Sunday, February 5, 2017

#DumpDeVos Monday

Educators in the U.S.--
     It's not a slam-dunk yet. Get involved. Share this information. Call.  Call.  Call.
     Here are ways you can still help:

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Welcome to the 21st Century: 45 Resources on Coding

By now you know what coding is, but do you realize that kids as young as kindergarten are learning how to code through online games and activities? When I first began designing websites in 2007, I found HTML to be very confusing. Of course trying to learn on my own pushed me to take two online classes on website design. Today I am hardly a pro, but know enough to get around. After viewing all the programs, apps websites etc. devoted to teaching code, I came up with this conclusion: I was born in the wrong decade. I've always been jealous of all that my students have at their disposal. Let's face it, I'm a tech nerd. Anyway, that admission out of the way, here's a bundle of resources for you on the subject of coding.

Code School- free iPhone app

Daisy the Dinosaur- for ages 6-8 yrs. old; teaches kids to code

Hopscotch- for iPhone and iPad

Overview of Coding Apps for Mobile Devices- from EdTechTeacher; 16 listed; some free, some $$

M.I.T. App Inventor- students create their own Android apps; uses Chrome browser

Scratch Jr.- for iPad and Android; for ages 6-8 yrs. old

Swift Playgrounds- learn to code on your iPad; from Apple

3 Steps to Becoming a Coding Teacher- from Edutopia

15+ Ways of Teaching Every Student to Code- from Edutopia; written by Vicki Davis

Coding for Kindergarteners- from Edutopia

Coding in the Classroom: A Long Overdue Inclusion- Edutopia

Fixing the Bugs: Teaching Kids to Code on a Zero-Dollar Budget- by Mary Jo Madda

How Google is Teaching Kids to Code with Toy Blocks- from INC

How I Started an After School Code Club- by Douglas Tarr

LEGO's New Kit Teaches Kids to Code- article from CNN

Now You Can Learn to Code with Minecraft- from Gizmodo

Teaching Kids to Code Using Legos

Disney Hour of Code Digital Toolkit- downloadable PDF works with the page Disney's Hour of Code.

Disney's Moana- the title character teaches how to code

Hour of Code Resources- from Kodable; free K-5 coding lesson plans

Hour of Code Suggestions by Grade Level- posted by a group of tech-ed teachers

How-To Guide- grades 2-9; download certificates and templates, and tap into the collection of activities

Teacher-Led Hour of Code Lessons- covers K-12; from Education Week

Try an Hour of Code with Khan Academy- includes TEACHER PAGE

Tynker: Coding for Kids- divided by grades: K-2, 3-5, 6+


WEBSITES covers K-12; resource listing on classes (partnered with Disney)

Codeacademy- learn to code for free

Code Combat- students learn to code while playing a game

Code Maven- choose from 59 lessons

Code Monster- 59 lessons to choose from for middle schoolers

Code Monkey- educational game where kids code

Coding in the Elementary Classroom- Google slides presentation

Create Pokemon Game- drag and drop interface

Kids Ruby-fun and easy programming; must download program to use

LEGO Mindstorms- educators can order kits for preschool, elementary and middle school; $$

Lissa Explains it All- "the first and original HTML Help JUST for Kids."

Made with Code Google

Scratch for Educators- students can use to code their own animations, games and interactive stories; there are activities, plans and much more.

Touch Develop- create apps on tablet, desktop or phone; a Microsoft product

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Can Your Students Spot Fake News? Here are 70 Links to Help

It's all around us. It's permeated Facebook, Twitter, all social media and the Internet. Yet I have seen adults fall for these hoaxes all the time. It's been hard for me to not say anything when I see these stories repeated and shared daily. Many times I have just referenced Yet people fall for this all the time. What about our students? Are they able to adequately evaluate what they are seeing? As I've mentioned before, when I left my school district after my budget dwindled to zero dollars, they did not replace me. That put the entire student population at risk, because presently the district does not have a single certified media specialist! K-12. No one to teach media literacy. No one there to advise and assist students working on research papers. No one.

Below I have collected a slew of resources to aid teachers and their students with the task of spotting fake news. The articles, guides, lesson plans and videos deal with the importance of evaluating websites. If you have any more to add, please comment below.

UPDATED: 2/4/17

4 Steps Schools Need to Take To Combat Fake News- Huffington Post

5 Ways to Spot Fake News- from Common Sense Media

The 5 Types of Fakes News- from Huffington Post

6 Ways to Spot Fake News- from Snopes

10 Ways to Spot a Fake News Article- from EasyBib

The Classroom Where Fake News Fails- from NPR

Fake News Fooling Millions- from Scholastic's Up Front Magazine

Fake News Sites to Watch Out For on Facebook

Fighting Fake News- American Libraries

Google and Facebook Take Aim at Fake News Sites- N.Y. Times

Higher Ed Takes on Fake News Epidemic- from Education Dive

How Photos Fuel the Spread of Fake News

How Savvy Are Your Students? 7 Fake Websites to Really Test Their Evaluation Skills-EasyBib

How to Spot Fake News (and Teach Kids to Be Media Sayvy)- Common Sense Media

Most Students Don't Know When News is Fake, Stanford Study Finds- Wall Street Journal

A News Literacy Tool Kit for a "Post Truth" World- Joyce Valenza's blog

The Real History of Fake News- from The Columbia Journalism Review

The Smell Test: Educators Can Counter Fake New with Information Literacy- SLJ

Students Need Our Help Detecting Fake News- from MiddleWeb

Three Historical Examples of "Fake News"- Scientific American

What are You Doing to Teach Students to Spot Fake News Stories?- by Bill Ferriter

What Stands Between Fake News and Students? Educators- from NEA

Checklist for Evaluating Web Resources

Credible Sources Count- view a 10-minute interactive tutorial about how to find sites you can trust. EXCELLENT!

EasyBib Website Evaluation Guide

Finding Reliable Information Online- slide presentation from middle school teacher Sean Hinger

How Savvy are Your Students? 7 Fake Websites to Really Test Their Evaluation Skills- EasyBib

*Kathy Schrock
 *The 5 W's of Website Evaluation

 *Critical Evaluation of a Website- high School

 *Critical Evaluation of a Website- middle school

 *Critical Evaluation of a Website- elementary school

Ten Questions for Fake News Detection- infographic checklist

University of Berkeley Library- an excellent tutorial on finding information on the Internet

Website Evaluation Guide- from EasyBib


NEWS BIASES CHART by Vanessa Otero

Ten Questions for Fake News Detection- infographic is in PDF form

Brain Pop: Fact and Opinion- interactive fun for the younger kids

Evaluating Sources in a 'Post-Truth' World: Ideas for Teaching About Fake News- NY Times Lessons

Fake News vs. Real News: Determining the Reliability of Sources- NY Times Learning Network

Fighting Fake News- includes Common Core standards

"He Said, She Said"-Reliable Sources- from School Journalism site

Hoax or No Hoax? Strategies for Online Comprehension and Evaluation- from ReadWriteThink; grades 9-12

Hoax? Scholarly Research? Personal Opinion? You Decide- lesson for high schoolers

How to Teach Your Students About Fake News- from PBS NewsHour; grades 7-9

I Heard it 'Round the Internet: Sexual Health Education & Authenticating Online Information- grades 7-9

Media Literacy and Fake News- from C-SPAN; grade not specified, but probably 9-12




FactCheck- project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center

Fake News Sites to Watch Out For on Facebook-

Fake News Watch- updates regularly; lists Fake/Hoax Websites, Satire Websites and Clickbait Websites.

Politifact- checking U.S. politics

Museum of Hoaxes- bogus web sites from A to Z

News Literacy Project- assists students in discerning real vs. fake news

Snopes- fact-checking site


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Saturday, December 31, 2016

Book Review: You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Boogers!

As kids we remember the book fairs. As media specialists, we looked forward to earning free books for our school from those fairs. Scholastic Books, well known for their children's books, just published another winner for 8-12 year olds entitled, You Wouldn't Want to Live Without Boogers! Other topics in the "You Wouldn't Want to Live Without" series have included: ...Snot, Plastic, Vegetables, Electricity, Pain, Bacteria, Sleep, Writing, Trees, Toilets, Nurses, Glass, and Gravity, just to name a few.

The latest installment became available in hard cover and paperback this past September 2016, and just like the others, it is engaging, educational, and beautifully illustrated.

With chapters like How Does Mucus Protect Us?, What are Boogers and Snot?, and What Animals Use Mucus for Defense? it's easy to see how youngsters will be drawn to this book. The glossary at the back of the books gives definitions for words used in the book. I give it 5 stars. In fact, I give the whole series 5 stars! Your kids will too! Order yours here.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Where Have All the Teacher-Librarians Gone?

It’s hard to imagine that school districts across the country have cut down or totally eliminated the positions of library media specialists. Now that we are sixteen years into the 21st century, one would have imagined this educational position to be considered one of THE most important in the school.  Without literate students and graduates, how could we expect them to thrive in college and the outside world? So many uninformed administrations have believed that as long as the Internet and Google are there, they can save money by not hiring a teacher-librarian. As author Neil Gaiman said, “Google can bring you back 100,00 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”

One area that we thought was going to make a dent in the printed page was e-Books. While many schools purchased Kindles or other e-Readers, too many were not able to afford the cost.
 The advent of 3D printers and makerspaces has taken off, with many activities occurring in the media center during and after school hours. But what happens when there is no one to run the school library? What happens to our children without someone there who can really explain how to evaluate a website? How to locate a book on the Holocaust? A biography on a world leader? Is this the direction public education is heading?

When I left my position as a media specialist in June 2016, I was both surprised and upset that the district was not going to replace me. I was located in a junior-senior high school, (
grades 7-12) and was the ONLY media specialist in this five-school district. My last year, I was given $0 for my budget. That's when I knew it was time to move on. It's clear that the students will be the ones who will suffer because of this.  

If it all comes down to money, districts need to reevaluate their budgets. This is one place they cannot afford to cut.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Infographics are Easy With Venngage

Those of you who have followed this blog know that I love infographics. As a media specialist, I used them to create visual tutorials for my students. For those of you who would like to be designers but do not have the skill, Venngage is the answer. With its easy to use interface, anyone can create beautiful posters, brochures, reports, flyers and much more. How about an infographic resume? Currently there are nine designs to choose from; two are with the free account. The one on the extreme right is a premium resume template.


The first thing I noticed when logging into my account was that under "templates" there were five main categories: infographics, reports, posters, promotions and social. Each of those categories has several subcategories, and the choices are many! Here's an example on the left of what's under the "infographics" category.

Depending on your level of expertise, you can choose beginner, intermediate or advanced templates. All are labeled so you can choose easily. If you have a free account, the number of infographics, charts, icons, themes, templates and uploads are limited. Venngage branding is also on your final product.

Educators will be happy to know that special pricing of $99.00/year covers premium features, 35 accounts for students and teachers and class sharing. A 14-day free trial is available. Education pricing is here.

Premium accounts have unlimited use of templates, charts, icons, themes and uploads. Pricing is here, and features of the premium account can be found here.

Recently, Venngage introduced Venngage for Business, which is perfect for small businesses which don't have their own graphic designer on staff and normally would have trouble allocating the funds for a company to do all their design work. After all, professional freelancers could charge thousands of dollars to design infographics, posters, promotions, brochures and social media related graphics. Perhaps you own restaurant and need a new menu design?


Business accounts also have a Manage Your Team option, where two members of your team are given access to all the features of your premium account.

Business accounts are divided into two categories: for profit and non profit. When paid yearly, the cost for non profits is only $20.00/month. Both types of business accounts have the same premium benefits and a branding kit which gives you the opportunity to save your company logo and special colors, fonts and sizes. Allow me to show you how incredibly easy it is to get started with Venngage.

Before beginning to work with a template, I decided to view the getting started video as seen here:

There is a whole page of instructional videos to help you with every aspect of the program, so you never have to feel lost or confused. I started out with a beginner template and found the drag and drop interface very easy to use. I then tackled an intermediate template and uploaded a few of my own images to the site.


As you can see from the two examples, I was able to easily substitute the template information with my own information. Between the two infographics, I changed the background color, fonts, moved text, added icons, changed the border size on the circles, and added my own photos. Not bad for the very first time using Venngage!

If you would like to see the terrific projects people are creating with Venngage, all you have to do is click on the community page, and there you will find recently published projects.

Venngage's blog has a variety of helpful articles, such as 7 Mistakes to Avoid When Creating an Infographic, How to Make a Timeline Infographic in 6 Easy Steps and 5 Strategies to Engage Students Using Education Infographics. Whether you're a small business, an educator, or someone who just wants to be creative with social should give Venngage a try. You won't be disappointed.


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