Tablets Coming to ISOCS

There's some exciting developments at ISOCS this year - the Middle School has welcomed its first class, fantastic new teachers have joined the staff....and there's a new technology initiative underway.

Middle School students will be using Samsung Galaxy Tablets as one of the technology tools at their disposal.  The ISOCS staff has been thinking about this since the Spring, preparing support materials, planning lessons, and just generally thinking of all the possibilities contained in the Tablets, and how they can serve  teaching and learning at ISOCS.

I'm excited about a Wikispaces wiki we've put together  as a catalogue of Android Apps for the Tablets, to focus attention on teaching and  learning possibilities, and perhaps distract students from the Ali Baba's Cave of the Google Play Store.  I've had enormus help from Richard Byrne's site  Android for Schools.  

Links to more resources for our ICT at ISOCS can be found in the sidebar of the ICT Handbook.

The context of being a professional (gamer)

I wrote recently about gaming and learning, referring to a post on the BigFish Games blog.  There's an interesting disussion about gaming and athletes - should professional gamers be considered on a par with athletes?  This CNN page makes an interesting comparison:

I found the video in a  post on BigFish, a site which is very concerned with gaming!  The Fish makes reference to

"Gamers often start playing from very early ages and play on a regular basis. You might not think of it as “training” because it’s a fun activity, but imagine putting that kind of time into anything else – it’s going to produce significant results."

"Some critics claim that video games don’t require the same level of skill as a typical sport does, but just because an activity isn’t physically straining doesn’t mean it doesn’t require talent. Plus, there’s already a precedent for competing in Puzzle games. Just ask any professional chess player!"

What's the difference between addiction, love, dedication, and practice?
"No one usually thinks of professional swimmers and other sports players as addicts, do they? As with most things, the difference between a problem and a healthy activity is the context. Before assuming someone has an addiction because they do a lot of something, it’s important to look at the rest of their lifestyle choices. Are they happy? Do they still participate in other activities? Are they able to support their lifestyle?"

If you're considering a career in professional gaming, know that  "The University of California, Berkeley started offering a course in 2009 that teaches the fundamentals of Starcraft gameplay, requiring students to record and study their own playing sessions. The class is now available in online format, but it’s not going to be an easy A. The course description recommends knowledge of Calculus and differential equations, and requires students to thoroughly analyze replay videos to enhance fast-thinking and decision-making skills."

ISOCS Quick Links

This morning I read Maggie Hos-McGrane''s most recent post, about life in her new school in Bombay, and all the web services used by students, staff and parents.  I was inspired  to make a page of Quick Links for ISOCS - a page sized for,  and easily loaded by, mobile devices, for specifically for our parents.  We have Start Pages on our school computers for students and staff - why not have one for parents, too?

While it's really a stand-alone Google Site, it's linked as a Page to our ISOCS ICT Handbook.


PBS Off Book has published a new video for us, The art of animation and motion graphics.
Off Book is a web-original series from Public Broadcasting System (USA) that explores cutting edge art, the artists that make it and the people that share it online. New episodes every other Thursday.

Published on Aug 23, 2012 by 
Animation has been captivating audiences for more than a hundred years. From classic forms like hand drawn and stop-motion, to cutting-edge techniques like motion graphics and CGI, animation has a long history of creating style and poetry unachievable through live action filmmaking. It is a tool for educating, a place for experimentation and play, and a way of telling personal stories that reach the viewer with powerful visual metaphors. 

Check the video's YouTube page for links to each of the featured artists.

As you watch this video, keep track how long each tiny section lasts - 1 second? 2 seconds?  The whole video is 6 min 43 seconds long...so that's how many cuts?  Does the music enhance the speed, or distract you?

Have you made an animation?
These (here and here ) blog posts list computer animation software recommended for young people  - be sure to read down through the comments for more ideas.  Apps in Education lists 10 iPad apps with which you can create animations.  This page lists apps for both iOS and Android.
These apps available on  Google Play will work on ISOCS Android Tablets: Drawing Cartoons and Stick Draw.

Reinvent the Toilet

We've written before about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation's efforts to improve the world through relatively simple things.

"The Water, Sanitation & Hygiene program initiated the Reinvent the Toilet Challenge to leverage advances in science and technology and create a new toilet that will transform waste into energy, clean water, and nutrients...  (The Programme) challenged 22 universities to submit proposals for how to invent a waterless, hygienic toilet that is safe and affordable for people in the developing world and doesn’t have to be connected to a sewer.” (link)

Uploaded by  on Jul 18, 2011
Four out of 10 people worldwide don't have a safe way to poop. We need a toilet revolution--new ideas to help reduce disease and find new ways to turn crap into valuable stuff, like fuel, fertilizer, and fresh water. Learn more:http://gates.ly/OZ0cZ2

Last year The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $4,000,000 in grants to eight universities to create  safe, efficient, near-waterless toilets. This week in Seattle, at the Reinvent the Toilet fair working versions of the winning designs were on show.

"The winners included: first place to California Institute of Technology in the United States for designing a solar-powered toilet that generates hydrogen and electricity, second place to Loughborough University in the United Kingdom for a toilet that produces biological charcoal, minerals, and clean water, and third place to University of Toronto in Canada for a toilet that sanitizes feces and urine and recovers resources and clean water. A special recognition was awarded to Eawag (Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology) and EOOS for their outstanding design of a toilet user-interface." (Read the full post and see photos here.)

Listen to National Public Radio's story about the Sanitation Fair.

In case you're wondering how our "modern" toilets came to be, I recommend this BBC series to you.


Watch this video from BBC News about the 100th anniversary of  the death of Thomas Crapper and his Victorian toilet inventions.  You might also want to investigate the links on this page from Sewerhistory.com.

Blog Book for the Middle Primary Class

For the Middle Primary Class at ISOCS 2011 - 2012:

Volume 3 of  Miss Judy's annual blog book, The Middle Primary Class @ ISOCS is available on Blurb. There's a brief preview is below.

The Middle Primary Class @ ISOCS by Judy Firkins | Make Your Own Book

Judy and I created the book using Blurb's software, BookSmart, which "slurps" the content of a blog into your computer, and lays it out in continuous text. Then the editors' job is to fine tune the pages, add larger photos and screen shots where desired, choose fonts and colors, and design covers.

We've used Booksmart before to make small books on a few of our units of inquiry (here here, and here), and for the ISOCS Yearbook.  We can attest to Blurb's customer service being helpful and generous.

Note: The price you'll find if you order this book from Blurb is cost - there is no profit generated for the author or editor.

I'm wondering if digital portfolios, kept in a blog, would make interesting paper books at the end of a year, using the same process...

Project Re:Brief

This link was sent to me by a friend, who is involved in the Google Creative Lab.

Published on Jun 22, 2012 by 
Project Re: Brief is an inspiring story about the need for creative thinking in the face of enormous technological shifts in the way we communicate. In a beautiful collision of minds and media, Project Re: Brief is a grand experiment whereby Google partnered with five of the brightest "old-school" legends from advertising to re-imagine their most iconic creative work from a half-century ago for the modern web, for 4 global brands - Coca-Cola, Volvo, Alka-Seltzer, Avis.

Directed by Doug Pray, and the same team who joined him to make the Emmy-Award-winning film and PBS hit "Art & Copy," Project Re: Brief is a film that aims to shake up the ad industry and inspire new ways of thinking. While shifting formats and media platforms is one thing, as we learn from our heroes of the past, the basic tenets of human storytelling haven't changed.

I found it an absorbing video - the interplay between youth and age, technology and art, concepts and possibilities...

I also also found it relevant schools and classrooms.  It speaks to the continuous dialog between "technology" and "teaching/learning".

Why Middle School?

This is for our new Middle School teachers, and by extension, students

Frank Curkovic posted this video the other day on his LearningIT blog.

Uploaded by  on Nov 14, 2011
"A clip I created with Dacien Hadland to bring about the data and anecdotal research from being a middle school teacher. I have created this with the help of my Middle School students, in their voice."

What do you think?  Is there anything missing?

Using Evernote

Do you already know about Evernote?

(There are more how to videos from Moorchhs1 on YouTube.)

Evernote has its own page of howto videos on its website, and in YouTube.

Never Lose Another Development Project | Famigo Blog

Never Lose Another Development Project | Famigo Blog
"Yesterday, I spent a couple hours scouring an old machine for a project I wrote a few years ago. I had long since forgotten where the project might be, what it was called, or how it was laid out. Searching every folder in my home directory was the only sure-fire way to find it.
I quickly got frustrated with my past self. Very few of the folders contained any kind of documentation. Often the only recognizable file would be index.php, but of course there were no comments in it. So I had to re-immerse myself in every project that I opened just to figure out if it was the one I was looking for."
Does this sound like something you've said/thought? Read the post for simple solutions that include the  Five Ws.

The Worlds of Viral Video | Off Book | PBS

What does the word viral mean, in the world of the Internet?

- "Of or involving the rapid spread of information about a product or service by viral marketing techniques"

Frank Curkovic introduced me to this PBS (Public  Broadcasting Service in the US) web series OffBook.

"Off Book is a web-original series from PBS that explores cutting edge art, the artists that make it and the people that share it online.  New episodes every other Thursday."

Check out some of the other Internet-subject OffBook videos on the YouTube Channel:

You can follow PBS OffBook on Tumbler

We are all connected

I'm always interested in how two or more seemingly unrealted images can work together - sometimes by accident, and sometimes through careful editing.

Watch this beautifully edited video from the World Wildlife Fund.  Watch it again, using the pause button, to figure out why each brief segment "works" - is it the composition? colors? focal point? perspective? motion? all of these at the same time, or only one or two together?  How would you begin to create a similar collection of images?  Do you think it relays the message of "connected-ness"?

Published on Apr 22, 2012 by 
We are all connected. Find out how: http://wwf.panda.org

The Science of Video Games

Thanks to Open Culture, I found this podcast episode to share with you, carrying on with our theme of gaming and learning.

Advancing to the Next Level: The Science of Video Games (Part 1) is  Season 3, Episode 12 of  Neil deGrasse Tyson's podcast.
"Video games are a ubiquitous component of modern life and pop culture. But is there more to them than entertainment? In Part 1, Neil deGrasse Tyson finds out if video games breed violence and what kids actually learn from shooter games with guests Jeffrey Ryan, author of “Super Mario – How Nintendo Conquered America” and Will Wright, creator of The Sims and Spore. They chat about the evolution of choice and moral dilemma in video games; Moore’s Law of processing speed; and computer game graphics, verisimilitude and the cartoon laws of physics."

Listen to it here,  or 
download it from iTunes. Do click through to the podcast page, read the text, visit the links which go with the episode, and investigate the other sections of the site