Friday, December 18, 2015

Public Schools Day of Action - January 27

ESU 8 will be participating in the upcoming first-ever Public Schools Day of Action, defined by as “a day devoted to engaging all citizens in Nebraska to celebrate our teachers, students and public school communities.”

To celebrate and join the movement we will be hosting a public viewing of the film “Consider the Alternative.” This limited-release film from Nebraska Loves Public Schools explains to families and taxpayers the positive differences already happening in our existing public schools. The hour-long film will be played at 1:00 pm at the ESU 8 main offices and anyone is welcome.

If this time does not work with your schedule, consider hosting your own viewing party in your school or community.  Learn more and sign up for free at No matter the level of participation, anyone can benefit from visiting and joining in the important conversation about the power of education for our youth and the future of our communities. 

Thursday, December 3, 2015

"Hour of Code Challenge" for ESU 8 Schools

Celebrate Computer Science Education Week

December 7-13, 2015

Participating classes from ESU 8 will be entered into a drawing for a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) presentation for their class!

1) Sign up at Hour of Code.
2) Register with ESU 8 by completing a short form.
3) For an additional opportunity to win, use Twitter to share your experience. Don’t forget to use #esu8, #hourofcode, and your school/class hashtag!

Complete steps 1-3 to participate, and register by December 4th.
Then celebrate the "Hour of Code" in any way you wish and share your experience!

For more information contact Heidi Rethmeier 402-887-5041 x1229

For additional opportunities to integrate coding into your curriculum, view this blog post about Coding for Kids.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Coding for Kids

"Next week, students at 155,000 events around the world will learn their first Hour of Code, jumping into a field that can change the rest of their lives!"
~from an email from Hour of 

Truth is that coding is quickly becoming one of education's fastest growing trends. It doesn't matter if you teach kindergarten or high level computer science courses, there is definitely something for everyone in the subject of teaching coding. Join in with thousands of educators around the globe during the Hour of Code during the week of December 7-13.  Or better yet, use these resources and activities ongoing all year long. Your students (and our future generations) will thank you!

*Sign up for "Hour of Code" and find free resources for participating in this annual celebration for any age level: 

Then, visit and sign up your class or school for the many free lessons for teaching coding to kids. If you sign in, you can track your students' progress and watch them progress through the levels. 

View an archived Wednesday Webinar from Heidi Rethmeier on Preparing for Hour of Code:

Coding for Kids Resources

An iTunes U course with many video explanations for primary classroom on how to move from learning to code to coding to learn. 

The Key(note) to Coding
This foundation course gets kids familiar with instructional language and cause & effect decision-making... all with Apple's free Keynote software!

Coding and Robotics for K-5 with Dash and Dot - Lesson Ideas using Dash and Dot programmable robots

From Clueless to Coding by Megan Ryder - Multi-Touch book on how one educator set up and developed a summer game design class for students grades 3-8.

Websites for Coding
Apps for Coding

Coding with Tickle

Lesson 1: Intro to Flying

Lesson 2: Flying Time, Speed, and Distance

Lesson 3: Fly in a Square and Triangle
Lesson 4: Pilot a Drone using Motion Sensors

Programming a Quadcopter with Tickle (Time, Speed, and Distance lesson)

Programming a mini-drone and Sphero interactively

The Martian: Sphero Edition is a free course available for anyone with the iTunes U app. Your students can learn about the Mars Rover as they complete challenges with the Sphero.

SMARTer Teaching with SMART Boards

Here I have collected various resources for teaching with SMART Boards.

1) First, an intro/refresher course otherwise known as SMART Boards 101.

Katie’s Notebook files for the presentation:

YouTube video series from Adam Bellow

2) Next are some links for a follow-up presentation to help users go a little bit further:

Katie’s Notebook files for the presentation:
(Notebook file)

Higher-order thinking
Active learning

Additional links:

3) Finally, here is the Notebook file from a group "make and take" workshop held recently so that teachers could better build Notebook lessons.

Augmented and Virtual Reality in Education

Augmented Reality: Make Learning Magically Come Alive!
Resources curated by Katie Morrow Last Update: November 2015

A.R. - making something come to life
aura - the magic thing that pops up when you hold your device over something
trigger image - the normal picture that you want to make come to life
overlay - the thing you will apply on top of a trigger image (usually a video)
Aurasma and Blippar - free apps to make A.R.

(free book for iBooks from educator Paul Hamilton)

Experience A.R.

Uses of A.R.
  • book reports
  • oral reports
  • math worksheets
  • school promotion

Venues for A.R.
  • school hallways
  • project fairs
  • library book covers
  • student worksheets

Design your own Augmented Reality experience

Additional Resources

Aurasma Lesson Ideas from the iBooks Store:

Blippar book with lesson ideas from the iBooks Store:

Experience the Blue Angels in 360 degree video from your Chrome browser:

TED Talk on Virtual Reality and the Human Connection by Chris Milk
VRSE app:

Google Cardboard in Education
Expeditions program:

Building a Student-Centered Learning Environment

Lately I have been working with schools on how to utilize technology to facilitate more student-centered learning.  The following resources are an introduction to various tools that can help educators get started with this important aim.

Presentation Tools
  • - presentation software that Katie used to present.  Screen moves from slide to slide

Student Quizzes/Polling

Chrome extensions will show up on the top, right side of your browser.  Once you download them, you will have them every time you use a Chrome Browser.

  • Speakit! - Highlight text to speak
  • Screencastify - create screencasts on the chrome
  • DF Youtube - blocks all of suggested videos on the side of youtube videos

  • Suggesting Mode - (View -> Mode -> Suggesting) - leaves the original text on a Google Doc, but allows someone else to “suggest” revisions.  Student will have to go and resolve the issue
  • Revision History - (File -> See Revision History) - Google Docs saves all of revision history for a document
  • Dictation in Google Docs - (Tools -> Voice Typing) - Only in Chrome Browser - like Siri on your phone
  • GoogleDoc Add-ons - (Click Add-ons in Google Docs) - similar to Chrome Extensions
    • EasyBib - creates a citation in MLA or APA format for Google Docs

  • - has the ability to speak into google translate.  Does have the ability to translate an entire document, file, or website.

Collect and Curate

Communicate and Collaborate
  • Backchanneling - - use when showing a long video or long assignment.  Ask students questions in the backchannel to create interaction.  Help them watch the video with a purpose.
  • Blogging -  - Can use to highlight daily learning, students can have their own blogs as well.  Is tied to a student’s google account.

Show What You Know
  • Screencastify Chrome Ext - capture video/audio on your computer
  • Google Slides - google’s version of PowerPoint.  There is the ability to share between students
  • Prezi ( - like a PowerPoint.  Creates zoom in and out slideshows.  This is the presentation tool Katie used during the presentation.
  • ThingLink - ( - upload picture, students add “hot spots” to explain the picture.  Students build in the buttons to highlight the information

Creation and Choice
  • Smore - ( online posters.  Can add videos, pictures, and text
  • Adobe Slate ( Scrollable poster with images and words
  • Canva - ( Create visual elements for any project
  • Youtube Capture - record and edit videos right from YouTube

Padlet ( - online corkboard for ideas.  Katie used at the end of the presentation