In case you missed it, we Storified all the amazing tweets, images and sheer joy coming out of Vermont schools yesterday for Day 3 of Computer Science Education Week’s Hour of Code project.
Over on Storify, we’re covering the amazing kick-off for the Hour of Code statewide. More than 113 Vermont schools are participating in the national initiative to provide students with at least one hour of computer coding instruction the week of Dec 9-15th.
And for everyone looking for a way to continue on with their newfound skills, don’t forget to sign up for the 2014 Code Camp mailing list.
In November, tem students from Edmunds Middle School took part in the First Lego League Robotics competition. Here, team member Cortina explains the competition process, and how the team fared at the contest.
To read more about this amazing endeavor, read robotics coach (and BSD technologist) Kevin Grace’s blog entry over at the Burlington School District’s Middle Grades eLearning blog.
…a 1-minute iPad how-to from Harwood Union Middle School science educator Brian Wagner, showing you how to save augmented reality “auras” from the popular mobile app Aurasma, to Evernote.
Wagner used Aurasma with his students this past spring in creating an augmented reality periodic table, mounted in the community gallery space at their school.
When last we left our trusty Edmunds Explorers, they had just defeated a horde of geometry-loving aliens who’d invaded the school, demanding triangles, circles and trapezoids. After that adventure, the two classes of 6th graders took to the streets of Burlington. Lake Street, to be precise, which led them down to the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center and the scene of their next big ARIS adventure.
ARIS stands for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling, and it’s an open-source platform published by the University of Wisconsin to allow K-12 students to design and create their own place-based games for the iOS mobile platform. Museums across the country are starting to incorporate augmented reality to make visitors’ experiences more in-depth and authentic; where once students might’ve simply read a plaque about the lives of fur traders at the Minnesota Historical Society, now they have a chance to play the role of one, working through some of the challenges and hardships the life presented in order to advance through the tour.
And where Minnesota has fur traders, the Echo Center has frogs.
Vinnie is a native Vermont bullfrog whose life and habits were drawn directly from Echo Center exhibits by Burlington School District technology information specialists and TIIE to form the short ARIS game “Frogworld”.
Students worked their way through the Frogworld game by gleaning information from plaques in Echo’s Frogworld exhibit. They also documented resources from the Echo Center exhibits for later use in their own games. Echo Center staff also got into the act. Executive director Phelan Fretz used ARIS’ Notebook feature to contribute his own frog to the Frogworld game, then spent lunch taking suggestions from students as to what kinds of behind-the-scenes information Echo could provide to support students’ own ARIS games.
ARIS is one of a number of augmented reality platforms the Echo Center is piloting with local schools.
Edmunds is incorporating ARIS into a yearlong place-based unit examining the Lake Champlain basin through environmental, cultural, historic and opportunity lenses. The Echo Center hopes to make the local 6th graders’ ARIS games available to visitors as part of the museum tour when they’re completed.
(Special thanks to the UVM College of Education and Social Services for their support of this project. )
First up: Mr. Betts, who in addition to sporting a terrible British accent and pretending to fling tea all over Boston and recording a history of Halloween traditions (You Don’t Know Jack (o’Lanterns)) made this terrifying earworm of a video about 17th century economists. Yes, set to the tune of “What Does the Fox Say?” it’s “What Does John Locke Say?”
Don’t click the link. Don’t do it. You will never get that song out of your head.
Second, we have these students, see, who thought they were being interviewed for a graduation video. Well, they were. But what they didn’t realize is that in every interview, their teachers at Ogden High, in Ogden, Utah, were dancing up a storm behind them.
Well played, teachers.
And lastly, this chemistry teacher raps over a Rick Ross beat to get his students into stoichiometry (which I just had to go look up, so there’s another brain moved by this video).
So. What other things are educators getting up to on YouTube?
Following up on our intro to ARIS with geometry last Friday, this morning the 6th graders from Edmunds Middle School spent some time at the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center working through “Frogworld”, a demo ARIS game that made use of items at the Echo Center. After they played the game, they spent some time with the rest of the (non-frog) exhibits, collecting ideas for items they could incorporate into their own games.
We’re back at it tomorrow at Echo with another class of 6th graders. More news as it develops.
Pop quiz, hotshot. What do geometry, aliens and the augmented reality gaming platform all have in common?
A: All were spotted last Friday at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington.
As part of a unit on exploring place, educators Laura Botte and Katie Wyndorf are having their students work with the free iOS app ARIS, an open-source game-creation platform. To kick things off, they collaborated with Angelique Fairbrother, technology coordinator for Franklin West SU, in bringing an introductory ARIS game into Edmunds’ classrooms. And out into the hallways. Also sometimes under the desks and on top of the lockers.
The two classes of 6th graders played “Shape Invaders”, a game where aliens ask for help with geometry. Students had to locate and scan QR codes scattered around the school, using them to collect various shapes. In order to keep the aliens happy, students then calculated the perimeter and area of each shape.
Students worked in teams to solve the clues necessary to come up with the area and perimeter of each shape — skills not usually encountered in 6th grade math. With a little help and a whole lot of persistence, the aliens were appeased and the students got an introduction to the ARIS platform.
Next week, the Edmunds students will be heading to the Echo Lake Aquarium and Science Center to build their own ARIS games around the themes of culture, ecology, history and sustainability.
ARIS stands for Augmented Reality Interactive Storytelling, and is designed to be an easy entrypoint for students to design games incorporating video, audio and character-driven activities that tell stories by moving players through a landscape or incorporating place-based activities. Last year, the Tarrant Institute created an ARIS game for Vermont students to collect book trailers for the DCF 2013 books.
We can’t wait to see what games the Edmunds students build with Echo’s resources! Stay tuned for further updates.
(ps. A huge thank you to UVM’s College of Education and Social Services for lending Edmunds additional iPads for game play.)
Welcome to our new twice-monthly column highlighting best practices for digital middle schools from a leadership perspective. Twice a month, Tarrant Institute director Penny Bishop and associate director John Downes will share their insight into what they’ve seen make a lasting and profound difference in technology integration with 21st century middle schools.
In this first installment of a 2-part column, they’ll address a critical but often under-addressed component of a successful digital middle school: the family.
As schools adapt to the digital age and integrate Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs, interactive whiteboards, handheld devices, and 1:1 computing and learning management systems, classrooms have begun to look less and less like those in which most of today’s parents were educated. Generations of parents have struggled to support their child’s learning; today’s parents face even steeper challenges.
How can educators capitalize on the promise of technology and engage families in new and better ways? What does it mean to increase family engagement in the digital age?
Across the many increasingly hi-tech schools we’ve examined, teachers are answering these questions with exciting new family engagement strategies.
In this installment, we’ll look at two: creating “trans-parent” classrooms, and supplementary guides.
One team we know is launching a blog to showcase technology-rich work that students post daily from the classroom. The team will ask trusted parents to seed the blog with thoughtful and supportive comments, providing students with a new and respected audience for their schoolwork and modeling constructive and civil online dialog. At the same time, the blog offers families a window into the work of a 21st century team, demystifying the novel opportunities granted by current technologies and sparking rich conversations about technology and learning.
Many teams use Google Forms or other online survey tools to probe parents about the successes and challenges of 1:1 learning at home. Teams poll families on the relative importance of various parenting issues — monitoring use of social media, encouraging healthy online identities, for instance — and can get instant feedback for analysis and integration into their lesson plans and classroom communities.
Much as the middle school movement has encouraged student voice to enhance the relevance of curriculum, teachers can use parent input to inform their family information nights, and the ongoing development of their online parent resources.
Teachers can guide parents toward helpful tools and strategies to navigate this digital age. Team newsletters, portal resources and parent events can all promote family conversations about current issues facing students in their complex online worlds.
Some teachers link parents to ready-made resources like those hosted by Common Sense Media, such as parenting tip sheets or advice videos. But rather than flooding parents with information, skilled teams curate these resources and steer families to those that most directly address their concerns.
Some teams also provide families with templates for home media use agreements that foster parent-child conversations — and ultimately written agreements — about online safety, social media behavior and balancing media use with other aspects of life.
When families participate in take-home 1:1 programs, these agreements can dictate privacy settings, expectations for the “care and feeding” of their school-issued device, and shape when and how long a child can be online. Teams can require that students return a copy of their signed home-use agreement, along with a video interview with the family about their agreement, thereby ensuring these critical conversations take place. They may assign semi-annual updates to the home agreements, pushing families toward ongoing and constructive dialog about technology in family life. These practices acknowledge the powerful influence technology has in homes today, its centrality to powerful learning in and out of school, and the new challenges confronting the vital home-school connection.
Next time: making parents partners in teaching, and the crucial role of volunteering, as our look at 21st century family involvement continues.
Penny Bishop is the director of the Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education and a professor of middle-level education in the College of Education and Social Services at UVM. John Downes is the associate director of the Tarrant Institute and a member of the Partnership for Change board.
Lillian Coletta and Leah Green, two pre-service teachers at UVM, have created an amazingly comprehensive Google site for middle-level math educators: https://sites.google.com/site/8thgradeccssresources/
Each resource corresponds to an 8th grade Common Core standard, and they’d love feedback on their site, especially from any teachers who incorporate some of the resources into their classroom.
A big thank-you to the two of them for being so willing to share their work!