It’s a Nerd’s World

photo credit: Domain Barnyard via photopin cc
“It’s a Nerd’s World” is a fabulous article to which many GT students will relate.  The mother/author, Miranda Gargasz, recounts a time when her son was stung by being called a “nerd” by one of his friends.  The mother’s reaction, and her son’s subsequent response to his friend, will warm your heart.  My class of GT 5th graders actually stood up and cheered at the end of the story!  I think that this is a great follow-up to the “Bias Against Creativity” article that I referenced in yesterday’s post.

Is There a Bias Against Creativity?

photo credit: tsevis via photopin cc

The fascinating CNN article, “Is There Bias Against Creativity?” should be read by every person that can impact a child’s learning.  It is an affirmation of the importance of creative thinkers and problem solvers in our current world, yet points to the ways that many of us discourage this type of thinking in others and in ourselves.  This article, by Amanda Enayati, gives some reasons for this bias as well as some important ways to remove it based on her interviews with a neuroscientist and notable some notable designers.  It explains why the life of Steve Jobs really was such a unique success story.  One of the more interesting quotes in the story is: “Technology is an amazing empowerment and a huge disablement,” says Laura Richardson, principal designer at frog design. “We are losing our capacity for resilience.”  I highly encourage you to read this article, and pass it along to others so we can try to work on dismantling this bias.

budd:e

Online safety and digital citizenship are becoming more and more important as lessons our children need to learn.  To that end, the Australian government has created a thorough, but fun, site for helping students to get this information while they play.  budd:e is a site that is available in formats for both primary and secondary students.
I have not investigated the secondary version, but the primary version allows the user to “build” a robot by meeting certain challenges,  learning about cybersecurity along the way.  There are teacher resources that include lesson plans in addition to the student portion of the site.
The site is free, but you do have to register.  You are encouraged, however, to NOT give your real name.  The only small glitch I found was that, since the site is based in Australia, you must input a “school post code” to register.  I found, however, that by typing in any 4 numbers, I was given a new box with choices for “homeschool” or “other”.
budd:e is a flash-based site, so you won’t be able to use it on iDevices.

KBears

I stumbled across KBears when I was in the middle of hunting down some not-so-intimidating sites for geography research for my younger students.  I have not investigated all of KBears, but I was immediately attracted to the geography portion as a potential resource for my 1st and 2nd grade Gifted and Talented students.  The site is very “cute”, making it attractive to the primary kids.  It is also fairly easy to navigate.  There is still some big vocabulary, but it is not overwhelming.  With printable maps, world music, and geography games, this is a great site to add to my teacher toolbox!

Flipboard

Flipboard is a free app for iDevices that enables you to create a personalized magazine.  I have used Flipboard for over a year to organize blogs and online magazines that I like to read.  It is only recently that I started to investigate how it could be used in the classroom.

Within the Flipboard app, there are suggested blogs to add.  You can also add Twitter and Facebook feeds.  But, if you just want to provide an easy way for your students to access some engaging resources, you can find lists of online magazines and blogs for kids, like the one here, provided by KB Connected or here.  Another idea is to add your own classroom blog, or student blogs.

It’s easy to add a new resource.  When you open Flipboard, you will notice that one of the squares says, “More”.  Tap on this square, and a search window will come up.

Type in the blog or online site you would like to find.  It will generate a list of possibilities.  Tap on the one you want, and it will open inside the Flipboard app.  You will then have the choice, on the top left, as to whether or not you would like to add this site to your collection.

Once added, users need merely to tap on the square for the site they would like to visit, and it will open within Flipboard.  Readers can view updated posts, and “turn the page” to read more.  They will also have options to open the site outside of Flipboard.

This is a great way for the students to read each other’s blogs or to catch up on news on various kid magazines, like Sports Illustrated for Kids.  This could be a center in your classroom or at a table, or an option for students who behave well.

If you have any other ideas for Flipboard in the classroom, please feel free to comment!

Logotype Maker

Logotype Maker is a tool I discovered awhile ago on the Free Tech 4 Teachers blog.
I have used it for a few personal projects, but had not implemented it in my classroom yet.  Yesterday, my fifth graders were working on “Genius Hour” projects – which I will be detailing in a future post.  Some of the students are creating websites using Weebly.  One pair was trying without success to create a banner for the top of their site, and it suddenly occurred to me to recommend Logotypemaker.  They were so psyched about their results that other groups kept coming over to see what was going on.  Several students wrote the site address down so they could try it at home, and two other groups immediately got to work on creating their own logos.  If your students have blogs or websites, I highly recommend you show them this resource.  It will not only generate hundreds of logo ideas, but will also allow the students to edit them to further personalize them.