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Category Archives: Education

VoiceThread meets Ted Talks!

I wish I had heard of this earlier – Voicethread‘s answer to TedTalks. Just in time for the ISTE Conference starting Sunday.

https://voicethread.com/app/player/?threadId=7784579

It’s called ThreadTalk. Which is quite a neat play on TedTalk considering how VoiceThread is all about the Thread, more than the voice. They make the point that the quality of the conversation thread is just as important as the presentation.

In other words, it’s not about the fancy slides, but the content.

As the VoiceThread notes, we tend to stop using our voices and replace it with text communication because the Internet was not quote supportive of voice for a long time. It is now, as we know thanks to services such as Google Voice, Viber and other phone apps. But in education, we need to bring back the spoken word and student voices into the mix.

I’m waiting to see what evolves out of ThreadTalk, post ISTE2016.

 

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Attending ISTE 2016? Don’t miss these events

Just a few weeks away from the ISTE 2016 conference in Denver, and it could be daunting keeping up with the information onslaught of sessions, speakers, and trends. The trick is to balance the learning sessions with hands-on activities. Here are two things you shouldn’t miss if you’re attending:

DIGITAL PLAYGROUNDS. ISTE has something called Digital Playgrounds, an area which I plan to frequent a lot, considering how much I was able to take back and implement from the last ITSE conference I attended.There’s a Maker Playground, and a Google For Education session I’m planning to go to, and

POSTER SESSIONS. Sure it’s great to meet one’s peers, and fellow techies. But if you are attending ISTE for the first time don’t miss the poster sessions, where students from many countries will be presenting. In 2014, I learned a lot about robotics from a team in Mexico.

Of course there’s more. Stay tuned via @isteconnects

 
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Posted by on June 16, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, Workshops

 

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Salt River Schools named great ‘company’ to work for in Arizona!

Proud to hear that my school district, Salt River Schools, was picked as one of the Top 100 Companies to Work For in Arizona. This is an annual ranking by AZCentral.com.

In the past companies have included companies such as Harley Davidson, banks, and advertising agencies. They are recognized on criteria including inclusiveness, communication, and teamwork, among other indicators. Here’s what our HR director Mike Latko had to say:

“The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community is a leader in compensation, employee benefits, and support for professional excellence for all its employees, and we are excited it is being recognized today.”

Salt River Schools is the first tribal organization in the history of the Top 100 Companies to Work for In Arizona.

 
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Posted by on June 9, 2016 in Education, Media

 

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Farewell to a legend – Prof. Ashley Halpe

“And one man in his time plays many parts…”

Professor Ashley Halpe, who passed away on 14th May was more than a teacher to me. He was a role model,  a constant inspiration, a consummate artist, and a friend.

His inspiration was contagious – it made no difference whether it was in the hallways of the arts faculty in Peradeniya, or the living room of his home. His humor was a constant, as was his ability to remain unruffled by the latest flavor-of-the-month student strike or political upheaval. As for the latter, Ashley Halpe lived through many, from the insurgency of 1971, to the ethnic unrest on the campus pre-July ’83. It might be fitting to say that he looked at these events with a poet’s eye, not as a keen observer, seeing himself as part of the solution.

As Professor Walter Perera, commented, “No other lecturer in our time was able to bring poetry and drama alive as he did. But his strengths were not limited to the classroom.”

If I may expand on that, I would say his influence was not limited to books on his shelf or his classroom. True story. One day a few of us who showed up for class were asked to leave our books behind in class and get into his blue station-wagon, which he drove to Peradeniya Gardens. This was not a field trip, but a ‘seminar’ under the sprawling BanyaHalpe1n trees in the 147-acre botanical gardens. To Professor Halpe, the classroom could be anywhere! “All the world’s a stage; And all the men and women merely players.”

I was fortunate to visit prof. Halpe in Kandy in July last year. We talked of many things –about writing, and teaching, poetry and publishing. But I am not sure if I thanked him enough for his sphere of influence that reached out and touched us, no matter how far we have moved.

Farewell dear Prof. and fellow Peterite.

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Posted by on May 22, 2016 in Education, Sri Lanka

 

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Solar Chili cook-off continues today at Salt River Elementary

Thanks to Anne Patterson of Solavore, for helping me host the solar oven event in my class yesterday and today. I put together this STEM event for 5th and 6th graders as a final year STEM module.

AnneP1A great way to end the year on a high note – focusing on concepts such as insulation, radiation and the greenhouse effect, and letting students taste the end product! I liked how she compared different feeding habits of living creatures – carnivores, herbivores and ‘solavores‘ – to bring home the point about how we consume energy in one form or another. The sun, however is not a ‘consumable’Top 10 Sunnest Countries in that sense since we have an infinite supply of it.

Anne then compared the Top 10 Sunniest Countries, showing how the US has the most number of sunny days, and Arizona tops the list of States as well, with 4015 hours of sunshine a year!

Which is why, within 20 minutes of placing our ovens outside, they reached 250 degrees. One even topped 300 degrees!


Judges_1_SolarSRE

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Thank you to my judges on both days, Annette Williams, Chris McIntire, Erik Haarstad, Joni Andreas and Wayne Sekaquaptewa who braved the chili recipes and the near double-digit heat outside. Today’s judges got to taste some of my Sri Lankan Chili as well.

Finally a big thank you to my colleagues. 6th Grade teachers: Erlinda Allen, Donna Horn, David Crebs, John Emmons. 5th Grade teachers: Maria Enriquez, Bernadette Spencer, Valencia Gorman, and Ashlee Chee for supporting this crazy idea.

 

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8th Grader (robotics student) composes Opera music

Just saw the story that one of my former students, Sialik King, who also took a lead role in our robotics team, has gone on to compose music.

She was featured on NPR affiliate, KJZZ.

One of the songs, One Day at a Time, sounds like a classic opera song – supposedly reminiscent of Madame Butterfly or The Barber of Seville. The Opera is part of a move to incorporate American Indian stories in ‘micro-operas’ of  8-12 minute duration. Composers Raven Chacon, and Michael Begay were commissioned by Arizona Opera, the Grand Canyon Music Festival, and the Heard Museum for this.

 

 
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Posted by on May 7, 2016 in Education, Robotics

 

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If you support computer science – speak up!

Care to support a push to promote Computer Science in schools?

Most schools don’t have it as a foundational class, so leaders from across the US –which includes the Zuckerbergs, Cooks, Schmitdts and Gates’ of this world — have begun a movement to petition our political leaders.

You could find it here at Change.Org.

The petition was started by Code.org founder Hari Partovi., and is also supported by governors and school districts, not just the private sector. Please give it your consideration.

 
 

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