While we’d all love to make it to the nation’s biggest education technology conference, ISTE, sometimes the cost and location can make it a challenge. Close to 15,000 people gathered in San Antonio this year for #ISTE17, but there were many more who were not able to attend. Fortunately, with so many innovative educator minds chomping at the bit for the latest and greatest educational technology, over the years a solid virtual learning network has emerged around the conference. Between Twitter, Google Groups, and other collaborative tools, educators from around the country were able to participate from afar in #NotAtISTE17.
The #notatISTE17 hashtag allowed us to easily network with other edtech enthusiasts remotely attending the conference. BGL teachers were just a few of the nearly 200 educators who participated in the #badgechallenge, which was a great way to get to know our fellow virtual attendees. Here are two of our badges!
As the conference began, BGL employees logged on to Zoom and met via video to discuss new materials as we followed the hashtags, learned about the latest ideas and resources and met some like-minded cohorts.
Below are our top 8 #notatISTE17 take-aways:
- Creative Coding on BrainPop For our 5th graders who participate in the Hour of Code, the Creative Coding on BrainPop could be a great extension for some additional coding projects.
- Buncee We’re always looking for new, fun and engaging ways for students to share their ideas. Buncee serves as a good alternative to the typical deck of slides.
- Global Read Aloud – Working in authentic reading experiences for children is always on teachers’ minds. This six-week global initiative to share read alouds with classes can be a great way to work in some good stories while connecting with students around the world.
- PhET Interactive Simulations – These digital math/science simulations are great when you can’t get your hands on the real thing.
- Peardeck – Peardeck offers a new presentation tool with interactive questions. It has great potential for both teachers and students.
- Flocabulary – Who doesn’t like a hip hop with their vocabulary development? This tool seems like it could make learning new words lots of fun.
- Triventy – Assessment is so valuable, but can become stale for students. With Triventy you can create collaborative classroom quizzes and switch things up a bit.
- Flipgrid – We often don’t get to hear individual student voices in the classroom. Flipgrid video discussion community that allows students to submit video responses to questions.
Join the #notatISTE17 Google Group if you missed out on the live Twitter feed during the conference for some great resources and networking.
What’s your favorite conference to Twitter-stalk? Leave us a comment!
One great element is that a given student’s avatar can “die,” which sounds a bit violent for a classroom setting until you consider a few things:
- Students are organized into teams and there are disincentives built in to the other team members if one of their teammates dies. In other words, students HAVE to help each other in order to avoid team-wide consequences.
- The teacher can customize the penalty for death with creative consequences that can otherwise benefit the class.
The latter bullet point is the subject of the following video in which Teacher Travis introduces Classcraft to his 5th grade class via distance learning. Please enjoy! Our students definitely do.
The teacher dashboard allows multiple views of the class with varying degrees of detail. It also makes it easy to reward/punish groups of students or the entire class at one time with just a few clicks.
Another element we enjoy with Classcraft is “Today’s Event,” a randomized act that may or may not affect multiple student accounts at one time. It’s akin to some of the squares on a Monopoly board where rewards or consequences are doled out simply for having been in the right/wrong place at the right/wrong time.
Almost everything in Classcraft is customizable. From a student perspective, they can customize their avatars and earn the ability to unlock special wardrobe elements and skills. The teacher, like with Class Dojo, can customize the rewards and consequences to target specific class behaviors.
Given this level of customization, there is definitely a learning curve. It seems a bit unwieldy and user-unfriendly at first, but most tech users will find it to become second nature after using it for a short amount of time. Like with most things in teaching, consistency is key – the more you use it, the more effective it becomes.
BGL’s own Teacher LaCora has experience in front of the camera as a red carpet host here in Los Angeles. She used those skills to create a video about the recent earthquake in Ecuador as part of BGL’s weekly current events unit.
To teach current events, BGL selects a handful of stories from the week and shares links to the stories along with discussion questions to all their teachers across grades K-8. Each teacher chooses the story and discussion questions that are best suited for the ability and interest of their classes. Choosing more discussion questions – or turning them into writing assignments – takes the activity from a short one (5-10 minutes) to a longer one (a full period or two).
Here are the discussion questions for the Ecuadorian earthquake story. As you can see, they get progressively more difficult so that teachers in older grades choose from the bottom and vice versa for younger grades.
- What can people do to help when there is an earthquake?
- Have you ever felt an earthquake? What does it feel like?
- What causes earthquakes? Are there different kinds?
- What is the Richter scale? What does it mean to increase exponentially?
How do you teach current events? Tell us in the comments section.
Our 5th graders in Taiwan are new to our distance learning program, so one of the first units we do with them is a familiar topic – Ancient China. We teach about Chinese New Year, the Great Wall, important rivers and inventions, and China’s greatest teacher, Confucius. But the most popular lesson is based on a trip that Teacher Seth took to the Shaolin Temple in the Henan Province of Central China.
First the students read a brief chapter on the history of the Shaolin Temple and its importance to Kung Fu and Zen Buddhism. Then, they watch a video about Teacher Seth’s trip:
Then, the students complete the following assignment:
Today, you learned that the Shaolin Temple is the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and of Kung Fu. You will choose ONE of those three topics – Zen Buddhism, Kung Fu, or the Shaolin Temple – and do Internet research on that topic.
Then, answer following questions.
1 – What is your topic?
2 – What are some important things that happened in the history of your topic?
3 – What are some things people do to celebrate or practice it?
4 – Who are some famous people who are associated with your topic? What is their relationship to it?
5 – What is your opinion about your topic?
The best of those reports are linked for download here:
Annie 21: Moe:
Christine: Nicole 30:
What awesome research projects has your class conducted? Leave a comment!
While the Renaissance is an important period in history and the artwork is truly amazing, it is not always the most interesting topic for students to study (especially those in the midst of junior high ennui). However, a class of BGL’s ambitious 8th graders at Tsai Hsing School have worked their magic to bring the study of the Renaissance to life.
First students learned about Donatello and through his work were introduced to the techniques of Renaissance artists. From this stemmed an art critique assignment in which students chose a work of art by Donatello and unleashed their best inner art critic. This met with some interesting results, some of which are below.
Next we learned about Michelangelo. This led students to an in-depth look at his famous works at the Sistine Chapel. They learned that Michelangelo created this art to represent the story of Genesis in the Bible. Students ran with this, creating their creation artwork. For a twist, students traded artwork, then wrote a story about the creation of the world. Below are just a few examples of their endeavors.
The next famous Renaissance artist in the study was Leonardo, who is famous for his unique perspective on the human form and his many incredible inventions. Students used this a springboard for their own inventions. They chose one of Leonardo’s inventions, but found a way to improve on it.
Finally, the students studied Raphael, who is arguably one of the most talented painters of the Renaissance and is famous for his realistic portraits. Students channeled their own inner artists to create self portraits. What a beautiful and talented group!
This class will be moving on to study Shakespeare in the coming weeks. Keep your eyes peeled for the actors and actresses to unveil the works of Shakespeare through the lens of a Taiwanese 8th grader.
BGL recently created a how-to for creating iMovies in crowded classrooms. We hope you and your students find it useful!