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8 Reasons to Love Blended Learning with Google (Part 3) – SULS090

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Thimble teaches kids STEM skills with robotics kits combined with live Zoom classes

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Parents with kids stuck learning at home during the pandemic have had to look for alternative activities to promote the hands-on learning experiences kids are missing out on due to attending class virtually. The New York-based educational technology startup Thimble aims to help address this problem by offering a subscription service for STEM-based projects that allow kids to make robotics, electronics and other tech using a combination of kits shipped to the home and live online instruction.

Thimble began back in 2016 as a Kickstarter project when it raised $300,000 in 45 days to develop its STEM-based robotics and programming kits. The next year, it began selling its kits to schools, largely in New York, for use in the classroom or in after-school programs. Over the years that followed, Thimble scaled its customer base to include around 250 schools across New York, Pennsylvania and California, which would buy the kits and gain access to teacher training.

But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of Thimble’s business.

“A lot of schools were in panic mode. They were not sure what was happening, and so their spending was frozen for some time,” explains Thimble co-founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso, whose background is in education. “Even our top customers that I would call, they would just give [say], ‘hey, this is not a good time. We think we’re going to be closing schools down.”

Pedroso realized that the company would have to quickly pivot to begin selling directly to parents instead.

Image Credits: Thimble

Around April, it made the shift — effectively entering the B2C market for the first time.

The company today offers parents a subscription that allows them to receive up to 15 different STEM-focused project kits and a curriculum that includes live instruction from an educator. One kit is shipped out over the course of three months, though an accelerated program is available that ships with more frequency.

The first kit is basic electronics, where kids learn how to build simple circuits, like a doorbell, kitchen timer and a music composer, for example. The kit is designed so kids can experience “quick wins” to keep their attention and whet their appetite for more projects. This leads into future kits like those offering a Wi-Fi robot, a little drone, an LED compass that lights up and a synthesizer that lets kids become their own DJ.

Image Credits: Thimble

While any family can use the kits to help kids experience hands-on electronics and robotics, Pedroso says that about 70% of subscribers are those where the child already has a knack for doing these sorts of projects. The remaining 30% are those where the parents are looking to introduce the concepts of robotics and programming, to see if the kids show an interest. Around 40% of the students are girls.

The subscription is more expensive than some DIY projects at $59.99/per month (or $47.99/mo if paid annually), but this is because it includes live instruction in the form of weekly one-hour Zoom classes. Thimble has part-time employees who are not just able to teach the material, but can do so in a way that appeals to children — by being passionate, energetic and capable of jumping in to help if they sense a child is having an issue or getting frustrated. Two of the five teachers are women. One instructor is bilingual and teaches some classes in Spanish.

During class, one teacher instructs while a second helps moderate the chat room and answer the questions that kids ask.

The live classes will have around 15-20 students each, but Thimble additionally offers a package for small groups that reduces class size. These could be used by homeschool “pods” or other groups.

Image Credits: Thimble

“We started hearing from pods and then micro-schools,” notes Pedroso. “Those were parents who were connected to other parents, and wanted their kids to be part of the same class. They generally required a little bit more attention and wanted some things a little more customized,” he added.

These subscriptions are more expensive at $250/month, but the cost is shared among the group of parents, which brings the price down on per-household basis. Around 10% of the total customer base is on this plan, as most customers are individual families.

Thimble also works with several community programs and nonprofits in select markets that help to subsidize the cost of the kits to make the subscriptions more affordable. These are announced, as available, through schools, newsletters and other marketing efforts.

Since pivoting to subscriptions, Thimble has re-established a customer base and now has 1,110 paid customers. Some, however, are grandfathered in to an earlier price point, so Thimble needs to scale the business further.

In addition to Kickstarter, Thimble has raised funds and worked on the business over the year with the help of multiple accelerators, including LearnLaunch in Boston, Halcyon in D.C. and Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado.

The startup, co-founded by Joel Cilli in Pittsburgh, is now around 60% closed on its seed round of $1 million, but isn’t announcing details of that at this time.

Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/01/14/thimble-teaches-kids-stem-skills-with-robotics-kits-combined-with-live-zoom-classes/

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Join the Blended Learning with Google Book Study! (FREE)

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The Blended Learning with Google Book Study for Teachers (FREE)

YOU are invited to join the Blended Learning with Google Book Study!

I am super excited to announce the 2021 dates for the official book study of my book, Blended Learning with Google: Your Guide to Dynamic Teaching and Learning (Scroll down to the bottom to see ALL of the book studies for 2021!)

Blended Learning with Google was designed for book studies! I couldn’t just write a paper book. I had to make it an interactive experience and give you extra resources to go deeper and make reading the book a dynamic learning experience.

About the Book Study

When: This book study will start on Feb. 11, 2021, and end on March 17, 2021. (See all 2021 book study dates at the bottom of this page.)

Miss the book study? We regularly update this page with new book study dates all the time so come back soon!

Where: This book study will take place on the Teachable platform. It’s super easy to create an account and enroll.

Feel free to participate in the discussion each Thursday when questions are posted, or asynchronously as is convenient for you and your time zone.

How: Each week, you will read a few chapters (the chapters vary in length) and respond to discussion questions.

What: We will discuss ideas from the book, share #booksnaps, ideas, lessons, failures and success, links, and a whole lotta ways to Shake Up Learning!

READING SCHEDULE

Reading Assignment Discussion Questions Posted Discussion/Response
Week 1 Chapters 1-3 Feb. 11, 2021 Feb. 11-17
Week 2 Chapters 4-5 Feb. 18, 2021 Feb. 18-24
Week 3 Chapters 6 Feb. 25, 2021 Feb. 25-March 3
Week 4 Chapters 7-8 March 4, 2021 March 4-10
Week 5 Chapter 9 & Wrap Up March 11 – Wrap up, final reflections, post a review on Amazon. March 11-17

BOOK STUDY CALENDAR

I’ve created a public Google Calendar with all of the deadlines so you can easily stay on top of your reading assignments. Just click on the “+Google Calendar button” in the bottom right to add it to your own Google Calendar.


Your Book Study To-Do List

  • Purchase a copy of Blended Learning with Google. (REQUIRED)
  • (Groups of 10 or more can save with a bulk discount.)
  • Purchase a copy of the supplement booklet, Google from A to Z: The Google Glossary for Teachers. (RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENT)
  • Enroll in the Blended Learning with Google Book Study on Teachable. (on this page)
  • Feel free to share comments, questions, reflections, and #booksnaps ANYTIME in the group!
  • Read chapters 1-3 BEFORE the book study start date.
  • Join us or the first discussion questions on Feb. 11, 2021.

3 Hours of Professional Learning Credit

Part of the reason that we have moved the book study from Facebook to Teachable is to make it easier to issue PD credit.

Upon completion of the book study, you will receive a certificate for 3-hours of professional learning credit. (General certificate, not affiliated with any states or organizations.)


2021 Blended Learning with Google Book Studies

Please note, the Teachable group for each of these will not be available until AFTER the previous round has ended. Come back to this page for the most current information.

  1. Feb. 11-March 17, 2021
  2. June 17-July 22, 2021
  3. Oct. 7-Nov. 11, 2021

Source: https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/join-the-blended-learning-google-book-study/

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Create A Table Of Contents By VBA Code

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New Book: Blended Learning with Google by Kasey Bell

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Kasey Bell is a former middle school teacher turned award-winning digital learning coach, international speaker, author, blogger, and podcaster with a Texas-sized passion for technology and learning.

She is part sparkling smile, part witty personality and a whole heap of passion as big as a Texas–go big or go home, y’all! She is a disruptor of the boring. An engaging, innovative, from the heart sharer who inspires educators while transforming their teaching with original, timely, and use-tomorrow ideas for student choice, differentiation, and technology integration.

Whether it is learning from home through online courses, professional development, conference workshops, or as a keynote speaker Kasey is a relentless innovator of ideas and a devoted transformer of classrooms and teaching.

Source: https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/new-book-blended-learning-with-google-by-kasey-bell/

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