Radio Jones and His Robot Dad

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Cost: Free

Size: 677.8 MB

Works on: iOS 7.0 or later

Radio Jones and His Robot Dad is an iPad app that is a graphic wordless novella.  Following the story that many kids experience, Radio Jones deals with a workaholic dad who appears to not have any time to spend with his son.

Radio creates a robotic dad that plays and explores and has adventures with him.  As you “read” the story, you will find a few interactive screens.

I won’t include any spoilers here but, let’s just say that Radio and his dad come to an agreement when it comes to the robot dad.

A lovely way to interact with an app in the days leading up to Father’s Day for kids (and for dads).

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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.

 

 

 

Tips for Tinkercad

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Tinkercad is a free, on-line 3D design website that allows people to create files for 3D printers and other equipment.  Kids are the target audience so students would be able to jump right in.  Students can have a free account and all of their designs are saved to the web account.  Students can, then, 3D print or render their design on a CNC Cutter (Computer Numerical Control Cutter.)
Teachers be aware that you can set up a classroom account so that you can look and comment on students’ work.  Lance Yoder of Edgaged talks about this feature in his YouTube video Tinkercad Playlist.
I would suggest working through the beginning examples to get a handle on how to design with the website and then spend some time on your own with additional YouTube videos or just the website itself experimenting with the options.
MatterHackers have a number of good related YouTube videos and also have other information about printing your design after saving it in Tinkercad.
Here is a place within the maker world where teachers can introduce a website and not know everything about it.  I think there are a few students in classes from grade 5 right up to 12 that will take the lead on designing and figuring out how to create many fascinating models.

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.

 

IDEO Wise Report 2018

The recently released IDEO Wise Report entitled, Thinking and Acting like a Designer: How design thinking supports innovation in K-12 education by Annette Diefenthatler, Laura Moorhead, Sandy Speicher, Charla Bear and Deirdre Cerminaro is a comprehensive snapshot of what design thinking is looking like in the global K-12 environment.

“If we want students to be creative, collaborative, communicative problem-solvers, adults – administrators, as well as teachers – need to act the same way.” (p. 44)

This quote, hidden deep in the text, is a very important point to make if we are to adopt the mission to embed a designer mindset in the K-12 classroom.  Every one of the stakeholders in the school and the administration of that school must put on the cloak of a designer.

I feel many teachers are already there because they are accommodating students within their classrooms everyday.  Students who need to stand or pace to get work done.  Students who need headphones to tune out.  Students who need an extra snack in the morning to help them concentrate.  Many teachers are designing a classroom where their students find comfort, safety and success.

Wearing the cloak of the designer is much bigger than the classroom as well.  Can we revisit many of the norms we take for granted within a school and classroom every year to change and adapt them to the current wave of students and stakeholders?  Do we have to accept a schedule or routine or an environment that does not challenge every one to be their most engaged self?

This report does challenge the stakeholders in education to use design thinking in the design of schools, classrooms, curriculum and programs to encourage students and staff to be engaged in learning.

Embedding the curriculum with design challenges associated with real world problems surrounds students with the possibility of designing solutions for curriculum related, interdisciplinary problems.  Key to the success of students using the design process is the modeling of all staff who think and solve problems using design thinking methods.

This document gives practical, real life examples of what design thinking looks like at many levels of  K-12 education and would be a great read for anyone creating a culture of design in any education setting.

 

Design Thinking – Wrap-up

We finished up by teaching 11 workshops based on Design Thinking (the IDEO way) to around 225 second year Werklund students and Tammy and I have a few takeaways from the experience.

  1. The sooner the better.  If we could teach “The Three Little Pigs” design thinking scenario to every student in the second year program during the first week of classes in January, everyone would benefit.  There comes a time in the third week where students have already looked at the 5 possibilities (Design Thinking, Discipline-Based Inquiry, Project-Based, Understanding by Design and Universal Design for Learning) to solve their problem of practice where our workshop is really too late.
  2. No matter how much time you give, students want more.  In this case, we actually had students prototype an advertising “pitch” for a product or program that would solve “The Three Little Pigs” scenario.  Last year our feedback was that students wanted to prototype.  We allowed time this year for prototyping and presenting (testing) and then used Today’s Meet to collect feedback from the other students in the class.  Because of time limits, feedback was not rich with information to give groups ideas to change or rationalize why not to change their product or pitch.  Students still felt we did not allow them enough time to digest the feedback.
  3. Instructors in the program should know what they are getting into.  We should have clear information about the workshop we offer since we are now considered to be “the experts” on staff for Design Thinking.  We tried to get students to come independently to the workshop in time away from class time.  We had very little buy-in for students doing the workshop without their classmates.  Given that students want to only come with their class, please see #1.

And we are already talking about changes we would make for next January.  I still think that Design Thinking, the process and the workshop, are valuable tools to give students in Werklund School of Education.  We would love to have a whole day, in the first week of January, with instructors and students to walk everyone through the process fully and completely but we are managing to give a good experience to those who sign up early and immerse themselves in the workshop.

Coding – Where Do I Start?

 

Well I actually know where I started coding and it was the Daisy the Dinosaur App. Although I know that I should be ashamed to say it, I’m not. For my age, I think any kind of coding is a bonus. Something I never, ever thought I would be learning and, yet, here I am.

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And, because the focus in the Doucette Library is to take this educational technology out to the K-12 environment, I think walking the walk and talking the talk is where it is at.

Moving forward was a tougher decision. Everywhere I looked there seemed to be options to learn coding at the next level. Python seemed a bit of a stretch, like speaking Greek before learning Greek. Thanks to a couple of robots, though, my decision became more evident. Ozobot and Dash and Dot both use Blockly (and there is also a Blockly Jr.) So I learned some great terms like looping and moving of robots with simpler click and drag commands.

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Alas, there are larger programming needs on my horizon. For the wearable workshop that we are working on, I would like to, also, invest some time with Scratch. This language also calls upon the click and drag method to watch what happens and that suits me fine.

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My experience with Arduino taught me that I was trying to gallop before I knew how to walk. Much of the coding for arduinos is open source but I am not yet able to predict what the outcome of downloading much of the code will be or how to make minor changes to affect the downloaded code. And, yet, I keep at it, learning step-by-step. I also know that I am not an intuitive coder.

I’ve collected a few good websites, apps and resources to help you begin to bring coding into your classroom or to try something to connect with other coders out there in the world. Take a look here to see where to start.