Category Archives: K-12

Kids Philosophy Slam 2015

The new topic for the Kids Philosophy Slam has been announced: Violence or Compassion: Which has a greater impact on society?

You can find out more information about the topic on their website, including rules and guidelines.  The contest is open to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, so you really should consider giving your students the opportunity no matter what their age.  Here is a great post by Joelle Trayers about how she incorporated philosophy into her lessons with Kinder and 1st graders.

You can see an example from a Kindergartener below from the 2013 contest.

Kids Philosophy Slam

Whether you choose to formally enter the contest, or just discuss the topic, it could certainly make for an interesting debate in your classroom! Here is another post I’ve done on the Teaching Children Philosophy website.  Also, if you might want to check out Richard Byrne’s great review of Socratic Smackdown, a fantastic tool guaranteed to liven up any deep discussions!

 

3 Google App Hacks for the not so 1:1 iPad Classroom

I love the collaborative aspect of Google Drive, but with a classroom of varying numbers and age levels of students and 10 iPads I’ve had to learn to be a bit creative when it comes to using Google activities with my students.  The release of specific apps for iOS such as Slides and Sheets is still problematic when you are not in a 1:1 environment since a login is required to access the files.  And some of the features that look great on other devices won’t work on iPads in a browser – even in Chrome.  Here are a few “workarounds” I’ve developed that some of you might also find useful:

  • Docs are an easy way to share website links with classes. For example, I created a Google Doc called, “Websites for Class.”  I made it public, opened it on each iPad, and sent the shortcut to the iPad home screen.  Now I can change the links any time, and the students can click on them without needing to type in URL’s.  (Sure, you can use a bookmarking site, Google Classroom, or even apps like Chirp to share links, but this simple solution has streamlined the process immensely.)  If you think you are going to want to keep those links for future use, make a copy before you change to new links and save the copy with the title of whatever theme the old links shared (“Optical Illusion Sites,” for example).
  • Create a “generic” G-mail account to use Sheets.  The new Sheets are currently not editable on an iPad browser.  I learned this the hard way.  My students use Sheets for checking in at centers (using the above method, but with a spreadsheet) but that suddenly stopped working.  The files work great in the Sheets app, but I didn’t want to have each student log in since multiple students share iPads – or have my own account permanently on the iPads. So, I made a “generic” account. This G-mail account is used for the sole purpose of sharing documents on my iPads.  All of the iPads are already logged into that account, so the students do not have to do anything but open the app and find the appropriate Sheet.
  • Make a Google Site to share Forms that you change frequently.  This is a bit more advanced.  You can also use a Google Site to share links that you change frequently (but the Doc method described above takes a lot less steps!).  Once you make a free Google Site, you can just click on the html button and embed the code for your form.  Be sure to click inside the Google Gadget area to get the settings button at the bottom and add a scroll bar.  Otherwise, your students may only be able to see part of the form on the iPad.  Add your Google Site to the Home Screen of every iPad and you can then share whatever you want the students to access with a tap on the icon.

Do any of you have Google App iPad hacks?  Please share!

image from speedofcreativity.org
image from speedofcreativity.org

 

Can You Solve This?

There was a link to this lesson in the most recent TED Ed newsletter, and I immediately jumped at the challenge. I’m a bit competitive sometimes;)

I will say that I did solve it before the solution was revealed on the video, but it probably would have taken me as long as anyone else if I wasn’t able to view the clips of people guessing incorrectly.

This is an excellent lesson on how we often make assumptions, and then look only for the evidence that appears to support them.  Lots of classroom discussion could definitely branch off from this one short video.

You can find more Veritasium videos here, although I always recommend that you watch videos prior to showing them to your students to determine if they are appropriate for your audience.

from the Veritasium Video Blog
from the Veritasium Video Blog

Life After the Cardboard Arcade

This is the 2nd year that I’ve participated in the annual Global Cardboard Challenge, inspired by Caine’s Arcade.  After last year, I had three goals in mind for this year’s event:

  • increase the number of students making games
  • increase the number of students who play the games
  • find a way to integrate the project with raising money for a charity

Last year, my GT students at the school were the only ones who participated.  This year, we started a school Maker Club.  With the help of two other amazing sponsors, we were able to add 24 more students to the roster of game designers.

To increase the number of players, we changed venues.  We moved the arcade from our school to the party rooms at a place called Main Event.  Main Event is an entertainment complex near us that offers bowling, laser tag, a ropes course, and video arcade as well as food and drink.  So, families could enjoy our games and make a night of it.

There were some amazing games included in our arcade.  Two of the more notable ones were a huge Sphero obstacle course created by a group of 6 students and a human fortune-telling machine! (Check these projects out in the slide show and videos below.)

For our charity, the students selected Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation, a local organization that helps wildlife that have been injured to recover and return to their habitats as well as offering “forever” homes to wild animals that will never be able to survive on their own.

Our event went really well.  We raised over $700 for our charity and everyone seemed to have a fabulous time.  As an added bonus, sponsors from WRR came to our arcade and selected some of the games to be donated to the organization.  They will be sending us pictures and videos of the games being used for primate enrichment!

And that leads me to wonder how many other ways our games could have a second life next year.  Many of the students dedicated hours to creating their masterpieces.  It would be nice to give those games more than one day in the spotlight.  Monkeys aren’t the only ones that might appreciate them once the Big Event ends.  How about donating them to a Children’s Shelter, a hospital, or possibly a local library?  Admittedly, none of those is quite as exciting as watching a monkey play your game, but there are definitely many ways these creative projects can keep on giving…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More Ideas for Pic Collage

I had a great time at the end of last school year allowing the students to use the Pic Collage app on the iPads to create mini-yearbooks using pictures from our class blog.  There are many uses for the app, and I’m pretty sure that I have yet to use it to its full potential.

Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year
Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year

At a recent PD about using apps for creating, one of my colleagues, Camala Rose-Turnage, suggested using the app for a fraction study. Students could take a group of pictures, of which only some have a certain thing in common (such as the color red), and then other students could figure out the fraction.  Awesome!  Besides the fact that I had never heard an idea like this before, I could see a lot of potential for differentiation.  Some students might choose obvious traits for their groups, such as color or shape; others might select something more abstract, such as objects that are used for particular activities (recess toys) or ones that all start with a certain letter.  The fractions might vary in complexity, too.  You could have some students portray fractions that could be reduced, or even – depending on the Pic Collage layout – mixed numbers.

Speaking of math, here is a post showing how students can use Pic Collage to create their own math reviews.  And here are some other ideas that could be used in a primary classroom.

Pic Collage is also great for app-smashing.  Use it with Thinglink and Aurasma for an awesome interactive poster.  You can find a ton of Pic Collage app-smashes on this Pinterest board by Holly Inniger.

What’s your favorite way to use this versatile app?

Powtoon Power

It’s Phun Phriday and I want to share this great Powtoon video that one of my students created to invite everyone to our Cardboard Arcade next week.  I love that he did this on his own time, and using a relatively new tool.

iDream of Boxes

The official date of this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge is October 11, 2014.  But my students and our school Maker Club have been working on their projects for the last few weeks.  We will be hosting a Cardboard Arcade on October 15th, and donating the money to a charity chosen by the students, Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation. Come and join us at Main Event if you live in the San Antonio area!

I really do dream of boxes right now.  And I look at every package that I receive much differently – sometimes the box is more exciting than what it contains.

cardboard arcade

To encourage our school community to attend our event on the 15th, I used iMovie on one of the school iPads and created a “Fairytale” trailer.  (I ended up doing a little tweaking on my Mac at home, too.) In case you ever want to use the Movie Trailer feature of iMovie with your students, I highly recommend these great fillable PDF templates from Tony Vincent.  Doing a Movie Trailer is a lot easier when you plan the shots ahead of time using these forms.

Usually I would have the students create the movie – but if you read my Monday post you will see that there have been some technical difficulties in my world lately and we ran out of time.  So I compiled pics and videos of the students instead – and got some input from a few of them of what to include. Here’s our iMovie glimpse of what they have been doing. (Or you can watch it below.)  You can also see some pics of the students in action on our class blog.