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Summer Blogging

I’m back! Now that summer is here I hope to return to sharing my insights on educational technology along with fun activities for the summer. Summer officially starts on 6/6/16 here so check back in then!

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More Science Fair resources

After reviewing virtual science fairs last week, I wanted to revisit science fair resources too. There are countless sites for help with every aspect of participating and running a science fair.

Taimi Toffer Anderson (1937- ), 1956

Anderson, Taimi Toffer. 1956. Photograph. n.p. Web. 24 Apr 2012.

I’m considering expanding my current Virtual Science Fair to have a fall and spring event during the 2012-2013 season. Some of the resources I’m hoping to use include the following:

Society for Science and the Public

Intel ISEF Middle School Curriculum

Science Buddies

As of right now, I’m thinking about offering bi monthly Science Fair related meetings online to help foster understanding of what goes into a science fair project.  I think there are lots of kids out there that would like to get involved. Does any one have any other suggestions for other resources or ideas?! Any help is appreciated!

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Science Fair + The Digital World?

In the digital world of today, we have so many opportunities to explore and learn.  We have blogs, wikis, web-tours, blended learning, online simulations, online classes, and the list goes on. So, here’s my question, where does the traditional science fair fit into the digital world of today?  I took some time to investigate what’s out there and also share my current contribution to Science Fair + The Digital World!

As with any topic, there are countless resources for those interested in participating in a science fair as well as those interested in running a science fair. Beyond the level of basic science fair information, there are a number of “Virtual Science Fairs”.

1. Google Science Fair

Google launched their own global science fair in 2011. Over 10,000 projects were submitted in 2011, from almost 100 different countries!  The Google Science Fair is open to students ages 13-18. The fair season typically runs from January to early April.  Google Science Fair site also offers an excellent Educator Toolkit.  I’m happy to say that some of my science club students participated in the Google fair this year and last year!

2. Internet Science and Technology Fair

I was surprised to find out that my own college, The University of Central Florida, hosts a virtual science fair too.  The Internet Science and Technology Fair offers a vast website with lots for information and tools for newcomers. I hope to spend more time reviewing this site and have some of my science club students participate next year.

3. NAIS Virtual Science Fair

The National Association of Independent Schools also offers a virtual science fair.  The NAIS Virtual Science Fair is taking applications for the 2013 season.

4. FLVS Virtual Science Fair

Even though my contribution regarding science fairs in the digital world  is much smaller in comparison to those listed above, I feel the Florida Virtual School Virtual Science Fair is worth a mention. Plus, I’ve been the coordinator of this fair for the past 4 years, so I have first hand experience I wanted to share! This year marks our sixth year offering the FLVS Virtual Science Fair to our, grades 6 – 12, FLVS students.  Over the past four years that I have been involved, our fair has grown each year.  Students have worked on their projects since January / February.  At the mid April project deadline, students submitted a PowerPoint presentation of their project.  In addition, a unique quality involved in this fair includes a mandatory online presentation via BlackBoard Collaborate, an online web conferencing service.  Student presentations for the 2012 fair will be held at 7pm on April 19, 2012, however, the presentations are closed to the public.

The traditional science fair is a well established and extremely valuable experience. However, in this digital world of today, it is great to see there are numerous opportunities for both traditional and online fairs, for all students, across the state, country and globe. I encourage all teachers to see how they might be able to contribute to a local or virtual effort. Students that participate in science fairs really experience a cross curricular benefit, while exploring science, math and technology.

 

Related Article:

http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=59206

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Rubric for Motion Stories Activity

 

If you’re following the development of my “Motion Stories” activity for my online Physics course, here is my first draft of the  rubric .

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Richie & Red Angry Bird

What do you think about including Digital storytelling in Physics?

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

I’ve put together a digital storytelling project for my online Physics students (grades 10-12). Lessons leading into this project cover the topics of  basic motion and graphing motion. This project is intended as an application and summary assignment toward the end of the module, to assess mastery of the following standards:

  • SC.912.P.12.2:  Analyze the motion of an object in terms of the position, velocity, and acceleration (with respect to a frame of reference) as functions of time.
  • MA.912.A.2.2: Interpret a graph representing a real-world situation.
  • SC.912.P.12.9: Recognize that time, length, and energy depend on the frame of reference

Please review my curriculum page and example submission! I look forward to your comments and suggestions for improvement! Thanks for your time!

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Calculating Physics + Digital Storytelling

Quick! Grab your calculator! What is the answer to the equation: Physics + Digital Storytelling? Well, this should be easy. Physics is everywhere! At first, my mind fills with random thoughts…little clips from MythBusters, Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner, and collisions and explosions from various movies.  But then, I’m a bit hesitant. How can Physics be paired with a silly little story? This is rocket science, by the way. So, wouldn’t assigning my students a storytelling project be a trivial activity? After spending time researching and thinking about the basics of digital storytelling, I am excited to share my observations and ideas related to Physics + Digital Storytelling.

First, I’m a bit bothered by the term Digital Storytelling. There has got to be a better name for this. When a student is given a Digital Storytelling assignment, they are potentially being asked to do more than simply tell a story. A well designed Digital Storytelling project requires critical thinking. It asks the student to explore, write, design, problem solve while also engaging creativity. As a product of the project, students should walk away with a better, deeper, more personal understanding of the topics involved. With these intentions in mind, I don’t think it’s as simple as turning students loose with a computer, digital media and some laws of Physics. I feel a certain level of structure would be appropriate for my Physics students.

Next, it’s important to know, I teach Physics online. My course is written with limited room for immediate changes to the curriculum. So, I need to squeeze this project option into the current framework of my class. With that limitation in mind, I focus on two ideas.  Idea 1 involves motion graphs. Students often struggle with understanding how to read position versus time, velocity versus time and acceleration versus time graphs.  Idea 2 involves an honors writing activity where students usually write an essay on the Physics involved in a sport. With this project, Digital Storytelling could easily replace the essay and be much more engaging and enjoyable for the student.

Digital storytelling can help students develop a more personal and in-depth understanding. And for that reason, I think it is important to explore Idea 1. First, I would build upon my existing course lessons involving motion graphs.  Second, a key part of the project would ask students to use the University of Colorado, Moving Man simulation http://phet.colorado.edu/en/simulation/moving-man.  Third, the project would also ask students to find or create their own motion video, describe that motion and sketch corresponding motion graphs. Students could submit a Prezi, PowerPoint or other format of their choice to summarize their investigation.

Since my students are typically juniors and seniors, many are willing and able to try new web 2.0 tools.  My school offers information and help links to recommended web 2.0 tools. In addition to that, I would probably offer teacher created examples and a detailed list of steps to follow or rubric. It might also be fun to ask  students to compare an example with proper Physics with an example of bad Physics such as that Wile E. Coyote.

These are just some of my initial thoughts regarding Physics + Digital Storytelling.  I look forward to digging deeper into the possibilities and growing more comfortable with curriculum integration within my online Physics class. I truly feel a meaningful project takes time to develop and asks the students to go beyond telling a story. So, for now, I’d rather call this Physics + Digital Story-crafting.

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Physics + Digital Storytelling

Physic + Digital Storytelling  

 

 

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Does size matter?

My birthday is coming up, so I was thinking of asking my husband to get me a Nook, Kindle or an iPad. And, it just happens that in my Educational Technology class, this week’s chapter focuses on “Hardware for Educators”. What perfect timing to investigate which tablet option is the best for me!  Whether it’s a house, car, pair of pants, bike, or new piece of technology, there are many things to consider when making a purchase. After doing some research, I’ve created a short flowchart to help sort out the options.

 For myself, price is an issue. I’m not looking to invest a whole lot right now. So, on the first level of my flowchart, I’m selecting price yes, size no. So, that leads me to consider the Nook Tablet and Kindle Fire.  My main usage will include eTextbooks, books, magazines, some apps and music. In addition, my kids will read books, play kids’ apps and watch movies on road trips.

With the next question, my two biggest factors are storage space and access to content.  Although the Nook and Kindle are lower price investments, I want the device to be useful for years.  This way, my kids can inherit this device in the future, when I’m ready to upgrade to the next new device. Therefore, I want a device that will have room for plenty of videos, books and other various files. Nook offers the great option to expand on storage with an SD Card.  On the other hand, Nook does not have an Amazon or iTunes type service for TV shows and movies. It seems watching videos with WiFi would not be a problem for either device. But watching video without WiFi will require previous download of videos, with perhaps more effort required on the Nook.

Lastly, I went directly to the Kindle Fire site and the Nook Tablet site.  All and all, both the Nook Tablet and the Kindle Fire appear to be solid choices.  Right now, the larger online marketplace is making me lean toward the Kindle Fire. I’m open to hear suggestions from anyone with first hand experience!

Related links:

http://nookvskindle.info/uncategorized/kindle-fire-review-yes-it%E2%80%99s-that-good

http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33198_7-57319054-286/kindle-fire-vs-nook-tablet/

http://www.geek.com/articles/mobile/ipad-2-vs-kindle-fire-vs-nook-tablet-specs-showdown-20111114/

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Exponential Growth and Emerging Technology

Whether you agree with it or not, enrollment in online high school education is growing exponentially, with no signs of slowing down. And on top of that, starting during the 2011-2012 school year, incoming Freshman, are required to take at least one online course in order to graduate, in the state of Florida. Having taught online Physics for the past seven years, I am often asked how does learning Physics online compare to the traditional classroom?  Although, this answer can be hinged upon the individual student’s learning styles and preferences, I am happy to say that my students are not alone in their learning experience and my role as their instructor is truly to facilitate their learning.

'Free online tutoring at www.tutor.com/army' photo (c) 2011, U.S. Army - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Just as the traditional school teacher uses a variety of tools to teach in their own classroom, I, as well, have a series of tools I use and continue to develop. Some of these tools include required discussion based assessments, daily on call hours, virtual classroom sessions and online simulations.  In thinking about my work as an online teacher,  I came across an EdTech Digest article,  10 Internet Technologies Educators Should Be Informed About – 2011 Update.  Even though taking a class online in itself is considered emerging technology, I wanted to share some of my favorites tools and evaluate how my current practices rate against this list.

  1. Video and Podcasting Resources – I often refer my students to The Khan Academy and  iTunes U.
  2. Digital Presentation Tools – My favorite simple and free tool is Jing. This program allows the user to capture their computer screen with audio.  I often make short recordings for my students to share specific audio/video feedback on various assignments.
  3. Collaboration, Brainstorming Tools and Survey tools – I use Google Documents for form surveys, student collaboration, and schedule posting.  In addition, I use Blackboard Collaborate for my virtual classroom. This site allows me to host virtual classroom sessions with my students. We can work on labs together on the site’s interactive whiteboard.
  4. Educational Gaming – I think the various applets and animations I use in my course might remotely fall into this category. Although, I would like to explore this area further. Perhaps the Physics of Angry Birds?!

 Overall, I feel good about my level of comfort and use of current technologies included in the EdTech Digest list.  However, there is always room to explore in every category! In addition, the areas I would like to add to my online educator’s toolbox include: Blogs, Social Networking and Lecture Capture. I’m especially intrigued on how I might try to “flip” my online classroom.  Perhaps, an idea to explore for next time.

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Wow! Twitter? Really?

A few weeks ago, if you would have asked me my opinion of Twitter, I would have shrugged my shoulders. I wasn’t really pro Twitter or con Twitter. I didn’t really consider Twitter to be more than a social extra. My only reason to sign up for Twitter would be to follow a few comedians, to catch a good joke now and then.

But now, and for the past week, I have been gathering information and working to begin building my own Personal Learning Network (PLN). Having taught online Physics for the last 7 years, I have relied mainly on my coworkers as my mini network. Over the years, I have successfully traded ideas, hosted professional development sessions and collaborated on projects with my coworkers from across the state and country. However, this semester, in starting my Master’s degree in Educational Technology, I finally realized my network goes little beyond my circle of coworkers.

Wake up call! I need to catch up with the times. There’s a whole world out there with so many potential members of my very own personal learning network!   In collecting more information about methods for building a PLN, I have now embraced Twitter and find myself learning and immersing myself in this process. So far, I have three short reflections paired with questions.

Stages of PLN adoption

1.       Comfort/ Time?  First off, I find comfort in the fact that those in this process before me have mapped out a series of stages for adoption of a PLN. I am clearly in stage 1: Immersion and I am enjoying it!  My question, how much time should I spend in stage 1? What’s realistic?

2.       Power of Twitter/ What else?  I am impressed with the power of Twitter. It quickly connects so many with common interests, so simply. What is the next tool I should add to help me in this process?

3.       Overload/ Best practice?  I went from following 2 people to 30 in just a matter of days. So, I’m also in overload mode right now. I’m sure this will pass as I get used to including Twitter in my life. I’m planning to limit my Twitter time daily. What else can I do to make this step less overwhelming?

I’m realizing that it is important to take ownership of your own growth as a teacher. I find this process empowering. I’m also excited to revisit my place in this process weeks and months from now. I have a feeling; I may slide up and down hill from time to time, in the stages of this process.  I also have a feeling; I’ll be able to turn to my growing personal learning network, weeks and months from now, as well.

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