#EdCampLDR

Here is another enthusiastic blog post in which the words awesome and amazing are overused brought to you by another edcamp!  If you’re still on the fence about edcamp, I highly recommend that you just go for it!  Find an edcamp near you, and you can write your own enthusiastic blog posts rather than read mine :-)… well, go ahead and read mine, and then share yours with me so we can be excited together!

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All across the nation edcampers are uniting in EdCamp Leadership in which leaders in education, administration, central office personnel, and teachers from PreK to university are gathering together as change agents.  You can follow along with all the awesome using the hashtag #edcampLDR – catch up with today’s edcamp and continue to watch and participate from afar on Twitter while the rest are held on Monday!  These are the people responsible for #edcampLDR in North Carolina.

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The Friday Institute in Raleigh, NC hosted #edcampLDR today, July 10.  As with edcamp custom, participants created the session board upon arrival by suggesting topics they want to discuss with other educators across our state.  I personally was hoping to see Game-Based Learning and Gamification, PBL, Twitter, and lots of discussion on how to be a better leader in my school.  I was not disappointed in any aspect. Our session board was created and we were off. edcamp2     You can check out the session notes here.  There were some great discussions, fabulous resources, and wonderful ideas shared among the participants.  One of the best parts of the day was the photo booth that was set up by Strawbridge Photography!

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I didn’t need to see guitars or microphones to know we were hanging out with Rock Stars today!  One of my favorite Rock Stars to show up today was our very own State Superintendent, Dr. June Atkinson.  She is a true leader and a change agent.  I had the pleasure of meeting her once before and was thrilled to see her again.  For me, it validated edcamps and what we are doing there as she saw merit in our purpose, prioritized edcamp on her busy schedule, and even joined in on our first session asking questions and contributing to the All Things Twitter conversation.

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The last part of the day was the Smackdown.  This was different than what I had experience because they did an “edu-smackdown” in which participants not only showed apps and websites that were great for education, but also shared an “a-ha” moment for the day.  The complete list can be found here, and I will be using several of the apps/sites as part of my on-going EdTech Summer.  Check back for more details about that.

For now, I am utterly exhausted from all the awesome today.  What was your biggest take-away from #edcampLDR?

EdTech Summer – 1010!

A dear friend of mine and my personal mentor in my new life as a “techbrarian”, Tonya (You should follow her on Twitter: @tonya_nc – she’s pretty amazing!), sent me a message a few days ago telling me about an addictive, simple game app.  It’s called 1010! and has the feel of Tetris.  The premise is simply to stack the blocks of various shapes into horizontal and vertical lines to eliminate them.  Of course I tried it out and BAM! It was 30 minutes later and I realized that I was slightly addicted.  Consider yourself warned.

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However, after playing a few times I put my educator hat on and saw it as an opportunity for game-based learning in the classroom.  Then I was able to chalk up all the time spent playing this little addictive devil to research… this is research of the best kind.  You see, the playing board is a 10 x 10 square which immediately triggers images of a hundreds board in all grade levels.  I can see allowing students to play for a bit, get the feel of the game, then a teacher can have the student identify the numbers that would be covered by their first three blocks given in the lower grades.  I can see setting up a tens frame and having the students fill up the tens frame within the 10 x 10 square, keeping track of the groups of ten they can create.  The goal of course would be to show that there are 10 ones in a tens frame and 10 tens in a hundreds board.  Maybe have a contest to see which student can clear ten rows, either horizontally or vertically, while counting by tens to 100.  Students can practice making groups of 10 by deciding how many more they need to add in order to clear that row or column, quickly connecting those obscure addition and subtraction fact families to ten. IMG_2757In the upper grades, students can answer questions related to the perimeter and area of the figures they received, as well as the figures they create while playing.  See which student can create the largest area/perimeter and compare the area to the perimeter of each figure given.  The importance of learning that one “block” is one square unit is a vitally important stepping stone to higher level math skills in elementary school with the goal being to move from counting blocks to discover square units to actually calculating the area by multiplying length by width.

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Want a real brainteaser?  Try to figure out how they keep score in this thing!

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What do you think?  Go check it out, and comment below with other ideas for use in the classroom.  As always, using technology for the sake of using technology is useless, but being able to seamlessly integrate technology to garner student engagement and enthusiasm is priceless.

EdTech Summer – Anatomy 4D

As I was reading my Twitter feed, I came across this app called Anatomy 4D.  All I could think after checking it out was why did I NOT know about this?!?! As a former 5th grade teacher in North Carolina, I taught human body systems.  This included the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, nervous, skeletal, and muscular systems.  My students were responsible for knowing the main function of each system, label the parts of the system, and describe how the systems worked together to sustain life.  We did several awesome experiments; my personal favorite involved a blender in which we ground up an apple and squished it through a long flexible hose and into a bowl to make the digestive system come to life.  When the app My Incredible Body came available a couple of years ago, I was so excited to finally be able to show my students a great interactive digital representation of the various body systems.  I have since been waiting for another quality app that allowed me to skip the body systems that yielded a more middle school conversation while still showing an in-depth look at the six body systems that I was required to teach.

Voila… Anatomy 4D (with some minor tweaking for age-appropriate images) is just that app!  I was able to download the FREE app (yes, free!) and immediately print the pages that trigger the augmented reality 4D experience on either the iPod touch or iPad.  There are two pages that come with the app – one is a full-body image and the other is an image of the heart.  Each of these pages have facts about the systems listed, which is a pretty cool bonus.  One thing to note is that this app is rated 17+ for intense sexual content & nudity; however (thinking of elementary school here) the skin can be shown as a male or female (I suggest male so the lymphatic & muscular system doesn’t make the kids giggle unnecessarily) and if the skin is shown as most transparent (use controls on the right side of the screen), students cannot see the nudity.  For my 5th graders using the full-body image, I would use the dial at the bottom of the screen to turn on only the systems that I needed and deselect all others.

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How cool is this to show how the skeletal system protects the respiratory system?! Students can see inside their body!  If you want to just show the respiratory system, deselect all others to show only respiratory.  Here the student can see the main parts of the respiratory system – the trachea (windpipe), lungs, and even the diaphragm!

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Now, showing the circulatory system is pretty cool because the students can see how the veins and arteries are throughout the entire body.  You can even zoom into the heart to see it more closely.

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The coolest part of the Anatomy 4D app is the heart image though!  When you use the iPod touch or iPad to look at the heart image, a beating heart appears showing how the heart contracts to pump blood and even showing the oxygenated and de-oxygenated blood being brought to and sent from the heart!

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You can deselect different parts like the valve, ventricles, and blood flow to allow students to really focus in on what is needed for that lesson.  For an elementary student, I wouldn’t just give them the images and the iPad and let them go conquer the world.  The full body image would definitely be a teacher-directed discussion while the students can explore more on the heart image.

Another pretty neat app working checking out is The Brain AR app – same concept, but focuses solely on the brain, from the shoulders up to the head.