Universal Design for Learning

Dr. Z challenged us to create our own lesson using UDL, Universal Design for Learning.  According to the National Center on Universal Design for Learning, UDL
is “a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.”

The site goes on to say, “UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone–not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs.”

With this in mind, I used CAST UDL Lesson Builder to build a lesson on serving a volleyball. Link to my lesson:  CAST UDL Lesson Builder_ Create and Edit My Own UDL Lesson Plan

TPACK

Following up on last weeks assignment, Dr. Z had us create a lesson plan using the TPACK information we have been reading about.  Since I am not a teacher but I am a coach, I did mine on volleyball.

 

TPACK Lesson Plan Template  

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Title: Serving a volleyball

Summary: 6th grade players will learn the technique required to serve a volleyball overhand.  

First, we played a game to discover 5 different TPACK sets:

  1. Social Skills, Portfolio, PPT
    1. Social skills do play a role in volleyball as a game, but not in serving itself.  Creating a portfolio might be like a scrape book of the season.  We could easily create a PPT outlining the steps of serving a volleyball.
  1. Compare and Contrast, Compare and Contrast, Office 365
    1. I believe there was a typo in the game and compare and contrast should not be here twice. We could compare and contrast different serves to figure out what works best for the player.  Office 365 might be useful in stats during a game but I’m not sure how I would use it to teach a serve.
  2. Social Skills, Modeling, Word
    1. Social skills do play a role in volleyball as a game, but not in serving itself.  We can model good serves to learn. We can have a player that is doing it correct help other players for peer modeling.  Word is not a very useful tool except maybe to document the steps that should be taken to serve.
  3. Compare and Contrast, Analyze Data, MobyMax
    1.  We could compare and contrast different serves to figure out what works best for the player.  We can analyze the data as far as how many serves were successful and then look to see what steps were taken in each of the successful serves.  Unless I did a written type assessment, MobyMax doesn’t work here.
  4. Collaboration, Analyze Data, Wiki
    1. We could have the players work together to watch videos and determine what works best. I am not sure what data they would analyze in this case.  We could setup a wiki for the players to comment to each other – all positive to encourage good sportsmanship and moral.

 

My Lesson:

Primary Core Goals/Outcomes: 21.6–8.HL.5

Essential Concept and/or Skill: Demonstrate behaviors that foster healthy, active lifestyles for individuals and the benefit of society.

Achieve and maintain health enhancing level of physical activity.

 

  • Develop, implement and evaluate goals for physical health.
  • Engage in activities to improve cardio–vascular and muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition.

 

Practice preventive health behaviors.

 

  • Practice appropriate and effective stress management.
  • Analyze risk factors and make healthy choices.
  • Implement a plan reflecting healthy food choices.
  • Implement behaviors that contribute to holistic wellness for individuals, families and communities.

 

 

Intended Learning Outcomes: The players will learn the importance of physical and mental strength of the volleyball game and in particular, serving.  They will learn to control their emotions when serving.  They will explore the benefits healthy food choices can make on their endurance during the game.

 

Pedagogical Decisions:

 

  • It is more teacher centered.  There is specific technique and health choices that will be taught by lecture and example.  There will be some student centered through evaluation of video.
  • The learning is convergent.  Each player needs to know the specific steps and physical and emotional requirements.
  • Students will have some prior knowledge from PE classes and general health courses.
  • The lesson will give students a deep understanding of technique.  There is not a lot to go over, but it will take a lot of time to be able to perform it.  The emotional and physical health will be ongoing life skills.
  • The players will learn while in practice but they are expected to perfect their technique through practice outside of class and they are expected to live healthy lifestyles outside of class.
  • It will be structured learning.  The players will all go through the motions with the coach and they will learn why they are doing each move.  
  • The whole group will learn together, but then individual instruction will be given to each player as I observe their serve and emotional and physical habits.
  • A volleyball and net are required.

 

 

TPACK Activity Types: I will use ‘Coach’s Eye’ to video tape the players.  I will use fitbits to give physical activity feedback and I will have individual talks with students to discuss their emotional control.

 

Assessment Plan: Tell how you will measure students’ achievement of the intended learning outcomes.  State whether the assessment will be formative or summative.

I will have the students assess themselves on the video and then I will add my comments.  I want them to be able to pick out their own mistakes.  This will be formative.

The fitbit and discussion will be formative.

The summative piece will come when we sit down and discuss all three together to decide how the player can improve.

 

Materials:

Used by the Teacher:  Volleyball, net, iPad

 

Used by the Students: Volleyball, net, iPad

 

Technologies

Used by the Teacher: iPad

 

Used by the Students: iPad

 

Instructional Procedures:

The coach will verbally give instruction on how to serve a volleyball – Float Serve.  

Left foot in front of right shoulder width apart

Hold ball at eye level with left hand on the bottom with right hand on top (for right handed person)

Toss just high enough that when you pull back right arm, the hand contacts the ball on its downward swing

Toss ball with left hand

Pull back right arem as far as possible

Swing but not all the way through – stop when right arm contacts the ball

The coach will show, in slow motion, how to serve a volleyball but doing the steps above.

The coach will show a serve in live motion.

The technology will be used to capture the coach serving.

Players will model serving in slow motion using the steps outlined above

Players will attempt serves

The technology will be used to capture the player serving.

 

Once the serve is captured, the players have the opportunity to view their serve and the coaches.  The players write down areas they can improve.

Coach watches the serve and uses Coach’s Eye to give feedback the player can watch over and over.

 

The coach groups the fitbit activity for the team and determines if anyone is not achieving adequate fitness level.  The coach addresses this with the players that need to improve by speaking with them individually.

 

Coach observes the players during practice and games.  The coach takes note of players who crumble under pressure and addresses on an individual basis.

 

At the end of the season, the coach uses the videos throughout the year, the fitbit information and observations to write a report and discuss with each player to come up with the best workout plan (physical and mental) for the player to be as successful as possible in the following year.

Social Media for Senior using TPACK

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Image: Matthew J Koehler 2017

Dr. Z recently challenged us to come up with a practical application of TPACK.  TPACK stands for Pedagogy – Content, Technology-Content knowledge and technology – pedagogy.  I like this short video does a great job of explaining it.

He gave us a number of great sources to help us get a deeper understanding of TPACK.  Many of the insights on TPACK come from Mishra and Koehler.  For a long time, we have talked about how educators have to find the right combination of pedagogy and content, but now we add in a third component, technology.  Mishra and Koehler explain how good teachers bring these together on this site.

I work in an assisted living facility so thinking of a way to incorporate technology, and TPACK, into something I want to teach the residents is difficult.  I have to laugh when they whip out their flip phones to show me how they are up to date with technology!

I have found that the residents have interaction among each other, but they still feel lonely at times so we come up with all kinds of things to help with this.  Many of the residents write letters and receive letters, but this takes a long time. We have organized events so the surrounding community comes to visit, but that is not the same as having their children or grandchildren here with them.  This is where pedagogy, content and technology collide.

What we want to teach the residents is a way to stay in touch with family members that is faster and more interactive than writing letters.  We have two challenges, they don’t know social media and they don’t know devices beyond their flip phones.  We have to get them beyond their fears of technology because, they can do it!  That’s why I like how the instructions on this site start off.  It talks about adjusting your perspective and clearly and slowly explaining what Facebook is before the technology is even brought to the table.  As Fijor points out in another article, we want to make sure  we do an overview of Facebook that tells what it is but does not go into so much detail that it overwhelms the residents.   Hurdle one is accomplished without any technology in hand.  Once the fear is subsided, we can concentrate on the rest of the instructions to get Facebook setup.  The focus will be on Facebook and setting up the account, not on the iPad or computer.  I want the residents to see Facebook and experience the joy it can bring before we get bogged down with ‘how tos’ about the computer or device itself.  Once they fall in love with Facebook, they will find learning how to use the device is worth it.  I fear we will not get past turning the computer on if we start there.

Gamification,how it can work in the classroom

Dr. Z challenged us to come up with a way to gamify an assignment for our classrooms.  First, I had to figure out what it meant to gamify something.  I came to the conclusion that it is a way to change people’s behavior.   It is not simply making flashcards.  There is a leveling up or unlocking items etc.  There is some type of reward or chance of reward.

Here is a short video Dr. Z pointed out to us on Gamification:

Game Name:

ChoreMonster

Link to Game:

Go to https://www.choremonster.com/

Username: sallysmith

Password: sally1

Audience:

Children living at home who can do chores.  Could also be adapted for an elementary classroom setting.

Learning Goal(s) of the Game:

Responsibility.  Good hygiene.  Time management.

Game Description:  

  • Why you selected this theme/game:  
  • Tell about progressing through the game:
  • What will be the outcome of playing this game:
  • Include an explanation about how you incorporated
    • Experience Points,
    • Leveling Up,
    • Rewarding Mastery and
    • The Leaderboard

I do not have a classroom so I decided to gamify something for my own children that could also be used in a lower elementary classroom.  We struggle with chores in my house.  No one ever seems to make the time to get them done and it becomes a huge struggle when we make our four children do their chores.  So, this became my challenge.  I started working with Lisa Bindert using Chore Wars.  She has a great blog on how she is using this product in her highered classroom here.  It soon became obvious to me that my children were too young for this type of system.  I chose to use Chore Monsters for my little monsters.  The interface is appropriate for the age of my children which range from 6 – 10.  Chore Monsters made it into the news!

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I was able to add a profile for each of my children so they have their own login.  I can assign a number of different chores to each child.  I get to add a personal note, a due date and assign a point value to the chore.  Below you can see I have a nice dashboard that shows how each child is doing.  I also have to approve the chores which is great because sometimes we disagree on when a chore is actually completed!

dashboard

In the rewards section, I can assign different awards like a special treat, allowance or maybe you would want it to be a star on the class poster for a certain number of points earned.

rewards

In addition to the rewards I assign, they earn the opportunity to spin the big wheel.  So far, I have not seen a winning spin.  They also unlock little videos and different monsters in the program.

spin

There was one aspect of gamification that was not included in this program.  I wanted to be able to let my children experience leveling up they would be more likely to do the ‘extra’ chores.  I made a poster with each of their names on it.  I keep track of their points on the poster.  It is hung up where they can all see it.  There are three levels that can be reached besides Rookie where they start.  Rookie, good little monster, super monster and Master Monster.  I expect each of them to get a minimum of 75 experience points per week:

Clean bedroom 3 times per week = 15, Homework = 50, Read extra 20 minutes = 10

They can get a payout (we are introducing an allowance type system with this) each week.  Rookie monsters do not get paid.  Good little monsters must reach the minimum of 75 points to receive 1.00 per week.  Super monsters must reach 85 receive 1.50 per week.  They can easily reach 85 by doing the smaller chores or doing one bigger chore like cleaning the basement. They can only reach a master level at the end of the month by accumulating at least 340 points for the 4 week period and they get a 5.00 bonus for the 4 week period.  To reach 340 points in a 4 week time period they must be at an intermediate level each week or if they are not at intermediate level one week, they must do extra in another week to make up the points. At the end of the 4 weeks, they start over.  This is a little different then most gamification I have seen because they start over at Rookie each week, but I think this will be the most motivating way to implement this for my children.  I think this is going to be enough incentive for them to want to do the chores, but if not, I might implement a challenge rewarding the person with the most points at the end of the month as the King with something special.

In the chart below, I have week one ready to be filled out.  I want to put a daily total on each week so they are forced to add up the days to figure out how many points they have and how many they still need to reach their goal for the week.  This will help them with their math skills.  I think they will add up each other’s scores to compete but if they do not, I may change this so I’m coloring in the line making it look more like a race in the future.

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Directions for Playing the Game:

The child logins in daily to see what points are awarded for what chores for that day.  I have the ability to add chores as they are needed on a daily basis.  They will see the point value available with the chore.  To select one, they click on the image with the dust pan and brush for that chore.

chore

Once they click on the chore, they can see any note I left for them and then they can click the thumbs up to claim that they completed the chore.  When I setup the chore, I have the option to automatically accept that they did it when they click the thumbs up or I can set it up so they can click the thumbs up but I have to approve it on my end before they are awarded the points.

points

The dashboard is always available at the top of the page and as discussed above, it allows the player to see:

Rewards: (currently staying up late, extra game playing time and hot chocolate with mom).  I probably could have used this to have them level up if I had worked it out correctly, but I wanted them to see who had the most points because they are competitive so I decided to use the poster board for leveling up.  In the future, I may change to a whiteboard so we do not waste paper.

Carnival – spin the wheel for a prize.

Theater – movie trailers.

Monster – unlock new monsters.

dashboard

In addition to this, the children in my house will check the leaderboard to see who is in the lead and how many points they need to become a master cleaner.

So far, I have just been keeping track of Keely and seeing how this works and what the values of the chores should be.  I look forward to implementing it into our household and to watch chores become fun and rewarding.  My children will have fun while learning to manage their time so they can get this all done.  It stresses the importance of hygiene.  The kids fight brushing their teeth every night!  This could easily be used in your classroom for the chores you want students to do like picking up.  Or, it could be used to give points when you see good behavior.  There are many ways you could use this to make learning fun!  Please share how you have gamified your classroom!!

How to Engage Students and Receive Instant Feedback

On December 4th I had the honor of sitting in the classroom of a fantastic Psychology instructor’s classroom at Kirkwood Community College.  I wanted to observe how she was using Learning Catalytics in her course.   Learning Catalytics is a bring your own device system that allows instructors to ask over 18 different question types which takes this system beyond what the clicker system had to offer.  Judith Wightman adopted this technology after she experienced as a student in another class.  If you are looking for ways to engage your students and to focus your precious minutes with your students on the specific content they need, keep reading to see how Judith is using Learning Catalytics in her course.


The questions she delivered to the class were a review for the final exam.  She used the system throughout the semester, I just happened to visit class during the final review.  As the questions were delivered, she always told students which chapter the question came from so they could write down where they need to go in the book if they were not getting the answers correct.


She delivers the questions to their device without showing it on the main screen.  She waits until all students have submitted answers before showing results on big screen.   If you want the question to show on the main screen (projection) and on the student’s device, then you need to run the instructor portion from a second device such as an iPad.


Question 1 – 100% got it right so she did not review that topic further.


Question 2 – there were differences in answers.  She did not show the results but told them to discuss the answers with the people the system assigned.  There was an immediate buzz in the classroom.  I could hear students telling other students why some answers just didn’t make sense.  She opened it for round 2 and they answered again and when they did round 2 after discussion, everyone got it right.  She did a real quick review but the students had really taught each other.


Question 3 – almost everyone got it right so she did a quick review with an example without having the students talk to each other.


Question 4 – All students got it right.  It discussed one part of the brain.  She did a quick review of the other parts of the brain in the picture that were not covered in the question.


After question 4 she said it’s obvious students know chapter 1 and 2 so she would recommend not spending a lot of their time on that chapter when studying for the final exam.  She suggested to focus on: Chapters 12, 13, 14


Question 5 – Some got it wrong so they had to talk to the people the system assigned.  The students were not all with the same people they talked to about question 2.  Judith told them B and C were attractive so talk about what each of them are.  I saw one group that could not come up with the definition of each so they asked the group next to them.  The second group was happy to help the struggling group.


First round 56% got it right.  Second round 88% got it right.  She did a review on this question to make sure everyone understood it.


Question 6 – The most popular answer was an incorrect answer so they were to discuss it with the person the system assigned.  She did a more extensive explanation on the board of the concept.  The student I heard had a hard time coming to a conclusion when discussing in their group.
Round 1 24% correct.  Round 2 90% correct


Question 7 – 72% got it right.  28% got it wrong and all chose the same wrong answer so she clarified why that answer was the incorrect answer.


She didn’t get to 8, 9 and 10 because of time constraints so put them up quickly so they would have the question to review for the final.


Conclusion: Students were able to get an idea of where they needed to spend time studying for the final exam.  Sometimes they read things and think they understand but with this, they have to put an answer in and get feedback which confirms their knowledge or points out a need for more study.  The instructor is able to spend time reviewing the information the students need most.  During the school year the teacher can use this to drive all of the lecture content with the goal being a quick review on the reading students did before class and then moving onto applied or interactive activities.  It saves time by not covering what they already know and allows them to spend more time on the topics that caused confusion.  Students were engaged and had great conversations with each other about the different topics.  They were teaching each other through debate or instruction.


I asked two students sitting in front of me what they thought of Learning Catalytics:  “I like it a lot.  It’s an easy way to learn and quiz.  It’s more interactive.  So much better than just getting a sheet of paper.” Kirkwood Students


Suggestions:
Have the students write down the session ID so if they accidentally close the program on their computer they can quickly log back in without disrupting the class.
She taped stickers on the back of the chairs with their chair numbers on them to be able to quickly do the seating chart.  If students click on a seating chart when they login, the system can pair them quickly for small group discussion when the instructor feels it would be beneficial.  The instructors setup the parameters such as how many in a group and if the members of the group should have the same or different answers.
If you use a system like this, let us know.  Please share any assignments that have resulted in time savings or engagement in your classroom!

To Game or Not to Game in Education

In my master’s course, our last assignment was to play a game for three hours.  We were to play Kingdom Rush.  I did not jump right into the game, I took 2 minutes to watch the trailer first.  I probably should have read some instructions, but like I believe most students would do, I just started playing.  I got stuck on level 3 and continued to play it over and over without ever moving beyond the level.  After the first two failed attempts at level 3, I found myself checking my texts and fighting the urge to switch the screen over to my e-mail.  I could not see the value of continuing with this game.  It was not going to make me better in any way, it was going to waste my time to go look up information on how to pass this level when I had so many other things I SHOULD be doing.

When my three hours were over I was thrilled.  The entire time I was playing the game I was thinking about all the things I should be doing.  Needless to say, I did not reach a state of FLOW.  FLOW is complete happiness to the point of losing sense of time because you are so consumed with the task at hand. I believe I did not reach this is because I use games to relax.  I need to be ‘on’ all day in my job and it is mentally exhausting.  When I play a game or read a book for pleasure, I do not want to think strategy, I just want to use it to take my mind off everything else for awhile.

There are digital assignments that would result in me going through the stages of FLOW.  If I had been asked to read about gaming and the benefits or effects on students, I may have reached every level.  If I had been asked to use a technology that I could see myself using in the future such as doing video creation, I could see myself doing that for hours beyond what I needed to do to complete the assignment because I was in a state of FLOW.

We were also asked to read the stages of what makes a good game.  I actually think this game does all of these things.  The only piece I think could be improved is the feedback.  Sometimes I would upgrade and I wasn’t really sure what to do with the items.  Of course I could have gone and looked up the information, but I just did not care enough to do it.  So, this game covered most of the items that make something a good game so why did I not reach flow?  Because I just didn’t care if I moved on or not.  If it had been a game of real estate investment and I was competing against others for properties and having to pay taxes etc, I would have been very motivated to do well because I love learning about real estate so that would be a fun game to me.  For some people, it needs to be a topic of interest.

After all this reflecting it hit me.  I was having the same reaction to this game that some of my children have to their homework.  They cannot see the value of investing the time into learning a challenging math problem.  In English, they tend to write sloppy and do not check their spelling because they would rather go play a video game or go play with friends.  When the challenging math problem is presented they read it quickly and then declare they do not get it.  They take no time to think through the problem or attempt to solve it, it is the immediate response given when they are forced to think through the problem.  I was opposite of this in school.  I always wanted to make sure I knew every step of the problem.  I wanted to know why and how.  This intense studying I went through was not always because I could relate the content to real life, it was because I was motivated by the grading game.  I needed an A and nothing else would do.  I saw a purpose in this A.  It was going to get me scholarships, college acceptance, more job opportunities and so on.  As an adult taking a class, I still want the A but I now value the experience and content application in a way I never did before.  By content application I mean that I take whatever we are learning and try to apply it to my job or my life on my own instead of waiting for the teacher to do it for me.  I want to understand why and how for reasons other than getting an A.  If only every student could be in the workforce for awhile before going to college.  I think they would look at their college experience in an entirely different way.  I compared myself to my children during this process.  I am completely opposite of my son, the only one of my children who games on a consistent basis.  Give my son a video game and he will take the time to do all kinds of strategizing.  He has now played Kingdom Rush more than I have and he is playing it for pleasure (and he has passed level 3).  He is thinking critically about where to place the towers and how to beat the bad guys so it has been a great experience for him.  My concern is, can he control the amount of time he needs to be in a state of FLOW.  When we were at a family gathering the other day he wanted to leave so he could play the game which just made me sad.  He did not ask if we could play a bored game or do something together while we were all there as a family.  While games are a good learning tool, they are also addictive.

When I think of gaming in the classroom, I believe it is a great option for some, but it is not the right choice for every student.  Some students will have a hard time seeing the point of the game and therefore not give forth much effort.  Even if there are questions or assignments built around the game, I think some students will have trouble making the connection.  I believe gaming could be considered one of today’s learning styles, but as with all learning styles, it not a one size fits all.  My son would love learning from a game in the classroom.  His homework would suddenly become fun.

What digital experience have you had that has resulted in you being in a state of FLOW?  Ask your students if there are games they play or something they do online that causes them to lose all track of time.  Their answers may be inspiration to create a new assignment!

Bringing Students Together in the 21st Century

On Tuesday, October 13th Jared Colley and Joel Garza presented their idea for an interactive and engaging assignment in English that resulted in a new community of students.   The original idea was to host a conference for students to share their work with students from different schools.   This would give them a real audience to deliver the information to and receive feedback from.  After a lot of back and forth, they ended up with a digital solution for the 21st century students.

After their e-mail exchanges, they decided to have all the students read the same texts and communicate with each other through media.  They would ask each other questions, present their ideas and critique each other’s work.   The classes started by communicating through MP3 files but they discovered they did not want to wait so long to hear from one another, and the blog site was born.  The blog site allowed the instructors to post helpful information and pose questions to students in other schools instantly.  What eventually happened is the students took over the blog modeling the instructor behavior.  The results were fantastic.  Students loved having a live audience.  They challenged each other, encouraged each other and felt great pride when students in one of the other schools gave them compliments.  A sports analogy made during the presentation may help to convey this.  In sports, the game allows the players to meet with athletes from other schools to display their talents and recognize their weaknesses.  The collaboration in the English classroom let this same process happen.

In addition to the benefits this experience provided the students, the teachers also made their own discoveries.  The communication among the teachers lead to a much more insightful call for papers than any one of them would have come up with on their own.  They pushed themselves to learn new technologies that today’s students are interested in and some students currently use.  Using these technologies resulted in lessons on digital literacy which is so important for students.  The teachers were also pushed to work through the different anxieties they felt about using technology, comparing their teaching abilities to others, having their students share their work with the world and once they worked through all of this, great things happened.

These types of assignments give students the opportunity to build a network outside of their classroom.  They are challenged in new and exciting ways that fit into their lifestyle.  They are forced to think about digital literacy along during the assignment which they may not have otherwise gotten from the course.  Collaboration and communication like this should not be limited to the English classroom.  During the presentation, teachers were chatting about how to get started.  What ideas do you have?  I posted a couple of links below that I think are a great place to start.

Skype other classrooms: http://www.theedublogger.com/want-to-connect-with-other-classrooms/

Blog other classrooms: http://www.theedublogger.com/check-out-these-class-blogs/

Speak with others in a different language: http://en-us.wespeke.com/language-learners/index.html

Making thoughts a reality, 3D printing

The other day, I received an e-mail from my husband.  E-mail seems to be our main form of communication these days.  This particular e-mail was different from our typical conversations which revolve around our children’s schedules.  In the e-mail, my husband suggested we buy a 3D printer for our children.  I knew immediately that he had not researched the costs involved in purchasing the printer and ink.  Although it is not in our budget to purchase a 3D printer, it did inspire me to read about the benefits of this hefty investment for children.  But first, what is a 3D printer?  A 3D printer allows you to build an idea as an image and then print it as a 3D object.  I have never done it, but my daughter and son created plastic animals while we were vacationing in Chicago.  Pretty cool!

Typically I would continue this blog entry with a story about one of the instructors I work with, however, I am deviating from this because I do not know any instructors who have access to a 3D printer.

In my search for information on 3D printers in education, I came across 3D Printing Systems’ site.  This site is trying to sell a product, however, I found some of the information to be very interesting.  3D printers are more than just cool, they are educational.  I perked up at this comment, “3D printing gives students the unlimited ability to design, test and engineer with hands on exposure to additive manufacturing and gives them an advantage at the dawn of the next revolution in digital manufacturing. Nearly every subject has a potential engagement.”  Think, teachers of multiple different disciplines could build an ongoing project with students around this one piece of equipment.  Students may have to build different parts to a car or to a human body or to a house or… The possibilities are endless.  They would have to use critical thinking skills, math, engineering, biology (when building a body) and more.  I think students would love this and would be so engaged that it wouldn’t feel like work to them.

The Educational and Mobile Learning site lists these benefits:

  • It provides teachers with 3 dimensional visual aids that they can use in their classroom particularly in illustrating a hard to grasp concept
  • 3D printers make it easy for teachers to seize the interest of their students compared to just showing the pictorial representations of objects.
  • It enhances hands-on learning and learning by doing. Using this prototyping  technology, students will be able to produce realistic 3 dimensional mini-models . ( great for engineering, architecture, and multi-media arts students ).
  • It provides more room for interactive class activities. In biology, for instance, teachers can create a 3D model of the human heart, head. skeleten…etc to teach students about the human body.

It is hard to find a down side to using these in the classroom.  On the TechRebulic Trudi Lawless shares her experiences with 3D printers in the classroom.  She is a huge fan, her students love it but she did point out two drawbacks.  The first drawback is the speed. 3D printers are slow, especially if you are teaching in a classroom full of young minds.  The second concern was my first concern when I received the e-mail from my husband, the cost.  The printer itself carries a hefty price tag, but the ongoing cost of the ink needs to be taken into consideration too.

How are you using a 3D printer in your classroom?  Please share your experiences with us.  For those who are looking to add a 3D printer to the classroom, or for those parents who want to advocate for it, what suggestions do you have for funding?

Tweeting in the classroom, are you kidding?

No, I am not kidding.  While taking classes at UNI, my eyes have been opened to the possibilities social media offers the higher education classroom.  I know some of the instructors I work with have already started to embrace this semi new world of social media in education.  Lisa Williams at Kirkwood Community College connects with her student via Facebook.  In her opinion, the students are already there so why not give them the important information from her class on that site.  I agree that a closed Facebook group is a great way to communicate due date reminders and other announcements with today’s students, but I think we could be doing so much more.  Why not tweet with students and challenge them to tweet with each other?  Tweeting makes students really think about what is important in their message because the character number is very limited.  Help them build critical thinking skills, technology skills and a sense of community all with a social media platform that so many of them are already using for non educational reasons.   The faculty focus blog I was recently reading encourages instructors to integrate social media into their teaching.  I like how the blog points out that social media can go beyond just posting announcements.  It is truly an opportunity to build relationships and build a stronger community, between faculty and students and between the students themselves.

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Here is a fun little fact.  Did you know companies like KFC do not read through thousands of essays anymore to decide who is going to receive their scholarships?  Heck no!  It just takes one tweet to earn cash for college!  CNN covered the story.  By the time your students graduate, how many of them do you think will apply for at least one job that will require some kind of tweet, maybe even a resume posted to twitter?

photo: flickr.com

Whiteboards gone digital!

I am lucky to be surrounded by amazing educators everyday.  When I was thinking about starting this blog, I thought about all the different things the instructors I know do in the classroom to engage student and increase student success.  I want to keep a record of all of these stories and share them with others, and so it here it is, my very first blog.

Recently, I was at Hawkeye Community and I met with fellow blogger (I’m not sure I can say that yet) Cherie Dargan.  I asked her what apps she likes to use to prepare for class or use in the classroom.  One of the apps she mentioned was a whiteboard app called Educreations.  I logged into one of her courses to see how she is using the app.  She was able to do a voice over as she showed different documents/slides.  In one of her first lessons, she walked students through the assignments and expectations for the course.  You could tell she was excited about some of the content which made it engaging.  She hit on topics students would find interesting – distracted driving and cell phones, I am pretty sure many students can relate to this!  This was a great way to make sure students are well aware of her expectations.  They can refer back to this at any point to make sure they are on task.

Educreations offers many free features but did recently start charging for some.  The free version allows you to record audio, write with different colors like you are using a whiteboard, add a picture and more.  I personally found it extremely easy to use.  My favorite feature was the ability to use my finger and pull an image while recording to animate the image.  Beginner’s tutorial:

I live in the higher education world, but for any of you who teach in K – 12, I read a story I loved!  Instructors are using this to record little math lessons to teach the parents.  Here is what happened at my house last year: my children come home and pulled out their math.  We hashed through it and got it done even though they said it was not done the way the teacher did it.  To us, that was okay, they had the right answer and they knew how they got it.  But then, the paper came back with zero credit. The way they were learning was foreign to me so a quick video of the lesson would have been priceless!  Click here for the story.

Please share how you use this in your course or how you think you might use it now that you have discovered it!