AI World School Covid Warrior Contest!

Looking to learn more about artificial intelligence? I wanted to share this contest from AI World School For teachers and students, check out the information and register to join in this event for the summer. My students really enjoyed working through the AIWS modules this spring and designing their own projects.

AI World School has launched a contest for teachers and students in grades 3 through 12. This summer, you can participate in the AI COVID Warrior contest that kicks off in July.

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The goal of the contest is to help students and teachers better understand artificial intelligence and how it has been used in helping to fight against COVID. Through the contest, there will be opportunities to learn more about artificial intelligence, how it is used in the world, and for students and teachers to develop their coding skills.

The contest runs through September 15th and you can participate by using code or no code.

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In the resources provided, you will learn from articles that provide research to show how AI is being used in the fight against COVID, you will have access to a free e-book, and also access to scratch for AI on the AI World School platform.

You can sign up to join here https://lnkd.in/dqScvf2 All projects must be submitted by September 16th and prizes will be awarded in October.

There are three different categories based on age and grade level of students and a category for teachers as well and divided between the code or no code options.

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Check out the other resources from AIWS for helping students to learn about AI and the summer camp options they have available for students. https://t.co/TkfZoAVGje?amp=1 Participate in the AI World School Covid Warrior Contest this summer!

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read? Many stories from educators, two student chapters, and a student-designed cover for In Other Words.

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks  

ISTE Live 21

For the past six years, I have looked forward to attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference each June. Each year, this 5-day event brings in educators from countries from around the world. Last year, due to the pandemic, the conference was initially postponed until November in the hopes that it could still be held in-person, however the ISTE Team had to make the difficult decision to switch it to fully virtual and hold ISTE Live in November.

Many hoped that this year’s event would be held in San Antonio, but it again had to shift to a fully virtual event. Last November, I was impressed with the experience during the five days and thankful to be able access all session recordings for six months. It was $150 to attend, even for presenters, however virtual events create an opportunity for educators who may not have the chance due to travel restrictions.

ISTE used their custom-built virtual platform again this year, with increased functionality and ease of use. As a presenter and attendee, I found the platform easy to use and there were many ways to connect with other educators, to chat, to participate in the sessions and access the many resources available.

[from ISTE site]

Highlights of ISTE Live

It was great to see so many educators connecting throughout the event. According to the recent “ISTE at a glance” there were more than 12,500 attendees from 88 countries, and 2,287 presenters interacting in the ISTE Live event. Attendees spent more than 3 million minutes in live sessions. There were 39 different topic areas available and over 20 featured voices this year at ISTE. What I appreciated this year was the 14 sample schedules created for educators to follow that focused on topics of interest, making it easier to design a more personalized experience.

{image from ISTE 21 Homepage]

A few of the mainstage highlights

The conference kicked off with an opening and inspiring keynote address from Dr. Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education followed by Cornelius Minor who spoke of the importance of building learning communities to celebrate student voice and student agency. On Sunday Dr. Priscilla Chan, the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Chan Zuckerberg Initiative spoke about equity and the importance of educating the whole child. Also on Sunday, Noelle Silver spoke about artificial intelligence and the impact on education.

The platform

The updated platform really was robust and made it easy to locate sessions, participate in the games, chat with other attendees, explore digital tools and technologies in the Solutions Hub and track the sessions you attended. Presenters could upload materials before their sessions and take advantage of the many features included in the platform such as polls, the interactive chat with moderators and attendees and more. It definitely felt like a more interactive experience this year.

Being able to access the session recordings, connect with others on a global scale, set your own schedule and gather new ideas and resources was all possible within the interactive conference platform.

The choices

There were a variety of options available for the format of sessions. Each year the sessions fall into four different types of categories. The Explore & Create category offered creation labs, playgrounds and activities for educators to explore new ideas and tools. The Listen & Learn category included the mainstage sessions, hundreds of panel discussions and snapshots which were 30 minute sessions. Participate and Share included formats such as discussion forums, poster sessions, and interactive lectures, all of which are designed for attendees to be able to interact with the presenters and other attendees. The fourth session focus was Engage and Connect, which provided opportunities for networking and building social connections. The platform really promoted building new connections through the chat function and gamification included in the event.

You could easily navigate to your dashboard to view upcoming sessions, meetings requested, access the chat, add favorite sessions and other digital resources in your digital tote. Attendees also received a daily email sent as well as pop-up announcements in the platform. “Favoriting” a session made it easy to find it in the program and it also then showed up in your dashboard, as well as sessions attended and suggestions for “sessions you might like.”

Attendees were able to choose their team and also could form squads. Based on the descriptions, I decided to choose the Fox team, which came in second overall! It was a lot of fun to complete the challenges, search for the easter eggs on the site and participate in some of the daily challenges like making a drawing, a sketchnote or other artifact to show how you’d redesign school or your classroom based on what you learned this year. Each day had a new challenge to explore. You can check them out on Twitter using the #ISTELIVE hashtag.

ISTE in VR!

A few sessions were held in Mozilla Hubs, a virtual reality space during the conference. I presented my “Immerse Students in AR/VR and AI” session in Hubs with my good friend Jaime Donally, author of Learning Transported and The Immersive Classroom. Attendees could enter the room in Hubs and be represented by an avatar, talk with those in the room or join in the session through the ISTE platform. Jaime had fun drawing on me but it really was a unique way to present and to think about different ways we can provide instruction for our students and connect with other educators.

[screenshot of our session recording and how it looked in Mozilla Hubs]

It was a great learning experience and it has been nice being able to go back and catch some of the recordings for the sessions that I was not able to attend. It’s also great to be able to go back through my own sessions to engage with the attendees and respond to some of their questions. Looking forward to the next conference and hope to see everyone there in person in New Orleans, LA next June for ISTE 22!

About the author

Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available. All books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or directly from Rachelle.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Celebrating Educators

Guest post by Debbie Tannenbaum, @TannenbaumTech, author and tech coach

It seems hard to believe that the school year is almost over. This school year is a definite example of the longest school year that went by super quickly. Educators have been pushed to their limits this year. We have been asked to teach in ways that we probably didn’t know existed two years ago. We have been asked to pivot constantly and felt like ping pong balls as we switched from one teaching mode to another and then asked to combine modes. With all the talk about “learning loss” and the need for “summer programs to catch students up,” I feel that we are missing something vital, something that needs to be celebrated- our educators.

Educators demonstrated extreme levels of dedication.

This past year, being an educator was HARD! After being thrown into emergency remote teaching is March of 2020. Educators were once again asked to pivot as we began the 2020-2021 school year. In many places, that meant either hybrid or virtual instruction. I am amazed by the levels of dedication that educators everywhere demonstrated as they began the school year. In my school, I was so proud to see so many educators take time out of their summers to attend summer learning opportunities in August. In my 8/9/2020: Summer “Professional Development” blog post, I shared about this experience. But what amazed me even more was how educators took those lessons and applied them into their classrooms. Check out my 1/9/2021: Pear Deck to the Rescue blog post on the fantastic ways educators used Pear Deck during virtual learning at my school.

Educators were resilient and persevered through difficult situations.

If you ask most educators what word they would use to describe the 2020-2021 school year, pivot would definitely be one of the first words that came to mind. In many places, educators were asked to pivot continuously this school year, In my school district, that meant starting with virtual instruction, then pivoting to concurrent instruction. In other places, these changes happened even more frequently. Educators were asked to change the way they instructed students quickly and that was not easy. Not only that, but many educators were asked to teach concurrently- teaching face to face students at the same time as virtual students. Yes, educators are TIRED, there is no denying that. But we need to give educators credit for how resilient they were and how they persevered through very difficult situations.

Educators embraced risk and a growth mindset.

In my twenty-one years in education, I have never seen so much learning and innovation happen in one school year. Some may call it forced innovation, but I look at it, as dedicated innovation. Educators were so dedicated to helping their students learn that they went past their fear and tried new things. They embraced risk and modeled a growth mindset for their students. They weren’t afraid to “make mistakes,” and shared that with their students. If only we can carry this dedicated innovation and less emphasis on judgment into the coming school years, that would be amazing!

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

28 book recommendations

From a post last year for Getting Smart that I had done.

Here are some books (in alphabetical order) that I recommend for educators. Some of these I have come across over the years on my own and some of them have made their way to my pile of books after joining in Twitter chats.

  1. A Passion for Kindness by Tamara Letter. A book focused on bringing more kindness into the world. Tamara shares personal experiences and highlights the ideas of other educators and offers kindness cultivators and reflective questions to guide educators along the way to more kindness.
  2. Balance Like a  Pirate by Jessica Cabeen, Jessica Johnson and Sarah Johnson. In this book, the authors share the importance of finding balance in our lives as educators and share their personal strategies for doing so. Finding balance is a challenge and this book can definitely help.
  3. Better Together by Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns explores how we can bring about change in our schools to promote more personalized learning for students. With a focus on the power of collaboration and networks, the authors explore what is working in schools throughout the United States and how we can prepare for the future. Coming soon is Tom’s newest book, Power of Place by Tom Vander Ark, Emily Liebtag, and Nate McClennen.
  4. Bold School by Weston Kieschnick is the book to read for getting started with blended learning by mixing old school teaching methods with technology. Bold School is full of strategies and motivations, personal anecdotes, and humorous references to help educators get started.
  5. Culturize by Jimmy Casas is a book that will inspire educators to focus on “every student every day whatever it takes” in order to bring about amazing changes for student learning. In Culturize, Casas shares the four core principles for school success: Be a champion for students, expect excellence, carry the banner for the school, and be a merchant of hope.
  6. Daring Greatly by Brené Brown is a book for every educator to learn how to be comfortable with vulnerability. Inspiring to read, this book offers stories that will lead you to reflect on your personal and professional life and it does so in a way that inspires, supports, pushes and even entertains.
  7. Divergent EDU by Mandy Froehlich explores the hierarchy of needs for innovation and divergent thinking that she developed. Through the hierarchy, schools can work to bring about needed change and have the right support to do do. One of the best features of the book is the way that Mandy narrates and shows vulnerability and models that power of being reflective in our practice.
  8. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink explores the puzzle of motivation. Through his research, Pink uncovers the key elements of autonomy, mastery, and purpose and how they connect with motivation.
  9. Education Write Now Volume 3: Solutions to Common Challenges in Your School or Classroom is a collaborative book written by ten educator authors. The book is focused on different challenges faced in education such as sustaining joy, teaching in isolation, developing perseverance, connecting with students and more. Proceeds from this book go to the Will to Live Foundation which is dedicated to preventing teen suicide
  10. For White Folks Who Teach In The Hood: Reality Pedagogy And Urban Education by Christopher Emdin explores “reality pedagogy” and how to implement culturally responsive practices in our classrooms. Emdin shares his personal experiences with teaching in urban schools and the effects of inequality on students of color.
  11. It’s OK to Say They: Tips for Educators by Christy Whittlesey is full of resources for educators to support transgender and nonbinary students. The book includes first-person narratives and offers strategies for educators and even a dictionary of relevant terms.
  12. The Innovator’s Mindset by George Couros is focused on empowering educators to bring about change in their classrooms by taking some risks, experiencing failures, and providing students with more opportunities to lead and create.
  13. Kids These Days: A Game Plan for (Re)Connecting with Those We Teach, Lead, & Love by Dr. Jody Carrington is a book that shares Dr. Carrington’s research and personal experiences working with students and families. The book emphasizes the importance of connections and building relationships so we can best serve our students.
  14. LAUNCH by A.J. Juliani and John Spencer is about empowering students through design thinking. The authors take you through the steps of the LAUNCH cycle, which is very helpful for educators interested in trying design thinking or genius hour projects. Full of visuals, templates, lesson plans, and a LAUNCH notebook.
  15. Learner-Centered Innovation by Katie Martin explores how to bring about change to schools, to promote more authentic learning experiences for students, and what we can do to place students in the lead more. Learn more about Katie’s book in the Smart Review.
  16. Learning Transformed by Eric Sheninger Thomas C. Murray identifies 8 keys to transform schools and learning to best prepare our students for the future. Read more about Learning Transformed in the Smart Review.
  17. Lost at School by Ross W. Greene will help educators to better understand and work with students and challenging behaviors in the classroom. Through Greene’s Collaborative and Proactive Solutions (CPS) Model and from the narrative and stories shared in the book, the importance of building relationships resonates throughout.
  18. Personal and Authentic by Tom Murray provides personal stories from Tom as well as more than 50 educator vignettes shared in “Make it Stick” and “In Practice” sections. Murray shares his “Personal & Authentic Framework” to empower educators to create more authentic learning experiences in our classrooms.
  19. Snapshot in Education 2019 from Sarah-Jane Thomas and EduMatch Publishing is a collaborative book with 27 chapters written by educators from around the world. Topics include SEL, PBL, preparing for the future, self-care, teaching practices and more.
  20. Start with Why by Simon Sinek profiles innovative companies that start by asking the question of why and how that leads to success. For anyone looking to become more of a leader, it will push your thinking and is applicable to any area, especially education.
  21. Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday focuses on the importance of taking moments away for ourselves. Holiday shares stories of many historical figures and how they incorporated stillness into their busy lives and why it matters.
  22. Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess is a book full of personal experiences, inspirational quotes, reflection questions, and ideas for how to create more engaging lessons, promote student curiosity and build rapport in our classrooms. Teach Like a Pirate was the first book about education that I had read in years and the one that pushed me to start taking some risks in my classroom.
  23. Teaching AI by Michelle Zimmerman is for any educator looking to better understand artificial intelligence, how it will impact the future, and what it means for education. The book includes scenarios, tools, activities, reflection questions and ideas to get started.
  24. The Essential 55 by Ron Clark shares what he has determined to be essential guidelines or rules for maintaining an effective classroom and for helping students to be good citizens. The rules are shared through humorous anecdotes and while you might not implement all 55 in your classroom, the book will make you think and consider how to apply some of them to daily life too.
  25. What School Could Be by Ted Dintersmith shares what Ted learned after spending 2016 visiting schools in all 50 states. Dintersmith took what he observed, his own research, the authentic stories from educators he met during his travels and has shared what he believes to be the changes needed for education in this book. Listen to the Ted Dintersmith Podcast Interview.

There are many books out there and I could definitely add more to the list but wanted to create a resource for educators to explore a variety of topics from different perspectives. If I could add one more to this list, I would add one of my books because the inspiration for it came from all of the books that I have read. My first published book, In Other Words: Quotes that Push Our Thinking, gave me a space to share stories from educators and students as well as my own story. Quotes are used as a focal point to push thinking about the importance of growing ourselves as educators, knowing our why, as well as learning from and embracing failures and taking risks. A book for anyone, not just for educators.

Now available for a fantastic price! 200 pages, 38 educators shared stories in True Story. Grab a copy for yourself and for friends or your school at bit.ly/truestorypoth or in bulk orders from EduMatch Books.

Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available. All books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or directly from Rachelle.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here

Play…Persist…Prove

Guest post byJoAnn Sandford

This week I registered for my last two courses in my Masters of Arts in Teaching Mathematics, from Mount Holyoke College.  Realizing that this program was almost over brought up a lot of emotions.  Pride and satisfaction for sure but also disappointment – this amazing journey was coming to an end.  I miss Cohort 7 already!  A collection of educators from all over, varying in age, assignments, experiences and teaching environments, all working together to improve our understanding of mathematics and our ability to create the conditions that help children succeed in this amazing subject. I will never meet most of these educators in person – but I feel that the experiences we have shared will bind us together as a lasting learning community.  I started looking back over some of the reflections I wrote after different classes and courses.  Here is one reflection in a group I call, Play, Persist, Prove.

Today was another awesome experience in my mathematics journey.  Hours later I am still buzzing about how transformative these experiences have been.  So transformative in fact, that I feel compelled to write about it.  

Being a math teacher implies a certain level of success and know-how from my early days as a student.  Why else would I or could I become a math teacher?  Being of a certain age also implies the type of math education I received:  memorize your facts, watch what I do, now you do the same.  What most people know very little about is that math is taught very differently now.  Or they may know math is taught differently but may not know much, if anything, about the how or the why.  While some people (and even some math teachers) may think, “I learned it this way – and I got it!  Why can’t everyone still learn it this way?”  Those truly interested in effective math education know that, like everything else, when practice follows research, everyone wins!

Today, like most days with Cohort 7, we dug deep into a math investigation.  The context wasn’t beyond my grasp – we were discussing the sum of the interior angles in polygons.  But, like so many other math topics, I had a long before memorized solution, formula, or fact.  Today, the formula was just out of reach.  I hadn’t used it in a while.  It wasn’t something I ever thought about.  When I learned about this concept way back in junior high, the teacher just told me the formula.  I believed them.  I applied it.  We moved on.  What was it again?  I knew it was something to do with 180°.  Maybe the side measure of the polygon was in there?  Minus 2?  Guess.  Check.  Confirm.  Got it!  180(n-2).  But I wasn’t going to get away with reciting a formula today!  And I didn’t want to.  

Out came the pattern blocks, the power polygons, and the virtual manipulatives.  The directions:  figure out the interior angles of these polygons, be convincing, don’t use a protractor.  I was excited.  Time to play.  Time to persist.  Then time to prove.  There was no rush.  Work on your own, discuss with your group as you go or when you are ready.  I created a couple of models to assist in my investigation.  Can you see what I was trying to do here?  How could these models help or do they?  What do you think my explanation was that accompanied these models?  What would you create?

Knowing a full circle is 360 degrees, placing congruent angles together is helpful.
To increase the number of sides in these polygons by 1, I added a triangle.

The investigation alone was powerful enough.  But the seasoned facilitators, Jan Szymaszek and Zak Champagne, did not stop there.  After comparing notes and models in small groups, each group created a few slides to share with everyone.  Together as a class we scrolled through the gallery of representations, asked questions of the creators, noticed what was common, and combined any new information with our own.  It was awesome.  I saw another group’s model and relief and understanding washed over me. I was finally able to connect the formula I have learned and relearned so many times to a picture for figuring out interior angles.  Because that formula corresponds to a picture – that connection is solid.  I will never forget it again.  It is so powerful to be in that student role and make a discovery that is deeply meaningful to me.  I have that wonderful satisfaction and contentment that things do, in fact, make sense.  That everything is connected.  I don’t need to memorize it – I KNOW it.  What was interesting too is that my colleagues had similar experiences but not about the same models. Seeing and hearing about lots of ways was neccessary for the group to be satisfied.

How can I make sure my students have these experiences too?  Have the feeling that they know something – not that they were told it or heard it;  the knowledge and connection has to be theirs.  That is what I am left to ponder.  While I don’t have that all figured out just yet…I did take notes on the “teacher moves” of our facilitators.  What did they do that made this lesson such a success?  Here’s what I wrote as tips to myself about being a better teacher:  Listen and listen hard.  Stop talking so much and really listen.  Don’t be so quick to jump to conclusions about what kids do and do not know. Ask questions.  Put the life preserver away.  They’ve got this.  Give students a safe space to play, lots of tools and encouragement so they can persist when something doesn’t work right away and the opportunity to share, discuss and defend their proof.  Your job is to find cool problems to investigate with lots of hands-on irregularly wonderful mathy things – then be present at the moments of insight and an enthusiastic witness to their awesomeness.  

Hmmmm.  Let my students Play, Persist, Prove.  Yup…I can do that.

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read?

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook.  Join the group here

Covid Warrior Contest via AI World School

As a Spanish and STEAM teacher, I love bringing emerging technologies into my classroom. One area that we spend a lot of time on in my eighth grade course is artificial intelligence. For educators looking to get started with artificial intelligence in the classroom with students or for parents interested in providing opportunities for children to learn about AI, I definitely recommend checking out what is available through AI World School. My students are excited about becoming creators with AI!

Why learn about AI?

Many people wonder about the benefits of learning about AI and why bring it into our classrooms? We are interacting with AI everyday and our students need to understand what it is, how it works, the impact that it has on our lives and what AI might mean for the future of work and education. We are able to create the right learning opportunities that spark some curiosity and build skills in these emerging technologies. 

By exploring some of the courses and the free play activities that are available through AI World School, we can help students and ourselves to develop a better understanding of AI and also enjoy learning together.

Join the contest!

AI World School has launched a contest for teachers and students in grades 3 through 12. This summer, you can participate in the AI COVID Warrior contest that kicks off in July.As a Spanish and STEAM teacher, I love bringing emerging technologies into my classroom. One area that we spend a lot of time on in my eighth grade course is artificial intelligence. For educators looking to get started with artificial intelligence in the classroom with students or for parents interested in providing opportunities for children to learn about AI, I definitely recommend checking out what is available through AI World School. My students are excited about becoming creators with AI!

The goal of the contest is to help students and teachers better understand artificial intelligence and how it has been used in helping to fight against COVID. Through the contest, there will be opportunities to learn more about artificial intelligence, how it is used in the world, and for students and teachers to develop their coding skills.

The contest runs through the end of July and you can participate by using code or no code .

In the resources provided, you will learn from articles that provide research to show how AI is being used in the fight against COVID, you will have access to a free e-book, and also access to scratch for AI on the AI World School platform.

You can sign up to join here https://lnkd.in/dqScvf2 All projects must be submitted by September 16th and prizes will be awarded in October!

There are three different categories based on age and grade level of students and a category for teachers as well and divided between the code or no code options.

Check out the other resources from AIWS for helping students to learn about AI and the summer camp options they have available for students.

Check out the video overview here.

We are very excited to announce the Artificial Intelligence COVID Warrior Contest to channelise the students creative potential into solving real world problems. We expect more than 60k students to take part in the contest across the world.

We are inviting teachers and students in Grades 3 to 12, to join us on the mission to combat COVID-19 through a contest involving an AI coding experience. 

To register visit: https://aiworldschool.com/ai-covid-warriors/

About the Author

Rachelle Dene Poth is an edtech consultant, presenter, attorney, author, and teacher. Rachelle teaches Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle has a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. She is a Consultant and Speaker, owner of ThriveinEDU LLC Consulting. She is an ISTE Certified Educator and currently serves as the past-president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network and on the Leadership team of the Mobile Learning Network. At ISTE19, she received the Making IT Happen Award and a Presidential Gold Award for volunteer service to education. She is also a Buncee Ambassador, Nearpod PioNear and Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert.

Rachelle is the author of five books, ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” (EduMatch) and “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World” and her newest book, “True Story Lessons That One Kid Taught Us.

Rachelle is a blogger for Getting Smart, Defined Learning, District Administration, NEO LMS, and the  STEM Informer with Newsweek. 

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here.

Looking for a new book to read? Many stories from educators, two student chapters, and a student-designed cover for In Other Words.

Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks  

Augmented reality

Guest post by Alfonso Mendoza, @myedtechlife

Augmented Reality is changing the way we learn. Augment Learning with Augmented Reality offers a glimpse into how augmented reality will enhance K-12 education in public schools, as well as some of the challenges that need to be overcome for AR’s educational potential to be fully realized.

Augmented Reality can be very effective in helping teachers enhance their in-person and virtual classroom experiences. With augmented reality, students can “walk” through a virtual environment or visit a museum in a different country with a headset or a mobile device. This could mean virtual posters on a real wall, or it might mean overlaying an interactive digital map of Europe onto physical maps that are hanging up in class. AR allows students to be more engaged in their learning. AR provides a different way of thinking and this helps develop creative ways of solving problems.

Augmented Reality creativity tools can now be accessed on mobile devices such as tablets and cell phones and headsets. These tools allow students to create artwork, animation, and interactive media that can be shared with others. AR technology enables the student’s work to come alive in a virtual environment such as an animated movie, museum exhibit, or television commercial. AR also offers accessibility for individuals with disabilities such as blindness or low vision, and deafness. 

Teachers do not need to fear AR technologies, but we do need to make sure that we provide professional development to have them play, be creative, but also make the technology relevant to their subject matter. As educators, we must be aware of the technology that is being used today so that we can prepare our students for the jobs of tomorrow. 

There has been a ton of buzz about Augmented Reality and how it is changing the way we teach our children. If you have used AR in your classroom or know someone who has, let me know what you’ve experienced with this technology so far. In my experience as an educator, I find that when students are more engaged they learn better than if they were just sitting at their desks listening to a lecture. What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

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Tract: Student -driven learning

Over the past school year, educators sought new ideas and digital tools to bring to the classroom to help with transitions between virtual, hybrid, and ​in-person learning. Rather than focus on specific digital tools, I thought of methods that would not be impacted by shifts in our learning environment. Bringing in authentic opportunities for students to design their own learning paths, to engage more in learning while developing essential SEL skills that will best prepare them for the future, is important.

One of my favorite methods to use has been project-based learning (PBL). PBL is a great option for giving students a chance to explore an area of interest, to solve a problem, or stretch themselves and learn about something impacting their community or the world. Authentic PBL focuses on student-centered learning and empowers students to develop their skills in many areas including critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, time management, and leadership skills to name a few. To help with PBL, I recently found Tract, a peer-to-peer program for students ages 8 and up in which the teachers, or creators are students.

Providing something for each student that meets their interest can be a challenge, but with Tract, all students can find something they can do independently for their unique interests and skill level.

What is Tract?

Tract is a web-based program, co-founded by educator and parent Esther Wojcicki and Ari Memar, a former student of Esther’s, who vet all of the Tract courses and content to make sure that it is safe for students and focused specifically on kids. I had a chance to speak with Ari and learn more about Tract and the many benefits for students. What I love about Tract is the variety of topics available for students to explore, how authentic and meaningful the learning is, and how students build essential SEL skills. With Tract, educators can support SEL and self-efficacy through student-directed, project-based learning through the enrichment clubs and on-demand classes available. Students can work through the classes at their own pace. Classes provide students with an opportunity to explore many different areas which include topics like art, gaming, learning to code, applying artificial intelligence and machine learning, becoming an entrepreneur, and many more.

The classes are led by middle school, high school or college students who create and share their passions for what they are learning and help inspire other students. Because of the way that it is set up, students build their confidence as they learn from peers and embrace new challenges that are inspired by students as creators from around the world.

Students can choose from the different challenges and as they complete them they are awarded coins, an experience based currency that can be traded in to use for gifts of recognition of other learners on Tract or real-world donations directly impacting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for example planting a tree, protecting the coastline, and donating a meal for a family.

Getting started

Tract is for use both at home and in classrooms around the world and the content is best for students in third through the eighth grade. All videos are reviewed and hosted on their private Vimeo server. Tract is providing its service free for the first 1,000 teachers using my code, RACHELLE, to request access at teach.tract.app. Once your account is ready, you can set up your students using a simple educator code..

What makes Tract different

Tract is unlike any other platform that I have seen. It is a peer-to-peer learning platform that provides students with many different ways to learn about topics of interest, to explore their passions, and to build essential skills for not just in the future but for now. For students interested in creating content on YouTube or TikTok, Tract channels that motivation. It also promotes the development of social emotional learning (SEL) skills as students become self-aware as they design their own project and track growth, build social awareness as they learn from peers from around the world, develop self-management through setting goals and managing any stress that may arise during independent learning. Students build relationships as they interact with one another and focus on responsible decision-making as they decide their next steps in learning.

Using Tract takes what can become a more passive learning experience and provides enrichment. It helps students to become more active learners, shifting from consumers to creators in and out of the classroom. They become hooked into what they are learning while also being challenged to think about and connect with the topic and process this information to design their own learning. For example, creating a video game sparks interests in coding, hands-on creating helps students to more deeply experience learning in meaningful and purposeful ways.

Scaffolded lessons and experiences build engagement and help students to see learning more as a process rather than an end product.

Finding content

The library is full of on-demand learning paths available that range from topics like the arts, business, health, history and social sciences, math, physical education, politics, science, and world languages for a few examples.

Here are a few of my favorites.

  • Because I love music, the “I just want to rock and roll” created by Cody Williams
  • “How to Create a Learning Path on Tract” by Ryan Chester (Harvard class of 2020)
  • The TikTok algorithm explained, created by a high school student
  • “Give a speech like President Obama”
  • “Health and Leverage AI to Support Mental Health” created by a student who has a non-profit “The Hope Sisters
  • “Virtual Reality Fly Across the Globe Without Leaving Your Couch”.

Rachelle Dene is a Spanish and STEAM: What’s nExT in Emerging Technology Teacher at Riverview High School in Oakmont, PA. Rachelle is also an attorney with a Juris Doctor degree from Duquesne University School of Law and a Master’s in Instructional Technology. Rachelle is an ISTE Certified Educator and serves as the past president of the ISTE Teacher Education Network. She was recently named one of 30 K-12 IT Influencers to follow in 2021.

She is the author of five books including ‘In Other Words: Quotes That Push Our Thinking,” “Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU” “The Future is Now: Looking Back to Move Ahead,” “Chart A New Course: A Guide to Teaching Essential Skills for Tomorrow’s World and her newest book “True Story: Lessons That One Kid Taught Us” is now available. All books available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, or directly from Rachelle.

Follow Rachelle on Twitter @Rdene915 and on Instagram @Rdene915. Rachelle has a podcast, ThriveinEDU available at https://anchor.fm/rdene915

**Interested in writing a guest blog for my site? Would love to share your ideas! Submit your post here. Looking for a new book to read? Find these available at bit.ly/Pothbooks

************ Also check out my THRIVEinEDU Podcast Here!

Join my weekly show on Mondays and Fridays at 5pm EST THRIVEinEDU on Facebook. Join the group here