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.

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.

 

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.

It’s January – Stop Procrastinating!

App for January

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30/30 App by Binary Hammer

Cost: Free

Version: 2.1.7

Size: 19.0 MB

In-App Purchases

Do you, or the students you work with, have focus issues?  Do you find it hard to complete or substantially take a bite out of a task at one sitting?  This app is for you.  It takes the guess work out of how much time you have to spend on a task and how often you should be checking your phone.  It was recently reported that the average person looks at their phone 115 times a day.  How does anyone get anything done?

And it is not just checking a smartphone that takes attention away from the task at hand.  It would seem society at large is determined to interrupt you often enough to seriously change how focused you can be.

Here is an app that can help with keeping you or your students on task for a stated amount of time.  Use that smartphone to outsmart the interrupters.

“The app allows you to pre-set a list of tasks and allocate the length of time that you want to spend on each activity. The app makes a sound when it is time to move on to the next task. But most impressive about this app is the visual component. You can color code each task, watch the timer count down, and see the list of tasks coming up next.” Jennifer Sullivan and Ron Samul, eSchoolNews, December 6, 2017

All true and waiting for you to download for free.  You can use all the features effectively without any of the in-app purchases.

Hmmm.  I wonder if this would work for my backlog of work.  I seem to remember a saying  about an old dog and a new trick.

 

 

A Classroom Blog?

Blogging is a great way to get students to write.  Students would love to create a blog including photos, artwork and other artifacts of their learning.  Don’t just limit them to the written word.

Reading Student Blogs: How Online Writing Can Transform Your Classroom by Anne Davis and Ewa McGrail generates all sorts of possibilities about classroom blogs and individual student blogs.  Although this kind of project takes some planning, it can turn out to be one of the most successful ways to engage students in various kinds of writing.

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Give some thought about why a blog would engage your students.  Can you give them a chance to get creative with words and ideas?  Can they see how everything they are learning is sometimes interconnected? Is is possible to give them space to write free of testing, grading, drilling, measuring and comparing?

Try to find peers, other than your students, to comment on blog posts.  Having their words available to all is a great everyday lesson in digital citizenship and the creation of their digital footprint.

Some ideas to create some buzz around content are:  “answer burning questions, comment on the news, debate a compelling issue, pick a “pro” or “con” side, or comment on a noteworthy post.”  These are just a few ideas introduced by the authors.

Having students comment on their current reading material may be another great way to have interaction between students.  What books are popular and cause a stir when reviewed in the blog?

It is early in the year.  It may be a great time to start students contributing to a classroom blog.  You many recognize some interesting writers in your group.

 

Apps of Interest – June 2017

anxietyhelper and Verena by Amanda Southworth

I’ve discontinued App of the Week because, let’s face it, although I look at apps every week, actually reviewing one put a ton of pressure on this blogger.

Now, apps of interest will be reviewed and connected to curriculum when possible.  Overall, reader, you will get a sense of what is out there with a focus on uses in the classroom.

Having said that, the two apps in the article today are here because of a few unique qualities they possess.  The designer and creator of anxietyhelper and Verena is 15-year-old Amanda Southworth.  She came to the attention of Apple and recently attended her first developer conference.

Both of these apps are aimed at the middle and high school grade range and do not, in fact, address specific curriculum outcomes.   They are very timely in that they address the health and well being of this age group.  anxietyhelper addresses mental health including depression and anxiety disorders and how to access help for these illnesses.  Verena focuses on resources for the LGBTQ community.

A recent article in Mashable features Amanda’s story and her amazing capacity to code. As various school boards put an emphasis on coding in the classroom, Amanda is an example of how individuals come to coding on their own and follow their own path. While it is a great skill to introduce to all students, some will excel and some with be satisfied with the basic skills.

Take a look at these apps.  While they are not as sophisticated as some, they have an amazing capacity to reach out to students the same age as Amanda, trying to get guidance and answers to some difficult questions.

App(Website) of the Week – GoNoodle

I admit it – doing the Dinosaur Stomp with a number of grade three students mid-morning is an excellent way hit the reset button on your day.  These “movement breaks” in elementary school (as in every sedentary environment) are good for bodies and brains and the body-brain connection.   Remember brain gym.

I think we are past the time to recognize that the health of our students is partly our responsibility as educators because we see them for so many of their waking hours.  Elementary school is a natural place to see the positive rewards of extra movement in your classroom.

Instead of an app this week, I would like to suggest the website  GoNoodle.com. A site where you can incorporate movement into your class while not skipping a beat teaching curriculum.

GoNoodle begins with a video entitled GoNoodle 101 but I don’t think you really need the guidance.  Preview a few videos and choose something to your liking.  Strategically place the video during your teaching and voila – movement and learning.

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Lots of math songs and some American content but I still think you can bookmark the site for a quick change of pace in your classroom.