Hacking Early Childhood

Jessica Cabeen on Episode 339

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Jessica Cabeen, the 2017 Minnesota National Distinguished Principal, and talks about how we can hack and improve early learning. This is a must-listen for kindergarten principals and teachers.

339 Jessica Cabeen


Jessica Cabeen’s Bio

Jessica is the Principal of Ellis Middle School in Austin Minnesota. Prior to that, she was the principal of the “Happiest Place in Southeastern Minnesota”, the Woodson Kindergarten Center. She has been an assistant middle school principal, a special education supervisor, and special education teacher. She started her career as a Music Therapist and worked with adults with disabilities and adolescents in residential settings in Iowa and Illinois.

Jessica was awarded the NAESP/VINCI Digital Leader of Early Learning Award in 2016 and in 2017 was named the Minnesota National Distinguished Principal. Jessica is active on social media (@JessicaCabeen) and co-moderates #ECEChat as well as engages with other educators looking to make all things possible for our young learners, and learners that are young at heart.

You can connect with her on twitter and voxer @JessicaCabeen or on her website: https://jessicacabeen.com/

Hacking Early Learning: https://jessicacabeen.com/hacking-early-learning/
(Releasing in July of 2018) Balance Like a Pirate: https://principalinbalance.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/balance-like-a-pirate-summer-2018-challenge-balancelap/

The post Hacking Early Childhood appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Math Success with No Textbook

Mandi Tolen on Episode 338 of the 10-Minute Teacher Podcast

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Mandi Tolen shares how she teaches math, engages students and teachers to standards with NO TEXTBOOK. From choose your own adventure stories to other engaging methods, all teachers will have something to learn from this teacher who ditched her textbook and enhanced learning.

338 episode math


Bio of Mandi Tolen

Mandi Tolen has been an educator for over 18 years in the areas of Math, Communication Arts, and Technology courses, and served as a District Technology Coordinator. Mandi’s passion is changing how we teach to create thinkers and learners. She is a connected educator and blogs regularly on two educational blogs. Mandi is a Google Certified Innovator, a team moderator of the Twitter chat #ditchbook and #SJSDchat, and has presented at both local and national conferences, as well as provided in-district support and training for schools implementing technology.

The post Math Success with No Textbook appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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20 Tech Tips to Shake Up Learning

Episode 337 with Kasey Bell

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Kasey Bell shares her tech tips for helping teachers make progress with technology. She also shares the biggest mistake she’s made as a teacher relating to edtech.



Kasey Bell’s Bio

Kasey Bell is part sparkling smile, part witty personality and a whole heap of passion as big as a Texas–go big or go home, y’all! She is a disruptor of the boring. An engaging, innovative, from the heart sharer who inspires educators while transforming their teaching with original, timely and use-tomorrow ideas for student choice, differentiation, and technology integration. Whether it is learning from home through online courses, professional development, conference workshops or as a keynote speaker Kasey is a relentless innovator of ideas and a devoted transformer of classrooms and teaching. Through teacher empowering publications and award-winning educational resources at ShakeUpLearning.com, learner-driven workshops and presentations and co-hosting Google Teacher Tribe weekly podcast, Kasey proves why we should never settle for the boring when it comes to bringing out the very best in our students, and we should always strive to Shake Up Learning!

Co-host of The Google Teacher Tribe Podcast
Author of The Teacher’s Guide to Google Classroom
Google Certified Innovator
Google Certified Trainer
Amazon Education Thought Leader
Digital Innovation in Learning Award Winner in “Sharing is Caring”
One of 20 TrustED Educational Thought Leaders
#3 EdTech Blog
#3 EdTech and E-Learning Influencer on Twitter
Must Read EdTech Blog
Edublog Awards Finalist

ShakeUpLearning.com provides teachers and educators with easy to understand, use tomorrow resources for Google and G Suite for Education, mobile learning and classroom technology integration through digital learning resources, technology tips and tricks, in-depth e-courses, books, resources, cheat sheets, blog publications. and podcasts.

The post 20 Tech Tips to Shake Up Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Trade The Cow

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Sometimes, we start the school year and things from year’s past are dragging us down. We kick off Season 4 of the 10-Minute Teacher with a Motivational Monday story from Will Rogers — “Trade the Cow.”

Episode 336: Trade the Cow


Check out the podcast archives at www.coolcatteacher.com/podcast.

The post Trade The Cow appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset Review: Awesome VR in 360

Inside Virtual Reality and Predictions for the Future

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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I donned my Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset at about 10:30 p.m. After what seemed like five minutes, I took off the headset — to find it was 12:30 a.m.! I had spent two exciting hours (about half of it with my mouth open) in a complete flow state exploring a new virtual reality world using the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset on my Acer Aspire 7 laptop with Windows Mixed Reality by Microsoft. I cannot remember having such a transformative experience since I first played on the Internet in 1992.

In this blog post, I’ll share my experience, tell you how you can enter to win your own headsets and STEAM lab makeover, and give my predictions for the future of virtual reality.

Acer Mixed Reality Headset (1)

Seeing the World in VR

There are those who want you to think that virtual reality will be everything. And while some espouse a Ready Player One-type of environment, I do not. However, I do believe mixed reality gives us one of the most fantastic tools to help students understand the real world using VR technology.

I don’t think a cartoon environment like in Second Life, is going to excite everyone. As you can see in the video below from my VR China trip, it really looks like I shot the video in China. I was surrounded 360 degrees by the actual China. Being surrounded by reality will get people excited, especially us educators who want to help our students see the world.

Win your own Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Acer Education is partnering with Microsoft Education to run a STEAM lab makeover giveaway. The contest promotes immersive technology and illustrates how impactful mixed reality can be in a classroom setting.

 To enter, participants must tweet @AcerEducation, tagging #AcerGivesBack and providing a reason their school should win. Participants are also encouraged to include photos or videos to prove their case. One winner will be selected at the beginning of September.

The grand prize includes 10 Acer Windows Mixed Reality headsets and 10 Acer Aspire 7 laptop computers, which will be sent to the winning school via Acer Education’s team. Here are the terms and conditions for this promotion.


“In” and “Out” of Mixed Reality: Taking Kids to the Set of Star Wars

When I’m teaching digital film this fall, I’ll have my students don mixed reality headsets to watch the shooting of Star Wars:The Last Jedi in 360 from the comfort of our classroom. Now some might wonder why the making the film would be so interesting.

Well, unlike a normal “making of” documentary that shows how a scene was shot, in this 360 video, my students can turn around and see the director, the sound engineer, the lighting crew, and many others  crouching in the corners or hiding in the building. New digital filmmakers don’t really understand the production process yet. They picture a director sitting in a chair saying “action” and “cut” while the rest of the crew stands there on the set. But now they’ll understand that sometimes everyone behind the camera is really just trying to get out of the way.

The discussion about media creation will go to a whole new level when I’m able to literally take my students onto the set of one of the year’s top sci-fi movies by using the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and Windows Mixed Reality.

For example, if I took students on a field trip to the set of a Star Wars shoot, they would all be looking at different things. When we returned to the classroom, we would compare our observations and discuss. The same thing happens in virtual reality. As the students take turns experiencing the 360 video, they also look at different things. Each student has a slightly different view because each viewer is looking at different things.

To take this further, in a traditional movie, a director guides your eyes. They decide what shots to include. In 360, you become your own director. You become your own observer. You feel like you’re part of the set because it’s like you’re really there, looking at everything.

Actually, when you take off the headset, it’s almost like you’re physically returning to a life you left behind. I noticed this feeling of being in a different place as I talked to my family the day after my first adventure with the headset. I said to them,

“I went in at 10:30 and I came out at 12:30, and it felt like five minutes.”

“In” and “out” — that’s how real it seems. In fact, one of my own questions is: Once I get students into mixed reality, how do I get them out? It almost feels intrusive to have someone tap on your shoulder to get your attention. It’s like the maze of the Minotaur, where you need to put a string on someone’s toe and pull it so they’ll know how to get out. It’s that immersive.

360 Videos Are My Favorite Aspect of Windows Mixed Reality: Experiencing the Experience

360 video has me most excited for what is becoming possible in my own classroom. YouTube has been 360 for a while, so you can pull up lots of 360 videos. As shown in the graphic below, just click “filter” in the upper right, set for 360 videos, and suddenly you have a wealth of immersive VR experiences that your students can join.

Just click 360 Videos to select videos on YouTube that are in 360.

Just click 360 Videos to select videos on YouTube that are in 360.

Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Let’s focus on the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset. I think the greatest thing about this headset is that it doesn’t get in the way. I stopped feeling like it was on my face or head once I got it adjusted in the back. It was really just me and the experience. I didn’t even feel like I was looking into another world — as far as I could tell, I was actually there.

For example, as shown in the video below, I viewed a 360 video someone shot in China. I had to pinch myself. The opening scene made me feel like I was there. Now, you might think it would be easy to say I felt like I was there because I had nothing to compare the video to, but you’d be wrong. You see, I’ve been to China. And the first scene transported me back. The other scenes made me feel like I was exploring new places that I’d missed on my first visit. It was hard to take my students to China, but now, they can travel using a headset. While it isn’t the exact same thing, it is pretty eye-opening.

Notice, I’m talking about the experience, not about the equipment. And I think that the most exciting thing is that a great mixed reality or virtual reality headset doesn’t get in the way of the experience. You’re not fiddling with it to keep it on your head. You’re in the experience.

A Valuable Tool

Now, you might wonder how to set up the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset. After plugging in the headset, make sure you’ve chosen the right system settings to run it. You’ll probably need to update the Mixed Reality Operating System plug-in from Microsoft. You might even want to add the Mixed Reality tools while in regular PC mode. I prefer adding apps while I’m using the headset, but you can also add them beforehand.

For example, in the video below, you can see that I added a hologram app into the Mixed Reality “virtual home.” As you watch , you’ll see that I had a penguin skating and also gave myself a pet from the hologram app.

Eventually We’ll Interact with AI Objects

You might be thinking, “Oh, how cute,” or “This is for amusement only.” But imagine if you used this tool to build your own classroom and pick a mentor for the week. Why couldn’t your mentor be Einstein? Or if not Einstein, then some other AI being to converse with your students about physics?

Say you’re teaching about Shakespeare. Imagine an AI Shakespeare always ready for a conversation or a trip to 16th-century England or the places where his plays were set.

Now, I’m not saying we’ll stop needing real teachers, because the world will always need teachers. However, I do believe that the right tools can be valuable additions to what teachers already do. We can bring Google Cardboard and our mobile phones into our classrooms (which I’ve certainly done, and it’s been very useful), but virtual reality is so much more. It’s a tool that I believe every school should provide for its students. The less likely it is that a student will be able to travel the world, the more useful virtual reality can be.   

Tips for Setting Up Your Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset

Here are a few practical tips that you should know.

Choose your interaction method. For example, when you launch the system, you can choose a method in mixed reality that allows students to both stand and sit.

Trace the area. When you select the area where you will walk around, you will hold the headset in your hand as you walk the perimeter of your area. If you have more than one headset, make sure the areas don’t overlap.

Also, look at vertical clearance. My 6’4” son didn’t think about the fact that we have a ceiling fan in the middle of the den. While mixed reality shows the border drawn in the setup described previously, it doesn’t show an upper border or how high your space is, so I had to turn off the fan while he was doing activities with the mixed reality headset.

Use chairs that spin. Of course, the very best thing is to have a chair that allows the user to turn around completely. I would probably have to do that for a whole classroom of mixed reality headsets. Also realize that the headset is tethered to the laptop, so each device needs a laptop or a desktop with power and room for the generously long USB cord.

Why Virtual Reality Now?

I think this is just the beginning. Now is a good time to experience virtual reality and teaching with it. We know that we can’t bring technology into the classroom without considering the pedagogy involved. Those who’ve had experiences with Second Life and Minecraft will certainly have a head start on those who haven’t been using VR technology.

In short, I’m very excited. When I don’t have the time or money for a vacation, I put on my mixed reality headset and go to the beach or the mountains. In many ways, I feel the same exhilaration as when I have done these things in real life. And while I don’t feel actual water on my skin when I jump off a cliff in 360 view, the butterflies I feel in my stomach are real.

After watching movies in 360, these possibilities excite me. Virtual reality is here, and it is accessible. And while I have tested other virtual reality headsets,  I found the Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset to be very user-friendly and simple for anyone to use. So, check it out — it’s very cool, and I will be using it in my classroom this fall.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored blog post. The company that sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to include a reference to their product. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

The post Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset Review: Awesome VR in 360 appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

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