Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The 411 on Infographics

Infographics are a doozie of a way to access the upper echelon of Bloom's Taxonomy. They get students to create while integrating informational literacy, visual literacy, digital literacy, and plain old literacy literacy (AKA reading and writing). Below I've posted a gateway, of sorts, into using and creating data visualizations in your classroom.

Once again, Google Apps for Education provides a wonderful way for you to not only access data but select your own visualization of it. All in one place! Simply search Public Data on Google. When you find the data you want to learn about you can see different graphs of it by selecting the symbols at the top.  When you're happy and you know it, save the image.  You can also create infographics of other stats not listed in the Public Data for free through Google Charts by Google Developers.

Another tool you can use if you are GAFE school is the Google AddOn LucidChart for Education. There are thousands of options for chart creation through this tool. Just be certain you are comfortable with their privacy policies. The same can be said for all these tools. Especially if you are using them to create personal or school specific data.

The Social Media Hat offers step by step directions on how to create infographics on Canva. Canva is a snazzy, free graphic design tool that will create stellar infographics. Easel.ly is easily one of the simplest infographic makers. It requires registration. Other marvelous data visualization creators that are free, at least initially, but require registration are: visual.ly, Picktochart,  and infogr.am.

Learning with Infographics on Scoop it was created by yours truly has loads of resources. Even more than highlighted here so be sure to check it out.

Tops on my list is a stop on Kathy Schrock's Infographics Resource page. She's got examples,
integration ideas, tutorials, lesson plans, you name it.

Personally, I have had students create infographics on data we collected comparing literacy rates and life expectancy, among other happiness indicators, on The World Factbook site. In our computer class we created flow charts for decision making with regards to digital citizenship, "To Post or Not to Post?" We also created infographics on social media usage at different ages and risky online behaviors. Data visualization makes for an excellent integration strategy, mixing not only technology, but social studies, science, math, character development, art, design, you name it. Try going to Kathy's Infographic Guide to Everything, finding a lesson, and diving in.




Thursday, January 15, 2015

Olly Olly Oxen Free

Photo by: Megan Black
"You can discover more about a person from an hour of play then you can from a year of conversation." Plato

Come out, come out, wherever you are! February 4, 2015 marks the first Global School Play Day.  This initiative was inspired by the TEDx talk by Dr. Peter Gray where he documents the decline in play we have seen over the past 60 years and correlates that with the decline in creativity and the blossoming of mental disorders, especially anxiety, in children. I have a hunch that the lack of play time in our chickabiddy's lives also contributes to a fixed mindset.

My favorite quote from Dr. Gray's Talk comes at the end where he causally says, "We don't need more school, maybe we need better school, but we don't need more." I always get a queasy feeling when I hear dedicated teachers that have been enslaved by their curriculum bemoan their lack of time. Educators will always need more time as long as bureaucracies keep piling on the mandates.

However, schools aren't the only reason kids fall on the skids. (Sorry, I confess a weakness for rhyming.) Our entire culture of fear and the almighty need for safety has prevented the lessons that can only be learned through merry exploration. As Tolkien said, "It is dangerous business going out your door..." It is also vital.

Think about life as a grown human. Do you really have a lot of free time? As much as you want? My guess is the answer is no for 95% of us. Yet, most youngsters have far more loaded schedules than adults. It is crazy making. Literally.

Admittedly, recess duty, as the adult in charge, can be anxiety provoking. All the noise. The chaos. The opportunities for a kid to be physically or emotionally damaged. Yikes. However, every time, without fail, there is at least one occasion, where I witness that this unstructured time, is perhaps the best moment in a kid's day. And by best, I mean best learning, best feeling, significant, best.

photo by: Megan Black
So, why not dedicate an entire school day to play? Around the world! Yes, somebody might get hurt but many more somebodies might have their minds and hearts expanded. They may learn lessons about how to be in this world with others that would never have happened if we planned it or imposed our agenda. Perhaps, we are the ones who should learn from them. Rilke said, "We need, in love, to practice only this: letting each other go. For the holding on comes easily. We do not need to learn it."

So, please join the Global School Play Day on February 4, 2015. I triple dog dare you!


Monday, January 12, 2015

Seven Slick Current Event Resources

Even though as teachers we aren't supposed to play favorites, I will confess a special fondness for this ad free, current events resource. When you register for a free account you have access to daily articles where students can self select reading levels or you can assign them. Teachers and classes get daily articles emailed if they wish. There are also free follow up quizzes with student access to results.

The affordable pro version allows teachers to track common core standards, class progress, and much more.

Smithsonian Tween Tribune
I just recently learned of the Smithsonian's Tween Tribute Current Events resource. It may replace my favorite. Teachers can select articles based on grade level and assign them by reading level. They also have self scoring quizzes, lesson plans, and critical thinking questions. As far as I can tell, the whole enchilada is gratis.

News-O-Matic is both an online service and an iPad App with regularly updated content for an affordable fee. It is highly engaging for younger students and a wonderful gateway to learning to love the news.  

Our Little Earth is an International e-Newspaper delivered to your email every two weeks. The articles are well written and I recommend enrolling your students, or yourself and then forwarding the newsletter. It helps build a bridge to global citizenship. 

GoGoNewsYoungzineThe Whiz Times
Looking for something more fun? GoGoNewsYoungzine, or The Whiz Times might be the ticket. These are fun and safe, high interest news articles aimed at kids. Because lets face it, it is a guilty pleasure to read certain magazines at the dentist and hairdressers. 


Thursday, January 8, 2015

iPad Band

Screenshot of
https://www.flickr.com/photos/laughingsquid/3194907450
We are about to start our REAL (Real World Experiences and Applied Learning) elective classes that focus on areas of interest and passion. REAL is an important part of our STEAM program. One of the classes offered this year is iPad Band. Where students will work in groups to form bands using iPad App instruments. To help out our very busy music teachers, I put together a graphic of instrument and music making Apps with embedded links. All of them are free and most of them have no in app purchases. It is embedded below for your listening/downloading pleasure.


If the idea of an iPad Band floats your boat, you will love the adorkable Ge Wang. He has a wonderful Ted Talk on how he creates computer generated music and The Orchestra of the Future. Ge also formed the Stanford Laptop Orchestra and the Stanford Mobile Orchestra. Mr Wang took his creations and turned them into fantastic iPad Apps under his company name Smule. Check out Smule. Not only do you get the instruments, you get a community with which to jam.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Monday Mooring 1-5-15

About the Mooring: Welcome to the New Year! I've moved my weekly EdTech email update for my staff to this blog. We are a Montessori Pre-K through Grade 8 Independent School. Most resources are aimed at Kindergarten through Grade 8. Although, many will be useful for those who teach high school as well. We are also a 1:1 iPad school with a strong emphasis on STEAM integration. 

FrostBite Theater 
Frostbite Theater is a collection of physics and chemistry experiments on video by Jefferson Labs. The first section are super cool liquid nitrogen experiments. There are many others on the page, including experiments that can be done at home. The Jefferson Labs site itself is outstanding and worth wandering through.  Hat tip Richard Byrne Free Technology for Teachers

Try Engineering
Not only does Try Engineering offer hundreds of Lesson Plans to incorporate Engineering principals, it also offers games with real world applications that students will challenge students. Again, hat tip Richard Byrne Free Technology for Teachers

Get The Math
Get The Math asks real world leaders in various occupations to talk about and present the math challenges that they face on the job. There are follow up lessons to each video where students have to solve the challenge. It is an excellent anecdote to the age old question of those artistic souls, "When am I ever going to use this in real life?"Again, hat tip Richard Byrne Free Technology for Teachers Honestly, I don't get all my resources from Richard, but he is the best. 

Cultural Museums Sharing Through Creative Commons
Jane Park posted a SlideShare titled Creative Commons and Cultural Heritage recently that not only explains Creative Commons Codes for students but also cultural museums around the globe that are now sharing photos and other forms of media through creative commons. This is manna from Jane for producing ethical Video mashups and slideshows with students.

Plotly for Educators
Educators can post graphing and infographic assignments and share them with classes easily with Plotly. And, in turn classes can share with each other and collaborate. Better yet, Plotly is gratis. Hattip to Fred Delventhal.

ThinkLink App Smash Challenge
Thinglink is a cross platform service and App where you can tag pictures with text, links, video, and audio. It makes for a fantastic platform/launch spot for other Apps, websites, and media. On the Thinklink Blog by Susan Oxnevad posted a challenge to educators to App smash with Thinglink. She also posted some fabulous examples of ways that other educators have smashed successfully. (And they didn't even get in trouble.)