Orb App: Augmented Reality Meets 3D Design

I have a little fun tonight with a new app. The app is free, and it is called Orb.

If you’re good at using 3-D design sites like Tinkercad or Morphi or SketchUp, you’re probably going to enjoy this app just for the sheer novelty of it. It lets you create exactly those 3D kinds of designs (using just five basic shapes), but you can overlay them on real life backgrounds as you create, because it all happens in augmented reality.

When you first launch the app, you’re greeted with this screen:

There are samples that you can view in a variety of categories, all of which are better than what I can do!

The design elements in this app are notably few, but still…I admire anyone who is skilled at creating in 3D. This app is a fun way to practice…wherever you may be. Because it’s augmented reality,you can literally get up and walk around your design as you’re building it, which is pretty cool!

In my family room tonight, I made this – ummm – well, I wasn’t sure what to call it when I saved it, so I called it “Odd Clown”. I’d say that’s fitting, wouldn’t you?

The options are really basic, but here’s a breakdown of what is where and what it’s supposed to do:

My overall review of Orb is that this is fun and definitely an exercise in building in 3D. The AR component adds an element of “I can build anywhere” frivolity. The downside for me is that there’s really no way to export your design into any other program, so there’s not much of an overall functionality. I can’t 3D print it, I can’t put it on a Merge Cube, and I can’t get it into PowerPoint as a 3D object, so it just lives the in Orb app and can be added to the public Orb gallery for others to enjoy. Enjoy is the key word here – this app is just something to enjoy.

Parting thoughts:

  • This would definitely be a cool addition to iPads in a makerspace. I think maker kids would really get into this, especially if they could get up and move while they collaborate and share design ideas.
  • It’s fun for elementary through adult, but more seasoned 3D designers will be frustrated by inability to export
  • The learning curve is small, but users definitely improve with lots of practice.
  • I wish it had a record and/or photo button.
  • I hope they add more shapes.
  • Free apps aren’t always worthwhile, but this is worth a shot. It’s fun!

Give it a go and let me know what you think. You can screenshot your Orbs and share them with me on Twitter at @kerszi or on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation.

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Learning In The Loo – Where It All Began

I stated this fun little edtech toilet training trend called “Learning in the Loo” many years ago.  Back in 2004-2008, I taught 5th grade Social Studies.  I started creating these Learning in the Loo posters for my students as a kind of study guide before our big benchmark tests.  As you can imagine, they were initially met with groans and awkward giggles, but the students quickly came to love them!  I hung them in the student restrooms inside all the stall doors, and yes, above urinals.  At first, I noticed a spike in the amount of bathroom visits, but guess what – I also noticed a real increase in student discussion about the topics, and also in test scores! With a “captive audience” and clear, purposeful information, it really worked effectively as a learning and reinforcement tool.  The students came to enjoy it so much that I eventually turned over responsibility for creating these Learning In The Loo posters to them – talk about pride in ownership!  I still have former students remind me how much fun we all had with that, and how they really DID “learn in the loo”!

Since then, I became an elementary school computer teacher, and am now a Technology Integration Specialist.  As an edtech leader in my schools, I knew that value that these Learning in the Loo posters could have on learning, but in my new role, my ‘students’ are teachers and my content is edtech.  So about 10 years ago, I began creating edtech tips, tools, and tidbits for teachers and hanging them in faculty/staff bathrooms.  I still called it “Learning In The Loo”, and the initial reaction from grown-ups was just the same as it was with the kids…groans and awkward giggles.  Soon enough, though, people started loving it!  To this day, I have staff remind me when I forget to update them.  I’ve had teachers suggest all kinds of topics.  I get tons of emails and conversations with teachers all the time who tell me that they tried something that they “learned in the loo”.  I’ve even recently had one or two brave souls admit that scanned a QR code to access bonus content while they were…ummm…in there.

Back in 2016, I started sharing Learning in the Loo as part of presentations I was doing outside of my district.  I had a favorite presentation called “Innovative Tech PD and Integration”, which I first shared at Bacon Bytes conference in Millville, NJ.  I think every single person who attended ran back to their schools and started creating Learning In The Loo opportunities for their own staff!  I had so many follow-up emails, tweets, and messages about it that I immediately created the now-famous Twitter hashtag #LearningInTheLoo, and soon after developed a Padlet so that everyone who was doing this could share and borrow ideas! There are now hundreds of crowdsourced ideas on that Padlet, thanks to a generous and creative #LearningInTheLoo community!

Well, needless to say, this has REALLY caught on – thanks to Twitter!  If you’re interested in trying it, take a look at the #LearningInTheLoo Padlet and help yourself to ideas that are there.  That’s what it’s there for.  When you’re ready, you can pay-it-forward by sharing creations of your own.

You can also get a lot of additional ideas by searching the hashtag #LearningInTheLoo on Twitter. ⚠️ I will say that a few folks have kind of tried to rebrand this idea with a different hashtag or two, including #ToiletTalk and even #PottyPD.  As a true educator, I think sharing in any form is great, but I also believe in proper attribution, so I always kindly direct people back to the original hashtag and the original idea.  You’ll often notice that when I tweet my standard post about #LearningInTheLoo, I immediately follow it with a tweet that links back to another post I’ve written called Innovate, Emulate, Duplicate…A Digital Citizenship Discussion. It’s just my subtle reminder to celebrate good digital citizenship among educators. Oh, and if you see a really awesome Loo idea posted out there on Twitter, no matter the hashtag, you can help the “movement” by kindly asking the poster to share it over on the #LearningInTheLoo Padlet so that we can all benefit from sharing and having a giant collection of crowdsourced resources all in one place!

I very much look forward to seeing your Padlet contributions to our #LearningInTheLoo community! 🚽

Thanks so much!
Kathi Kersznowski  ( @kerszi )

Wheel of Names – A Randomizer Without Character Limits

I happen to have a little extra time to explore today because we have a snow day! ☃️ I just learned about this free site. It’s a randomizer, another online spinner tool, but what evidently sets this one apart is that there is no character limit. You can add phrases or even complete sentences to this one. (The whole sentence doesn’t show up in the slice of the wheel as it spins, but it does appear in the winner announcement at the end.)

 

There are times when this would come in really handy, like when you want to include writing prompts or insert whole questions for students to answer.

If you teach STEM-type classes, run a makerspace, or dabble in design thinking, this would be be fun to use for design challenges. Give students a pile of random supplies (cardboard tubes, clothespins, magnets, styrofoam, clips, etc.) and put design challenge ideas on the spinner sections – such as “make a vehicle for an injured hamster”, “build something that can move snow without it melting for at least 5 minutes”…there are so many possibilities!

If you look at the wheel above, you’ll notice that it even let me add emojis! 🤗

Check out wheelofnames.com and give it a spin!

As always, I’d love to know what you think! Feel free to leave comments and ideas here on the blog, or you can find me on Twitter as @kerszi. I also have a Facebook page called Integration Innovation.  And if you’re from Washington Township elementary schools and read this far into my blog in the month of March because you saw it in my Integration Innovation newsletter, the 1st two people that email me will win $10 Wawa gift cards.

OneNote As A #OneWord Journal

Like so many people across the country, especially educators, I made the decision a few years ago to forego making a New Year’s resolution and instead choose a #OneWord.

If you haven’t heard of #OneWord before, it’s not a specific goal like a resolution might be, but rather it is a mindset to guide a person toward some sort of self-improvement throughout the year. It’s a focus word, a personal challenge word, a #OneWord.

I’ve seen hundreds of incredible and inspiring #OneWord examples on Twitter. Just search the hashtag, and even add the year (#OneWord2019) to see examples from people all over the world! Last year, I chose the word BETTER, and I truly did focus on achieving that word in a variety of ways. I came back to that word often throughout the year to ground myself and be mindful of exactly what it was I wanted to accomplish. On December 31, I sat down and reflected on ways I accomplished my #OneWord. It took me several hours to go back through my calendars, tweets, blog posts, photos, Facebook posts, etc. to try to form a timeline or list of ways I had achieved BETTER – and I was pretty astounded when I was finished! It was a laborious process, but it was really personally rewarding.

This year, I chose CREATE as my #OneWord. Like many others, I created a graphic as my inspiration, and I even went so far as to explain exactly what I hope to accomplish by focusing on the word CREATE .

Without going into too much detail, last year I felt like I spent most of my energy on learning and consuming knowledge. This year, I really want to be more mindful about actively creating. I feel like it will not only engage me in a different way, but also give me a chance to be more of a giver than a taker…and that’s important to me.

For 2019, I decided to use OneNote to help me document my #OneWord progress. I’m all about keeping it simple, so I just titled my OneNote Notebook “CREATE”. I made a section for each month, and I’ll add a page for each day that I feel that I’ve created something.

I set up all my sections as the months of the year. I LOVE using emojis to make my notebooks look awesome!


The pages from my January section. I already know that there won’t be one for every day, and that’s fine. I don’t want this to become an unattainable #OneWord by putting too much pressure on myself.


This is a screenshot of my page for January 2nd. In OneNote, I am able to add text, a link, and even a photo to document whatever I’ve created!

Some days, I already know that I will create and write notes on a dated page in advance – a way of pre-planning or outlining a particular goal or project to work on for that day.

Lastly, I want to point out that I used my OneNote iPhone app to do create all of my entries so far. I love the ease of having the handy app in my mobile phone, and also the fact that I can take photos and add them directly from my phone. When I’m on my laptop, I generally use the Windows10 OneNote app, because I totally love how many choices I have for page color in the app, and I can also have the most fun with digital inking. I could always use my desktop OneNote 2016 or even OneNote Online, too. So many choices!

December 31, 2019 is going to be really fun. When I’m ready to sit down and reflect on the year, every single thing will be organized and chronicled in my OneNote CREATE Notebook!

I hope this gives you an idea or two about how you could use OneNote as a journal – either for your own #OneWord or whatever else inspires you!

PS – Blogging is creating, so I’m adding this very blog post to the OneNote!


I would absolutely LOVE to hear if you’ve learned or incorporated any of these ideas into your own practices! You can always reach me on Twitter as @kerszi or on my Facebook page Integration Innovation.

Microsoft Learning Tools: Where Independence Is Free For ALL Of Us

reach out learning tools

  • Remember last year, or the year before, when students who couldn’t read called the teacher over to come read it to them…whether it was a text, an assessment, or even the directions?
  • Remember not long ago when students submitted rough drafts a dozen times, returned by the teacher for corrections again and again because the drafts were still riddled with errors that were truly unintentional – the student just hadn’t noticed them?
  • Remember how just the other day, teachers and classroom aides acted as scribes for students who had difficulty writing?
  • Remember when – ages ago – a student didn’t know a word’s meaning, we sent him to go look it up in a classroom dictionary? Remember how that “stoppage in play” totally interfered with the flow necessary for comprehension?
  • Remember how teachers would prompt students again and again to “just follow along” because they always lost their place when text was being shared or read in class?
  • Remember how it was a struggle for some of those students whose families speak different languages at home? Remember when those English Language Learners who still didn’t know every word, phrase, or colloquialism had their own special teacher – or even left class to go to another room?
  • Remember the time, it seems like only yesterday, when teachers were at the copy machine enlarging text and then highlighting key parts so that students who had trouble seeing it were handed their own special copies in class…just for them?
  • Remember back when some students had to pull out index cards or bookmarks to read in class, because too much text on a page made it impossible to focus? Remember how sometimes the teacher just copied chunks of text on individual photocopied pages to reduce visual distractions?
  • Remember how stigmatizing it all seemed…it was all done with good intention. It was all meant to help.  And it all relied on students needing PEOPLE to help them achieve success.

Thank goodness those days are gone!  Thank goodness for Microsoft’s Learning Tools.  If you are in education: teachers, principals, administrators, counselors, therapists, specialists, paraprofessionals, and even parents…the most critical thing that you should do is to learn about Learning Tools, and then show ALL your students how to use them.

First of all, everyone needs to know that Microsoft Learning Tools are free – completely free – for everyone in the world.  This is not a special license, or a paid service, or a subscription, or only something that certain schools have.  And yes, even if your school is a “Google school”, you can still use Learning Tools.

Secondly, I mentioned teaching ALL your students how to use Learning Tools.  I mean that.  These are not just tools to help students with special needs or disabilities or who require accommodations.  All students – all people – can benefit from knowing that there are helpful tools built into their computers or devices.  A tool by definition is just something that makes a task easier.  I used two Learning Tools to write this article.  First, I used the Dictation feature because I work faster with speech to text capabilities.  Don’t you?  I also like to get my thoughts out verbally and then go back to tweak or edit later.  Second, I used the Read Aloud feature and had this whole text read back to me (several times).  I listened for errors – typos, misspellings, grammatical errors, omissions, etc.  I was able to change the sound of the Read Aloud voice and also the speed at which it was read to me.  When I heard something that didn’t sound right, I stopped and fixed it.  It’s the best editing tool I’ve ever used.  (Bonus tip: I often use the Read Aloud feature with my Outlook emails, too…I have long ones read aloud to me while I do paperwork or some other task.)

read aloud feature.jpg

I’m writing this in English and I’m a native English-speaking person, but what if you’re not?  What if you don’t understand parts of this?  Please let me direct your attention back to that ribbon above.  Look at that Language section of the ribbon.  Push a button, and this whole document is accessible in dozens of different global languages – and that list is growing!  Accessibility is a HUGE focus for all of Microsoft products.  Your ELL students can stay in the class, push a button, and be included.

translator.jpg

Learning Tools also has an invaluable tool called Picture Dictionary.  It’s not just for elementary, or special education, or non-native language speakers – it’s for anyone who comes across a word in text that they don’t know!  That certainly happens to me, and I’m pretty sure it happens to ALL of us from time to time.  Don’t run for a dictionary, and don’t open a new tab to find one of those online dictionaries with gobs of big words and parts of speech and definitions that still often don’t make sense.  Just open Learning Tools Immersive Reader, click on the word, and a picture appears.  There’s also a reader button on that picture that will pronounce the word…another ability I’m grateful for from time to time!

picture dictionary.jpg

There are other invaluable features in Learning Tools depending on your students’ needs.  Show it all to them.  Teach them all to access what they need when they need it.  Let them turn on the Line Reader to focus.  Let them turn on the Syllabication feature to help them “sound it out” or the Parts of Speech feature to let them know exactly what kind of word they’re trying to read.

line reader      syllables & parts of speech.jpg

These are tools that STUDENTS can turn on or use, WITHOUT asking another person to help, WITHOUT calling someone to their desk, and WITHOUT drawing attention to themselves.  They’re free, they’re embedded, and once students know that they’re there and how to access them, they are empowered to learn better.  I need to say that again:  They are empowered to learn better.

When you need a little help to do something, you either reach out for a person or a tool.  Give your students the gift of independence.  Show them the gift of Microsoft Learning Tools.

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Endnote: I wrote this whole article in Microsoft Word – both the desktop and the online version.  I generally do this rather than writing directly in my blog platform because I truly and honestly like to take advantage of the Learning Tools and other features that Microsoft has made available.  I then copy/paste it into my online blog.

Presenters:  If anyone has an upcoming opportunity to present Learning Tools, please feel free to use and reference this blog post.  The “Remember” questions at the top are sure to get a hearty dialog started in your presentation, which will make the magic of Learning Tools all the more powerful once you demonstrate it.  If you’d like for me to share the Word version of this article with you so that you can use it as the interactive piece for your presentation, please just contact me and I’ll email it to you!

As always, I’m available here at my WordPress site (wordpress.kerszi.com), on Twitter as @kerszi and on my Facebook page called “Integration Innovation”.  I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

Type Accented Letters on iPads

📱Micro-tip: If you have an iPad or iPhone, did you know that if you “long hold” on some of the keyboard letter keys, you get variations of that letter with accents? If I long hold “n”, I can type señor. If I long-hold the “u” key, I get über-excited! If I long-hold the “e” key, I see this:

This is especially great to know if you have students and families from other countries, but I think it’s a wonderful tip for all teachers and students to know. Add that to your edtech resumé! 😉

As always, you can find me on Twitter as @kerszi or on my Facebook page called Integration Innovation!

Text Giraffe

I love fonts & strong graphics, so when I found this website called Text Giraffe, I got happy! If you’re looking to create a logo, or you just need to build strong graphic for a blog post, website, newsletter, or even to make a Twitter post stand out, try Text Giraffe!

This site is super easy and self-explanatory. Just type in your name/word/phrase and hit GO! Pages & pages of cool, colorful choices appear!

Choose the one you like, and it’s then available to download in five different sizes as shown below:

I think you’ll really love Text Giraffe, too! Just for fun, I’d love it if you’d post your Text Giraffe creation in the comments!

As always, you can find me on Twitter as @kerszi, and at my Facebook page called Integration Innovation!