Friday, May 31, 2013

Google+ Hangouts for Absent Students

Student absences have been a big problem at my school this year.  Consequently, this has caused an increase in learning gaps from students missing critical learning experiences in the classroom.

So, I devised a way for absent students to actively participate in classroom activities using Google+ Hangouts.  It works like this.  Before each class, a teacher will login to his or her school Google+ account on a laptop computer (with a webcam) and invite all absent students to “Hangout”.  As long as the absent students have access to a device with a webcam and the new Hangout App, they can accept the Hangout invitation and join the class in real-time.

This opportunity empowers absent students to communicate with teachers and classmates, and collaborate on assignments from home, or anywhere else in the world.

Watch the video demonstration below to fully understand this concept.

Story from video

"Once upon a time, students who were absent from school missed critical learning opportunities. Every Day, students who were home sick, or were on vacation, were unable to participate in classroom activities.  One Day, Google launched Google+ Hangouts for people to learn and collaborate together.  Because of that, I discovered a way for absent students to actively participate in classroom activities using Google+ Hangouts.  Because of that, absent students are now able to view teacher instruction in real-time, collaborate with classmates on live documents, and video chat to engage in meaningful conversations. Until finally, no students ever had to be absent from class, again!"

Google Apps for Education

I will say that the implementation of this idea will probably work best for those schools who have already deployed Google Apps for Education. That way, teachers and students can participate using their school Google accounts.  However, this can still work if a teacher has a personal Gmail account, and invites students using their individual Gmail accounts.  It is also recommended that permission is granted by parents and administration. 

Join me in using this innovative idea to make sure that our students are still participating in meaningful learning experiences, even when they are not in school. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Capture & Animate Learning Experiences with iMotionHD

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"Animation offers a medium of story telling and visual entertainment which can bring pleasure and information to people of all ages everywhere in the world." - Walt Disney 

Micky Mouse. Toy Story. Shrek.  These are all things we think about when we hear the word "animation".  But animation can be used for so much more than just telling a story with cartoon characters.  Animation, can actually be used to capture change over time, in a variety of different ways. 

Specifically, stop-motion animation is a great way to create video from individual, still images.  Stop-motion animation can help to create a video-like effect that captures some form of change over time, and bring real world experiences to life.  

Recently, I used the iMotion HD app with my students for two very different learning activities. They both involved science, but they were two different lessons, in two different classrooms, by two different teachers.  

1.  The first activity required students discover a particular science concept to which they were not familiar.  Their task was to create a hypothesis, then perform a set of directions to test their hypothesis.  The students hypothesized that they were going to notice some kind of "change over time", so we decided to capture their experiment on camera.  Using the iMotion HD app on the iPad, a group of students were able to create a stop-motion animation video by programming the app to take pictures of their experiment every 10 seconds for about 15 minutes.  What the students observed was truly amazing!

After observing the video, the students were able to conclude that they witnessed a case of diffusion.  By definition, diffusion is "The movement of atoms or molecules from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. Atoms and small molecules can move across a cell membrane by diffusion" (reference source).  In this example, students were empowered to make this discovery on their own by observing the diffusion of iodine in a beaker. This was a really powerful learning activity and it was fun to witness all of the "ah-ha" moments when the students observed this scientific transformation in real life.  Better yet, was the fact that students could rewind the video to see the specific stages of diffusion again and again.

2.  The second learning activity involved observing the metamorphosis process over a span of two weeks.  Again, using the iMotion HD app, I was able to program an iPod Touch to take a picture every 30 minutes, for two weeks straight.  We were able to capture every stage of metamorphosis with a total of over 850 pictures.  Below is the stop-motion video created at 10 frames per second.

For your consideration
  • How might stop-motion animation be used in other science experiments? In other subjects?
  • How might you be able to use iMotion HD in your classroom?
  • Why is it important to empower our students to explore, and make their own discoveries?
  • How might capturing these classroom activities help students to reflect on their learning?

Monday, May 20, 2013

"Free to Use, Share, or Modify" With Google Apps

The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 43,000 high school students in public and private schools and found that “One out of three high school students admitted that they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment” (Plagiarism Facts & Stats).

We’re not allowed to copy, right?  But plagiarism is still a problem for students today. And the increase in research technology is making it even easier for them to access copyright protected material. Fortunately, new innovations to Google Apps for Education can help overcome these plagiarism challenges that exist in our schools today. 

Google Apps makes it easy and convenient for students to search for material that is, “free to use, share, or modify, even commercially.”  To help spread the word, I have created two screencast tutorials that will demonstrate how to use Google Apps to integrate copyright free material that is “free to use, share, or modify” for students and teachers.  Throughout these two videos, I will clearly demonstrate how to use:

The first video will demonstrate how to use the "Research Tool" in Google Docs, and the second video will feature how to search and use copyright free multimedia such as images and video with Google SearchGoogle Presentations, and YouTube Editor.  

I hope these videos are helpful and best of luck searching and using images that are "Free to Use, Share, or Modify" with Google Apps.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Word is out ... Docs is in!

The Josephson Institute Center for Youth Ethics surveyed 43,000 high school students in public and private schools and found that “One out of three high school students admitted that they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment” (Plagiarism Facts & Stats).

With Google Docs, it has never been easier to avoid plagiarism than it is today. Google makes it super easy and convenient to research content and insert reference citations, footnotes, quotations and more, all without having to leave your document.

For those of you who still aren't convinced that Google Docs is more powerful than Word, you might think twice after watching this video.


Mind the Gap with GapMinder

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“I want to convince you that these kinds of personal explanations of success don't work. People don't rise from nothing....It is only by asking where they are from that we can unravel the logic behind who succeeds and who doesn't.” ― Malcolm Gladwell, Outliers: The Story of Success

After reading Malcolm Gladwell's book, Outliers, I found that my biggest takeaway is the fact that where we're from determines much of our success.  And by from, I don't just mean our specific geographic location―that matters too―but also who our parents are, the environment that surrounds us, and what our culture is like.  This all really started to make sense to me when I discovered GapMinder, created by Hans Rosling.

GapMinder empowers its users to investigate data, discover trends, find correlations, and identify anomalies in order to understand more about our world.  For example, users can select any of the most popular categories such as life expectancy, income per person, or carbon dioxide emissions in order to try to find a correlation, or spot an anomaly.  Users can also select other categories such as Economy, Education, and Government when trying to investigate data.  Furthermore, users can even pinpoint specific countries in order to investigate change over time.  GapMinder even color codes the countries by continent and displays quantity with circles of proportionate size to the data.

Here is a video that I created as an example from some data found on GapMinder.

Students can use this information to extend on a learning activity, or even take the opportunity to inquire more about a topic. Visit the GapMinder for Teachers page to learn more about the possibilities and resources for this tool.

For your consideration
  • What questions might you have from watching this video
  • How might a student use this data to extend his or her learning?
  • How does GapMinder help to "mind the gap" regarding global awareness?

Final thought

It has become more important than ever for our students to become internationally-minded and to have a sense of cultural awareness in the 21st Century workplace.  Our world is keeps changing.  We need to prepare our students for their future in this global economy.  We need to prepare them for the jobs that haven't been created, and the problems that haven't been discovered.  

Let's help our students to mind the gap of global awareness with powerful learning tools like GapMinder.