Tag Archives: Janet Pinto

Making STEM Learning Fun!

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Whether it’s teaching kindergartners to code, or keeping students’ engineering knowledge “fresh,” I’m amazed at the innovative and entertaining new resources available to enrich the STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) learning experience.

Learning should be fun. Here are a few of my recent favorites:

LEARNerds

This is a great idea for students interested in STEM! LEARNerds offers “bite-sized engineering challenges” in the form of a daily question/problem. It’s a fun way to stay on top of engineering fundamentals – especially if you’re studying for Fundamentals of Engineering Exam (FE) & Professional Engineering Exam (PE). Can you solve this problem?

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ScratchJr.

Here’s a simple (and free) way for young children to learn coding! ScratchJr is an introductory programming language that enables young children (ages 5-7) to create their own interactive stories and games. Children snap together graphical programming blocks to make characters move, jump, dance, and sing. Children can modify characters in the paint editor, add their own voices and sounds, even insert photos of themselves — then use the programming blocks to make their characters come to life. ScratchJr was inspired by the popular Scratch programming language (http://scratch.mit.edu), used by millions of young people (ages 8 and up) around the world.

Curriki STEM Resources

Did you know that there are thousands of STEM resources on Curriki? There are simply too many to mention, but here are a few popular ones:

  • STEMbite videos  – A collection of short video clips created by science and math teacher Andrew Vanden Heuvel from Michigan, USA. Using Google Glass he makes these bite-sized videos highlighting the science in our everyday lives and covers: biology, physics, technology and math. stembite
  • Sal Khan videos  – these popular videos from Khan Academy cover mathematical concepts.
  • STEM sheets –  A collection of printable and customizable worksheets, flash cards and more from STEM Sheets.

Do me a favor, please, and share this post with someone who’d enjoy these STEM resources.

Speak Up Against Bullying!

Photo by Eddie~S via Flickr Creative Commonsjanetpic_preferred_croppedBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer

Bullying used to be the tough kid beating up a smaller classmate. Today, cyber bullying is much more prevalent with students using electronic devices to send mean text messages, post rumors on social networking sites, and share embarrassing pictures and videos.

Video – Bullies and Bystanders: What Teens Say

Here are a few concerning facts from 2014 Cyberbullying Statistics:

  • 25 percent of teenagers report that they have experienced repeated bullying via their cell phone or on the internet.
  • Over half (52 percent) off young people report being cyber bullied.
  • Of the young people who reported cyber bullying incidents against them, one-third (33 percent) of them reported that their bullies issued online threats.
  • Over half (55 percent) of all teens who use social media have witnessed outright bullying via that medium.
  • More than 80 percent of teens regularly use cell phones, making them the most popular form of technology and therefore a common medium for cyber bullying.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and now is an ideal time to get your school and students involved.

Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center offers several ways to show your support:

  • Register your school or organization as a Champion Against Bullying
  • Add your name to the digital “The End of Bullying Begins With Me” petition
  • Sign up for the Bullying Prevention Newsletter
  • Talk in your community about bullying prevention and local activities.

Stop Bullying: Take a Stand

StopBullying.gov offers several training resources as part of their Bullying Prevention Training Center, including a Bullying Prevention Training Module Presentation, a Community Action Toolkit that includes materials to create a community event, and Training for Educators and School Bus Drivers.

Student Yash Narayan designed BullyWatch to empower students.

5th grade student Yash Narayan designed BullyWatch to empower students.

Encourage students to make a difference too! Recently, Harker School 5th grade student Yash Narayan received the “Best Educational App” award from iOSDevCamp (normally attended by adults), where he created an innovative app called BullyWatch. Using BullyWatch, when students feel bullied, they press a button that turns orange, expressing emotions to the bully of feeling bullied. Usually bullies will then back off, but if not, the student can press the watch for a few more seconds and it will turn red, sending a text message to school staff with the victimized student’s name and location, thus alerting teachers.

Visit Curriki to find a collection on bullying resources.

10 Most Popular (and Free) Math Resources on Curriki

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki janetpic_preferred_cropped

If you know a math teacher or a student who’s interested in math, please tell them about Curriki. Did you know we offer more than 15,000 free online math open educational resources (OERs)? Here are our most popular math resources over the past year.

 

  1. fractionsTeaching Fractions  – this collection includes lessons and videos, including “Fraction Operations” and “Fun with Fractions.”
  2. Math for Americas: Lessons, Activities and Problems – designed for middle and high school students, this includes collections of lessons, activities, and problems organized by subject (pre-algebra, trigonometry, calculus, statistics, geometry and more).
  3. Geometry_mobile2Curriki Geometry PBL Modules –  Curriki Geometry comprises six Common Core State Standards (CCSS)- aligned projects. The projects are available in both PDF format for easy download and in an online course format at www.currikigeometry.org.
  4. Division (video) from Khan Academy –  This video is an introduction to division: what it means and how to do it. You can find links to many other Khan Academy video resources here.
  5. algebra2For Students: Project-based Pre-Algebra – This unit is meant to provide supplemental support to a standard Pre-Algebra course and is meant to connect the world of math to that of art. These projects follow the typical sequence of a standard 7th/8th grade Pre-Algebra course.
  6. Relationships between Quantities and Reasoning with Equations – By the end of eighth grade, students have learned to solve linear equations in one variable and have applied graphical and algebraic methods to analyze and solve systems of linear equations in two variables. This unit builds on these earlier experiences by asking students to analyze and explain the process of solving an equation.
  7. FHSSTMathematics - This collection is a full course of material in the form of a textbook provided by FHSST (Free High School Science Texts). FHSST is a project that aims to provide free science and mathematics textbooks for Grades 10 to 12 science learners.
  8. Area of a Triangle – This lesson walks students through a classic optimization problem involving building the maximum area of a triangle, expressed in terms of an angle. The lesson uses a worksheet in The Geometers Sketchpad.
  9. algebra1Curriki Algebra – These modules are based upon the domains and Common Core State Standards clusters. They contain daily lessons based on the four algebra domains and the standards and standard clusters found within. The daily lessons are based on 50-minute sessions and build up to a culminating project-based activity.
  10. Math eTextbooks -  A collection of free math eTextbooks including algebra, statistics and probability, calculus, geometry and more.

Please help us spread the word and share this list with a friend or colleague!

What are OERs?

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

Here at Curriki, we talk a lot about OERs assuming everyone is familiar with the term. But in case you’re not, here’s a short explanation of what they are and why they’re so beneficial. janetpic_preferred_cropped

What are OERs?

OER stands for Open Educational Resources, which are high-quality, openly licensed, online educational materials that teachers, educators, or other professionals have created and have made freely available to others for use, reuse, adaptation, and sharing.

What does that mean to you? If you’re a teacher or a student, you can freely use or adapt these materials to suit your personal needs.

How are OERs used in education?

Digital technologies like OERs allow us to personalize the learning experience so that students can learn at their own pace and have instant access to the latest information.

OERs can improve education by allowing costs to be shifted away from expensive, proprietary resources to open, sharable ones. Plus, OERs can help break down the barriers of the “Education Divide” – the gap between those who have access to high-quality education and those who do not.

Curriki offers K-12 OERs

Reaching more than 10 million users worldwide, Curriki is the largest global learning community where you can find more than 56,000 free learning assets, ranging from lesson plans, videos, and worksheets to multimedia activities and courses.

All of the OERs have been created and contributed by educators, curriculum designers, curriculum partners, and school districts. They are “mashable,” which means that you can select resources (e.g., lesson plans, videos, animations, photos, etc.), tweak them, or combine them with other resources to generate your own custom teaching tools. And many OERs have already been mapped to standards.

Have you checked out the thousands of OERs in all subjects and grade levels available on Curriki?  Here’s an example of what you’ll find:

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You can get access to these free learning resources by joining Curriki (it’s easy and it’s free). Start downloading resources today.

The Threat to Student Data Privacy

 

Data privacyBy Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

janetpic_preferred_croppedParent Earl MacEnulty was recently on The Stream on Al Jazeera America (@ajam) talking about the theft of his child’s identity since the age of five. As more and more schools move to online systems and the “cloud” to track everything from a student’s performance to behavioral, financial and health records, the security of students’ personal and academic information is at greater risk.

Of course, there are many concerns. One is that highly sensitive student data is not only used by the school district, but shared with third-parties, including for-profit vendors. Suddenly, students could be seeing pop-up ads saying “Struggling with Algebra? Tutors available…” Or worse, the danger that a student’s identity will be stolen, which is becoming increasingly common. According to the FTC’s Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, children, 19 and under, made up 6 percent of all identity theft victims in 2012.

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According to Diane Ravitch, president of the Network for Public Education, “Since the passage of FERPA in 1974, parents expected that Congress was protecting the confidentiality of information about their children. However, in recent years, the US Department of Education has rewritten the regulations governing FERPA, eviscerating its purpose and allowing outside parties to gain access to data about children that should not be divulged to vendors and other third parties. The Network for Public Education calls on Congress to strengthen FERPA and restore the protection of families’ right to privacy.”

Last week, the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy urged Congress to review and strengthen both FERPA and Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), to roll back the harmful provisions of the 2009 and 2011 FERPA regulations, and to update both laws in light of new and unforeseen threats to privacy rights. You can read more about this in their letter here.

Do you have concerns about student data privacy or do you believe we’re in an online era where “over sharing” is the norm and there is no privacy?

Got Curriki? Summer Tips for Teachers

Portrait of a mature woman lying on a sandy beach

By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

I enjoyed a recent blog on Top 12 Summer Tips for Top Teachers from Edutopia that includes lots of great tips on how we, as teachers, can become more productive and better at our jobs.

I thought I’d build on these tips with some additional ideas:

  • Rework the Worst to Be the Best. Take the time to revise last quadraticyear’s lesson plans to make them even better. Incorporate recent events, videos or hands-on learning experiences to enrich the classroom experience. You can find lots of ideas on Curriki. For example, use the Curriki Search function to find games like Quadratic Review or Free Online Math Games to make learning fun. Curriki also has video collections like this Technology Video collection from STEMbite that includes how to make your own bone conduction headphones, and how you can use a new pair of sunglasses to explore the polarization of light.
  • Tinker. What better way to spur creativity, especially in the dog alicedays of summer! Why not explore 3D printing or learn a new skill? We follow Teacher Christine Mytko, who’s using 3D printers in her classroom and blogs about it in Tales of a 3D Printer. Did you ever want to learn programming? Check out the free workshop Getting Started with Java Using Alice, where you can learn basic Java programming concepts with little or no programming experience. It’s fun and you can spend time creating animated stories, movies and games.
  • Laugh. I’m sure you can find plenty of things that will have you laughing out loud. But as teachers, we sometimes appreciate a special kind of humor. “Like” Teachers with a Sense of Humor  or Grammarly on Facebook to get more of these posts.

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LOL. If you know a teacher, please share this post with them!

Teachers: Equip Your Classroom for FREE

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By Janet Pinto, Chief Academic Officer, Curriki

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Do corporations make their employees pay for their own office supplies? Nope. Yet the average teacher spends up to $1,000 of his/her own money every year on classroom supplies (not to mention personal time spent getting the classroom in shape before school starts!).

Teachers, here are a few ideas to help you out:

  • First of all, don’t be afraid to ask. Create a wish list and ask the parents of your students for supplies. But don’t forget to also ask local bookstores, or craft and office supply stores for discounts or freebies. Many companies can write donations off as a tax break. Tell them a little about your school and your students and how you plan to use the resource. You may get a donation or at least a discount. A nice gesture would be to send a thank you note to the business with a picture of the item in use. Or post to your social media page and thank the business publicly.
  • Register your classroom at Adopt a Classroom. Individuals can go to this site and search for a teacher they know, a school they have a connection with, or a subject they’re passionate about and fund it. 100% of their tax-deductible donation goes to the classroom. A similar site is DonorsChoose, where public school teachers can post classroom project requests online. When a project reaches its funding goal, they ship the materials to your school.
  • If you’re at a low-income school, you may qualify for free school supplies from Kids in Need Foundation, which maintains a national network of Resource Centers where teachers can get free supplies for their students who are in need.
  • Love shopping? Here is a list of 80 stores (from Office Depot and the Apple Store, to museums and clothing stores) from Gift Card Granny that offer discounts to teachers.  And you can find other teacher discounts on the Teacher Discounts Pinterest board.
  • NEA publishes a monthly list of 10 FREE Things, which includes “the best websites to find printables, your favorite books, instructional videos for you and your students, lesson plans, and other FREE stuff for your classroom.”
  • And finally, if you’re looking for free, high-quality teaching resources, make sure to check Curriki often as we’re continually adding new resources.

If you know of other free resources, would you please share?