Jul 23

Diigo Links (weekly)

Check out these fabulous resources:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/23/diigo-links-weekly-76/

Jul 16

Diigo Links (weekly)

More amazing links to great resources from this past week! There’s something here for everyone:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/16/diigo-links-weekly-75/

Jul 15

We Are Ocean Guardians!

Well, more like Watershed Guardians. Last year I found out about this NOAA project called Ocean Guardian School. When I read the description I knew Chimacum Middle School had to apply to be an Ocean Guardian School! Our Environmental Stewardship Project was perfect! Even though we focus mostly on our neighborhood creek, Ocean Guardian Schools don’t have to focus entirely on oceans! An Ocean Guardian School, “provides project(s) for students related to the conservation of local watersheds,” and that was right up our alley.

So last year I applied to add Chimacum Middle School to the Ocean Guardian Schools program. My proposal did not get accepted but I got an email from them saying that they loved my project and that I should apply again this year. That was awesome news so I applied again this year and got it! You have to be persistent in writing grants as I’ve learned.

This is exciting! Starting this fall, 6th graders will have some excellent learning opportunities. Not only do they get to participate in our long-standing environmental project but they also get to learn with Lego Mindstorms EV3 robots! SO COOL! Now I need to see if, or how, I can incorporate robotics into this environmental project. 🙂 Any ideas? Let me know in the comments section.

Flyer Made for School Board

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/15/we-are-ocean-guardians/

Jul 14

Student Tech Support – ChimTech

At the beginning of the 2015-16 school year I was feeling some desperation. Our middle school had been pitching a plan to go 1:1 for all students and it just wasn’t happening. I represented our school on our district’s technology committee and the money wasn’t available to make our 1:1 happen.

So I got an idea from our 7th grade Math Teacher and I went with it. I launched an Indiegogo Campaign to raise money to get much needed devices into Chimacum Middle School.

At the time I really thought that if that campaign reached people with money, we would actually be able to fund our 1:1 plan. I pitched it as far and wide as I could, but it just wasn’t enough.

Some very generous and wonderful people donated money to our cause and even though it fell way short of how much it costs to purchase enough computers for every student our campaign idea reached some organizations that raised even more money. When you put together an Indiegogo Campaign you need to detail a Plan B and Plan C to show what you will do with the money you actually get when you don’t get enough. Plan B was to purchase enough computers for one grade level. We fell way short of that goal too. Plan C though was an idea I got after attending a NW Computer Conference (NCCE) where we put devices into the hands of a small group of students who volunteer to become tech support for their school. That was how our Chimacum Middle School Student Tech Support Group or ChimTech started!

By January I shared the online application with students and we got our first ChimTech group! Ten students were selected and each student received a ChromeBook Flip to use for the rest of the school year. ChimTech students met every Thursday after school to share ways they were thinking of using their devices in their classes and learning new ways to share their learning with tech. They were also learning how to help teachers and fellow students with any tech problems that they were experiencing in class. The idea was that when we did go 1:1, the ChimTech students would have experience with their tech to help!

Students learned about screencasting and using Google Keep and Google Calendar to stay organized. I had a Remind group to alert the ChimTech kids of upcoming meetings and deadlines. We had a great first year. We did lose four kids for different reasons and ended up with six kids by June. We learned that the ChromeBook Flips were great for getting work done but they weren’t very sturdy – three of them got cracked screens! They also were pretty much useless as tablets because we could not download Andriod apps yet. By the end of the 2015-16 school year I applied for a CenturyLink grant to continue and expand the ChimTech program and I got it! I purchased more devices, this time laptops running Windows 10 because those were the devices the district was purchasing for the school. We were moving from Chromebooks to full fledged PC laptops so I needed ChimTech kids using those devices. We hit the ground running this past 2016-17 school year. Of the six who finished their first year in ChimTech, four returned for 2016-17. We got nine new applicants so started out the year with 13 ChimTech kids. Of those 13, nine made it through the entire year. None of the devices broke this past year so we have enough devices to run this tech group again next year. Even though we will have enough computers in every class for all students, ChimTech kids get to take their loaner computer home and keep it until June.

This past year ChimTech kids practiced screencasting to create how-to videos.Here is a playlist of how-to videos they made to show students how to make blogs using Google’s Blogger. Their videos turned out very well!

They also learned how to make their own music on SoundTrap to add to their screencasts (see above video). We encouraged students to start a Blogger blog as a record of their learning and work in ChimTech. An ePortfolio of sorts. Here are some of their blogs:

Jacob’s Great Blog
Tech Support
cam teak
Chimacum Tech Support Life

We also worked on creating a short video to share what ChimTech kids do. Here’s what we came up with:

This student tech support program is going so well and I’m so glad that it all started after what seemed like an epic fail trying to get more computers for our students. After all this work, we are finally getting our 1:1 and we have a group of students who are willing and able to help teachers and students solve any tech problems as well as give ideas for using tech to do their work and share their learning!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/14/student-tech-support-chimtech/

Jul 13

Goodbye to my iMacs

Students using a 2004 iMac in 2017!

Students using a 2004 iMac in 2017!

Back in 2011 I wrote a blog post about going full circle, kind of, from integrating technology by having students work 1:1 student to computer in a computer lab to having computers in my classroom. In the classroom I started with one computer for all students to use, then I upgraded to a 1:4 student to computer, then 1:3, then a 1:2 with mobile devices, the 1st generation iPads, and finally a full 1:1. Almost full circle except that the new 1:1 was in the classroom so that the tech was available for anytime students needed it instead of having to wait for the computer lab to become available.

Last year I wrote about our use of iMacs in my classroom. In 1998 I got the Bondi iMac and it was great. But we only had one. When I got some big grants I was able to purchase ten new iMacs and by that time, 1999, they were the multi-colored, fruit flavored, iMacs. They were awesome and lots of fun, too. A couple of years after that I was fortunate to be able to replace all those lovely iMacs with the faster, improved eMacs and that really helped us because those poor fruits were starting to slow down on us.

The eMacs servied our needs very nicely but even they started to wear out. Thank goodness that in 2004 I got two nice grants from Best Buy and replaced the ten eMacs with ten 2004 G5 iMacs. These were power houses compared to the eMacs, with a 2GHz Core 2 Duo processor.

2004 G5 iMac

2004 G5 iMac

Fast forward to 2017 and those 2004 G5 iMacs are ancient. After a few years of using the 2004 G5 iMacs, when it was time to replace them I was still getting grants, but by then I was getting grants to buy iPads, Netbooks, Laptops, and Chromebooks. I kept the iMacs because having 10 computers in the room PLUS the mobile devices, gave my students a 1:1 so they could work as needed, whether that meant individually or collaboratively.

iMac 2004

The 2004 G5 iMacs reached a point where they could NO LONGER UPDATE THEIR OPERATING SYSTEM! They stopped updating at MacOS 10.5.8. For perpective, MacOS is now up to 10.13.2, which is light years ahead of 10.5.8. I would honestly set up the iMacs every fall expecting kids to tell me that Youtube no longer worked, or that they couldn’t access any Google Apps whatsoever or even that most Flash or even HTML 5 websites would not load. I am continually amazed that we were able to continue using those things year after year. Oh it wasn’t easy because they had problems. We had to find work arounds for much of what we had to do, especially with regards to Google (we also could NOT update any of our browsers – think of how often your browser asks you to update it so that it can continue to work). What those iMacs DID DO WELL was in using the software that was native for them such as iMovie, Comic Life, iPhoto, and even other software like the software we needed for our digital microscopes. For those things, they are still amazing!

Our iMac

This year I got the great news that finally, after years of asking and planning, the middle school was going to get a computer on wheels cart with Dell Laptops running Windows 10 for every, single classroom! First of all, that meant that for the first time in my teaching career since taking kids to computer labs I am going to have all students on the same device AND operating system! That means that I can teach one way to make something and they can all try it before they forget! That means that I only have to make ONE how-to video! As much as I appreciated having different devices to expose my students to different operating systems, this is going to be sooo nice. Second, this meant that I could finally retire those 2004 iMacs!

I have to say, after 13 years of service, I will miss those iMacs. They have been a constant in my room and they have been there for so many students. I still didn’t waste any time surplussing them once school let out. I am really looking forward to have regular computer issues and not the major issues we’ve been having for so many years. So as much as I apprecaited those workhorses I heartily say, “Goodbye, 2004 G5 iMacs! You had a great life here at Chimacum MIddle School.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/13/goodbye-to-my-imacs/

Jul 10

Diigo Links (weekly)

There are so many awesome blog posts and resources out there every week! Here are some that I found last week:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/10/diigo-links-weekly-74/

Jul 02

Diigo Links (weekly)

New, fabulous links/resources from this past week:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/07/02/diigo-links-weekly-73/

Jun 27

Adopting a New Curriculum

This post was originally published at the WA CORELaborate website.


May 24 our Science Subject Area Committee (SAC) presented our plans for a new Science Curriculum Adoption. This is the third adoption in which I’ve played a role in the 20 years I’ve worked at Chimacum Middle School. I played a much bigger role in this one as I was THE middle school rep and I did all the research for the middle school, put together the middle school presentation, and presented that part of the overall proposal. It was an awesome process and I’m glad I volunteered!

In my last post, How About Robotics, I shared the research I did as I looked for kit-based, NGSS Science curriculum. I was very happy and excited with Activate Learning’s IQWST curriculum and the other middle school Science teacher (there are only two of us) loved it too. The lessons start with a phenoma, go into a lab, then end with a CER conclusion. Just what we were looking for. I also explain in my last post how I made a complete change to the 6th grade curriculum after attending a tech conference and seeing the wonders of Robotics. I was impressed by the STEM Robotics 101 curriculum so I thought, what the heck, I’m going to see if the school board will approve a STEM Robotics curriculum for the 6th grade using the Lego Mindstorms EV3 robotics kits for education.

Here’s the presentation we put together for the school board (click here if you don’t see a Google Slides presentation below – the speaker notes provide more details):

I was really the one that was on because the high school’s plan is to wait until the 2017-18 school year starts in the fall expecting more NGSS native, as opposed to NGSS-Aligned, curriculum so they were just sharing their plan and not proposing to adopt any curriculum. It also made no sense to adopt a new biology curriculum because the sophomores of 2017-18 will need to pass the Biology EOC (End of Course) exam to graduate. The high school’s current curriculum has been doing a great job of helping kids pass the Biology EOC so it would be risky to switch with one year of EOC to go. The sophomores of 2017-18 will also take the NGSA (Next Generation Science Assessment) in their Junior year but not as a graduation requirement. It is the 2017-18 freshman who will need to pass the 11th grade NGSA to graduate so it makes sense to wait and see what is available starting in the fall and wait until 2018 to look for biology curriculum to adopt for the 2018-19 school year. If high quality, NGSS native curriculum becomes available by fall the high school will present to the school again for their adoption.

The school board presentation went by very quickly. First off, the projector connection went down so we couldn’t project our Google Slides. The school board members didn’t have laptops so they couldn’t access the slides either. Luckily, one of our SAC members had the foresight to print the slides on paper so at least the school board had something to look at!

When it was my turn, I told my story. In hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t have the slides. Looking down at the paper, I got lost and ended up taking much less time than I would have had I gone through every single slide I prepared. Once I was done, they asked a few questions, I honestly can’t remember what. They discussed for what seemed only a few seconds then approved our proposal and were happy to do it. I looked around astounded. Was that it? Were we at the middle school getting all our new curricula? The next day I was asked to submit the requisitions by the following Tuesday! That’s when it hit me, WE GOT IT! As of today most of the 6th grade curriculum has already been delivered! Yeah, and the IQWST order has been placed and is being filled. Wow, that was cool.

Building a robot that can do something.

So 6th graders will be designing and programming EV3 robots to solve cool and fun challenges. We end the year by having the fifth grade students visit the 6th grade teacher’s classes and I let them in on the plan for next year and they were excited! I can’t wait! Here it is summer, the beginning of summer, and I’m excited for September! LoL

An EV3 Robot Design

The best part is that I had also volunteered to lead a Northwest Earth and Space Sciences (NESSP) summer camp and I chose to have it be a robotics summer camp using the EV3! That’s where all the images on this blog post came from. This camp just ended (went from June 20 to June 23) and it was amazing! The kids were great and they had incredible stamina. The camp ran for six hours a day and the kids worked through lunch all the way until it was time to leave! Seeing how involved, challenging, exciting, and engaging building and programming an EV3 robot is for kids confirms my excitement at all the great things my 6th graders are going to be doing this coming school year.

Figuring out how to connect the sensors.

For the summer camp I adapted a Mars Mission that I attended and had a great time participating in with our very own WA CORELaborate blogger, Carina, at this year’s NCCE Conference and made that the focus for the week. Here’s the presentation I prepared for the summer camp, I plan on doing this with my 6th graders next year too! 🙂 Click here if there is no Google Slide deck below.


Our first challenge was to rescue Mark Watney. Along the way, the rover had to pick up supplies because Watney wasn’t going to have enough food or oxygen to make it to the Ares IV landing site.


Practicing in class to rescue Astronaut Watney.



Another challenge – get your rover through a maze!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/27/adopting-a-new-curriculum/

Jun 25

Diigo Links (weekly)

Here are this week’s fabulous resources:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/25/diigo-links-weekly-72/

Jun 18

Diigo Links (weekly)

Here are more amazing resources from this past week:

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

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Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/18/diigo-links-weekly-71/

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