Archive for December, 2011

xBox – Round 2.

Posted: December 20, 2011 in Uncategorized

“I will not give up, I will not give up, I will not give up..” My mantra as I stood  swinging my hand around trying to get it to register on with the sensor. And, of course as I was trying  – I realized I could use the controller for what I was trying to select. Dap Nabbit.

This is one of the more frustrating parts of using Kinect.. that I can’t determine when I can use the controller and when I am -forced- to use the sensor.. but all is well and good and tada –  we have created three new book reviews.

So just like any and all experiences in the classroom, there are stumbling blocks, I have realized that I always need to find good guinea pigs. Students who will give up some of their free time to test out ideas with me… but the lesson learned is to find students whom will step up and use the downtime that occurs during experimenting and use it for good and not Pandora.

Back to the start of my 2nd round of xBoxing. Three girls were chosen by the literature teacher to join me and present on the Kinect. Here is what we learned.

  1. Fix the lighting. I tried with using only natural light and that failed.. we were much more successful once we had all the overhead lights on and the shades drawn.
  2. Put your faith in a gamer. One of the students informed me that she “played too many games at home”, giving her the controller was the best thing I did.  Horray for hidden talents.
  3. Notecards. Each student made some notes on their own and it helped them produce the reviews.
  4. Allow for retakes – cause sometimes “my girl’s arms just look weird”.
  5. Change the avatar appearance on the xBox Live website. While one student was presenting, another was playing dress up, we just waited to click “save” until one recording was all done. Worked like a charm.

I just can’t wait for all the firewall issues to be fixed so we can collaborate and have book talks with other xboxers. It actually sounds as if I am a bit excited there….



Posted: December 19, 2011 in Apps.

Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways….

  • For $9.99, I can get any song I want.
  • I do not have to purchase the latest Bieber song for my daughter – who will play is constantly for two weeks and then lose interest in 2 weeks and one day!
  • Listening to the cat’s meow Feliz Navidad without owning it FOREVER.
  • Offline listening.
  • Legally allowing my students to make a playlist for class celebrations.
  • Supporting start-ups.

Now that I have completed my poetry task for the day, let me explain. Spotify is basically renting music, instead of buying it (at first I thought it was going to be like the Columbia Record House Club.. boy was my mom angry when I sent away for that … but it is sooo not).

Download Spotify to your ‘puters or idevices, subscribe and let the good times roll. I have searched for and listened to any song I desired, yet to not find a song, I even found an old time Christmas radio show – The Cinnamon Bear – that I wanted to share with my classes.

But wait, Kim.. do I have to stream all this music, what about my data usage. Ohhhh nooo.. you non-believers…you can download your music to your devices and listen to it offline, even setting Spotify to be offline.

Thank you, dear Swedish startup company, I will not have to own Fly by Nicki Minaj for the rest of my life!

The City Square.

Posted: December 16, 2011 in Background Noise., Uncategorized

In every city, I have visited there is usually a central place, a once stop shop where you can experience the city. In Boulder, Colorado it was Pearl Street, in Chicago it is Michigan Avenue, in San Francisco it was the Wharf, in Minocqua, Wisconsin, it was US51. :/.

At Tarkington, I needed to put into place a City Square, the place to go to get all you need. Links for all the websites we visit, general information, a spot to find my earth shattering screencasts and so came to be born: Tarkington Technology Resources.

Some of the resources are only available within in the CPS network but a majority of them can be used and manipulated to fit into your classroom.

App Alert.

Posted: December 15, 2011 in Apps.

As I was doing the Wednesday Web Surfing and admiring all the Edublog Winners, sure there might not have been any red carpet or Kayne West taking the spotlight away from Taylor Swift and there was certainly no fancy gold statuettes (however there are cute little jpegs…) but it was good to explore and find new bloggers for me to stalk.

During my non-bunny boiling stalking, I discovered a Common Core Standards App. *waits for cheers of excitement*

(Insert Cricket Sound App)

While it may not be the most thrilling or classroom changing app, I do believe it will be a handy one. It is very streamlined and organized quite well, not overly jazzy. Rather just the facts, ma’am, just the facts. While all the subjects are not listed, I could imagine with updates it will become more well rounded.

Update: Available for Droid users, also.

A kindergartener walks into a computer lab and…

learns that clicking on the “X” will end all their fun.

Speaking of  “x”es.

We, at Tarkington School, were lucky enough to receive an xBox and a Kinect as a pilot program through CPS. I have been exploring the most suitable ways to use it in the classroom. And boy oh boy are the kids excited about it. Of course they do think we will be playing Black Ops with it …and once again I have to bust their little bubbles. Within the classrooms we have been Using Body and Brain which integrates math and kinesthetic learning. Also we have put together some incentive programs which incorporate Kinect Sports. But here are the highs and the lows:

Merely wheeling the machine down the hallways illicits excitement unmatched.
Classroom participation is 100% during the activities.
Mention of the xBox coming into the room is one of the best behavior modifiers.
Students argue over who is next to practice reviewing math concepts.

Finding my hands on the screen… can take a while.
Other children in view of the sensor seriously effects the accuracy of it.
It is truly only made for one person usage.
Firewall issues and Avatar Kinect… puts a downer on shared spaces.

I am fully aware that we are using something made for home use and integrating it into the classrooms, so we must be creative and flexible and willing to take chances. There are some kinks to be worked on but I am looking forward to when I get it, when I have my lightbulb moments… A-Ha moments aren’t just for kids, like Trix is.

Two ways I am striving for the A-Ha moment is working to understand how to use Kinect Hacks  and using the recording studio as a presentation tool.

Stay posted for the “I got it!”