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.

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

Jun 12

Tech Fails

https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-dropped-fail-failure-4091/Last year I wrote some posts sharing all the problems we have using a mix of different devices, some of which are beyond their prime.

Problems with Tech – Google Classroom on Older Devices
Android Tablet Accessing GAFE Tools
Multiple GAFE Accounts, Shared Devices

It’s been over a year since my last post having Older iMacs and they are still working for some things such as using our digital microscopes, using Comic Life, and using the easy version of iMovie to record and edit videos.

Using the G Suite set of apps is touch and go on the iMacs so if kids can use Docs or Slides, I’m happy! The iPad 2’s are still working quite well for almost everything but the Samsung Galaxy Tabs are barely used. Kids will only use them if there is nothing else available (well, the Galaxy Tabs and the iMacs are tied for last choice devices to use). Luckily, we have a few Chromebooks and some laptops, most of which are running Windows 10, that work quite well for just about everything we do (video editing is still better on the iMacs or the iPads).

I do appreciate offering students different platforms to use and learn so they can gain experience with Macs, iOs, Andoid OS, Chrome OS, and PCs. The downside is that showing a whole class how to use an app or website, or software, isn’t applicable to everyone. I often have to tell them how it’s different or how it will or won’t work on different devices. Next year I won’t have that problem because we will all be getting a computer cart with enough refurbished Dell Laptops running Windows 10 for all our students! I’m looking forward to having all my students on the same device. I will still have a bunch of iPad 2s so we will use the iPads for video editing and to use the apps that we’ve been using for the last few years! I can’t say that I’ll miss the iMacs. They have served me well and they lasted until I got enough devices to replace them! They had their problems but at least they worked for lots of what we needed to do in class.

Of course, that doesn’t help us bring this year to a close. Students are concluding their Environmental Stewardship projects sharing all their work, learning, conclusions, and evidence by making team websites. We’ve used Google Sites in the past and since Google Sites got a major update, I thought it would be better!

The new Google Sites does seem easier to use and I haven’t heard any complaints from the kids (aside from one who couldn’t figure out where to put embed code – I couldn’t see how to do that either). So I thought we could end the year easily and smoothly (this is our last week). Or so I thought. Google Sites was working fine on the Chromebooks and laptops but NOT AT ALL on the iMacs and the iPads! Both the iMacs and iPads could access the old, classic Google Sites but not the new one! On the iMacs Chrome wouldn’t access the new Google Sites but even though Safari did access the new Google Sites, we couldn’t type. Yeah, strange problem.

My workaround: with four days left of school I’m having the students in each team with the laptops be the web designer for the team. I created a Google Doc, see below, that I shared through Google Classroom. The web designer shares her copy of the Google Doc with everyone in the team. Each team member copies and pastes their work, including images, onto the space in the Google Doc I prepared for them. The web designer will then copy and paste that work onto a new page on the team’s Google Site! So far it has been working well. I am looking forward to not having these problems next year!

I prepared the document for my students because of how short on time we are. Having kids fiddle with the new Google Sites not knowing why it wasn’t working cost us some valuable time. The bright side of using the Google Doc is that teams now have to collaborate more closely to make sure their website represents well all that they learned and looks good. I hope they get to finish!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/12/tech-fails/

Jun 11

Diigo Links (weekly)

Here are more amazing resources:

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

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/11/diigo-links-weekly-70/

Jun 07

Putting Images on Blog Posts

Images make blog posts look better and help the reader make sense and visualize what he or she is reading. I teach my students about checking images to make sure they are not copyright so they are only putting Creative Commons or Public Domain pictures and photos on their blog posts. So many photographers out there load their photos for all to see AND they make them Creative Commons! It’s so cool for those of us who blog!

Recently I came across this handy infographic from Visme about adding photos to your blog (there are other great resources on that blog post so I recommend checking it out)! I’m going to share this with my students!

Created using Visme. An easy-to-use Infographic Maker.

Read more at http://blog.visme.co/how-do-you-know-if-something-is-in-the-public-domain/#p2OrxmJZoAlziSsp.99

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/07/putting-images-on-blog-posts/

Jun 04

Diigo Links (weekly)

Here are this week’s resources:

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

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2017/06/04/diigo-links-weekly-69/

May 28

Diigo Links (weekly)

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/2017/05/28/diigo-links-weekly-68/

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