“My Country” Assignment—21st Century Fluency Project

via Look Who’s Chalking

The Year Five students spent eight weeks focusing on their ‘My Country’ assignment. This assignment was designed to encourage students to explore their own knowledge and answer a question that could not be answered by simply looking it up on Google. They needed to create an online resource as their final product.

Students worked through the Six Ds of Solution Fluency. These are; Define, Discover, Dream, Design, Deliver and Debrief. This is a model I was introduced to earlier in the year at a development day with Lee Crockett. The below link explores the Six D’s in more detail.

This essential 21st Century Fluency is actually the foundation upon which the other Fluencies are built. Recently, two longitudinal studies found that teaching a structured problem-solving process to a student will instantly increase their IQ by 10% and that this increase is sustained throughout their lives. Let’s make sure our students benefit from this. Everyone identifies problem solving as essential, but without a process like Solution Fluency, it’s just an ideal that never gets implemented.

Lee Crockett


I introduced the assignment with this statement:

Everyone loves to travel, especially when they get to travel overseas. They can explore different types of foods, visit famous landmarks and immerse themselves in the culture of the country. 


I created a website (using weebly.com) that students could refer to throughout the assignment stages. This meant that they did not need a paper copy of their rubrics. It was fantastic to have this website for them but if I were to complete the assignment again, I would add more to the website. I will go into more detail regarding this later on.

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The students needed to answer these questions:

  • Where does my family come from?
  • Why is this country a fantastic place?

We started with the Define Stage. In this stage, students need to state or define what is being asked of them and fully understand this. Students videoed themselves and uploaded these onto www.kidblog.org. They were then able to comment on each other’s videos regarding what they had defined as the problem. Students also had a teacher – student conference with me. In this conference we discussed what mark they were aiming for. I had set up the tasks so that there was multiple levels of success, rather than multiple levels of failure. Students told me whether they were aiming for a 1 (not completed), a 2 (minimal completed), a 3 (expected stage) or a 4 (extended).

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Next, students worked through the Discover Stage. In this stage students research how the problem occurred, they gain context to the problem and they shift their thinking towards analysis. Students began to research their country, specifically focusing on the geographical and cultural information. They also needed to interview a family member about this country.

Majority of the students were able to complete their interview in person but some completed an international Skype call and filmed the conversation using Screenr.com. One student did this and then set up a new Screenr to film the conversation whilst pausing to translate it into english. It was fantastic and really blew me away!

We then moved on to my favourite stage, the Dream Stage (creative/crafty side of me!). Students needed to look into the future and see the problem solved. They had to think of ‘what is’ and imagine the possibilities of ‘what could be’. The Dream Stage is one which cultivates creativity, innovation and imagination, and these skills are extremely important for people to have in today’s world.

Students put together a poster to outline what they imagined their finished product to be. They used key words, sentences and pictures to show this. They then presented these in small groups, explaining what they had found out so far and what they still needed to do.

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Then came the Design Stage. This is when students work backwards from the future, from their Dream. They identify the critical milestones that happened and decide how to implement the solution. This is the Action Plan, the Design of the Dream.

Screen Shot 2013-07-23 at 10.16.22 PMIn this stage students needed to create a 10-day holiday to their country. They needed to include flight details and costs, other travel costs (cars, taxis, etc), accommodation, sight seeing and attractions, food expenses and spending money. The created a budget for their holiday as well as an itinerary. Students used Pages to complete this and majority of them set up a form of table within their document.

Students also used an online timeline to create a schedule for themselves. On this they included the dates (across the week), what they planned to complete each day and how they were going to do this. Students printed this and ticked off what they had completed each day. This was a great way for students to reflect on their learning over the week.

Students then came to the Deliver Stage. There are two sections in the Delivery Stage:

Produce and Implement.

In this stage students put their plan into action and complete the process of solving the problem which they originally defined.

P7030251Students were given the option of using EdCanvas or Weebly for their online resource. These were selected as they were both relatively new to students and therefore created an ‘even playing field’. Unfortunately, students had difficulty creating their websites at school (due to proxy settings) and therefore had to use EdCanvas.

EdCanvas was great to use as students could upload videos, photos and text. As a teacher I was able to set up a class group and give them the code. Also, students did not need to have an email account to access it. When students had completed their EdCanvas, they printed them off so that I had a hard copy to mark.

The final part of the Deliver Stage (Implement) was to persuade their audience (Year Four students, Year Six students and parents) to go on their holiday. They needed to create a range of resources to assist them with this. They also had to focus on the language they were using and how this could persuade someone to agree with them.

We set the classroom up as a travel agency with students positioned around the outside of the room. This was great as visitors moved around the room in a circular motion. Majority of the parents came to the travel agency as we had it over two days and from 2.30 – 4pm. This was perfect as student pick-up is at 3pm, so most parents where already here.

The final section was the Debrief Stage. This is the most important part of the Six Ds as student look over the process they have taken and reflect on it. They ask themselves about how this product or process could be made better this time or next time.

Students completed a written self reflection task based on their assignment. Once completing this I had another student – teacher conference with each student to explore how they had gone with each stage and if they had reached their original goal which they created in the Define Stage. It was very interesting to hear student insights on the different stages and majority of them said they would aim higher next time.

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There are so many great students achievements that come out of setting an assignment like this. Not only are the subjects being integrated together (English, S&E and Mathematics), but they also have the opportunity to be responsible for their own learning. The rubric they are assessed on has multiple levels of success and students can therefore set a reachable goal. Students were taught about SMART Goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). They referred back to this throughout the assignment to make sure they were pushing themselves to do their best work and, also, not setting unachievable goals.

I found that majority of my students challenged themselves and achieved what they had set out to do. I was extremely proud of all the work they completed and the constant reflection they did throughout this task.

The Year Five classroom was open to visitors on Wednesday 3rd July and Thursday 4th July.  Many parents, friends and students from other year levels came to observe the travel agency.

I am very much looking forward to running the next 21st Century Fluency task in our classroom. Stay tuned for more.

Gabrielle Trinca. @GabrielleTrinca

22 Ways To Use Twitter For Learning Based On Bloom’s Taxonomy

Last year we created a “twitter spectrum,” an image that clarified different ways that twitter could be used in the classroom in (hopefully) authentic ways.

TeachBytes has followed that up with an excellent graphic of their own that uses a pure Bloom’s Taxonomyapproach. The specific ideas range from “remix trending tweets with video and music” to creating concept maps showing the relationship between tweets.

We must admit to going back and forth over the exact fit of a social media platform like twitter in a formal (or informal) learning environment. Clearly it’s a great way to skim and monitor information streams, but just like we wouldn’t use sing Shakespearean sonnets to toddlers at birthday parties, using twitter as an in-depth critical thinking tool requires a bit of squinting, even as an Avante-garde 21st century learning tool.

Unless you’re using it as a cultural survey of sorts. Or study media design. Or following experts. Then it works swimmingly.

As with all things, sweet spot matters. To help you find it, this graphic should help.

Social Media Meets Bloom’s Taxonomy: 22 More Ideas To Use Twitter For Learning


Bryan Setser’s: Ten Tips for Teacherpreneurs

Since Arnie Duncan’s new normal speech, we have seen teacher tenure battles, evaluation tool ideas, frozen pay schedules, and a host of reforms define an American Crisis moment for teachers.
Yet, the market I see reminds me of how the Chinese define the term crisis:
For the family members and friends of mine who are teachers, I remind you of Michael Fullan’s phrase, “Being right is not a strategy for change”. Nor is wearing red to school and yelling in a microphone. Now is the time for a whole new opportunity culture for the teacherpreneur.
Here’s ten tips to unleash the “teacherpreneur” inside of you:
1.     Teach for another district – In many states including my home state of North Carolina, multiple years of teachers having their pay frozen can be undone with one simple move – across the county line. Many districts will negotiate supplements, signing bonuses, or starting teachers out on their correct step on the pay scale simply by driving a few more miles.
2.     Teach for a virtual school – many teachers supplement their income by teaching for one of the state virtual schools or a configuration of them. See more on your state virtual school here: www.kpk12.com
3.     Teach your talent- provide content design or assessment services to the field. Many jobs are often listed for teachers weekly on sites like www.edsurge.com or  http://forum.inacol.org/. Postings like these are fairly common as to help  wanted from teachers oncourse content development.
4.     Teach as tutor 2.0 –As examples like the 4 million dollar teacher in Korea emerge, tutoring has become big business and far more than just after school at a desk. Think differently about marketing your talents to your community, state, and nation.
5.     Teach for DoDEA – many Department of Defenses Education Activity schools in the United States and around the globe offer great salaries and benefits packages as well as housing and utility allowances.
6.     Teach for start ups – many non public school markets like charters or next generation model schools often hire teachers to help in their planning years and when they open. Market you services to one of these sites.
7.     Teach in a SMOOC – while many have heard about the Massive Open Online Courses such as EdX and Coursera – you may not have heard of Synchronous Massive Open Online Courses or SMOOCs – this is an emerging e-bay teacher model where you can pick the times or amounts of intensity you provide as an instructor, assessor, coach, or tutor. Companies like Straighter Line are starting to pay teachers for these services.
8.     Teach and travel – many countries around the world value teaching more than we do here. Explore, take a fellowship, and experience these destinations with your family.
9.    Teach for a company – Connections Education where I sit on the board recruits teachers for services as does a host of for profit companies. Before you think corporate America is evil, really spend some time checking out organizations who are mission driven likeConnections or My Virtual School.
10.  Teach for a shingle: Graphic designers often learn their trade on Lynda or Udemy; they find their work on Elance or dribble. Similar markets exist for software engineers. Virtual law groups make legal services more accessible and affordable.  On Care.com you can find a babysitter or elder day care.  Angie’s LIst doesn’t manage a distributed workforce but they extract some friction from a decentralized market by improving discoverability and sharing recommendations (Getting Smart, 2013). Develop your shingle for education and help others through lighter, more nimble ways.
As with any educator or worker, you’ll have to define the right balance of family and work life. But, you are a gifted educator – consider sharing your expertise more broadly than between four walls.by Bryan Setser - Partner – 2Revolutions

Film Group Backs Antipiracy Curriculum

This could turn out to be an essential part of curriculums developed in the future that focus on digital citizenship skills and awareness. This article featured in Stuff talks about the Center for Copyright Information’s push to have schools teach kids about anti-piracy and the importance of respecting copyrights.”


via Stuff.co.nz

When it comes to learning about the evils of internet piracy, Hollywood studios and the major music labels want kids to start young.

A nonprofit group called the Center for Copyright Information has commissioned a school curriculum to teach primary-age children about the value of copyrights.

The curriculum, still in draft stage, includes lesson plans, videos and activities for teachers and parents to help educate students about the “importance of being creative and protecting creativity,” with topics such as “Respect the Person: Give Credit,” “It’s Great to Create,” and “Copyright Matters”.

The nonprofit is backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and others, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Some critics say the curriculum, called “Be a Creator,” would promote a biased agenda. Others contend it would use up valuable classroom time when public schools already are struggling to teach the basics.

“While it’s certainly a worthy topic of discussion with students, I’m sure some teachers would have a concern that adding anything of any real length to an already packed school day would take away from the basic curriculum that they’re trying to get through now,” Frank Wells, spokesman for the California Teachers Association, told the newspaper.

The MPAA blames the illegal distribution of movies and TV shows for causing billions of dollars annually in lost revenue. The trade group has tried various tactics over the years to fight the problem, from filing lawsuits against college students who illegally downloaded movies to backing ill-fated federal laws that would shut down rogue websites.

The program is being prepared by the California School Library Association and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, known as iKeepSafe, a nonprofit focused on helping children thrive in the digital environment. The group partners with educators, law enforcement agencies and major corporations, including Google.

The MPAA declined to comment and referred calls to the Center for Copyright Information, which is also working with iKeepSafe on the curriculum.

Jill Lesser, the centre’s executive director, said the curriculum has not been approved.

“It’s unfortunate this got out because we were nowhere near done,” she told the newspaper.

Lesser told a House subcommittee in September that she hoped the curriculum would be tested as a pilot program in California in the current academic year, and eventually be adopted at schools nationwide, the Times reported.

5 Powerful Questions Teachers Can Ask Students

via Edutopia

My first year teaching a literacy coach came to observe my classroom. After the students left, she commented on how I asked the whole class a question, would wait just a few seconds, and then answer it myself. “It’s cute,” she added. Um, I don’t think she thought it was so cute. I think she was treading lightly on the ever-so shaky ego of a brand-new teacher while still giving me some very necessary feedback.

So that day, I learned about wait/think time. And also, over the years, I learned to ask better and better questions.

Many would agree that for inquiry to be alive and well in a classroom that, amongst other things, the teacher needs to be expert at asking strategic questions not only asking well-designed ones, but ones that will also lead students to questions of their own.

Keeping It Simple

I also learned over the years that asking straightforward, simply-worded questions can be just as effective as those intricate ones. With that in mind, if you are a new teacher or perhaps not so new but know that question-asking is an area where you’d like to grow, start tomorrow with these five:

#1. What do you think?

This question interrupts us from telling too much. There is a place for direct instruction where we give students information yet we need to always strive to balance this with plenty of opportunities for students to make sense of and apply that new information using their schemata and understanding.

#2. Why do you think that?

After students share what they think, this follow-up question pushes them to provide reasoning for their thinking.

#3. How do you know this?

When this question is asked, students can make connections to their ideas and thoughts with things they’ve experienced, read, and have seen.

#4. Can you tell me more?

This question can inspire students to extend their thinking and share further evidence for their ideas.

#5. What questions do you still have?

This allows students to offer up questions they have about the information, ideas or the evidence.

In addition to routinely and relentlessly asking your students questions, be sure to provide time for them to think. What’s best here: three seconds, five, or seven? Depending on their age, the depth of the material, and their comfort level, this think time will vary. Just push yourself to stay silent and wait for those hands to go up.

Also be sure to vary your tone so it genuinely sounds like a question and not a statement. When we say something in a declarative way, it is often with one tone and flat sounding. On the other hand, there is a lilt in our voice when we are inquiring and questioning.

To help student feel more comfortable and confident with answering questions and asking ones of their own, you can use this scaffold: Ask a question, pause, and then invite students to “turn and talk” with a neighbor first before sharing out with the whole group. This allows all to have their voices heard and also gives them a chance practice their responses before sharing in front of the whole class.

How do you ask questions in your classroom? What works well with your students? Please share with us in the comment section below.


The Problematic Connotation Of Video Games


via TeachThought

Perhaps more than any other media form, video games suffer from connotation.

While sourced directly from a stunning convergence of art and technology, the public perception of video games drips with the juvenile, evoking images of–depending on your age–Pac-Man, Mario, or the Grand Theft Auto series. Their time in the public spotlight is usually brief, and tangled with inevitably tilted discussions on children, violence, impression, and even Constitutional rights.

This misses what makes gaming such an engaging rhetorical form–and the explosive evolution of video games as an interactive narrative medium.

Rainbow 6 is an upcoming game from developer Ubisoft Montreal that not only allows interaction (a player manipulating a digital avatar to in pursuit of some goal), but also seeks to tell a story in a way that books, poems, or music cannot.

The lead-in from the full text (seen here at Game Informer, by Matt Bertz and Jeff Cork):

“Americans are angry. And why shouldn’t they be? With an exponentially expanding national debt, crippling foreclosures, corporate bailouts, degrading infrastructure, dwindling job market, and widening income gap between the haves and the have-nots, it’s getting harder to believe politicians when they speak of American exceptionalism as if it were a fundamental truth.

“In response to gradual erosion of our beloved nation, resentful citizens of all kinds of political backgrounds are rising up in the form of new political movements like the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street. But unlike the 1960s, when protests and activism resulted in the discontinuation of the military draft, the Civil Rights Act, and the sexual revolution, the contemporary bickering government parties have proven largely ineffective at slowing or reversing the downward trajectory.

“The media isn’t helping matters. Rather than promote discussions about viable solutions moving forward, ad-driven 24-hour media outlets and radio programs are content to stoke the fires and sensationalize political differences. America’s volatile political climate serves as the jumping-off point for Rainbow 6 Patriots.”

Not your typical shoot-the-aliens—or even nameless “terrorist” context.

“In previous games, allowing a civilian to die was game over. Now you’re not exempt from tough situational decisions. Do you kill one civilian now and potential spare hundreds of lives, or is the lone human life too critical to lose even if it means thousands others may meet their untimely deaths down the road? In Patriots, you make the call.”

The story finishes with a play-through of an early draft of the game, in video game language called a “build”:

“Our live game demo (of the game) doesn’t start with Team Rainbow sated in the back of the chopper outside a facility surrounded by police. Instead, our first glimpse comes from the perspective of a well-to-do real estate investor sitting in his idyllic American home. Judging by the polished wooden floors, larhe HDTV, and the iPad-like tablet sitting to his right, this guy is living the good life.”

Continuing, the main character is presented a cupcake for his birthday.

“Happy Birthday. Go on, blow it out,” she says. Like a scene out of Heavy Rain (another immersive, heavily narrative video game), the player is given the option to blow out the candle or stroke his wife’s cheek.

“These types of ‘bad or worse’ situations define the story campaign in Rainbow 6 Patriots. Given the sensitive subject matter of Americans turning on each other, we asked the team if they were prepared to face a media controversy propagated by news networks that move so quickly and ignorantly to condemn video games as youth-corrupting trash. We can see the sensational headline now: ‘Liberal Game Publisher Paints Tea Party as Terrorists.”

“Why can’t a game be smarter? Why can’t a game embrace issues? We’re not coming down with any kind of ruling or judgment about any of this. We’re letting people talk amongst themselves. We’re making a game that we want to provoke discussion and deeper thought. We certainly welcome the opportunity to talk intelligently and thoughtfully about the mature subject matter. As the game industry evolves, we’re going to face these issues more and more often.”

As technology progresses, media forms will likely evolve but the rhetoric behind them will not. Video games are simply a media that are both interactive and digital. By some odd consequence of consumerism, sound, and color they were “given” to children first, and invariably (and unfortunately) any evaluation of games as a media form turns to the needs of children.

The more important–and more fruitful–discussions will continue to focus on a media form that is increasingly interactive, inter-textual, and full of self-directed scaling up and down Bloom’s taxonomy in digital acts of application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.


Facebook Steps Up Efforts to Curb Bullying

                   via Stuff.co.nz

Facebook said it will beef up efforts to curb bullying on its site starting as police, parents and educators sound greater alarm over the unmonitored and sometimes dangerous interactions among teens on social media networks.

The company will make it easier for teens to contact an adult on the site when they feel bullied, and it will release talking points and guides for teens, parents and educators to deal with harassment.

But the anti-bullying effort does not apply to Instagram, Facebook’s popular photo-sharing mobile devices application that has been embraced by many youth, even some under the minimum entry age of 13.

Privacy and child advocates have called for greater attention to safety on Instagram and have criticized Facebook for having separate guidelines for the two sites. Harsh comments, threats and embarrassing photos shared on Instagram have spurred a greater number of bullying incidents across the country, according to law enforcement officials and educators.

The company said the two businesses function differently.

The new Bullying Prevention Hub has been developed specifically for Facebook, and Instagram has its own policies for youth privacy and safety, the Silicon Valley firm said.

“Rather than simply focus on awareness of this information, we’re putting it at people’s fingertips at the moment they need it most,” Facebook wrote in a blog announcing the effort.

A teen distressed by a comment, photo or video on Facebook can press a button to anonymously report the content as abusive. Facebook also will make it easy for the teen to connect to an adult within the youth’s network of friends when he or she is being bullied.

For teens, the company recommends: “It’s best to not approach the person who bullied you when you are upset. If you feel it is safe to talk to the person who bullied you, you might want to do so with a trusted friend or adult. Remember, bullying behavior is unacceptable and you have the right to stand up for yourself.”

Parents are given talking points such as: “I’m so sorry this happened to you, and I’m glad you told me. Can you tell me more about what happened and how you are feeling?”

The guides may seem basic, but can help foster trust between adults and youth, experts say. Teens often don’t report bullying to a parent because they are afraid the adult will overreact and exacerbate the problem, experts say.

How to Support Teachers for 21st Century Learning

via eClassroom News

Experts weigh in on how administrators can support teachers in implementing collaboration and creativity

Implementing broad concepts like critical thinking and communication may seem like natural next steps to educators, but unless teachers receive support from school policy and infrastructure, providing students with a true 21st century education may not be so easy.

This was a key topic of discussion during a recent Connected Educator Month webinar, hosted by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) and EdLeader21—a national network of school and district leaders focused on integrating the 4Cs into education.

The 4Cs–communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity–are part of P21’s mission to help educators teach students 21st century skills. Webinar panelists said this task can’t be accomplished without support from school administrators in the way of space design, instructional practices, and school policy.

Dana Strother, chief academic officer at Douglas County School District in Colorado, said her district “looked at Bloom’s Taxonomy and vetted our state’s standards through the taxonomy” during an evaluation of instructional practice.

“Areas that were lacking we improved through what we call ‘World Class Outcomes,’ and instructional design that allows for the 4Cs. We also provided CIA curriculum and instruction alignment and wove authentic learning experiences into the curriculum for support,” she said.

The district also made it a priority to provide supporting infrastructure through district policy on risk-opportunities.

“It’s important to let teachers know, in various ways, but also through policy, that we support risk-taking opportunities, or new strategies, projects, or professional development opportunities that may be new or unique,” she said.

For example, Douglas County lets teachers experience inquiry-based professional development opportunities in order for teachers to learn through the same practices they’re expected to teach students.

“We’re asking teachers to incorporate new kinds of teaching that include the 4Cs, so why should teachers in turn be taught in a different manner? Sometimes by thinking outside of the box and going against traditional methods, especially from an administrator standpoint, the results are better,” Strother said.

Randy Fielding, chairman and founding partner of educational facilities planning and architectural design firm Fielding Nair International, said he believes school design also factors heavily into incorporating the 4Cs into a student’s daily life.

Fielding’s design firm tries to incorporate 20 “learning modalities” into school design, which include concepts, such as Independent Study, Peer Tutoring, Team Collaboration, and One-on-One Learning, to support the 4Cs of instruction.

“To have a truly 21st-century school, you have to inspire organic collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication, and focusing on design can help.”

“To have a truly 21st-century school, you have to inspire organic collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, and communication, and focusing on design can help. For example, you could have a ‘watering hole’ space off hallways where students could casually converse; you could have a ‘cave space’ where students could reflect for independent thinking; and you could have a ‘campfire space’ where everyone gathers to collaborate,” Fielding said.

Panelists emphasized that it’s also important for administrators and teachers to understand that instruction focused on the 4Cs doesn’t just work for certain kinds of subjects, students, or teachers.

“The 4Cs work for every kind of student and teacher in classrooms across the country,” said Donna Harris-Aikens, director of Education Policy and Practice at the National Education Association (NEA). “It’s less a series of requirements and more just authentic learning. For example, a math class could use its English and design skills to help draft a proposal to help senior citizens in their community make their homes more accessible. For this kind of project, you need the 4Cs in STEM, English, and community service.”

Fielding said it’s important that school and district leaders support teachers in working together to develop collaborative projects for their students.

One of the schools his firm works with has a student-run lunch program through which students negotiate with local farmers. They serve the week’s menu selections on carts around the school so students can taste-test their creations. Students in the program generate quarterly reports on profit and loss, and send those reports off to the school board.

“Students get credit for working in this program, which essentially teaches them collaboration skills, analytical skills, and even creative skills, thanks to cooking,” he said.

However, panelists said that there are still barriers for teachers who want to pursue the 4Cs, including getting first-world experience on how to actually teach broad concepts like creativity.

“That’s why we introduced the Creative Innovator Network in our district, which allows teachers to collaborate with not only their peers on different projects, but also local businesses to brainstorm ideas on how students can better serve the community,” said Strother. “We also bring students into the teacher professional development sessions to hear their voice and how they enjoy learning, so that teachers can adapt their instruction.”

“The biggest barrier for teachers is time,” said Harris-Aikens. “Finding time to make everything work effectively and collaborate is hard, especially because planning, or collaborating, time needs to be on a consistent and continual basis. Students also need a large amount of time to work on these projects, and to have time flexibility in case they make mistakes, as well. Administrators need to make sure teachers and students can have that time in their day.”

For more on this topic, watch the full webinar.

MIT Develops inFORM, Blows Your Mind by Rendering Digital Stuff in 3D Physically


via Digital Trends

Think your mouse and keyboard are pretty rad input devices? How about your 27-inch monitor? They’re like chisels and spears compared to inFORM, something that the wizards at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology just unveiled. inFORM can reproduce digital content physically in 3D, which allows you to interact with it. Simply put, this could be the future of PC interaction.Like something out of Back to the Future or TRON, the inFORM can also react to the world around it, as well as be used like an input device akin to a mouse or keyboard. The inFORM can be used for everything from physically rendering bar graphs and 3D models which you can touch like you would any other object. And forget Skype calls; the inFORM can create a physical version of someone who, for example, rings into a conference call from afar. The inFORM was developed by MIT PhD students Sean Follmer, Daniel Leithinger, and Professor Hiroshi Ishii, from MIT’s Tangible Media Group.The inFORM’s possible applications go way beyond making your conference calls a more futuristic experience though. Think of what being able to render objects in 3D can do for such fields like architecture, urban planning, engineering and the like. Follmer says that having the ability to render an object in 3D physically allows you to “better understand it.”“The traditional sort of interaction design and device design sort of assumes for a very static way of interacting and this [inFORM] device can change its physical form very quickly and that means that we need to come up with new ways that we interact with technology,” Follmer said.

Follmer also said that the inFORM was “quite expensive” to make. Just to give you an idea, the inFORM contains 900 small motors which control each pin on it. Every pin works to render objects in 3D, and each motor costs between $20 and $30. Also, considering that this is an MIT project, don’t expect this to be available at your local Best Buy or Amazon this holiday season.

Watch this video about inFORM below while we pick our jaws up off the floor.

INSERT VIDEO FROM VIMEO NUMBER http://www.vimeo.com/79179138

10 Must-Watch Videos for Flipped Learning

via eSchool News

From STEM videos to history lessons, YouTube can be a one-stop shop for flipped learning

If must-implement educational trends were narrowed down to a small group, flipped learning would be among the top contenders. But flipped learning doesn’t have to consist of videos of a hand on a whiteboard, and it doesn’t have to discuss how to multiply fractions in monotone—after all, there’s a whole YouTube world out there.

Part of the fun of flipped learning is introducing brief questions on relevant curriculum topics that students can discuss or use to create projects during class. For instance, based on historical definitions, should Pluto be a planet? If some products in the U.S. are identified through numbers, could replication of those numbers be made illegal? In other words, could a number itself be illegal?

It’s these types of short videos, based in research and made for education (with interesting animations and vivid explanations), that can be a solid foundation for inquiry-based learning. They also can provide real-world examples of what’s being taught in schools.

Do you have a favorite video you show your students? Do you think flipped learning can help in inquiry-based or project-based learning? Let us know in the comment section below.

1. Life in a drop of water (Science): A drop of pond water viewed through a microscope; filmed and edited with a smart phone. Ask students to try and identify what they’re seeing in the drop.

2. What if the Death Star was real? (STEM): Using dimensions and design specs from the Star Wars website, imagine how the Death Star might impact Earth. A bit of fun with Professor Mike Merrifield from the University of Nottingham.

3. Illegal numbers (Civics/Math): Could some numbers be made illegal in the U.S.? This video features Dr. James Grime: https://twitter.com/jamesgrime

4. What if you were born in space? (Biology/Health): Delve into how gravity and other natural forces can affect the body once in space. Provides a look at current science research.

5. CrashCourse U.S. History Part 1 (History/World Culture): A very animated historian discusses the Native Americans who lived in what is now the U.S. prior to European contact. John Green also discusses early Spanish explorers, settlements, and what happened when they didn’t get along with the indigenous people. The story of their rocky relations has been called the Black Legend.

6. Vatican City explained (History/World Culture): Using drawings and historical photos, this historian simplifies world issues in a fun way, allowing for open discussion.

7. Super expensive metals (Science): Inside a Noble Metals factory, where even the dust on your shoes is too valuable to ignore! Make the Periodic Table of Elements come to life.

8. Grammaropolis noun song (English/Language Arts): Think of this as an updated Schoolhouse Rock.

9. Negative numbers introduction (Math): Khan Academy incorporates real world examples into a very basic math concept explanation.

10. Is Pluto a planet? (History/Science): Learn about how Pluto came to be called a planet based on historical definitions and scientific inventions, to its eventual fall from the planet category.