LakeVille Tech News & Tips - March, 2014

Tech Integration Highlights

Mr. Southern's Class Newscasts

Nick Southern's fifth grade students started making newscasts last month. Their first video is linked below.

Nick said the students quickly figured out how to easily record and edit the video with the iPad. They did all the work on their own. As they continue this project, experienced students will train the next team so everyone gets a chance to participate.

Videos were created with iMovie on the iPad and they are hosted on SchoolTube so students have access.

WeVideo Project

I had a chance to work with Ginny Gaudard's STEM Lab students recently on a simple video project. We had students use the online editor to arrange some pictures to make a story.

Before we began the project, I took 10 pictures of students in various poses. Then for the actual assignment, each group had to create their own story using some of the pictures and text. If they wanted, they could add extra effects.

I created the directions for the project along with two video tutorials that introduced students to WeVideo. I also worked with them for two days in the lab to be sure my directions were sufficient. I was very happy with the students' creativity and how well WeVideo worked as a free option for creating a simple video slideshow.

Here is a post on my blog that contains all the resources for this project. The basic idea of creating a story from pictures can be adapted to any grade level or subject.

Also, you can find the tutorials for the project on the LakeVille Tech Hub.

Simple, Free Apps and Resources

PBL from the Buck Institute for Education

If you are planning on using PBL, don't forget to look at The Buck Institute for Education's website. Besides having a Project Search tool, there are many other free resources such as these:

  • PBL Essentials Checklist - Be sure you're not forgetting a key element of PBL in your activity.
  • Webinars - Several videos on many topics for all grade levels.
  • Research - Studies regarding the effectiveness of the PBL model

Animation Apps

Animation is a skill that I put at grades 6 - 12 on our K - 12 Tech Track document, but I'm hearing from many teachers who introduce stop animation videos at an earlier grade. In general, videos for younger students have a lot less frames, therefore fewer frames per second are displayed when played.

Here are three iPad apps I've learned about recently that would allow you or your students to start exploring this fun way to tell a story.

LEGO Movie Maker - A very simple app with all the important features you'd need.

iMotion HD - This is the free app my son used in his middle school class.

Stop Motion Studio - This full featured app originally had a small cost, but it is currently free.

If you want students to explore animation on a computer, this resource from ABCya! is a great place to start. Though the site is usually for young children and the animator has the same look, it really is a great tool with lots of potential.

Sources for Free Images

It is all too easy to grab content from the internet without regard to copyright laws. Students need a lot of guidance in how to find free images and how to properly cite their sources.

I recently came across this blog post where the author listed several good sources for free images. If you find any of the sites are blocked for you or the students, please let me know.

Best Places to Find Free Images Online

Also, please be sure you are familiar with Creative Commons Licenses, copyright and citing sources. I compiled some useful resources related to this on the LakeVille Tech Hub here.

Other News or Noteworthy Items

MACUL Highlights

I attended the MACUL ed-tech conference in Grand Rapids two days last week. Vickie, Dawn Cousins and Jake Gentry were also there both days. Crystal Owen joined us on Friday. Altogether there were over 4,400 educators in attendance.

I was overwhelmed with the number of excellent sessions to choose from each hour. I tried to focus on topics related to tech integration at the K - 5 level, since the others would be focused on the secondary level. Rather than leaving with a list of tools and how-to tips, I found myself immersed in a culture of learning where technology is merely the best tool for the job.

The highlight of the conference for me was when Crystal and I were able to present about the music video project we did last semester. They scheduled us in a small room, far from the center of activity. To make it worse, we were in the same time slot as the Friday keynote along with several other great sessions. I was expecting maybe one or two teachers in addition to a couple friends who said they'd be there to support us.

When it came time to start, I was glad to see a full room with a number of teachers sitting on the floor. They were eager to hear about our experiences with making math music videos. We received a lot of great questions, some leads on other related resources and many thanks for our efforts.

During the entire conference, it was exciting and encouraging to be surrounded by so many teachers intent on preparing students for their future. While I did come across a few good tools I'll pass on to specific teachers, most of what I learned related the big picture and plans for the months ahead. I'll have more to say about it as I meet with teachers in staff meetings soon!

Here are a few pictures from the conference.

The Importance of Teaching Web Literacy

Here is an interesting article about a study of over 1,000 first-year college students. While many assume the younger generation is tech savvy, a closer examination often reveals (and as the article suggests) they have very poor skills when it comes to effectively using technology for tasks more complex than simple communication and entertainment.

No matter what the grade level, we need to teach students how to best use search engines and how to evaluate the information they find online. Here are two resources for better web literacy:

Alan November's Information Literacy Resources

Advanced Search Tips from the LakeVille Tech Hub site

5 Reasons I Love Google Drive for Teaching

I have been using Google Documents for over five years now, but I am still amazed by what it offers us as educators. They are continually improving the tools and now that all the sharing features are integrated into Google Drive, it has become an essential resource for teachers and students.

These are the five features that have impressed me the most lately as I use the many features of Google Drive:

I can always can update documents or presentations. - The days are gone when I'd have to send updated copies of files to colleagues or post new versions online. As soon as I make a change, it is reflected on everyone's copy, even if they're looking at it at the moment.

Documents and presentations are easily shared for collaboration. - This is what Google Documents have always been best known for. Everyone can edit the shared files. This primary feature has been simplified and improved over the years.

I can check progress on any document it in real time. - As long as students share it when they create the file, I don't have to wait until it's submitted. At any moment I can check progress...and even add comments to it.

I can access the documents from anywhere. - Whether from a computer or any tablet or phone (using the Google Drive app), files can be read and edited. Productivity greatly improves as time and space become less of a factor in accessing work.

I can save and share any type of file in it. - While the documents, presentations, drawings and spreadsheets are the only items you can actually collaborate on or update in real time, you can save and share anything from your computer with friends, colleagues or the world. This includes pictures, PDF files, Word Documents and videos. Permissions will allow who can find it and whether they can download copies. Getting work to students or information to parents at home has never been easier.

Twitter for Teachers

I'm glad to see a few or our teachers moving over to Twitter as a source of professional development. As so many educators will attest, the broad perspective and constant flow of great tips and information transforms the way we see our work.

If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to take a few minutes to create an account and begin exploring the tool. You can start by following me and the LakeVille tech account I created. Look at those two accounts and follow any of their followers that look interesting.

Also, here's a good video I came across from Erin Klein, a teacher from Bloomfield Hills. She is undoubtedly one of the best examples of a teacher who uses Twitter, blogs and other social media effectively to grow as a teacher and also to impact the profession in a positive way.

Twitter for Teachers