Thursday, April 17, 2014

Beyond Bellevue: Mystery Skype Takes Students on a Geography Quest


Fifth graders in  Andy Gregory’s classroom raced in from recess eager to #mysteryskype. The greeters quickly slid into the seats in front of the computer awaiting the call while classmates all moved into groups based on their mystery skype jobs.  
The Greeters 

Minutes later, friendly faces greeted them and the #mysteryskype was on! The room was buzzing as Mr. Gregory’s students collaborated, shared information, developed questions, and logically reasoned to determine the mystery location.  Each class took turns asking yes / not questions. As the states were narrowed down, they worked with urgency to be the first class to guess. Who would be first?




    The Mystery Skype Begins


It was close, but our new friends in New York discovered our state first and erupted in cheers.  Afterwards, the students had a few minutes to share and compare their states and ask a few questions to one another.  Our students proudly shared about our state and listened intently as the students in New York told them about landmarks, attractions, and what life is like in New York.  It was a fun, inspiring learning experience.  Students are eager for the next #mysteryskype!  In the meantime, they will continue to hone their geography and questioning skills for the next week.


How does a mystery skype work?


#mysteryskype is a geography game that students play with other classrooms around the world. Classes take turns asking yes / no questions with the goal of discovering where the mystery class is from.  Based on the answers to the questions, students narrow down the possibilities.  When they think they know the locations, they guess!


Skills Utilized in a Mystery Skype:
Critical Thinking
Listening to others
Working together
Collaboration
Problem Solving
Geography
Communication

Lessons Learned
  • It is fun to work together.
  • Students did a great job asking specific questions. Good questions are key to narrowing down the possibilities.
  • Pair the logical reasoners and mappers together so it is easier for them to collaborate.
  • Arranging the desks in groups makes it easier for students to move around the room and for groups to work together.
  • Table tents on the tables make it easier and quicker for students to get into groups.
  • Perhaps add another job of summarizer, a person or people who share information about the school and state.


Would you like to join the fun? Check out the Q and A.
Q: How do I get started?
A: Find a classroom to partner with on Twitter or Google + Communities. On Twitter, pull up the hashtag #mysteryskype. You will discover thousands of educators ready to connect. You can also find classrooms on Google +. Search for the Mystery Hangout community and join. Start reading the posts and make a connection.

Q: What equipment is needed?
A: A computer, Internet connection, and projector. You will also need maps, plastic overlays, iPad (or camera) and dry erase markers.

Q:  Are there any resources to get started?
A:  Yes! Check out these handouts on the job and questions.
Mystery Skype Questions

Written by Ann Feldmann
@annfeldmann1

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Our Own Innovative Bellevue East Students - Winning 2nd Place!!

Ann Feldmann and I has the pleasure of checking out some amazing tech inventions at yesterday's IT Innovation Cup Contest.  This competition hosted area high schools from around Omaha, including Bellevue East, Burke, Gross, and Creighton. Each group was challenged with creating a new assistive technology.  This was a challenged accepted by our very own Bellevue East students last September and the students committed themselves to this project. They worked diligently, researching, collaborating and creating, under the guidance of Mr. Derek Babb, mostly outside of the normal school day.

Students created a medication dispenser that sorts pills automatically.  The inspiration came from one of the students who had lived with a grandparent and witnessed the chore of sorting medicine each day.  The students overcame a number of technical challenges and did a fantastic job of creating a device, web site, mobile app, presentations and videos to demonstrate their invention.

CONGRATULATIONS!! Our Bellevue East students won 2nd place!   They won $750 to split among themselves and their work was highly regarded by the judges and public viewers at last night's event.  Way to go @ChieftainNation and Mr. Babb!
Written by Jenny Krzystowczyk
@jennykbps

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Connect Your Classroom to the World

Last night, I invited Sharae Geldes (@sgeldes), 4th grade and #ipadacademy teacher at Two Springs Elementary School in Bellevue, to join a Google Hangout with my Peru State College graduate students (teachers) as an guest speaker. Geldes is a connected educator and blogger. Her students participate regularly in global Google Hangouts with experts, Mystery Hangouts, Global Share and Compares, and she and her students blog regularly.


Tools Geldes uses to connect her classroom to the world are:
2. Google + Communities:  Connected Classroom, G+ EduHangouts, Mystery Hangouts, and Kidblogging.
3. Twitter: The hashtag #comments4kids is a great place to share a link to student blogs. The more they connect and receive comments the more they want to write.  


After Geldes shared all the ways she has connected her students to the world with the class, we had time for Q and A.


Q: How much time do you students spend blogging?
A: About 20 minutes a week. Be consistent scheduling a regular time to blog is important.


Q: Do you have blogging expectations at home?
A: No. But there are a lot of parents that will read their kids posts at home and add comments. It has created a good home and school connection. Of course, they can login and blog at home, but it is not required.


Q: Do you have good collaboration with other grade levels?
A: I would like to see them continue blogging as they move through the grades.  


Q: Anyone using Google Plus with parents?
A: Not yet. It does require everyone have a gmail account.  Bellevue has approved students to have access to G+ which is door opening and a great way for them to share what is happening. It would be wonderful for parents to share in the community.  There are private and public communities.  


Q: Do you have to have permission slips for kids to post?
A: I have a meeting with parents.  Kidblog is very secure and posts have to be approved by the instructor.  If you want them to sign a permission slip, you probably could. Our parents sign off on a media release at the beginning of the year for photos and videos. 


Q: How do Google Communities work?
A:  Google Communities are organized by threads.  You post what you are hoping to learn and experience.  Teachers connect with you and then you are able to connect your classrooms.  The idea of sister classrooms is to connect and share all school year with the same classroom.


Q:  How has Google Mystery Hangouts helped with the curriculum?
A: Students are more interested in geography.  I am impressed with how they can narrow down locations from our Mystery Hangouts.  This week they even narrowed down to the city, instead of just the state.  The kids are great at using Google Maps. The Mystery Hangouts drive lots of inquiry questions.


Q: How do I get started?
A:  Join a community and start posting in there. I leave the notifications on so you see all the posts. Your inbox may be flooded, but you can just delete the ones that you aren’t interested in.


Would you like to learn more?


1.  Read this post by Sharae Geldes and leave her a comment.


2.  Watch this video on how to join communities  Search for and join the Connected Classrooms community in Google +.  Read through some of the posts. What are you thoughts? Did you connect with someone? Did something inspire you?


3.  Go to http://kidblog.org/MrsGeldes2014/ and leave 3 of Mrs. Geldes’ students a comment on their kidblog posts.   What did you learn about? What are your thoughts about getting your students blogging?

4. Read three tips for educators beginning to blog and leave a comment.

Written by Ann Feldmann
@annfeldmann1

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reflections on #EdcampOmaha14





My bucket is brimming over after spending a day at #edcampomaha March 22 with tremendous educators from across Nebraska and the Midwest who chose to spend their Saturday convening on Roskins Hall at UNO!

EdCampOmaha is...



The Conversation Begins
I picked up Michelle Klamm, @klammlovesmnms , for her first #edcamp!  As the car door closed, #edcamp conversations began. Michelle's energy was contagious and the 30 minute drive to #edcampomaha  felt like 30 seconds.   As we arrived on 2nd floor I was filled with the same awe I felt at my first #edcamp last year!  I remember walking in where @catlett1 welcomed me into the #edcamp family and showed me the ropes! This year it was my turn to pay it forward with the same hospitality that was extended to me!  

This year was an extra special because so people from Bellevue Public Schools shared in the fun! We had a large group of our #ipadacademy and #bpsne teachers attending #edcampomaha for the first time! It brought me great joy to see all our first timers quickly enveloped into the #edcamp family too; laughing, sharing, connecting, and energizing those around them!

Kickoff

A room full of people, who are gifts to each other,  all gathered around and eagerly waited for the day to begin.  Josh Allen, @j_allen, kicked off #edcampomaha with inspiring opening remarks and a great explanation of how the #edcamp flows. The boards quickly filled with session topics, were rolled out the doors, and sent up the elevators to the third floor where the conversations ignited the rooms!


Decision #EdcampOmaha14 - Which Sessions to Choose?

So many interesting topics popped onto the board.  After a few minutes of deliberation and a quick visit with Stacy Behmer, @sbehmer, I headed to Personalized PD led by Eileen Heller @opstechtrainers .
Edcamp Sessions

It was so fun to look around in my first session and see so many faces from my Twitter PLN and my district too!   It was awesome to refuel my tank and soak up the positive, constructive people who continue to inspire and push me to be a better educator and a better me.    I loved meeting Laura Gildchrist @lauragilchrist4 and Michelle Nebel @mnebel from my PLN face to face!  I also found out I wasn't the only Feldmann in the house! To my delight, I met Lori Feldman @lfeld52 from Lincoln! Small world to have a pair of  "Techie Feldie's"!   

The driving question for Personalized PD session was, "How Can We Make PD More Helpful or Productive?". The discussion was rich and the sharing was abundant.  It was impressive to hear all the wonderful ways everyone is providing professional development opportunities and how deeply each person cares about helping teachers grow, try new tools, and continue to develop professionally.  Conversations highlights are found on this Google Doc.


Next up was a session facilitated by Tim Hahn @TimHahn projectConnected on "Learning Environments, What Does That Mean?". To my delight, seated at my table was Michelle Baldwin @michellek107 all the way from Centennial, Colorado. Michelle taught me how to play the ukelele at my first #EdcampOmaha last year! Also at the table was Tina Holbook, @tinamhollbrook from Bellevue #ipadacademy, and Patty Margritz @pmargriz from Cozad . The fickle finger of fate determined our roles in our group, and we did them well! The discussion and sharing within our group and then as an entire room were rich and inspiring. I loved listening and soaking up the ideas. Check out the notes on this Google Doc.





Patty, Michelle, Ann, and Tina

It was super fun to slide down the hall where creativity literally met me at the door as teachers with iPads in hand were heading out to create in the App Smashing session by Craig Badura @mrbadura and Heather Callihan @hcallihan.  It was awesome to see creativity unleashed and everyone so jolly!  What can be more fun than seeing the creative genius of @catlett1 up on the big screen and his Chatterbox app smash a hit?   I walked away with ideas swirling in my head, new apps to try, and a spring to my step.  Thank you, Craig and Heather, you knocked it out of the park. A list of App Task Challenges and resources can be found on Mr. Badura's site The Digital Dog Pound
and Heather Callihan's Site http://www.callihanscache.com/  Mr. Badura also shared the link to http://www.gcflearnfree.org/ that is worth checking out too!

I also popped into the "Low Tech" Session! Check out these great resources found in this Google Presentation

Thank YOU! Thank YOU! Thank YOU! Thank YOU! Thank YOU!

Thanks to all those who made #edcampomaha possible and for all the hours you devoted! Thank you Josh Allen (@J_allen), Mrs. Allen (loved seeing you at the registration table), Kristina Peters (@mrskmpeters), Bob Goeman (@bgoeman) and everyone who attended, shared, and made #edcampomaha the experience it was this year!

What a day! It is much better summed up in photos than wor
ds! Thanks  Laura Gildchrist for sharing your photo collection
Kristina Peters @mrskmpeters was kind enough to put a  twitter list of all of the awesome people who are woven into the fabric of #edcampomhaha last week-end.  Follows these educators, you will be glad you did! 



And the Journey Continues

As Michelle Klamm and I headed back to life after #edcamp we discussed the need to hit the road and attend another #edcamp soon, next March seems too far away!   Lucky for us, there are #edcamps popping up in cities everyone.   The next #edcamp is on the horizon in the Twin Cities.  Check it out at https://sites.google.com/a/isd191.org/edcamp-twin-cities/home.
 
You are the catalyst to make big things happen every day! How will you keep #edcamp fire kindled in your workplace?  

Read up on how reflections from our #ipadacademy teachers' experience at #edcampomaha below.
Michelle Boyce 
Michelle Klamm
Jenn Manning
 

Written by Ann Feldmann
@annfeldmann1





Sunday, March 23, 2014

Creating with Pic Collage




Pic Collage is a fantastic FREE app perfect for students of any age to use in creative ways.  The three main buttons make it an easy to navigate and intuitive to use.  Collages save to Photos where the images are available for "app smashing".  

This week I introduced the Pic Collage app to Mr. Myers (@mrmyers1), 8th grade history teacher, and his students.  Myers is one of our 38 #ipadacademy teachers in #bpsne #iPadAcademy.   

Student challenge


A collage created by a 4th period student.
1  Save 10-12  images from the website, The US-Mexican War   
2. Use the Pic Collage app to construct a visually appealing display of the images.
3. Add text to identify the events and people in the images.  Refer to the website for facts about the image.
4. Save the collage to photos. 
5. Upload the image to Google Drive gClass hand in folders.
6. Use the Reflector app on the computer to "hop on" airplay and share/discuss with the class.  

Unexpected Outcomes

1.  As students organized and constructed the collages, they began to wonder and question. 
2.  These questions led students to spontaneously research historical information over this event.
3.  Student sidebar discussions centered on the War with Mexico.  The informal conversations continued as they worked.
4.  This prior knowledge was beneficial the next day when they learned more about this topic.

Give Pic Collage a try. The price is right, FREE. As I like to say, "If it's free, it's meant to be."

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on” – Albert Einstein


Written by Ann Feldmann
@annfeldmann1

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Transformation Begins with Mobility

One app transforming our #ipadacademy classrooms is installed on the computer, not the iPad!  Reflector http://www.airsquirrels.com/reflector/ is an inexpensive app for the computer that has huge benefits in redefining the classroom! This software allows teachers and students wireless airplay the iPad on the computer.  Anything on the iPad will be reflected, including the audio! Sound transformational? It is!




The result?  A redefined classroom!

Benefits of using Reflector?

1. Teachers are mobile! Teaching from the front, middle, or back of the room is now possible. A wonderful way to gain a new perspective on the classroom.
2. Students easily hop on and off reflector to informally share creations and receive feedback.  Have more than one student reflect at once to amplify the sharing.  This is a great way to add engagement to the classroom.

Click here for a handout on Reflector tips and tricks.  




Written by Ann Feldmann
@annfeldmann1



Friday, March 14, 2014

Kid President's Inspirational Message

These images caught my eye this morning as I was out and about in Bellevue.







I love how one kid can spread a message that touches people of all ages, race, and demographics!  Kid President is the perfect example of how well made videos touch the hearts of people.  I am amazed at videos that trend on YouTube and inspire so many people.  Never before have we lived in an age when individuals are inspired and moved by complete strangers.  


Kid President is an excellent example of just this!  You can’t help but smile when you watch his videos.  When you see these images popping up at schools, daycares, gyms, and churches you know where they came from!    


His story is one of inspiration!  He suffers from a brittle bone disease and has suffered over 70 breaks since his birth yet his amazing spirit and love truly makes the world a better place.  


I absolutely love watching his videos, hearing his infectious laugh, and getting up and dancing with him on YouTube! If you have never watched one of his videos check out his playlist!  I guarantee it will brighten your day!!   Keep up the awesomeness Kid President.