Sunday, September 18, 2016

Take me IN to the ballgame

If you have met me or if you have participated in Twitter chats with me or even, quite simply, read just one blog post, you know I am a huge proponent of breaking down the walls of the classroom. This could mean actually venturing outside or it could mean bringing the outside into the classroom. There are many ways to break down the walls (both physical and proverbial) and extend lessons into EduAwesome Adventures.

Today, I want to talk a little bit about one of my very favorite things on Earth: baseball.

"And they'll watch the game and it'll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they'll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it's a part of our past, Ray. It reminds us of all that once was good and that could be again. Oh...people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.”

~Thomas Mann (James Earl Jones) in Field of Dreams

I love baseball. And, I love teaching. So, naturally the two can and will come together in the classroom. When I taught middle school science, I used hula hoops, tennis balls, jump ropes, and baseball to teach lessons. At one point, to gain some insight, I attended "Fastballs and Physics," a Science on Screen presentation at the State Theatre in Modesto, California. It drew primarily from baseball movies. I connected lessons from there with lessons I already planned. Now, as I teach a math class and the baseball season makes its final dash toward October, I find myself once again looking to incorporate baseball into lessons. The measurements between bases, speeds of pitches thrown, and batting averages and ERAs for pitchers all automatically lend themselves to math lessons.

As we sat at the San Francisco Giants game on Friday night, I looked around and started thinking of how and when I would incorporate baseball into upcoming math lessons. Then, I started looking around and I found a couple of good resources.

Edutopia has six baseball themed lessons and I also found some that I like over at Education World. I will continue to explore these, but also had a couple of ideas of my own.

I recently had my first lesson in Number Talks and am in the process of building them into my lessons. We have been working with converting decimals to fractions and vice versa, so I will start there and build. We will explore averages and we will find differences between best and worst ERAs. We will determine how many games the Giants need to win to pass the Dodgers and at what point they may become mathematically eliminated. The other piece of this is the Wild Card race which was much talked about mathematically through the weekend as the Giants battled the Cardinals, splitting a four-game series.

Over the next two (or more) weeks, we will break down the walls and bring baseball into our math classroom. Students will learn, friends. Students will learn. They will begin solving math problems and it will be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters.

So..."do you wanna have a catch?"
How have you incorporated baseball into your teaching?
What new thing will you try this week?

EdTech Adventure: Family Style

Over the course of the last few years, my children have watched as I have attended conferences. They get excited about the swag I bring home and always want to hear about what I've learned. They also love to talk about what they learn at school and what new tricks and tips they have. Close to two years ago, my son and I started to develop an idea for a conference. Then, earlier this year, as I traveled to make some connections at schools in Alabama, I introduced him to Google Hangouts. A few months later, he joined me as a watched one of my favorite podcasts. More ideas bloomed.

Within the last week, we finally took a step and made our idea happen. We sat down and did a Google Hangout together and recorded it thanks to Google Hangouts On Air. Here I will share some of what we learned and what we discussed.

First, as of September 12, Google Hangouts On Air is no longer available. Google has redirected people YouTube Live. We recorded on September 10, so we used GHO (On Air) but mentioned at the beginning that we would transition to YouTube Live for the next discussion.

We conducted our first conversation "interview style." I wrote the questions and we had a brief discussion beforehand. Then, we set ourselves up and got the conversation going. The only addition was my six-year-old daughter who decided to participate as well. That added more time to it and we will adjust in the future. Our hope is to have these typically be 10 to 15 minute conversations that allow a teacher and student perspective, but also a parent and child perspective as well. This first conversation focused on the use of technology in education, specifically in the classroom and focused on the child/student perspective.

Our conversation offered many thoughts, but it was a closing thought of my son's that I think is an important thing for us to all consider, and remember. In his closing thoughts, he talked about how some students lack Internet access at home. Connectivity is definitely an issue and I think it puts things in perspective for students to be aware of it as well. At a time when some fourth graders are asking for the latest iPhone, others would simply appreciate accessibility for the sake of looking at the homework for the week on their teacher's website. A discussion has started in some circles, but we definitely need to keep the conversation going about connectivity and accessibility.

Other highlights include my fourth grader sharing about Chromebooks, Google Classroom, and Google apps in his classroom. My first grader shared some about iPads and her favorite apps/activities. Her most favorite is Starfall.

Our first EduAwesome Adventure conversation took almost 40 minutes and we will work to keep them shorter in the future, but this was a fun kick-off to something new from our little EdTech family. Want to hear some for yourself? The video appears below.