Sunday, April 22, 2018

Necessity pushed me to find a solution.

There was a time in my life where I was required to get my haircut every single week. During that time I was forced out of bed at 5:30, which I used to think was early, to run. I made a silent promise every single day that I would never cut my hair or run ever again. I kept that promise for two solid years.

I now cut my hair every few weeks. I also started running again in the wee hours of the morning when it is wicked dark. There are times when I need to text the family how much longer I would be out so they wouldn't worry. I know you really shouldn't text and drive, but texting and running leads to crashing into cars, trash cans and bushes.

Check out what I started doing using the Google Assistant app on my phone. The great thing is the app will even work on those lesser-known Apple devices!

This is one of those apps that is underutilized and could play a huge part in your classroom tomorrow. This post describes how I use it personally and I'm sure once you start playing with it you can find a million ways to use it with your students.

I hit the app and voiced who I wanted to text and the message.
I can also open the app by saying Ok Google.

It transcribed my message, and all I do is say send and the message is sent.
I know there are a bunch of apps that do this but just keep reading to uncover the power of GA.

The part I really like is all I need to do is hit one app on the phone and Google does the rest.

What else can it do?
Just hit the app and tell it where you parked.

Later in the day all you need to do is ask and GA will tell you exactly where you parked your car.

I was at work but needed to buy something before I got home. I didn't know which location was closest to me. I asked and got this result. I hit the call button to make sure what I needed was in stock. I know I could have used the old school search but using my voice was much more efficient. This is wicked helpful if you are on vacation need to find a movie theater for a rainy day activity.


GA is a great buddy when writing.


Is there anything better than ice cream and sunsets? All I did was ask and GA found these in my Google Photos. It sometimes makes mistakes, the leftmost bottom image is a cup full of keys.

What else can GA do? Just ask and see what you can find.

Check out Google's GA page for more helpful ideas.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Tasty FACS! (2018)

This post is to support the LHS FACS students creating their Tasty final.

We stumbled upon this app a while ago and it just keeps getting better. We thought it would be a great time to update the post to help you hone your video creation skills. This post was used in LHS FACS to help guide the video creation process. 

Why did we pick FilmoraGo?
We needed to find an app that was free and worked on both iOS and Android.

  • We would advise you to have a minimum of one gig of free storage on your device before you start creating your project. Trust us, we learned the hard way. Use Google Photos to back all your images and videos which can help free up space quickly. It is also the easiest way to back up all your FACS videos.
  • Do not delete any files off your device until the project has been uploaded YouTube and submitted for a final grade.

The first time we just watched the video without any context. Just clicked play and watched.
The second viewing the class got into small groups. Each group was assigned to watch for just one element within the clip. We shared out our findings once the video was over. The goal was to identify the unique elements we saw in the video with the hopes of adding these ideas into their video creations. 
  • camera angle
  • camera movement
  • sound/audio
  • lighting
  • cuts in the video
  • intended audience

This acronym was designed to help when shooting on a mobile device. Without proper planning, the videos usually do not turn out very well.
  • shooT with this storyboard or that storyboard
  • Hold that camera steady
  • Interesting surroundings
  • Not too soft, not too loud
  • Know your audience/subject

Pay super close attention to your storyboard. If you can capture superior raw footage your editing shouldn't take too long. Trust me, editing takes way too long if your shots are not very good or well planned.

The screenshots below use the app called FilmoraGo, a free iOS and Android app. If you are using an iPad, make sure you search the store for the app under the iPhone Only settings.

WARNING: We would advise you to have a minimum of one gig of free storage on your device before you start creating your project. Trust us, we learned the hard way. Use Google Photos to back all your images and videos which can help free up space. It is also the easiest way to back up all your FACS videos.

Click the FilmoraGo app to begin editing your video.

Click Create New Video.

1. Click on Video to access your files.
2. Click the circle to find your files.

Click on one of the files you want to add to the project.
Repeat until all your clips have been added.

1. How many clips have been added to the project.
2. Set the starting and ending points of the clips. This is a great way to trip the clip down a little bit.
3. Click add when you have your clip ready to go. Then hit the next button in the upper right corner.

1. Select the clip you want to edit.
2. Scroll left and right to find options. You can find things like titles and voiceover. 
3. Click when you are ready to go.

Add a transition to help ease from one clip to the next.

1. Scroll to find the effect you like. Click to apply.
2. Select Apply All to add same effect to all clips.
3. Click the check when you are finished.

Click Save to finalize the video.

The exporting process will take a while. It all depends on the age of the mobile device and how long the video is. It is recommended having the device plugged while it exports.

1. I always save it to the camera roll. I could then upload to YouTube or Google Drive later.
2. You can upload directly to YouTube. Make sure you have created a YouTube channel before you attempt to upload any video. This is what causes the most issues, people forget they need to create a channel which causes the video to fail during the upload process.

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    Design Thinking Differently

    Design Thinking Differently
    One of the most exciting things I saw when I went to EdCamp this past February was a new-to-me product with the annoyingly benign name of The Extraordinaires’ Design Studio Pro (DSP) by Hub Games. As soon as I saw this system, splayed out on a table at EdCamp’s Makerspace, my brain started firing on all cylinders. It’s a very simple system that takes what I’ve started to call a Problem Solving Process (which also goes by Engineering Process, Design Process, etc.), but rather than applying it in an environment where students create something physical, they are encouraged to do all the creation in their heads and on paper where there are far less restrictions.
    You see, the Extraordinaires are clients who have “hired” students to complete various projects. In the DSP, there are 24 Extraordinaires (enough for each student to have one in most classes or, better yet, for students to pair up and have a choice of two Extraordinaires). Each Extraordinaire is an over-the-top character such as an alien, time traveler, knight, spy, mermaid, etc. Their card not only lets you know who the character is generally, but also gives you specifics about what they do with their time and what’s important to them. Students empathize with the characters needs and can create something more catered to them as an individual.

    After the students have selected their Extraordinaires, they are given a project (contrary to the Extraordinaires, I’ve found that it helps for students to not have a choice of their project in order for more outlandish pairings to occur). Projects are in five categories: Inventions, Gadgets, Buildings, Clothing, and Vehicles. These are harder to explain because they can sound very general, like “music player,” but that could encompass things from media devices and speakers to a variety of musical instruments. Luckily the cards have some rough sketches to get the students thinking without pigeonholing them into one idea.

    After students have their client and their project, the real magic happens. The Problem Solving Process suggested from the kit is simply Research, Design, Improve. Students may come into a project with background knowledge on the type of client they have, then they add that to what they see going on on the client’s card, and they could even do more research online and in the library if time allows. Then students start the prototyping process of designing their project for their client and improving it. All the while, the kit has “Think Cards” that ask students questions about their project and encourage them to consider the needs and wants of the client.

    As I said, as soon as I saw this, I was excited. We work so hard to do so many of these things in a vacuum with students: going through a problem solving process, empathizing, collaborating, researching, creating characters, thinking outside the box. This kit so efficiently wraps all that into one self-contained, simple, resource-light project that I immediately saw potential in. I waited to write this blog post until I saw it in action and had my own comments. I’ve had a chance to try the kit briefly with 1st, 2nd, 4th, and 5th grades. I’ve also taken a deep dive into it with 3rd. As you can imagine, at all grade levels there were different challenges. Generally, the younger the students the more whole class work, directed instruction, and fewer choices there were. Then there were fewer restrictions with the older students. The kits really encouraged the 3rd graders to create something more fantastical than they had been thinking before. I intend to use it before every big design project to get them thinking outside the box more quickly.
    Honestly, I can’t recommend the kit enough. It was $40 from Amazon. It’s even a good one to leave for a sub after you’ve introduced it to students. But it’s less about the kit and more about what the kit allows you to do. If you’re strapped or if, as I fear, it goes out of print, you could always create a pool of clients and project ideas with your students to shuffle up. The book that comes with the kit goes into more depth than I have here, but I’m also happy to field any questions that come up.

    Thanks so much for reading!

    -Chris Stevens

    Can you ever have enough in your Drive?

    How big is your Drive?
    You should see a number on the far left side of your screen. Click that to see what is taking up space.

    I have seen our Google Drives grow in size every year. I would assume in the next two years these Drives will be massive.

    So if you have a billion files can you really find what you need quickly?

    I know you can just use the search at the top but did you know there is a better way?

    Search Within
    Doing a basic search yields too many results. Most of the time I have to scroll a lot to find what I need no matter how I search for it. Did you know with one right click you can narrow down your search in a snap?

    Open your Drive.
    1. Find the folder you think the file is in, right click on it.
    2. Click Search within (should see your folder name right here)

    The screen doesn't look all that different once your right click. 
    Start typing in the usual search area at the top of Drive.

    The search results are only things in the folder you right clicked on!

    Wednesday, April 11, 2018

    Miracast + Samsung = bliss

    All the 5th grade classrooms and everyone at Dressel have an attachment on their projector called Miracast. This is a tiny little device that allows for total wireless projection from the laptop. You can cast anything, including video, to your projector from anywhere in the classroom. It is like you are living in the future.

    There is one other great feature, it will cast Android phones!

    Today Kim Scronce had an issue, her ELMO would not work. We tried everything but no luck. You know exactly what it is like, a whole room of kids looking at you when things don't go right. Yikes!

    Kim just took out her phone, connected it to the projector and moved on. It was amazing. In the image above you will see the picture I took of the screen. She is using Snapchat's camera as a portable ELMO. Why Snapchat? The screen stayed on, when using the regular camera the phone screen kept going dark. Kim was in the back of the classroom showing something on a student's desk and everyone in the room could see it clearly. I think I would prefer this over using the ELMO which is usually stuck in the front of the room.

    Don't have an Android phone? That is unfortunate. This feature only works on Android.

    #ideas and #moreideas (exams)

    Have you ever used a hashtag to find something quickly?

    What if you used the power of #hashtags in your classroom, do you think would make a difference? Using hashtags on all the socials are the same, they help direct users and organize ideas. Check out these ideas to help harness these tools for learning and development.

    Student Ideas
    We found a few ideas while researching this topic to help spark you into what tags could do.
         1. #booktitle214 - Use the title of the book you are reading with your room number. Why room number? It makes the hashtag unique to your conversation. Whatever they post could follow the BHH framework.

         2. #cellmutation214 - Take the topic of the day and turn it into a tag. This makes for a super easy backchannel discussion that runs while the lesson unfolds. It would be a similar idea to using Todaysmeet to get the kids talking and sharing.

         3. #amhis214 - A simple tag, American History Room 214, to broadcast and announce things that are happening in your classroom.

    You get the idea. Using tags can help shape the educational conversations happening in the room. This idea is a great way to help everyone in your class develop their own voice. I'm positive you have some kids in your room who rarely say anything, wouldn't it be great to hear from them?

    Teacher Ideas
    There are many twitter chats that happen most every day. Here are a few you might want to check out.
         #engchat - English teacher chat that is live every Monday from 6-7.
         #sschat - Social Studies chat that takes place every Monday night from 5-6.
         #edchat - General education chat./ Tuesdays from 11-12 and 6-7.
         #edtech - Where technology and education meet. This chat is on going.

    Thursday, April 5, 2018

    Get ready for final exams -- Padlet

    Image result for padlet

    What is Padlet

    • Padlet is an easy-to-use virtual board for posting ideas, images, video, and more.  Sharing and collaborating opportunities abound!
    How could my students use Padlet to get ready for final exams?
    • Ask questions
    • Answer student questions
    • Share study resources they are using
    How could the teacher help students get ready for finals using Padlet?
    • Post review questions and resources
    • Answer student questions
    • Sort student questions into categories to support making connections
    • Identify patterns and misconceptions in understanding in order to modify upcoming review sessions
    Here is another fantastic idea for using Padlet for learning that empowers students.  Check out our blog post for information on how to get started with Padlet.

    Necessity pushed me to find a solution.

    There was a time in my life where I was required to get my haircut every single week. During that time I was forced out of bed at 5:30, w...