Sunday, February 14, 2016

Creating eBooks in 2nd/3rd Grade Science: Weather Instruments

2nd and 3rd graders in Ms. Mather's Science class at Lynch Public School have been becoming weather experts. They decided to show what they have learned about scientific instruments by creating eBooks with one of my favorite apps: Book Creator. Here is a simple overview of their successful iPad learning adventure as well as easy extension ideas for additional application.

Photographing the weather while staying warm!

Building Background Knowledge

  • Ms. Mather and her class learned about Weather.  Some great digital resources include "Weather" from World Book Kids and several videos from Learn 360 - both available through your ESU 8 Media Center access. 
  • Ms. Mather decided that "weather instruments" would be a good focus and structure for the students' digital project.
  • Each student created a paper book detailed 8 scientific instruments used to study weather. Each page included the instrument name, picture, and student-created sentence.

Book Creator Basics

  • I shared an example of a student-authored Book Creator book, "A Dream Come True" (by Drew and Claire Morrow)
  • Then I showed them how to get started with a new Book Creator project and we discussed opportunities for creative content to go into their pages. 

Weather Examples in iBooks

  • Next we looked at a couple of published examples by students in the iBooks Store including:

Creation Process

  • Students quickly and easily navigated to the Book Creator app on their iPads and got started. Even with the free version of the app, students can completely author and publish one entire book.  Plans to upgrade to the $4.99 paid version were quickly made and easily jus
  • tified for future projects. 
  • Each page followed a pattern, and every page had a plan (in the students' paper books) and so students could concentrate on the creative side of publishing, maximizing their technology time.
  • For each page's images, students could choose whether to draw the weather instrument, take a photo using their iPad's camera, or find a photograph of the instrument online.  Students were encouraged to use for copyright-friendly images for their books. 
  • iPads allowed for differentiation.  Some students were encouraged to add in a page about each weather instrument with either a photo or video of the student using it. 
  • All students were encouraged to record all of their book's sentences as audio recordings on each page.  We discussed how valuable this would be for someone who is blind, who doesn't yet know how to read, or even for guests at an upcoming technology fair.
Students excited to discover scientific instruments emojis!

Decisions for Delivery

  • Format (individual or group-authored)
  • Topics (jigsaw ideas, common outline, uniform topics)
  • Required Components (text + audio recordings of all text, photos or drawings, video)
  • Title (and covers)

Extension Options

  • Along with the students' study of weather instruments, this project would work well with creating a class weather forecast (using iMovie or DoInk and a green screen).
  • A global learning opportunity would be to ask each student to survey and collect data/images of the weather around the world.  After analyzing or mapping the results students could explain what they learned in their digital books.
  • Obviously, any topic could easily be interchanged with "weather" and used for an equally successful project.
  • Transfer of analog to digital
  • Don't underestimate the power of publishing to the iBooks Store.  Although these students plan to share within their school community and with the guests who come to their Technology Fair, they could also elevate their work to a global audience by leveraging the iBooks Store platform.
The weather kindly cooperated by gently snowing making for some great images for the students' books

What is the weather like in your part of the world? Using Google Earth

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Career Day at Madison Public School

Friday, February 12, 2016 was a career exploration day at Madison Public School, and I was lucky to be invited to participate. Every student in grades 9-12 rotated through eight different sessions with professionals sharing about their chosen career path.  The day was designed by Karla Kush, Guidance Counselor and Jim Crill, HS Principal, and Madison has done variations of the experience several times in the past. What a great opportunity for students to link purpose for what they are doing in school and discover many different options for professional ambitions! 

Guest speakers at Madison Public School's Career Day, February 12, 2016
In each of the 8 rotations, students were tasked with completing a "Career Report" which not only helped guide the discussions, but also helped students make connections to their personal goals.

I shared about my role as a Instructional Technology Facilitator and the convergence of the fields of education and technology. 

I began by sharing a brief story of my journey to getting to my current professional role. 

Next, I talked about some of my experiences through the SMART Exemplary Educator, Google Certified Teacher, and Apple Distinguished Educator programs, and what leading technology companies today are looking for in future employees.  Instead of seeking "clicking skills," software expertise, or even GPA, it is more important to have innovative ideas and the ability to prove yourself as a self-directed learner. 

I encouraged students to open their minds to additional opportunities that exist within the fields of educational technology.  When I think about all the "jobs" that I have had even as "just a teacher" it is really mind-boggling.  In education you can not only be a teacher, but a writer, presenter/speaker, leader/administrator, coach, counselor, media specialist, tutor, curriculum developer, and teach online classes. In the field of technology I have had experiences with web design, coding, network & systems administration, social media, animation, graphic design, and multimedia creation, just to name a few. The possibilities are truly endless, if students are willing to approach the career with an open mindset and be willing to continually keep learning.

And to do so, there is no time better than the present. I concluded by sharing three valuable tools/tips for pursuing any profession or career, even while they are still in high school.

1) Get motivated by TED Talks and see others' inspiring ideas take shape into action. Follow their lead or apply to your own passions.

2) Learn anything, anytime, anywhere with iTunes U.  Don't limit yourself to the classes you take or what your teachers know. 

3) Be intentional about building a positive digital footprint-- starting right now.  Make yourself "google-able" and build a personal brand for yourself that showcases your talents, skills, and interests.  Start a blog or build an page.  

We had great discussions with high school students about the exciting times we live in and the opportunities for all to follow their dreams.  Thank you, Madison Public Schools, for the chance to share my excitement for the field of educational technology with your bright youth!