Category Archives: K-12

Pi Day

Pi Day sneaks up on me every year.  But not this time.  Even though the official date (3/14/15) this year lands on a Saturday during our Spring Break, I am prepared.  My 4th graders are studying “mathematical masterpieces” and Pi Day fits right into that topic. Plus, this is a super special year because the first 5 digits of Pi are 3.1415.  Look familiar?

Looking for ways to celebrate Pi Day?  There’s a website for that, of course – actually a few. PiDay.org has got you covered.  So does the Exploratorium. And there is also MathMovesU.

Personally, I plan to show my students this Mile of Pi video on TEDEd.  They are also going to learn about Pilish and write some Pilish poetry after reading this awesome Pilish translation of The Raven (H/T to Martha at A Way with Words for that idea!). If there is time, they are going to look for their birthdays and phone numbers in Pi using this website.  Knowing my 4th graders, they will probably also get a kick out of these Pi Day e-cards.

Will pie be served?  Maybe if they can solve this Pi Day Sudoku Puzzle

image from PiDay.org
image from PiDay.org

i’m sorry

So, I saw this tweet the other day:

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And I was like, “No, that’s not possible.  A game that’s better than the Chrome dinosaur?!!!”

So, I clicked on the link, which took me here. There were quite a few links in the story and I, of course, clicked on every single one except the one that actually took me to the “game.”

But then I found it.  And I think Chris Rogers might be right. Watching a shark swim through my address bar is pretty fun.  I enjoyed the plane, too.  But I have to say that my favorite is the “diy” option. 

Developer Glen Chiacchieri prominently displays, “i’m sorry” on the tab for this site.  

i'm sorry

And well he should be.  Because of him, millions of tasks will never be completed as people attempt to play the “pewpew” game in their address bar.

Which means that, once again, I’ve stumbled upon another perfect Phun Phriday time-waster that I can happily pass on to the readers of this blog.

I’m sorry!

National Engineers Week

What does it say about my priorities that I started handing out Valentine’s Day resources in January, but I wait until National Engineers Week is practically over before I even mention it?

Not good.

Anyway, for those of you who didn’t know, National Engineers Week is February 22nd-February 28th.  If you don’t live in the United States, perhaps your Engineering Week is yet to come and this resource might prove to be helpful.

Of course, you shouldn’t leave the celebration of engineering to just one week a year.  And I’m pretty sure you won’t get in any kind of major legal trouble if you throw caution to the wind and try out some of these activities on an unofficial day.

Today happens to be Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day.  As you know, our nation has a very high deficit of females in STEM careers. Part of this is due to stereotypes which lead to little encouragement for girls to pursue these professions.  Educating young women about their potential in STEM could go a long way to eradicating the blatant inequality we see today.

You can find all sorts of lesson plans and activities for Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day here.  Be sure to check out the playlist of short videos as well.

If you have a young daughter, Rosie Revere, Engineer, is a great way to celebrate this day.  And, if you have a child in middle or high school that shows even the slightest interest in STEM, then I would recommend How to Be a Rocket Scientist.

image from DiscoverE.org
image from DiscoverE.org

 

 

Poetweet

Happy Phun Phriday!  It’s time for another completely frivolous blog post that might inadvertently inspire you to waste huge chunks of time on an activity that is not productive in any way.

I actually had Poetweet slated to be a Phun Phriday post a few weeks ago, but the site went down right when I was about to blog about it.  It seems to be working now, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed that the bazillions of people who read this post won’t break it by trying to access Poetweet at the same time ;)

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You don’t have to have a Twitter account to use Poetweet – but you need to know someone’s Twitter handle.  All you do is type in the handle, then choose what type of poem you would like (Sonnet, Rondel, or Indriso), and the magic happens.

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I don’t really know how it works.  And the poems don’t necessarily make sense – but then again, aren’t the best poems deliberately incomprehensible?  When you are viewing the poem on the Poetweet site, you can actually scroll over the lines to find out what Tweet they were found in.

Here are the three poems I made from my Twitter handle last night. Some lines are weirdly insightful…

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Free the Zoombinis!

Games have their place in education, but my students know that I tend to emphasize creation rather than consumption – especially when it comes to technology.  Few “education” apps pass muster for me, but I have a feeling this particular one will be on my “Gifts for the Gifted” apps list this December.

I first discovered the magic of the Zoombinis decades ago in my 5th grade classroom.  My students were enamored with the cute little creatures who needed to be guided to their new home through various levels in the TERC/Broderbund game, “The Logical Journey of the Zoombinis.”  Not only was the game fun, but the logic and problem-solving that it demanded were scaffolded extremely well, allowing students of different levels to feel successful when they played.

To be completely honest, I bought a personal copy of the game, and spent many nights with my young daughter (and without her) trying to advance through the different challenges.

Unfortunately, as technology advanced, the Zoombinis disappeared from my classroom.  We can no longer install our own software in our district, and I’m not sure the few games still available through online retailers would work on our newer operating systems.

I was thrilled, therefore, to see a Tweet yesterday that the Zoombinis have launched a Kickstarter!  TERC is teaming up with Fablevision and Learning Games Network to release an app for tablets as well as newly designed desktop software later this year. The Pizza Trolls, the Allergic Cliffs, the Fleens, the Lion’s Lair – they are all coming back with graphics optimized for today’s devices.

To learn more about the Zoombinis Kickstarter project, click on the image below.

zoombini

TeacherLED

This week I am going to dedicate my posts to sharing resources I learned about at TCEA in Austin last week.  I think packing too much info into a blog post is overwhelming, so if you are craving more, feel free to check out my notes (which are not finished yet!) here.

At her “Fabulous and Free” session at TCEA, Shannon (@SweetBlessShan) offered a lot of neat resources.  You can visit her website to get all of the links here. If you have any time after reading my post, I highly recommend you follow her on Twitter and subscribe to her great blog, “Technology Rocks. Seriously.” (She currently has some free Valentine printables!)

Since I try to just feature one resource, or a small group of related resources, each day, I had a hard time choosing from the notes I took on Shannon’s session.  But TeacherLED is one site she mentioned that is “good to go” in the sense that you don’t have to register or put any work into using it ahead of time.  It has neat Interactive White Board Activities for all sorts of subjects.  Also, it looks like most, if not all of the activities, will work on mobile devices.

Being a GT teacher, I was immediately drawn to the puzzles.  This site isn’t all about games, though. There are math interactives, geography activities, and ELA games.  You can see the full list here.

Some of the resources on TeacherLED aren’t necessarily curriculum-based, but they are definitely fun.  I think I actually heard “ooh’s” and “ah’s” when Shannon showed us the “Quiz Buzzer” which will allow you to know right away who answered a question first!

The Quiz Buzzer available on TeacherLED
The Quiz Buzzer available on TeacherLED
One of the many interactive puzzles available on TeacherLED
One of the many interactive puzzles available on TeacherLED

Goo in the Loo and Stuff You Wish You Gnu

This week I am going to dedicate my posts to sharing resources I learned about at TCEA in Austin last week.  I think packing too much info into a blog post is overwhelming, so if you are craving more, feel free to check out my notes (which are not finished yet!) here.

I was chatting with one of my colleagues, Kim Ball (@gttechguru) during TCEA last week, and she mentioned a cool activity she had done on her campus called, “Goo in the Loo.”  This is not as disgusting as it might sound.  Basically, she posted Google tips in the adult bathrooms so teachers could learn more about ways to take advantage of all of Google’s cool features.  Awesome!

Goo in the Loo is an idea that was originally proposed by Jessica Johnston (@edtechchic) as a Google Teacher Academy Action Plan.  You can read more about Jessica’s project here.  She also provides pre-made Goo in the Loo posters on her site.  So, you can easily put this plan into place on your own campus by just printing out Jessica’s awesome, crowd-sourced posters.

I plan to utilize Jessica’s posters, but I also wanted to make some of my own.  Not all of them are going to be Google tips, so I needed a title that was a bit more generic.  In the interest of making a rhyming blog post as well as using a cute graphic that has been declared free to use, I’m going with “Stuff You Wish You Gnu.” (It turns out GNU is a free operating system, but that’s not really where I was going with that.)

Here is a link to my “Stuff You Wish You Gnu”  folder.  I will be adding to it as I create new posters.  Feel free to use and distribute as you see fit!

Tech Stuff 1