There are wonderful picture books published every year, but sometimes there’s one that stands out from the crowd. What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada and illustrated by Mae Bosem is the one. This book is a wonderful story about a brilliant idea and the child who helps bring it to the world. As the idea grows, so does the confidence of the little boy. This inspirational tale is for anyone, of any age, who’s ever had an idea but may be reluctant to embrace it, because it might seem different, odd, or just a little too big.
The final day of the ISTE-palooza felt more relaxed, as the numbers dwindled with the work week and the attendees fell into a rhythm. The emphasis today seemed less about tools for teachers and more about skills for students. Several speakers pointed to the lack of genuine search ability by students who use Google not just as their default research tool but also as their reflexive second brain for information access.
First of all, let’s not kid ourselves, there are a lot of people here at ISTE 2014. The Georgia World Congress Center turns into Pamplona when a marquee session hour approaches. There’s also a panic upon walking past a long, bullish line waiting for an event that you haven’t heard about. You’re tempted to join the stampede for fear of missing out. Still, the hours are impeccably managed by the ISTE organizers, and the mood of sharing is high.
While we think highly of incorporating maker education “back into” the school environment, leadership should never have let it go to begin with for the sake of test preparation. We lock up or throw away the blocks in kindergarten or cancel a kindergarten performance so kids can focus on college prep. Who are we kidding? We know this sounds ridiculous, but it happens.
The World Cup soccer tournament has enthralled and bedeviled fans since 1930. This year's contest, however, emerges in the age of big visual data, in the era of user-customized digital technology. Partnering with the real-time ebb and flow of each match are a host of new interactive apps that allow viewers and students to visualize each nuance of the sport. Soccer zealots can make statistical predictions, and curious students can play with the clickable interfaces.
The 2014 FIFA World Cup begins tomorrow with the host nation (and tournament favorite) Brazil taking on Croatia in Group A. Even as the home country fights off negative press and clambers to complete its infrastructure, the quadrennial contest is shaping up to be the most watched sporting event in history. While soccer has long remained the most popular global sport, even the United States is now getting amped up about the potential of this year's gritty squad.
It comes as no surprise that the Internet grows exponentially by the minute, and in some cases by the second. It’s too late to turn back the clock, and it’s no wonder that our learners view school regulations of social media archaic and restrictive. We see the weekly chats with frustrated teachers who try to get colleagues to see the benefits of Twitter; yet this is not even the most popular media with our tweens, let alone young people under thirty
"Computers didn’t use to be the little wonder-devices that we know them as today. We tend to think of the evolution of computers in terms of size, form, and mobility, but merely having the internet course through them changed everything in a hurry. In the time it took Al Gore to clap his hands, computers went from complicated machines capable of calculations and code to, well complicated machines capable of calculations and code but with smarter interfaces and a focus on connectivity rather than said calculations."
The expanded availability of easy tech tools has empowered educators to rethink homework and daily instruction. Flipping the classroom with teacher-made videos allows students to self-direct their at-home learning. Many of these clips, however, still involve a one-day delivery of information, from teacher to student. Another approach is to allow children to make their own educational videos. They can enlighten their classmates with their creations, and they can teach themselves the material and the skills during the process of production.
We came across this fascinating animation of the evolution of London over its 2000-year-old history from the Guardian. It was created by the researchers at the University College London's Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA). They used georeferenced road network data to show how it changed from a small Roman city to the metropolis it is today.
Our third graders showed their aptitude in creating these wonderful infographics during their library class. They gathered the facts for their social studies unit on Brazil using the kids edition of ProQuest's online database CultureGrams.
It did not take much class time either; as a matter of fact, it was completed in two classes. To simplify the components of infographics, we used words, pictures, and numbers to explain the different parts they needed to include to make them.
An initiative that began in Brazil has now gone global, thanks to the creative way it inspires empathy for children facing battles with cancer. Hair loss due to chemotherapy can be particularly difficult for students who now must endure the stares of strangers and the questions of classmates.
In response, cartoon characters are "going bald" to show affinity and kinship with these courageous children. This month, artists of some of the most popular cartoons around the world are drawing their leading figures with no hair or with a head covering. The surprise by readers is meant to mimic the same expressions of wonder that childhood cancer patients confront everyday. NPR and other outlets have reported on this Bald Cartoons venture, launched by ad firm Ogilvy Brazil and cancer nonprofit GRAACC.
Tax day is rapidly approaching. April also happens to be Financial Literacy Month. It makes sense, therefore, to tap into the annual angst of April 15 to teach students about the nuances of the federal budget and the impact of income tax dollars. Aside from offering relevant windows into the priorities of the national government, the visualizations and motion graphics below also provide keen tools to practice mathematical analysis and the graphic charting of data.
Nationwide, the witch hunt against teachers unions and teacher tenure has built its argument on the gimcrack premise that educators are inherently lazy. Teachers will no doubt recline in their cushy career thrones once granted a decent living wage and professional flexibility. Well, bring those Chicken Littles to ISTE. Their airy thesis evaporates instantly upon entering the convention hall.
There are no lackadaisical teachers here. There are no uninspired trolls among the animated educators chatting in corridors between rapid-fire sessions. There are no sheeple among the collaborative professionals trading tech on Twitter. The best way to bust open a stereotype is open one’s eyes and see teachers in action at ISTE.
Most conferences by their nature host an eager pool of participants. Without some authentic interest, why else would individuals sacrifice their time and dollars for days of intensive workshops? The Twitterverse and the edtech sphere, however, seem to reserve a special place for ISTE, the annual see-and-be-seen summit staged by the International Society For Technology In Education. This year’s #ISTE2014 network is no exception, with a zealous crowd of conference goers expected to top 20,000. There is even a trending #notatiste14 thread to loop in curious parties unable to visit Atlanta. And with the lines for the first ISTE Ignite session as a prime indication, it’s going to be a convivial, congested weekend.
Yesterday, the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) released the 2014 Global Peace Index (GPI) on its Vision of Humanity website. The goal of this interactive site is to bring peace research to life with interactive maps, reports, and the latest media pertaining to it. As with our earlier posts on the topic of peace, and in particular the release of the 2013 GPI, it is important that we continually share these findings with our learners.
Recently, we started to experiment with the blackout technique that is often used in creating poetry from newspapers and other texts, and we banned highlighting. To our surprise, the blackout process had additional benefits that we did not consider at first.
Adobe Voice may be the app we've been waiting for. This effortless video creator may finally fulfill the promise of tablet computing. With a simple, intuitive interface and clean, effective visuals, the Adobe Voice app allows anyone to design animated videos in minutes. It finally turns the iPad into a seamless device for content creation, not just content display or interaction.
We have been studying World War II recently with our middle schoolers, and in the past two days, we've focused on the horrors of the Holocaust. It was especially shocking, therefore, to read the just-released report from the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). NBC News and other media outlets have reported on the startling "ADL Global 100" survey results that seek to gauge anti-Semitic attitudes across 101 countries and territories.
As educators, we constantly reinforce the skills of media literacy with our learners. This includes traditional types of media, but as more advertising moves online, it’s important to transition beyond the usual print ads, television commercials, and radio announcements. Today's learner needs to be savvy about new media. Traditional advertising is direct; we see, hear, or read it. Other than tapping our senses, it does not take advantage of our privacy. Digital advertising is subliminal and unseen. It secretly gathers data to aggregate and push ads to the devices our students use.
If you're like us, you indulged during this past week of spring vacation with some welcome sun and possibly some holiday candy. If you're also like us, you're now returning to a classroom full of restless students who can see the end of the school year in sight.
Luckily, the animation wizards at NBC News have once again offered up a timely treat to engage students' eyes (and taste buds) on their first morning back from break. The motion graphic, "The Business Behind Chocolate Easter Eggs," offers a surprisingly rich educational tour in just under a minute and a half. The video is not even really about Easter, so it is worthy of showing to any diverse classroom.