Thursday, April 30, 2020

Quarantine LIke It's 1985!

There were few better ways to spend a sick day home from school in 1985 than to just lay on the couch and watch nothing but MTV.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, here's a 9-hour, playlist of 150 videos, upcoming movie trailers, commercials, and MTV promos, all likely to have played on an early May sick day, 35 years ago.

The tagline of this blog is "Educational Stuff. Fun Stuff. Dumb Staff" and this playlist checks all three boxes. So, go ahead and quarantine like it's 1985.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Be a #HomePro Hero with GoPro and CrossBraining - Win big!

GoPro is teaming up with project-based learning specialist Crossbraining to present the HomePro Hero Challenge and showcase all of the great learning and engineering that families are doing from home. Of course, GoPro would love for you to use one of their cameras, but any camera will work.

Josh Nichols at Crossbraining has rounded up a crew of enthusiastic educators and I am proud to be one of them. Over the course of the last couple of weeks, we have been assembling a ton of fun activities with the sole goal of making learning a blast. Visit the Crossbraining Lesson Page for fully guided ideas or come up with one of your own.

From there, it's super simple to enter:
  1. Download the free GoPro App to a phone or tablet and build your video with it. 
  2. Share your project to social media by tagging #GoPro #HomePro and @crossbraining – Use these tags upfront in the description of your post so GoPro and Crossbraining can find it for consideration.
For this special partnership project, you will be entered to win the Hero 8 Black, GoPro's newest and most advanced action camera as well as a subscription to Crossbraining. In addition, you will be in the running for cameras, and prizes that GoPro is giving away daily in its separate social media contest

Even if you don't decide to enter, check out the great lesson ideas at Crossbraining.

Good luck!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Dream it. Build it. Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now. The Learning Continues

One of the great "day brighteners" for me through this crisis has been the arrivals of pictures and videos sent to me from families of my students. It's been both a spoken and unspoken goal that the 50 minutes per week in STEM class at school should serve as inspiration for a life-long love of creativity and building. Well, that effort is repaid a hundred-fold when I see kids joyously engaging in STEM activities on their own.

Here are a couple of minutes of the joy of learning.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

You may not love your Chromebook yet...

Earlier this year, my school district began to transition from school-issued MacBooks to Chromebooks. Needless to say, the change was a big one. I presented to elementary staff this set of slides designed to help them find the new settings, move files to Drive, and just overall get the feel for using the new device.

The presentation is broken down into Settings, Google Drive, and Create With Chrome. The slides in themselves aren't designed to be a tutorial but accompanied my explanations. Hopefully, there is still helpful information contained within them. If you'd like your own copy of these slides, here's the link.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Slay Your Remote Learning Videos with Jon Corippo and Matt Miller

One would be hard-pressed to find two guys better suited for helping you teach better and work less while ditching your physical textbooks than Jon Corippo and Matt Miller.

Both of these guys have been at the forefront of re-thinking education and here they team up to help teachers make simple upgrades to the videos they are sending out while teaching virtually. May we all bring this much energy to our students.

In this video, Matt and Jon host a live chat while answering a number of questions based around teaching with video.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

If You Can't Find What You Need for Teaching Remotely on Wide Open School, You Don't Need It

Wow! I have been a fan of Common Sense Media's guides for evaluating the appropriateness of online content for years, but their latest project Wide Open School is one-stop-shopping for all of the help teachers transitioning to teaching remotely need right now.

Do you teach with a Mac? Boom, got it. Or, are you all Google Apps based? Boom, got it! Are you trying to figure out Zoom while hosting Zoom meetings? Boom, got it! What about Google Classroom? Yes! Are you concerned about healthy balances between media and healthy communication? That's there too.

I think you get the point, and I didn't even mention how there are about a dozen other topics beyond just setting up the virtual space. There are resources for special needs, specific subject areas, even how to set up virtual field trips.

Oh, and there is a family side to the whole thing as well.

Here's the bottom line. If you can't find what you need for teaching remotely on Wide Open School, you don't need it.

Friday, March 27, 2020

The John Hughes #Sweet16Candles Movie Tournament

No sports, huh? Well, it doesn't mean we still can't stir up a little March Madness in celebration of one of the greatest film directors of all-time.

Here are 16 John Hughes gems, who fought it out over two weekends of quarantine in March of 2020. Congratulations to Ferris Bueller's Day Off for capturing its "one shining moment" and defeating The Breakfast Club by a score of 2111 to 1866. Check out the tournament round-by-round results below.

Sweet 16: Friday and Saturday, March 20 and March 21- FINAL SCORES

  • All of the number 1 seeds cruised into the Elite 8. 2 seeds Home Alone and Pretty in Pink also had a pretty easy time of it in their matchups. Although they received significant support, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles and The Great Outdoors just didn't have enough juice to move on, falling to 2 seed Vacation and 3 seed Uncle Buck.

Elite 8: Sunday, March 22 - FINAL SCORES

  • Home Alone may have been John Hughes' highest-grossing film but it was no match for another holiday classic, National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. The Griswold Family picked up almost 62% of the vote in what was expected to be a closer contest. Ferris Bueller's Day Off proved worthy of its number 1 seeding as the "Sausage King of Chicago" rolled past Pretty in Pink. The Breakfast Club and 16 Candles completed the sweep by #1 seeds and enter next weekend's Final Four.

Final 4: Saturday, March 28 - Final Scores

  • After two rounds, the four top seeds have all advanced to the semi-finals. Teenage classics Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Sixteen Candles, and The Breakfast Club are joined by holiday favorite Christmas Vacation. While some in the Twitterverse are already waging finals bets, each film will need significant support to advance to tomorrow's championship.

    Ferris Bueller's Day Off 134
    Sixteen Candles 56

    The Breakfast Club 126
    Christmas Vacation 118
Championship: Sunday, March 29 Final Score
  • Ferris Bueller has blown away the competition all tournament long, having just dumped Sixteen Candles. The Breakfast Club narrowly squeaked out a Final Four win by just 8 votes. One contest remains. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Check Out These "Riveting" Free Leveled Readers from Google's Area 120

Rivet is a new product in experimentation-phase from Google and its Area 120. It comes in app form or it can be utilized just through a web browser.

Mind you, while the whole site is being built on the fly by engineers at Google, the web-cased interface is in beta, so it might have even more glitches. Oh well, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks as this is a great tool for putting just the right reading level material into kids' hands when they could be doing far worse with devices.

Personally, I like that there are no log-ins needed and that on any type of device there is instant access. There also seems to be a wide range of interesting subject matter, both fiction and non-fiction.

The interface seems pretty easy to navigate and I like also how the presentation of text changes at different levels.

Thanks to Jen Giffen for sharing this cool new resource.
Each level's bookshelf offers a wide variety of choices.

Sample page from Level 7

Sample page from Level 3

Thursday, March 19, 2020

More Fun with Tour Builder - Sir Mix A Lot - Posse on Broadway

Google Tour Builder is great for creating geographical references of history like my grandfather's journey through World War II or literary settings. It is also tremendous for mapping out hip hop classics like Sir Mix A Lot's Posse on Broadway.

Check it out.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Watch the 3Dux STEM Show Video Series

From our good friends at
Watch Episode #1, Leaping Lizards and Lots of Levers. Then build your own machines!
The STEM Show Video Series offers parents a variety fun and educational activities you can do at home with your young engineers. Teachers can share this video as a part of a remote learning plan. Use craft and up-cycled materials you already have in your home or grab your 3Dux Kit and follow our kid-friendly tutorials.

Watch the video
Create your own
Share your project
Showcase your project and your story 
to win prizes and see what other kids are making
The STEM Show inspires kids' creativity as children use the design process and learn to innovate solutions using materials at hand. Sharing projects and stories with the global 3Dux community gives children a voice and an audience of peers eager to listen and learn.  A great way to feel connected. 
Sign up for the next live 
Friday March 20th at 12pm EST. 
Watch the video and join a discussion with Pediatrician Marci Klein and 3DuxDesign Creator Ayana Klein on how we can support our children academically and emotionally during challenging times.

Van Andel Education Institute Works to Keep the Curiosity Alive

Here is a growing list for families and teachers that is full of great resources and activities from the folks at Van Andel Education Institute. There are experiments and engineering challenges as well as science and math lessons. The VAEI team has even included ways that popular entertainment options like Disney+ can be used educationally and to keep the learning...and especially the curiosity going.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Take the #ZipLineChallenge

It's everybody's favorite activity in STEM. Now, you get to show off your zip line skills from home. Rig up a zip line and use the engineering process and design thinking to send a passenger on a wild ride. If you are a student of mine, send me an email with pics or videos. Otherwise, post it to social media with #ZipLineChallenge. It doesn't have to be too fancy, just inventive and fun.

Learn to Draw Every Day with Mo Willems

Mo Willems might not want you to let the pigeon drive the bus, but he wants you to learn how to draw and is offering free lessons every day at lunch.

As the Kennedy Center's Artist in Residence, the author of Knufflebunny, the Pigeon series, and the Elephant and Piggy books is hosting daily doodling lessons via YouTube.

Here is another great example of someone using their gifts and talents to help keep the learning going and putting smiles on young faces.