Monthly Archives: March 2018

Is it hard to build?

As I shared Maker Stations with a group of fourth graders last week, one of the stations would involve building a new ski resort in the N.C. mountains using KEVA wood blocks and calculating the cost. I showed the box of KEVA blocks and a girl raised her hand with a question that has continued to replay in my mind. She asked, “Is it hard to build with Keva blocks?” This question gave me a glimpse into her frame of reference. I knew that she had not had a lot of times to build. I knew that I must give students time to use the blocks with open ended opportunities to build a structure of their choice but also to give them STEM Design challenges in earlier grades to promote confidence as builders and creators.

One way to have students build is after reading “After the Fall”, they could build a wall for Humpty Dumpty” to sit on with Keva Wood Planks!

I read aloud the book to my first grade students and they LOVED it, especially the surprise ending where he transforms from an egg to a bird! The book has thoughtful scenes where Humpty Dumpty tries again and develops a growth mindset! Here are pics of my first graders building walls with Keva blocks and an Easter egg with a face drawn on it to represent Humpty Dumpty! After they built, they took pics, recorded their voice describing the wall and wrote a sentence using Book Creator app!

I loved their creativity and collaboration that came about through this project. I noticed girls and boys diving into the challenge because it was fun to design a new wall for Humpty Dumpty plus they communicated so well as they recorded their voices describing the wall!

They need time to design.

No, it’s not too hard.

What’s hard is trying to change the mind of a person who thinks it is too hard because they have had limited opportunities to build. I hope that my 4th graders will love getting to design and build a ski resort. They will become interested in designing, building, redesigning and sharing their ideas because of the time that I will make for them to become builders!

Maker Stations

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Makerspaces seem to be everywhere these days!  I like to see how different educators design spaces and provide materials for kids to have Maker experiences.  I love the idea of giving kids materials at school which they can use to build and create. I would like to have stations similar to ones I observed in the Media Center at Cornelius Elementary recently.  The librarian, Pam Lilley, calls her stations Maker Stations.

The librarian applied for a massive grant (Belk Bowl and Lowes for a whopping $110,000) to allow her to redesign her Media Space with flexible seating and tables with casters to allow them to be moved for various purposes depending on the activity.  Most of us will not ever be able to have $110,000 to redesign our learning spaces, but it is really not about the money.  Her philosophy is grounded in an understanding of the whole child and how children learn best when they are self directed and have a sense of ownership about the activities that they complete.  The students self check out books by scanning their book with a scanner into the school’s Destiny checkout program. It is an inviting atmosphere where kids interact with each other at a rotation of eight station activities in Grades K-5. The librarian shows video clips to explain how to use certain maker materials in January then for the next eight weeks, kids rotate to each of the eight stations. I got to observe her with a first grade class and will share pictures and a description of each station.  The first picture below gives you a feel for the creative atmosphere with a green screen set up in a pizza box, Lego Wall in background and paper roller coasters!  Tall tables with cool stools scream for children to come and make something!

Keva Contraptions with Keva Planks – She directed the two students whose names were on the list for Keva blocks to go there.  They designed an awesome tower with a place for a small ball to roll as a part of it.  Sometimes she gives them Keva Challenges from the Keva company or other websites.

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Marble Maze group – She gave them a bin with marble maze materials.

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Make a Lego Duplo Architecture creation. Look through a stack of pictures and decide which Lego structure that you want to build.

Chatterpix – She gave a direction. The character will need to have a face then put in Chatterpix app. They are given markers to draw on paper a character.

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Make a book mark out of Art Materials with brown paper.

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Little Bits STEAM circuit building – She told them that needed a few specific parts and showed them in the Manual Book how to build it.

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Osmo Station: She gave one group an iPad to use with the Osmo.

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Dash and Dot Coding Station – A Group uses an iPad to program a Dash robot.

After giving directions for cleaning up, she gives each group a point or not a point in Class Dogo depending on how well they cleaned up.

She lets them check out after looking at their class account on screen.

She said, “If you want a chapter book, raise your hand,” and she gave them a laminated sheet with each genre on it listed on a different colored box. She said, “If you want a pic book, you can get up and get a shelf marker.”

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For kids who were not checking out, she gave them a magazine at the table where they had been sitting. They all came back to their tables after self checking out their books and then begin reading with partners.

She “genrefied” the books this past summer by putting colors of stickers on the binding of each book then when kids get the laminated sheet and they are looking for a fantasy book, they can go to the books with the fantasy colored sticker.

Here are the stations that she described that she has for Grades 3-5 for nine weeks:

Program Spheros with Keva wood blocks

How To Draw – She gives them drawing books and websites to see how to draw.

Snap Circuits (These do not hold up well.)

Green Screen in Pizza Box. Use art materials on green straws as characters.

Makey Makey

Osmo Pizza Kit – Runa a pizza shop and calculate giving change

Stop Motion Animation. A Ready Animator holds the iPad.

Paper Rollercoaster – They make one Marble paper maze per grade level. She builds the cardboard base and lets them use paper to build the track.  Teachers Pay Teachers has a seller who made Paper Rollercoasters which she uses to allow her to make copies of parts of the roller coaster in multiple paper colors.  See http://www.paperrollercoasters.com.

She does 8 week rotations from Jan. – March.  She has 2-4 students in each group for each station which is an ideal amount.  Each child rotates to the eight Maker Stations during the nine weeks.  I noticed children who were totally engrossed in building, making, creating and designing.  They conditions were set up for them to be successful in this beautiful library space!  She has K-2 Stations and Grades 3 – 5 Stations but only runs them for one nine weeks.  If students want to use the maker materials after the nine week Maker Station cycle, they can return to the Media Center to do so!

In the Fall she does Digital Citizenship lessons using a variety of resources and teaches students to self check out books with the scanner in Destiny at laptop computers. They click on their picture in Destiny, scan their book and check out books themselves.  After the Maker Station rotations which I observed which run January – March, she will do research projects with kids.

A reward is given to children when they reach a certain number of points in Class Dojo where they go to the Lego wall and build.  There were NO behavior issues that I observed!  Their class time was over and they had interacted with appropriate voice levels and interpersonal interaction.

She gets feedback by giving them a survey to identify a favorite center and she gets rid of not so popular centers.

I am so inspired by the way that Pam has organized the stations rotations in the library. The kids were extremely engaged in working on their station activity for about 20 minutes then they read/checked out books for 15 minutes.

I have Spheros, Lego Story Maker Kits, iPads, Chromebooks, Bloxels video creation kits, Lego WeDo 2.0 robot kits and Keva Wood Planks which I have bought using Grant Money. I will be able to implement some of the same type of stations using the materials that I have.  I would also include Bloxels building challenges in my Maker Stations and STEAM challenges that relate to picture books!  I am in a Computer Lab, but visiting this library with Maker Space Stations has certainly broadened my perspective on what is possible in how to manage a class of K-5 students with Maker Stations!

For my students in the future, I would like to get Lego Duplo blocks, a Lego Wall, marbles for a Lego Marble making station, pictures on cards for kids to see of locations around the world for them to “create” in the Lego Duplo blocks, Makey Makey kit for kids to make music! Bongos is a simple Makey Makey project that she shows them and the Piano project, but they will find Pac Man and Flappy Bird. She used sponges with the Makey Makey and wet them if needed but not food to conduct electricity. She shows video tutorials at the beginning of the rotation cycle and I would like to curate some tutorials to show to train my students when we do station rotation.

As I have reviewed the N.C. Digital Learning Competencies, I have seen the following standards which the librarian has incorporated and I want to also incorporate in my lessons and with furniture choices in the future:

-Design technology-enriched learning experiences that encourage all students to pursue their individual interests, preferences, and differences.

-Identify, evaluate, and utilize appropriate digital tools and resources to challenge students to create, think critically, solve problems, establish reliability, communicate their ideas, collaborate effectively.

– Evaluate and appropriately modify the form and function of the physical learning environment to create a conducive digital learning environment.

I will continue to remember the excitement that I saw on the faces of children that day! They love to participate in active learning!

Top 10 of NCTIES 2018

I just returned from the NCTIES Conference! I have been going to this conference for five years and find that it always delivers! The Keynote presentations inspired me and the sessions led by teachers from all over my state gave me strategies and technology tips to enhance my teaching. I am going to share some of my favorite Top 10 ideas from the Conference in this blog post!

1. Kristen Ziemke
As the keynote speaker, she shared that 81% of kids ages 6 – 8 use You Tube weekly and love to hear and see stories. We should be explicitly teaching them to tell their stories and how to hear the stories of others. When we present our students with images to view and video to watch, Kristen suggests that we ask them, “What do you see, think and wonder?” The conversation that will occur will be grounded in the “text evidence” within the images allowing students to make inferences, visualize the environment, wonder what is going on and determine important information. Students should be given opportunities to think about how images and videos impact them then do something about it.

2. Microwriting by Kristen Ziemke
Micro writing is the writing of short pieces of text that question, summarize or synthesize and often adopt new literacies to gain feedback form authentic audiences. Kids’ writing could be shared in a Google Classroom, Twitter, a Blog or through the SeeSaw app. When kids are engaged in writing, their effort increases. Today’s tools make it possible to create, publish and share content. Since we all have a story to tell, we must show students how to make their words count so that their voices will be heard. She emphasized that teachers should have students study how Tweets are crafted, what is included in comments to a blog post and write these types of writing often to see if they can get better over time.

3. #Innovate4Littles: Using Tech for Inquiry Based Project

These teachers shared Project Based Learning through the Cycle of Inquiry.
The Cycle of Inquiry can have the following steps:
Wonder (They post what they want to know on Post It notes on a wall or on a Padlet space.)
Question
Research
Exploration
Play
Creation
Share
Feedback
Start Over

I love the idea of classroom teachers having a “Soft Start” to each day to allow kids to go through the inquiry cycle and be able to interact with materials at a Maker Space station in their classes. STREAM Centers during Soft Start include:
PlayDoh
Clay
Legos
K’Nex
Build
Art supplies
Kinetic sand

Allowing kids to regularly play with items as they investigate a topic and create a visual representation can then be extended to digital work. Their pictures of their work or digital projects that they make can be shared in SeeSaw . Students will sometimes record their thinking about their projects using Flipgrid. I was so impressed with the ideas of this session that I shared the presentation with my K-2 mini team leaders at my school which will enable us to further discuss: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1YyYF-igDpH3WsAqWfozheImqxZtckOYX-_X6ph2RO-8/edit#slide=id.g253ceff29c_0_11

4. Technology and Media
A Media Specialist and Technology Teacher collaborate to read various stories then have students create a digital product. Their resources are found here:
bit.ly/ncties18hub

App Smashing with Literature presentation: bit.ly/ElemPeeps

5. Green Screening the School Newscast
The presentation with all the details of how the tech facilitators work with students and classroom teachers to produce a school newscast that is shown on the following week is found here: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1LL2fipx_95cr062gxXudxYujLQH5fsTs3BxUk9YA_rY/edit#slide=id.g31ec21f1b3_0_13

6. Jack of All Trades, Master of None presentation
An animated teacher librarian from Chatham County schools developed an amazing website with tremendous resources on Digital Citizenship, coding, Digital Literacy and many other important topics. I will use her resources with my students:
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1LL2fipx_95cr062gxXudxYujLQH5fsTs3BxUk9YA_rY/edit#slide=id.g31ec21f1b3_0_13

7. Getting Started with Green Screen
The presentation that was provided allows us to see how these teachers use the DoInk app on iPads to have students create digital stories with Green Screening: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1edcUNLFTwYhpvmILGyY8-qPT9KYFbLOvlGzc825G0zY/edit#slide=id.g35f391192_00

This link provides a Google Sheet with Green Screen lesson ideas tied to Standards: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1BZqwlPi2Qf589-HP-pcNFez90wXARpM4omnEibMS_Gw/edit#gid=0

Legos and Green Screen presentation: bit.ly/2GYrAHZ

8. STREAM Session
These teachers showed us many books that they read to students and STREAM Design challenges tied to the science standards. I loved everything that they shared and the format of their presentation: Bit.ly/litstem
Google link: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vSXFW2vfdDF8BY1HlywmQSEtmUX7DUzapYBhJc1gz6LAFZliPilTftAa1bOrRDaXPSFGjTKhAl6nYKj/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000&slide=id.g2fc44dfe4d_0_570

9. Making Makerspaces Work
The “Making Makerspaces Work For Elementary” session provided great suggestions on what could be included in an Elementary Maker Space in the Library Media Center and many management tips on how to have students come to the Media Center to use the Maker space:
Bit.ly/Makerspace18
https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1XwMpsQydxjK14k1alTh776spDePupmmxehk9wO0KsII/mobilepresent?slide=id.g35f391192_00

10. Closing Keynote by Kevin Carroll
Wow! This man inspired me! My head was spinning with the amazing sessions which I had been a part of then he got me thinking about how to head home to inspire my students to tell their stories. Here are some of his words that will continue to resonate with me:
“Play gives resilience and sustained effort to hang in there.

Play is a catalyst.

Don’t talk about it. Be about it.

How you do the little things is how you do all things.

The opposite of play and fun is depression. Have joy all the time.

Play is something we all have in common.

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. – Plato

Inspire others to be a collective community of confidence. Be the storytellers which will inspire.

Our ideas and actions matter.

Set goals.
Believe in yourself

It is possible. Surround yourself with catalysts.

Challenge and lovingly shove them toward the future.

Replenish my energy.
Play.
There are 86,400 seconds in a day to achieve better than I was yesterday.

Be better than I was yesterday.

Build community, make friends.

You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.

Be where I am. Show up.

Positivity will be reciprocated.

DREAM stands for:
Dedication
Responsibility
Education
Attitude
Motivation

Doubt is success testing you.
Greatness awaits you.

If your dream doesn’t scare you it is not big enough.

# gsd (get stuff done)”

This Conference had a shared Google Slides presentation which was also crowd sourced for many other incredible resources: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1QVwh0bGpGfMjzldTcg1lDUAta58NsnNVrkZwnnu3t0s/edit#slide=id.p