Monday, January 29, 2018

Second Grade Virtual Tour Guides through iPad App Smashes with Google Street View & DoInk Green Screens

Recently some second grade students working with Julie Olson and Rachel Studnicka at Groveland Elementary School did a creative app smash for their research projects. The end result was a video of themselves narrating a second moving video in the background. This virtual field trip with the students as a tour guide really brought their learning to life. Students were very excited about this and their projects turned out great, such as the one shown above (used with permission). Besides Egyptian pyramids, other students led tours to places such as Hawaii, Chile or along the Mississippi River.

Prior to recording, the students spent time selecting a topic for inquiry and researching it using Britannica online. After organizing their research, students spent time scripting out their narration with a template (I am broadcasting from… The reason I am here is… Here are the important facts you need to know… The most interesting facts about this topic are…). They also selected their background location and practiced panning and zooming around in it using Google Street View prior to the filming using the iOS 11 screen recording tool. Once they finished this recording, they saved it to the iPad camera roll to import into DoInk as the background for their green screen recording. Students also spent time learning to use DoInk and merging their two videos. DoInk’s green screen app is a great tool used by students in all of our grades--more on that in a couple previous posts here and here. Final projects were saved in Google Drive.

This is yet another great example of the use of technology for learning. It helps students make learning more meaningful, personal, and memorable. Throughout this project, students used multiple skills on the Minnetonka Teaching and Learning Framework besides technology: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and authentic and real world learning. Learn more about the Framework here. Related posts about app smashing, green screens, iPads, using technology for learning, and more can be found linked below:

Monday, January 22, 2018

Great Anti-Bullying PSA from Burger King: Stand Up Against Bullying

In case you missed it, Burger King created a great anti-bullying video a few months ago. It's a powerful video that is great to show to students and adults. Follow up conversations based on the video would be very powerful. Their campaign has been called "Bullying Junior" and is part of the No Bully website and campaign. 

In this PSA they encourage individuals to take a stand against bullying. The video is powerful in part because it shows some adult bystanders watching and doing nothing while a high school student is bullied by others in a Burger King restaurant. However, these same adults have no problems reporting their damaged ("bullied") burgers to the restaurant management. The PSA also shows and interviews two adults who take a stand to stop the high schooler from being bullied. A number of students are also featured to add to the video's relevance for a K-12 audience.

Unfortunately the original video (with 4.5 million views so far) has a couple  censored expletives. I'm disappointed that Burger King and No Bully chose to include these in their original released PSA and I wrote them to let them know. I would like to see them replace their posted version on YouTube with the clean version they added available for download here on their website. I embedded the clean version above. Regardless, the overall intent and video is excellent and well worth using to help everyone reflect on the effects of bullying and important role of bystanders.

Related posts: 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Why Teach Coding? Same Reasons to Teach Writing Even When Not All Students Will Be Writers

Students using Robot Turtles to learn coding.
According to the team at, computing is “a fundamental part of daily life, commerce, and just about every occupation in our modern economy.” Across the country and around the world, there is a growing call to action for educators, insisting that it is essential that students are exposed to the field of computer science because it is foundational in transforming the way a student thinks about the world in a way that is unique to the 21st Century landscape. Computer science not only teaches students about technology, it also teaches them how to think differently about any problem. In a December 2017 interview, Mitch Resnick, MIT professor and one of the creators of Scratch, was asked whether or not coding should be required in every single public school. He answered as follows:
If it were up to me, I would introduce it. But I want to be careful because I don’t want to embrace it for the same reason that some people might. The first question I would ask is: “Why should we learn coding at all?” Many people embrace coding in schools as a pathway to jobs as computer programmers and computer scientists, and of course they’re right that those opportunities are expanding rapidly. But that’s not a great reason for everyone to learn how to code.
Very few people grow up to be professional writers, but we teach everyone to write because it’s a way of communicating with others—of organizing your thoughts and expressing your ideas. I think the reasons for learning to code are the same as the reasons for learning to write. When we learn to write, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas. And when we learn to code, we are learning how to organize, express, and share ideas in new ways, in a new medium. (Source)
Students using BeeBots to learn to code.
The Tonka Codes program gives all of our students in Minnetonka these opportunities. In Minnetonka, the Big Idea designed in 2013-14 and launched in 2014-15 called Tonka <codes> has tested the hypothesis that computer programming and computer science can succeed as core content at the elementary grades and can prosper as a series of elective courses at the secondary level. As the District continues its fourth year of implementation, the results of the test continue to show positive data based on both student performance and student interest. Tonka <codes> is also a program that provides Minnetonka students with the training and support to make a significant contribution in the 21st Century marketplace.

Students using
Want to learn more? Last week we presented an update to our School Board about the Tonka <codes> program. Associate Superintendent Eric Schneider, Teacher Leaders Andrea Hoffmann and Lisa Reed and I spoke about the 2017-18 scope and sequence through the grades, the progress made in elementary schools, the impact on Middle School STEM, Core Content Areas and High Potential Programs, and the current and new High School courses. We also spoke about the impact of The Hub, makers and coders spaces in the elementary and middle schools and highlighted some of the projects students had completed. You can watch the full presentation here

Related posts:

Monday, January 8, 2018

More Tips for Successful 1:1 Programs: Ongoing Teacher Sharing, Dialog, Reflection & Colleague Observations

One of the reasons I believe our 1:1 program has been successful is because of our ongoing, sustained professional development, which I've written about in the past. We are now in the seventh year of 1:1, and still providing all of our teachers with about 9 hours annually of professional development related to technology. Whether teachers are in their first or seventh year teaching students with 1:1 devices, they attend multiple training sessions per year. 

Learning to use the device itself is simple, as is learning how to use it in education to move from traditional paper and pencil environments to a digital document cycle. That part doesn't require ongoing training. The reason we do provide continual staff development for our teachers is to help them use technology in ever new and innovative ways to deepen learning for students and make it more meaningful. (See Beyond SAMR Ladders and Pools: A Framework for Teaching & Learning)

As part of our trainings with 1:1 teachers, we have found it beneficial to provide them with time to share ideas with one another and talk through issues, whether we are meeting with a group of new or experienced teachers. Originally we called these conversations Roses & Thorns (what was going well and what is not). More recently some of our instructional technology coaches have called it Roses, Buds & Thorns, adding the sharing of a growth area/goal to the conversation.

Our high school instructional technology coaches have called these meetings "Roundtables." Two past roundtable sessions I attended are pictured.  During the first year teachers are in a 1:1 implementation the roses and thorns shared at these sessions tend to be about logistics and classroom management. After teachers are more experienced and comfortable with 1:1 teaching and learning, the topics and ideas shared become much more complex and creative, as teachers share innovative lesson ideas and ways they have used technology to redefine teaching and learning. Making time for the sharing of these ideas is a great way to spread the wealth of information and experience they collectively have and move your program further forward. We have grouped teachers in a variety of ways besides experience; sometimes teachers have been grouped by subject or grade levels, too. During the share time all ideas are documented so teachers can revisit them afterwards.

Besides sharing ideas with one another, we have also had teachers go out and observe colleagues. I mentioned this in a past post, too. Most recently, our high school instructional technology coaches dedicated 20 minutes of a training session to classroom observations. They asked teachers to visit about three classrooms for around five minutes each, with only one class in their own department. Afterwards they regrouped and debriefed. Teachers shared what they noticed about instruction, student engagement, and the use of technology. 

This process of ongoing sharing, dialog, reflection and colleague observation is one of the keys to our success and growth of our 1:1 program. You can learn more about our it, iPads, and use of technology for learning in the additional related posts below: