The Edublog Awards Committee has announced its “shortlist” of nominations, and I encourage you to visit the site to vote. Voting is open until 11:59 PM EST on Sunday, December 9th. Even if you do not intend to vote, you will find a surfeit of great links in each category that are fabulous resources. I’m going to spend my entire Winter Break exploring the new sites and apps recommended in each category! Unfortunately, two of my favorite nominations, Byrdseed and Not Just Child’s Play, did not make the cut this year, but please look them over if you haven’t done so, yet.
Last year, I posted a few sets of QR codes for the holidays, and I would like to offer them to you again. For each of these, the user will need to have a device with a QR code reader app. There are plenty out there that are offered for free. For the purposes of testing these QR codes this year, I used the “Scan” app on my iPad. If you are interested in making your own QR sets, Kaywa is one of the free sites I like to use. QR Hacker allows you to “dress up” (though they use a different term!) your QR codes with colors and background images.
Here are some QR codes that you can use as a countdown calendar for Random Acts of Kindness. These can be used any time of year, but might be nice around the holidays:
Here are 6 QR codes that are good classroom coupons. The first one is just black and white, and could be used any time of the year. The holiday option is in color (red and green), and has Christmas icons. These are fun to put in a class treasure box, or to give out to the kids in holiday cards:
This is not holiday related, but you can also download this QR code tic-tac-toe reflection for the end of the year or unit here. And, if you are really interested in QR codes, you might want to take a look at my post on an interactive bulletin board that I did last year.
Next week, I will be kicking it up a notch with some Aurasma holiday activities!
As I was cyber searching for holiday gifts this weekend, I began to arrive at an unattractive conclusion. Despite all of our efforts to combat sexism, it is alive and well in our toy industry. My daughter had asked for some Nerf products for Christmas, and I was dismayed to see that, on many of the websites, these were labelled as “Gender: Boy”. Delving into the matter further, I noticed that many of the building or engineering toys I found were also given this label. In addition, even if the items were not categorized for a specific gender, the product descriptions often referred to “he” or “him” as the toy recipients, and usually had photos of boys playing with them.
According to this article in Atlantic, 90% of America’s engineers are male. This is no surprise to me, considering the enormous gender bias that we greet our children with from Day 1 of their infancy. In order to even the playing field, we need to seriously reconsider the preconceived notion that we, Americans, have about how boys and girls should play. As teachers and parents, we should offer our children all kinds of toys, despite gender bias, and without prejudicial language. And toy manufacturers and reviewers need to move on to the 21st century, where girls and boys should not be forced into traditional gender roles.
Debbie Sterling, creator of Goldie Blox, is trying to raise the number of female engineers by offering a new toy which combines a story with a set of pieces for construction. This unique approach to introducing girls to the joy of building things for a purpose is absolutely ingenious. According to Sterling, a Stanford graduate, she spent a year researching what features in this toy would appeal to girls. Then, through Kickstarter, Sterling raised the funding to produce her toy, and her website states that they are estimated to begin delivery in April of 2013.
Although I lament the fact that this toy will be gender-biased, albeit toward the female gender this time, I think that Goldie Blox is definitely taking a step in the right direction. Before we can completely stop color-coding our playthings for boys and girls, we will need to convince the majority of Americans to rectify our language and our subconscious decisions that lead our children to believe that only certain types of toys are appropriate for each gender. I hope that the press that Goldie Blox is receiving will begin a conversation in our country that might eventually lead to this toy revolution.
For those of you new to this blog, I am devoting Fridays during the holiday season to recommending “Gifts for the Gifted”. You can see the three posts that I have done so far here, here and here. You can also visit my Pinterest board on Games for Gifted Students. A lot of these are not just for gifted students, but would be appreciated by many children – and adults.
Today’s recommendation happens to be one that I have not tried, yet. But, I am ordering this kit for my 10-year-old daughter because it looks like the perfect combination of imagination and engineering. The Little Bits Holiday Kit retails for $49, and includes the following items:
A double sided instruction sheet with quick start guide and project suggestions
A custom-made 9V battery + cable
A 9V battery connector.
Custom plastic screwdriver
• light wire
• dc motor
• bright led
• wire x2
The list above does not really do the kit justice, however. There is so much potential in the various combinations of these parts, some of which is shown in the video below. And, if you have a child or group of students that might be interested, Little Bits is also offering a “What are You Making for the Holidays?” challenge with a deadline of December 11th. Inventors of any age are invited to submit sketches of a possible Little Bits design, and the winners will receive all of the parts to build their inventions.
If your child is interested in building, inventing, and designing, this could be a great gift to put under the tree!
I found out about this fabulous artist, Marta Altes, from the author of the blog, “This Sydney Life“. Like yesterday’s post, my resource is not categorized as an educational blog, but I immediately thought of classroom connections when I saw the artwork of Marta Altes. I love the whimsy and the simple, but unique, quality of her artwork. Displaying some of her pictures would be a great way to jumpstart some creative thinking in your classroom. If you have ever used the creative thinking tool, S.C.A.M.P.E.R., you might see this as a perfect example of “Put it to another use”. Can you imagine how some gifted students might run with this idea?
I was browsing the Aurasma news to see how other people are using Aurasma’s free augmented reality app, and I ran across a video of a school in my home state, Texas. Heritage Elementary School has used the Aurasma app to ” enhance their educational experience in the garden using the Aurasma augmented reality platform. Students with the app can unlock additional digital information at various points around the garden and learn more about the natural habitat of Texas.” I think that this is truly a great way to engage students and educate them as they experience these amazing gardens.