Friday, April 18, 2014

Things That Have Me Thinking-4/18

This is my series where I explore a few things that I have seen or heard about that is pushing my thinking, getting me to see something a different way or just something I want to share. This week we look at the 3 things about apps I've been exploring.

Field Day- I have been doing a lot of work lately investigating and helping teachers learn what authentic-based learning means. In a sense, its providing real-world problems that mean something to students, aligned to standards. One way we’ve been doing that in classrooms for a while now is Problem-Based Learning (PBL). Now, with the proliferation of mobile devices into classrooms there could be a true renaissance in learning. There is no doubt that the mobile devices can help with PBL but often students are using many apps to organize and create content.

Enter Field Day.

This app is specifically designed with PBL in mind. It provides a space for kids to organize their ideas, enter data through a variety of sources (web, photos, etc) and a summary so making presentations is quick and easy. My favorite part is the strategies section that helps students get going with their thinking and it’s aligned to Blooms Taxonomy. Even better the app is free so it makes it easy to get it going in your classroom.

Codding- It seems like many of the conferences I got to lately have specific sessions or strands dedicated to teaching kids how to code. And thats a good thing. Coding teaches so many crucial skills like critical thinking, math reasoning, artistic design and more. There is even a whole movement dedicated to get kids coding and see its not just nerds in dark rooms writing gibberish on the black screen. And again, with mobile devices becoming more and more prevalent in the classroom, coding is becoming easier to integrate into any curriculum.

CodeAcademy is one of my favorite and addictive apps. The app is simple, teaching coding and HTML in a few basic steps. At the end you have a webpage that you built from scratch, through coding you can share.

Daisy The Dinosaur-For our littlest coders, Daisy is designed to show kids how different coding actions do different things. Creating strings of commands, kids can make Daisy do all sorts of things.  

Cargo-Bot- This is another one I am having trouble putting down. Its a game, but through the game you learn the effects programming have on your potential outcomes. The goal is to follow the commands to do something with a crate. By putting together strings of commands you make the crane do things like pick up, move, toss, etc. Each level gets progressively more difficult but you really get a grasp for the power of programming.

Where To Find Apps- As we’ve seen there are some really great apps out there to learn all sorts of things, organize all sorts of things or to just have fun. While the cream usually rises to the top, what about the hidden gems in the App Store? How do you find the good stuff or weed out the bad?

Teachers With Apps-This site is one of my first stops when looking for apps. Organized by category its really easy to find reviews, information and more on the apps teachers are using in their classrooms. The blog posts are great too, helping find collections to recommend to teachers.

TCEA iPad Apps-This doc, organized by content area is constantly updated with iPad apps. There are sections for administrators, special needs and stuff thats just plain fun too.

Android4Schools-iPads aren’t the only devices out there. Many districts have Android devices. Richard Byrne of Free Technology For Teachers fame created a site to highlight good Android apps to use in the classroom. Loads of good stuff here.

So that is the stuff that has me thinking. What about you? What are you thinking about this week?
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