Thursday, January 26, 2017

Google and O365 Forms Comparison from TCEA

Sometimes districts feel the need to be an either/or district when it comes to technology; however, Google and O365 play nicely together.  You can harness tools from both great platforms. Miguel Guhlin at TCEA wrote an article on Forms comparison between Microsoft and Google.  Take a minute to read his article at http://www.tcea.org/blog/forms-smackdown/ to find out how the two compare.


Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Making of a MakerSpace #4

In keeping with our Makerspace theme, I wanted to share TOONTASTIC 3D with you!  Thank you to Lori Gracey from TCEA for sharing the free story-telling app from Google available for iOS and Android.  Making in the virtual realm gets students thinking, too!  The free app allows students to create their own animations using the app's characters or by drawing their own.  The app even suggests plot structure to the student-producer.  In addition to story writing, the scenarios include a science report that walks students through the scientific method.  I don't know about you, but I would have loved to explain my findings in my own video production!

Here's what it looks like:





Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Making of a MakerSpace #3

From cardboard contraptions to physics-based apps...the act of building something ignites a spark in even the most reluctant learners.  We will eventually be looking at full Makerspaces that are not content specific, but I thought we'd start in the content areas.  You teach specific concepts, and any making your students do needs to tie directly to those standards.  Making is so easily associated with STEM classes, but what do you do if you teach Language Arts?  Rather than give you ideas from books, I want to connect you with real teachers who hacked traditional learning in ELA.

  • Check out 10th grade English Literary Architecture inspired by Matteo Pericoli's Laboratory of Literary Architecture. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Making of a MakerSpace #2

After participating in a recent TCEA webinar on Makerspaces with Peggy Reimers, I left with six big questions you should ask when you start planning a makerspace.



  • What money is available? (Don't worry!  Makerspaces can be done without $$.)
  • Who is your audience?
  • What experts can you utilize?
  • What is your physical space like?
  • How will you manage it?
  • How will you showcase what your students are doing?


What questions do you have?  
What advice can you give to others just starting to try to answer these questions?
Leave a comment below to join the conversation!

Monday, January 9, 2017

The Making of a MakerSpace #1

I am so excited to tell you about the new Makerspace coming to San Angelo!  Tom Green County Library is working to bring the community a wonderful space filled with all kinds of creative tools, pieces, and parts to get visitors of all ages making.  I will keep you updated as they move forward with plans to open in March 2017!


Why a MakerSpace?

     Research supports hands-on learning and inquiry.  Take a look at Makerspace's Research Roundup for articles and studies on how making, creating, and tinkering affect learning.  We know that engagement is key to reaching students.  Students love to create and investigate, and we can teach our students to question things more deeply as they "play" (Kurti, Kurti, & Fliming, 2014).  We must become more comfortable with unanswered questions and answering with another question.

Where Do I Start?

     Start where you are...in your classroom.  Campus makerspaces are fantastic!  Libraries or classrooms filled with tools and technology are amazing, but you don't have to start (or finish) there.  Making should be happening in every classroom.  You can bring makerspaces to your content stations, to a portable tub, to several buckets, or even to your students' backpacks.  Making is an action - not a space.  It's about the feeling you create, the excitement you bring, the permission to fail you give, the questions you ask, and the example you set.  Makerspaces can be no tech, low tech, high tech, or any combination you choose.  Why not start with what your students already have - smartphones.  Consider BYOD, if you aren't already harnessing this power.

     Five Free Things Students Can Create with their Phones

  • Create a Stop Motion Video (Many choices - I like Stop Motion Studio)
  • Record a Song they wrote/Produce a music video (Voice Record Pro, iMovie, Garageband)
  • Write and produce a movie (Camera/iMovie)
  • Create a talking avatar (Tellagami, Photospeak)
  • Learn to Code (Many choices - Code.org, Tickle, Playgrounds is a new favorite of mine)
No matter your content area, you could use these simple, no-cost ideas to get your kids making!

Check out Stop Motion on YouTube.  I searched Stop Motion Water Cycle and found great examples, such as this one by Ethan Thompson!






What ideas can you share?  Leave a comment below to join the conversation!

Friday, January 6, 2017

MakerSpaces - Get Started in 2017!

I am a Maker.  I have been since I was very young, and I am so thankful my family encouraged (or at least tolerated) my need to create.  If you think about it, all of our kiddos start out with creative and curious spirits.  In my personal opinion, for whatever that's worth, we, as adults, slowly whittle away that creative spirit in them.  We don't do it intentionally, but it comes with the territory.  As teachers, we sometimes tell our kids how we expect them to answer, what we expect them to produce...even how to think.

Don't fret, though!  We also have the power to ignite creativity and curiosity in our students while we are teaching the content we need to cover.  We just need a shift in thinking, or possibly just to bring back to mind what we already know.  Over the next few weeks, Teacher Tech Cafe will be sharing ways you can bring about the shift, and we're going to start with MakerSpaces.

What exactly is a MakerSpace?

     There is not one right answer.  The design of your MakerSpace may look completely different from mine, but they have one thing in common...they exist to allow creativity and exploration to happen.  Drop in daily next week to explore simple ways to bring making into your classroom/school.