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The Most Exciting News I’ve Heard All Year!

This is the most exciting news I’ve heard all year. And, yes, I do get out much.

As a huge fan of everything TED, I was delighted to hear about Ted-Ed Clubs!

Now to get to work together with my professional besties on this…


TED-Ed Clubs are for students ages 8 to 18, and can contain up to 50 members. An educator — who gets materials and a hands-on orientation from the TED-Ed staff — leads the club through a series of 13 meetings, designed to get students to permanently wear their thinking caps. For the first three meetings, students watch TED Talks, discuss them and begin to think: what idea most captures my imagination? From there, students learn how to frame their idea and present it in a TED-style talk. In meeting 11, students give their talks in front of the club and, in the next meeting, work on editing their video. As a final step, these talks are uploaded to the TED-Ed YouTube channel — some may even be featured on the TED-Ed website.

Before today’s launch of TED-Ed Clubs, two pilot sessions of the program were held with 125 clubs in total. More than a thousand students participated in over 20 countries, including the United States, China, Sierra Leone, Pakistan, Brazil and Australia. The experience was pivotal for many students. One wrote, “I am not an excellent speaker. I hadn’t participated in much for the first 15 years of my life. … This [was], by far, one of the biggest opportunities I’ve ever gotten to express myself to an audience. My mind is always buzzing with ideas. Before now, I needed to be pushed into the spotlight.”

Educators were thrilled to see students get so into the program. Marc Siegel, a chemistry teacher in New Jersey, shared on his blog, “The most fascinating aspect of the club was the type of student who came to the meetings. Almost all of the students are those that you might classify as ‘wallflowers,’ excellent students who would prefer to sit quietly in class and complete their work rather than answer questions or have attention drawn to them. However, pull all of these students out of the classroom, give then a non-school related topic to discuss that actually interests them, and suddenly they won’t be quiet. Our meetings ran over time every time because the discussions were so interesting.”

TED-Ed Clubs are designed to create a generation of creative problem-solvers around the globe. Are you interested in bringing TED-Ed Clubs to your school? Find out how to start one »


3 Quick Tech Wins You Can Easily Pull Off

Pressed for time? Technology-challenged? During my 10 minute commute home from work today, I thought of three easy ways you can use tech with very little training or support. If you spent 30 minutes or so tinkering with each, you’d be ready to implement these ideas right away.

1. STUDENTS create engaging movie trailers using iMovie App

Please tell me the iMovie app is one of your favourite classroom iPads/iPhone apps! Even a complete tech newb will be able to navigate its clean and simple interface to put together Oscar-winning flicks, and every great flick needs its own trailer. Using the trailer feature, students will be able to make professional looking trailers using helpful tools and themed storyboard templates. Oh, don’t start jumping to conclusions when you read “templates”; there’s still plenty of room for student creativity. For iOS purchases or activations September 1st, 2013 and on, the iMovie app is free. If you aren’t as lucky, just shell out the measly $4.99 for your copy. You’ll be glad you did.

Below is helpful tutorial I found. Keep in mind that updates may mildly change the appearance of the app, but I’m confident you’ll get what you need to get going on this one. Don’t forget the importance of sharing these student made videos, doing so is also quite easy.

2. STUDENTS create clever and catchy comic strips using Comic Life 2 comiclife2

Comic Life or Comic Life 2 software, available in my division on most student machines and as an inexpensive iPad app, allows both teachers and students to easily get the hang of making their comic strips, scrapbooks, and stories. Users of almost any age or skill level will quickly master the drag and drop techniques for photos, images, text, captions, titles, etc. The learning curve should not get in the way at all allowing teachers and students to get after learning outcomes instead of fighting the technology.

A quick google image search on Comic Life will provide you with all the examples you’ll need to spark your creativity and help you to generate ideas to use this tool in your classroom.

3. Stop talking about places and start going to places (virtually) using Google Maps and Google Earth.

Both of these products can be had for free. Google Maps is available in my school school division through Google Apps for Education (known here as iGO). Google Earth (desktop version) is already imaged into both the student and teacher machines in my division as well, but can also be downloaded for free here. There are also mobile and in-browser plug isf_goldengate1ns available for free. So, really, there’s no excuse for not “flying’ to countries, historic sites, buildings, the moon, mars, etc. Sites like these are at least mentioned in everyday in every classroom, so put that fancy data projector to good use and take students on the occasional budget-friendly field trip. My guess is that at least one student in your class will be able to help you navigate Google Earth and Maps.

If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can help STUDENTS/CREATE their own content to/within maps. Check out this great resource for more information, tutorials, and ideas.

So there you have it. This post took me just a few minutes to write and I bet that these are three very basic tech ideas you could implement right away with very little training or support.

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