Around the World in 30 Minutes

This spring, many PSD middle and high school students were afforded an innovative experience through Google Pioneer Expeditions. The immersive virtual realiIMG_0280ty (VR) technology creates a memorable experience to connect kids to their learning.

At Poudre High School, Jen Musci’s English students experienced the world of Syrian Refugee children. These students, having no first-hand experience with civil war, were shocked by what they saw. Students discussed the living conditions, education, even the facial expressions of the people they saw. Afterward, they completed an essay on the crisis in Syria, using their VR experience as a source of information.

IMG_0339At Boltz Middle School, science teachers Ashley Rakiecki and Kathleen Scandary used Google Pioneer Expeditions to observe animal adaptations in the rain forests of Borneo. There were lots of “ooohs” and “aaahhhs” when students spotted a python lurking in the leaves. Students were tasked with finding other creatures hiding in the landscape, camouflaged by their adaptations.

Many experts predict that virtual reality is on it’s way to becoming a prominent feature in many modern classrooms. With the ability to be fully immersed in the content, students are better able to understand and retain what they are learningIMG_0384. VR creates a deeper, more meaningful lesson than an article or a video can provide; the students feel like they are there. Teachers have limitless ability to bolster their curriculum with these enriching VR experiences.

French students at Rocky Mountain High School toured the Palace of Versaille without ever leaving their seats. “Imagine how much money it cost to build this place,” one student exclaimed, peering up at a crystal chandelier through the Google Cardboard viewer. For many students, this is a learning experience that could not have happened without this revolutionary VR technology.
While Google Pioneer Expeditions wraps up the nationwide tour of their product, here in PSD, the EdTech team has begun gathering other VR tools. PSD TV has collaborated with EdTech to create 360video using GoPro cameras (look for them on YouTube soon!) iPods and POWIS viewers are available for checkout to teachers to use with students. Contact EdTech to learn more about the possibilities!

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Renewable Energy Data

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#edtech #edreform #renewableenergy

Students in elementary and middle school science classes across Poudre School District have been using Vernier Software & Technology probes and sensors. These sensors enable teachers and students to collect authentic data on computers for deep and detailed analysis. The data collected is accurate and better demonstrates to students how scientists perform and analyze similar experiments in the real world.

Students at Dunn, Bennett, and McGraw elementary schools are using GPS units to find weather investigation stations in the wilderness.  Students are collecting data and making conclusions based on that data. Rather than doing a lab that mimics being outside, studying weather, students are actually going out and collecting the data themselves.
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Middle School students at Lesher and Cache la Poudre have been investigating the factors that affect wind and solar power generation. The data they collected ranges from how the blade angle on a wind turbine can affect the energy output, to how the distance from a light source changes effectiveness of a solar panel. Teachers are making instructions interactive and easy to follow using Pear Deck, which allows for more open-ended inquiry investigations and student-driven learning.

If you are interested in checking out science probes and getting help with their use in your classroom contact the Ed Tech team. Elementary teachers it is no too late to sign up in Avatar for the Elementary Vernier training on Nov 9 (4th grade) and 10 (3rd and 5th grade).  IMG_0201 - Copy

Staircase Piano @ FCHS

Some music students at Fort Collins High School performed an original song in an original way earlier this month. Adam McBride, from the Ed Tech team, visited John Hermanson’s Beginning Music Theory classroom and helped them convert an entire staircase into a working piano. Using a Makey Makey circuit kit, a computer with some drum beats, and a strategy about who would play which part, the students used the staircase piano to play an original composition they had written for Mr. Hermanson’s IMG_0211class.

The students worked hard and collaborated throughout the composition process. They were able to apply some engineering skills to create an instrument they could all play at the same time. Congratulations to these students for creating a great piece of music, and sharing it with the world in a unique way!

Students Create Google Lit Trips

#innedco #littrips #edtech

Language arts teachers wanting to increase engagement and encourage discussion of book projects can use or create Google Lit Trips. Using Google Earth, students can combine multiple resources – like pictures, URLs, and videos – into placemarks.  The placemarks that the students create become a tour through  places in a book, which the students can present to the class.  Check out this podcast made by PSD’s  Ara McKelvey about students making their own Google Lit Trips at Fossil Ridge High School, a great example of using Google Lit Trips in the classroom.

Pre-made Lit trips are available for free download from Jerome Burg’s site, Google Lit Trips.  Here’s a video showcasing Jerome Burg as a Microsoft Education Award recipient in 2010.  Mr. Burg goes on to explain why he created the Lit Trips website, which is now a 501c non-profit organization.

Principles for Fair Use in Journalism

#innedco #edtech #copyright

The following post if from guest blogger, Herb Saperstone of PSD’s own Channel 10.

The Center for Social Media has excellent information regarding fair use in the context of the ever-expanding landscape of online media. American University Law Professor, Peter Jaszi says, “Limited but significant use of preexisting copyrighted material in our own information activities and Is protected in copyright doctrine of fair use.” Student projects, media critiques, news reporting, social-oriented journalism, etc. can and must find ways to use copyrighted materials.  Video courtesy of Center for Social and Media Impact

-HS

New Functionality Added to Google Forms

#web20 #google #googleapps

A couple of months ago, Google added some functionality to the Forms section of Google Apps. These changes have recently been added to anyone with a Google EDU account. Users can now add images and dates/times to their forms. Check out this screencast to see the new changes!

Adding Videos to Presentation Software

#edtech #web20 #edchat #download #elearning

During last week’s blog post, we learned how to use the Firefox add-on Download Helper to grab flash videos from the web.  This is beneficial for many reasons as we never know when the school’s network might be down, running slow, or what unscrupulous video links might show up in the YouTube sidebar!

Today, we will learn how to insert these videos into SMART notebook files and PowerPoint presentations.

Inserting flash videos in SMART notebook couldn’t be easier.  All you have to do is follow the path, Insert>Flash Video File from the menu.

Once you open this menu option, find the *.flv* file you saved using DL helper.  You can then resize and place the video within your SMART notebook file as you see fit.

Another common presentation software, PowerPoint, is also capable of inserting Flash and other types of video content.  To do this, select the “Insert” tab then click the “video” icon on the far right.

One problem we’ve ran into is inserting Flash videos into PowerPoint will sometimes cause the program to crash.  This can be solved by using DownloadHelper to download the video as a *.mp4* file instead of a *.flv* file.

Building An Unconference in the Classroom

#edtech #iste12 As I helped prepare an Unconference at #SocialEdCon, I was struck by how relevant this activity could be in a classroom! What exactly is an Unconference? Loosely defined as a participant driven meeting, an Unconference encourages people to volunteer to facilitate/moderate a group who all want to share, learn or even just talk together!

I had the opportunity to learn from the editor of the magazine Teacher Librarian, representatives from Edutopia and educators from around the world about how to teach technology to teachers. Our discussion was rich, fast-paced and driven by our desire to learn from each other.

The idea of an Unconference could be applied at the high school level too!!!! I could image English teachers allowing students to choose their favorite genre and then students grouping together and talking about their favorite novels within that genre. Or, having students share favorite tech ideas, OR……

The sky is the limit but the idea of an Unconference reinforces that our collective knowledge is important and collaborating is key to success!

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