Tag Archives: Google Classroom

Science Olympiad 2016

Discover. Play. Build.

This past weekend, my school’s Science Olympiad team competed against 26 other Varsity Teams at a local university. Our team placed 10th overall! I am so happy that our team earned medals in 10 out of 19 events! Fourteen out of 18 of our students won individual medals where they placed anywhere from 2nd to 9th in their events. They had worked so hard to learn all that they could about 19 different events ranging from weather, force and motion, fossils, landforms, CSI, electricity/magnetism, animal adaptations, insects and plants, outer space, circulatory/respiratory systems and data collections to building a Pasta Tower out of hot glue and dry spaghetti, folding paper airplanes and flying them, designing a blueprint to build a rollercoaster out of K’Nex blocks, catapult building and launching marshmallows to specific distances, shooting bottle rockets after engineering the best designs after multiple test launches day after day and building a structure while following written directions from a partner. To see short descriptions of each event, go to this link: http://www.sciencenc.com/2016%20NCSO%20Elementary%20Event%20Descr

I took a chance when I decided to be their Head Coach this year. I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed but sometimes have been known to bite off a bit more than I can chew what with also being a wife and mom in addition to being a Technology Teacher.  Nineteen students were on this year’s team which was a much more manageable amount of students than when I had coordinated it in the past. My youngest child really wanted me to get the club started again like I had done when her older sister had gone through fourth and fifth grade. Back then, I organized around 100 students for each of the two years when I had done Science Olympiad Club three and four years ago. It was exhilarating while also feeling overwhelming as a classroom teacher to fourth graders. In past years, I devoted at least three hours for each event (except a few events that teachers and an expert parent coached) to create Smartboard files about each event which I shared with parents after school and then they used those files to deliver the three weeks of lessons on the events. My husband insisted that I not do it again until there was more support because of the time it took away from our family on weekends to prepare the S.O. lessons and afterschool while I met with each parent coach.

So, in the Fall of 2015, I asked my principal if I could send an email to each fifth grade teacher for them to send to each parent email list in their respective classes. I included a Smore digital poster with a link to which 19 parents responded. I included each of the 19 students in this year’s S.O. Club. I also put an announcement in the PTO newsletter announcing S.O.Club.

I decided that for this school year, with my own younger daughter being in fourth grade, I would start a club but allow students to be in the driver’s seat for many of the events. I created web links to support materials in a Google Classroom for my students and had them create collaborative Google Slides on their topics which they worked on during and outside of our Tuesday morning practices.  I am so glad that I personalized their experience by allowing them to choose the two or three events that they wanted to learn about and compete in then had them build Google Slides to curate their knowledge.  It was the way to go!  For the events that needed more hands-on participation, I was blessed with three parent coaches who helped them create Marshmallow Catapults and test them to reach various assigned distances, design a rollercoaster with K’Nex cubes in 40 minutes using a blueprint which they created and hot glue dry spaghetti pasta together into the form of a Pasta Tower to see how much sand it could hold at the tournament!

I was so glad that my daughter chose the 3,2, 1 Blast Off Event!.  I saw her go through the project based learning cycle and facilitated each step with her.  She had engineered bottle rockets and tested them several times at school.  We spent many weekends at our house with her cutting out wings from pizza boxes and taping them on numerous empty soda bottles.  We purchased clear cylinders from Lowes and taped them to the end of the bottle.  The rocket that she chose to launch at the tournament stayed aloft longer than any of her other test rockets!  It stayed up for around 12 seconds which was combined with her partner’s rocket time too for a final score.  They placed 11th out of 26 teams which was a great joy to us!  My daughter and I had to leave during the Science Olympiad tournament and drive to her Dance Recital.  She performed beautifully!  After taking pictures with family, she changed clothes, grabbed a snack and we headed back to the Science Olympiad Tournament. It was a very busy day but it was worth every minute to see her face not only as she retrieved her rocket after it performed so well but also to see her dance her heart away on stage!  She is a “Maker” reminding me of Krissy Venosdale’s description of them:

makerspace1.jpg

Image Credit:  http://krissyvenosdale.com/2016/05/12/you-might-be-a-maker-if/

When this year’s S.O. Team came to my classroom from 8:15-8:45 this Monday morning for donuts with me to celebrate, I had them share their experiences about participating in the tournament during the past weekend. They were smiling as they wore their team tee shirts and talked about what went well and some things that didn’t go well.  I praised them for their effort to be at club meetings before school from January through May every Tuesday morning, to meet at each others’ houses for practices for certain events, for creating Google Slides about their Events then studying them and for giving amazing effort to be at UNC-Charlotte at 7:30 a.m. and competing all morning this past Saturday! It was a great day at the Tournament, however, very disappointing for the STEM Design Challenge team whose rollercoaster did not function as they had planned resulting in them not earning a medal. They had spent many practices together outside of school so this was very sad for them. It gave me the chance to praise their effort because it was never about earning medals. It was always about growing as problem solvers, collaborators, communicators and creators!  I decided to have this club to engage students in STEM topics and further their interest in STEM related careers. The process of meeting to learn about the 19 science topics from January through May of 2016 gave students opportunities to persevere, to work together on a shared project and to enjoy the journey.

They also appeared on our school news show today which elevated them as role models to rising fifth graders who will hopefully want to follow in their footsteps! I hope that by putting the S.O. Team on the morning news today, it elevated interest in the S.O. Club for next year for rising fifth graders. I have also been seeing more students wondering what the bottle rockets are which have been in my classroom and for me to explain a catapult that I have in my room.

In order to have a Science Olympiad club, there must be Administrative and parental support. My principal and Admin Team have been very supportive of me and encouraged me to not put too much on my plate. I was able to handle 19 students in a before school club much better than around 100 students which I had three and four years ago when I first ran a Science Olympiad Club. There is a lot of preparation and time that must be devoted to preparing students for the events.  It is my plan to continue to have One Varsity Team in the future because I can handle that amount of students and not feel like I am over extending myself with all of my responsibilities as a Technology Teacher to over 1,000 students. I will also have to gauge whether or not I can have the club next year based on the amount of coaches who will volunteer. I was able to manage this year with three parents as coaches. I know that one of those parents who will still have a child at my school is eager to help next year with the rockets and catapult events, but I will just need more help.

Our kids, overall, placed consistently higher in most Science Olympiad events than many other schools. Since I had run this club with only three coaches besides me, I couldn’t be happier with the results! I am celebrating my students and all that they learned in the process of preparing for the tournament.  I plan to announce the possibility of having an S.O. club in the PTO newsletter, on the school news and by parent email lists in the Fall of 2016 to gauge interest for having the club in the next school year. I hope we can do it again!
To see more about the Science Olympiad tournament, visit this link and look for posts around May 21, 2016.

After seeing the excitement for STEM in this before school club, I began to view our time together as Maker Time.  Students made designs, made Google Slides and made time to create!   Krissy Venosdale expresses her thoughts so well from her own Launch Pad experiences in her Texas school.  I wanted to end my post with one of her posters which has caused me to think about bringing out the maker in each child which is exactly what happened for five months during Science Olympiad preparations:

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Image Credit:  http://krissyvenosdale.com/2016/05/12/you-might-be-a-maker-if/

Thanks to Ruth Ayres who provides a linking space to share our Celebrations!

Top 10 of NCTIES 2016

I was privileged to attend the NCTIES (North Carolina Technology in Education Society) 2016 Conference in Raleigh, NC March 2 – 4 whose theme was “Innovation”.  There were around 3,000 registered participants who filled the Raleigh Convention Center with excitement and engaged educators.  Why did they come?  They came to dive deeper into STEM and expand their understanding of best practices.  I would like to share the 10 best tips that I saw and learned.

  1.  Code Studio – I have participated for the last three Decembers in the Hour of Code at https://code.org/.  It was my goal to explore the site more and understand the pieces of Code Studio.  I enjoyed the all day Pre Conference training where I learned how to enroll students in Code Studio found at code.org.  Hadi Partovi, founder of code.org, and his team have developed lesson plans to support teachers as they prepare students for the Courses for Elementary Students.  In groups, we prepared a lesson to teach to our colleagues from the support materials and taught each other non digital ways to do computational thinking.  I learned the 3 C’s and 2 P’s of Computational Thinking Practices:
    • Creativity
    • Collaboration
    • Communication
    • Persistence
    • Problem Solving

    I loved how the trainers shared practical information like creating a Symballoo to link every Class in a school where students are enrolled in Code Studio courses.  The training fueled my interest in coding.  I am so excited to create classes in Code Studio for my students so that I can track their progress and they can see how they are doing.  I love that there are lessons to share to promote development of the 3 C’s and 2 P’s in non digital coding opportunities before students dive into the digital piece of coding.  There is ongoing training around the USA so check out the http://www.code.org for more information.

  2.  https://sites.google.com/a/cravenk12.org/envision/ – Google Drawing Presentation from NCTIES.I asked the presenters if I could share their Slide Show at the link above to show examples of using Google Drawings.  I love their ideas to build a corkboard for students to use as a collaborative Exit Ticket, to annotate screen shots of documents, to add speech bubbles to images, to create graphic organizers with Google Drawing Tools and to design Infographic ideas to make using Google Drawing Tools.
  3. Choosito is a website which Richard Byrne shared that helped me see the power in gathering websites that can be searched by topics or reading levels to help students in doing research.  It allows teachers to curate playlists for students based on topics and reading levels.  Visit https://www.choosito.com/choosito-class – Scroll down a bit to see the words “Personalized Instruction” then scroll down more to see “Real Time Data Tracker” to see how students are doing research using the links that teachers can curate.
  4. Cubetto Wooden Robot – http://www.primotoys.com/cubetto – This website shows the Cubetto wooden robot and the box which students use to program the robot.  Visit this link to learn more and see video of children coding with Cubetto:  https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/primotoys/cubetto-hands-on-coding-for-girls-and-boys-aged-3?token=e3978e14  
  5. Pernille Ripp – I was able to have lunch with this amazing teacher.  I have followed her work and appreciate not only her blog about teaching middle school, but also love that she created The Global Read Aloud.  I was able to discuss school and my family with her as we ate together but also was able to go to her Connected Literacy session where she shared many ways that she ignites a passion for literacy in her students and connects them to themselves, each other and the world.  Some of her most poignant comments:“Teachers can ruin the love of reading and writing.  We have to own it first.What am I doing to kill their love of reading and writing?

    I need to bring my passion of reading and writing to my students and to my own kids.

    It is what we decide is the most important that speaks the loudest.

    If I deliver all of the information that tells kids that the class is about us not about them.

    If a child hates reading, let’s not worry about whether they are using our strategies, let’s worry about the fact that they hate reading.”

  6. Quizziz.com – This site is similar to Kahoot, but allows teachers to set up a Quizziz for homework instead of face to face and allows students to see choices on their screen not just the teacher’s presenting screen.
  7. Google Classroom – I learned an incredible amount from two technology facilitators from Union County, NC. I asked them if I could share the link to their presentation and they agreed.  You have to go through it to see the practical ways that they coach teachers to use Google Classroom:  https://sites.google.com/a/ucps.k12.nc.us/ucps-google-classroom-get-personal/home
  8. I enjoyed the incredible tag team of Brad Waid and Drew Minock.  I have followed them on Twitter for several years and loved www.twoguysandsomeiPads.com website.  During their opening keynote, I heard them say this powerful quote:  “Education means inspiring someone’s mind not just filling their head.”  They also showed several awesome videos with my favorite on “Giving as the Best Communication” found below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPOVwKPMG8o

In their Thursday session, they shared the Innovation image which I posted at the top of this blog post and they discussed the wonderful opportunities to inspire innovation in students as they explore the following apps or programs:

Mystery Island

Blockly

Code monster

Google CS First Clubs (3rd through HS)

The Foos

Hopscotch Code Academy

Video Game Creation at www.PixelPressFloors.com

At this website, students can draw their own video game.  Each rectangle is a floor.  Once you draw it on paper, you hold a device above it, scan it and it will pull it into app.  You can customize and build a game. 

Bloxels, at http://www.bloxelsbuilder.com/incorporates a physical object on a board with colored cubes.  Student build using those cubes and design a video game.  You can even build with the iPad app.  They scan what they build with cubes and it will put it into the app.  Students will gain greater understanding of topics like design logic and computer science and demonstrate their knowledge of history, science and math and more through the games they create.  It’s enjoyable like the old fashioned Light Brite!  Once you build a sailboat in an old fashioned Light Brite, you can’t scan it to see the boat sail but in the Bloxels program you can scan it and the boat would sail!

9.  Canva is a simple way to design posters, invitations, business cards, blog graphics, flyers, presentations, book covers, and more!  There are teacher created lesson plans at the Canva website and multiple tutorials are available.  The most exciting news to me:  Students can sign in to Canva through their Google Apps for Education accounts!

10.  The highlight of the conference for me was at the closing luncheon.  My family had driven that morning to be with me in Raleigh.  I was very excited to be awarded the NCTIES Outstanding Teacher Award for 2016.  The organizers had told me that I had 30 seconds to give my own comments.  I am placing the biography that was read about me and my comments below as they express my heart for being chosen for this award.

Lisa Maples is the K-5 Technology Teacher at Elon Park Elementary School in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.  After earning her Bachelor’s Degree and Master’s Degree from UNC-Greensboro, she spent the next 20 years teaching 3rd and 4th grades in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte.  For the past three years, she has become her school’s Technology Teacher where she uses iPads and computers to teach 1,100 K-5 students.  Lisa is a wife, a mother, a National Board Certified Teacher, a past Teacher of the Year, a blogger about teaching, her faith and her family, a teacher in the Governor’s Teacher Network, a PBS Learning Media Digital Innovator, an Ed Camp participant, a Twitter fan, an NCTIES conference presenter during the past two years, a Science Olympiad organizer and coach, a Summer Church Camp counselor, a Girls on the Run Assistant Coach, a mentor and a fan of the N. C. State Wolfpack along with the Carolina Panthers.   As a recipient of a $3,000 grant last year by the Charlotte Hornets, Fox Sports and Lowes, Lisa purchased 12 Sphero robots to teach her students how to code and 8 Lego Story Starter Kits which she has used to provide digital storytelling opportunities for her students.  It is evident that Lisa loves to use technology to engage students and to provide them with digital creation projects. She is thrilled to celebrate the 2016 Outstanding Teacher Award today with you, her family and friends.  

My comments:

It is my great honor to accept this award.  I have discovered that I can do what I do because of my support system. Psalms 139:8-10 reminds us that God guides and holds us.  I would like to thank God for guiding, holding and helping me, my family for supporting and loving me, my students for learning alongside of me, my principals and Dean of Students who believe in me, my dear friends and colleagues for helping and encouraging me and for the NCTIES committee for selecting me for this incredible honor.  Thank you.

I loved the excitement and being surrounded by my family and dear colleagues, Jen and Melissa, from my school and from around the state and country.  Two other colleagues from my school district were also awarded a Principal Leader Award and a Media Coordinator Award!  Within minutes of the Award being given, my principal who has believed in my vision from the beginning of my journey as Technology Teacher, announced my Award to my school colleagues in his weekly letter.  Throughout the afternoon and evening, I was humbled as I read comments on my school’s Facebook page or on my Twitter account (@edu_maples) from parents, teachers and friends as they shouted out their support.  I am thankful to be surrounded by so many people who have celebrated with me!

Innovation Image Credit:  https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/04/35/a8/0435a870bf2f4d5f1cd821733261e689.jpg

 

Google Classroom

I am excited about Google Classroom that will launch to the public next week.  I am in a Google Apps for Education (GAFE) school district.  This allows my students to have protected email accounts accessible only within my district.  Students in my technology classes in Grades 4 and 5 created Google Docs, Google Presentations and Google Spreadsheets last year.  I loved that these docs could be accessed on computers or on iPads.  If your school is not a GAFE one, it is easy to apply to be one.

I am thankful that with the new Google Classroom, teachers can set up a class, add their students and push out assignments.  There is a Facebook-like screen to show messages that can be seen by all members of the class.  Students can also receive email from the teacher.  Communication can occur between teachers and students.  As of now, there can only be one teacher assigned to a class, but I am glad for the option to create a class.  Teachers can upload files from your computer, attach a source from Google Drive, put links to websites and add video.  Students will read the teacher’s directions and follow them.  For example, if a teacher had a student watch a video at a link, students can comment on the video.  Students can share files, links, sources from Google Drive and videos as well to promote sharing, discussion and collaboration.  I love that teachers and students can set an option when they share to allow students to edit so that they can build and add on to the original document.  Teachers can comment directly to students or to the entire class.  The class creation feature opens many new opportunities for blended classrooms and for teachers to not have to haul around loads of paper when grading assignments.

I discovered a great resource on Twitter this morning which helped me learn about the features of Google Classroom and am providing it here:

Google Classroom Information and Tutorials

I am still learning about the new features in Google Classroom.  If you have suggestions on how to use it, please share your thoughts in the Comments below.