Hour of Code starts this week.
Here are some resources I have curated on Pinterest to get you started:
I just pulled together several videos of my talks and webinars from the past few months.
Check them out here.
This first appeared as a guest post on FreeTech4Teachers.
The year may be winding down, but you still have your students for a few more precious weeks of school. If you have access to iPads in your classroom, a great end of the year activity with your students is to make pictures talk, create animations that anthropomorphize objects, or use personification to demonstrate understanding. It’s actually a great activity anytime of the year. You can create with your students and keep them engaged and learning right up until the last day.
Two fantastic sets of apps for creating talking pictures on iPads are ChatterPix /ChatterPix Kids and YakIt / YakIt Kids. With both sets, the non-kid versions provide additional sharing features such as uploading to e-mail and social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, while the “kid” versions only save to the Camera Roll.
ChatterPix Kids and ChatterPix from Duck Duck Moose are simple, elegant, and useful apps. Both allow students to take a picture or use an image saved to the camera. With a swipe of their finger, students can draw a mouth on any image. There is one button to press to record, and the mouth then animates with the recording.
Since all of these apps save to the camera roll, they are great for app smashing or building and blending with other apps to create something that exceeds the possibilities of just one app.
Here are some examples:
Creating talking pictures or animations offer amazing possibilities in the classroom. These two apps are so easy to use, students can complete a simple project in a short amount of time or make more complex projects that can lead to collaborative videos, ebooks, or websites. Not only are these apps fun for students, but they also allow them to think, create and demonstrate understanding.
It’s exciting when you see work you’ve done days, weeks, months or even years ago reappearing on social media. Back in February, I did a webinar on the flip classroom model in education. Just recently EdTech K-12 magazine (@EdTech_K12) posted an article The Do’s and Don’ts of Flipped Classrooms. The article included quotes from the webinar as well as the video itself. It’s been tweeted around for the past few weeks, which is really awesome. If you haven’t checked it out, the video is below.
So while I’m on the subject of flipped classroom and Twitter I wanted to let everyone know about some great opportunities to learn with me this summer. I’ll be doing the flip classroom in Chicago June 19 and 20th and in Cambridge July 17 and 18th I’ll be doing a workshop on Twitter and PLNs June 23 and 24th in Cambridge.
I love doing these workshops. I have seen incredibly thoughtful and creative work produced by caring, energized educators come out of the flip classroom workshops. I love the flip classroom concept because it really addresses how we can maximize our face-to-face time with our students. It also starts great conversations which allow me to constantly evolve and grow as an educator. I strongly believe that technology in the hands of energized and thoughtful educators can transform our educational experiences. The flipped classroom helps kickstart that process.
The Twitter workshop allows me to help educators discover the world of social media and become a part of it. When it comes to learning, it is my best PD. When it comes to sharing and reflection, it expands my reach allowing for multiple and varied perspectives. And when it comes to support, there’s an entire world of educators out there who have been there and done that and will help you through. Together we are better, and social media can bring us together.
Hope you can join me!
I just heard Maya Angelou passed away. (NY Times Obituary) She has always been a person I admire. I remember reading her books and poems and always being inspired.
Courtesy; William J. Clinton Presidential Library
From “Letter to My Daughter”
I have made many mistakes and no doubt will make more before I die. When I have seen pain, when I have found that my ineptness has caused displeasure, I have learned to accept my responsibility and to forgive myself first, then to apologize to anyone injured by my misreckoning. Since I cannot un-live history, and repentance is all I can offer God, I have hopes that my sincere apologies were accepted.
You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you have been thinking. You might find a new solution.
Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood.
Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.
Thank you, Ms. Angelou for doing something wonderful.
Saw this article of her last tweets. I just had to add it. I love this one from May 17. It is both beautiful and simple and it’s message.
And, a beautiful last tweet…
Great webinar with Douglas Kiang on Getting Creative w/ Scratch
It’s archived here:
What a wonderful weekend! I got to see my cousin get married and had a nice relaxing day with my kids for Mother’s Day. Funny, but on both days I got reminders of my work as a teacher and admin.
At the wedding I ran into a former student whose work I still use today in my Digital Storytelling workshops. She gave me a big hug and we got to talk. She is in college now and is a beautiful, intelligent young woman. I had her in my class in 8th grade, so it has been about 6 years. It was so nice to see her and talk with her.
Today, I got a message from a former parent telling me that “you and your efforts are not forgotten.” He went on to say how certain things I had put in place came to fruition. Gulp!
I was so grateful to hear from both, I just wanted to share. Our profession, teaching and education, is all about delayed gratification. We may not see the fruits of our labor for years after we have had a student in class. This is why assuming teacher effectiveness can be measured in standardized tests is flawed. They can test our kids by any metric they want, but the real assessment of our work is what they become and how they live their lives. Our job as educators (and parents) is to show them the world and help them find their place in it. If we can make a difference along then we have had a great career.
This first appeared as a guest post on FreeTech4Teachers.
Check out the added information at the bottom.
Google just announced new apps for Google Drive. Earlier this month, I wrote about how Google Drive is one of the Two Free Google Apps that Bring Out the Best In an iPad. As much as I like the Drive app, I have been hoping for some more features when working in Docs and sheets – like the Research tool. When I heard that Google had created some new apps, I just had to check them out.
With these new apps, Google split parts of Google Drive into individual apps: Docs, Sheets, and Slides. Docs and Sheets are out now for both iPad and Android. Slides will be coming soon. All of the apps are free and Google Drive is still available.
Right now there are really only three ways in which the apps differ from the Drive app.
1. Each app is dedicated to just one individual tool in Google Drive.
2. When you open the app, you see your most recently edited files of that type only, which does mean less time searching and scrolling.
3. The apps have better built-in offline support, so you can easily view, edit and create files without being online.
When the new Slides app comes out, you will be able to create and edit presentations, so that will be a great new feature. Like I said above, I was hoping for more features, but these apps seem like a step in the right direction.
You can download the apps here:
New Google Docs App New Google Sheets App
Google Slides – Coming Soon!
You can still view and present from Google Drive
The Google Drive app is still an important tool on iPads, Android devices and computers. It is the bridge that connects all of the work you create in Docs, Drive, Slides and other apps. For workflow with other apps on your mobile devices, Google Drive is a powerful app to store, transfer and coordinate with other apps. These new apps, are also great because you will now have easy access to the specific Google tools you need.
Google Drive App
If you are new to Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, you can find some great information here to get you started:
So, I explored the apps even more and just a few days after I wrote the article above, there were some more changes.
Google Drive on the iPad no longer opens up Docs or Sheet in the app. If you tap on a doc in Drive it will open up Drive. It will do the same for spreadsheets. I can not wait until they come out with Slides so we can finally add and edit presentations on the ipad.
There are other features I had hoped to see, and I am hoping that separating the parts of drive into different apps is just the first step in that direction. I am really hoping for the research tool and the ability to add and edit images.
Jeanne Reed, @jeannereed1 , started a quick conversation on Twitter about other features that would be great to have on the iPad.Miguel Guhlin, @mguhlin , mentioned adding tables to Docs. Tim, @biology , mentioned adding charts to Sheets. I agree with both of them. We were all lamenting the loss of access in Drive, but I am sure we will get used to it.
Honored and humbled to be nominated for a Bammy Award. The Bammy Awards shine a spotlight on what is good in education. I have be fortunate enough to know many of the great people nominated.
Got this in the mail this morning. (Thanks, Andi! I look forward to seeing you again at workshops.)
Congratulations, Samantha Morra has been nominated for a Bammy Award in the category of Education Commentator / Blogger by the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences.
Andi Jacobson submitted the following reason for making the nomination:
Samantha Morra has been a positive voice in education for years. She has been a teacher, technology coordinator, administrator, and educational consultant. She is so creative and has brought new dimension to what students and teachers can do with technology to improve learning. Her work with digital storytelling is so powerful. She talks about giving students voice and empowering them with great tools to communicate and express themselves. Her discussions about empathy as the 21st century skill make you rethink how students collaborate and communicate in your classroom and how we can help them become better digital citizens. She has created 21st century classrooms and shared her experience with others. She has even re-framed the “flipped classroom” discussion to focus it more about how teachers can reflect on how to use their face to face time with their students more effectively. She is an advocate for strengthening teachers, engaging students and empowering schools to improve for the benefit of everyone.
I was lucky enough to attend my first workshop with her a few years ago, and have been following her on Twitter, her blog and other social media since then. When you leave her workshops, you feel like you can take on the world. If you reach out to her, she answers and supports your work. I recently saw her in a webinar and I was able to use the information she shared the very next day. I know so many people who have been inspired by Samantha and she should be recognized for her passion, innovation and collaboration that has benefited so many.
You can see the nomination details here and vote: http://www.bammyawards.com/index.php/component/content/article/69-education-commentatorblogger/1245-samantha-morra
Please check out all of the nominees. Let’s all celebrate and shine a spotlight on what is good in education.
Many of us using technology in the classroom find ourselves caught between two worlds: Apple and Google. Apple’s iPad is a fantastic tool in the classroom which provides students with various opportunities to consume, create, and communicate. Similar to a swiss-army knife, it is only limited by how we choose to use it. At the same time, Google apps provide students with cloud-based services, from search to document creation and sharing, that work seamlessly on iPad.
So, what are some of the best ways to experience Google on the iPad? Let’s take a look at two apps from Google: Google Search and Drive.
Usually when you think of Google you think of searching first. The Google Search app has a nice clean interface: a search bar, a history button, a voice search button, an apps button, and Google Now cards. Most of the features are pretty intuitive. While, I like the apps button because it provides access to many Google apps and sites from one place, my favorite part about this app is Google Goggles.
With Google Goggles, you can take a picture with the iPad camera, and Google Search will scour the internet for that picture. This is a great feature that taps into two of iPad’s strengths: mobility and image capture.
The Google Drive app offers some great features on iPad. You can create docs, sheets and folders, as well as open, edit and collaborate on any doc or sheet that you started from another device. There are also two great features that bring out the best in your iPad: speech-to-text and supporting workflow.
I have tried speech-to-text on other apps and sites with minor success; however, it works really well when creating documents in Drive. The best part is that because it syncs with the cloud! This means that you could be on the same document from a computer as well as iPad, talk into iPad, and the text will also appear instantly on the computer. This is an amazing feature – especially for students who struggle with writing.
Another powerful feature of Google Drive is how it supports workflow on iPad. You can upload video and images from the camera roll right into your Google Drive. This is a great way to get an important video or image off of iPad and onto your computer or another device. It is also a great way to collaborate. You can gather class images and video in Drive and then share or merge them together on a single device. Google Drive liberates your creative masterpieces from a single iPad.
A final great workflow feature in Drive is “Open In…” Any file, in any format, can be stored in Google Drive. This feature gives you a variety of options for how you want to open that file and use it on iPad. For example, you could open a PDF from Google Drive in iBooks, Evernote, Subtext, or any other app that might allow for PDF Annotation.
Google and iPad compliment each other beautifully, and together can make a great tool for learning and teaching.