Thursday, October 12, 2017

Sometimes I just don't want to read books.

There are times when I just can't read another book, audio or physical old school paper. There are times when I read online and that leads me down some random pathway. I look up and notice an hour has passed and I have only read a paragraph. You know what I mean, Pinterest or Facebook grabs you and time disappears.

While looking through the audio books from the St. Louis County Library I decided to check out the app called RBdigital. This app gives you instant access to many of the most popular magazines available today. I love how accessible they are on my mobile, great to read during lunch.

My son is totally into cars while I barely know where the gas goes. I found four different car magazines that he could download and read. I know these would keep him engaged for weeks on end.

I found The Economist was also listed. No idea if I can understand this any better than the car magazine but it would be way more interesting!

I know we are constantly encouraging all of our kids to follow their interests, this app will help feed that hunger. It also provides a way to engage kids through a media source they might not be too familiar with.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

I can't always read with my eyes.

There are times when I just can't read with my eyes.

Driving in the car or hitting the gym are two times when reading with my eyes just gets in the way. I got hooked on reading with my ears years ago by subscribing to Audible. My subscription plan only covers 12 books a year, I can read that many in no time! When I run out there is a place I can turn to for more audio books and these are completely free. The only catch is you need a valid St. Louis County library card.

I logged into the St. Louis Country Library eMedia site and was presented with all the options above. 

I clicked Hoopla just to see if they had any Ken Robinson books. Super pumped that they had four of his titles ready for me to download. While listening on my laptop would be fine it would not really work well in the gym or car. I also performed the same search on Overdrive yielding only one audio book that is also available on hoopla. Some of the above also provide you with music and movies. 

I would highly recommend check out these app at some point in the near future. If you have never read an audio book, you are absolutely missing out.

Pretty sure that a ton of your kids would love to know they could be carrying around bunch of audio books and music completely free of charge. 

Monday, October 9, 2017

A million words or more.

An image is worth a bunch of words, these beautiful pictures can help you find at least a million of them.

What I love most is how opened ended each of these are. The images even give you talking points to help the kids think about what they are seeing.

I would recommend using some sticky notes to get started or just writing on the whiteboard with a marker.

Check out What's Going On in This Picture? created by The New York Times to see the images.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

How is this chair STEM?

It has been years since we have needed a chair like this. I remember the wooden ones from the restaurants we would frequent years ago. What stands out the most is two things, many of them were pretty gross and a few I recall were on the verge of collapse.

I had some reading and planning to do so I hit up the local Starbucks. The only table that was open had this chair sitting at one end. What I noticed was the solid and efficient construction.

My STEM questions:

  • Why is this chair made from some type of composite material and not wood?
  • Is this material more resistant to germs?
  • What might be some reasons for so many rounded angles?
  • How did they determine it should be exactly the height it is? Does it have to do with the tables or the average size of the little humans that sit in them? I did notice there were three different heights of tables low enough for this chair.
  • Is there an exact measurement for how wide the base should be to prevent tipping? 

Monday, September 25, 2017

Shooting a compelling video on a mobile device.

This post was created to support the LHS English PBL classes. 

1. What do you watch now?
  This question helped frame our thinking around the videos we watch and where we watch them.
  • What videos do you watch now?
  • What screens do you watch the videos on?
  • What keeps you coming back?
2. Apple of my eye - shot on an iPhone 4.
  We watched this video without much context the first time.
  We broke the class into six small groups. We then rewatched the video while the teams looked for one of the specific topics below. The big idea was to see how these video elements added to the overall story. 
  • angles the video was shot in
  • movement of the camera
  • sound/audio
  • lighting
  • cuts in the video
  • who was the intended audience

3. T.H.I.N.K.
  This acronym was designed to help when shooting on a mobile device.
  • shooT with this storyboard or that storyboard
  • Hold that camera steady
  • Interesting surroundings
  • Not too soft, not too loud
  • Know your audience/subject

4. Warm Up The Subject
  Think of a few questions to get your interviewee to relax before you start asking the questions you really need answer to.

  You are interviewing a teacher and really want them to talk about their day to day life in the classroom. You could warm them up by asking them about why they became a teacher, who were their inspirational teachers, etc...

  After a few minutes they will be much more likely to give you a great answer to the question(s) you really want to ask. 

5. Editing
  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 every good or well planned. 

  The screen shots below use the app called FilmoraGo, a free iOS and Android app. 

WARNING: I would recommend that you have a minimum of 1 gig of free space on your mobile device before you start editing. Do not delete any clips until your video is 100% complete. Trust me, we have learned this the hard way.

Click the FilmoraGo app to begin creating 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.

1. Shows how many clips have been added to the project.
2. You can set the starting and ending points of the clips. This is a great way to cut 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 voice overs. 
3. Click when you are ready to go.

Adding a transition effect helps to ease from one clip into 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 can take a while. It all depends on the age of the mobile device and how long the video is. I would recommend having the device plugged while it exports. 

1. I always saved it to the camera roll. I could then upload to YouTube later.
2. You can upload directly to YouTube

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Sysco - How is this STEM?

I was leaving a coffee shop and noticed this Sysco truck in the street. I noticed some type of curtain hanging in the back. I took a closer peek and it appeared to be a barrier to keep the cold air inside when the goods were being off loaded. Some of these questions might be easy, unscientific, etc but the point of STEMitizing the surroundings is to expand your vision of the world around us.

My STEM questions:

  • How fast does the cold air leak out when the curtain is totally closed?
  • Can we reinvent the curtain to make it automatically close once you exit the trailer?
  • How quickly does it warm up inside the truck when it is partially open?
  • What is the total volume of air inside the truck?
  • Is there a system of where they put the food inside the truck to keep the most sensitize stuff by the refrigeration unit?

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Personal Fortune Cookies


Sammi and I went out for coffee the other day and came across this sign as we walked down the street. The big idea of finding the opportunity in every struggle is something we all do to one degree or another. Every one of us faces things that threaten to stop us, forever frozen in our tracks. Somehow we push though victorious, and maybe a little battle fatigued, to the other side.

Those struggles are what I call gold, we learn so much from the path less traveled. Those life lessons are what propel us to another level. They are the foundational pieces we need to face whatever is coming next.

Looking back at my own struggles, the details and lessons learned sometimes fad. Sometimes I don't always see the successes, big and small, because they have disappeared into the background of my memory.

These thoughts helped bubble up a story I read in a book last year. Watch this video for the short version.

I created this jar last year. Sometime over the summer it got buried somewhere on my desk. If you have seen my desk you would understand. Once I saw the sidewalk sign I suddenly remembered my jar.
my actual jar of awesome
My little jar now sits off to the left of my laptop. I just started using it again to help me focus on all the good that is happening every day.

The one side effect it had on me last year was I started to see all these little successes every day. It was everywhere.

I know if it had such an impact on me, what do you think it would do for your students?

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Twitter: maximizing your time on the feed

Over the past two weeks we have talked a lot about twitter. I am a pretty big fan and have been using it for some time now. Over the years I have created a system that helps me maximize my time on the app while increasing the impact it has on me professionally. This post will show two of my tips.

Quick Tips - Efficient Use
Log into your twitter account.
Click on an account you follow, make sure it is one that offers some powerful ideas.
There are a few buttons near the top of the screen that hide the twitter gold.

Click Likes.
Anything the account likes will appear once you click this button.

Scroll down.
This is the best place to find twitter gold. 
If this is an account I respect, the likes are where I can find some very useful resources.

It is also worth your time to check out the Following tab.

Scroll down to see who they follow.
Click follow on the accounts you think will add value to your account.

Interested in learning more?

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Posting to your blog from the web on a mobile device.

Sometimes it is just easier to use the web and avoid the Blogger app. There are a few things to be aware of when doing so, this post will demonstrate the process.

Open your blog.

To insert an image just click on the little picture.

The image I need is on my camera roll. To access it I can just click From your phone.

1. Select the image(s) you want to upload.
2. Click Add selected.

The image is now ready to go. Just add text and publish.

Note: this post started on an iPad and ends on an Android phone. The process is the same no matter what device you are using.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My watch had me thinking.

I don't have any tattoos but if I did it might go something like what appeared on my watch the other day. There have been like a million little, and two big, things that have gone all wrong this week. So far we are only two days deep into a four day work week. What will tomorrow bring?!?!

It is like the path less traveled theory, we learn a lot more when the going is difficult.

Do we share those struggles with those around us? Do we share them with the kids we teach? I think these issues and how we hopefully rebound can teach our students more than we might realize.

Some days I want to host a coffee hour or maybe a LindberghU class to share our stories. Anyone down for that?

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Is this fence weaker than it was last year? (STEM is everywhere)

I was driving from Dressel to Sappington and back again today. I happened to glance over at the Grant's Farm fence and noticed a bit of rust on it. As I drove I saw lots of rust running on the chain link running from one end of the property to the other.

It reminded me a lot of the USS Fredrick. I lived on the Fast Freddy for six long months. What was that like you ask? Kinda like living in your classroom for six months only not as nice. While on ship I noticed the Navy was constantly scraping and painting to stop the always advancing rust. Rust that was slowly eating away any metal surface.
USS Fredrick, LST 1184 Mombasa,Kenya

This metal eating rust has me worried about the fence. It also make me think about the wonderful STEM connections I saw. Here are the questions I started coming up with as I drove by the farm. They are random, maybe impossible but they all could start a conversation. Some I know the answer to and some I may never know. 
  • How much strength is lost when the fence rusts?
  • What might be some ways to remove the rust?
  • Are the animals so used to staying within the farm that the fence isn't even needed anymore?
  • What would it cost to replace the fence?
  • Are there metals that don't rust?
  • How can we build an invisible fence that doesn't involve electricity? Could it be a force field?
  • Could the fence, new or old, withstand a charging buffalo? 
Many of these questions could be STEMified. They might not be a clear answer but by posing such questions, or wonderings, we can help our kids think beyond what is right in front of our faces. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Making a portable you.

There are times when you can explain something so well that you wish you could publish that somewhere to help the kids when they are at home. Other times it would be sweet to clone yourself so you could help with all the individual needs in your classroom.

Have you ever considered creating short video tutorials? It is wicked easy and very powerful to the kids who just need that extra little boost, attention or guidance.

This post will show you how to use Screencat-O-Matic and some best practice ideas to help you get started.

Things to consider before you begin recording:
    1. Have a plan. I usually keep a bullet point list of what I want to say to help guide the video.
    2. Keep it short. Short as in a handful of minutes.
    3. Watch your video before you publish it. This is the best way to catch your mistakes.
    4. Patience. It takes a little time to perfect the art of video creation.
    5. Discovery. How will the students know where to access the videos you need them to watch?

Getting Started

Find the download and double click to install.

Click FREE Recorder to launch.

Screen is usually automatically selected. This means anything within the dotted lines will be recorded.
Click the red Rec button in the lower left to begin. 

You should see a red pause button and a timer when you are recording your screen.
Click the pause button when you are finished.

Ready to start the publishing cycle?
Click Done.

Click Upload to YouTube.
Note: Make sure you have a YouTube video channel already setup.

Select your school Google account.

Click Allow.

Make sure the privacy settings are set to public so everyone can view the video.
Click the green Publish button at the bottom.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Can I use my voice to type on a mobile device?

We showed you how to use your laptop to type by voice and that was pretty cool. Now check out how to do that on your mobile devices.

Both of these samples are using the Google Docs app. It is recommended that you download the app before you start voice typing.

Note: These screenshots are using the iOS 11 beta. Your screen might look slightly different.
Open the Docs app.
Create a new document.
Click the microphone on the keyboard.
Start voice writing.

1. You should see a wavy line at the bottom indicating the microphone is picking up your voice.
2. Click the check when you are finished voice typing.

Open the Docs app.
Create a new document.
Click the microphone.
Start voice writing.
Click the check in the upper left when finished.

Sometimes I just don't want to read books.

There are times when I just can't read another book, audio or physical old school paper. There are times when I read online and that ...