Category Archives: STEM

Using infographics for STEM: Part 2

In our last segment on Infographics for STEM, we looked at:

  • what infographics are,
  • why they are so popular now,
  • and what they look like in a classroom.

In this segment, we will look at:

  • more examples of infographics in STEM lessons, including interactive infographics
  • how to use infographics in your classroom
  • professional development opportunities
 

What does an infographic look like in a classroom?

(If you are viewing this on a mobile device, you may need to click on the images to enlarge them)
In this screenshot, you can see that we are in the infographic lesson for the Solar Energy Unit of our Energy Resources STEM project.  Just as good readers make predictions before they read novels, good readers of infographics scan the text and make predictions.  Since we want to make students aware of their metacognition, we ask them questions about what clues they used.
 
Look at the Math concept displayed and think of a question that would fit your grade level.  For instance, in this example, I know that this grade level works to the 10,000s place.  I selected the two numbers on the page that stay within that range.
 
Double dip.  How many Math concepts can you cover with one image?  Common Core, PARCC, and Smarter Balanced all work with progressive questions that build on each other.  Don’t be afraid to put multiple questions on one page.
 

What is an interactive infographic?

 
In interactive infographic is an infographic that can be manipulated in some way.  Sometimes, just hovering over a section of the image creates a pop-up.  Sometimes, it is hyperlinked to more data.  Let’s take a look at an interactive infographic here.  Click on the picture below and explore for a few minutes.
  1. Take a moment to look around the infographic.  It helps if you look in a clockwise motion, starting with the top left corner.  What information will this infographic give you?
  2. Scan your eyes to the top right corner.  What is pictured there?  
  3. Continue to the bottom right corner.  What picture is there?  What information will be there?
  4. Follow this pattern to the bottom left corner.  What can you expect to see there?
  5. Finally, direct your eyes to the middle of the infographic.  What does it say to do next?  
  6. What happened when you clicked one of the circles?
 
Spend some time with the infographic before you use it with students.  What information do you want them to learn?  Don’t be afraid to bring English Language Arts into the conversation too.  In the example above, I used the infographic to reinforce the ELA concept of Greek roots and affixes.  
 
You can still incorporate Math concepts in an interactive infographic.  You may need to take a screenshot of the infographic to really highlight that section.  In this example, I used the same screenshot for three math questions.  
 

How do I teach my students to “read” infographics?

It has been said that “a picture is worth a thousand words”.  Even if you are not labeled a “visual learner”, you have been using your eyes to make sense of the world since infancy.  Fortunately, there are strategies to harness that instinct.  Just as young readers are taught directly how to read a book, 21st century students need to be taught directly how to “read” visual text.
 
http://www.ideasforeducators.com/idea-blog/teaching-students-how-to-read-infographics

Students don’t have to “read” infographics on a computer.  You can print them.  In fact, by printing them and placing them in a page protector, your students can interact with the infographic even more.  I LOVE the ideas presented in this article on IdeasForEducators.com.  

 

  • Place a star next to the very first thing that catches your eye.
  • Place a circle around the one word that best describes the topic.
  • Place a square around important quantitative information
  • Draw an arrow to point out the best graphic that helped you to understand the topic.
  • Put a smiley face next to the data source.
  • Draw an arrow showing the best pathway to follow to read all of the important information.

As students become more adept at reading infographics, you can prompt to respond to 6 common questions in a journal or online text:

6 questions

  1. who
  2. what
  3. when
  4. where
  5. why
  6. how

 

Finally, students should reach a deep level of analysis.


  Ask students to find and analyze an infographic. They should be able to answer the critical thinking questions:


·         Does the infographic cite their sources? and, Are the sources reputable?


·         Is the data relevant?


·         How old is the data?


·         Is there an angle or bias coming through?


·         What is the motive of the organization, person, or group that created the infographic? Is it to educate, entertain, or sell something?


·         Are you being manipulated through the text, colors or graphics?


·         Does the infographic represent an accurate outline of the data?


Where can I learn more about this?

Since visual text is becoming more and more prevalent, professional development opportunities
exist to help teachers.  
 

 

 
 Visual Thinking Strategies offers professional development on how to analyze works of art and other visual text.  With the rise of infographics, there has been an insurgence of webinars on the topic.  You can search directly for infographic webinars.  If you are ready to create your own infographic, you can search YouTube for infographic tutorials.  


Gearing Up for Innovation Nation

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The district-wide Innovation Nation STEM festival  is only one month away and we’re starting to gear up.

You’ll be hearing more and more about the Innovation Nation as it gets closer.

I’ve got some great news to share with you about the events taking place on May 14th.

  • Currently we have fifteen (15) outside presenters confirmed with a half-dozen others tentatively confirmed.  See the poster below to see some of the people coming.  We will also have 15 WUSD interactive student presentations.
  • Cradleboard Elementary has donated STEM-related prizes to be used for student prizes during Innovation Nation.  Thank-you Mr. Tom Shafer.
  • The WMAT Education Department JOM program has come through with 100 Papa John’s Pizzas for the winners of the Innovation Nation Contest held at each school.
  • The John Hopkins NARCH Youth fund has come through with $900 in student incentives which we plan to use to purchase:
    • $20 Walmart Gift Cards for the teachers whose classes win the school contest and participate in Innovation Nation.  To be used for classroom supplies
    • STEM-related prizes for students to award the winners of the two engineering/math challenge contests that we hold during the Innovation Nation Event.
    • STEM-related raffle prizes to be raffled off every thirty minutes starting at 2:30.  All these prizes are geared towards children.

It would be great if we can encourage as many students to be there as possible.  We’ve been blessed with lots of student incentives and we would love to have lots of student participation.

Here’s what the tentative schedule will look like on May 14th.

schedule

 

STEM poster3

 

 

Why STEM Projects Work

As the Tech Ready Team has been working on building STEM projects this year, I’ve had a chance to see how these projects are working in the classroom and the great opportunities that these projects are opening up across our district.

The slideshow below is part description, part reflection on the ways they’ve been successful, and part vision of how they could be expanded.  Take a look at it.

Innovation Nation: A STEM Festival

Ination poster

Click the picture to download the poster in pdf format. Print on legal size paper.

The rest of the country has set their clocks forward, Spring is around the corner, and it’s time for a STEM festival.
On Wednesday, May 14th, the Chief Alchesay Activity Center will be host to Innovation Nation.

This event has been designed to bring awareness of STEM opportunities to the White Mountain Apache Nation as well as spotlight student STEM projects in the Whiteriver School District.

Booths will be set up from private companies, STEM organizations, Universities, and Government Agencies that will highlight innovation, new ideas, and creativity.

Winners of school contests at each school will be presenting their projects at the festivals.   During the event students, community members, and teachers will receive tickets for participating in activities at the various booths.  Participants can use the tickets they earn to “purchase” food at the event.

Students can participate and win prizes at various engineering and math problem solving competitions during the event.

What Can Teacher’s Do to Participate?

1) Advertise it to your students.

You can download the Innovation Nation Poster here.  Make sure to print the poster out on legal size paper.

2) Participate in the Class Innovation Contest at your School.

Winning classes will receive a pizza party, and we’re also working on prizes for winning teachers.  Contact your STEM curriculum developer or principal for information about the deadline for this contest at your school.  You can download a flyer for this competition here.

3) Attend for Professional Development hours on Wednesday, May 14th.

You’ll receive more information about how to register in mylearningplan.com to receive PD hours for attending.

4) Volunteer to help.

If you’re interested in volunteering to setup, hold student contests, or clean up, please email me: bgoode@wusd.us

Innovation Nation Contest

Click the Image above to download a pdf version of this flyer.

What Does Common Core have to do with Project-based Learning (PBL)?

What is PBL?You might be surprised to learn that there is a direct connection between preparing your students for Common Core and the PARCC exam and using project-based learning in your classroom.  Project-based learning is a great tool to have in your teacher toolkit as you make plans and efforts to prepare your students for the deeper thinking and higher difficulty of the Common Core Standards.

The new standards aim to prepare students for college and career readiness.  Project-based learning (PBL) is a great way to prepare students for Common Core because it emphasizes significant content and real-world outcomes.

Consider the following quote from David Ross, director of professional development for the Buck Institute for Education.

Everyone knows that content is king and Common Core wears the crown. Significant content is one of our eight Essential Elements of PBL. Make an easy connection: Significant Content=Common Core.  Now let’s use a shorter word. When designing a rigorous, relevant, and engaging project, Common Core is the “what.” But what about the “how?” In our minds the answer is obvious: PBL is the solution for Common Core implementation. PBL is the “how.”

 Of course, we realize that PBL is not the only way to help students master these new standards. As states move toward implementation of the Common Core, however, more and more schools and districts are focusing on PBL as their go-to instructional strategy to prepare students for deeper thinking. Next-generation assessments aligned to the new standards (still in development at this writing) are expected to emphasize application of knowledge rather than recall of facts. Here, too, we find common ground with PBL, in which students demonstrate and share what they know or can do through performance assessments. For PBL veterans, student demonstrations of learning are not new at all. They’re an essential element of every project.

 Common Core Standards for English Language Arts include tasks that are very familiar to people who know PBL:

“Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions”

“Prepare for and participate effectively in a range of conversations and collaborations with diverse partners”

“Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others”

“Conduct short research projects to answer a question (including a self-generated question)”

Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice also echo PBL best practices. The math standards set expectations for students to do real-world problem solving, use mathematical modeling, apply statistical analysis, and communicate their understanding. “Mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know Loading…to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace,” according to the Standards of Mathematical Practice. Such applications naturally have a place within high-quality projects that ask students to use mathematics concepts and procedures in authentic contexts.  (Excerpted from the book PBL for 21st Century Success: Teaching Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Communication, and Creativity, published by the Buck Institute for Education, 2013)

doonlinecoursesIn the Whiteriver School District, the Tech Ready Grant is currently developing STEM lesson plans for every grade-level that implement Common Core standards.

These units are structured around Science, but also include Math and ELA Common Core standards as well as digital PARCC-type questions in the units.  The Science and Technology elements of the units are used to engage students as well as fulfill the need for informational text required by the ELA standards.

These units are being developed to give WUSD teachers access to PBL units aligned to their curriculum and resources without having to develop them from scratch.  Teachers will be given complete access to the units so that once they are implemented they will be able to make changes, extensions, and additions to the STEM units.

You can access the units that are being developed here.
Use the following login to explore the units:
(Username: wusdteacher  password: pass123)

Troubleshooting Guide for Dell Latitude Tablets

The first phase of the tablet deployment is underway.  Many students have completed a required online technology orientation, in which they have learned the basic operations of the device, their responsibilities and digital citizenship.

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Teachers have also received training and in class support.  Many have already started using the devices to support instruction.  During this second phase of deployment, we have learned a few lessons  have caused trouble for teachers and students. The Tech Ready Team has created a troubleshooting guide to help with the most common technology glitches and difficulties. You can download the Tablet Troubleshooting Solutions guide for your convenience.

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Teachers are not the only ones that are learning how find solutions to technology difficulties.  Students are also learning to become excellent problem solvers and eager to help each other by showing off their troubleshooting skills.

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Challenges and technical difficulties are inevitable, especially when using new technology, but providing teacher support and finding solutions is a critical factor for success.  A BIG thank you to all the WUSD teachers for their participation and dedication!

ChronoZoom by Microsoft

Finally, an online timeline resource that is worth posting about. ChronoZoom is free, easy-to-use, and open source. While it looks a lot like Windows 8 (and a lot like Prezi) it is really much easier to use. After creating an account or just logging in with your Google account, you can start creating or adding to timelines that already exist. Below is a screenshot of a timeline in progress on the Earth and Solar System.

Additionally, the help guides that come with the site are actually…helpful. Thank you, Microsoft. And because the project is open-source, users have the options of adding their own timelines or modifying existing ones. If you are super hardcore, you can get into development.

WP post

This is a great resource for class projects in all subjects – small group or individual. Start creating today!

There’s an app for that- Whiteriver Teacher Tool

With the goal of trying to make technology resources easier for teachers to access, I’ve created a web app that can be downloaded on your smartphone or tablet.

If you have access to a smartphone or tablet, simply open a browser and find your way to http://wusd.app.appery.io or scan the QR code below.

QRcode

What’s in the app?

The app consists of 3 parts: Home, Resources, and Get Help.
The Home screen provides quick access to the WUSD Calendar, Your Classroom LMS, and Web Mail as well as an explanation of the purpose of the app.

home        About

On the Resources Screen you will find links to the tech ready team blog, the new STEM units that are currently being created, the curriculum maps,Resources as well as a link to the My Learning Plan website.  On the bottom of the Resources Screen you can swipe across to access the different WUSD Social Media:  WUSD Facebook, Tech Ready Facebook, and the Tech Dog Twitter Page.

Probably the most useful portion of the app is the Get Help page.  This page gives you the option to report a computer or network problem and turn in a ticket to the help desk via an online form.  In addition there is a form for requesting help with technology integration issues which I will receive.  At the bottom of the page is the link to the technology resources page on www.wusd.us where you can find answers to your technology questions.

Gethelp

How do I get the app on my device?

It’s very simple to place this app on your device or tablet.  Simply navigate to the site mentioned above http://wusd.app.appery.io.  Once you have the app open in your browser you can add this web app to the home screen of your device by finding the “Add to Home Screen” icon.  When you open this app directly from your home screen you will notice that it is no longer running inside a browser, but as a separate app.

You can teach your kids to be a maker, a creator, or an innovator with the Hour of Code

Would you like to introduce your students to the concept of programming computers?  Do you and your students not have any background in computer programming?  The Hour of Code is an initiative that enables you to introduce your students to programming concepts even if your students are absolute beginners.  Below is a promotional video.

This week is national Computer Science Education Week and you will see a link to the Hour of Code on google.com underneath the search box.  the  Hour of Code is an initiative to get 10 million students introduced to writing computer code.

How do I do it?


There is a website (code.org/educate/hoc) where there are currently 30 tutorials available to teachers to use with beginning students kindergarten through 12th grade.
You can participate in some of the tutorials without any access to computers.

However, the easiest way to get started is to look at the site, pick an online tutorial, and have your students work in groups with computers or tablets in your classroom, or take your students to a computer lab.

Tech Ready Team Presentation

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The Tech Ready Team recently took the show on the road and presented at the MEGA Conference on November 19th.trtmc
The theme of the conference was Spark Innovation. The presentation outlined the WUSD strategies of preparing our students for PARCC by:

  1. First preparing teachers to teach with mobile devices in order to address the AZ College and Career Readiness Standards.
  2. Creating STEM units that integrate Project-based Learning as well as mobile devices K-12.

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You can check out the powerpoint presentation on the web here: trtmegaconference