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3D vs. 2D

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I've been following 3D for a long time, since Steve McQueen battling the Blob days, and before that with stereoscopic cards discovered in an attic. I still don't like 3D glasses, but love 3D tech. And I wasn't surprised with some of the findings in recent research (Read More), which shared that students who were taught with only 2D representations modeled in 2D, while students, who were taught using 3D-projected lessons modeled in 3D. I don't know about you, but I'd prefer to look up at a surgeon who had modeled in 3D.

I don't know if it helps the 3D tech cause, but as a former life science teacher I'm standing up for more classroom 3D by wearing my Save Frogs, Dissect in 3D shirt. Beyond frogs, as a former LA and reading teacher, imagine learning to read in 3D. Yeah, I'm prepared to live with a big downturn in flashcard and index card sales. WE WANT MORE 3D! In social studies, new meaning would be given to Being There. And I'm not sure you could, or would want to keep kids in their seats during a 3D lesson. Just please, someone work on losing the glasses. ;>)

Enjoy this short video with kids and teachers and their wonderful accents sharing excitement over 3D as opposed to the traditional 2D learning. Hey, maybe I'm the one with the accent.

Have a 3D look and listen: 

Accelerate: Standard Deviants Resources

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At the recent ISTE 2011 Conference I had a chance to demo an Biology module by a group of very cleaver, dare I say deviant, education resource producers from a company called Cerebellum. It was fun learning, and fully packaged for teaching the things that used to take me binders full of resource gathering. Beyond that, the pre lesson, actual lessons, and post lesson activities and assessments were anything but traditional. I do know that any teacher could teach biology by using it, and students would love the irreverant style. I did make the comment that students would most likely want to create their own videos and characters after experiencing the lessons. Afterward, I interviewed spokeperson Sam Genovese (image above as "Hiro the Dog Eater") from Cerebellum, who also acts in some of the video resource scenes. You may learn enough about Standard Deviants Accelerate to give it a try.

Q: How is Standard Deviants Accelerate different from other online resources?

Ans: We had a few goals when creating Standard Deviants Accelerate:

1)  Save teachers time.

2) Make it intuitive and easy to use, because no teacher should have to use a personal day to learn a new online program.

3) Make it a comprehensive subject-based learning resource that is flexible for teachers and students alike.

4) Create new and unique Standard Deviants video, audio, and testing materials that are only available on SD Accelerate.

Q: How will teachers benefit from using this platform?

Ans: Accelerate will save teachers time. Grading rubrics are provided for relevant assignments, however we know that each classroom has different needs, so we made the rubrics editable via simple click-and-type. Additionally, Accelerate pushes performance data to teachers for struggling students. This frees teachers from constantly having to log in to get time-sensitive data about students in need of more help, thus providing teachers have more time to teach.

Q: Can you explain the methodology in the structure of the subjects’ material?

Ans: Differentiated instruction, RTI and creative critical thinking are the backbone of Accelerate's methodology. 

A quiz taken at the end of a module is informed by smaller quizzes taken at the beginning of the module.  It really gets interesting with the critical thinking questions, though. Accelerate will push either a foundational or an enrichment critical thinking question to the student based on that student's unique performance on prior assignments. This type of instruction happens dozens of times over the course of an entire subject. 

Accelerate's approach to RTI is to literally send red flags to teachers when students are underperforming, so as to allow the teacher to respond in a timely manner. 

Students are asked time and again to approach the material from creative angles and think for themselves.  This makes the subject matter relevant to their lives, makes it real and makes it totally engaging.

Q: Why should this be used in the classroom?

Ans: For teachers, Accelerate is about flexibility and saving time.  Sure, there is a logical pathway to how Accelerate's lessons are organized and presented, but the entire system is designed to allow teachers to manage their classrooms in the ways they see fit. Teachers can have students submit assignments electronically or as printouts; additionally, Accelerate can be used directly in the classroom or assigned as homework or as a long-term assignment—the teacher is in control.

For students, Accelerate is a dynamic learning environment that provides not only Standard Deviants video programming, but also assignments with twists that really make the students engage with the material.  I mean, where else are students going to be asked to explain mitosis in rhyming couplets?

Sound Classroom Audio

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What's sound have to do with learning? 

I was reminded of the importance sound plays in learning this week, and of all places, at a golf driving range.  A friend, watching my inconsistent windmill hitting of golf balls hooked me up with something called Sonic Golf. You put this transmitter into the club shaft, attach a receiver to your belt, and insert ear buds—then you swing and listen. I quickly learned to specifically listen to the rhytym of my swing, the quiet associated with the transition/change in direction, and the speed. Sound feedback resulted in hitting the golf ball on the button—consistently. Learning can benefit by taking advantage of the science of listening.

What about sound within classrooms, and for teachers, kids, listening and learning?

I’ve long been a proponent of sound in the classroom. As a teacher, I toyed with all sorts of ways to hook up a microphone and simple speakers, so quiet students could be heard in a classroom. The best student presentation suffers when the audience can’t hear it, and no amount of  “speak louder” reminders will help. I also remember rigging up old record players with mics, because they had speakers—and sort of worked. Just that, was an improvement in a regular classroom. And by saying old record player, I’ve, again, dated myself.

As instructional tech specialist, I was forever looking for ways to inexpensively tie our teachers and computers into the ceiling speakers. I usually started with teachers willing to experiment, but most often with those who had students with IEPs that included sound options. It made those students, with the obvious hearing needs, more successful, and teachers discovered that the rest of the class benefited as well. At first, we used handheld microphones. Not the best for orchestrating a class, but certainly exciting for kids. Then, we graduated to a few devices that hung like necklaces, and left teaching hands free. It’s amazing how many of those devices I saw in the hallway, hanging from teachers’ necks, because they had gotten used to them, and forgotten to remove them.

I know there are scientific studies to prove all this sound theory, but the bottom line is really to learn the art of listening, you just can’t be told to do it. I will bet you that in most classrooms that are sound improved, teachers don’t have to remind students to listen, and teachers don’t have to repeat what they say—as often. It’s not only the students on IEPs who benefit; it’s the entire class, as well as the teacher. So, if you haven’t, consider making classrooms sound ready in newer buildings, and sound improved in older ones. 

Here’s a hyperlinked list of companies that do classroom audio well. Visit their sites for more.

1.  SMART Technologies Audio Classroom Amplification System

2.  FrontRow To Go and Pro Digital

3.  Califone Infrared Classroom Audio System and Califone

4.  LightSpeed REDCAT and TOPCAT 

5.  Panasonic All-In One Portable Sound System

6.  Cetacea Sound Astronaut 

7.  TeachLogic VoiceLink Plus sound system

8.  Calypso System’s WCM-RF Classroom Voice Amplification Solution and ezRoom 

9.  Epson AP-60 Sound Enhancement System

10. Promethean ActivSound 

11. Extron VoiceLift 

12. Crestron FreeSpeech

Cameron Evan Talks Teaching Innovation

Evans Cameron Evans, Microsoft's National and Chief Technology Officer US Education, talks innovative teaching with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Learn about innovative teaching programs, what innovative teachers are doing now, including gaming, and how to get involved in your own student and teacher innovative projects.
Listen to my interview with Cameron Evans:

Embed Player (requires Flash):

MP3 Audio Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/149/show_2149307.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

 

Phil Mickelson Talks Teachers Academy

Phil Phil Mickelson, tees up some education talk with Ken Royal at The Royal Treatment. Phil Mickelson, professional golfer and science education fan talks about the ExxonMobil Teachers Academy that he and his wife, Amy, began more than 6 years ago. The Mickelsons are a class act, with a passion for helping science and math teachers bring experiential lessons and techniques back to their classes, schools, and district. Phil goes from Royal St. Georges to The Royal Treatment, and it's just par for the course with this class act.
Listen to the interview:


Embedded Player (requires Flash):

MP3 Podcast Link: http://blogtalk.vo.llnwd.net/o23/show/2/124/show_2124365.mp3

iTunes Link: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-royal-treatment-blog-talk/id414014159

Video Games: Learning Disguised as Fun

Gamestar2Recently, 15 Brooklyn students with their families learned how to design and create video games. The training, held at the Shell Bank School (J.H.S. 14) was an effort to help needy students acquire the tools and knowledge to compete in the National STEM Video Game Challenge—http://www.stemchallenge.org/. Winning students will earn cash for their schools and a laptop for themselves. “My teacher, she told me about it. It was so fun. First, we made a game, and then we let other people try it out. Some kids had games that were really hard, and some kids had games that were really easy,” says student DeJannia Parnell.

My own video-gaming attention span is that of a gnat, but I get it. I remember teaching my students how to build JavaScript games for their Web pages. That was pretty simple compared to today’s game programming, but I do know that kids felt good about building something that they could actually play—sort of like building a stool in shop class—only more fun, and without the wobbly legs. Always heard good things from parents about it, too—and best of all, kids who hadn’t taken the course—couldn’t wait to get there.

Gamestar3The Brooklyn video-game training was hosted by the non-profit organization Computers for Youth (CYF)— http://www.cfy.org/, in partnership with E-line Media— http://elineventures.com/, as well as others, such as Microsoft and BrainPop. E-line Media also supports the video design and creation learning game called Gamestar Mechanic— http://gamestarmechanic.com/.

While my own video-gaming expertise is not quite that of a 5-year old, I appreciate that it may not only help keep computer science exciting for kids, but also allow them to experience a world outside their local environment. For me, reading is still at the top of the list for doing that, but making room for kids learning to create their own video games is a no brainer, too. I’m certain kids doing that would be late to the next class—for all the right reasons.

WildLab Kids: Phones in NYC Parks

Central_park I talked with Jared Lamenzo, president of Mediated Spaces about their WildLab project in Brooklyn, NY. Wildlab, funded by a grant from the MacArthur Foundation, uses cell phones and an iPhone app to support science curriculum for kids. According to Lamenzo, “the iPhone app helps learners ID birds, and includes information on birds' ranges and songs. Students submit their GPS-tagged sightings from local NYC parks, and the data goes to the classes' online account—they can refer to their findings later in the classroom.

At the end of the program, students submit their sightings to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for use in studies about species abundance and climate change. So far, students have collected almost 10,000 sightings, and over 500 students have participated. It’s no wonder the NYC Audubon Society, and other organizations are interested.

I asked Lamenzo if students BYOT, (Bring Your Own Tech) for the projects. He said that WildLab brings the phones with them to the schools, and kids use them as "field tools" rather than phones (note: social networks are blocked). Larenzo is working with scientists on more protocol-based science apps.

They’ve partnered with Cornell Cooperative Extension to develop a horseshoe crab app. “In the field, it was like playing a game on space invaders under moonlight with 300 million year old living fossils,” says Lamenzo.

Now this is what I’ve been talking about—using cell phones as learning devices. Kids in parks collecting data, returning to class to analyze, joining parallel studies with other students, with the ultimate goal realized—these students are scientists adding to the knowledge base of other scientists. How cool is that!

Jared Lamenzo concludes, “I think programs like ours can show that phones can be used constructively. It turns out learners are quite respectful of the phones and the data collection, especially since they know it goes to scientists.”

Make the Cut: Mickelson ExxonMobil Academy

Mickelson2010 Golfer Phil Mickelson and his wife Amy began the Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy to help educators get science and math professional development—and to take back lessons learned to their classrooms. The Michelsons are a class act, and people, who know nothing about golf, respect them. So, their genuine interest in helping educators teach better, and learn ways to get kids more excited about math and science, is easy to share.

In many instances, at the early grade levels, math and science may not be as comfortable for educators to teach as reading and writing—but it is where kids on those subjects. Here’s the topper—the Academy is all-expenses paid for teachers who make the cut.

To send a teacher to the 2011 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy, go to www.SendMyTeacher.com. There, you’ll find more information about the academy, as well as “clicks” to nominate your 3rd-5th-grade teacher choice. You don’t have to be an administrator, or an educator to enter either. Parents and students can nominate a teacher to the Academy.

The nominated teacher will receive an e-card saying "Thanks!" as well as a link to the Academy application. Last year, more than 1,200 teachers applied for this opportunity, and 200 were chosen.

The deadline for teachers to be nominated is October 31, 2010. So, tee it up, keep it in the academic fairway, and help an educator make the 2011 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy cut. All you have to do is log-on to www.SendMyTeacher.com.

If you're interested in learning more, check the video-journal experiences of a group of 2010 Academy teachers at http://www.youtube.com/SendMyTeacher.

More here at ExxonMobil: http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/community_math_academy.aspx

Energy: What You Need to Know

Energy3 As a former science teacher, I really appreciate the new What You Need to Know About Energy website. The National Academies not only presents the information wonderfully, but they've really paid attention to way the research is shared, especially at the K12 level. Educators and Students can dig as deep as they need, with beautifully mapped research trails, so young researchers will be successful without ever getting lost. The interactivity at the site will not be lost on classroom scientists either. The timing is perfect for this sort of energy research site for students. I hope this is only the beginning, and that there will be more from The National Academies.

I had a great conversation with Stephen Mautner, executive editor of the National Academies Press and the Office of Communications, as well as Terrell Smith, senior communications officer at the National Academies about this MUST BOOKMARK resource.

Here's What You Need to Know about Energy—a FREE resource from the National Academies share by Smith and Mautner:

One of the best parts of our job in the Office of Communications at the National Academies (advisers to the nation in science, engineering, and medicine) is that we have access to the top scientists and engineers in the country—or even the world. When we have questions, the people who have answers are never far from reach.

For the past year or so we’ve had the fun challenge of creating a resource that encapsulates the most important information people need to know about the topic of energy. As editors (not scientists), we came to the table with our own set of questions about this complicated subject and had the opportunity to share those questions with a team of experts in the field of energy. We got to hear firsthand what the pros and cons of various energy options are—and the problems we’ll face if we maintain the status quo. In the course of asking our questions, we also learned what the experts believe is important for people to understand about energy. The result of this dialogue is the website What You Need to Know About Energy—a primer about the nation’s energy situation.  

We designed What You Need to Know About Energy to be easy to navigate, so visitors can explore the story of energy on their own. There are four main sections, covering how we use energy, our current energy sources, the cost of energy (in terms of the environment, national security, and sustainability), and energy efficiency. The landing pages for each section highlight interesting or surprising facts that we think will pique visitors’ interest and encourage further exploration. Those who want to know more can dive deeper into the content, right down to the scientific reports published by our institution, which are written for experts in the field.

The site also includes several special features, including:

One of the other things that makes this site special is that, unlike many other resources about energy, What You Need to Know About Energy is not advocating any particular energy resource or policy. Its goal is to offer a balanced picture of the status of energy and some of our options for the future, so visitors can participate effectively in the conversation about this topic and make informed decisions about our energy future.

Developing this site was very rewarding. We learned a lot about energy and hope that we have effectively passed that knowledge on to others. For those who prefer a more traditional format, a free 32-page booklet that complements the website is also available in print or PDF form. There’s also a short video that captures the main ideas of the energy story. And this summer we will be working on a section just for educators that will offer guidance for how to use the site effectively in the classroom. If you have ideas about how to incorporate the content into lesson plans—or any other feedback you’d like to share—please e-mail us at EnergySite@nas.edu. And stay tuned for the launch of What You Need to Know About Infectious Disease in the fall!

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in The Royal Treatment are strictly those of the author and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Scholastic, Inc.