MiddSouth Innovates Issue #4

I apologize about forgetting to post our end of the year MiddSouth Innovates. One of the best parts about my new role as Educational Technology Specialist is going into classrooms all over the school and seeing how technology is being used. In this issue, I had a chance to join one of our math teachers in an Algebra I lesson using Desmos. In the last 2 years, Desmos has moved from simply being an online graphing calculator to a full activity hub for math teachers. As you will see below, this math teacher runs the entire lesson from Desmos using direct instruction, individualized feedback, and both individual and group responses. I was really impressed with both the lesson and tech application.

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MiddSouth Innovates Issue #3: The Hour Of Code

National Computer Science Week is upon us (December 4-10) which means it is time for the Hour Of Code!! I absolutely love the activities they have developed to get students solving complex problems. That’s right! Coding isn’t about typing words on a page. It is about figuring out how to put together a puzzle when you don’t know what the puzzle looks like. For the past couple of weeks, my students have been tackling simple and complex coding HW in an attempt to expose them to both Scratch and Python. First, they had to animate their name using Scratch. Now they are drawing snowflakes with Raspberry Pi Foundation.

I created the following Smore to remind my staff about the Hour Of Code. We are going to setup stations in our Media Center for students to participate, and have Certificates and 3D Printed badges for anyone who completes the full hour. Enjoy the Smore and check out #middsouthinnovates for pictures from our activities.MiddSouth Innovates 3

MiddSouth Innovates Issue #2

Innovation (noun): a new method, idea, product, etc.

The first issue of MiddSouth Innovates (#middsouthinnovates) was a success! We had 293 views from 23 unique locations on 3 continents!! At least 1 member of every department in my school made a comment about something they saw in newsletter which definitely shows it is having an impact. So on to Issue #2:

The more I discuss ideas with Educators, the more I realize that innovation is relative. Being innovative is not a thing–it’s a mindset. It’s about waking up and saying ‘Today I will try something in my classroom that I have never done before.’ Maybe it will be with technology, maybe it will be with classroom management. Whatever you choose to do, it is about trying to improve. So, in this issue I highlight a physical modeling technique that one of our Chemistry teachers was super excited about, and the website Smore which is what I use to make the MiddSouth Innovates newsletter. Enjoy!

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MiddSouth Innovates Issue #1

“If you don’t tell your story, someone else will”–Dylan Klempner

I would like to introduce the first issue of MiddSouth Innovates–my way of sharing innovative practices with my colleagues. As you will see below, I found that smore.com offered the most visually appealing and easily accessible method for sharing these resources. My goal is to send out an issue every other week. This will allow me to collect lesson resources for/from my colleagues and share items that they deem relevant as opposed to ones I feel are important. I hope you enjoy Issue #1. Feedback is always encouraged and welcomed!


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[Note: I apologize for the screenshot and a link. Apparently I can’t embed smore code on a WordPress site because it isn’t whitelisted. Looked great in the editor and then converts it to a link when published.]

Making My First Lightboard

I have tried using If This Then That (IFTTT) several times before and it always seems to fail me. Below is an example of one of those times. I setup an IFTTT to post here when a certain hashtag is used on my Instagram. Apparently, it doesn’t post the picture, just the text, and only in Drafts. I finally found a few minutes to update the blog so here is something from the summer.

So excited to finally get the glass for my light board! Found someone offering a free glass top to a table and I repurposed some LED lights from Ikea. Now I need to build the frame and figure out how to keep it upright.

For those who have never seen this, basically it is a whiteboard where you replace the whiteboard with a piece of glass. A webcam is is setup opposite the teacher to record the lesson and the video is flipped 180° in a video editing software.

The purpose of this is to help teachers make more dynamic instructional videos for their classes. Hopefully this will also help others want to make the leap into Flipping their classes.

Here is a video that explains this more.

#makered #SummerofMaking #makerdads #flipclass #flippedlearning #ifttt

Step 1: Buy the kit

When I first started teaching, I was fortunate to walk into a fully stocked Chemistry classroom. It was a Chemistry teacher’s dream room. Problem was I didn’t know how to use the stuff. Well, I mean I had a degree in Chemistry so I knew how to physically use everything; I didn’t know why I should be using it.

So, I went to the catalog and ordered some kits.

The kits have it all: lab manuals (teacher and student copies), everything pre-measured, all the right equipment, and expected results. Now I just had to photocopy everything (yes, I used to use paper. A LOT!!) and the lab would run itself.

Now that I had experience to guide me, I knew everything I needed for the lab. I found cheaper ways to buy the chemicals, I reused equipment from the kit, and I rewrote the lab sheet to make it work better for my classroom.

The best advice I can give anyone just starting out in teaching or teaching a class they have never bought before: buy the kit first. Let someone else do all the prep work so you can make the activity as meaningful as possible. Then go about making it your own.

Short, concise, and to the point

I’ve mentioned before that I always have trouble finishing blog posts because I can never find that great ending. That one piece of advice that I want you to take away from my story. I have 16 drafts of posts from random ideas currently waiting for that amazing ending. But they aren’t getting finished. If I don’t complete the thought and hit PUBLISH, I’ve lost all momentum.

I starting listening to The Way I Heard It, a podcast by Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame. The tagline is “The only podcast for the curious mind, with a short attention span.” And that was it! Not only was I hooked, but I figured out what my problem is. I expect too much of my writing.

So, posts here will be whatever pops in my head. Sometimes they will be long rants. Sometimes they will be random musings. Sometimes, they might just be a picture with a caption. Like I tell my students: be short, concise, and to the point with your ideas.