Thursday, July 26, 2018

Loving Shark Week? Here are Great Classroom Resources

One of the coolest things I have enjoyed from this year's Shark Week is discovering the great educational resources hosted by Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and the University of Miami Shark Research Lab.

Check out the "Virtual Expedition" where learners can experience a shark tagging research trip from prepping the gear to identifying sharks they've tagged.


Other resources your students will find fascinating are:


Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Worst Preso Ever: Jon Corippo explains how to integrate this gem into any curriculum

Here is a gem from Jon Corippo that I have used over and over with kids of all ages as well as with professionals in workshops.

It's the "Worst Preso Ever" activity and it is part of the Smart Start program Jon developed for establishing culture and foundational skills when he led the opening of Minarets High School in Central California.

In the video Jon gives the rationale and the steps to how making awful presentations can lead to really great ones and a community of learners and creators.


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Beyond Presentations: Customize Google Slides to any Dimension

One simple tweak under hood can unleash a world of freedom!

Now, that sounds like something a gear-head teenager might say after barreling out the carburetor on his mom's Passat. What we're talking about here though is Google Slides. With one not-so-obvious click, any Google slide can take on any dimension.

Make it tall and rectangular and create infographics. Make it long and rectangular and trick out your Twitter banner (1500x500 pixels) or your Facebook cover photo (851x315 pixels for desktop, 640x360 pixels for mobile) or go square for Instagram like I did. You can choose dimensions in inches, centimeters, points, or pixels.

To customize the slide, go to FILE and then PAGE SETUP.
 The thing I find most useful here is the fact that Slides connects so nicely with Google Photos. If I am posting to Instagram and want to create a collage of pictures from a trip or if I want to add words of wisdom to an image then Slides is one stop shopping. You can download your image as a JPEG in the FILE menu. It's too bad we can only post to Instagram from a mobile device.

Customizing slide size is just another way a lot of creativity can be fostered through Google Slides...and has nothing to do with just making slideshows.

For more creativity tools, especially for Chromebooks, check out the Chromebook Creativity Project and follow #CreateWithChromebooks on social media.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Turn Keynote into a 3D Design Studio

With the advent of a growing shape library in Keynote and virtually unlimited fonts (if you use the Mac version), the presentation application can be leveraged into a dynamite design tool...even for 3D printing.

For years I have been using Keynote for just about everything except slide shows. I create fun graphics for video production, t-shirt designs, as it is where I stop long before I fire up Photoshop. Now with a growing assortment of silhouette shapes and symbols, the creativity possibilities have increased exponentially.

Here is a quick workflow for turning Keynote creations on a screen into 3D printed reality.

1. Design in Keynote. Just make everything black so it will convert easily. Here I have designed a shark that will stand up on a small pedestal (to be added later in Tinkercad) with the words "Great White Shark" added to the base. Notice how I added some grass and star fish to liven up the design a bit. I did this one quickly on my iPad so fonts were limited but had I used the Mac version, I could have gotten a lot more in depth with my text designs. Note: Everything you create in Keynote will essentially be one object in the CAD program so it will all print at the same thickness. If you want objects to have differing thickness, just create separate slides for each individual part.



2. Export your slide as an image and then convert to a scalable vector graphic (.svg file). The easiest way I have found to do this to use is SVGcreator.com. It's a simple upload, automatic conversion, and download process.



3. Open your 3D design app or site of choice (I work mainly in Tinkercad.com) and import the .svg file or files you created from the converted slides.

Add any extra pieces you want and then assemble the pieces. I added a wedge piece for the base and then under my text, I slid a small rectangle that will help keep my text together. Eventually I will glue that printed text onto the front of the base.


4. Scale, adjust, and download for printing. Really, that is all there is to harnessing the tremendously creative power of Keynote into something you can actually pick up and handle.

Here is the final product as produced with our XYZPrinting DaVinci Mini Maker. Like most designs, this one too could use some refining. The text ended up being too small to be useful and a little poster putty went a long way to help our shark stay afloat. Still, this is a fun example of what Keynote, creativity and some free conversion tools can help you and your learners create. Think about all of the knowledge they






Monday, April 9, 2018

Check out "Check This Out with Ryan and Brian" podcast

I've followed the great ideas of Ryan O'Donnell and Brian Briggs for a long time on Twitter. On Sunday I discovered their podcast "Check This Out".

What got my attention was when Brian tagged me in a tweet announcing their latest episode. In episode 81, the two California educators spend some time talking about my "Chromebook Crisis" post earlier this winter. Not only are they keeping the conversation going about the need for more more creative uses of Chromebooks, they drew a nice connection to another project already underway.

Ryan has been presenting on and posting with the #CreateWithChromeBooks hashtag since the Fall of 2016 when he launched his own initiative to promote more creativity in learning with Chromebooks.  His efforts are right in-line with what I am trying to do with the Chromebook Creativity Project on this site. One of my favorite ideas these guys mention is who cool a CUE Rock Star  camp would be if it could be entirely Chromebook creativity themed.

Other cool parts of this episode include throwbacks to an app that emulates 8 bit Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? and the new handheld Oregon Trail game device. They throw in some rants too about a few things in edtech that could use an improvement or just hit the bricks. You also have to tip your hat to a couple of podcasters who share their favorite podcasts. Check out their show notes for links and give the episode a listen.

I am off to listen to more episodes....and get rid of the cutesy tile font I changed my Twitter name to. I agree guys, they're pretty lame.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Apple's New Homework Ad is Everything it Should Be

As part of Apple's launch of its new educationally focused iPad, the company debuted a new ad showcasing the way the device can be used to creatively transform homework.

Using a recitation of Jack Prelutsky's poem "Homework" as its background,  we follow home a group of kids from a boring old science class and watch how much fun they have completing their group project on gravity with their iPads.

Apple's tag line for the new iPad that retails at $299 for schools and $329 for the public is "The perfect computer for learning looks nothing like a computer."

What I find most intriguing is that Apple has tapped into the reality that in too many cases kids have far more fun learning at home on their own than they do in their classrooms.

In our STEM classes we are doing our best to make what you see the kids doing at home in this video, what our kids do at school.






Friday, March 16, 2018

Unplug and Let 'Em Cut!

Our kids don't get enough practice cutting and pasting. No, not the cheating on a term paper kind of cutting and pasting....real cutting and pasting. Today in Young Fives STEM we just unplugged from iPads and starting cutting the nature magazines provided by a local conservation club...and it was awesome. Beautiful snake collages now decorate numerous refrigerators around Hamilton, Michigan.