Nov 23

Solve for Tomorrow


Samsung has a cool contest called the Samsung Solve for Tomorrow. Teachers are invited to submit ideas for how they will use STEM to solve a problem in their community. Out of all the teachers who apply they select five finalists from each state. The state finalists get two Samsung Galaxy Tablets for getting selected. I had been applying for this contest for years before getting selected as a state finalist. I was selected last year, applied for the next phase and didn’t make it. Deja vu. :)

Luckily, I received two Samsung Galaxy Tabs last year, which allowed me to replace two of my nearly useless iPad 1st Gen tablets. This is what I got (and yes, these are the ones that will not access Google Slides!!):

IMG_7048

This year I got selected as a state finalist again! They sent me two Samsung Galaxy Tab S2 (haven’t tried to access Google Slides – I’ll check that soon):
IMG_7049

IMG_7052

Here’s how the new tablet compares to last year’s in size (they look like they are iPad Mini size):
IMG_7050

The problem that I addressed is the lack of value in education when students are asked to use outdated textbooks or older, nearly useless, technology. In order to show students how to solve problems using current technologies and expose them to possible STEM careers, I plan to address that problem through my Environmental Stewardship project. That is the project that I just submitted in the hopes of being selected for phase 2 of the contest. Finalists of Phase 2 will receive video recording equipment to make a video of their activity or project. Those videos will then be used for the final phase of the project by getting votes. The projects with the most votes will get some pretty good funding for technology for their school. Let’s see what happens! I’ll hear whether I made it this year by December.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/11/23/solve-for-tomorrow/

Nov 17

Problems with Tech – Google Classroom with Older Devices

Student work.When I first got a bunch of iPads, the first generation ones, and kids started using them, it was great. I slowly but surely built up to a 1:1 and I’m used to it now.

As the iPads have gotten older I’ve been slowly but surely working to replace them with technology that can meet the demands of the work we’re doing in my Science classes.

In the mid-2000’s I also got a set of iMacs with a Best Buy grant. At the time they were great and they have been contributing to my 1:1. It’s about four or five years now that they can’t upgrade anymore, just like the iPads, and their 1GB of RAM I’m surprised and most pleased that they’re still working for us at all!

Well, they are working, but it comes at a price: inconsistent at best and unreliable at their worst. Let’s take today for instance, I shared a Google Slide deck with each class via Google Classroom. Students are assigned one or two slides with our physics vocabulary words for the unit we just started. Their job, open the slide deck, find your slide, learn your word, put photos of your word, a definition/description and we’ll all present our slide(s).

Seems easy enough. Kids like it. We even already tried it with the last unit on volcanoes. For the last unit I shared the Google Slide decks with all the students who have the link and are part of our school’s GAFE. I shortened the links and students typed them into their favorite browser. This time I tried using Google Classroom to see if that would work better and to be able to keep track of who was doing what.

Let’s just say that iPads 1st gen, Samsung Galaxy Tabs, and 11 year old iMacs, which all make up a considerable fraction of my class tech, would NOT access Google Slides. And all for different reasons!! Even the iPad 2’s, which have been my saving grace, were making it extra difficult to bring up Google Slides and edit ONE SLIDE!

iMac Desktops – Yes, I know they are old, haven’t been updated in five years, and only have 1 Gig of RAM, but they still work and I have nine of them! We have older versions of Safari, Firefox, and Chrome and NONE of those will load a Google Drive page. And today I found out they won’t load a Google Classroom page.

Workaround for using GAFE – students can still sign in to their GAFE accounts via Blogger! If they go to blogger.com they can sign out of the previous student’s account and sign in to theirs. Once a student is logged in it is futile to try and access a different account UNLESS you go to blogger.com.

iPad, 1st Gen – Sadly, it is becoming less and less useful. Can’t access Google Classroom and can’t edit Google Slides.

Workaround for using GAFE – Blogger to the rescue again. Students can access and use their blogs. Students can also access and use our class LMS, 3D GameLab, and students can access and use our class discussion forum, Shivtr. That and the few apps we can still use makes the iPads usable but barely. Luckily, I only have six iPad 1s left and will soon get two more Samsung Galaxy Tablets from this year’s Samsung Solve for Tomorrow contest round 1, so I will be down to four! That and nine old iMacs still makes working in here glitchy and frustratingly difficult.

iPad 2s – This is the most frustrating because these used to be my best devices! So when a student goes to Google Classroom and logs in, all is well. Then the student clicks on their Google Slide deck. This re-routes the student to the Google Drive app. There it stalls and does nothing. If it does work then it’s SUPPOSED to re-route the student to the Google Slides app. That has NOT worked once.

Workaround for using GAFE – So here’s what I figured out! If I right click on the Google Slides link and open it in a new tab the browser shows the slide deck. From there we can either click on the pencil to edit and open it with Google Slides OR, because that doesn’t always work, we can then open the Google Slides app and there is the slide deck! What a tremendous waste of time and creative effort!!

Samsung Galaxy Tablets – Now I’m worried that I’m getting two more. Bottom line, I have to make restricted accounts for my students and the restricted accounts does NOT give access to the Google Slides app!!! Why the HECK NOT??!! So get this, we cannot edit a Google Slide Deck! Can’t do it via the browser, no sir. So without access to the app what do we do?

Workaround for using GAFE – I have none! Help!

Does anyone know either how to get an Android Tablet to give a restricted user access to Google Slides OR does anyone know how to edit a Google Slide Deck on an Android Tablet browser??

More to come because these tech nightmares difficulties are never ending…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/11/17/problems-with-tech-google-classroom-with-older-devices/

Nov 07

New Flyer for @Indiegogo Campaign

Put together a new flyer for our middle school 1:1 Indiegogo Campaign. Please share, post, reTweet, and handout this poster and word of our campaign! We have about a month to go to raise enough money to get the Asus Chromebook Flip into as many middle school students hands as possible.

Here’s our 1:1 tech plan:

It’s a pretty good plan. Desperate for funding and not wanting to see another group of middle school kids go without we put together the Indiegogo Campaign (goo.gl/ATkgAq) to see if we can raise some money to implement at least part of the plan:
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.29.51 AM

We need help spreading the word to anyone who is able to support our plan. Starting a full 1:1 by just purchasing a $300 Chromebook Flip for all of our students would require over $70,000 but we chose to use Indiegogo because no matter what we raise we get to keep and use! Right now we have plans for at least equipping one grade level if we don’t get enough to equip all three.

Even if we can’t get enough to equip one whole grade level we can still make good use of having a set of even 10 Chromebook Flips. I want to start an after school tech club. Each student in that club would get a Chromebook Flip. The student’s job is to find ways to use it to learn in every class she has. We would meet to brainstorm best practices for learning and sharing learning. We would figure out how to solve tech problems. Those students will in turn become the tech support for our school! They can help students who bring their own tech and their teachers with tech problems!

For this last plan $3,000 would greatly help us! So please spread this campaign and help us bring our rural school, and eventually our district, into the 21st Century!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/11/07/new-flyer-for-indiegogo-campaign/

Oct 27

@Indiegogo Campaign

Here’s a flyer my 1st period class helped put together to help get the work out around town:

Here is our Campaign Website and here’s the post I wrote earlier this morning with a copy of our 1:1 Tech Plan.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/10/27/indiegogo-campaign/

Oct 27

Help Our School @indiegogo

Our school, Chimacum Middle School, has had a tech plan for moving to a 1:1 student to device ratio. Originally, we devised the plan to have every student use an iPad. Then we decided iPad Minis would be more cost effective. Very recently we decided to give students Chromebook Flips. The plan is sound and has been waiting for funding. Our district is currently running on huge bond for the second time because facilities are in desperate need of repair. Because of this our tech plan has been on hold while our students have either one computer lab to share or devices in classrooms that are so old they can’t be used for much other than word processing.

Here’s our plan:

It’s a pretty good plan. Desperate for funding and not wanting to see another group of middle school kids go without we put together the following Indiegogo Campaign (goo.gl/ATkgAq) to see if we can raise some money to implement at least part of the plan:
Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 7.29.51 AM

We need help spreading the word to anyone who is able to support our plan. Starting a full 1:1 by just purchasing a $300 Chromebook Flip for all of our students would require over $70,000 but we chose to use Indiegogo because no matter what we raise we get to keep and use! Right now we have plans for at least equipping one grade level if we don’t get enough to equip all three.

Even if we can’t get enough to equip one whole grade level we can still make good use of having a set of even 10 Chromebook Flips. I want to start an after school tech club. Each student in that club would get a Chromebook Flip. The student’s job is to find ways to use it to learn in every class she has. We would meet to brainstorm best practices for learning and sharing learning. We would figure out how to solve tech problems. Those students will in turn become the tech support for our school! They can help students who bring their own tech and their teachers with tech problems!

For this last plan $3,000 would greatly help us! So please spread this campaign and help us bring our rural school, and eventually our district, into the 21st Century!

Here’s a poster some of my 6th graders helped me put together to share around town:

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/10/27/help-our-school-indiegogo/

Oct 17

Presenting at #WSTA2015!

WSTA 2015 2D 1The Washington Science Teachers Association (WSTA@WSTAScience) is having their annual Science Conference on Oct 23, 24, and 25. I submitted a proposal and it was accepted! I was happy about it but now that it’s drawing close the realization that I’m presenting to adults, and Science teachers no less, is hitting me! I had a dream the other night that I was in front of everyone and it was time for me start. As I looked at my notes I didn’t recognize any of them! I was flipping through page after page and didn’t see anything familiar so I stood and faced the participants with no idea what to say! It was dreadful. I was beginning to sweat and looking for my co-presenter to ask for help but I’m presenting this one alone! Aaaaggghhhhhh!

Luckily, my presentation is mostly complete because I’m doing a very similar session to the one I did this summer at the Innovation conference I co-presented with Tammie Schrader and Jeff Halstead. The session is called Gamification 101 and it serves two purposes, to learn about gamification and game-based learning and to engage in the learning through a gamified experience! The gamified experience is going to be given to the participants via 3D GameLab. Participants will learn by “playing” Gamification 101!

I’m excited to get the chance to share this with others who might be interested in gamifying their course because I’m having fun with it, my students are having fun with it and 3D GameLab has made it so easy! Here’s the slide deck I’ll be using in the sessions:

I’ll be on Sunday at 9am, after the keynote. See all your WA Science teachers who will be there!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/10/17/presenting-at-wsta2015/

Oct 13

WordPress Troubles, Again

[A comment was left on this post wondering if asking Bluehost, where my webpages and WordPress database are housed, if they could solve the problem. So I submitted a help ticket. One of the Bluehost database support dug around for and found the problem! He said that he had to repair the .htaccess files. Doing that and disabling the plugins and themes, restarting and re-enabling the plugins and themes fixed the problem! Turns out that service went above and beyond what the tech support should fix so I was very grateful.]

My WordPress blog, hosted on Bluehost, has been unavailable to me since the 4.3.1 update. I have it set to upgrade automatically and have been enjoying that but recently when I tried to login to edit a old blog post and add a new one I was greeted with the following message:
“Database Update Required

WordPress has been updated! Before we send you on your way, we have to update your database to the newest version.

The update process may take a little while, so please be patient.

Update WordPress Database”

Clicking on Update WordPress Database does no good. It never updates. Searching the Internet and pouring through all the WordPress forums reveals this problem often with a multitude of fixes. None of those worked for me this time. So I started my own forum. No help.

I’ve tried multiple fixes from changing version numbers on specific files after checking an option_value on the databse to reparing the database, to disabling my themes and plugins, to reinstalling the entire 4.3.1 manually. Nothing has worked. No luck.

I got an email from some company who trolls the WordPress forums offering to fix my problem for a one time $45 fee or to keep it running smoothly for more money. I just don’t want to go that route. I’m sure they’ll be able to fix it but this is my educator reflection blog. I don’t make any money off of it, I’ve refused advertising and other offers to monetize it, so it seems a bit much to have to spend money on a free service.

I wondering if it’s time to move my blogging over to Blogger. I have a few other blogs on blogger and I have my students blogging on Blogger this year. I’m using GAFE a lot more this year so the switch would be in line with my teaching. But I really, really love my WordPress blog. Not because of WordPress, I’ve had major problems like this throughout the years – my own fault because of all the plugins and themes I’ve used – but because it’s my first blog that actually has an audience. I don’t get comments much, rarely if ever actually, but people have subscribed to my blog and I get about 2,000 to 3,000 hits on my blog each month because there are teachers out there searching topics that I write and share about. That means a lot to me. That my reflecting, my sharing, my writing can either help someone or at least show them they are not alone. I know that’s why I spend so much of my time reading other teacher’s blogs. Because I find solace in knowing that I am not alone in this profession I’ve chosen.

So what do I do? The only reason I’ve managed to slip this post in is because I added it via my WordPress App on my iPhone. I have no other way to access to Dashboard and update or add posts. At least I can do it this way. So do I just wait until the next update and hope it works itself out? Maybe someone on the forums will find a solution.

Or should I move my blog over to blogger???

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/10/13/wordpress-troubles-again/

Aug 28

Hard Decisions

Decisions, DecisionsI’ve been toiling over what tools to use this year in my Science classes. I’ve been making regular use of 3D GameLab as my main LMS (Learning Management System), Classblogmeister as our class blog for student blogs, Shivtr as our class discussion forum for online, asynchronous discussions, and Classdojo and Remind for parent communication (along with my HW/Daily Work blog). That is a lot and really keeps me and my kids busy! I don’t mind all the work because if I’ve learned anything after teaching for 24 years is that no ONE thing will work for every child. So having an arsenal of learning tools for my students makes the most sense.

Last year I tried a new tool with one of my quarter-long, exploratory classes, Classcraft. My kids and I loved it so I have been going back and forth trying to decide if I should add it to my list of tools above. I also wanted to add Google Classroom as a resource because I manage our school’s GAFE (Google Apps for Education) account and I use Google tools with my students as well. I read blogs, asked for feedback, read tweets, attended webinars and did everything I could to make the best decision for my students. So far having multiple accounts to keep track of has not been a problem and I’ve been having kids use multiple accounts for years so I feel pretty comfortable having various tools for kids to use in class. Still, I couldn’t decide for sure whether I should add Classcraft and Google Classroom to the mix.

Finally, just last night, I decided against adding those two extra tools. I decided against them NOT because they would be one extra thing for me to do although that was a concern. Frankly, if I had deemed them worthwhile for my students I would have easily spent the extra time using those tools. Here’s why I decided against them:

Classcraft – Last year when I used Classcraft the free version was pretty darn good. Classcraft also offered a freemium version that was fantastic. My students had access to the paid version features at no cost to me! If parents wanted to spend real money at home they could so that made it free! I have to be totally honest, in order to keep it equitable I asked kids to not hit their parents up for real money for something I had asked them to do (and use) in school. Maybe it was for that reason that this year Classcraft did NOT have a freemium version. They have a free version and two paid versions (one for individual teachers and one for teams of teachers). Now let me say up front that I think Classcraft is awesome and well worth the price. Had I not already been deeply into 3D GameLab and paid for it, Classcraft would be my only other choice for gamifying my classes! It’s that good. But since I invested money and tons of my time into 3D GameLab I decided I didn’t need to add Classcraft and frankly, their new free version is not as robust and powerful as last year’s. The paid features are too good to pass up so if I was going to use it I would have to go with the single teacher paid version! So after thinking long and hard and going back and forth I finally decided to go with 3D GameLab ONLY rather than use 3D GameLab AND Classcraft. So it was really nothing against Classcraft (aside from their new free version not being as good as it was). For me and my course, 3D GameLab gives me all the features I need and want. I did notice Classcraft is adding an LMS feature so if you’re just deciding on what to use to gamify your classroom you might want to check that out.

Google Classroom – This one also boiled down to did I really need it. Managing my students’ google docs and drawings and spreadsheets has not been an issue for me because everything students submit goes through, again, 3D GameLab. That LMS does it all for me (except for discussions and blogging, which is why I use the other tools). I really don’t need to use Google Classroom and I can deliver assignments, Google Forms, videos and questions through 3D GameLab just as easily and I can check on each student’s progress as well. I wanted to use it and try it out but I really don’t have to and if it’s going to confuse students and not be used all that often, the best choice for me was not to start using it all.

There! Now that I’ve written about this I can put it to rest and focus my attention on getting ready for my new batch of students! We go back to work next week and school doesn’t start until Sept 8 but I’ve been quite busy getting ready and setting up room. Nowhere near so I’m really glad I still have time!

Happy new school year to everyone who has started or is getting ready to start!

Okay, so I ended up using Google Classroom. With all my students having their own GAFE account, using Google Classroom to keep track of their work on Google made sense and so far it’s working fine with our LMS, 3D GameLab.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/08/28/hard-decisions/

Aug 12

#3dgamelab AND #classcraft ?

3D GameLab

AND? OR?

Classcraft

I’ve used 3D GameLab (3DGL) as my Learning Management System (LMS) for the last two years and it has revolutionized my classroom by truly making it a gamified experience. I tried managing student experience points (XP), quests completed, and badges on my own before 3DGL and it was difficult. 3DGL has made the management part of gamification automatic, freeing me up to give students feedback and help them learn!

Last year I also tried using Classcraft for the first time in a nine-week, 6th grade exploratory course. Kids loved it. Classcraft did a few things that 3DGL doesn’t do. First, Classcraft offered kids actual gaming roles such as Warrior and Healer. Those roles more than encourage team gameplay, the roles facilitates teamwork pretty much making it a must. Second, unlike 3DGL students gain hit points (HP) in Classcraft along with XP and even Action Points (AP) to use their spells (yeah, spells that 3DGL doesn’t have). Third, Classcraft has the option of gaining coins to purchase in game pets and better armor.

Both 3DGL and Classcraft are unique enough and offer so many benefits for making a school course fun. Both are examples and ways to gamify a classroom. Both can work together. I recently read on a 3DGL help forum that people out there are using 3DGL and Classcraft together with their students. I considered that last year and asked my students about it and decided against it.

Part of me wanted to do it and the students in the class I tested it on were all for it so the question is why did I decide against it and why do I struggle with wanting to use them both??

Playing Classcraft, although fun and exciting for the kids, did take quite a bit of class time. One of the coolest features of Classcraft is choosing a daily random event. Even if you don’t choose a random event the teacher still needs to go around giving students feedback by dealing damage or making good things happen. For example you have a team that worked on their class project all period and even helped each other so they will get the XP for that project. The XP shows that they successfully completed the project.

If another team socialized and bothered nearby teams they would take damage and lose HP (hit points represent your life, lose them all and you’re dead – not entirely but it comes with negative consequences making “death” undesirable). So whether you choose random events or just provide students feedback in the way of giving XP or causing damage, the student teams have to respond.

Student teams respond by logging on to their accounts. They have to make choices about how to deal with damage by using, or not using, their spells (AP) and special abilities. If they get XP and took no damage they might level up unlocking special privileges in class or getting coins to buy pets or nicer armor. All those things are very attractive and fun for kids, making your course more fun and attractive, but all of those decisions and actions take time to complete. And if you don’t monitor the kids they can spend a lot of time “playing” Classcraft instead of doing classwork. Sure, you could choose when during the class period is going to be designated as Classcraft time, but that’s still time taken away from your course. Even if Classcraft was only done at home you would run into the kids who have no access at home and they would need class time.

So my question is regarding that time. It’s difficult to determine whether that time used “playing” Classcraft will be worth it in the end because more students are engaging with my course or whether students are losing out on learning Science because they are “playing” Classcraft! And on top of Classcraft they have to be logging into their 3DGL accounts to keep track of their assignments and labs! I can’t go back to running my class without 3DGL so that isn’t even an option.

So I just don’t know. Is there anyone out there using both of these? How did work for you?

I’m so torn between really wanting to use both, one for managing student work and the process of gamification (XP, badges, leveling up etc.) and the other for pure gaming enjoyment with actual gaming roles, versus just sticking with 3DGL.

Thoughts?

In the end I decided to go with 3DGL only. It’s January 2016 and I haven’t used Classcraft at all with any of my classes.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/08/12/3dgamelab-and-classcraft/

Jul 06

Another Cool Partnership #OSPP

I’ve participated in some great partnerships from the North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership (NCOSP) to the Olympic Math and Science Partnership (OMSP) to the brand new Olympic STEM Pathways Partnership (OSPP). I have learned so much from the partnerships I’ve been involved in which is why I jumped at the opportunity to join this new OSPP, whose purpose is to improve the learning of STEM or STEAM via the NGSS in our schools. By training teacher leaders from different school districts and schools and having us work with our staffs we will enrich the learning of our students!

One thing that we discussed was the definition of Science and Engineering as we delved into the NGSS. Based on my takeaways I made the following two graphics. I’m not sure if they are correct at all or if one is better than the other. What do you think? Is one of these more correct than the other? Are they both true? Or can I fix them? (Click on each graphic to see it larger.)
engineering

It was my work with the OMSP where I learned so much about AfL. Through NCOSP I extended my Science learning and practiced teacher leadership skills. And now through the OSPP I have extended my learning of oceanography, specifically ocean acidification, and learned more about working with adults! Here is an article about the launch of the partnership by the University of Washington. And here are some tweets we shared during our first week and half training:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Permanent link to this article: http://www.educatoral.com/wordpress/2015/07/06/another-cool-partnership/

Older posts «

» Newer posts