Cam Newton Provides A Teachable Moment

The popular "teachable moment" happened yesterday

The "Big Game" provided us with a real world opportunity to share with students today. I love NFL football. I have spent many years talking about it with 4th and 5th graders over my years of teaching. One of our most popular math games was "fantasy football math." That would all end today with the final act known as "Big Game." Tomorrow we would go on with dreary old "regular" math for a while. 

Last night I saw something interesting in the postgame press conference. Cam Newton, who I really like, could not get himself through his press conference. He wore his hood over his head, (BTW I LOVE hoodies) and could barely answer questions. This goes against how we have seen him act all year. He acted very child-like and not like a grown man that had to answer some tough questions. It made me think, what did Russell Wilson say last year after his terrible defeat? Luckily I have Google, and I could see video of how he reacted last year. I think you could keep going on down the list of losing QB's and see what the results are. I only looked at Russell Wilson and Peyton Manning from the last two years. 

I think this is a great opportunity to teach students a life lesson using people that many elementary students idolize. I think it would be interesting to have students look up the videos on their own and compare and contrast the actions of both quarterbacks. If it were me, I would give them the assignment in Google Classroom, put students in groups, and let them research and discuss the differences in a Google Doc before bringing the class back for a discussion. 

There is a lot of information that would be good for students to process and reflect on. I would continue to go back to this example throughout the rest of the school year. 

I am not indicting Cam Newton. No one is perfect. I can't even begin to imagine how it would feel to be on the losing end of a game of that magnitude. I love how he gives footballs to kids in the crowd and all the other things he does for the community and the Play 60 campaign. However, I think the interview is a great talking point for students. I have provided the links for Cam Newton's interview, as well as Russell Wilson's from last year. There will be commercials. You have been warned. 

Cam Newton's Press Conference Link

Russell Wilson's Press Conference Link

Start From The Bottom With These Apps Here

Don't Know Where To Start? Scroll To The Bottom Of This Post. 

I have been teaching with iPads since the beginning. I broke out the credit card for the iPad 1 and lined up to purchase the day it came out, did you really think I could pay cash on a teacher's salary, and started using it with students on Monday. Think about it, the iPad ONE...this stunning tablet had no camera, and if you wanted to project it, you stuck it under your document camera. 

Luckily, we had been using a shared cart of iPods for about a year. That prepared us for the inevitable question that I have been answering for years now: 

"What is the best app for ___________?" - Fill whatever subject or learning concept you like in the blank 

We just want a quick solution or place to go to get started. The problem is there are so many different scenarios for this question. 

  • What is the learning goal?
  • Do you want the students to have choice?
  • Do you want them to be creative?
  • Do you want them to collaborate?

Not to mention the workflow side of things.

  • Is it a shared cart?
  • Do you have a system so students can use the same iPads over the course of a few days?
  • Do you have access to put on your own apps?
  • Do you want to share their work? 
  • How do you plan to share it?
  • Is your district locking down and blocking sites you should have access to?

So when your district asks you to create an app list there are so many ways you can go. The iPad isn't built to be a one size fits all kind of item. There isn't an app list that can cover a K-12 school district, in my humble opinion. When we previously tried to create one for just elementary the people I worked with wanted to put over 90+ apps on the recommended list. That is absurd! Teachers do not have time for thatHow does a student feel looking down at a home screen with all those apps? Overwhelmed is the first adjective that pops in to my mind. 

Apps That Will Get You Started With iPads:

Please feel free to suggest other apps in the comments or connect with me on Twitter @jonsamuelson AKA the artist formerly known as @ipadsammy 

Other collaborators on this list @mrscarterhla @guildnerda @KTfour14 @catnostrand

Stand Up To Standardized Testing

Global School Play Day is February 3, 2016 

It seems ridiculous that I was given a directive to NOT play sports with students at lunch recess. Before you think there is more to the story than I am letting on, kids could not run and play tag on the playground equipment. They could walk fast. These are the times we live in as teachers. What if in my professional judgement, I decided to take an extra recess? I'm sure the admin would have scheduled a meeting and written me up. Newsflash - I DID take extra recess and got away with it. 

Why should we have to sneak around when we know that play is good for kids? 

Because of standardized testing

Whatever happened to letting kids just play? When I was in school, we had AM recess, lunch recess for 45 minutes, and maybe even a PM recess.

That is where Global School Play Day comes in. You can sign up here: Global School Play Day

Inspired by the TED talk from Peter Gray, Global School Play Day is coming back for a second straight year. Over 65,000 students on 6 continents participated last year. The focus is on just having kids play. Play outside, inside, games, legos, just play and interact with each other. Play is a good thing and we need to start bringing the fun back to school. Global School Play day is a great place to start if you made a New Year's Resolution to stand up to standardized testing. Go to the site and sign up today. Even if you only play for some of the day, this gives you a chance to stand up to that administrator with no vision. Take some pictures, share the fun on social media at #GSPD2016. 

Techlandia Third Anniversary Show

Bringing back @curtrees and @tedrosececi for a throwback show!

December 31st will mark the third anniversary of Techlandia Radio. When Alison Anderson and I started the show, we really didn't think people would actually listen. The first shows were pretty bad. We weren't afraid to change things up and try new things. We eventually found an audience and here we sit three years later. I am not sure how legit these stats are...but here is what I have from Podomatic in 2015:

  • Techlandia was downloaded over 17,000 times
  • The site was visited over 50,000 times on Podomatic
  • There were more than 20,000 plays on the web and mobile players
  • We were listened to on six continents...come on Antarctica get your act together 

So thank you to everyone and we will keep going strong with Amy Fadeji, David Theriault, and Jake Duncan in 2016! 

4th Grade Students Talk #hourofcode

There are so many great things about my job. My day today started out terrible. It was raining, the school bus came late, huge traffic, no hot water, my coffee was cold, the normal day before a Winter Break. I was not hopeful...then I remembered my first stop...Mrs. Tanksley's class, one of my favorites. We had an introduction to Garage Band scheduled. The hope was that in 60 minutes we could get them pumped up to use Garage Band to create podcasts when they come back from break. 

I thought the best way to do this was to create a quick podcast and show them how easy it can be. We brainstormed potential ideas to discuss, grouchy bus drivers, Hour of Code, Winter Break plans, taxes...taxes? I said I would like teachers to actually listen to the podcast. We decided on Hour of Code

I want to take a moment to share the lesson flow for the hour:

  1. Introduced Garage Band - 2 minute broad overview
  2. Told them about our ideas for creating a podcast to accompany their "Life of a pioneer" journals - 3 minutes
  3. Showed a student podcast from Mr. Lewis' class and played them a couple sample snippets - 5 minutes
  4. Brainstormed ideas and got ready to create our podcast - 10 minutes
  5. Recorded our podcast - 10 minutes
  6. Demonstrated how to create the podcast in Garage Band - 10 minutes
  7. Gave them time to explore and create in Garage Band - 20 minutes

I just want to stress...as a teacher I try not to give direct step by step instructions on how to use tools. I like to give them a general understanding of what the learning target is, give them just enough directions to get started, then let them explore with a partner. Every student does not have a device in this class. They have shared devices that the teacher has gotten from the district and from writing grants on Donor's Choose

The following episode of Techlandia is the podcast we created during the lesson. Fourth grade students from Mrs. Tanksley's class giving honest feedback and reflection on Hour of Code. You can find out more about the class by clicking this link for their Twitter and this link for their classroom blog. 

This class has also created a newscast with greenscreen and the Touchcast app. They finished it up today and are very proud of their work. They would love if you took the time to watch a little bit.