Thursday, May 28, 2015

Using TinkerCad with Students Under 13

Navigating a  3D world can seem pretty overwhelming to someone like me who has not spent as much time as today's students leveling up in 3D gaming environments.  However, today's students are much more comfortable finding their way around in a 3D world, so why not let them create in 3D with one of the most user friendly digital tools for 3D modeling ~ TINKERCAD.  

Photo Credit:  Kevin Jarrett
Why TinkerCad!  It's not only a very user friendly and powerful 3D creation tool, but it also  works on both personal computers and Chromebooks!   Don't take my word for it,  check out Kevin Jarrett's first graders using TinkerCad in the  K-4 STEM Lab at Northfield Community Elementary School.  

Although it is very accessible,  there is one barrier for teachers who want to quickly get started using Tinkercad  by AutoDesk with students under 13.  In order to be COPPA compliant when using Tinkercad,  students under 13  need to be approved (thus supervised)  by a parent or teacher.   If a student under 13 signs up to use TinkerCad, they will be able to navigate the beginning lessons, but will not be able to save their work until approved. 

Thankfully AutoDesk has streamlined this process. First of all, students under 13 will automatically be asked for a parent email address and an email will automatically be sent to the parent email address.  This step helps to streamline the process,  but there are still challenges for students whose parents don't have email  or for students whose parents don't get around to "approving' their students in a timely manner. 

Luckily AutoDesk has provided some avenues to help teachers with this challenge and quickly get  their students up and running using TinkerCad. 

#1 AutoDesk has included in their terms of service a reference to the fact that in some circumstances, teacher consent can be used in lieu of a parent.   Thank you, to AutoDesk for taking the extra step to include this phrase in Tinkercads terms of service.  This is very helpful for teachers who are working hard to be responsible users/educators while using innovative digital tools with their students. consent in lieu of a parentFor school-based activities, COPPA allows teachers and school administrators to act in the place of parents to provide consent for the collection of personal information from children. Schools should always notify parents about these activities.In some cases, in order that an account is not closed and so that a child can continue to use a website or application outside of the school context, we may ask schools to obtain consent directly from a parent instead of and/or in addition to providing consent in the place of a parent.For more information on parental rights with respect to a child’s educational record under the U.S. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), please see the FERPA section below.

#2  AutoDesk has created an environment where teachers can easily manage (and approve) their students and QUICKLY get started teaching their students how to model in 3D.   If you have not discovered it yet,  check out Project IGNITE by AutoDesk.    In less than 15 minutes, I helped a middle school math teacher create an account on AutoDesk and set up two classes he was planning to teach later that day using TinkerCad.   But the dashboard for quick and easy classroom management is not the best part about Project IGNITE -- the BEST part is the fantastic ready made  self-paced lessons (aka Projects) that teachers can assign to the students.     

#3  Once a teacher has approved his/her students using the Project IGNITE classroom dashboard,  the students can immediately get started with PROJECTS that the teacher has assigned as lessons to each  classroom section of Project IGNITE.  Students can also move right over to TINKERCAD  and use their newly approved  account to create their own free form designs on the TinkerCad work plane.  Simply have your students access after having logged into their Project IGNITE account.  As a professional educator,  I would still make sure that my students' parents are engaged with the process of 'co-supervising' their child's account and have developed strategies to do that in my schools.  But by starting with Project IGNITE first, and then moving over to TinkerCad's free form space,  teachers can start using TinkerCad with students the same day!

And as an enthusiastic eager teacher who likes to use innovative digital tools with students, I am much appreciative of everything AutoDesk has done to streamline the process of using this powerful tool in our classrooms with even our youngest learners.  The process is well thought out and provides a streamlined workflow that removes barriers for teachers who want to use TinkerCad with younger learners. 

Note:  The Project IGNITE lessons are quite text heavy and might be challenging for struggling readers and would not be the best entry-point for our youngest learners.  Even with my middle school students I suggest toggling back and forth with the tutorial mode of Project IGNITE and some open-ended exploration and teacher demonstrations directly in TinkerCad.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Next Gen Can be SEW Fun at VSTA Conference

Leah Joly and I had 'great fun'  teaching science teachers  how to use eTextiles and other Soft Circuits to create models that explain phenomena at  the Vermont Science Teachers Association Conference.  Our workshop "Next Gen Can be Sew Fun"  started as an inquiry into the potential that Maker Ed has to support teaching and learning in science.   This inquiry lead me to amazing resources about eTextiles, Soft Circuits  and about the creation of models as a practice in Next Generation Science standards.

The best part of the workshop was how much we learned about the PROCESS of learning through creating models by actually CREATING our own science models to showcase during the workshop.   That process validated my 'theory' that maker skills and tools can support the process of learning in science.

By being familiar with how to create both parallel and serial circuits  (a 4th grade standard) I was able to access the concept that the loss of energy as it moves through each LED powered by a battery in a serial circuit, was much like the loss of energy moving through a food chain.

  I definitely went through each phase of the creativity cycle from IMAGINE to PUBLISH as I created my Food Web Model.

As a learner I started to imagine the design of my model.  My imagination was limited to my own mental model of the food web and the materials I was familiar with.  Since I was familiar with the way the serial circuit worked from recent adventures in "making",  I was able to imagine the energy in a serial circuit working the way the energy in a food web worked.

But as I started to CREATE and PLAY with different materials,  I did lots of RESEARCH  to make sure that my MODEL accurately represented my growing understanding of the food web.  It was important to me that the example I used was scientifically accurate.  As I shared my idea with others I was also sharing my mental model, explaining  which materials I chose and how they symbolized various levels of the food chain.

Example of a  BUILD in PROGRESS Food Web Model
I used a tool called Build in Progress to capture my process and explain my thinking.   Sharing the process (not simply the product) through  a tool like Build a Progress which was designed with sharing the PROCESS in mind would allow a teacher to provide better feedback to students at various points in their process to more students,  yielding more opportunity to REFLECT  by both the teacher and the students during the process of building.  And with that reflection came more iteration of the design as my mental model went through its own iterative process,  growing in accuracy and closer to the conceptual model that accurately represented the food web in Lake Champlain.

In MAKING the act of  PUBLISHING  does not mean that I would be publishing words (as in a book or paper),  but that I would be completing a PRODUCT  (thus publishing)  that would be shared with others.  The Build in Progress Food Web Model was one way to publish, but so was the sharing of my artifact with other colleagues.   My desire for my model to be  scientifically accurate was increased because I was investing myself into something beautiful, something I made with my hands that was not simply a drawing where I labeled consumers and producers on a paper diagram.    The whole process created a deeper understanding of both the way energy flows through a serial circuit and through the food chain. and set me right up to imagine more possibilities in making  and in how the world around me works.

The following slides are filled with ideas, academic research,  examples, tutorials, and resources that we were able to organize around the topic of using Soft Circuits as a tool for creating models in science education.

And to top it all off,  we learned a lot about each other as we watched our colleagues express themselves in very different ways with the materials we made available to our participants.

Friday, May 08, 2015

Creating a Collaborative Video using You Tube

I love to work collaboratively.
Whether in the same room   or miles apart  here is a quick and easy way to use YouTube Editor with colleagues to create a quick and easy  collaborative video project.  Recently 4 friends and I created a quick Happy Birthday Video for our friend Elizabeth from 4 different locations.

This can be a  convenient workflow to use with students.  Your students are sharing quick pics and quick videos with each other using their mobile devices.  Why not have them share their learning with you using the same devices.

Here is a video tutorial and slide deck  of how to complete the steps outlined below.

Step 1: Make sure you have a YouTube channel.  After I started using this method more frequently with students,  I created a separate YouTube channel just for these types of project.

Step 2:  Locate the special email address for mobile uploads by email that YouTube generates for you.  You can find this this under Overview

Step 3:  Share this 'special' email address with students.  This is best used in a group where there digital citizenship and collaboration is part of the culture.   Since it not an easy email address to communicate, I find that sending all my students the address via email, makes it easy for them to add to their contact list.   (You can always reset the 'confidential' email address if you find some students were not as 'ready' as you expected.)

Step 4:  Ask all participants to use their devices to complete a short video in response to your PROMPT.   (SHORT is key email systems will not allow you to email long videos.  I would start with 15 seconds or less and test longer videos if necessary.

Step 5:  Check the Video uploads section of your YouTube Channel.  You will find the new videos automatically appear here.

Step 6:  Use YouTube Video Editor to remix these clips to make one fun fantastic video project.

Step 4: