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Showing posts from September, 2013

MDE:Sketchup in the Classroom

Doug Paulson , K-12 STEM specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education shared information about the state license Minnesota has for Sketchup Pro , a Computer Aided Design program. The Pro version can be translated into other CAD programs as well, and it can be shared within presentations to show 3D drawings and build understanding of the real world.  Paulson shared how the flow of ideas between the practice of science to the practice of engineering to the interactions of science, engineering and society can be set up on each grade level. Paulson had us open Sketchup and begin learning to use the tools. He discussed how using these tools, and allowing students to add the colors and textures that they wanted allowed them to explore design. With 4th graders, he had them design solar ovens, and then had them discuss why their design would be the best. Then he had them actually build and test it out. This can be used to have students build bridges or other structures,

MDE GIS for Inquiry in the Classroom

The State of Minnesota Department of Education has a state-wide license for Geographical Information Systems . On September 27th, I had a chance to attend a training at MDE to learn more. Applications: In social studies, Substrand 1 on Geospacial Skills, have two standards where technology is embeded. Students are to formulate questions on topics in geography and use geospatial technology to analyze problems and make decisions within a spatial context. GIS is a great tool for this.  Authentic problems, like transportation and flooding can be addressed. In science, students are to use maps, satellite images and other data sets to describe pattersn and make predictions about natural systems in a life science context. Students could use GIS to use online data sets to compare wildlife populations or water quality within Minnesota. Sara Damon, a social studies teacher from Stillwater Public Schools talked about Spatial Thinking with Geotechnologies. Sheis a strong advocate for re

Innovative Schools...

Yesterday, I received an e-mail from a member of our district's Innovation Team,  asking for suggestions of schools both locally, nationally, and internationally that have developed innovative strategies to address the 5 Core Strategies and Vision Outcomes our district identified last year as part of our Secondary Study . The team's mission this year is to  develop an implementation plan for how these vision outcomes might be implemented in our "next generation" of schools in Edina. Here is my list. Please feel free to add others I should have included in the comments below! Local: Minnesota New Country School , Henderson, Minnesota Innovation Zone -Spring Lake Park and Farmington Public Schools Jennings Community Learning Center , St. Paul, MN Upper Mississippi Academy- Minneapolis, MN National: Science Leadership Academy , Philadelphia, PA High Tech High School , San Diego, CA Anne Frank Inspire Academ y, Houston, TX Quest2Learn , New York

What Bees Can Teach Us About Connecting and Activism...

Recently my wife and I were having a discussion about the lack of "Giants," in today's world. We had just watched this clip from The Daily Show , where Robert Reich was talking to Jon Stewart about having worked for Robert Kennedy, and lamenting that there are no "giants," like Kennedy or Martin Luther King, Jr. to lead us in our world today.  The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes , The Daily Show on Facebook Then the next day, my wife heard activist, Bill McKibbon interviewed on " The Take-Away ," about his new book . He too was talking about the lack of a giant to lead on a topic like climate change . The excerpt that really stood out comes when he talks about bee colonies, and their lack of a specific leader (2:15).  They turn out to be remarkable creatures. We think of the queen bee as being really important, but in fact, she's really good at laying eggs. It's the rest of the hive t

An Opportunity to Model Learning in the Open: OOE13

This school year, our district has worked to transform the culture of professional learning to one of Professional Learning Communities and collaboration. One of the aspects of this transformation is the idea that teachers are the "lead learners" in the classroom. On Wednesday, September 4 a year-long professional learning opportunity kicks off for K-16 educators that provides an opportunity for people to become a connected learner. Open Online Experience   (  is an chance for educators to learn about educational technology topics in a Connectivist Massive Open Online Course, or cMOOC.  cMOOCs are personalized, self-directed learning opportunities, where learners are invited to create and network in a social learning environment.  The structure of the experience is intentionally loose, as there are many entry points for people to interact with the content: On the OOE Website On Twitter using the #OOE13 hashtag in chats throughout the year On the Google+ Co