Wizard School App

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Wizard School App

Size: 78.6 MB

Age: 4+

By Duck Duck Moose

Price: Of course, free

Do you remember when we used encyclopedias in schools to browse subjects or get some basic dates and facts about something?  Even if you don’t, we know that some students are “browsers.”  Some set in to read full length novels, and other flit around reading the backs of Pokemon cards and the Rules to Enter on the sides of cereal boxes.  Wizard School app will appeal to the latter group and, perhaps, even to the former on certain days.

This app will certainly appeal to students in grades 3 to 6 who have some reading skills.  The creation of an avatar that represents you in the app appeals to everyone.  Even me.

Subjects you can browse include:  Design (like Design a Vehicle), Animals (66 options), World, Drawing, People, Imagination, Space, Photography, Sports, Do-It-Yourself, Science, Kidpreneur, Health, Riddles and Puzzles.

In the animals section, I did open up the information about Polar Bears and it contained:

  • a small portion of video from the BBC featuring playful polar bear cubs with their mom,
  • Alysa McCall, polar bear scientist explaining what adaptations polar bears have made to live in the far north,
  • an interview with Elizabeth Bailey from the Memphis Zoo lets students know what they can do to help save a polar bear
  • and students can record their voice to make a PSA about saving the polar bear population using the knowledge they have acquired.

There are riddles and puzzles to challenge students and buzz feed videos that features many of the topics.

The front screen tells us that Wizard School is made in partnership with Khan Academy.

Download it on the ipads in your classroom and make it, possibly, a literacy centre during your Daily 5.

 

 

 

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Social Media and High School

Yesterday, as many of you know, the ABC show Roseanne was cancelled after a very promising re-vamp.  This story in the news presents a perfect teachable moment for many middle and high school students.  The show’s star, Roseanne Barr lost a television series over a tweet.  One particularly racist tweet.

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As many students look for summer jobs and apply to various companies, it is part of the learning process for them to recognize that their digital footprint is part of their identity.

Mediasmarts is the number one site to go to for digital citizenship resources for all ages.  Clearly, having a neutral social media profile is not always covered at the dinner table and teachers are on the front line with students to educate them about the repercussions of posting controversial comments and activities.

Starting the conversation with some experiences that students and teachers can attest to – about someone who called in sick and then posted photos of the awesome party they were attending, or particularly profane tweets seen by potential employers.  These stories have become the stuff of urban myths.

Using articles that are advising job-seekers like, “Why career-minded professional should think before they tweet” show students that posting responsibly is a life-long process and not just something to pay attention to in middle school and high school.   As part of the modern job application process, students should take for granted that someone will google them and look at their social media postings that are not hidden behind privacy walls. Why not include a short lesson on using LinkedIn as a valuable place to keep your work history accessible to employers?

In a follow-up lesson, discussions about the algorithms used by Google and other sites to collect data about you and customize advertising and information to your “likes” would be great information for students to have.  Although teachers often take for granted that this “digital generation” is knowledgeable about the workings of the internet, you may be surprised about how little they know about privacy, data collection and the manipulative nature of various websites.  This interesting video from Scientific American, “How does Google know everything about me?” , shows how your data is collected and used to entice you to purchase or join what is being advertised.

The conversation about digital footprints and keeping a “clean” social media identity may start and end at school without much in the way of parent involvement but it is information that is so important for each and every student.

ii’ taa’poh’to’p (a place to rejuvenate and re-energize during a journey)

“ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the Blackfoot name of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, was bestowed and transferred  in ceremony by Kainai Elder, Andy Black Water on June 21, 2017. The name signifies a place to rejuvenate and re-energize while on a journey.  Traditionally, these places are recognized as safe, caring, restful — and offer renewed energy for the impending journey.  In a traditional naming ceremony, transitioning into the new name is a journey of transformation towards self actualization.” (ii’ taa’poh’to’p)

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As the university and many other organizations begin the process toward reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada, individuals have an opportunity to do some of their own work to learn the devastating impact of colonization.

The Doucette Library has developed a top-notch collection of Indigenous resources for the K-12 audience and, while, it seems limited to certain ages, many of the resources are suitable for adults to read.  Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton, although aimed at a young audience gives a feeling of a child’s experience in Residential Schools.  The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by David Carpenter and Joseph Auguste Merasty gives an adult perspective to the life-long effects of being sent to a Residential School.

8th Fire: Aboriginal Peoples. Canada and the Way Forward is a 3-DVD collection hosted by Wab Kinew that gives a present day perspective to the continuing relationship between these two cultures.

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A MOOC presented through Coursera and by University of Toronto called Aboriginal Worldviews and Education is free to audit.  The presenter is Jean-Paul Restoule and presents a current Indigenous perspective through lectures, special guests, readings and videos.  For a person beginning to learn about Truth and Reconciliation, this course is an excellent place to start.

A website entitled wherearethechildren.ca captures many residential school survivors and their stories recounted as adults.  This heart wrenching series of videos shows the results of the residential school system through the memories of these adults.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has published the “Calls to Action”  and that is a great place to start a personal journey to move towards reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Although the past shows the wrongs inflicted upon the indigenous peoples of Canada, the future is looking much brighter.  Werklund School of Education recently hosted a Youth Forum, inviting 17 grade 9 students from various parts of Alberta.  Working with these students showed how connected and involved they will be in recognizing the importance of having an indigenous voice in education.  Working with these students was a teaching and a learning experience.

 

 

 

Augmented Reality App

ARFlashcards are a very fun way to use an app to give an augmented reality view to some alphabet cards.  Have a look at this video to see how they work.

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Augmented reality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an enhanced version created by the use of technology to overlay digital information or an image  of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera.)”

Augmented reality apps are emerging as a fast way to integrate AR into your classroom.  Articles like this one on the TeachThought site includes a list of 32 apps that contain AR that you can include on your iPads to use in the classroom.

But why?

These are fun apps, especially the Alphabet cards that make A into an alligator and G into a gorilla.  But, when you get right down to it, once you and your students have seen it once or twice, is that it?  The caricature of the animal that appears, in fact, blocks the letter that it represents.

AR has a really cool tech vibe but I’m not sure the alphabet cards are where I would use this technology for the early literacy learning.

Once the technology is more robust, showing us the human body like the Anatomy 4D app (which I find very glitchy) or showing a real frog dissection or the way a tsunami looks as it approaches shore, maybe I will buy in a bit more but for now I am on the fence with this ed tech.

Don’t get me wrong.  This app and the accompanying alphabet cards are fun and when I showed my colleagues, we all found the AR fascinating until we started to think about how to use it in a classroom.  Nothing.  No ideas.  Nadda.

My opinion is to wait and watch.  Let’s see how the AR apps develop and how we can use it as an embedded technology in the classroom.  Perhaps, not yet.

 

Podcasts as PD

Do you want to listen to podcasts during some of your downtime? What downtime?  Or while you are walking or exercising? Or sleeping?  I know teachers are very busy and on the verge of burn-out at this time of year but podcasts can help re-inspire or motivate you or simply get you through to the end of the year.  When asked if you are keeping up with your professional development, you can confidently nod and discuss something about the latest examples of project based learning.  No one needs to know that it was the last thing you listened to before parking your car this morning.

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Search for podcasts that interest you and your passion within your chosen profession.  There are, literally, podcasts for everything.

I suggest, to get started, my two favourite bloggers who have recently entered the podcast realm.

  1. Creative Classroom by John Spencer based on his blog.
  2. Inside Innovation by AJ Juliani

If you have no time to read the blogposts, perhaps you can listen.

I also like the idea of EduAllStars in which a different education innovator is featured in each episode.  WiredEducator.com also offers a variety of interviews with clever educators adapting and adopting technology into their classrooms.

Free webinars often offered great information about using technology and making in the K-12 classroom but many have become “sponsored” by various technology companies and no longer offer the breadth of knowledge they once did.  Podcasts fill that gap by offering innovative ideas within the context of an interview or listening opportunity that is free and not subject to any schedule.

Try one out.  Podcasts are just one more tool in your professional development tool belt.

Podcasts in Secondary School

How about using podcasts in middle and secondary school classrooms?  It works.  Listen to this podcast about using Serial podcast, Season 1 as a hook to engage English Language Arts students in high school.  Michael Godsey had some choices to make, like introducing King Lear to his students rather than Serial.  In the end, his students made a few huge leaps in their learning that I’m not sure would have happened while he was explaining what was happening in King Lear.

For one, his students who were not, generally, at or above grade level, used the time in invest in the story and to discuss the issues presented in the episodes.

Using the transcripts, students improved their spelling and sentence structure by tuning into the audio and written editions of each episode.

Podcast developers also made the letters or “primary resources” available.  Letters that were part of the evidence could be scrutinized by students for tone and meaning.  Students looked at clues to what really happened.

If I haven’t said it already, podcasts are free and using them in a classroom is a very new way to link what students are already doing to curriculum outcomes.

This American Life and RadioLab as well as the CBC have hundreds of episodes for you to test out for your classroom.

I should also mention that Michael Godsey and his wife developed a number of printable lesson plans linked to podcast learning available at their site for a price.

Podcasts in Elementary School

Podcasts are an up and coming (some say, “already arrived”) teaching tool.  Recent survey results by the group Kidslisten.org contain some amazing statistics about the age of students listening to podcasts (almost 60% between the ages of 5 and 8) and how much they listen (1/2 of students surveyed listen to at least one podcast a week, 1/3 of students listen everyday.)

 

Listening with your students to a podcast like The Alien Adventures of Finn Caspian  may be a way to engage students in storytelling that is free and captivating.

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We, at the Doucette, have continually toyed with the idea of a book club podcast so that we could get the word out about the many great resources we read and want to recommend to Werklund students and others in the field of teaching.  It hasn’t happened yet but stay tuned…

On the other hand, Book Club for Kids Podcast is an interesting addition to reviews for kids by kids and some special guests.  Some great discussions can be started using the reviews that are already uploaded and they are free.

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And your class may want to create a podcast of their own, reviewing books or taking on other subjects that can be scripted.  How to Start a Podcast may be a great resource to get you and your students creating your own “in-class” podcast to share with each other.

Begin with a podcast or kidcast that will interest your students and start using free podcasts in your classroom.

 

New Equipment at the Doucette

Do you have a podcast you want to record?  Do you want to do research in a completely new way?  Are you sharing podcasts with your students?

Werklund School of Education has just acquired some new technology to make all of these ways of communicating easier.   Early in March, two Go Pro Cameras will be available for loan up to a week.  These cameras will have chest harnesses so that researchers can record what students and teachers are saying and doing in various research environments.

Because of the popularity of the Yeti microphone that was purchased last year, we have added two more to the collection.  This piece of technology makes for great recording of the spoken voice to share a podcast with your students.

In addition to these major pieces of loanable technology, we have also added two blue-tooth speakers to the collection making it easier to share learning with your students.

We are also expecting a flurry of new robots.  They are always fun to experiment with in classes from K-12 or with your own teaching students.  By prior booking, there will be a total of five Ozobot kits to use with a class.  Other robots are expected soon as the recommendation to include coding in classrooms from K-12 becomes more intense.

In addition to all the new, cool technology, we are welcoming a new Technology Support Assistant for Werklund School of Education to work from the Doucette Library.  Linda Easthope will be joining us beginning in March to help you with your many technology queries.

Please also remember that the iPads, MacBooks and PC carts can be loaned out from Monday to Friday between 8:30am and 6pm while students are here and until 4:30pm during intercession.

All of this technology is available for sign out from the Doucette Library during regular library hours.  Please come and visit us with your UCID and we can arrange for you to borrow it.  We would also like to hear how you are using it to complete your research or as an addition to your classroom.

 

The New Smoke Signals by Rachel Mishenene

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There are many benefits to working in an education library including reading many great books and working with some leading edge technology.  Once you are immersed in the collection, sometimes you find special interests that merit some study.  For me, I am always on the look out for ways that the indigenous people of Canada bolster the connection between young people and the elders of these communities.

The importance of keeping the language and the stories of the past alive with younger generations and the capturing of these narratives in their original language is essential to begin the healing and to grow a strong future.

There is a powerful digital world out there that can be harnessed to capture these stories and connect indigenous communities together.

The New Smoke Signals: Communicating in a Digital World by Rachel Mishenene  is a small but powerful book that links the indigenous world to the digital world in a easy, uncomplicated way.  The book has a variety of information in it.  She says, “First Nation, Inuit and Metis people across the country have embraced this relatively new way of communicating with each other, learning new things and preserving the old teachings.” (p.5) And so begins a look at modern technology like cellphones, social media like LinkedIn and blogs, to help tell the stories that are important to indigenous communities.  I especially liked the example of the blog, where a free-lance writer named Stan reflects on the life of his aunt in a blog post after she passes away.  Contained within this section are the reasons someone would blog and the fact that most blogs are read in the morning along with a complete reprint of Stan’s tribute story about his aunt.

This book is from a small publisher called Ningwakwe Learning Press (www.ningwakwe.ca) but does a fine job of bridging the gap between young and old indigenous people.

Making in Calgary (and on campus)

We are 18 years into this new century.  Eighteen years.  Students born in this century will be on campus this year.  It is time to embrace the new learning environments that have presented themselves this century.

There are many new spaces to create learning opportunities here in the city.  Learning has never been restricted to the classroom but there are some amazing opportunities out there for some unconventional discovery, design and creativity.

Many makerspaces are now accessible here in Calgary.  Try to visit one a month or a couple on a weekend to investigate which one can help you express that creativity that is bursting to get out.

Protospace has been around for a while and welcomes newcomers every Tuesday evening to look around and see if the space and the peer group fits your needs.

Fuse33 is the newest space in Calgary and you can arrange to go and see it.  It is a bright working space that offers everything from woodworking to sewing in a bright building in the South East area of Calgary.

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The Calgary MakerSpace has plans for an incredible space that will be accessible by many.  Follow their progress on their site.

And last but not least, the newly opened Lab NEXT  here at the University of Calgary.  “Lab NEXT features a makerspace, bookable collaboration rooms, open collaboration space, and high performance computers.”  Also in the space are various 3D printers, Cricut machine and scanners. Workshops are being run during Block Week and into January to familiarize staff and students with the space and resources available on a bookable or drop in basis.

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Lab NEXT not only features state-of-the-art equipment, it also has staff to help you with various questions you may have about your research technology.  It is a very handy place to have on campus for the use of staff and students. It is located on the 3rd floor of the TFDL.  Visit the site and go over to check it out.