As if American politics aren’t scary enough, the United States celebrates Halloween next Monday, which is all kind of wrong – because spending a day with students who can’t wait to trick-or-treat plus 4 more days after they fill up on sugary candy should not be required of any teacher if you are at all interested in helping him or her maintain a semblance of sanity.
The president I would vote for would resolve to make Halloween on a Saturday for the rest of eternity, but so far I haven’t seen that mentioned in anyone’s campaign.
For those of you who are in the same boat (or should I say, riding the same broom?), here are some resources I’ve collected in the past that might help to briefly engage your students in something other than daydreaming about all of the candy they will need to confess to eating at their next dental appointment:
Summer break is over – at least for many of the public school teachers in Texas who return to work today. Of course, many of us never really stopped working over the last couple of months, fitting in workshops and lesson planning in between trips to the beach and afternoon naps.
I’ve been saving educational articles of interest to Pocket all summer, and I thought I would share some of the news that I curated that might have some impact on your planning for the new school year. I would love for you to share any other summer education news that I’ve missed in the comments below!
Osmo put out two new games this summer, Coding (near the beginning of the summer) and most recently Monster (described as “The Creative Set”). My summer camp students loved the Coding game, and I’ve just ordered Monster.
Speaking of tangible coding, Google has announced “Project Bloks,” which looks pretty intriguing. The Bloks aren’t available to the public yet, but you can sign up on their interest page to get updates on the program.
In other Google news, the Expeditions VR app is now available on Android with expectations to release it on other platforms later this year. Also, there is a free Cast for Education app that I am really interested in that supposedly allows students to project their work without the need for other hardware/software like Chromecast, Apple TV, or Reflector. Richard Byrne has a blog post on a new add-on for Google Docs called The Lesson Plan Tool. By the way, if you want to keep updated on new Google Classroom features, here is a good page to bookmark.
When it comes to lesson planning, Amazon Inspire might be your go-to site as soon as it becomes available, with free access to educational resources. Sign up for early access now.
I briefly mentioned Blippar in a post last summer about the Augmented Reality magazine, Brainspace. A tweet from last night reminded me that there are other educational uses for the free Blippar app. In this post by Rob Stringer on Blippar’s blog, you can find some great uses of Blippar for science activities in the classroom. I’m ready to try the solar system one tomorrow!
If you’re like me, you might have set some professional goals for the summer – books you have been meaning to read, technology you wanted to learn, etc… If you’re also like me, you may be in a bit of a panic right now because none of those things got accomplished. You foolishly frittered your break away spending time with your family binging on Netflix and making videos for a global scavenger hunt that your daughter convinced you would be fun and not too embarrassing.
So, now the beginning of the school rushes toward you and you are well aware that the professional goal that will take precedence over all the others will be, “to survive.”
I’m here to tell you that there are still ways to weave those professional goals into the new school year without becoming overwhelmed. Below, I’ve listed a few trends in education that you can learn more about while doing some on-the-job-training:
Try the Quiver Vision free Educator pack that allows students to create and integrate Augmented Reality in the classroom. Also, for an easy trial run, use their page (also at the above link) that celebrates Dot Day.
The “Hacks” listed above will not make you experts on any topic, but they will allow you to learn more about each trend. Then, you can decide for yourself if you want to try out some of the “Full Immersion” suggestions!
Brainspace is a quarterly magazine for kids aged 8-14 that is published in Canada. U.S. Subscriptions are also available (about $30 for 4 issues).
The magazine topics in the issue sent to me for review ranged from dinosaurs to speaking French to whether or not you can get sucked out of an airplane toilet (not likely, it turns out).
What sets Brainspace apart from other magazines you might find in your elementary school library is that it also includes augmented reality. For example, if you download the free Blippar app, you can see the dinosaur on the magazine cover move and roar. The majority of the pages inside also have “Blipp This” tags, allowing you to scan an image and watch videos related to some of the articles.
The videos are educational and often include students. Some of them definitely give this magazine an advantage over print-only magazines because the articles alone would not be as effective. It’s helpful, for instance, to learn French phrases by seeing other students using them in context.
If you have a child who does not like to read, I wouldn’t count on this magazine changing their attitude. More likely, they will scan for all of the “Blipp This” tags and close the magazine after they’ve watched each video.
But, if your child is eager to learn, and is especially interested in scientific topics, a Brainspace subscription could make a great gift.
If you are a teacher or librarian, Brainspace might be popular with your students. I would caution you to try one edition first to make sure access to the videos is not blocked in your school. I found at least two videos in the Summer 2015 issue that were hosted on YouTube and wouldn’t have been accessible with a student device if I was on school grounds.
Parents’ Choice recently gave Brainspace a “Gold Award.” (National Geographic earned a silver, just to put that in context.) You can read the Parents’ Choice Award review here.
I would like to see the magazine make things even more interactive by including polls or quizzes that could be accessed with a scan. They could also engage their readers by asking them to submit videos (with parent permission) for future issues.
Overall, this magazine has a lot to offer, and I look forward to seeing its evolution.
For more augmented reality resources, including lesson plans and free apps, check out my Augmented Reality page here.
Before you download this app (available in Google Play or iTunes), please note that it is not “Quiver – The Matchmaking Game.” Trust me, you don’t want that on your elementary classroom iPads 😉
Quiver-3D Coloring App is the new face of ColAR, an augmented reality app that brought colored pages to life. In fact, when you go to the Quiver website, you will probably recognize some of the same coloring pages that were offered by ColAR. One of my favorite free pages, the one they offer for Dot Day, is thankfully still there – although it now has “Quiver” across the top.
Quiver offers a few new free pages of particular interest to educators. I think the Animal Cell one was part of the ColAR inventory, but I hadn’t seen the Planet Earth or Volcano ones before. I played with the Planet Earth one last night, and wish I had seen it before my last class with my 1st graders. They were learning about the continents, and would have flipped over the augmented reality – especially the different viewing options of the earth, being able to manipulate it, and the ability to take pictures and video.
I decided to check out “Magic Letter” (also free). I have absolutely no idea what the characters are saying or what the writing is, but the video that shows up when you scan it is very cute. As you can see, it looks a bit like an award certificate, so I put my name on it to see what it would do. At the end of the video, the characters hold up the “letter” with your writing and confetti flies.
Like Zookazam, there are free features and paid features in Quiver. Really, though, the free ones are only limited by your students’ creativity.