Tuesday, March 28, 2017

I Have Some Money for a Makerspace. Now What?

Guest post by:  Heidi Neltner | Instructional Technology Specialist, Certified Librarian

I’ve been primarily working with elementary on the makerspace format for the last 4-5 years.  I would say the first thing you might think to do before buying anything is conduct a needs assessment see what is lacking for the kids and consider the kind of programming you might implement to help fill needs.  (we needed some tools to support NGSS so I started with Legos and Snap Circuits, then branched out from there.)  Also consider your school’s mission and vision and the CSIP.  Tying purchases and plans to those things goes really far in giving your movement credibility.

You might talk to teachers you consider to have an innovative mindset and ask them what they would need to support really taking kids to new places in thought and practice.  Look to see what kinds of projects get done each year and things that might support those projects – (for example if kids are making a lot of displays, maybe a circuit machine would be a good addition).   

I would also check in with the kids to see what they feel like they’re missing.  It might be that students need space to collaborate, so large white boards or writeable surfaces would serve you well; or kids might need a place to make really good resumes, so workstations with tutorials on how to use sites like Canva to build really impressive, visual resumes might help.  Or kids might just be really stressed out and need a place to relax and work together on cool projects like collaborative art that could be donated.

If reaching out to teachers and students to find out what they need seems too time consuming for your timeline, another approach would be to establish a theme for next year and base your purchases around that theme.  For example you might consider a theme that includes the word “light” then you could focus on purchasing things and organizing events that would allow students to do things like create wearable LED projects, or your theme might have something to do with “bringing ideas to life” and center your purchases around things that would allow kids to create videos or cartoons (green screens, iPads for easy editing) or you could have a totally different view on that and buy kits that would allow kids to grow things and create green spaces in your school.

I do have some resources and suggestions here that might spark some better ideas: http://learninprogress.blogspot.com/2015/09/makerspace-on-budget.html

Ultimately whatever you purchase, it helps to have a general plan for how you want to use it and programming you might do with it – try to sketch out a rough calendar of how you would implement or use the items, or make a list of teachers you might reach out to for collaboration ideas, so you feel good about whatever you purchase.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Breakout Edu - Camp Read-A-Lot

Guest Post by Amy Page, Library Media Specialist
Jody Richards Elementary School
Bowling Green

For Dr. Seuss' birthday, I held a school wide "Camp Read A-Lot" in the library, which was super cool and successful for the lower grades.  I had classes sign up through http://www.signupgenius.com/. I scheduled 3 classes at a time. I decorated the library like a campsite with camping chairs, Christmas trees, handmade tents, and campfires. I bought flashlights, reading lights and lanterns from the Dollar tree. I also purchased glow in the dark stars from the Dollar General. I put the stars under my tables, and made the tables into tents using a small strip of bulletin board paper on the sides. I had a campfire playing on the board using a youtube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iz7wtTO7roQ). I turned all the lights off.

I had three stations -- camp under the tables and read independently with flashlights, sit around a campfire for a read aloud, and a STEM station under tent tables. They rotated every 13 minutes. At the end of the 40 minute session I read We're Going on a Bear Hunt. The students repeated each verse with me as we walked in a line around the entire library. We ended at the door ready to go back to class. The teachers and students LOVED it! I have attached pictures below.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

What is Augmented Reality?

Guest post by Kelsey Randall, Student in EDU 222-2, Murray State University

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a technology that imposes a computer generated image on a user's view of real world, which provides a composite view. It uses the existing environment and overlaps new information on top of it. The term "augmented reality" was coined by Thomas Caudell in 1990, he used it to describe how head-mounted displays that were used by electricians when assembling complicated harnesses worked. For example, a yellow "first down" line that show up during football games are augmented reality. 

The SixthSense augmented reality system lets you project a phone pad onto your hand and phone a friend -- without removing the phone from your pocket. See more gadget pictures.

Augmented Reality is even being used in the classroom, many educators are using an app called Aurasma Studio where you can create your own "aura" and use them to engage students in creative ways. There are numerous ways in which the app helps, it can spice up any subject and students can trigger an aura by pointing their smartphones at a particular place. Using augmented reality apps in a classroom can not only be fun but be a really good way in which you get more students to interact, it especially helps those who learn better visually. Augmented Reality can be as easy or as hard as you want, you can make your own in a matter of minutes. 

Augmented Reality helps teachers add digital contents with a lot of information as well as geographic locations about objects and places. Many different ways in which teachers can use augmented reality in the classroom are through: Homework (students can scan homework pages and they can see videos of their teachers assisting them in solving a problem), Photo Walls (they can display photographs of faculty or teachers at the display board and students can scan the image and get all the info related to their teachers), Book Reviews (By scanning the cover image of books, students can get overviews of that book), Deaf Students (AR technology can allow students who are deaf to see the video that demonstrates how to sign a phrase or word.) As you can see there are many different ways in which augmented reality can be used in the classroom and you should consider using it. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

KATE's Digital Product Online Judging Project for STLP

Part of preparing our students for life after school is to help them develop skills that include researching, designing, and creating a project, and then publishing it for the world to see.  The STLP DPOJ (Digital Product Online Judging) event lets groups of students submit their work for statewide recognition as part of the STLP process.  KATE has created this year's project in cooperation with the Kentucky Center for School Safety's yearly theme for safe school's week in October.  This year's theme according to KCSS's website is:

“Be the HERO; STOP the Bullying!” which focuses on everyday heroes, their roles in our lives and how each one of us need to step up and "Be the HERO" when the opportunities arise both in school and in life. "Honor", "Encourage", "Respect" and "Opportunity" will be the powerful words emphasized in our campaign to empower students to choose to be a HERO either openly or silently using an online tipline. Being a HERO isn't just a label for a time it's an attitude and a code to live by." (http://www.kycss.org/ssw.php)

We have sponsored this project for the last several years and have received some awesome projects from schools across Kentucky.  We ask that student's show the process they used to create their project and Marion County High School shared this video with us.  We wanted to share this with anyone who is thinking about doing the project this year to help them with the process.

As you can see from the video, they spent a lot of time planning and researching their project before they started filming.  This is essential to creating a successful project.  We also ask that students cite their sources.  For elementary students, you should include the author's name, the name of the book or website where you found the information, a link to it if it is online, and the date published if you can find it.  This video explains it:

For older students, you should basically follow the MLA format:

If you are interested in creating KATE's Be a Hero Project, check out the directions and rubric here:  KATE's Project.  We can wait to see what you create!

Blended Learning and How It Works

Guest post by Kelsey Randall, EDU 222 student at Murray State University.
Blended learning is also known as "hybrid learning" and it combines the uses of online learning and face-to-face instruction in order to enhance a student's learning. A common question is "How much face-to-face instruction will be replaced by online coursework?" and the answer is about 30 to 70 percent according to The Online Learning Consortium. Blended learning allows for more flexibility for both students and instructors, it gives more time for students who aren't understanding material to get that one on one instruction that they need and for the students who are already excelling to get time to do work on their own without being held back by the students that are struggling. Blended learning allows both students and instructors to develop better technology skills.
A teacher assists a student working on a tablet computer.
It is said that blended learning has three primary components: In person classroom activities facilitated by a trained educator, online learning materials that often include pre-recorded lectures by instructor, and structured independent study time guided by the material in the lectures and skills developed during the classroom experience. Courses in blended learning use the face-to-face time to do activities that are mostly benefited by direct interaction instead of just delivering material by lectures, teachers now deliver those through online programs and use class time for more hands on learning.
In many cases where blended learning has been implemented by many teacher, educators are redefining their role as teachers. Instead of being called teachers many that work with blended learning are calling themselves facilitators, this meaning that they emphasize highlighting and guiding students skills and knowledge that are required in order to make the most of the online material and independent study time. "Facilitators" focus on four main areas: Development of online and offline course content, facilitation of communication with and among students, which includes the pedagogy of communicating content online without the contextual clues students would get in person, guiding the learning experience of individual students, and assessment and grading (www.mindflash.com/elarning).

Monday, November 14, 2016

What is Google Hangouts?

Guest Blog by Bailey Porter, EDU 222 Student @ Murray State University

The online application Google Hangouts is a video chatting and messaging app much like Skype or FaceTime. However, in my opinion, Google Hangouts offers a more pertinent option for the classroom setting. Google Hangouts provides an opportunity for educators to redefine a once unengaging lesson. The introduction of technology into a classroom has the ability to reinvent assignments. Hangouts offers several opportunities to do just this. Google Hangouts is available on a smartphone, tablet and computer, making it simple for the whole class to access. An entire classroom can connect with people from around the world using one computer with a camera, and a projector. This gives teachers the ability to take the class to any location on the globe, connect with a scientist and watch his exploration, the opportunity to connect with the author of a book the class is reading, have a debate with another classroom, and the ability to play "Mystery Hangouts" in which a classroom video chats with another class and both attempt to identify where the other class lives through yes and no clues.

None of this would have been possible without this technology. Students now have opportunities to learn in a completely different way. The once boring lesson comparing regions like the Amazon Rainforest to the Sahara Desert can now be an engaging activity  through speaking to people who actually live in those locations. Students are also able to work on projects cooperatively with other students no matter the distance. While these activities are possible through other technologies, I believe Hangouts offers the simplest and most reliable option. 

Incorporating these unique and engaging lessons into a classroom will make the class more enjoyable for both student and educator.

For more ideas, check out these sites:

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Learning With Minecraft

Guest post by Katie Groendyke, EDU 222 student at Murray State University

Blog:  http://kgroendyke.blogspot.com/

Engaged in Learning? 
  • Gives way for creativity in classroom
  • Students more open about what they have learned
  • Learning in the classroom and everyday experiences (see the comparisons)
  • Helps teachers and students explore the Minecraft community made
How to get the students involved?
  • Have the students work in pairs or groups
  • Give a activity involving ways to communicate with others
  • Have a common goal for class, like do a competitive activity
  • Let student work out problems in front of class
  • Students can solve math and engineering problems
Is this accessible for everyone?
No, you have to receive an email from your teacher, for the Education Edition. This way only student have access to their work and teachers as well. This not a normal game, it is for helping student branch out and express their creativity. Here is a video to help understand more of what you can do on Minecraft:  https://youtu.be/fcmAAvbskAk

How is this beneficial for student in the classroom, why or why not?
    I think this does help student broaden the creativity scale and learning to solve mathematical problems on their own in a game is good. Understanding that certain types of this learning can enhance engineering skills, communication with others; students and teachers, and ability to create whatever they what on the screen. As this can help students I also think it can be a little too technical for them, not everything will be accessible like in the game, and students still need to be taught the basics. And to realize that this is a game and not real life.


             @PlayCraftLearn. "Minecraft: Education Edition - Home." Minecraft Education Edition. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Sept. 2016.