This week, I’ll have the opportunity to explore a variety of technological tools that are popular in teaching and learning. These can be used in elementary through high school and beyond, and are great ways for students to utilize creative and critical thinking skills! Below, I’ve shared a few ideas for how these tools might be used in the library or classroom, though I’m sure I’ll have lots more ideas after I get my hands on them!
Ozobots – Draw lines, patterns, and designs on paper, using different color combinations, and the Ozobot will trace the path. Students can use these in a library makerspace or during Genius Hour to learn coding basics. They could practice cardinal directions, for example, by creating simple maps.
Spheros – Use a device to control these robotic spheres, manipulating their movements, speed, distance traveled, color, and more. Spheros are a great hands-on way to learn simple programming. These would be a lot of fun to experiment with during a class study of force and motion, or for students to use to create mazes and designs that reinforce geometry concepts.
Makey Makey – Design circuits using ordinary objects that can conduct electricity, like playdough and bananas, turning them into various computer keyboard keys when they are pressed (i.e., arrows, space bar, mouse click, etc.). This tool really encourages students to think outside the box and become inventors, and would be an excellent addition to a makerspace! While there are tons of curriculum connections, especially to circuits and conductivity, I think I would just let students run wild with this one!
Little Bits – Snap together these small, magnetic electronic modules to create working circuits that feature light, sound, fans, motors, switches, and more. Students could use Little Bits in the makerspace to explore circuitry and engineering, and create projects related to literature they’ve read. One fun activity might be to research musical instruments from around the world and then have students make their own using Little Bits.
Google Expeditions – “Journey” virtually to a number of destinations in the world and outer space, complete with visuals and audio that make you feel like you are really there. There are so many possibilities for this in the school setting. Thinking about uses in the library, I’d have students explore settings featured in their favorite fiction books. I’d also love to use this in the classroom to teach science concepts like space and ecosystems, or to visit important historical landmarks and locations.
Paper Circuits – Create series or parallel circuits that light up and then draw a design on paper to lay over it. This sounds like a really good lesson in trial-and-error and learning to work through the design process, as well as reinforcing concepts of electricity. In the library, students might create maps for books they have read to show a character’s journey.
Aurasma – Access digital content in the real world via this augmented reality platform. Just open the app and point your device at an everyday object, image, or place to access digital pop-ups. There are endless possibilities for this one. Students could access contact information, directions, how-to videos… on and on!
Green Screen – Simply film yourself in front of a green screen (i.e., a large green cloth), and use various green screen apps to edit the footage, adding text, images, or videos as the background. Students could film news clips, make their own media messages, or create interesting book reports. Definitely a fun technological tool to add to a makerspace. Also love this idea for making portable green screens to use on a smaller scale.
Aviary – Upload a photo to this app, edit it with normal photo editing features, and then add text to the top and bottom to create your own meme. Students could use these in the library to make memes for characters, books, authors, or genres, or to caption an illustration or image from a book.
So many fun things to explore! I’m especially looking forward to trying out the Makey Makey kit, Google Expeditions, and Ozobots. Given ten minutes with each, here are some questions I’m hoping to answer:
- Makey Makey: What software does it work with besides Scratch? It works with Makey Makey software and generally responds to any program/website (on Windows, Macs, and Chromebooks) that uses regular keyboard functions. How easy is it to manipulate the alligator clips and wires? Super easy! The classic version comes with 7 clips and 6 connector wires. Thinking about safety, are there items that should not be used with the circuit board? Generally everything is okay, even water, because it’s powered by a USB connection, not AC current, and the voltage is pretty low. Is there feedback when an item is used that will not conduct electricity, or do students just assume that’s what’s happened? No feedback – it just won’t work, so they have to learn by trial-and-error. **This was a lot easier to work with than I expected, and really fun. I got to touch cups of water to play the piano and type in Word. I absolutely think that tactile learners will love this kit, and I think I want to get one for my kids (me) to play with!
- Google Expeditions: What happens when you walk around – does the imagery change, or is it simply the same 360 degree view? It’s just the same view. How easy is it to set up the device and access the expeditions? Super easy – you just need the device (cardboards ones are really inexpensive) and the app. After you log in, you just open the expedition right up! Is it possible to create your own expedition? Yes! You simply upload your own 360 degree image and wait for Google to vet it. You can also access their collection. **This was definitely fun to check out, though I wish there was a little more capability with being able to move around and see more things. It was also blurrier than I expected. That said, I still think it’s a fun way to experience a place, and I think kids will enjoy it.
- Ozobots: How sturdy are these (i.e., can they be used with younger children, who may drop them)? Super sturdy – they’re okay even if they fall off a table! Are there other uses for the flash codes besides dancing, and are they only accessible through the app? You can use the app with Scratch. Can you make your own codes, or is it only programmed with certain ones? It only works with the programmed codes. **These were super easy to use and really fun, and I like that they give you just a taste of coding/programming without lots of complicated steps or even any tech involved.
Can’t wait to get started!
7/18/18 Update: I’m back from the technology session and had an awesome time exploring all kind of tech tools! Check above to see what I learned about each of the three tools I had questions about!