Sunday, September 29, 2013

Innovation and Education: Why and how they belong together (STEMx Education Conference) - Online STEM Conference

If you are teaching in a STEM based subject area or interested in STEM integration, you need to visit and watch some sessions from the Global STEMx Education Conference.

I started by watching the "Innovation and Education: Why and how they belong together" presentation by William J. Ashby, PhD.  The presentation was recorded and you can view it by clicking on the hyperlink above, or by looking at the "Resources Section" at the end of my post.  After viewing the presentation, which I will review below, I've been hooked.  There are literally dozens of different sessions covering STEM based theory, to project based learning, digital resources for the classroom, and even gaming as an educational medium.  I thought I knew a lot about STEM and everything going on within this educational movement, and I have quickly learned that I actually knew very little.  There are so many new project concepts, educational innovations, and technology out there that I had no idea existed, such as

"Innovation and Education: Why and how they belong together," by William J. Ashby, PhD brought up several questions that I've been hearing a lot lately in my school district, as well as my graduate studies:

  • "What is an 'A' in Education mean?"
  • "How do we help people (students) create value?"
  • "What are the real problems in STEM education?"
  • "How do we help those students who don't play school well?"
Many of us were and are great at playing school.  However, there is a significant population of students out there, of all ages, who don't do well in a traditional classroom setting.  For example, Perry Wilson was not interested in math at school, but he loved carpentry and that's where the math concepts came to life for him.  So much so that he decided to start the website and start bringing math and science concepts to schools in a different way.  Students build small structures using hands-on skills to apply mathematical concepts, such as the Pythagorean Theorem.

What are the real problems in STEM Education?
  • The connections between the subjects.  Can existing schools create a streamlined learning environment where the subjects within STEM come together?
  • Making the information relevant
  • Willingness to take risks
  • The ability to fail
      Feel free to make your own comments on any of the questions above, and I highly suggest that you take a look at the STEM Global Conference and learn about all of the resources and movements out there!

      ~Jeremy Cooper


      STEM Global Conference:

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Just want a safe way to share Youtube videos with your students? is your answer!

One of the newest ways that I've tried giving my students access to extra resources is through Youtube videos.  Many of my students are visual learners and they need to see something in order to make a meaningful connection.  The problem is that Youtube has ads and a lot of unwanted stuff for the classroom and will help you remove all the unwanted clutter and leave you with exactly what you want.

Safeshare works on both computer and mobile device platforms, even allowing you to download the video as an MP3 or MP4 file format.  All you have to do is paste the Youtube video link, hit the Generate Button, and Safeshare will do the rest.

It's been great when I wanted to do a Flipped Classroom unit, where I could post the video on an LMS (Edmodo, Schoology, etc) and know that it's safe for students to be viewing.  I can also download the file and give it to students on a memory drive or mobile device if they don't have internet at home.  Let me know if this site helped you and your classroom in the comments!

~Jeremy Cooper


Need help converting all of those files on your computer? Try CloudConvert!

If you're like me, I am constantly having to convert files to various formats.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could just convert anything to anything?

Whether it be audio, video, published documents, etc. I'm always having trouble finding a program that will just do it all AND work every time.  I stumbled upon CloudConvert, and I've used it with great success on dozens of different projects for myself and my students.


CloudConvert is free, it supports a multitude of different file types (148 to be exact), and it will send the documents to you in different ways, such as automatically emailing you the file when it's done converting.  Everything is converted in the cloud, so it will not slow down your system while it is converting your files and documents.

It will also work with mobile, so if you have classroom tablets or mobile devices instead of computers, it will still work!  The site is still listed as being in Beta, but as I've said, it's been awesome so far in my experience.  Let me know in the comments if this is a useful site for you!

~Jeremy Cooper


Virtual Design and 3D Model Creation in the Classroom with Trimble SketchUp and Blender

Have you ever wanted to try and bring a virtual design or 3D world into your classroom?  Are you looking for a way to reach those students in your classroom who are more visual and spatial learners?

Well, then I have a couple of possible solutions for you to try and they are both free!  Trimble SketchUp and Blender.  Both of these programs will work on PCs or Mac and they don't have very restrictive hardware requirements.  They are great for a 1:1 school that uses Macbooks or PC laptops for instance.

Trimble SketchUp

I am a Technology Education Teacher by trade, and I have a lot of experience with teaching students about computer aided design software and virtual modeling of various things in our world.  I have found that many of the students in our classrooms are visual and spatial learners.  They need to be able to see something and interact with something to make that meaningful connection that we are all striving for in our classes.  I have done all kinds of interdisciplinary units with coworkers in my districts that used SketchUp and Blender to bring something new and fun into the classroom.

Blender is a great option if you want to do animation and more advanced modeling within your classroom.  My experience has been great with the program and there are so many free tutorials and guides that will take you and your students through using the program.  I would say though that you will want to have a little time devoted to using the program, as the learning curve at the beginning can be steep for many learners.  This is also a great program if you are trying to incorporate any kind of Virtual Reality aspect into your classroom.

Trimble SketchUp (formerly Google SketchUp) is another great program that I used when working with other subject areas, and is typically my go-to program for a quick unit.  SketchUp is easy to use and understand, and students will pick up the software skills very quickly.  I will list a few collaborative projects that I've done below, know that you are really only limited by your own imagination.
  • Social Studies - City Planning:  Design your own city using SketchUp
  • English - Model a scene from the story:  Modeled a party from the Great Gatsby
  • Science - Virtual Molecule:  Created a visual representation of a water molecule 

If you are looking for something new and fun to try in the classroom, give Trimble SketchUp and Blender a try!  If you know of any other great softwares or project ideas for modeling in the classroom, feel free to share those comments!

~Jeremy Cooper


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Great Social Bookmarking Tool for Teachers and Students - Diigo

Teachers and students, if you are looking for a better way to keep track of great websites, links, videos, and blogs, then you need to give Diigo a try. It's one of the best ways that I've found to keep track of all the different resources that I use on the web and makes it easy to share with others. As many Web 2.0 tools do now, there is an app available for it and you can integrate it into your browser for even easier bookmarking ability. If you are having trouble keeping track of websites and need a one stop show, try Diigo.

Teacher / Student Uses:
  • Save important websites and access them on any computer.
  • Categorize websites by titles, notes, keyword tags, lists and groups.
  • Search through bookmarks to quickly find desired information.
  • Save a screenshot of a website and see how it has changed over time.
  • Annotate websites with highlighting or virtual "sticky notes."
  • View any annotations made by others on any website visited.
  • Share websites with groups or the entire Diigo social network.
  • Comment on the bookmarks of others or solicit comments to your shared bookmarks.‎

~Jeremy Cooper

Scoop It - A fast way for teacher's to compile relevant stories for their students!

As a Technology Education Teacher, I'm constantly having to stay up to date on the latest technology in industry.  This school year in my district and the State of Iowa, there is a big push for more technical reading and emphasis on more applied reading in all classrooms.  Many of my textbooks are out of date and they are expensive to replace, so I went looking for a Web 2.0 tool that would efficiently deliver me stories each day that I could distribute to my students.  Scoop It! does exactly that and I've had excellent results in the types of stories that it delivers to me each day.  You can set it up as an app, a browser extension, or just have it email you stories each day.  It's like waiting for the paper every morning, but all the stories are interesting, relevant, and best of  Feel free to try it out and let me know in the comments if this is something that helps you out!

~Jeremy Cooper

Use TweetDeck for keeping track of all your Tweets!

TweetDeck is an excellent tool for all teachers and students who are involved in the world of Twitter!  You can organize and keep track of several different Twitter Feeds and monitor whenever someone mentions you on Twitter.  There are several different ways that teachers can filter and analyze several different hashtags and Twitter feeds in order to get the most of out their Tweets.  Teachers can use Tweetdeck as an assessment method, for exit survey of students, and even in professional development as backchanneling.  Thanks for reading my first blog post, and feel free to follow my blog for regular updates on useful Web 2.0 tools for teachers!

~Jeremy Cooper