With the budget crunch these days it is getting harder and harder to supply students with “wordly experiences”. Field trips and guest speakers/presentations are becoming more and more rare with each passing year. It is an expense that too often gets cut when you feel the budget pinch. These types of real-world applications are vital to the development of our students. We need to find other alternatives for our students so they can gain exposure to things outside of their neighborhoods.
If we cannot take our students out to the world, we need to bring the world to our students. Technology can play a major role in accomplishing this task. Here are a few ways you can make this happen in your classrooms.
Webcasts are a wonderful way to bring the world to your students. There are opportunities available for you constantly through the web. Scholastic just did a webcast with Taylor Swift last week about importance of reading. It was a live feed and she answered a few questions from classes that tuned in to watch. You can still access the webcast and enjoy it with your students by clicking here. Scholastic has some good webcasts going on throughout the year. It is always a good idea to check in once in a while to see what they are up to.
There are many organizations that offer webcasts from time to time. The challenge can be finding them! If you are looking for Science opportunities I ran across this Exploratorium site recently. You can search by general science topic or search for specific keywords. Museums are also a great provider of webcasts. Some come with a price and some are free. Get to searching and find a session that works for you.
Skype for Education
Skype is another great tool you can incorporate into your classroom. All you need is internet access and a webcam to start making video connections with people all over the world. Simply create a Skype for Education account (FREE) and start searching for people/classes to connect with. I did a quick search for authors and came across a post that listed authors that connect with classes. Many will do it for free. You can also connect with other classes around the world to do/share projects. You are limited only by your imagination here.
If your campus/district has video conferencing equipment available, consider connecting this way. Our district has connected to places ranging from zoos and the Baseball Hall of Fame to open heart surgery. Once again, some will be free and some are paid. The Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC)is a great place to search for video conferencing opportunities. CAPSpace, Collaborations Around the Planet, is another great resource for you. This site allows you to post a video conferencing idea of your own. The goal is to connect with another class somewhere around the world and collaborate on a project.
We have a lot of success with classrooms connecting with other classes within our own district. Many 1st and 2nd grade classes are participating in a Monster Exchange VC activity right now. Each class creates/draws a monster. They then write down directions as to how to draw it, being as precise as they can. The directions are shared with another class in the district via email. The other class follows the directions to try to create an identical monster. They then meet via video conferencing and take a look to see how close the second class’ monster is to the original. It is a great project to enhance the students’ writing processes. They get a real-life experience in following someone else’ directions. It makes them more aware of how precise and detailed they need to be when they are writing. We have different projects like this going on throughout the school year. It is always fun and exciting to connect/share with another group of students.
Don’t let budgets get in the way of the real-world experiences your students so desperately need. Use technology to help fill those needs.
If you participated in this week’s Region IV Tech Apps Conference and attended one of my sessions…or if you didn’t…find below the PDF copies of each. Feel free to use/take whatever pieces you find relevant and use them for yourself! Click on the titles or images below to open the documents.
Math can be quite daunting for students. Not only do they need to remember the math vocabulary, they also need to try to keep all the formulas and processes straight. It can be overwhelming for many. There is an app out there that may be of great use to many of you math teachers out there. May I introduce Math Dictionary for Kids.
Math Dictionary for Kids is an app that allows students to access over 400 terms and examples. It will define the math term and give an illustrated example (when possible) of the term. All terms are listed alphabetically in the dictionary section of the app. Scroll through or search for the term you are needing help with. You will be taken directly to that page. While on the page check to see if there is a Quick Reference tab to help you out. You can also look through related terms to help make further connections.
You have the ability while viewing the dictionary to add a term as a favorite and make your own notes in reference to that specific term. Choose to star the terms you are working with right now in class. Then you can access them all quickly in your Favorites section. Once you are through with that topic you can uncheck them as favorites and be ready for your next math adventure.
Use the Notes section to jot down ideas or hints that will help you remember the term. Add to/edit/delete the note by clicking on the pencil. You can then quickly access any notes you have taken by clicking on the Notes option at the bottom of the screen.
Your Quick References section is broken down into different topics. Each topic has multiple tabs to access. Once again, a ton of information is at your fingertips.
The “Word of the Day” option (click on the light bulb) will randomly select a new term for your students to learn. Did you find a term you want to share? You are able to email any term to anyone who needs it straight from the app. The email includes any images that are associated with the app.
This is a must have for all you Math teachers out there from the 3rd grade on up. The app is user friendly. It is the perfect compliment to many math activities in the classroom. At $2.99 it seems like a steal! Math Dictionary for Kids is a sure fire way to enable your students to find answers to their own questions.
When you or your students are taking pictures, either with an iOS device or a digital camera, you often want to enhance the image but don’t have the time to really dig down into a program like Photoshop to give it the edge you are looking for. @octobersmith introduced me to a free app a while back that gives you a ton of editing options right at your fingertips. Let me introduce you to Camera Awesome!
Whether you are taking pictures with the app itself or importing from another application or email, you will notice right away the ease of use this app has. Clicking the magic wand enters you into editing mode. The first thing you will notice is a slider that you can use to enhance detail in the photo. As you move the slider to the right you will begin to notice the image brightening up and becoming more crisp. Find the spot where you feel the image looks the best and keep the slide there.
Below the slide are more options for you to experiment with. Transform lets you crop the image to where you like it. Presets, Filters, and Textures allow you to add from a number of different effects. It will really take you playing with the different effects for you to find your favorites. You will also start to notice that certain effects will work better in particular situations. There are nine different effects that you have access to for free under each category. There are other effects available for purchasing if you find you need more options. When you have the image the way you want it, click done and let the app do its magic!
Look below to see a few examples of what this app can do. The first picture is the original. It is followed by three effects I have added to each original.
Once your image’s effects have been added to the original, you can choose what you want to do with it. Along with exporting an image to your camera roll, there are many other options available for you. Choose to share through Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Picassa, Photobucket, and more! Set your accounts up through the app and you are ready to roll.
If you want an easy way to take your images to the next level, Camera Awesome is the app for you!
I know I have mentioned it before, but I have the privilege of working with an amazing team at Lamar Consolidated ISD in Richmond/Rosenberg, TX. It is unbelievable how well our group works together. We do our best to share our skills and knowledge with anyone and everyone!
One way we do this is through our website, the iCafe. We blog from time to time to share out ideas, but a major role the website plays is to house many of our numerous technology cheat sheets in our Resources section. We cover many different technology areas, but the two biggest by far are our Promethean ActivInspire and Smart Technology sections. At this moment, Promethean has 23 different cheat sheets covering topics across the software. Smart has 20. Feel free to browse through and download/print any cheat sheet you find. They are there for everyone to utilize. The Promethean page also has a few videos on the bottom that help guide you through some general activities associated with the Promethean board.
The resources don’t stop there. We have cheat sheets for other areas, such as Google Apps… [Blogger (updated cheat sheets should be live soon), Google Sites, and Calendar for example], digital storytelling, and various teacher tools.
If you are looking for some help with a program, give the iCafe a look…you may find just what you are looking for.