Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Teaching Logic to Kindergarten using Brain Burn

[youtube_sc url="http://youtu.be/DkgSRHPeuiE"]

When we think of technology standards we don't always think about logic.  Logic is an important skill however to students today.  From math instruction to just figuring out who is who in a written piece of text can often involve logical skills.  I always have recommended that schools start young when teaching logic to students. Teaching logic is not always an easy thing however.  This is one app that fills this roll.  While the app does not offer a huge depth of instruction, it is a great way to start teaching logic utilizing a game.  Maybe you just have a couple minutes of class-time to kill, or that advanced student has already completed all of their work and is needing a little extra something.  Burn Brain might just be an app that could come in valuable.

Why I like it:

It plays like a game.  There is no real trick here, except students are being asked to solve puzzles.  The key ingredient that Burn Brain has added is that 0 is an answer, and often problems are multiple steps.  This forces students to look at the problems with a more critical eye rather than just hurrying to a pre-determined answer.  There is no memorization here, only thinking.

How you could use it:

This could be utilized as a lesson.  Students could be taught the fundamentals of the game by the teacher, some examples could be done as a class, and then students could be challenged to work on this on their own.  It could also be utilized as extra practice, or something to add to the curriculum during rainy days where playgrounds are out of the question.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Teaching Typing to Early Kindergarten

[youtube_sc url="http://youtu.be/qFUxEqmRBlI"]

One of the standards for Kindergarten technology is to get students used to the keyboard. Before students can read, this is a challenge, but one that can also aid in your reading instruction. This is the first of many different applications that we will explore that seek to help young students gain familiarity with the keyboard.

The application in the video above is called ABC Keyboard and is available for free on the iTunes store.  This app is very basic and would be suited for pre-school or very early kindergarten students.  Parents could also utilize this app to expose students to letters.

Why I like it:

Simple to use, gets right to the point.

How you could use it:

This application would expose students to keyboarding skills while having them match up letters to the keys on the computer.  A few minutes on this and they would have the pre-requisite skills to utilize more powerful applications.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Potential Great News for iPad Schools


If Apple makes Pages free, schools could reap the benefits. Schools often are forced to utilize Google Drive for cost reasons, but could now save tens of thousands on software related costs if this proves to be a direction Apple is moving towards. I look forward to seeing what will happen with this.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Teach Kindergarten Students to Code with Kodable


Kodable is a nifty little application that gives students that can't even read the ability to put those wonderful minds to work creating code.   This program works by using symbols to complete puzzle style problems.  If you are able to build a program that can complete the problem, you get to move on.  Subsequently as you move on you are introduced to more and more complex skills.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wazj9WBdvjw&feature=youtube_gdata"]

I think this is a great app that could be utilized by K-2 in order to hit the fundamentals of logic and computer coding.  By explaining what the symbols are doing, and why it is important to organize them the way the game recommends  you are helping students problem solve and become creative critical thinkers.   I hope you give it a shot and let me know what you think.

On the Kodable website http://www.surfscore.com/, you will also discover that there is some curriculum coming out soon.  I cannot wait to see it, as I am sure it will be a huge help to teachers everywhere.

Why I like it:

Easy to use game style education tool that teaches a complex subject to students with no experience.  It is just plain fun!

How you could use it:

This program could be utilized by teachers in a number of ways.  It teaches many computer skills like system interface, problem solving, and logic.  The clever instructor could utilize this tool in many different ways.  It would even be a great game for those indoor recess times throughout the year.  A great way to let your student spend some time.

Law of Diffusion of Innovation and its Importance in Effective Teaching

Teaching is an art form, and in this day and age of standardize tests and students that don't feel they have a high stake in the game, inspiration in education is critical.  That is why I believe that one of the most important roles as a teacher, or leader in a school is to inspire students.  Students don't care what you know, until they know that you care.  Teachers are entrepreneurs that are manufacturing and selling education to students.  And there is a simple rule in marketing that says people will not buy what you do, they will buy why you do it.  In order to be an effective teacher you must build a relationship with students that will inspire them to follow your lead because they want to, not because they have to.

In my role as a leader at Legacy Academy, I utilize many resources from the marketing world to inspire teachers to become more effective in the classroom.  Marketers know more about what motivates humans than just about any other industry.  They study and apply research to motivate us to do all sorts of things that we probably would not do otherwise.

In this video, Simon Sinek describes the Law of Diffusion of Innovation.  This law applies to the classroom just as it applies to those that are trying to sell us things.  2.5% of your classroom will buy into anything that you are selling, they might even wait by the door of your classroom waiting to get in.  13.5% will be easy to win over once class starts, while another 34% will need to be inspired to join.  Winning over that 34% of your classroom is the most crucial part of an effective engaging lesson plan. If you can win them over, the remaining students will be won over by the impact of the enthusiasm of the other groups.  If however your efforts don't impact that 34%, you will never win the majority of the classroom over during your lesson.

Simon Sinek: Law of Diffusion of Innovation

[youtube_sc url="http://youtu.be/zU3fIEPfctQ"]

Several times this year, we took time as a staff to look at our classroom instruction to find ways we can be more inspiring.  It starts with teachers believing in what they do.  This seems like a simple concept, but we are at a time in education where so many outsiders are throwing in opinions as to what good education looks like, often teachers are starting to believe that what they are doing isn't effective or important.  We focus on the concept that our goal at Legacy Academy is not to give students work to complete in hopes that they will learn, it is to get students inspired so they will want to work for themselves.  Simply put, believe in what you do, and believe in the students abilities to follow your beliefs.

Combining Zite with Instapaper for Quick Research / Classroom Integration

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLBgWS0qxec&feature=youtube_gdata"]

I love the Zite Application for use in classroom instruction.  I have seen teachers utilize it for research projects and it has great potential to teach some fantastic business skills.  Tomorrows business leaders need to keep current on trending information.  While it used to be the job of upper management to stay informed, successful companies rely on all employees to present new ideas based on current research.  Zite is a great application for this, and it allows the reader to gain access to new thoughts quickly in an easy to use format.


One feature that Zite offers is the ability to share this information with others.  When you are reading something of interest a simple key press and you have the ability to post a link to an article on Facebook, Twitter and several other useful sites.  In a classroom this could be leveraged for group work over social media, or just a way to organize thoughts.  One idea is to utilize Instapaper with Zite to compile articles of interest on a topic.  Instapaper is a simple little website that essentially organizes websites that you would like to read later.  While there are many other ways to do this, Instapaper does this with some rather good efficiency, and that is very important in the technology classroom.  The ability to store information from Zite to Instapaper in one click, generates a quick page of articles on your subject that are saved for later reading.  The best part is that most of this information is relatively current since it was pulled using the Zite App.

Now your students would have a great list of resources for a paper, video project or other research intensive study.  As a business user, you have a list of articles that you might want to refer to later in order to strengthen your position, or provide research to a committee.

If you are a clever integrator of technology, you could set up an Instapaper for each group of students, or for your classroom.  Then as you read, or individuals in a group find articles of interest they could be placed in one easy to read location.

If you currently do something like this, I would love to see it in action.  Please send me an email, or a link to a video showing how you utilize this type of technology in the classroom.  I will be sure to feature it on this site to share with others.

[youtube_sc url="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pLErRallcU&feature=youtube_gdata"]

Why I Like It:

Instapaper offers the user a quick and responsive way to catalog information so that it can be recalled at a later time.  Perfect for a student or business situation where a large amount of information is being sifted through, prior to its subsequent formatting and presentation.   Zite provides a quick way to keep up to date on articles that relate to your specific topics with the option to send them to Instapaper with the simple press of a key.

How you could use it:

In the classroom Zite could be utilized by students to keep up to date with a wide variety of subjects.  I could easily see a science or social studies teacher using this for current events, or discussion material.  It is very inspiring to the students to read articles that are so current and often positive in nature.  Having students set up an Instapaper account (maybe even as a group) allows them to read articles over a larger time period, saving the ones that they would like to work with later.  The RSS feature of Instapaper could also be utilized on a business/teacher blog to create quick links to important articles that have already been filtered by another reader.

Using SayIt to Create Spoken Files for Students (Special Education, RTI)


One of the challenges that teachers face is the increasing amount of specialization needed in the classroom.  Often many of the students have special requirements based on a specific plan.  Technology is here to help, and using tools like SayIt, can help remove some of the stress of differentiation in a classroom.  It is a great piece of educational technology.

Students that are struggling with language, reading or are several grade levels behind, often have verbal requirements that are often a strain on classroom resources.  I have seen on several occasions a requirement written into a plan that requires the teacher to read aloud a test, text or other information to students individually.  Even though I feel that every teacher I have come into contact with has made their best attempt to meet this requirement, they often just don't have the ability to drop everything and help an individual student while keeping track of another 28 of them.

Text to speech is great, and devices have this setting built into just about every device type these days.  Sometimes for efficiency however, I recommend that you pre-record material and post for students on iTunes University, or in a website or blog.  This helps to focus students on the end goal of hearing the material rather than the often distracting obstacle of turning on the accessibility settings of the device, navigating to the material and then listening.  Essentially my philosophy is to get students to the material as quickly as possible, and I believe a little up front work with a tool like SayIt, does just that.

Why I like it:

This application is easy to use, and produces quick results.  Very little pre-requisite knowledge needed.

How you could use it:

You can use this app to pre-record just about any section of text and create an audio file that the student can utilize later.  Students could also learn to utilize this in the creation of media materials for presentations.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Why iTunes University is Important to Your Classroom

One of the ways we are able to successfully track and manage the wide range of curriculum decisions at Legacy Academy is through our use of iTunes University.  This tool gives our teachers, parents and students a complete snapshot of units of study.  There is no longer a mystery about what is going to be taught.  Our teachers coordinate their curriculum efforts in with their teams and utilize iTunes University to organize and present lessons.

This tool goes beyond the typical course management software.  It is very easy to use, allows for all content to be downloaded directly to the device, and works seamlessly as a means to organize notes and create complete units of study.  The skilled teacher is able to utilize this tool in such a way that students are automatically set up for success.  Students that have used this system this year are already more prepared to work in a post middle school environment.

iTunes University

[youtube_sc url="http://youtu.be/mX8FnBqL48E"]

Each unit of study is composed of course exams.  These formative assessments are pre-tested with all course content being geared towards the education of the specific objectives.  After the completion of the course content the assessment is then given again in order to measure progress.  The teacher then has time to reflect on the effectiveness of the lesson to determine if gaps in learning might have occurred   These gaps would then be fixed upon review, or in subsequent lessons.

iTunes University

[youtube_sc url="http://youtu.be/sfRyDrVnTw4"]