Wednesday, February 8, 2017

App-Master Challenge

What student doesn't love a good challenge? Sometimes we find that students struggle with some of the basic quick tools that can be extremely resourceful on the iPad. So, how do we solve that without strictly doing direct instruction?

Introducing....the App-Master Challenge!

My teaching partner and I have a goal to create student leaders, to encourage students to be the problem solvers and coach others to troubleshoot together. The fun part about this challenge, for every challenge completed, students will earn a badge. What I absolutely love about it, is that students can work at their own pace and challenge their creativity. We plan to cover commonly used apps such as: Pages, Keynote, Numbers, Docs, Slides and Sheets. Hoping students can make the decision on which app may be best for their project in mind.

The first challenge we decided to introduce to the students was in Pages. One of the quickest and very creative editing tools that is often looked over as a 4th and 5th grader is Instant Alpha, or removing the background from around a certain image. This leads into a lot of great discussion points about digital citizenship, copyrights and how they can utilize this tool outside of our lab.

I am only 3 days into this particular challenge and I am blown away by the creativity. The students have had so much fun using the green screen to transport themselves to a favorite destination or setting of their book. Once the challenge is introduced, the creativity is in their hands as they are encouraged to communicate and collaborate with others.

What would make my heart happy is seeing the students begin to coach others, including the teachers, to utilize these tools in their daily/weekly practice. We assume the students always know the ins and outs of their device, but this is one extra step in helping their creativity and leadership expand.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Breakout EDU

I remember first hearing about Breakout EDU last year and wondering what the heck it was. I kept hearing the new buzz word around and it wasn't until attending a local Students Involved with Technology conference that I got to experience this activity first hand with students. I was completely in awe and taken back by how fun and engaging this critical thinking experience was.

As my co-teacher and I began to investigate more, we figured this would be a perfect way to review Digital Citizenship, and we found a perfect culminating activity on the Breakout EDU site. The tricky part, not having a classroom budget, was to creatively collect the supplies needed so we could build our own. Keeping in mind, it had to be durable enough for nearly 500 students to be hands on with the pieces weekly.

Boxes - small toolboxes from the Dollar Tree
Pencil Pouch - zippered pouch that could easily be locked as well
Key locks - from the dollar tree
3 Digit Number Locks - from Aldi
Direction and Word Locks - from Home Depot
4 Digit directional lock - from Amazon
Black lights - from Amazon. I found that the different colored pen lights worked much better and were more durable compared to the individual black light.

One new addition that we added to our boxes were a suggestion found from the Breakout Facebook group. I saw a teacher who color coded her breakout box activities for the groups...this was genius! After contacting the teacher, we began ordering the colored plastic bins and the colored folders for clues. I highly recommended the lock parking lot after going through the experience of having locks accidentally reset.

Overall, I love Breakout EDU! Next to coding, it is a top favorite in our class!

*The activity shown in the picture is the "Caught in the Code" game from the Breakout EDU website.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Coding Collection 2016

It wouldn't be another year in the innovation lab without celebrating the annual Hour of Code. Similar to last year, my teaching partner and I decided to expand that one hour into 4-6 weeks worth of hands on coding activities. This is usually always one of the favorite projects in the lab, hands down.

Here is our menu of activities for this year:
1. Minute-to-Win-it = This idea was taken from the task cards found on the Spark Website HERE We slightly modified it to the students recording how long it took them to complete a challenge with a partner as opposed to trying to complete the challenges in one minute. Instead of using the Spark app, we had the students use Tickle.

2. Coding Collection - we provided a wide variety of apps for students to code and explore. Choices for this activity included: Swift Playground, Tynker, and Lightbot.

3. Wonderopolis - Students had to code Dash, using the Wonder app Blockly. In teams, students took turn catapulting the ping pong ball down the walkway. Students placed number markers on the floor to then measure and compare distances after each member went.

4. Unplugged - students decoded messages following algorithms of Down, Right, Left and Up.

5. Ollie's Obstacles - always a favorite of students! However to allow more students hands on time with coding, I had prebuilt accessories for the course that students were then able to assemble the way that they desired. They then had to code Ollie, using Tickle, to maneuver through their course.

6. Scratch - students use the Macbooks to explore the famous website. They were able to free code or follow one of the provided tutorials from their online site.

During the coding process, students were to continuously reflect on their experiences using Numbers to document their data, challenges and interests.