We're Going to ISTE 2014!

iste2014The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE®) is the premier membership association for educators and education leaders engaged in advancing excellence in learning and teaching through the innovative and effective uses of technology in PK–12 and teacher education. Their annual Conference and Expo is the premier educational technology for professionals worldwide. The conference starts up this Friday at

SAS Curriculum Pathways will be there with bells on and a few presentations as well! Be sure to come say hi!

No-cost Tools: Fully Engage Students in the Writing Process

spotlight-navseriesSunday, June 29, 8:00 am–10:00 am
GWCC Murphy Ballroom Galleria, Table 30
Digital Age Teaching & Learning
Participate and Share:Poster

Students track their own learning with digital data notebooks

spotlight-appsSunday, June 29, 12:45 pm–1:45 pm
GWCC B208, Table 3
Research
Participate and Share:Roundtable
Jennifer Sabourin, Lucy Kosturko, Scott McQuiggan

Snapshot 1 of 2: Rolling out high-quality, no-cost resources

pd-tips-tricksTuesday, July 1, 8:30 am–9:30 am
GWCC B314
Digital Age Teaching & Learning
Listen and Learn:Snapshot
Wendy Marshall from Savannah-Chatham County Public School System in Georgia
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How SAS® Curriculum Pathways® Saved a Student Teacher

As a pre-service teacher, one of the most exciting, challenging, exhausting, and rewarding experiences is student teaching. During my student teaching semester, I was placed in a Common Core Math 1 class at a high school in Wake County, North Carolina. I found that as a CCM 1 teacher, understanding the mathematical content is not as challenging as actually explaining the content to students. For example, from my math experience, I had a fairly firm understanding of what it means for an equation to be linear. However, finding a way to describe linear equations to high school students in a way that enhances their mathematical understanding and grabs their attention was a daunting task.

When planning a lesson, I used my Professional Learning Team's lessons as a starting point and foundation for pacing and content order. From there, I turned to SAS Curriculum Pathways for help. In some situations I used the lessons and tools as a reliable teacher-resource to recall the answers to questions such as "What are the characteristics of a monomial?" I found that searching "monomials" in SAS Curriculum Pathways was a more efficient and dependable way to seek an answer to this question than a general internet search. Since the Algebra 1 course aligned with the CCM 1 content that I was teaching, I selected parts of specific lessons to use to teach my students. With the technology that I had access to in my classroom, I found that the easiest way to do this was to show the lesson on the Smartboard and lead the class through select elements while the students took notes on the content and completed example problems.

I also used Curriculum Pathways for inspiration on how to explain math concepts to students. For example, the Algebra course lesson on Functions and Relations features a video that explains the characteristics of the domain and range of a function by comparing domain to people and range to places. I loved this analogy, but I wanted to take the video a step further and get my students involved in the example.

When presenting the concept to the class, I asked for volunteers to come to the front of the room and hold signs labeled as specific locations that my students could identify with.... McDonald's, The Mall, etc. I then called on several students to each pick a location where they wanted to "go" and connected each person to the corresponding sign with a piece of string. This allowed the class to have a discussion about how two people could be at one place together, but one person cannot be at two places at once and how this compares to the domain and range of a function.

My advice to future teachers approaching their student teaching semester would be to find whatever works for you, but don't forget that you never have to start from scratch. There are an overwhelming amount of educational resources online, some better than others. My best lessons came from finding ideas and lessons that were already created and then adjusting those lessons to fit my personality and teaching style. When looking for content support, example problems, complete lessons, visual representations, student assessments, or even just inspiration, SAS Curriculum Pathways is the perfect place to start.

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Walt Whitman on Innovation and Education

walt-whitman--matthew-brady-lIn June of 1855, Walt Whitman set the type for the first printing of his Leaves of Grass. To mark the 159th anniversary of that event, we’ve selected some inspiring lines from the canonical poet who—unlike many of his peers—was a great champion of technology.

There was a child went forth every day
And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part of the day,
Or for many years, or stretching cycles of years.

 Teacher, poet, champion of democracy, Whitman extols the boundless potential of the unfettered mind.

I fly like a bird…
I believe in those wing’d purposes.

 Whitman gives poetic expression to ideals of progress and inclusiveness that have long informed our ideals of education and our sense of who we are as a nation.

I launch all men and women forward with me into the unknown…
Outward … forever outward … toward something great …
O days of the future, I believe in you …

Recent innovations in technology promise to make opportunity more fully democratic, offering all students what had been available only to the privileged few. That’s one goal of our work at SAS.

This is the meal equally set …
I will not have a single person slighted or left away …
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand …
You shall not look through my eyes either, not take things from me,
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from yourself.

Innovations are also linking students with the great minds of the past, with each other, and with the resources necessary to shape a more enlightened future. In this passage Whitman celebrates the transatlantic cable, the Suez Canal, and the transcontinental railroad, but one can easily imagine these words being applied to the web—or to SAS Curriculum Pathways.

The earth to be spann’d, connected by network,
The oceans to be cross’d, the distant brought near,
The lands to be welded together … for purpose vast …

Technological innovations are also promoting the “varied carols” of diversity—in the artist and the mathematician, the musician and the architect, the software developer and the historian, the teacher and the chemist.

Opportunity, creativity, cooperation, innovation—all are crucial if students are to meet the unforeseeable challenges in the years to come.

“There was a child went forth” … and in time that child becomes an adult … who also goes forth … on ever more daring and wondrous journeys of the mind:

O we can wait no longer.
Joyous we launch out on trackless seas.
Have we not stood here long enough?
For we are bound where mariner has not yet dared to go …

O my brave soul!
O farther, farther sail!
O daring joy…
O farther, farther, farther sail!

If these lines inspire you, why not create a multimedia presentation that introduces you and Whitman? Our lesson will guide you step-by-step through the process.

To learn more about Whitman and some of the poems quoted here, see our lesson Meet Walt Whitman and Me (QL# 343). The lesson also provides a link to an image gallery so you can get a look at the great gray poet.
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Supporting Middle Grades Data and Statistics Inquiry

The Common Core State Standards have certainly heightened the focus on statistics in math classes. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the middle grades, where the emphasis on data has not simply increased, but increased dramatically.

Middle grades teachers looking for resources to help their students become statistically literate–and meet Common Core State Standards–will find a wealth of resources in SAS Curriculum Pathways. Here are just a few examples of lessons and interactive tools that provide data-analysis instruction and increase student understanding of statistics.

Data Depot

Data Depot contains exactly the accurate, clearly formatted data that teachers need for classroom use.

Data Depot contains numerous data sources for analysis. Students can analyze and interpret data, examine and describe trends, and use data and graphs to estimate values and draw conclusions. Data Depot houses a growing repository of over 25 individual data sources, each configured in multiple formats including Excel and comma-separated values. Also, many of the data sets are accompanied by a corresponding lesson. Using these lessons, students can analyze high school graduation data, investigate the color distribution of M&M'S, and use rate of change to evaluate historical population data.

Another resource to address the standards, the Basic Probability Audio Tutorial, visually introduces students to the question, What is probability? This five-minute instructional video examines how to determine the probability of an event and includes a brief online quiz.

SAS Curriculum Pathways has over 20 additional statistics and data-related resources.

And check out these links to learn more about teaching statistics in the middle school classroom.

Statistics Education Web (STEW)

Guidelines for Assessment and Instruction in Statistics Education (GAISE) Report

 

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Copyright Laws, The Internet, and You {Part 2}

In part 1 of our copyright discussion we looked at asset and copyright basics. Today we’ll talk text assets and some challenges in science and math.

Words Words Words

Text assets nearly always require extra research. It’s a pretty safe bet that the original Chaucer or Shakespeare texts are in the public domain. But what about all those modernized English versions of older texts? Probably not. A good portion of my time is spent tracking down who owns the rights, and it’s not always an easy path. Different sources such as authors, family members, foundations, publishers, estates, trusts, and clearance centers may own various rights to texts. Some rights holders may own the right to print versions while others own the electronic or audio rights. Some may own rights for use in the United States while others may own rights in UK, Canada, or in other parts of the world. (And if you think text rights are complicated, don’t even get me started on music rights!)

In several instances we’ve requested permission to use excerpts from a well-known book, journal, or newspaper and were denied. Rights holders might choose to deny permission because they do not allow excerpts to be used. Sometimes permission is denied because rights holders do not want their text to be reproduced electronically. Other times permission is denied with no explanation at all. Be prepared to go with plan B.

Muggs

Muggs the dog is ours, created by our talented team of designers.

Global Copyrights

We currently write our own texts for Spanish lessons and apps, but I want to touch on translations and global copyright. If we were going to use any third-party Spanish language texts, we would have a number of issues to consider. Just like any other text asset, we would need to request permission. Additionally, if we wanted to translate the text into English, we would need permission for that. Authors and publishers are often reluctant to allow translations of their works. To complicate matters further, if the text is published in another country, we would need to investigate copyright laws of that country. There is no such thing as “international copyright law.” Each country has different copyright laws, fair use rules, and public domain guidelines.

Science

The first place that comes to mind for science images is NASA. While many images posted by NASA are in the public domain, some are not. Learn to look for credits below or adjacent to each image, and read the fine print. For example, images of people could pose a problem. NASA’s Media Use Guidelines state that “if a NASA image includes an identifiable person, using the image for commercial purposes may infringe that person's right of privacy or publicity, and permission should be obtained from the person.”

NASAupdate

We use this highly stylized NASA rendition of the earth's solar system and beyond in Unit 1, Lesson 4 of our Algebra 1 Course.

Math

So what about math? If Pythagoras were alive today, would he be disappointed to learn that he could not copyright his theorem a2 + b2 = c2? That’s right, formulas, facts, and ideas cannot be copyrighted. However, certain compilations of data like some of the sets used in our Data Depot might be copyrighted. Check the legal information for each source and then double-check … which leads me to my next point.

The Lesson to Learn

The bottom line when it comes to copyright: When in doubt, ask! "Publically available" does not mean "public domain." An image or text on a website might be (and probably is!) copyrighted in the same way a book or newspaper article would be. If you want to use an asset, request permission and be prepared to wait. Typical response time from publishers can be 2 – 3 months or even longer. Sometimes you’ll receive no response at all! Always have alternates in mind if the rights holder does not respond, if the response is “no,” or if usage fees are more than you are willing to pay. Bottom line: it truly is better to ask permission now than to ask forgiveness later.

Are you interested in using screenshots, video, or other excerpts from SAS Curriculum Pathways? There’s a process for that! Simply complete our Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials Request form. Sometimes we cannot provide you with permission because of licensing restrictions on third-party assets. However, whenever we can, we will. We’d love for you to be a cheerleader for us!

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Copyright Laws, The Internet, and You {Part 1}

There’s nothing more fun than assets and copyrights. No, seriously... For nearly 16 years I've been locating assets and acquiring the rights to use them in SAS® Curriculum Pathways®. I enjoy hunting down rights holders, locating just the right photograph or video to accompany content written by our curriculum specialists, or, even better, discovering that elusive asset I’ve unearthed is in the public domain! Woohoo!

OK, so maybe not everyone finds copyrights and the pursuit of the perfect asset so interesting. Asset acquisition can be a complex and painful process. I’ve seen my share of asset upsets and copyright woes.

What is an asset and can I use it?

"Abraham Lincoln, half-length, seated, with empty hands," is this photo's official title.

Let’s start with the basics. An asset is an item of property which has value. Assets used in SAS Curriculum Pathways include texts, images (photographs, paintings, and graphics), data, video, audio, software, fonts, and music. If you’ve ever wondered how and where we obtain some of our third party assets (assets not created in-house by SAS), here are just a few examples.

The humanities usually pose the most difficult (and by difficult I also mean fascinating!) challenges. One of the most reliable resources for historic assets is the U.S. National Archives Records Administration. The National Archives includes all U.S. presidential libraries, many of which have their own searchable web sites.

Another favorite historical resource is Library of Congress, which is the largest library in the world. Their collections include

I particularly love this photograph of President Abraham Lincoln from PPOC, which we use in the social studies Interactive Tool, Lincoln and the Civil War.The PPOC’s entry dates the photo as February 5, 1865. This may be the last photograph taken of the president before his death. His craggy face and mussed hair reveal a worn man. The Civil War had clearly taken a toll.

When it's time to dig

So, is everything at The National Archives or Library of Congress in the public domain (free to use without restrictions)? No. Not even close. Each asset must be examined carefully to determine rights status. On some occasions an asset is clearly identified as public domain, but many times rights information is unclear, missing, or unknown. Expect to do some digging.

In our World Literature: Norse Sagas, Albert Goodwin’s The Viking Sea Raiders offers another example of how we use images to enhance interactive content.

SeaRaiders

Students use this World Literature Interactive Tool to examine the narrative elements that characterize medieval Norse sagas

The painting’s muted colors immediately set the tone, and the Viking ships elicit the proper setting for texts to be explored in the lesson. I acquired permission to use this painting from a stock photography company which licenses photographs and fine art. That means the image may be used in our lesson, but since it is not in the public domain and we do not own the image, we cannot transfer usage rights to others.

In part two of this discussion, we’ll talk about text assets, science, and math.

 

Are you interested in using screenshots, video, or other excerpts from SAS Curriculum Pathways? There’s a process for that! Simply complete our Permission to Use Copyrighted Materials Request form. Sometimes we cannot provide you with permission because of licensing restrictions on third-party assets. However, whenever we can, we will. We’d love for you to be a cheerleader for us!

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Edcamp Elon - Building my PLN

As educators, we all need to grow. While not in the classroom anymore, I want to keep in touch with new teaching approaches and the needs of students and teachers. For me, two new ways of doing that are by using social media and attending my first Edcamp.

On Saturday, April 19, I joined organizers and attendees from across the state at EdCamp Elon. It was an amazing collaboration. I connected with teachers in all the disciplines, and I learned from their varied educational experiences. I also had face-to-face conversations with members of my Personal Learning Network (PLN). Although there were no pre-set speakers or keynotes, we heard from some super-star educators whose Twitter feeds and blogs I follow.

This “unconference” allows participants to set the session agenda and engage in informal conversations. This is a fabulous way to learn and share with others and to continue my own professional development.

Building the Board

To start, the Edcamp Elon organizers walked us through the process of selecting the topics that would dictate the day.  We used Padlet to post our ideas, so collaboration and participant engagement were built in from the start. I worked with a math and science teacher, discussing what we would like to learn, and quickly posted our topic.

Edcamp1

Edcamp participants created their own conference sessions!

Next, we raced to the board and set up the schedule. Within minutes, the sessions of the day were on the Edcamp Elon website and available on the Edcamp Elon app. WOW!  Prior to the start of the sessions, we learned two important points:

  • Law of two feet: we were encouraged to move freely among the sessions.
  • Collaborative notes: we used on-time Google docs to add notes and create a takeaway document

I was inspired by this activity. As participants expressed their interests, organizers were quick to respond. Those who didn’t make it to the board were enthusiastically shouting out ideas. One participant volunteered to lead a Twitter chat session. She knew that this was one way we would communicate throughout the day, and she was right. Check out our Twitter frenzy on #edcampelon.

Learning and Sharing

The heart of Edcamps are the sessions. There are three session rotations and a culminating Smackdown where specific resources are highlighted.  I attended sessions on Standards Based Grading and on Learning, Digital Leadership, and Flipped Classrooms. But I wanted to attend many other sessions.  Luckily I could stay connected with what was going on in other sessions via collaborative note documents.

Edcamp3

Within minutes session topics were scheduled and away we went!

I was soaking in a lot of valuable information as participants shared their thoughts and ideas. The meeting-of-the-minds approach is the best professional development that I have had. I never did use the law of two feet. The sessions I attended were so robust I didn’t want to leave them.

Hundreds of Edcamps are held around the world. I am ready for #edcampHighPoint in fall 2014, #edcampNC on Sept 27 and #edcampELON in spring 2015 (note:  #edcampCharlotte  is May 19)! I encourage you to read more about the Web-connected Classroom and My First Edcamp. You can follow the post chats at #edcampelon.

So mark your calendar, and take professional development into your own hands!

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SAS Science Adventures with Kelvin!

Kelvin (the N.C. Science Festival robot) came to SAS in preparation for the N.C. Science Festival. He had a grand ole time meeting new faces and, even better, new technologies.

Kelvin-001
And I am not going to lie, I enjoyed touring the campus to find more fun things I didn't even know about. Thanks, Kelvin! These were some of our adventures:

  • Visiting the emerging technologies lab with our good friend Matt and trying out some neat gadgets, watching the 3D printer work its magic, and even playing with a giant Microsoft PixelSense table
  • Making oobleck
  • Hanging out with some robobuddies Wall-E and Sphero
  • Stealing some M&M'S® to work on a Data Depot lesson "M&M'S®: Are the colors evenly distributed?"
  • Visiting a co-worker who has a large fascination with Legos
  • Checking out SAS Analytics U
  • Talking it up with Teddy Roosevelt and Einstein about engineering
  • Almost going for a swim in the fountain to learn about Stream Ecology, but we set him straight

Kelvin rounded out his time with us at the UNC Science Expo on Saturday, April 12th, teaching crowds all about our apps.

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It Takes a (SAS Curriculum Pathways) Community

Feedback from educators has been vital to building and refining SAS Curriculum Pathways. The impetus for many of our resources—Writing Reviser for example—came from conversations with teachers around the country.

Our Community page invites teachers to share their experiences using SAS Curriculum Pathways with their students. Entries are easy to create, and can be searched by discipline and author. With input from teachers across the U.S., and from as far away as Bolivia, our Community provides a wealth of knowledge on how teachers have integrated resources and how students have responded.

This activity went GREAT!!! My students love ... answering the problems on the SMART Board. This truly kept them engaged.
— NC math teacher on Flash Cards: Fractions

Student writings were strengthened by this activity, and they were eager to discuss how strong verbs helped them in their writing.
— TN English Language Arts teacher on Abraham Lincoln Shows How to Choose Strong Verbs

Some Community posts provide detailed classroom implementation details.

Analyzing Box and Whisker Plots

I split my class into groups of four. (I have a four-person computer lab in my classroom.) I then had one group do the Internet investigation, QL #121. The second group worked on writing down the assumptions and making sure that all conditions were being meet with explanations so that a 1 sample t-test would be an appropriate analysis. The third group input and analyzed the data and came up with a conclusion. The final group utilized the calculators to create box plots and histograms as part of the initial analysis without having the benefit of the investigation.

— TX math teacher on Analyzing Box-and-Whisker Plots

I shortened this exercise somewhat. Because we had already solved a series of gas law problems in the classroom, I did not have the students do additional standard gas law problems in this activity. Rather, I had them explore the informational web sites and then do the In-Class set of 3 problems in teams of 3-4 students.
— WV science teacher on Mass-volume Stoichiometry

Technology integration is not always a smooth process, and some Community posts reflect that reality.

Other than the broken links, the lesson was fabulous. I did e-mail SAS with the broken link and received a response the next day that it was up and running again.
— TN science teacher on Magnetism & Its Uses

But most entries reflect the transformative impact of high-quality, standards-based interactive resources.

The Apply activity proved challenging for some but was quite beneficial overall. I like how it asks students to relate the key point and apply the connection; this helps to foster higher order of thinking. I enjoyed working with this lesson and found it quite productive.
— NH social studies teacher on World War II: The Homefront

I will definitely use this lesson again. I was able to achieve every goal set prior to the lesson. All students, at every level of learning, were engaged and motivated. The information, along with the breakdown of the information, helps students to clearly identify what is important.
— NY social studies teacher on Renaissance Man: Leonardo

My students really enjoyed this activity.
— WI Spanish teacher on Adjective Agreement

The takeaway from all this? As you plan the integration of SAS Curriculum Pathways resources, take a few minutes to review how other teachers have used a resource. There is a lot of wisdom out there.

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Oobleck: Non-newtonian suspension fun at work

Kelvin's first oobleckAs a sponsor of the NC Science Festival this year, we at SAS decided to bring the festival's mascot, Kelvin, to campus for a little fun. He has quite the itinerary, including touring the new technologies we work with, visiting an office full of Legos, sneaking M&M'S® for statistics lessons, and so much more (STEM fun to come)! But today, we thought we would have a little fun with science. Many of us here at SAS Curriculum Pathways are parents and our kids loved playing with "slime." We figured Kelvin would too, so we raided our cabinets, got a conference room, and made some oobleck!

What is oobleck?

Glad you asked!

"Oobleck is a non-Newtonian fluid; it has properties of both liquids and solids. You can slowly dip your hand into it like a liquid, but if you squeeze the oobleck or punch it, it will feel solid. The name oobleck comes from the Dr. Seuss book, “Bartholomew and the Oobleck.” In the story, oobleck, a gooey green substance, falls from the sky and wreaks havoc in the kingdom." - Livescience.com

You may have experienced oobleck as a kid (or a parent), but if you haven't, we encourage you to try it. It really is a wild feeling. You don't need much.

  • 1 part water
  • 1.5 to 2 parts cornstarch
  • Small amount of food coloring (optional)

That's it. Sounds so simple.

How does it work?

Oobleck isn't your typical liquid or solid. Its state depends on the force applied to it. Applying force, such as squeezing or tapping it, will cause oobleck to be more solid, while just holding it in your hand will make oobleck feel like a liquid. This goo is called a suspension, meaning that the grains of starch do not dissolve but rather suspend and spread out in the water. Oobleck's properties are similar to that of quicksand. If you walk across oobleck quickly, you can walk across. But if you go slowly, you will sink. Check out this video of a pool filled with oobleck:

 

or put oobleck on a speaker and watch it dance.

 

Want to learn more?

Check out one of our resources, Solution Properties.

SAS Curriculum Pathways Solution Properties

Learn how solutions form and investigate their properties. You'll observe and describe what happens when a solid or liquid dissolves in a liquid; determine how temperature, agitation, and surface area affect the rate at which a solid dissolves in a liquid; and investigate the impact of temperature, pressure, and solute characteristics on solubility.

Or, find out about other types of mixtures with Solutions, Suspensions & Colloids.

Explore the characteristics of three types of mixtures—solutions, suspensions, and colloids—and apply these classifications to various substances. You'll summarize what you learn to answer this focus question: Orange juice, Jello, and mayonnaise—what makes them different?

And if you are a North Carolinian, be sure to check out all the awesome things happening with the NC Science Festival over the next week. Fun for all ages!

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