Tag Archives: Project Based Learning

STEAM it up!

In Spring of 2015, I was awarded a $3,000 STEAM focused grant in which students learned to code robotic Sphero Balls and use Lego Story Maker Kits to build scenes which they used in digital storytelling projects.  The Charlotte Hornets, Lowes and Fox Sports provided this grant to me as a part of their Teacher Innovation Grant.  I have been so thankful for these resources.  I decided to share my reflections on my work with my 2nd – 5th grade students in this blog post.

img_1389

Students need opportunities to tinker, learn to code and create projects as a part of Project Based Learning (PBL). My two ideas to engage students in PBL gave them the opportunity to experience learning with the following eight components: significant content, a need to know, a driving question, student voice and choice, 21st Century Competencies, In Depth Inquiry, critique and revision and a public audience. They needed materials with which to build and to code. My project had two components: Coding with Sphero Robotic Balls and Digital Storytelling with Lego Storymaker Kits.

Students in my school have participated in the worldwide Hour of Code for the past three Decembers using resources at http://www.code.org. I wanted for students to have the ability to write the code to see a three dimensional object follow their commands. The resources at code.org have been a good foundation for my students along with apps such as Daisy the Dinosaur and Legos Fix the Factory, however, I wanted to provide additional real world opportunities to create code. Students would work together to develop commands for the Sphero balls and cause them to run through mazes using coding apps on the iPads. I accomplished my goals of having my fourth and fifth grade students think like a computer programmer and articulate the process of coding the Sphero balls.
The Legos Storymaker project was innovative because it provided a way for students to design a beginning, middle and end of a story using Lego scenes then write about their stories. Students developed narratives and wrote text to go along with scenes from their Lego story settings. They published the narratives in creative ways through Google Slide Presentations and in Pic Collage creations on the iPads. I reached my goals of providing a creative way for students to construct a story in a collaborative setting and then be able to use the image of their Lego story as they wrote and typed about their stories.

In my role as the K-5 Technology Teacher at my school, I love to engage my students using innovative apps and projects that require researching and development of digital stories. The Sphero and Lego Storymaker Projects allowed me to take my students into deep thinking projects where in order to succeed, they had to communicate thoughts verbally and in writing, collaborate in teams, critically think as they brainstormed solutions and developed digital stories after building with Legos, and created projects that showed the world that they are 21st Century Learners.

I used the Sphero robots with 200 4th graders and 230 5th graders. The Sphero robotics ball project impacted students because it provided a way for students to see what it feels like to be a coder/computer programmer. There will be a shortage of computer programmers in the next 10 years according to recent data published at https://www.kodable.com/infographic. My exposure to coding through the Sphero robots excited students to learn to code in an inviting fashion. Getting to work in collaboration with other students to make a Sphero Chariot go through a maze also allowed students to problem solve using a Driving Question such as “How can you save the monster using your Sphero robot?”. Students began to realize the value of discussing commands for the Tickle app that would accomplish their group goals and reach a target where they were supposed to go through a maze that they had created and then “save” a monster. They were able to come to my class for additional classes to allow them time to develop their ideas, test their programs in the Tickle app and make adjustments to reach their goal.

I used Lego StoryMaker kits with 200 2nd Graders 230 3rd Graders. The third grade students brainstormed on graphic organizers their beginning, middle and ends of their Lego collaborative stories and are in the process now of typing their stories in Google Slides. Each student will also revise and self-assess his or her Lego story creation using the following rubric:

Assessment Rubric for Lego Fiction Story

Writing Process: Student devotes a lot of time and effort to the writing process (prewriting, drafting, reviewing, and editing). Works hard to make the story wonderful.

Introduction: First paragraph has a “grabber” or catchy beginning.

Characters: The main characters are named and clearly described in text and most readers could describe the characters accurately.

Creativity: The story contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader’s enjoyment. The author has really used his imagination.

Setting: Many vivid, descriptive words are used to tell when and where the story took place.

Pace: Individual scenes are easy to follow, make sense, and moves the story along at an appropriate pace.

Organization: The story is very well organized. One idea or scene follows another in a logical sequence with clear transitions.

Dialogue: There is an appropriate amount of dialogue to bring the characters to life and it is always clear which character is speaking.

Spelling/Punctuation: There are no spelling or punctuation errors in the final draft. Character and place names that the author invented are spelled consistently throughout.

Proper formatting: Title, name, and paragraphs are present and used properly.

Assessment Citation: https://pernillesripp.com/writing/writing/

 

I have shared my lesson ideas on Twitter where I am a part of a global Professional Learning Network using my Twitter handle of @edu_maples. On Feb. 17, 2016, I shared an Animoto video (https://animoto.com/play/YepGdzYx0EuFHNbsgX61eA) that I had created in honor of Digital Learning Day showing my third graders involved in building with the Lego Story Maker kits and creating stories about their Lego scenes on iPads within the Google Slides app. On Dec.8, 2015, I shared on Twitter a link to a You Tube video (https://youtu.be/XJPPwJWAxpo) which I made of fourth and fifth graders programming the Sphero robots using the Tickle app to navigate the Spheros through mazes which they had created. These videos show many examples of how students learned to code, to collaborate, to creatively think and plan and to design their own innovative paths with the Spheros and to design Lego stories.

Kindergarten and First Grade students did not participate in these projects, but they are very excited about doing them next year as I repeat the projects that I did this year. They could see the Legos kits out around my class and the Sphero robot balls which caused great excitement for them!

Learning to code Sphero balls allowed 4th and 5th grade students to work in teams to build Sphero chariots that they maneuvered through mazes using iPads using the Tickle app while revising their work through trial and error. They had to critically think as they problem solved in groups and programmed the Spheros to reach their destination. Students communicated with small groups as they built Lego Story Scenes using the kits. They built their scenes in groups of three and decide on the plot of the story, characters, setting, etc. using special spinners to help guide their thought process. They uploaded photos of their scenes to their Google Drive Accounts and inserted the images into individual Google Slide Presentations which they used to plan a fictional story on a graphic organizer.

The third graders are in the process of finishing the typing of their Lego Stories and revising/editing with a Lego Story Rubric. I am also still working with CMS Technology leaders to get the StoryMaker software downloaded onto the computers and iPads at my school. Second and Third graders published Lego Storymaker projects in Google Slides and in the Pic Collage app even though my original idea of publishing on the StoryMaker software did not occur just yet.  I had planned originally on having third graders upload their images to the Lego StoryMaker software, but have had some difficulty in getting it uploaded on to CMS School computers. I am in the process of working with CMS engineers to figure out how to make this happen. I think that there are multiple ways to share their Lego scenes so using Google Slides and Pic Collage have been perfect ways to have students share their scenes and create written stories. I plan to use the StoryMaker software in the future.

In order to accommodate all of the 4th and 5th Grade classes and allow them ample time to learn to program the Spheros, I had to work with each of the 4th and 5th grade teachers to have students come to see me for additional class times. I worked with the PE teachers who allowed me to use their gym space for students to have more room to spread out and create obstacle courses for their Sphero balls to move through. I also realized that since I only see each class for 40 minutes every 8 school days, I had to give third graders time to play with the Legos and generate their group stories then invite them back for extra class times. I had to show them how to take pictures with iPads and upload the images to their Google Accounts which is a multistep process. Once the images were in their Google Drive accounts, they had to plan their stories and begin the process of adding text boxes, speech bubbles, transitions, etc. I had to have them plan their stories with me in follow up classes which prolonged the project.

Students have been extremely engaged with planning their stories and using their plans to type. I have been excited to see their enthusiasm for this project. In addition, I realized that students in 2nd grade would not need to have to upload their Lego story scene images to Google due to how long it took 3rd graders. I had them build one scene then upload the scene to the Pic Collage app on the iPad which they then used to type descriptive phrases and arguments about why someone would not need to destroy a bird’s habitat and not cut down trees that were depicted in their Lego scenes. They have been able to successfully follow all directions and save their images to the Camera Roll of the iPad all in the 40 minutes when I see them.

I think in the future, I will have the third graders plan their stories immediately following my class when they return to their homeroom classes using graphic organizers while their collaborative stories are fresh on their minds. Allowing them to “play” with the Legos and use the Lego StoryMaker Spinners that came with the eight kits has been a great way to allow creativity to flourish. I have heard many students show their excitement and enthusiasm for developing their Lego story which provided momentum as they became writers of their individual stories. I love that students didn’t just have to draw pictures on a graphic organizer, but had been able to think with group mates about the content of a fictional story and build it with Legos. Students in 2nd and 3rd Grade loved to get to tinker with the Legos and use them as a basis to communicate later in writing in their Google Slide Presentations and in their Pic Collage Digital Storytelling projects.

I made a video and uploaded it to You Tube in hopes of having the Tickle App award our school with a drone which students would use to program. The link to the “Hour of Code with Tickle App and Spheros” video is here: https://youtu.be/XJPPwJWAxpo

 

I created an Animoto video to highlight how my third graders used Lego Story Maker kits as a part of the 2016 Digital Learning Day!

 

I created an Animoto video to show second graders being Makers and Thinkers as they used the Lego Story Maker Kits and the Pic Collage app to design posters of why we should not cut down trees. This occurred during the week of Earth Day 2016!

I have included a final collection of images which showcase how students in third grade have created Google Slide Presentations about their Lego scenes. Click on the hyperlink below to see the Animoto video with images!  

Lego Digital Storytelling

Advertisements

8 Essentials of Project Based Learning

Last weekend I attended my first Ed Camp (#EdCampQC on Twitter) at Hawk Ridge Elementary School in Charlotte, NC.  It was a powerful learning experience for me.  I enjoy traditional presentations in a regular conference format, but I now can see the reason why Ed Camps have become so popular.  We gathered in classrooms to hear teachers share their ideas and crowdsource ways to be an effective teacher to our 21st century learners.  I experienced conversations about MakerSpaces, Literacy in Technology, Genius Hour and Blended Learning. All of the ideas that I heard revealed how essential it is to inspire and nurture learning, creativity, and innovation through technology in elementary schools.

After being on Twitter for the past two years and building my Professional Learning Network, it thrilled me to get to meet at Ed Camp some of the members of my Twitter PLN such as Steven Weber (@curriculumblog), Stacy Lovdahl (@braveneutrino), Ashley Hurley (@ashleyhhurley), Jennifer Brinn (@Jenn_TeachLearn) and Nathan Stevens (@nathan_stevens) to name a few.  I have appreciated the contributions of these people through Twitter Chats or on Voxer.  Knowing that educators in North Carolina were willing to volunteer to learn from each other on a Saturday, even driving through snow and black ice, made the Ed Camp experience extra special.  

I heard Troy Moore, the principal at Hawk Ridge Elementary School, share how they are having kids pursue their passions as a part of Genius Hour which they do during the first hour of the school day.  One of my favorite examples was that of two boys who interview teachers and community members including sports figures and create Podcasts because they love Sports Casting!   I love that student ownership is a huge part of the culture of Hawk Ridge Elementary School where teachers have bought into the idea of allowing time and creative space for students to flourish.  Troy Moore (@HRESPrincipal) generously opened his school for teachers to see including a Project Based Learning space that was recently sponsored by the restaurant called Chili’s.  Teachers teach their students how to calculate tips in a restaurant setting within the school using percentages.  Other creative learning spaces included a classroom with mobile furniture that can be situated to best meet the needs of the learners.  Being at Hawk Ridge Elementary School helped me to understand why they have recently ranked 9th in the USA among other outstanding Elementary Schools.

In my role as the K-5 Technology Teacher, I am always contemplating ways to encourage my students to become engaged in the learning process.  I have also begun to realize the power of the process of PBL or Project Based Learning.  I recently heard Mike Gormans (@mjgormans on Twitter) in a webinar as a part of my monthly PBS LearningMedia trainings right on the heels of my experience at EdCamp.  He encouraged us to think about using the Eight Essential Components of Project Based Learning which helped me put together the ideas that were swimming in my head from Ed Camp.  Providing students with meaningful projects means that I need to incorporate the following eight components as published by the Buck Institute at http://bie.org/object/document/8_essentials_for_project_based_learning:  significant content, a need to know, a driving question, student voice and choice, 21st Century Competencies, in-depth Inquiry, critique and revision and a public audience.

I love the idea of new technology options to help me engage my students.  Students need opportunities to tinker, learn to code and create projects as a part of Project Based Learning (PBL).  They also need materials with which to build and to code.  I will describe in this post two possible technology tools to use when designing lessons for Project Based Learning: Sphero Robot Balls and Lego Storymaker Kits/Software.  I have written a grant for 12 Sphero Balls and Lego Storymaker Kits and hope to have it funded so I can implement a variety of lessons for my 2nd – 5th Graders.

Students in my school have participated in the worldwide Hour of Code for the past two Decembers using resources at www.code.org.  I would like for students to have the ability to write the code to see a three dimensional object follow their commands.  The resources at code.org have been a good foundation for my students along with apps such as Daisy the Dinosaur and Legos Mindstorms Fix the Factory, however, I would like to provide additional real world opportunities to create code.  Students would work together to develop commands for the Sphero balls and cause them to run through mazes using coding apps on the iPads.  I would like to have students think like a computer programmer and articulate the process of coding the Sphero balls.  Learning to code Sphero balls will allow students to work in teams to build Sphero chariots that they will maneuver through mazes using iPads, communicate their results in writing and in revising their work through trial and error.  They will need to critically think as they problem solve and program the Spheros.  At the NCTIES PreConference on March 4, I am looking forward to learning how to program Sphero balls while collaborating with other teachers.

Students will communicate with small groups as they build Lego Story Scenes using the kits.  They will build their scenes in groups of three and decide on the plot of the story, characters, setting, etc. using special spinners to help guide their thought process.  Children in schools need opportunities to build and make which leads in this case to detailed stories and end products.  The process is just as important as the end product.

The Sphero robotics ball project is innovative because it will provide a way for students to see what it feels like to be a coder/computer programmer.  There will be a shortage of computer programmers in the next 10 years according to recent data published at https://www.kodable.com/infographic.  Schools must excite students at an early age to learn to code in an inviting fashion.  Getting to work in collaboration with other students to make a Sphero Chariot go through a maze will allow students to problem solve using a Driving Question.  There are math apps that I will also use to provide lessons using the Sphero balls found at http://www.gosphero.com/education/.

The Legos Storymaker project is innovative because it provides a way for students to design a beginning, middle and end of a story using Lego scenes then write about their stories.  Students will be developing narratives and writing text to go along with scenes from the their Lego story settings.  They will publish the narratives in creative ways through Newspapers and Posters.  Visit this link to see examples of Lego Storymaker final products:  https://shop.education.lego.com/legoed/en-US/catalog/product.jsp?productId=5003448

In my role as the K-5 Technology Teacher at my school, I love to engage my students using innovative apps and projects that require researching and development of digital stories.  The Sphero and Lego Storymaker Projects will allow me to take my students into deep thinking projects where in order to succeed, they will have to communicate thoughts verbally and in writing, collaborate in teams, critically think as they brainstorm solutions and develop digital stories after building with Legos, and create projects that will be an authentic way to show the world that they are 21st Century Learners.

How have you used Project Based Learning?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

EdCite

WRITE a slice of life story on your own blog.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
SHARE a link to your post in the comments section.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
GIVE comments to at least three other SOLSC bloggers.

 

This is Day 27 of 31 of the Slice of a Life Writing Challenge from www.twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

Last night, I participated in three webinars hosted by CommonCore.io.  A team from a website called EdCite presented on the resources found at their site.  I would like to highlight some ideas that have resonated with me as I serve up my slice of knowledge from the EdCite Team.  As we approach the final quarter of the school year, teachers will find great test prep resources.

First, the EdCite team shared the Depth of Knowledge Circle Chart found here:

Depth of Knowledge Chart

They placed boxes around words on the Depth of Knowledge Circle Chart such as the following:

Level One Words (Recall):  Define, Name, Recall

Level Two Words (Skill/Concept):  Infer, Graph, Predict, Interpret, Distinguish

Level Three Words (Strategic Thinking):  Develop a Logical Argument, Cite Evidence

Level Four Words (Extended Thinking):  Create, Prove

Whether a teacher is teaching using the Common Core State Standards or not, the Level 3 and 4 Words are powerful.  As 21st Century Learners, our students need to be able to take a stand on a topic, justify their reasoning, and cite evidence from applicable sources.  They suggested that teachers could make multi-step multiple choice assignments that require students to read a passage from a text then have to answer a Part A and Part B Question.  For example, Part A of the question might read, “Circle the sentence that explains what might happen …” then Part B might read, “Circle the sentence from the text that supports your answer in Part A.”  This type of rigor built in to students reading lives would help them as they strategically think about text.

Second, EdCite studied types of questions that will appear in Smarter Balanced Assessments based on Common Core State Standards.  I took some screen shots of two circle graphs which show the types of questions on English Language Arts and Math tests.

imageimage

It is interesting to me that in ELA, 64% of the text is Multiple Choice which means that there could be multi-step Part A and Part B-like questions.  Now that I am aware of this, I can design reading and writing assignments that ask students to respond in Part A and Part B format.  I plan to do more of this as I assign articles from Newsela or DogoNews to my students.  I will ask them to defend their position and write blog entries where they will develop a logical argument and cite evidence from the text.  Other students will respond to  the blogs by giving feedback on how well constructed their argument and how well  they cited evidence.   Incorporating more opportunities for students to explain their reasoning will be a goal of mine.

Third, I discovered EdCite’s website for the first time and the tremendous resources found there.  They have created multiple choice questions about reading passages by making them multi-select (Part A and Part B) or by having students cite evidence throughout the questions that they have placed on their site.  Teachers can make assignments for students using the resources at EdCite, send the link to students, or have students join the class by having them sign in with a Class Code.  Teachers can find assignments built by other teachers in their library and share their own creations with other teachers.  Teachers can customize for their classes by changing assignments easily to fit the needs of their classes by adding, editing or deleting questions that appear from other teachers.  See an example from a Fable at their website.

Fourth, they recommended giving students performance tasks that are directed by a specific goal or outcome, require students to use a wide range of skills and knowledge and help students make connections between the content they’re learning and the real world.  These performance tasks move students to deeper depths of knowledge on the Depth of Knowledge Circle Chart. In one math example that they gave, they shared two students’ thinking about a math problem and then asked students to decide who was correct and explain their reasoning.

To see an examples of Performance Tasks , visit EdCite and the following places:

The New York City Department of Education has great resources on Performance Tasks found here:  http://schools.nyc.gov/academics/commoncorelibrary/tasksunitsstudentwork/default.htm

The Smarter Balanced website also has many performance tasks for every grade.

Fifth, they suggested Inquiry Based Learning and Project-Based Learning that is driven by a guiding question.  When teachers start a lesson by posing questions, problems or scenarios, rather than presenting facts, then students construct their own knowledge causing them to be heavily vested in the process of learning.  The guiding questions can be answered throughout a project as students dig deeper into Level 3 and 4 Knowledge Levels.  They provided a link that has Project Based Learning suggestions:  www.bie.org.

I welcome online tools that can help me design assessments such as EdCite and look forward to using it.  I hope you will check it out too.

 

 

Sparks of Creativity

WRITE. Every day in March write a slice of life story on your own blog. SHARE. Link your post in the comments on each daily call for slice of life stories here at TWT. GIVE. Comment on at least three other slice of life stories/blogs.

Today is Day 9 of the Slice of Life Writing Challenge by twowritingteachers.wordpress.com.

On the radio today, I heard a commentator mention the dresses being designed by a four year old little girl and her mother. I did a search and found the http://www.fashionbymayhem.com/  website along with a photo essay of the little girl wearing the dresses whom they call Mayhem at

http://www.fubiz.net/en/2014/02/27/paper-dresses-by-4-year-old-girl/

I loved the following quote that her mom wrote in the FAQ section of the http://www.fashionbymayhem.com/  website:

“Truthfully, the dress making is more about spending time with my favorite pint sized person everyday and watching her learn and grow. And seeing the sparks of creativity and completely uninhibited imagination. Her mind is wildly creative and hasn’t been spoiled by the idea that there are things that are impossible. I hope to keep it that way for as long as possible.”

You have to visit the photo essay that I mentioned above to appreciate the amazing designs that this child creates using construction paper and see her wearing the designs!  It inspires me to know that her mom has provided the child with materials then let her experiment. Sparks of creativity fly as the child uses paper to create dresses that she has seen out in the world and design her own creations.

As a teacher, I want to mimic this child’s mom and never forget the power of creativity. Children can produce brilliant products in a variety of forms including art, music, dance, writing, and digital products on tablets and computers. Teachers have to provide needed materials like books, art supplies, tablets, apps, etc. to help children develop their innovations.  Once we give children the right tools, their imaginations will lead the way.  I know that the girl works on the dresses alongside of her mom so her mom is Vygotsky’s “more knowledgeable other” because mom shows her how to use scissors and tape with care.  The girl then unleashes her vision from her mind to actually making dresses out of the paper.  Whether it’s during Genius  Hour, 20% Time like the Google 80/20 time, Passion Projects, Project Based Learning or in response to what students have read,  teachers can cultivate conditions that lead to amazing creative products.

I like that there are so many creative digital options that I heard about at the NCTIES(North Carolina Technology In Education Society) Conference that I attended last week. I am planning during the next few weeks to blog about many of the digital storytelling apps that I have encountered at NCTIES and share other dynamic digital devices that were shared with me. I know that sparks have been flying in my mind as I have been considering how to plan my technology lessons using the apps and websites.  I look forward to sharing and hope that the sparks of creativity will leap off the blog page to where you are! There are too many sparks in my mind about NCTIES, so I will share slices of NCTIES sessions that I attended during the Slice of Life Writing Challenge over the next few weeks.