Thursday, May 29, 2014

Swivl Can Make Flipping Your Class Even Better #FlippedClassroom

I heard about Swivl from a friend who attended a conference on the Flipped Classroom and it sounded amazing. I reached out to Swivl and was able to use a demo model for this piece.

Swivl is a robot that allows you to record everything you have wanted in a classroom. By wearing or holding on to the Marker, Swivl will follow you around the room and record your audio. Take a look at the graphic below for more details.

The idea is pretty simple. Have a camera follow the user around as they teach a lesson. The Marker can hang around the neck and it will be tracked by Swivl. The Marker has a microphone in it, so it will record the audio from there, so standing far away from Swivl does not matter.

I was able to carry the Marker around and pass it to students so they could share their answers and have it recorded on the video. It was easy and the audio sounded great.

All of this is done through the Swivl Capture App that connects your device directly to the robot. From the app, you can record your lesson or upload slides that will then be incorporated into the video you are recording. So, if you have slides your students will see on the wall, you can upload those slides to the Swivl app and move through them with the Marker. This connection is all done through Bluetooth and it was seamless to set up and use.

Swivl runs on battery and can be charged each night so it is ready for the next day.

Swivl also provides a cloud service for all users. Everyone starts off with 200 total minutes of video, but they do offer upgrades you can purchase.

Using the Swivl Cloud is great for teachers that want to record their lessons, but restrict who has access to it. While the videos that are recorded could be downloaded and uploaded to YouTube, the Swivl Cloud allows users much more control over the content and would address privacy concerns some parents or districts might have regarding the recording of class. The group management is also very nice so the user can create specific groups for students to join and access specific videos that have been shared by the user. 

For me, I often have discussion that head in different directions in different classes. I would love it if other students could see those conversations and add that to their notes. It is a great way to expand my classroom as an English teacher so more of my students can see and hear the ideas of their peers. I also see this as being huge in Science, Math, Social Studies, Foreign Language and many other disciplines because of the ability to easily record video and audio and make it available to students. 

The Swivl robot is wonderfully made and works flawlessly with my 4th Generation iPad. It also works for the iPad Air, 2nd - 4th Gen, iPad Mini 1st and 2nd Gen, iPod Touch 4th and 5th Gen, as well as the iPhone 5S, 5C, 4S, and 4. They are testing other Android models and cameras as well. 

The overall price for the Swivl robot is $299 with options for a $499 and $799 package that will also add the different levels of Swivl Cloud. 

If you are looking to Flip your classroom and have been striving to find the right tool to make it possible, you should really consider the Swivl. It is portable, so it can be shared in the department. It is easy to set up and use. It works with devices you might already own. It provides wonderful audio recording that is perfect for making great videos. I'm recommending Swivl to all of my teachers looking to Flip their classrooms. You should check it out as well. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"Older" Crowd-Sourced Video Competition, #ScienceFodler via @tomcfad #scichat

Introducing “Older”, a parody of Drake’s “Over”, about science as a process rather than as a body of facts.

If you are a science student of any age, a teacher, a scientist, or a science lover, I want you to submit your visuals for some part of this video. (And if you’re a science teacher, this is a fun end of the year activity for your students).

Please share the song/competition with anyone who may be interested, and tweet about it using #ScienceFolder.

VISUALS: You have lots of creative freedom here. Your visuals can be drawings, animations, stop-motion, shots of you rapping with props, or anything you can dream up. If you’re short on time, you can even just submit a photo of you with your science folder or lab notebook.

LENGTH OF SUBMISSION: If you want to be considered for the grand prize, you need to submit at least one line of the song (for example, you could choose “Teacher talking. Tympanic membrane swayin’” and come up with a visual for that line). You are welcome to submit visuals for multiple lines, for a full verse, a chorus, or for the whole song. If you are working as a class, you can have different students in charge of different lines.

AUDIO: Here is an mp3 of my audio, to use while you are shooting.

LYRICS: Read the lyrics (or annotate them) on rap genius here.

GRAND PRIZE: For the very best submission, I will personally come to the venue of your choosing to perform a full science rap live show. If a school class wins, this could be at your school. If a scientist wins, this could be at your university.

HOW TO SUBMIT: Submit your name, email, video, and consent via this form.
DEADLINE: June 30, 2014 (or if you are a school class, whenever your teacher says).

Can’t wait to see what you all come up with! Feel free to write any questions in the comments section of the video, or of this blog post.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Learning in the #EduLounge

I was very honored to be asked by my good friend +Steven Anderson to speak at Class Flow's Educators Lounge in Dallas this past weekend. It was a very cool event that allowed teachers to come together and connect in an intimate setting. I love the idea of getting educators together in smaller groups and allowing them to connect. Some of the best things I have ever learned have happened in smaller settings.

Adding their own awesomeness to the event were amazing educators +Tom Whitby and +Amber Teamann. They shared the value of being a connected educator and being a leader in the classroom. It was great to be on stage and listen to good friends and great educators share the things they have learned with passionate educators who have chosen to give up a Saturday to learn.

I was very happy to share the awesome work my students have been doing for their 20 Time projects. I was given 20 minutes to talk about Project Based Learning and easily talked for 30 - 35 minutes (Sorry Steven!). I can't help it though, when I get to talk about how amazing my students are, I can't turn it off.

I think this is something I would love to see more teachers do. When people say they love the work going on in my classroom, I always tell them it is the students. I put the pieces in places, but the kids are the real stars of my classroom. I feel like I'm in such a special job. I get to brag about the amazing things my students do every day and it fills me with such joy and pride. It is awesome to feel part of the learning and growth. I feel like I owe them all a big thank you at the end of every class.

Whether you are doing awesome things with project based learning, iPads, Chromebooks, or something you have invented on your own, I want to encourage you to brag about what your students are doing. These are the stories that matter most. Hearing about pedagogy from teachers can be interesting (sometimes), but I always smile when I see students being awesome in the classroom. That tells me everything I need to know about a lesson or a teacher. Those are the stories that are remembered and inspire others to try new things.

I cannot wait to see where the next #edulounge events will be held in the fall. I highly encourage you to keep an eye out for them and sign up to attend or watch on line. Getting a chance to share a story with other educators is something that should not be ignored.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

This is what #RunWithRiley taught me #edchat #20Time

This past Sunday, I ran the first leg of a marathon relay in Lansing, Michigan. It is something I will remember for the rest of my life.

A 5K run does not seem like it would be that memorable, but, like most things, it is the circumstances that made this moment so important.

My student asked me to be part of the relay team that would run with her as she attempted to run a marathon. Lauren wanted to run a marathon for her 20 Time project and I couldn't say know when she asked.

During her training, I started the tag #RunWithRiley so teachers could support her while she trained. So many teachers from all over the world cheered her on and told her she could do it. It was an amazing thing to see. Those tweets would come to be even more important on the day of the race.

I tweeted out the tag again and posted it on Facebook to drum up more support for Riley as she attempted her first marathon. I started the race with her and we had a pleasant run for 5K. Riley was going string until the 20th mile or so. She hit that wall that all runners talk about and she hit it hard. Her friend took out her phone and started to to read the tweets people had sent to her. Here is what she said in an article by Ginny Hayden from,

“My legs really started to hurt once I reached mile 21 and 22,” said Riley. “It was really nice to hear Miranda read me the tweets that Mr. Provenzano started with the hashtag ‘runwithriley’. They were all so positive and really motivated me to keep going.”

That hashtag did something awesome for Lauren during that race. It gave her the extra boost she needed to keep going. Social Media can be used for so many great things and this is just one example of the power it can have on students.

I'm proud to be part of an online community that would be willing to take the time and share a tweet of support with a student in a school in another state. Those tweets made a difference and helped a student accomplish a year long goal.

I look at what Lauren accomplished and I see everything that is right and good about 20 Time. She aimed high and knew that failure was an option, but never gave up. She surrounded herself with friends and people that supported her. By doing this, she knew that, even if she didn't finish, she could not fail. I'm proud to say that Lauren is a student of mine and I will try and take her approach when I decide to try something crazy. I encourage everyone to do the same.

Here are some tweets of support:

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Letter to Me on My 1st Day Teaching - #NerdyCast #edchat

I was inspired by this video by +SoulPancake and +Edutopia.

I decided that I had to do my own. I challenge all of you to write a letter to yourself and share it out. I did it and it felt awesome. 

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

- @TheNerdyTeacher