovering things. “OH, we can download this. We can do that.”

They were just totally engrossed in learning how to use the cube, just exploring all the depths of it.

That was Part 1. That was Day 1.

My students played one day, and then I had them write reviews of it

Day 2 was they had to document it. So each of my middle school students has a blog. So they had to write a review. They had to include media in the review. They had to tell what they learned about how to use it. They had to give some examples. They had to give their opinion of it. What were some of the plusses? What were some of the minuses?

They started putting together the media, again because they could just take photos and videos through the apps themselves. So some of them just put a lot of videos and pictures and clips in. But some of them said, “Could I combine a bunch of videos together in iMovie?”

“Oh, sure!”

Or you know, “Could I use the Apple clips app?” And that was even better because then they started adding narration onto their videos. They added titles. They added annotations. They added closed captions.

There were a variety of different ways that the students put together their reviews. But again, it wasn’t so much WHAT you could do with the learning right now, but it was just that whole process of learning how to use it, and then being able to document it in a way that you could share with an audience.

Vicki: Yeah!

You know, so my students have programmed in augmented reality using something called MetaVerse, which is awesome. But this really gives a way to anchor physical objects into your augmented reality app.

And then the other thing you’re doing is you’re app smashing…

Karen: Absolutely!

App smashing is where it’s at

Vicki: So you’re combining things that you can do with the cubes — with other apps — to kind of make these fantastic new experiences where the kids are in it, but they’re interacting with objects that it looks like they’re holding, but they’re not necessarily holding.

Karen: Absolutely. I’ve seen some people use the solar system one as a background for green screen. I’ve seen people using the solar system as part of clips where they’re, you know, giving reports on planets.

But again — yeah! Because you can record media with the apps, there are just a lot of different ways that you can use that to smash it together.

Vicki: So, we can link in the Shownotes to the Merge Cubes, but this is augmented reality, and it’s continuing to grow as so many of us are learning about it, playing with it, and really helping our kids with that computational thinking of experimenting, app smashing, trying things out.

So let us know how you’re using your Merge Cube.

How are you using YOUR Merge cube, teachers?

Karen: (laughs)

Well, for me, I just played with it. It was just very fascinating to see.

It IS a big wow, where kids can hold something in their hand and then look at it, and it looks like something else. I’m hoping, maybe, to be able to have these older kids bring them in with younger kids and partner with them to get them started.

And then I want to do this whole exploration thing with some of my other grades — with my 3rd and 4th and 5th graders — where they just “go at it!” and learn about it on their own.

Because I do think that that’s part of transfer of skills. Taking skills that they’ve learned in one area and then learning how to successfully navigate a new technology but finding similarities with what they already know and putting it into a new context. That’s pretty important for kids today.

Vicki: Awesome.

Thank you, Karen!

Karen: You’re welcome! It’s been fun talking to you!

Contact us about the show: http://www.coolcatteacher.com/contact/

Transcribed by Kymberli Mulford kymberlimulford@gmail.com

Bio as submitted

Karen Bosch Is the PreK – 8 Technology Instructor at Southfield Christian School in the Metro Detroit area, a position she has held since 2001. Her roots are as an elementary classroom teacher where she utilized technology as an integrated part of the learning environment. She enjoys helping both students and teachers to creatively use technology tools to extend and share their learning in meaningful ways. Her recent learning adventures with her students have included exploring sketchnotes and 3D printing.

Karen is a 2007 Apple Distinguished Educator. In 2016, she was selected to be a Dremel 3D Printing Ideabuilder Ambassador. She was named as a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator and serves as a Book Creator Ambassador. Recently, she was recognized as MACUL 2018 Technology Using Teacher of the Year.

Karen’s website called “Creative APP-titude: iPad Multimedia Tools for Creativity” contains a wealth of iPad resources and student project examples. You can locate her resources at http://tinyurl.com/ipadcreate/. To learn more about how her students used Merge Cubes, check out this blog post at her Middle Pages blog: http://blogs.southfieldchristian.org/middlepages/2018/03/merge-cube-mania/ .

Blog: http://tinyurl.com/ipadcreate

Twitter: @karlyb

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored podcast episode.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.” This company has no impact on the editorial content of the show.

The post Merge Cube Mania in Middle School appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Education and the cult of efficiency

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 10 April, 2018 - 11:58

I was having a conversation recently about why schools are still largely stuck in an industrial model. It prompted me to look for a book that I haven’t visited in a while but has been seminal in my thinking. ‘Education in the cult of efficiency’ by Raymond E. Callahan may have been published in 1962 but it continues to resonates today and will continue until we accept and recognise that schools are not factories; students are not products, and that the” improvement agenda” condemns us to repeating past failures.  And while I have argued that we can learn from innovative companies like Apple, Atlassian and Ideo (all of which are driven by the customer), we have spent the better part of a century failing to challenge the dominant business ideology that pervades our school systems.

Callahan and more recently Richard Elmore have argued that the institutionalisation of schools has led to educators being a ‘low-status and low-power’ group. Hence, why the learning and teaching agenda has been so strongly influenced by those outside of the profession. While Callahan reflects on the social forces that shaped public schooling in America, he admits early on that in the early 1900s, they had established a framework for a ‘noble concept’ of education. This was the time when John Dewey was espousing his philosophical position that schooling must be a ‘hands-on’ experience.

Schools at that time were not immune from the social (industrial) forces shaping America. The rise of the great industrialists and the power they wielded across politics and society may have made America great but as we are seeing in the US and in those countries that followed America’s lead, the industrialised efficiency model is now a blight on modern societies.

One aspect of the economisation of schooling, which Callahan brilliantly refers to as the ‘Descent into Trivia’ meant that school administrators were ignoring the substance of quality education in favour of spending time and energy on the mechanics (e.g. increasing class sizes, maintenance of floors, heating and toilet paper). This was in the 1930s – so to read Callahan again in 2018 is akin to reading a Greek tragedy only Callahan calls it an ‘American tragedy in education’.

If you read nothing else of Callahan’s book, I implore you to read the final chapter. Anyone working in and for education cannot but feel their ire rise by the great disservice we have done to millions of students. As Callahan writes so powerfully, the consequences of blindly adopting [business] values and practices and applying them with ‘little or no consideration of educational values or purposes’ is the great tragedy. He says that ‘it was a serious mistake in an institution whose primary purpose was the education of children and if the focus had been on producing the finest product (e.g quality learning and teaching) instead of aspiring to delivering schooling at the lowest cost, the outcome would not have been so adverse.

In summarising, Callahan provides the following reflections and recommendations to school systems in the free world:

  1. Society must realise that school systems have been caught in a vicious cycle since 1911
  2. The profession must work together with parents, politicians and the wider community to ensure quality schooling reigns
  3. There is no easy path to ‘genuine professional competence’ – it requires hard intellectual work to turn factories into places of learning
  4. Job satisfaction is just as important as salary in attracting teachers to the profession
  5. Transformation is a national challenge and it requires ‘bold and vigorous’ leadership from the profession and those in public life
  6. Educational leaders need to have a good grounding in humanities, social and natural sciences in order to understand the challenges of the age and make sound intellectual judgments based on the kind of quality education children will need
  7. Educational leaders require professional competence as well as the skills and knowledge to know whether the desired outcomes are being achieved (i.e. evaluating instructional efforts)

Finally, I would love to see Callahan’s final paragraph (although written for an American audience in the early sixties) in every staffroom as a constant reminder of why we must transform schooling today.

To do this, (America) will need to break with its traditional practice, strengthened so much in the age of efficiency, of asking how our schools can be operated most economically and begin asking instead what steps need to be taken to provide an excellent education for our children. We must face the fact that there is no cheap, easy way to educate a human being and a free society cannot endure without educated men [and women].






Categories: Planet

The Press Release

Chris Betcher - 4 April, 2018 - 00:11

I was recently interviewed on The Press Release podcast with David Hotler. I found it in interesting chat with him and we covered quite a range of topics so I thought I would just share the episode here as well.

Whenever I get interviewed I generally prefer not to know the questions in advance, and this was no exception. I find the conversation flows much better when I have no idea where its going. David asked some good questions that led into, hopefully, an interesting discussion.   I guess you can be the judge of that!

You can subscribe to The Press Release directly on their website. There are a ton of interesting episodes there!

Thanks for having me David!

Categories: Planet
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