Tuesday, June 30, 2015

TechWomen - what is it? And why you should care!

I had the pleasure to participate on a Google Hangout with Eileen Brewer, who represents TechWomen. What IS TechWomen, you ask?

TechWomen is an organization that empowers, connects, and supports the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East by providing them the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities. They do this through a mentoring program in the US, after a rigorous vetting process for the potential mentees.

Eileen Brewer is a director with Symantec Corporation, who has been volunteering as a mentor through the TechWomen organization here in Silicon Valley. Please take a few minutes to find out more about TechWomen as you watch this video.

Find out more about TechWomen through their website, too. If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can get more directly involved!

Here are a couple more links that may be of interest...

Girls Who Code – “working to close the gender gap in the technology and engineering sectors”
Women’s Alliance for Knowledge Exchange – “links high-impact, innovative women’s organizations to technology tools and expertise from leading companies to help organizations accelerate their impact and scale their work”
Notable Women in Tech – supporting “educators around the world who are working to inspire women and girls to consider or continue careers in computing”.

Thanks to Rushton Hurley, the president of the Rotary eClub of Silicon Valley, of which I am also a member. Rushton leads interesting programs each week on a wide variety of topics, all in support of Rotary's motto "Service Above Self."

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Using Photos App for Great Student Outcomes

The convenience of having a smartphone or tablet is multiplied by the fact it has a camera.  We use the camera for more than recording family events and nature’s beauty – the flash makes a great flashlight and its ability to zoom doubles as a magnifier.  It's a multi-functional tool that has great value in the classroom too.

The iPad Photo app may be one of the under-rated native apps on the tablet.  Spending a little time on organization on a semi-regular basis is not a bad idea.  It is a sleek way to curate those treasured images.  Albums are easy to make and a great way to memorialize class parties, field trips, presentations and other student events. 

Taking some time to discuss proper photography techniques with students is a good way to ensure successful outcomes.  The Rule of Three, backlighting, shadows, and movement are all issues that can make or break a photo.

Images can also be integrated into student work as a way for them to show what they know.  If you are in a Google App for Education school, any image in the Photos app can be uploaded to Google Drive.  Students who create work in apps that save to Photos (Shadow Puppets, for example) can easily upload that work to Drive (or Google Classroom) to share, add to other work, or simply store.  This is especially important in classroom where many students use the same tablet.
Here are a few apps that students may enjoy using to build outcome with photos…
  • Flipagram – students can upload photos to tell a story with text and voice (free)
  • ChatterPix – Give any photo a voice (with a moving mouth!) and let it tell the story (free)
  • Waterlogue – takes images and makes a beautiful watercolor ($2.99)

If you have other photo apps your students like to use, let us know!

Friday, May 29, 2015

What Will You Do This Summer Infographic

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Keyboarding Tools on the Web - 2015 update

"Way back" in March of 2013, we posted our original Keyboarding tools on the web to support CC stds! It seemed like the time to circle back and update it. Here's our revised Keyboarding Tools on the Web for 2015 post.

Before school lets out is a great time to get your kids practicing typing skills. As a minimum, give them a couple of these sites to practice over the summer! Great way to kill time and learn/enhance a skill they will need now and in the future!

Keyboarding is referenced (often) in Common Core standards. For instance, keyboarding is called out in:

W.3.6. With guidance and support from adults, use technology to produce and publish writing (using keyboarding skills) as well as to interact and collaborate with others.

W.6.6. Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing as well as to interact and collaborate with others; demonstrate sufficient command of keyboarding skills to type a minimum of three pages in a single sitting. W.4.6. W.5.6. are similar - one page (4th) , and two pages (5th) in a single sitting.

I pulled the above from Qwertytown.com (yes, I double checked the standards directly). Several people responding to our original post have made many positive comments about qwertytown, and it continues to be a top recommendation. It's not free, but there is a free trial available.

Here are several other excellent keyboarding resources to consider:

Typing Web - Programs to learn typing (free registration to save progress) - at my prior school, this was the favorite. Good practice, and the progress tracking is really nice.

Key Hero Typing Test - No log on required but you CAN do so to save work.

Dance Mat typing -Good for all ages! This is one of the most 'fun' for students and consistently mentioned by many.

Typing tests - can be customized from simple to hard.

E-learning for kids - Fun games!

Fix the Keyboard - Good game for learning key location. In general, ABCya.com has several keyboard practice games for grades K-5 that look fun and engaging; need to hunt around a bit but they are there.

Here are two other recommended resources:

Typing Club is an easy to use Google Chrome app. Teachers are able to track the students' progress in terms of accuracy and speed.

Slimekids.com - mentioned by a few of our readers as a fun way to learn typing skills.

What do YOU use or recommend for either web-based or tablet keyboarding/typing apps? Please comment!

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