Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Playing with Math

Say what?  Playing with Math? 

Yes, students are more engaged in math activities that are visual and hands-on rather than by solving problems on a worksheet. When was the last time you, as a professional, completed a worksheet?  Yes, you may have done the actual calculations on paper, with or without a calculator, but words on a sheet are not as relevant to a student as something they can see.  

One of our math teachers. Mrs. Lauffer, has introduced a new website into the 6th grade curriculum. It's by a company called Sheppard Software and the website is of the same name. They provide a wide variety of educational games and activities for many subject areas, including math. The image below shows only a partial list of their offerings. Try it out by clicking on this link.  You have permission to play some math!

Musicians at work

For years professionals have created audio books for our listening pleasure. The computerized version became known as podcasts. Some podcasts are singular in nature, while others come in a series. A user can subscribe to a feed to accumulate all of the work of a serial podcast. 

Students in Mrs. Fritch's 8th grade ELA classes have been using their class iPads to create their first podcast. 

The assignment was to create a personal narrative podcast. The first step was to draft and write the narrative. 

After a basic lesson on using garage on the iPads by the ITS, they recorded themselves reading their creations. They spent several days creating their own musical compositions to complement the mood or actions of the reading.

GarageBand is a music composition tool native to the iPads. many instruments such as strings, guitars, basses and percussion are included in the toolkit. GarageBand provides tools for people who are not musicians as well as advanced features for people who are. Pre-made loops and instrument samples are provided for those who want to create musical pieces quickly.  Advanced users can connect their own electronic musical instruments to an iPad to record their own unique sounds.

The results are quite impressive and I am including a sample below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Monday was a very exciting day at the canyon. Late last Friday, we were given an opportunity to be a part of the Google Expedition Pioneer program and we jumped at that chance. I scheduled a full day of 15 teachers to bring classes to the lab and library to participate.   

Our administrators weren't left out either - they all came to try it out!

Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is brand new. It is being piloted across the world in the U.S., Australia, U.K. and Brazil. It is a virtual reality system using Google Cardboard and either an Android or iOS phone. Currently, an expedition consists of going to a location on Earth, the Moon, or Mars. Cardboard viewers have been around for a while, but this program adds the dimension of teacher control for a classroom of Cardboard users.

So how does it work? The teacher tablet and the cardboard viewers are connected through a server. Teachers select a location in an expedition and the signal is sent to the paired Cardboard viewers. The teacher is able to direct students to look at something in particular and sees smiley faces that represent where students are viewing. In only a couple of clicks, the teacher can change the location within an expedition to a different viewpoint. It was also very easy for a teacher to change to an entirely different expedition. 

Once the students receive the photo, they can view it from any angle - the picture is 360 degrees. Students look up, down, turn around and get the sensation of being in that environment.


It was an exciting, engaging, active day of traveling around the world!  We look forward to the day it becomes available for schools to have them.