It’s one day away! Tomorrow Madden, Discovery Education, and the NFL Players Association launch their “EA Sports Madden NFL: Football by the Numbers” interactive site to promote math and science in the classroom through football.
Brandon Wislocki and I share our experience of getting to preview the site and the simulations. We talk ease of use and some of the key features of the offensive and defensive sides of the ball as we preview some of the core math and science skills being explored.
As a huge chunk of our population sits down tomorrow and eats way too much, how many will think of the hours, dollars, sweat, and luck that went into producing the bounty in front of them? Probably not many.
Through video and print resources, the site is broken into four lessons (45-60 minutes each) that explore a wide array of farming and ranching topics that are important to not only the sustainability of the industry but also our food supply and the cultural heritage of farming and ranching that has been a part of America since its first settlers.
You might also really strike a chord with one or many of your students who are already passionate about farming or ranching like my former student and Hamilton (MI) Middle Schooler Nate Freyhof, “What got me interested in hobby farming was having a good environment and having fun playing outside instead of sitting inside all day. I also think gardening and training or working with animals is fun to do. It is sometimes good to have technology around like tractors to pull a plow or dig up something.”
Here are 7 great things about teaching with the Discovering Farmland site.
The videos and the lessons really put a human face on farming and ranching. This is done visually but one whole lesson focuses untangling stereotypes.
The four lessons fit nicely into a variety of units. Teachers can spread it out to where they spend an hour per week on top of their prescribed curriculum. Think of it like Google 20% time where you step away from “what has to get done” for a little bit to supplement with projects based on interest or that might be especially impactful. Teachers could do two lessons a week and be done in two weeks or maybe full week is dedicated to a deep dive through the entire set of lessons.
Resources provided make these units ready to roll out, even if the teacher knows nothing about farming or ranching.
Teacher guide for each lesson
Student activity sheet for each lesson
Formative assessment exit ticket or activity for each lesson
Video snippets of the Farmland movie to support each lesson
Web links to extend the research and learning for each lesson
All lessons are vocabulary rich with words that fit into science, social studies, and technology.
Even though each lesson is well designed, each can be modified to meet more personal or curricular needs. For example, an economics class could research where its county ranks in terms of agricultural production or what the taxable value is on a 40 acre plot of farmland.
Discovering Farmland transports students who may have never left their own urban city limits to a completely unknown and almost foreign seeming part of our world. The virtual visit is one of the truly transformative things educational technology can do and this site and resources are perfect for creating those learning opportunities.
There are great resources already in place but there is still more to come from Discovery and the USRFA. Both are committed to showing not only how important our agricultural heritage is but how there are exciting high-tech careers to be had in farming and ranching. There is no food without farming and there is no farming without great science, technology, engineering, and math skills.
Somebody somewhere grew the potatoes, the turkeys, the cranberries, even the cinnamon for the apples sauce we will be feasting on tomorrow. Why not use the resources in Discovering Farmland when you return to the classroom and challenge your students to find out more about who and where our food comes from?
It’s too early to put up your tree. It’s too early to even turn on the 24 hour Christmas music station. No, it is…..well at least at our house. When the turkey dinner is cleaned up, then it…..is…..on!
It’s never too early though to get a jump on holiday shopping and here is your 2015 gift giving guide from MrLosik.com. In the past I have talked iPads and tablets. Last year it was all about putting STEAM in a kid’s Christmas. This year it’s all about “learning toys that kids don’t know are learning toys” with just a little tech sprinkled into the mix. I have included the link to most of these products on Amazon and most have Prime shipping available. Most are also available from the big box department stores like Walmart and Target as so keep your eyes open when out battling the crowds. Keep your eyes open for me as well on WOOD TV next Monday morning (November 30) to about a bunch of these.
Squishy Human Body – The “visible man” human body models have been around for a long time but what makes this one different is that all of the guts come out and kids can spend endless hours doing surgery by extracting them and putting them all back in together. Smart Lab Toys also includes a great guide book that teaches about each body part. This just one of a bunch of amazing products the company offers. There’s a squishy brain that looks totally gross. Get the Squishy Human Body on Amazon for $21.99.
Star Wars Science – Death Star Planetarium – With Star Wars The Force Awakens opening soon, there is no doubt that Star Wars toys are going to be hot this season. It reminds me a lot of the Christmas when I was a first grader. The first movie (or Episode IV – A New Dawn or whatever you want to call it) had just come out and I can’t remember anything I got that Christmas that didn’t have Darth Vader on it. Here comes a great model of the Death Star from Uncle Milton Toys and their line of Star Wars science that turns a dark room into a full map of our night sky or the Star Wars planetary system.
Candy Craft Chocolate Pen – Doodling is great. Doodling with chocolate in a variety of colors is amazing. This pen uses a variety of chocolate-filled cartridges and allows free-hand creativity or is great for filling 50 different molds that are included in the starter kit. I was exploring traditional 3D printers and doodlers, the ones that create plastic objects when I discovered the chocolate pen. Give me chocolate over plastic any day and you will save a bunch of money too. There are a ton of optional accessories that can be added from the Candy Craft line of products from Skyrocket toys. Amazon has it available for $24.93.
Anki Overdrive Race Track Starter Kit – Take the old slot car race track and move it 50 years into the future. Anki’s starter kit comes with two robotically controlled race cars and eight pieces of easily adjustable track. Instead of just a little trigger that makes the cars go fast or too fast, these cars are controlled by an iOS or Android app. The app talks to the car and the car talks to the track helping to prevent endless spinouts and slide-offs. The app even keeps track of race position and laps completed. No one to race against? No problem. These cars can drive themselves. Yes, just like those Google cars we keep hearing about. If you think that is amazing, they also come with electronic weapons like phasers and forcefields that disrupt the other cars on the track. The starter kit is expandable with more cars and more track pieces, even jumps. This toy is more expensive at $135 but you get a lot of play for the money. it is still cheaper than most gaming systems or larger electronic devices and it stimulates the science, tech, and engineering of racing along with the creativity of designing the ultimate track layout. Get it at Amazon.
Stay In The Game: Jared Veldheer’s Journey To The NFL – I am 100% biased on this one but having spent the last five years creating this book I know it will provide a lot of entertainment and insight to any sports fan age 10 and up. Jared Veldheer was an over-sized, brainy kid who often found it hard to fit-in. Things all changed when he realized he could combine his amazing athletic gifts and size with his intelligence in order to do big things in the sports world. Now he’s one of the top left tackles in the National Football League. If Jared hadn’t made a career of football, the core principles of his life would have likely made him successful in whatever he had decided to pursue.
Jared’s offensive line coach at Hillsdale College was one of the first to read it and said he couldn’t put it down, “ ‘Stay In The Game’ is a great story and a great read. I think current and future football players will benefit tremendously from the insight it provides.”
For $219 this is a great device that does anything you can do with your Chrome browser all with the convenience of the touchscreen and its price comes in way below what tablet makers like Samsung and Apple can offer. It’s made believers out of a lot of educators and I know of at least two districts in Michigan that are selecting this device for their upcoming 1:1 technology initiatives. There is a ton of learning and fun in this one.
A few other odds and ends to explore:
Amazon Fire Tablet: At $49 this is a great little 7″ device for playing games, surfing the web (Do people still say that?), or watching streaming content. It might not have the full capability of an iPad but for under $50 it still packs a lot of fun and functionality.
What an honor to be chosen for this great opportunity to share all of the great stuff Discovery and its corporate partners are doing to help promote a vast array of learning initiatives across the entire spectrum of education.
We are thrilled to welcome 14 members of the Discovery Education Community as our Discovery Education Program Champions. These educators have been recognized for their commitment to sharing innovative digital resources, enhancing student engagement and improving academic achievement.Chosen through a competitive application process, the 2015-2016 Program Champions demonstrated their extraordinary commitment and expertise in specific topic areas – such as STEM, health and wellness, and social studies – and excellent use of Discovery Education’s programs. The Program Champions will represent one or more subject areas to share various resources and supporting programs with their colleagues and peers around the world. Champions will also represent Discovery Education and education events and virtual conferences, and help shape the development and implementation of future Discovery Education programs to ensure they are standards-and curriculum-aligned. To kickoff this new initiative, the Program Champions recently attended a two-day launch event at Discovery Education’s headquarters in Silver Spring, Md.
Something that I have been suggesting for years to whoever was nearby at the annual MACUL conference is that there needs to be a strand or a room or a whatever that highlights Michigan’s best.
Now we will never know whether the seeds I planted actually sprouted or somebody in MACUL leadership had the same ingenious idea. All that matters is that MACUL is launching a Michigan Educators Series that features a whole bunch of people doing great things around the Great Lakes State.
Check out the lineup:
Julie Leach and Tosha Miller
Second Grade teachers and 2015 MACUL Technology Teacher of the Year Runners-Up Julie Leach and Tosha Miller. Find their stuff at TwoSassyApples.com
Nick Provenzano, @thenerdyteacher himself
High School English teacher from Grosse Point was the 2013 National ISTE Teacher of the Year. TheNerdyTeacher.com is his home base but you can find Nick contributing globally.
Gregory Green, Clintondale High School
Gregory Green created the first entirely flipped high school. Check out how this approach is increasing engagement and achievement at flippedhighschool.com.
Dave Tchozewski, Jenison Public Schools
There aren’t many people in the edtech game I know that can just flat out teach. Dave has a way with any audience to make any concept he is sharing seem do-able and at the same time very applicable to great teaching. Dave is all over the web but his help page at Jenison Public Schools is a great place to start finding resources.
Melody Arabo, 2015 Michigan Teacher Of The Year
From her elementary classroom in Walled Lake, Melody Arabo shares all kinds of resources and has dedicated her notoriety as Michigan’s Teacher of the Year to a number of causes like bullying. Her very reflective book “Diary of a Real Life Bully” takes a unique slant on an issue that effects all of us as educators and parents.
Dan Spencer, Western High School
There aren’t many people in Michigan who have taught me more than this guy. He is the ultimate connector and excels in ways to flip a classroom. Dan’s Twitter feed is full of inspiring ways he’s teaching science in Jackson County.
Apple Distinguished Educator Rebecca Wildman
Need a way to engage upper elementary kids? This lady has an answer. Rebecca Wildman has great resources for any elementary 1:1 program at her iPad Pd site. She’s pretty good with the Google too.
The 2016 MACUL Conference might be a ways off in March but I am excited to learn as much as I can from the new Michigan Educator Series. Also check out the newly revamped MACUL.org.
Northwest Ohio Google Certified Innovator for Education Eric Curts delivers a great webinar on using Google Drawings for teaching math.
Eric takes viewers through the ins and outs of Drawings but excels when he starts to unpack Common Core standards and show practical activities for elementary teachers. The geometry examples are good but the fraction activity is really innovative.
We talk about a fun way my students have been mashing up Discovery content with Apple’s Keynote, some Sketchnoting teaching strategies, and 20 random questions.
Apologies for the poor lighting and the Tom Brady/Go Blue informal apparel…well, at least for the lighting.
Get to Know Your Community, introduces you to your fellow community members in a way that’s never been seen before. Each week, we will interview a new community member. You’ll get to know who they are, what their favorite Spotlight on Strategies is, and they’ll play 20 questions in 60 seconds. Each participant will see how many questions they can answer in 60 seconds. You’ll get to know more about each community member in a brief amount of time.
The CUE Rock Star Admin Hero’s Journey is all about providing new, hands-on skills for administrators who desire to create a positive, disruptive process of change in their organizations. These will be three full, hard-working, challenging and rewarding days. The faculty and curriculum will deliver administrators (Assistant Principals, Principals, Curriculum Coordinators, Directors, Assistant Superintendents and Superintendents) the skills they need to lead their districts in more agile and adaptable ways.
Check out buildwithchrome.com and make awesome stuff right within your Chrome browser. There is a lot to explore here but what I love about using it with my elementary students is that is an intuitive builder that doesn’t bring in all of the distractions at the main Lego site does.
There are three basic sections and one can get lost for hours in each. The “Builder” section is just that, a 32×32 base plate and a big supply (They do run out) of 21 brick shapes in 10 colors . The “Build Academy” is a set of tutorial challenges hosted by characters from The Lego Movie that gradually build in difficulty and teach advanced techniques.
My favorite part though is in the “Explore the World of Builds” feature where through the magic of Google Maps a user when signed into their G+ account can stake claim to and build on literally any corner of the Earth they would like. So far I have rebuilt the swimming pool I spent most Arizona summer days in, have started work on a football stadium and spent way too much time on a late Friday Night/Saturday Morning resurrecting the greatest off-campus house ever, The Asylum, on its former corner on the Hillsdale College campus. Yes, that is an ugly yellow couch out in front along the sidewalk.
I have been a big fan of the Minecraft in the Classroom movement and some of the great ways teachers have kids show learning on the building/gaming platform. There have always seemed to be a number of setup hassles I didn’t feel like tackling like setting up a server and getting student accounts set up. For me, this is way easier. There is far more familiarity for kids and myself with Legos all you have to do is go find some area where no one has built and take it over to start building the castle from Hamlet or the Great Hall from Beowulf. All builds have links and anyone who is exploring the builds can find you and your students’ creations.
Build With Chrome also works on the mobile Chrome browser. Maybe I just have fat and stubby fingers but it is much more difficult than the computer version.