Monday, July 15, 2019

Adam Bellow Visits Van Meter For Lots Of Learning, Creating & Connecting With BreakoutEDU Digital!

In May, my dear friend and cofounder of Breakout EDU, Adam Bellow, traveled all the way from New York to Van Meter to visit with our students, teachers and a community he has been hearing a lot about for the last 12 years of our friendship. It was such an honor having Adam here at our school and in Iowa. 
You see, our students have been using BreakoutEDU for several years but now Breakout EDU Digital is a BIG hit with our students and teachers too.
With Breakout EDU Digital, teachers can create classes and assign digital games; students can create and share digital games with peers; and teachers can build and use the digital game builder for quick assignments and assessments. 

And that is just what we have been doing at Van Meter, Adam came to join us for the day to see how we were using Breakout EDU Digital and hear from the students and teachers. He also gave us lots of incredible information and tips along the way. 
To kick off the day, he started with Kate Lamoureux and her 4th graders.  Kate uses Breakout EDU with her students often and taught them how to create their very own Breakout EDU Digital games this year. 
 They were so excited to show Adam what they created and....
 ...loved it when he tried to breakout.
 The 4th graders explained the process....
 ...and loved getting feedback on what they already created and how they could make their Breakout EDU Digital games better.
Next, we went to 5th graders where Megan Algreen and I were kicking off a new game PBL with all three sections.
In this PBL, the students were going to be working on creating either a board game with the new...
a BreakoutEDU Digital game or a combination of both.  
Before Adam came, we told them about the project, got them into groups and they chose which type of game they were going to create.
Adam taught them how to create a BreakoutEDU Digital game.
 It was awesome learning with Adam about Breakout EDU and creating games.
And it was so fun seeing the 5th graders brainstorm and collaborate as they came up with their ideas. 
Next, it was up to Abby Tibbetts room in our secondary where we visited with her freshman science class.  Abby and her students have been creating Breakout EDU Digital games so the students had a chance to show Adam and get feedback.
 He had a great conversation with Abby about this process.
While we were in Abby's room, we got a big surprise and were invited down to the green screen room where the 5th grade TAG students were completing a Breakout Room created by other TAG students at Van Meter.
Adam loved seeing that they were using one of the older version of the Breakout EDU boxes and had a fun time helping...
 ...with a little hidden code.
 After that, Adam spent time with more of the students in our elementary and enjoyed....
 ...hearing what they loved about creating their own Breakout EDU Digital games.
 We ended our school day with two more sections of 5th graders as they...
 ...worked on the game project in...
 ..Megan's room.  We couldn't wait to see what they created.
After school, Adam joined our Girls Who Code Club and shared his story.  The girls loved asking Adam lots of questions. 
I am thankful Adam came to Van Meter to share this special resource he has helped bring to education, students, teachers and community around the world.  

And I am especially thankful for his friendship and all he does to inspire me and others.  

Thank you, friend.  We can't wait to see where Breakout EDU will take us and our learning next year.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Buncee Bookmarks for Back-to-School!

Our students and teachers love bookmarks!  They are a special little treat to grab for their books when they come to the library and I carry them in my school bag to give out to them too. 

As we get ready to kick off the school year at the end of the August, I have been working on some new ones for back-to-school night to share information about our library with everyone. 
And guess what, friends?  We can now make super awesome bookmarks with BUNCEE! 

Let me show you how.
When you log into Buncee, there is now a Bookmarks category found on the left hand side.  You have two choices. 
You can Start From Scratch and add all of the different assets yourself.
You can also select from bookmarks they have already created from the Bookmark Templates, by clicking on one.
It will bring up the bookmark and you click on Use This Template in the right hand corner.
 This opens up the bookmark in Buncee where you can....
...add any of the assets to make it your own.  

It's as simple as that and look at all of these....
 ...special bookmarks that your students, teachers and families will love too! 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Immersive Reader from Microsoft Comes To Wakelet!

Our friends at Wakelet have some BIG news to share this week!

They shared,

We’re thrilled to announce that we’ve teamed up with Microsoft Education to bring Immersive Reader into WakeletImmersive Reader will help Wakelet collections be as accessible and inclusive as possible for everyone - regardless of age or ability!
I have been waiting for this awesome news from Wakelet, ever since Buncee announced their integration with Immersive Reader a few weeks ago. 

Today, we’re thrilled to announce Immersive Reader will now be available as an Azure Cognitive Service, allowing third party apps and partners to add Immersive Reader right into their products, starting with the partners below. The Immersive Reader helps people of all abilities, including dyslexia, ADHD, emerging readers, non-native speakers, people with visual impairments. If there’s an app you love to use in your classroom and you would love to see an Immersive Reader icon show up there soon, let them know. We’ve made it easier than ever, you might even call it Literacy as a Service!

The Immersive Reader is part of Microsoft's suite of Learning Tools that brings accessibility to all readers through the following features....
  • Enhanced dictation: Improves authoring text
  • Focus mode: Sustains attention and improves reading speed
  • Immersive reading:  Improves comprehension and sustains attention
  • Font spacing and short lines:  Improve reading speed by addressing “visual crowding”
  • Parts of speech:  Supports instruction and improves writing quality
  • Syllabification:  Improves word recognition
  • Comprehension mode:  Improves comprehension by an average of 10% 
  • Translate Text: Choose from over 60+ languages 
This is their first wave of partners and I couldn't be more excited about...
...Wakelet being one of them.  

Let me show you how it works in Wakelet! 
You will find the Immersive Reader icon by the text in a Wakelet Collection. It has the purple star and arrow pointing to it. 

When you click on the Immersive Reader icon, it takes you...
 ...into the Immersive Reader giving you three different options in the right hand corner.
 You will find Text Preferences, 
 Grammar Options and...
 ...Reading Preferences.  In addition to offering over...
...+60 different languages. 
 It also offers the Picture Dictionary. When this is turned on,
students can click on the words in the sentences to find pictures of many of the words. 
At the bottom of the page, they will find Voice Settings button which includes Voice Speed and Voice Selection to be changed, along with the Play button. 

I can't wait to start using this with our students in the fall.  For now, a few of the ideas I have are: 

Using it as a way for students to listen and speak to Spanish.  All of our elementary students have Spanish every day, so this is a great way for them to practice and become more fluent.  

Create Collections for anyone to gain knowledge from through the text to speech in Immersive Reader and through the other features. 

Serve as a tool to support all readers, especially those who are beginning and struggling readers. 

Create meaningful learning experiences through paths within the Wakelet Collections. 

The possibilities are truly endless with this integration and that within other platforms, such as Flipgrid, Buncee and Follett too.  I can't wait to see what we do at Van Meter with Immersive Reader and we can't wait to learn and follow all of your ideas too!