ADE 2015

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Reading the bios of the featured ADE’s on the website inspired and intimidated me to no end. I didn’t apply for many years because I compared myself to them- I compared what they did to what I was doing. And after applying for different jobs and different accolades, I’ve realized that comparing myself to others professionally is futile. I don’t compare myself to others in my personal life, so why do I do it in my professional life? Why does it matter who has more twitter posts or followers? Why does it matter if one has a certification from Google or Apple? It doesn’t.What matters is how I feel about the work that I do and the hope that I can have an effect on students’ learning experiences. I will admit, sometimes it’s really nice to be recognized and appreciated for the work that I do and get an opportunity to learn from others. I am so looking forward to meeting other Class of 2015 Apple Distinguished Educators and learning from the alums until my head explodes.

Below is my video application for ADE 2015- the Americas.

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Snow Day Math App

I have a love/hate relationship with math. I cannot do mental math to SAVE MY LIFE. Being a bartender in a ski resort during apres was a nightmare for me. I just never solidified basics in my head. On paper, however, I can kill it. Ironically, my mom has her PhD in Math. Go figure. I had to take my Calculus 2 final exam verbally with my professor in his office because I could explain it and do it step by step, yet somehow when I went to paper, I couldn’t do it. I would get messed up in all the little basics that by the time I reached an answer, I was way off. Screen Shot 2014-05-21 at 11.24.11 AM

This brings me to an absolutely AMAZING app called Snow Day Math by Beth Stade, who works at CU Boulder and also for many small grants. She is one of those people who gets math and knows that everyone else can get math if they just know the fundamentals. This is one of the coolest apps out there. (no pun intended with the snow…cool…get it?)

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Snow Day Math helps you learn place value, something that many kids (and adults) struggle with. The app allows you to touch the numbers, stack them, pull them apart and repel. The app is not set as a game, there’s not right or wrong, which is imperative for those who have had a bad experience with math and feel incompetent. As you move the numbers, you notice that you can’t add numbers that add up to more than ten on top of each other without splitting them to first reach the decade and then add the rest. Same with 100. I’m not the most eloquent with math terms, so I’m sure I’ve messed up already (sorry math aficionados).

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We piloted the app with first graders last year, and with some we scaffolded it and had them use real counters next to their iPads while with others we just let them “figure it out.” We also worked with students to have them verbally share their explanations of why they could add certain numbers and not others. Beth worked with second graders this year for her research and came up with incredible findings on how kids were able to use the app in their head to help answer tough problems. Another amazing finding was that without introducing subtraction, students were able to immediately transfer their understandings from addition to subtraction when using the app. Amazing.

iMovie with First Graders

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Yes, you read that correctly.

iMovie with first graders. We sent 3 classes of first graders to the Apple store in the fall to learn how to use iMovie. What does that look like? Well, it looked kind of chaotic and kind of awesome. The kids were amazing. The teachers and parents who accompanied us were amazing. Some of my favorite moments revolved around the students just playing with sound effects and giggling uncontrollably. Yes, the words used by the Apple Trainers were way above the kids’ heads, and above most of the adults as well, but that didn’t really matter. And yes, the kids were more excited about getting t-shirts and wrist bands than editing film, but it didn’t matter. They had a blast while learning a new tool.

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Fast forward to March. Students will now be using the iPads to create their videos for their PBL unit on beautifying the playground.

Each group of 4 students has created a drawn out plan of how they would beautify the playground, incorporating their learning from FOSS Pebbles, Sand & Silt, New Plants and Solids & Liquids. They’ve also written a persuasive letter to community members to contribute either money or landscape materials to their idea.

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They will be using iMovie to videotape themselves reading their letter and showing the drawn plan while describing how the playground will be changed and why. The groups will compete against each other within their classes and the winners will compete against the winners from another class, and then will be submitted to local companies. Hopefully they will receive money or supplies or both, but if not they will need to go back and revise their plans, budgets and strategy and try again.

The kids and teachers used iMovie on the computers at the Apple store, not on iPads. So now the trick is to have them transfer information from one device to another. Good thing they look so similar…ahem. So for the teachers (and students if they’d like), I made an intro video tutorial for iMovie 2.0.