Category Archives: Technology

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.  


What can Technology do to Empower our Students?

Watch this eight minute TED talk  about how young learners are using digital tools to change the world and what schools need to do to empower students.  The takeaway quote from Scott McLeod is this:

“We have to give them something meaningful to work on.  Give them powerful devices and access.  Get out of their way, and let them be amazing.”

Gearing Up for Innovation Nation

gears

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.

How to Moodle… Just Ask Us

If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  howtomoodle

How To Moodle is a company that provides training for schools and teachers using Moodle as their classroom website.  They have decided to make available for free their Moodlemanualmanual on using the latest version of Moodle.  If you’re the type of person who likes to have a manual to refer to this is the Moodle resource for you.  The manual is useful with all versions of Moodle, but WUSD will  hopefully have the latest version of Moodle up and running soon at your school.

To download the manual click here, you can also find it on the WUSD Tech Resources page under the LMS section.  It’s in pdf format so you can refer to it as an eBook in electronic format.  Before you click the link and push print, be forewarned that the manual is 162 pages.  Below is a screenshot from the manual on the Moodle Quiz Activity:

quizactivity

Troubleshooting with 4 A’s

Schools everywhere are acquiring more and more technology with the goal to benefit teaching and learning.  Unfortunately, experiencing technical difficulties from time to time is inevitable. Good things can also come from these, sometimes frustrating technical problems.  Troubleshooting is a skill that in this day and age everyone should be prepared to handle, regardless of their level of expertise.  Teacher and students will become technology independent and more tech savvy, but the greatest benefit is the critical thinking and problem solving skills that the student will acquire.

There are two things to remember about troubleshooting:

  • The goal is not necessarily to”fix” the problem. If you can’t find the solution, that is okay! Sometime even the “expert” wont have a solution.  Instead focus on how you as a teacher, can use this problem solving process to publicly exhibit how your students analyze information, draw conclusions, take action, and evaluate by reflecting on the outcome.
  • Don’t think of troubleshooting as a technical term, think of it as a logical procedure.

Following the  4 A’s below will help guide you and your students through the troubleshooting process.

troubleshooting diagram

  1. ATTITUDE- The most important and most difficult step to when troubleshooting is having a positive attitude.  Your attitude will determine how you control the situation.  Having a positive attitude will also increase your chances of success.
  2. ASK – Stop, think, and ask questions.  Ask yourself and your students what happened and why it happened. The more questions you ask, the more in-depth diagnosis you will generate.
  3. ANSWER – Answer the questions you asked yourself and your students.  Let your student generate assumptions and evaluate the information.  From here, you can proceed with the process of elimination to narrow down the problem.
  4. ACTION – Use your and your students’ intuition to take action(s) to resolve the problem.

If the problem is fixed, you and your students will have saved the day!  If the problem is not fixed, do not get discouraged. Reflect on the outcome , ask more questions, and try again.  If after a few tries, the problem is not fix, don’t panic. Remind yourself and your students that some problems are harder to fix than others.  Effort and what was learned from the process is the most important lesson.  If you need to seek for additional help from tech support, try to stay involved so you collaboratively fix the problem.

The more practice, the more effective and successful you and your students will become. So next time your having technical difficulties, instead of having the “expert” work their “magic” and save the day, let your students be your heroes!

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)

Common Core Math Resources (Free of Charge)

It’s tough to know where to start when looking for Math resources online- there is so much good stuff out there. It’s even more difficult to know where to start when looking for math resources that are aligned to and address the common core standards. This list of math resources has been compiled by http://www.ccedtech.com to specifically help get a handle on Common Core. I’ve added a few more resources to their list. Here they are:

The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives: This site is developed by Utah State University to support K-12. It includes plenty of online exercises.

Inside Math (videos and lessons): A resource for math educators that you should be familiar with.

Interactivate– Common Core Aligned Lessons:  A collection of digital interactive resources aligned to common core math.  Similar to NSDL below.

Learn Zillion – Common Core Aligned Lessons: Video tutorials, guided practice, and lesson plan downloads for teachers.  Read the TechReadyTeam post here.

Opus Math Problem Bank:  This is a search engine to find math problems aligned to common core.  It focuses on 7th and 8th grade.

Eureka Math– Common Core Math Maps: This is a pay site that has a free preview of their digital common core curriculum for grades K, 3, 6, and 9.

National Science Digital Library: Browse the Common Core Math Standards and find plenty of digital resources associated with key learning goals.

Math Video Sites:

Teaching Channel
Numberphile
SEDL
Mathalicious

I think you will find these sites a great help if you take a few minutes to look at them.

Capture

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!