Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy to Use iPad Animation Creator

So you want to have your elementary or middle school students create short, narrated animations on their iPads? I just came across a nifty app to do just that.

Check out Tellagami. This free app is ridiculously easy to use. After downloading it, I handed the iPad to my 7-year-old and told her to check out the new app. First use, she had figured it out in about one minute with no coaching from Dad.

Easy to animate. Gestures added automatically and the mouth
movements sync to the audio (or text-to-speech) quite well.

Experience: The Best Learning

I'm a big believer in experiential learning--experiencing things firsthand to really learn them. I'm not saying you can't learn things by reading, or by viewing. You certainly can. But often times, the actual sights, sounds, smells, and atmosphere of the experience are part of the context of the learning and you miss something by not actually being there.

My family took many road trips in my youth. We drove through every state west of the Mississippi river, and a few to the east as well. I've visited so many tourist traps and National Parks and roadside attractions in the Western U.S., I sometimes joke--like the old Johnny Cash song--"I've been everywhere." This was a blessing for me that I didn't necessarily understand or appreciate at the time. Actually stopping and visiting all these places is different than reading about them or even seeing pictures or video of them. When you experience them, you remember them differently.

And now I have the chance to take my own kids on these kinds of trips. We recently visited lots of great places around the southwestern U.S. for fantastic firsthand experiences! Here is a sampling in photos:

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Four Stages of "Getting" Twitter

My good friend @DanBeerens asked me to tag-team a presentation in his Issues in Education course last week. We shared some of our ideas about educational technology and trends we see and a little future-casting for where education is heading. Both Dan and I are fans of Twitter for free, personalized professional development, so of course we talked about Twitter.

I've blogged about this several times before--a visual introduction to Twitter, some introduction to Twitterchats, and ideas of how to use Twitter for professional development.  I've come around to the idea that Twitter might not be for everyone, but I really do think educators should consider signing up for an account.

In our session last week, Dan shared the infographic below. I'd seen it before, but it maps out my own Twitter experience pretty perfectly--maybe you feel the same way? If you have joined Twitter and aren't "getting it" yet, hang in there. You might be surprised in six months to see how much Twitter is benefiting you!

Credit where credit is due: This infographic came from
Please pardon the language on that page, should you visit.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Backwards Is Better

Mutemath is one of my favorite bands. These guys are quirky showmen, but they have a ton of heart behind their music. The videos they have released for some of their songs illustrate their odd sense of humor. I think this video for their song "Typical" (released back in 2007) might be the best example I can provide. It's worth the four minutes to watch:

Sunday, July 14, 2013

A Technology Sabbath


I was camping with my family this weekend. Actually, with quite a few of my wife's relatives. Which is great, really. (My in-laws are pretty fantastic.)

By design, I left my iPad and laptop at home.

This was, I confess, a challenge for me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Misconceptions: A Jumping-Off Point for Understanding

I taught middle school science for quite a few years, and I've been teaching a science methods course for half a dozen. It's definitely true that students hold a great many misconceptions. And, frankly, it's often their teachers' fault that they develop these misconceptions. (Pointing the finger at myself here. Guilty as charged...)

The good news: misconceptions can be a great jumping off point for developing understanding! The bad news: it's fiendishly difficult to change people's minds once they have learned something wrong.

An example: Heavy things do not fall faster than light things.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Education Is About Learning

Sir Ken Robinson is brilliant. I love the way he explains things--he's hilariously deadpan, but he gets you thinking about very important things. The TED Talk below is a great example. It's full of great ideas, challenging ideas. But at the heart of his message, there is a very simple truth:

Education is about learning.

If there is no learning going on, there is no education going on.

People can spend an awful lot of time discussing education without ever discussing learning.

I highly encourage you to watch the whole talk, especially if you are a teacher, or if you have kids who are currently in school. Imagine what education would be like if schools would put the ideas he's dreaming up here into practice!