wordle-300x217The AEF Tech Blog cheap jerseys offers a About place where Arlington Unveils Community and APS teachers and Are administrators can share information and ideas about the latest in tech education. Just sign up if you’d like to wholesale jerseys China post a comment on one of the conversation topics wholesale jerseys or add a new one. Click on a topic on the right to see specific conversations.

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Ottoson Tech Students Demonstrate their Knowledge

Ottoson Middle School Technology & Engineering teacher Brandy Whitney talks about how the AEF-funded technology in her ‘Tech’ class has affected students.OMS Tech student demo

“Some of my students attended the Tech and Learning Live conference with me last fall and showcased the technology and how it has changed how they learn about Engineering. The 3d  Printer was running and making a robotics part, the iPads showcased our curriculum that has been rocketed into the 21st Century because of these grants and they were able to expertly describe how they now understand Communication Technology theory to an array of teachers and educators from all over the nation.”
Read more about how AEF helped to transform the Technology & Engineering program at Ottoson.
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Using Vernier Digital Probes in AHS Anatomy and Physiology

Q&A with Arlington High School Science Teacher Cory Bavuso on using Vernier digital probes with Anatomy and Physiology students

Vernier probes are computerized measuring devices that capture Vernier Probesdata via specialized sensors. Cory Bavuso describes how she has been using Vernier digital probes with her students.  AEF hopes to purchase more of these probes for the science department as part of the AEF Technology Initiative 2015 fundraising effort.

How are Vernier digital probes used in your classroom, and what are their benefits to students?

Vernier has designed a wide variety of probes, all of which may be attached to a handheld “LabQuest” interface. The interface graphs data collected by the probes. We use the EKG sensors and heart rate monitors in anatomy & physiology class.

What do the probes allow you and students to do that you couldn’t Vernier Probes2have done without them?  What do they teach students?

Vernier probes have been great for anatomy & physiology. They allow us to conduct many of the experiments that would be done in an exercise physiology lab, without the expensive equipment.

Why do you need more of these probes? 

Right now I have a few heart rate monitors and EKG probes. These allow the students to do labs relating to the cardiovascular and muscular systems. There are many labs we cannot do because we lack the correct probes. I’d love to have the chance to do labs with spirometers, accelerometers, blood pressure sensors, and surface temperature probes.  More advanced labs will often combine multiple probes, allowing students to collect and analyze data regarding multiple variables. For example, if a student is exercising, it is possible to measure VO2 max, changes in blood pressure, and heart rate simultaneously.

What about the project is most fun and exciting for the students?Vernier Probes3

Students love to be the test subjects of their experiments. Learning about how the heart works is interesting and important; actually measuring electrical activity in your own heart makes the subject matter fun and exciting.

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Vernier Digital Probe use in Arlington High School Physics

AHS Physics Teacher John Macuk’s Use of Vernier Digital Probes

Vernier digital probes are computerized measuring devices that capture data via specialized sensors. For instance, the acidity level of a solution can be measured by dipping a pencil-sized sensor into the liquid. Data registered by such sensors are fed into computers for storage and analysis. A typical student lab activity using digital probes might involve recording acidity levels of a pond’s water over time. Acidity of samples collected weekly over several months could be charted with software customized for use with digital probes to show patterns of interest, such as surges in acidity that might be tied to the timing of polluting discharges into the pond.

One of the big advantages of using the digital probes is that it enables students to quickly get an overall picture of what the data they collect in an experiment means, says Arlington High physics teacher John Macuk. In the past, much of their lab time was spent laboriously recording one measurement after another by hand and then manually constructing graphs based on the data. Freed up from such chores, they can “repeat detailed observations and look for patterns, rather than spend time crunching numbers and charting results themselves.”

That, in turn, enables students to explore phenomena in a deeper, more engaging way—they can experience the same thrill of discovery that scientists get working on the frontiers of their fields. Macuk notes that he especially enjoys “watching students’ hypotheses get busted and seeing them coming to understand what nature is saying to them (through digital-probe data)—it’s often counterintuitive, rather than what they believe about how the world works.”

He adds that the modeling and simulation software used with the digital probes is really popular with students, “probably because of its connection with cool computer-generated special effects in movies.”

Like all software, the programs used with digital probes are getting ever more powerful, says Macuk. But unfortunately “our obsolete PCs cannot provide new web-based capabilities that are now available.” Thus, more advanced computers that can handle the new digital-probe software are high on his wish list for classroom upgrades.

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Creating, Administering and Grading Tests Online: Q&A with Ottoson Teacher Eric Bakke

Eric Bakke – Ottoson Middle School talks about “Form” Tests: Using laptops with internet connections and google form to create, administer, and grade tests.

What did the technology allow you and students to do that you couldn’t have done without it?

We are able to analyze test data by class, by grade, by student-groups and per question instantaneously.  It shows pie-charts of the responses to multiple-choice questions allowing students to visualize where there were common misconceptions.

What additional technology would you like to add to this project to make it stronger/better/more relevant/etc.?  Why?

Google forms allows for page redirection based on responses.  I would like to make a more responsive test that redirects students based on their answers, either to more questions that clarify where their misunderstanding lay or to different questions that could edify necessary background information to then approach that question again.

Can you describe a memorable moment when you were teaching  with this project/technology that brought its value home to you?

When I first started using these tests I immediately noticed that the students wrote more in terms of quantity and quality for their open responses.  Research shows this generation of students has been using computers since age three, but even my one-year old daughter knows how to navigate my iPhone.  The truth is that they are more proficient with typing than traditional writing.  This test structure allows them to apply their learning in a format that is most comfortable for them.

What about it the project is most fun/exciting about the project for the students?

The students like that it is more familiar to them, it feels less stressful and creates less test-anxiety.

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What’s the Big Deal about Pi?

Jonathan McIntyre, jonathan.a.mcintyre@gmail.com is a parent volunteer and head coach for the new Ottoson Math Club.
Pi Day is a chance for people from all backgrounds and levels of math ability to celebrate and learn more about a number which has great significance in our lives.  But why all this fuss over the number Pi?  Imagine it’s 2000 years ago and you’re creating something round, either ball-shaped or disc shaped, and you need to know how much material to get.  Knowing Pi accurately would help you avoid buying too much or too little.  The effort to calculate Pi more accurately led to great advances in mathematics over the centuries.  Today it is known to be important in other areas, such as statistics, where it is in the formula for calculating the bell curve which helps us predict all kinds of events more accurately.
What is Pi Day?  Since the number Pi begins with the digits 3.14, it resembles the date 3/14, so March 14th is considered as good a time as any to celebrate and learn more about the number Pi.
Arlington is jumping on the bandwagon with Pi Day celebrations over the next few days.  As head coach of Ottoson Middle School’s Math Club, I’ll be helping the students run a number of fun activities in place of our normal Thursday practice of math competition problems.  Anyone in the Ottoson community is welcome to come explore the activities after school in the cafeteria on Thursday, March 12th, from 2:30pm-3:45pm.  However, Thursday is two days before Pi Day this year, so to make it even more relevant, we’ll be repeating some of the activities on Saturday at the Arlington Education Foundation’s free celebration on Pi Day itself, at Common Ground in Arlington Center from 3pm to 5pm.  We’re hoping the entire community will be able to come enjoy some “Pi”.
The Ottoson Math Club is run by volunteer parents and teachers who want to find new ways to show students more fun and interesting sides to math.  Pi Day is our first effort at branching out beyond competition math, as an attempt to keep things fresh and varied for the students.  We welcome all community members to get involved with us or share ideas on how to keep our Math Club meetings varied, creative and fun while we gain new insights into math.
We started only in December, as simply an effort to give Ottoson students a chance to compete against other schools in the national Mathcounts Competition Series, which Ottoson had not done in previous years.  It was late in the year to start, since most schools start weekly practices in September.  We held 3 practices where students helped each other figure out sample problems.  Then a January in-school Mathcounts competition determined which 10 students would go to the regional competition on Feb 7th.   With over 40 students attending the practices regularly, that meant that for 30 of them, the chance for competition seemed to be over after just one month.   While we were proud of our 10 students who all scored well at the regional meet, and our official team of 4 who advanced to the state finals on March 7th in Boston, we also wanted to keep the other 30 students engaged.
So we found some other math meets which were open to anyone who wants to sign up, and set our sights on those, while also holding our own mini-competitions at the end of each of our practices.  Since early February the first part of each practice has had students working with their friends on past competition problems while adult volunteers give advice.  The practice then ends with a “guts round” competition where teams of 3 or 4 children race each other to solve problems, where points are scored both for speed and correctness.  Everyone has a lot of fun with it.
Pi Day will be our first attempt to change up the routine for one week.  There will be 3 activities for estimation of Pi in interesting ways, such as by tossing toothpicks onto lined paper, or using regular polygons and geometry the way Archimedes did.  Another activity will ​clarify what ​it means when a number is irrational, by showing how anybody’s birthday can be found in the digits of Pi.
After Pi Day, we’ll compete in a “Purple Comet” online competition March 19th, then practice for the Lexington Math Tournament on Saturday, March 28th before winding down for the school year in mid-April.  In the fall, we plan to enter the Continental Math League’s monthly meets, help students prepare for the AMC 8 contest in November, and help them prepare creative math videos for the Mathcounts Video Challenge.  We want to thank Arlington’s Math Department for their support of these plans, making it easy for us to focus on the math.
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World Language Student Projects: Q& A with Ottoson Middle School teacher Anne Zachary

World Language teacher Anne Zachary describes how Ottoson World OMS Language ZacharyLanguage student projects showcase ways the new portable language lab of iPad minis has enhanced world language learning at OMS.  

What did the technology allow you and students to do that you couldn’t have done without it?

The Socrative app made my students actually want to review in a game format they hadn’t seen before.  In other scenarios, the app could actually be used to create and administer a paperless test, a quick assessment or an exit ticket.

What additional technology would you like to add to this project to make it stronger/better/more relevant/etc.?  Why?

The Socrative app that my students showcased at last year’s fair has been seriously upgraded since the presentation.  It’s now easier to use and more attractive.  I presented two workshops on this app at this year’s Professional Development day.

Can you describe a memorable moment when you were teaching  with this project/technology that brought its value home to you?

The most memorable moment was probably at the fair itself, when Dr. Bodie asked my students, “And how does this help you learn?” and the students jumped right in with, “Well, it helps ME learn because I’m racing other students, and if I’m going to win I’d better be prepared…”

What about it the project is most fun//exciting about the project for the students?

They love “racing” each other and seeing their results on the board in real time.  They also just like using devices, although as devices in class become more mainstream, the novelty will wear off.

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Kidblog & Scratch Jr.: Thompson teacher Nicole Melnik describes how her first graders using iPads

Nicole Melnik of Thompson School describes how first graders are using iPads for Kidblog & Scratch Jr.  Kidblog allows each child to have their own public​ blog so others can see their work. Scratch Jr. is a coding app that creates interactive ​projects.

What did the technology allow you and students to do that you couldn’t have done without it?

​Kidblog breaks down the classroom walls.  My kids love the fact that the whole world can read and comment on their posts! As Scratch Jr.’s website says, “coding is the new literacy” and this is an important 21st century skill for my students to be learning.

What additional technology would you like to add to this project to make it stronger/better/more relevant/etc.?  Why?

​Thanks to an AEF grant, we will be getting Subtext (a reading group app) with some e-books.  I would love to be able to get wireless keyboards for some of my students that struggle with typing.  I also wish there was an app like Dragon that could turn speech into text, and actually work with kid talk!

Can you describe a memorable moment when you were teaching  with this project/technology that brought its value home to you?

​It’s amazing to see how much longer my students blog posts are than when they write on paper.  When they write on paper, their stories are often put in a folder and they might only share it with a few people (myself, their writing buddy and their families).  On Kidblog, they receive comments from 3 other classes through a Blogging Community I joined, other teachers, classmates, myself, and family members from around the country.

What about it the project is most fun//exciting about the project for the students?

​My students loved making a game on Scratch Jr.  They enjoy having a variety of choices of what they use and do to get to the final outcome.

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Lego Engineering iBooks: Q&A with Thompson teacher Siobhan Foley

Siobhan Foley of Thompson School discusses  Lego Engineering iBooks.  Students had a design challenge to use three simple machines to move a Lego person up and over the top of the Lego kits. They documented their initial design and prototype plus two revisions using Book Creator.

What did the technology allow you and students to do that you couldn’t have done without it?

Using Book Creator gave me the chance to push my students to go through the whole engineering process and to show them that failure and problem-solving is a part of it.  They were able to incorporate videos of their tests in their books documenting their progress, which was a key component as well as the reflection and redesign part.

What additional technology would you like to add to this project to make it stronger/better/more relevant/etc.?  Why?

I’m not sure.  I’m pretty happy with how this turned out and I will do it this way again this year.  I think the one drawback was in the publishing aspect.  I wanted the books to be uploaded to google drive because that has become a student portfolio that can follow the students through their whole academic career, but we could not upload the books with the videos still intact.  Google drive would only support it as a PDF.

Can you describe a memorable moment when you were teaching  with this project/technology that brought its value home to you?

One of the best moments was when a student was frustrated because the prototype that he and his partner created was not working.  I spoke with him and pointed out in Book Creator that he still had two other opportunities to make it better.  He shrugged his shoulders and made the video of the failed attempt and then began working on his redesign.

What about it the project is most fun//exciting about the project for the students?

The fun and exciting part is building and testing with the Legos.  The less fun part was the documentation of their progress prior to using the i-Pads.  With the i-Pads, they were very excited to get to the testing and redesign phase as well as working with the Legos to build their prototypes.


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Technology & Engineering Program: Q&A with Ottoson Middle School teachers Gary Blanchette and Brandy Whitney

Ottoson Middle School Teachers Gary Blanchette and Brandy Whitney describe how they are using AEF funds in Technology and Engineering to create a new website, and use iPads in the classroom. They also explain how the program is moving into the 21st century.

In 2014, the AEF Technology Initiative expanded this STEM program at the Ottoson Middle School.

What did the technology allow you and students to do that you couldn’t have done without it?

This technology has allowed our students to:

  • research ideas in the classroom for the design challenges they are embarking on.
  • utilize a CAD drawing app to create designs for their “Super Water Rocket, Ring for Kites, and Wheels for their super dragster”, all of which will be printed on the 3d printers and tested. Comparisons will be made to their original designs.
  • access many presentation apps (Explain Everything, iMovie, Educreations, Prezi, Doodle Buddy, Notability…) that may be used to communicate solutions/create advertisements to/for their design challenges. It has also
  • gain instant access to our website which contains videotaped lessons and power points for students that need extra review or that may have been absent the day of the lesson.

This technology has allowed us to:

  • put our vocabulary assessments onto a program called JogNog. The students utilize the iPads to access the app to complete the assessment. The program gives us the students first score (taken as a pretest) and their most recent (taken after the design challenge is completed – posttest). This allows us to see student growth and modify lessons to need the highest need areas.
  • gain access to Physics apps that enhance the real world theory behind the design challenges. Now the students can enter their designs into physics apps to replicate real life situations. (Simple Physics, Simple Rockets, Make it Fly, Monster Physics Lite…)
  • incorporate a new unit on Communication Technology that was not being addressed prior to this Technology being given.
  • create power point and videotaped lessons to present to the students via projector.

What additional technology would you like to add to this project to make it stronger/better/more relevant/etc.? Why?

  1. We would like to purchase a couple of I-Sense, 3d handheld Scanners. Our CAD drawing app limits the students to using existing primitives with little option to modify other than size. The scanners would allow the students to create their own designs or scan existing designs and drop them into the printing software to be manufactured by the 3d printers.
  2. We would like a couple of projector screens for our lessons. We are currently using our white board which limits us to a small scale. This makes it difficult for some students to see and renders a portion of our whiteboard useless.

Can you describe a memorable moment when you were teaching with this project/technology that brought its value home to you?

When we first introduced Simple Physics as a tie in to our straw tower unit, the students really got hooked and had design competitions against themselves and others throughout the world that were also using this app. The student engagement with this program was remarkable.

What about it the project is most fun//exciting about the project for the students?

This technology has allowed our students instant access to multiple learning opportunities. It has engaged the unmotivated student, aided ELL students with a translate app, and provide another means for differentiated instruction needed to meet the needs of all learners.



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