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.


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Help Kids Develop and Conduct Scientific Tests with an EduProtocol

Yesterday I wrote about how I have designed an "EduProtocol" to guide students through the design process. For those of you not familiar with an educational protocol, here is a quick description from Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern's new book The EduProtocol Field Guide: 16 Student-Centered Lesson Frames for Infinite Learning Possibilities.

"EduProtocols are customizable, frames that use your content to create lessons to help students master academic content, think critically, and communicate effectively while creating and working collaboratively,"  


Kids are good at trying stuff out but not
 at developing scientific testing procedures.
A key factor in the design process is the testing of prototypes. Although I have found that my K-4 STEM students "get" the overall idea constantly designing, testing, and tweaking, they struggle with creating scientifically sound tests to know how well their prototypes work.   

Our elementary STEM program uses the Next Generation Engineering standards, specifically.

Students who demonstrate understanding can:
•3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
•3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
•3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

One of my independent professional growths goals this year has been to improve students' abilities to nail that third goal. I mentioned earlier that I find kids struggle to focus on the finer points of testing beyond "just trying something out." From an instructional side, I too have struggled with how to effectively teach this. It just seemed inherent to me that kids would understand controlled conditions and how one variable effects the others....umm...no...they don't.

Protocols to the rescue. For the last month I have been working to develop a protocol which effectively helps the learner see all of the variables in play, specifically independent, dependent, and controlled variables.

I finally have a functioning protocol developed that I am finding guides kids through the steps as well as provides some onboard vocabulary support that helps them keep the terminology under control. It is also deepening their understanding of the cause and effect relationships between all of the variables. 

I have also included a second page that helps students record data, make sense of their test results, and reflect on their testing design. 

Google Docs version is available here for you to view, download, or make a copy and tweak as you would like. Share all you would like but please don't sell it. I hope it can help your kids as much as it is helping mine. 




Creative Commons License
Design Process Student Protocol by Andy Losik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at mrlosik.com.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Simplify Teaching the Design Process with an "EduProtocol"

We can put up posters and charts and show YouTube videos of the design process, but I have had the most success at guiding third and fourth graders through it with this original "EduProtocol".

"EduProtocols are customizable, frames that use your content to create lessons to help students master academic content, think critically, and communicate effectively while creating and working collaboratively," state Jon Corippo and Marlena Hebern in their new book The EduProtocol Field Guide: 16 Student-Centered Lesson Frames for Infinite Learning Possibilities.

Whether you are teaching kids how to form complex sentences or how to properly compare and contrast, protocols work. Having been inspired by Jon and Marlena's work, I have developed this road map for students to navigate the design process steps in terms that make sense to them and requires them to think critically along the way.

Our elementary STEM program focuses on the Next Generation Engineering standards and this protocol drives student attention to the these three standards.

Students who demonstrate understanding can:
•3-5-ETS1-1. Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
•3-5-ETS1-2. Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
•3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Students must start with a driving question, consider available materials as well as constraints and limitations. From there a prototype is sketched and a test is planned. Once the actual object is built it is tested and results are analyzed with students looking for points of failure. The process repeats itself as students get to work on correcting the points of failure, redesigning their prototypes and testing all over again.

So far with my third and fourth graders, I am seeing a whole new level of focus. In the past, despite all of my best efforts to make it serious and scientific,  a project like building gliders from straws and grocery bags felt more like crafting than engineering. That has definitely changed with the protocol as time must be deliberately spent on reflection and analysis. With the gliders, utilizing the elements of flight became more important than how rad your glider looked.

Additional attention beyond the protocol is given to learning about variables and testing, as well as evaluating multiple design options. Protocols are in the works for those as well as I am struggling to really develop understanding of those aspects in my students. (Update: just launched a protocol for understanding and using variables)

Here is the design protocol. The first page is the starter and then multiple copies of the second page are used for each additional generation of the design. This allows our young engineers to track their adjustments over time, but also forces them to really consider why adjustments are being made and how they will know those changes made a difference.

A Google Slides version is available here for you to view, download as PDF, or make a copy and tweak as you would like. If you share it, great! A mention is appreciated but please don't sell it.






Creative Commons License
Design Process Student Protocol by Andy Losik is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at mrlosik.com.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Great Big Valentine full of Math Puzzles

It only seems appropriate to share this great big valentine full of math puzzles on February 14. Sarah Carter is a high school math and science teacher in Drumright, OK and her Math = Love blog is full of great resources.



Sarah recently created a page with links to all of the puzzles she's shared across various posts going back to 2011. Although many are geared for high school students, some may work for elementary or middle school and adaptions can be made to the basic ideas shared.


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Because the hook brings (them) back...I ain't telling you no lie


"Hook" by Blues Traveler is just one of those songs that makes me feel good any time I hear it. I was listening to it around 5:30 this morning as my brain was slowly morphing from dreamland to its educational focus.

Although this song was written more than 25 years ago about music, what hit me today was how it applies to what we do in the classroom. The line "Because the hook brings you back" is exactly how teachers are crafting experience to build long term student engagement.

Dave Burgess has done tremendous work transforming the way educators practice their craft with his Teach Like a Pirate (TLAP) approach. One of key parts of the analogy (I almost wrote metaphor but it uses "like".) is the "hook". Get it? Pirates, hook? It's basically what John Popper is singing about in the song by the same name.

The hook is that irresistible little piece of the lesson that creates instant buy-in. I have discovered several hooks that get our learners amped each week to come to STEM. Sending Legos down a zip line made of fishline is one of our most popular activities. Another is building Lego drones by Flybrix. By hooking them with the unique experiences, I am able to pile on all of the learning like countless reps of going through the design process or analyzing elements of flight at work.

Bonnie Capes from South Brunswick Public Schools in New Jersey has a great blog based around leading her colleagues in a TLAP book study. Her "Crash Course in Hooks" post outlines in helpful details all of the different ways Burgess suggests teachers can  their kids.

Now, let's get back to the music. What I hadn't ever noticed in "Hook" was one stanza that deepens the song's connection to teaching even further (proper grammar aside).
And it don't matter who you are.
If I am doing my job, it's your resolve that breaks.
Yep, that's our job...breaking the resolve of reluctant learners. Math teacher Dan Meyer is famous for describing what he does as "trying to sell a product to a market that doesn't want it but is forced by law to buy it." Check out his Ted Talk and you will see how he's a master at breaking that resolve with a unique tool box of hooks.

So, next time you hear Blues Traveler sing "Hook" think about true it rings in the classroom.