Day: February 29, 2016

Robot to the Middle

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Robots have long been used to help students with geometry.  In 1971, Seymour Papert and Cynthia Solomon wrote a paper called “Twenty Things to do with a Computer” in which they talk about using a robot they call a turtle to draw geometric shapes.

Robot TurtleTurtle Robot

Last year at the MakingMath Expo we had two versions of this, drawing bots and a program where you could draw with a virtual turtle robot.

cbnxlamwkaehvru Drawing Bots (foreground) and Virtual Turtles (background)

This year we are going to use the bots to raise the question, “How can you figure out the exact middle of various shapes?”  Students will start with a rectangle and move through other shapes like parallelograms, triangles, and circles.  At each shape they will have to justify how they know they are right about where the middle of the shape is before they are given a robot.  Once they have the bot they will drive it with a remote control to the exact middle then stop.  In the classroom, however, they would have to program their bot to go from the origin and stop in the center on its own with minimal information about each shape.  Here’s what the entry document might look like.  At the expo there will be a leader board with a prize going to the closest at the end of the day.

Come join us at Lighthouse Community Charter School in Oakland on March 12th between 9am and 1pm, tickets are still available (and free) but are going fast!

Hope to see you there!

– Jim Town MakingMath Specialist


Transform Your Novel Units to Common Core Units

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lb_deptLogoWhereas many of us are used to centering a unit around a novel, the Common Core is making us think differently about how we structure teaching and learning.  Fiction is still an important component of students’ English classes, but we can give students a more rigorous and rich learning experience by supplementing fiction with nonfiction, multimedia, and poetry texts that will promote and enhance important critical thinking skills.

This month, we discovered a fantastic resource from the state of Louisiana.  Their Department of Education’s “Louisiana Believes” page houses a wide selection of units centered around canonical titles; what is helpful about these units is that they all incorporate related literary texts, informational texts, and non-print texts (including TED talks, artwork, and films)–and they are all linked.  In addition, they each include multiple summative unit assessments, as well as key lesson plans that reflect the integration between the canonical work and the supplemental materials.

Sample Unit plans are available for grades K-12.

Notable titles include:

  • K-5: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Amelia Bedelia, Because of Winn Dixie, Treasure Island, The Lightning Thief, 
  • 6-8: Hatchet, A Christmas Carol, The Giver, Flowers for Algernon, The Call of the Wild, “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  • 9-12: Fahrenheit 451, The Odyssey, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, The Scarlet Letter, The Metamorphosis, Our Town, Hamlet

…and many more!

Check out all of their units HERE!

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning

Keeping Up with the Latest Education News is a Breeze with

Posted on ExampleDo you want to know about the latest tools and news in education, but don’t have the time to scour the internet to find it? Have you tried using Twitter, only to discover that it still takes a long time to sift through the tweeted links?

Try! is an online “newspaper” that one creates by choosing up to 25 websites feeds to follow (with the free version). Select sites such from ed bloggers, professional organizations, and education magazines to create a robust newspaper that is “delivered” to your email inbox every morning. Your newspaper will not only have a title and link, but also a brief summary of the article, many times with an image included. Create as many newspapers as you would like, all focusing on different themes…OR find others’’s and follow them!

Click here to see my educational technology, “Latest and Greatest Updates for an Intrepid Educator.”

Happy reading!

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning

Skype Translator

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Skype recently previewed Skype Translator in two elementary schools–one in Washington and one in Mexico City.  Using this service, students are able to speak in their native language to students across town or across the globe; their words are translated and then spoken in the receiving students’ language.  This exciting innovation will certainly break down the language barrier to enable students to collaborate with peers from around the world.

As an educator, how could you use this new service with your students?

-Maria Vlahiotis, Literacy Specialist, ACOE Core Learning