Friday, December 19, 2014

Day 72 - Making Book Trailers Better: Legacy - Ben Schersten - Francis Wyman IT Specialist

This post originally appeared on Ben's Blog

iMovie-2.0-for-iOS-app-icon-smallMany teachers have used the iMovie Trailer function to make book trailers. But what do we do with them? How do we make sure those trailers last? How do we make sure students, lots of students, see those trailers? How do we make sure students use those trailers to help them choose books they’ll like (because that’s really the point of a trailer)?
QR Codes!
Okay, first, I don’t love QR codes; I know some teachers adore them. I think they have limited use, but this is definitely one of them.
Book QR Code
Our first trailer. The student chose the color.
Once you make your trailer, put it in a public place on the web. We’re a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) district, so we put them in drive and then made them public to anyone with the link. Then create a QR code for the movie (we used theQRafter app and the QRStuff site). Then head to library and put that QR code on every copy of the book. Now, when students go to the library (we’re a 1:1 iPad district) they can scan the QR code and see a visual trailer for the book created by a student (in addition to the blurb on the back). If books are going to be displayed cover-out, put a copy of the QR code on the front too.
And (this is the best part), the movie file is stored in a stable place in the cloud. So as my elementary school students who created the trailers move through middle and high school the trailer will still be sitting in their Google Drive available for younger students to see it. Five or more years from now, students will be watching the trailers we created this year!
Our students do great work; make sure it isn’t lost when summer arrives. Help them create a legacy.
Note: I’ve written about iMovie trailers before. Here is a post with single-page, printable storyboards for all the trailer themes. Here is a post about using trailers as a way for students to introduce themselves to next year’s teacher. And here is a post about moving beyond trailers and getting into iMovie projects.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Day 71 - Writing to Instruct - Mrs. Boucher - Francis Wyman Second Grade

This post first appeared on Mrs. Boucher's Blog 

This week we are learning how to write step by step instructions.  Students have been turning their amphibian facts into an instruction or step in our procedural text, "How to care for an amphibian." We also discussed action words that could be used to start each step of our writing.  Today we made a material list for our final writing piece.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Day 70 - The Power Of An Hour (Of Code) - Jenn Scheffer - BPS Mobile Learning Coach

“I might cry.”
Those were words spoken by an Instructional Assistant at Pine Glen Elementary school during last week’s Hour of Code.
The third grade student she works with is typically highly dependent. The student needs frequent breaks, constant help, prompting to focus in order to complete work, and continuous approval. However, during Hour of Code, her student didn’t ask for help once. In fact, when she offered to help, the student refused. He didn’t take one break. He stayed focused for the entire hour and when the “official” Hour of Code lesson ended, he kept going. He was completely immersed in learning Lightbot and soared through each level, independently making it to the more complex procedures level. This Hour of Code success story is just one of many throughout the Burlington district during last week’s Hour of Code. It was incredibly rewarding to witness students at the elementary, middle, and high school levels work both independently and collaboratively to problem-solve, think critically, and persevere through the challenges presented.
“It’s really been something,” said Lynne O’Neill, third grade teacher at Francis Wyman elementary.
“Not only have they had to use logical thinking, which is not something they typically choose to do, but they’ve persevered through this. They’ve listened to the tutorial. They have been helping each other, working collaboratively. It’s built community in our classroom. It’s built confidence in struggling learners. It’s really been a great week.” I visited Lynne’s class on Monday, December 8th and after a quick introduction to Hopscotch, the students were left on their own to explore and experiment with the creation of their own games. To help students understand the fundamentals of coding, I borrowed the analogy of “coding is like giving a dog commands” from the Code with Karel the Dog tutorial. This basic explanation was highly effective with the elementary students I worked with; both with Lynne’s third graders as well as the district’s youngest coders. Mrs. Sosnowski (Mrs. “Ski”) and Mrs. Maiorana students were easily the most excited students I worked with all week (not to mention adorable) and they quickly understood that they were responsible for creating the commands which enabled the program to run. Lynne’s students were so engaged with Hopscotch that they continued to code throughout the rest of the week.
Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 11.41.12 AMI was invited back to her class on Friday so students could show me the progress they had made since the lesson on Monday. I was amazed at the advanced level of coding these novice programmers had accomplished. Students had discovered the Hopscotch emojis, created full-blown fire-ball monster games to play on their iPads, and wowed me with their dancing turkeys. After Tweeting out a picture of several student programs, Hopscotch commented stating, “that’s a lot of code! What did they make?” Our Twitter conversation continued briefly and resulted in a Live Google Hangout On Air (embedded below) which allowed students to speak directly with Alish Ermanshare, who created many of the Hopscotch Hour of Code video tutorials, as well as Ian Frye who handles their social media. Students showcased their creations directly with the folks at Hopscotch and to say they were impressed is a massive understatement! “That was an experience they will never forget,” stated Lynne.

During the week of coding in Burlington, students also realized the amount of testing and trial and error involved in creating a successful program. This was especially evident last Thursday when I visited Jill Cuhna and Valerie Doherty’s third graders at Pine Glen. Throughout their Hour of Code, most students worked in teams of two to four helping each other progress through each level of Lightbot. Jill, Valerie, and I offered our assistance to the 26 third graders in the room, but for the most part, students were helping each other without any adult intervention. In fact, there were a few levels of Lightbot that students helped me complete! When Hour of Code was over and indoor recess began, the majority of the students chose to continue with Lightbot (this happened in first grade classrooms as well). To see students sacrifice recess to code was another highlight of the week. Similarly, Marshall Simonds Middle School students also chose to give up their leisure time to embark on an Hour of Code.
Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 1.20.17 PMApproximately 30 of Jennifer Tate’s Math Olympiad students gathered after school last week to pursue learning an hour of code. During my visit with these students, I realized their level of intrinsic motivation to learn and understand computer programming was unparalleled. Several students claimed the tutorials were “too easy,” as they had been programming with HTML, JavaScript, and Python for close to three years. Needless to say, this session of coding was filled with students selecting the more challenging tutorials. Several of these students, the ones who were exploring the tutorials reserved for the high school level, had the opportunity to receive help from Eric Calandriello, BPS IT staff member and BHS alumni, who is currently majoring in computer science at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. In addition to the members of the Math Olympiad team, sixth grade teachers Barbara Sturtevant and Carolyn Crowley shared with me that they also had their students participate in Hour of Code and my colleague Kelly Floyd, Instructional Technology Specialist at Marshall Simonds, had our middle school Help Desk students participate in Hour of Code. Highlights of these students, along with many others from the Burlington district who participated in Hour of Code are included in the video shown below.

Finally, at the high school level, BHS art, math, digital literacy, and Help Desk students all had the chance to try the Hour of Code. Art teacher Christina Chang brought two of her design classes (one of which was all female) to the Help Desk to complete an Hour of Code and the feedback from these young ladies was tremendous. Freshman Sara Cannalonga said, “I really enjoyed Hour of Code because it was something I have never experienced before and it was a fun thing to do while at the same time learning something.” Along those same lines, many BHS Digital Literacy students enjoyed their time spent on coding. I asked both of my digital literacy classes to complete four Hour of Code tutorials, including the creation of a holiday card using Scratch, and write a reflection about their experience on their blogs. Many of my students found Scratch difficult to understand, however despite the difficulty, many are still interested in learning more about computer science. In her blog post reflecting on the Hour of Code, freshman Meghan Gaffney stated, “After doing my second year of Hour of Code, I am really interested in learning more about coding. I really like to code and I want to continue coding even after the Hour of Code ends.” Senior Help Desk member Cat Hoyt added,
“Having completed Hour of Code I don’t know if I would say I am more interested in exploring the field of Computer Science as much as I would say I am interested in exploring the ways that Computer Science and coding can develop me as a student and the way in which I learn. I think that being given the chance to participate in Hour of Code has allowed me to use my brain and think in ways that I never have before and that participating in this experience can be beneficial to students and teachers alike because it promotes new styles of critical thinking that can be applied in many situations aside from the field of Computer Science.”
Last week’s Hour of Code represented so much of what we as educators seek in today’s educational system; student-driven learning, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, perseverance and grit. It was an honor to witness such exciting learning environments and see first-hand the potential of our future generation of innovators. And that is the power of an hour!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Day 69 - Great Holiday Reads - Megan Carney - Pine Glen Library/Media Specialist

This post originally appeared on the Pine Glen Library/Technology Center Blog
The holiday season is upon us, and during this sometimes hectic time, there is nothing like taking a few minutes away from all the hustle and bustle to sit together and enjoy a great story.

Here are some great ideas for holiday reading:

1.  The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore- the poem we all know and love so much comes alive with Jan Brett's amazing illustrations!

2. Dream Snow by Eric Carle

3. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson- you may have read this when you were a kid! 
This classic story shows us what happens when the six not so well behaved Herdman kids take over the church pageant and reinterpret the story of Christmas, with some crazy, funny, and sometimes profound surprises.

4.  Lil Rabbit's Kwanzaa- Brer Rabbit meets African tradition as a little rabbit tries to find a gift to bring his grandfather for Karamu, the Kwanzaa feast.

5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas- Who would ever steal Christmas? The Grinch, that's who! Your heart may grow three sizes too when you share this Dr. Seuss classic with your family.

6. Olivia Helps with Christmas by Ian Falconer- Olivia, our favorite piglet, helps out with Christmas as only she can.  The great black and white illustrations- with pops of holiday green and red- really help tell the story!

7. Happy Hanukkah, Corduroy! The sweet bear in overalls introduces young readers to the sacred traditions of the Festival of Lights.

8.  Olive, The Other Reindeer by Vivian Walsh- When Olive the Dog hears the song about the "other reindeer," she thinks she is the other reindeer and heads to the North Pole to try to join Santa's team.  As you might imagine, hilarity ensues.

9. The Kvetch Who Stole Hanukkah by Bill Bertle- A Grinch-like grump who tries to steal Hanukkah learns the true meaning of the holiday.

10. The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg- Hop on the night train to go visit Santa in this magical holiday classic.

Happy Holidays, and Happy Reading!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Day 68 - Screencast: Get Creative In The Classroom Using Creative Commons! - BHS Senior Dan Pais

This post first appeared on the BHS Help Desk Blog

Editor’s Note: Many teachers struggle to get their students to understand the complexities of Creative Commons. Today’s post, which originally appeared on the blog of BHS senior Dan Pais, removes the mystery for both students and teachers behind Creative Commons. It features an EXCELLENT, must watch, four-minute screencast and would serve as a meaningful homework assignment, or as the basis of a class discussion on how to properly cite digital media. Respecting the creative works of others is an integral part of digital citizenship and one that all teachers, regardless of content area or grade level, should teach. We hope you will take a few moments to read the post, watch the screencast, and share it with your students and teachers.
As a digitally literate student, it is important to use media that is licensed for reuse and give credit to the sources from which you obtain information from. When students are asked to create a “works cited” page for papers or projects they are being asked to identify the sources they used to complete their research. Teachers want to ensure students are not plagiarizing. Most students have a clear understanding that it is wrong to plagiarize written bodies of work, however a much smaller group of students realizes the implications of reusing images, music, and videos for multi media projects and presentations. Digital media should be as respected as a primary source. The time, effort, and creative thinking that goes into the development of an image, piece music, or video should neverbe taken for granted. Learning to properly cite digital technologies is an important skill to learn in high school, as it will make college projects and assignments a breeze. In order to overcome the obstacle of simply copying and pasting images and various other media, it is easier to utilize free media, meaning that you do not have to give credit to the source (depending on the license). But where can you find such media? Well, the two most common ways are through Google and the Creative Commons website itself. Creative Commons licenses vary, and depending on which license is ascertained for the specified media, different restrictions may apply.
According to their website, “Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization that enables the sharing and use of creativity and knowledge through free legal tools.” This organization provides easy to use, copyright tools that give permission to share and use creative work. The  screencast below will show you how to obtain licensed content directly through the Creative Commons website.
Once you have navigated to Creative Commons, click on “Licenses” and then click “Find Licensed Content”
Untitled image (4)
Once you find your way to this page, type anything you want into the search tab and either select or deselect the extra options below the search bar to your specific needs. My screencast below will show you how to use Flickr, Pixabay, and ccMixter to obtain stellar media!
Untitled image (3)
Remember that all images obtained through this site are free to use, and depending on the license, you may even be able to edit the media and use it for commercial purposes.

If you have any further questions or want to learn more about Creative Commons licensed media, you can find me at the BHS Help Desk during period 4. Stay tuned for future tutorials and screencasts, hope this helps!
Respecting and understanding copyright laws is just one aspect of being digitally literate. Click here to learn more about the fundamentals of digital literacy.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Day 67 - Update: BPS Foundational Apps - Dennis Villano - Director of Technology Integration

This post originally appeared on the BPS EdTech Blog
BHS iPad Deployment.001 copy
Burlington Public Schools is 1:1 with iPads in grades 1-12. We also have iPads available in each kindergarten and preschool classroom. Our vision for a 1:1 learning environment has always been to create the most engaging and collaborative student centered classrooms possible. Although our focus has never been on apps, we have always encouraged the use of core BPS Foundational Apps that can help keep students build skills and meet the standards of our curriculum. One of the most successful aspects of our 1:1 learning program has been the focus on these BPS Foundational Apps which can be used across grade levels and content areas.
This list of apps has changed slightly since our first 1:1 high school classrooms began using iPads. Students and teachers have had the opportunity to help adjust the BPS Foundational Apps. One of the most notable changes was a shift from Evernote to Notability as the core note taking and organizational app for students. Many Burlington middle and high school students preferred Notability and began using it as their primary note taking app. Our team has now amended the BPS Foundational Apps to include Notability instead of Evernote.
Burlington is also a Google Apps for Education district. Students and teachers use GAFE as their primary communication and collaboration tool. Google Classroom has been introduced and is becoming a popular option for digital workflow. All BPS students will be using Google Blogger as a curation tool for their PreK-12 BPS Digital Portfolios.

BHS iPad Deployment.001BHS iPad Deployment.002

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Day 66 - I Am Not A Barbie Girl - BHS Senior Kristin Johnson

This post first appeared on Kristin's Help Desk Blog
Almost every little girl growing up was given a Barbie doll, whether it was a princess, an everyday, or a career doll,  society has influenced girls to strive to fit the model of a Barbie Doll. On November 14, Buzzfeed, a blog covering current topics in entertainment, technology, and “life” in general, released an article on a book published by Mattel called “Barbie: I can be a computer engineer”.  Thinking this book would be written in order to encourage young girls to become interested in a technology field, I was very disappointed to find that Barbie had no insight on what to do. The book starts out with Barbie and her sister Skipper sitting in the kitchen. Barbie is furiously typing away creating a game that allows a user to use a cute little robotic puppy to complete tasks. First of all, Barbie had to create a game that had a puppy in it because if it was anything else, it would not be girly. Secondly, Barbie is not actually writing the program that will make the game run, she is simply designing it, she will “need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” Upon showing Skipper the game, a virus appears crashing Barbie’s computer. But have no fear, Barbie has her flash drive on her necklace because she has to accessorize. Barbie goes to plug-in the flash drive to Skipper’s computer, transferring the virus to that computer as well. If Barbie knew anything about computers, she’d know that when she plugged in the flash drive to her computer , it would transfer onto the flash drive.
Skipper’s computer then crashes and she looses her work. Barbie promises that she will get both computers fixed when she goes to school. But before Barbie left, Skipper hits Barbie with a pillow, starting a pillow fight. Stereotype much? Having a pillow fight is clearly the right move in this situation. Barbie tells Skipper that she’ll bring their laptops to school so that she can fix them. Barbie is sitting after class and her two friends, who happen to be males, begin talking to her. Barbie explains her situation prompting Stephan to reply with “It will go faster if Brian and I help”. The amount of sexism behind that reply is unbearable. Barbie, as a woman, clearly can not fix the laptops herself.
The moment that Barbie hands over the laptops, Brian and Stephan instantly fix them as if it was as simple as pressing a key. Boys to the rescue!The following morning Barbie gives her sister her laptop and believes that it was her that fixed both laptops and not the boys. Following the return of the Skipper’s laptop, Barbie presents her cute puppy program to her teacher, who just so happens to be a woman. Barbie’s teacher is blown away by her work and gives her an A+ and even extra credit. Congrats Barbie, you’re clearly a computer engineer. Couldn’t write a program or fix two laptops but you drew a cute puppy and wore a cute top when you presented the game. So sure Barbie, you can be a “computer engineer”.
This coming January, I will have the honor to attend one of the most prestigious education conferences in the country. Along with my three other female classmates and my teacher we will be attending Educon in Philadelphia. Our conversation will be: Closing the Gender Gap in Innovation: Engaging Girls in STEM.
This is an amazing opportunity. Not only will it benefit me because it shows I am passionate about pursuing a technology related career, but I hope to inspire other girls to get involved in technology. There are not enough women in the field of technology. It is male dominated and in the 21st century it should not be that way.
As a girl in the technology field, I do realize that it is not always the easiest thing to be a part of. But that did not stop me. Over the past four years I have taken programming classes, been apart of the Burlington High School’s Help Desk, attended various technology conferences and even got the opportunity to tour the Google office located in Cambridge. Being a girl does not mean that I have to be just a house wife, I can be whatever I want. To all you girls out there that are interested in the technology field, do not be afraid to pursue your dream. Just because Barbie is not a computer engineer does not mean you can’t.