This should have been written sooner but my summer has flown by. Since I got home from DENSI on July 20, I had two additional adventures. First, I had a booth at the Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan. After that I was part of a high adventure trek to the Florida Sea Base in the Florida Keys. We spent four days on Big Munson Island. During our adventure we did deep sea fishing, night snorkeling on Patch Reef, kayaking through the mangroves and snorkeling on Looe Key.
The Discovery Education Summer Institute (DENSI) has been the best professional development I have ever experienced. Even though I knew just a few people through online connections, I felt immediately at home. New connections were made and old ones were strengthened. Everyone was willing to share what they knew and help with any challenges you may have.
At many professional development sessions I feel lucky if I can get one good idea to bring back to my school or classroom. All of the sessions here were filled with good ideas I will use in my classroom and school. The keynotes made you think of education differently and inspired you to do more.
The activities (formal and informal) were a blast! We had a great time at Shelburne Museum and Farm. I think the quilt and the circus exhibits were my favorites. We also attended a Vermont Lake Monsters baseball game and got to run the bases afterwards. At the dorms there were late night TV theme song trivia games (Thanks Dean Shareski!) and Artemis missions (Starship simulator Thanks Steve Dembo!).
It didn’t feel like a professional development experience, it felt more like going to camp with the coolest people and learning together. It really was an amazing experience and I look forward to more to come!
Curriculum standards can be hard for adults to understand let alone students and parents. The Curriculum Corner has an excellent solution. They have created posters for grades K-5 that explain the standards in student friendly language. Each poster is presented as a checklist so students can use it to see how they are doing and teachers can use it to indicate where a student may need more work. Check it out here: http://www.thecurriculumcorner.com/2012/12/03/i-can-common-core-standards-k-5/
Here are three apps that will help your students get a better understanding of some biology basics. Each app allows the user to explore the topic with detailed, interactive graphics. Best of all each app is free!
HudsonAlpha iCell (Free, available for both Android (https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.hudsonalpha.icell&feature=search_result and iOS devices https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/hudsonalpha-icell/id364882015?mt=8 ) This app allows the user to explore the cells of animals, plants and bacteria. Each simulation allows the user to zoom in and rotate the cell. Each part is labeled and explained. There are three levels of explanation, basic, intermediate and advanced. There is also a website that has the same content: http://www.hudsonalpha.org/education/digitaleducation/icell
Virtual Heart (Free, available for the iPad, iOS 4.0 and later https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/virtual-heart/id501539525?mt=8 ) This app explores the human heart. It offers interior and exterior views of the beating heart. The view can be changed by swiping up and down. You can also change the heart rate with a simple up and down arrow. Labels can be turned on and off. You can also look at the electrical system, valves and blood flow. All of this with an easy to use interface. Unfortunately you cannot rotate the heart to see it at multiple angles, although with all the other details included, this isn’t that much of an issue.
Anatomy 4D (Free, available for iOS https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/anatomy-4d/id555741707?mt=8 and Android devices https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.daqri.d4DAnatomy&hl=en ) This app is different because it uses Augmented Reality to display the human body. To use it you need to first print out the marker which tells the device what to display. From there you can see the human body in many levels of detail. Skin visibility is controlled with a slider that ranges from completely visible (nude) to no skin shown. Both male and female models are included. Systems include: muscular, skeletal, circulatory, nervous, gastrointestinal, respiratory, reproductive, urinary and lymphatic. Unfortunately no labels are included. As a teacher you have to decide, based on your classroom, school and community), how to use this app. One good use may be to use it as a teacher tool with very limited student interactivity.