Friday, November 13, 2015

Digital Citizenship Fairy Tales

With 21st century learning, digital citizenship is something our students have to learn. The digital lifestyle will always be with our students and it is definitely our responsibility to work in cooperation with parents to make sure we guide our students down a safe digital footprint.

Last year, my co-teacher and I introduced digital citizenship by having students work on a super hero comic book project. Making a super hero that may resemble them self and then building their comic based on a digital situation that students may face.

Well, our students are now 1:1, which makes it even more important to review safe cyber learning, but it also gives us more creativity to design projects with skills that the students can utilize back in their classroom. In the previous year during PARCC testing, my co-teacher had her students complete a digital story using a green screen and puppets. We thought this would be an interesting route to go having the students take classic fairy tales, but put a modern day twist on the story by involving a cyber safety element. The students loved this project!

With only seeing students 50 minutes, once a week, here is how we introduced it to classes:
*Prior to project introduction, students had a review on digital safety in class.
Week 1: We began class with a video, getting students hooked into the idea. From there, students made their own groups of 4 or 5 (I definitely wouldn't recommend more than 4), and used Edmodo to review classic fairy tale stories that they may or may not be familiar with.
Week 2: Students were given a fictional story organizer, they worked in groups to complete their organizer on Notability or in Google Drawings. They then submitted their document through Edmodo for review and approval.
Week 3: Once their story was approved, students began collaborating on their script in Google Docs. Half of the group worked on the script while the other half began searching for images online to use for their puppets and background scenes. This is a great moment to introduce a mini lesson on image usage rights.
Week 4: Students continued working on their script/images. They were also provided materials that they could test their characters and scenes out with. Each group was given a: Green Screen (made of a display board and green paper), a white note card (for light testing), green straws to attach their characters to and a microphone. We had some old microphones in our lab that fit nicely into the iPads. My co-teacher thought of this as a way to help reduce noise in our small space since we were confined to all working in one room.
Week 5: Students began recording, we used the Veescope Live Free app on the iPads for our green screen.
Week 6: Students used iMovie to edit their film. They added tittle slides, background music, sound effects and credits. Great mini lesson on reviewing how to site sources!

Check our some pictures from our project experience!

Students planning their digital fairy tale
Green Screen recording

Thursday, April 30, 2015

No computer lab? STEAM to the rescue!

As we all know, sometimes PARCC testing can cause a mixup to our weekly routine schedules. In my case, that meant losing my computer lab due to it having to be used by classes for PARCC. Boy, I can't wait until my buildings are fully 1:1 next year!

While I may have been disappointed to lose my lab at first, it was one of the best things that could have happened for my classes! Not only was I able to push into their learning environment, which I rarely have time to visit with my schedule, but I was able to dive into more STEAM based activities as I became the traveling technology teacher for 3 weeks.

So what did I exactly have up my sleeves? 4 weeks of fun that not only challenged students, but focused on team work and reflection!

I began by introducing the challenges to the students with an iMovie. My video reviewed the meaning of STEAM, but then had short videos announcing the resources we would be using during this time. This really sparked their interest and their level of excitement began to rise.

Students were broken into groups of 5. I allowed them to pick their groups because I've always been a firm believer that the choice helps students stay motivated. Since we were without digital devices during these few weeks, I printed reflection packets that were handed out to each group. Yes, I know....I PRINTED! I felt out of my comfort zone standing at the copy machine prepping for this lesson when I try really hard to remain paperless.

Getting back to the excitement.....the students were to complete rotations between 4 different STEAM based activities.

1. Architecture Challenge - non-digital hands on problem solving (this one rotated weekly)
2. Big Sphero 6 - students learned how to navigate and build obstacles for our new Spheros.
3. Makey Makey - students shared 2 Makey Makey kits to connect and create.
4. littleBits - using electronic circuits to accomplish a variety of challenges

Not only were students rotating activities each week, but they were also rotating leadership positions within their group. One thing I've noticed throughout the year, was that teamwork was something that needed a focus, encouraging more collaboration and sharing of ideas.

Each group received a labeled envelope with an activity direction sheet enclosed. For the most part, there weren't too many directions to the activities, more so starters to push each group to explore without requiring a teacher to walk them through.

Overall, I'm glad I took the time to plan all of this out. My students and faculty enjoyed the change in instruction. This also opened the door for students being aware of the resources we have for them to explore further during our Innovation Lab (20% time).

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Introduction to SketchUp

In my previous posts documenting the journey of our 3D printing education, I discussed the methods I used for discovering and providing some background knowledge to students on our printer.

My 4th graders were incredibly excited to begin learning the 3D design software on our desktop computers. After completing a lot of research, and talking to our district office, I narrowed it down between Tinkercad and SketchUP. I've been familiar with SketchUP from previous projects when I used the software for my students to complete a math project a few years back, and ultimately that was the software we agreed upon to use with our intermediate students for our Makerbot Replicator Mini.

When it came down to introducing the software to my 4th graders, I knew one of the most important things I needed to do was give my students time to PLAY! Before introducing my students to the first couple of tools, I just gave them 15 minutes to explore. Not only does this get some of the curiosity out of their system, but we know that this generation of students learn best by exploring. Once their exploration time was completed. I gave them their first challenge, which consisted of creating some basic geometric 3D shapes. You can grab your own copy, HERE.

The following week, I introduced another challenge in class. Most of my students had even returned announcing how they downloaded the education software at home with their family! For week 5's lesson, my students had more creativity to create, but they had to incorporate more tools and demonstrate what they had learned from the first 3D challenge. I was blown away by what my students were creating. They definitely exceeded my expectations! This made me extremely excited for their 3D project that would be introduced after spring break. Grab your free copy of my 2nd challenge, HERE.

Happy designing!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

History of 3D printing, Week 3

Highly possible scenario:

Student: "Mom, Dad, we just got a 3D printer at school!" 

Parent: "That's great, but how is this going to help you in school?"

Student: "Well, let me share with you some ways it can be used."

As I mentioned in previous posts, I wanted to refrain from having the 3D printer treated just as another "toy" in the classroom. Or, for others to look at it as a "waste of money." As adults, whether it be parent or teacher, we learn from our students. They are our next generation of course! What is technologically mind blowing to them now, I can only imagine what resources will be like when they leave college and begin their future careers.

Following the questions that remained from our digital KWL chart in week 2, I thought it would be fun to research the history and industrial background information in the form of a scavenger hunt.

At the beginning of class, we began with a video from Make. My students have been very curious about the filament inside of the printer, so even though they may not have quite understood all the printing terminology, they still had the visual process of how the plastic is made.

We then followed the filament discussion with some videos of our 3D printer and the samples I had made, giving the students an up close visual of how the printing gets completed in layers. How because it is hard for everyone to see the printer in action at once. I decided to use my camera on the iPad to airplay the live feed to our Apple TV. The students were able to work on their next activity while also viewing the printing process.

Going paperless again, I created our scavenger hunt template in Google, that was then shared with the class so they could make a copy. Working in teams, the students completed the scavenger hunt in preparation for a final whole class discussion. I provided links and infographics for my students to search through because of time constraints, but this could easily be a lesson linked into "how-to" research lessons.

We had a final discussion at the end of class to review the information and the interesting facts that they had found.

Now the questions I still have yet to make a decision on...
1. Do I plan a group project or make the 3D design project individual?
2. Do I focus the project around the idea of a "need" in society or an invention?
3. Do I focus the lesson around learning the 3D design software instead?

I worry about this because I know how interested the students are in having a 3D model of their own, but being stretched between 2 schools, I stress the time it would take to get the designs printed in time for the end of the school year.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Elementary 3D Printing Intro Week 2

Now that the gossip has started about the 3D printer in our building, one of the first questions my students had of course was....are we going to be able to print anything?

They are definitely not afraid of the 3D printer and I love that they are so curious! Before we begin to start designing 3D files, I stressed to the students that it was extremely important for them to learn about how this educational tool works, the history behind it and the purpose for industries having one.

For week 2 of our introduction, I figured I would use the traditional KWL chart, as an informal assessment to observe the information they retained from the following week, but also to see what questions they still had to guide me for week 3.

Being in the technology lab, I try to remain as paperless as possible. So I used this as an opportunity to continue to build their Google collaboration skills by having students complete the KWL with a partner in Google Docs. Following their completion of the K and W portion, I then projected a Brainpop video on 3D printing from their educator site. After viewing the video, students then continued to add to the L portion of their document prior to our class discussion.

Most questions that students still had unanswered were:
  • Who invented the 3D printer?
  • How does the filament get molded?
  • How much heat is needed to melt the filament?
  • Can you print in multiple colors? 
  • Does a 3D printer automatically fill in the hollow spaces to make the object a solid? 

This would lead us into a lesson for week 3! 

Printed example how 3D printing can be used in the Jewelry Industry. 
Twisted bracelet from Thingiverse.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

#ICE15 Recap

I don't know about you, but after attending conferences for more than a day I get..
1. extremely excited to try new things
2. completely exhausted from late nights and packing my brain
3. Already thinking about how I can improve my presentations for next year

This year, I was extremely lucky to attend our Illinois Computing Educators (ICE) conference not one, but three days! Next to being surprised and attending ISTE in 2014 for multiple days, this comes in 2nd with my longest consecutive conference attended. I can tell you one thing, I will definitely be looking into hotels for next year. Even being local, with not a huge commute, it still adds into the exhaustion with traffic.

There were many great topics that I absorbed and many great people I was able to catch up with and meet.  One of the workshops I liked the most was "Coaching Teachers to Student Success," by @avrarobinson. If you haven't heard from her yet, find her on Twitter. Her coaching resources are amazing and the personalities she created for first timer technology integrated teachers are spot on. Lots of handy tips to help along the way when working to build a partnership with educators.

The maker movement is still going strong. There were many hands on activities and sessions to learn about coding, robotics and engineering. I'm sure this is something that won't fade out anytime soon. Passion based learning is truly important and I wish I had that opportunity in school.  Sylvia Martinez was a keynote speaker and a true inspiration. I also very much enjoyed Jim Sill, who gave a very thought provoking keynote using his past experience in film.

Another area I personally reflected on was my break-out session, of course. Now, I'm normally used to presenting in smaller classroom setups, where maybe 10-15 people attend and it is an easy walk-through in 45 minutes for my augmented reality topic. Well...I definitely wasn't expecting to be presenting in a comedy club, with a room full of educators! While I experienced some technology bumps from this first time larger are some tips I can offer and suggestions I plan to follow myself.

1. Have a backup plan: the wireless connection wasn't allowing for my reflector app to work from iPad to laptop. Either purchase VGA connects to have on hand or check with your district if there is one you can barrow. Luckily I had one for each device.

2. Stick to your backup plan: While my reflector didn't work, I had planned on using my VGA connector for the iPad. Well, the nerves got the best of me and I presented from my computer the entire time. I definitely regret that.

3. Keep your audience in mind: Speaking to a larger group was quite the surprise. What was a very successful PD that I had practiced in advanced at local education camps, would need to be simplified for a larger group. I had so many materials with me that I didn't even use and felt like I was going too fast.

4. Be proud of your accomplishment: While things may have not gone perfectly, still take pride in what you have done, especially if it was your first time hosting a session of this scale. Reflect on your experience and try again. We always tell our students to learn from their mistakes, so why not follow the same advice?

Thanks to those who attended my workshop and shared your experience on Twitter! Also, a big thank you to my district team, both past and present for supporting me!

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's as easy as 1, 2, 3-D! Week 1

Some of the schools in my district were surprised with a new addition to our labs...

Have you guessed what it is yet? We have a 3D printer! Under the cloth is a very lovely, MakerBot Replicator Mini!

Immediately, the gears in my brain began turning to develop a plan for integration into my technology class. I was constantly pondering what grade level I would use it with and where would I even begin, but I finally decided to introduce this to my 4th grade students first since my 5th grade groups would be starting innovation lab first.

I began researching and came across some links posted to Kathy Schrock's Guide to Everything. Kathy has listed tons of resources that can definitely get someone started in the right direction. However, one of the challenges I began to face was that no matter where I searched, mostly all of lessons or project ideas that I would stumble upon were for jr. high students or higher, not for elementary. So in order to organize my ideas better, I began pulling ideas and resources that I found into a document. Now, I'm definitely a lesson plan as you go individual, just because I will constantly think of new ideas in the car, on a run or I will stumble upon something on social media. Although, one of my main reasons that I don't lesson plan far in advance is because my students are constantly surprising me with their knowledge on topics or willingness to go look information up between classes so they can be prepared.

So, after gathering my resources and knowing this tool was probably new to most. I decided to begin my introduction to 4th grade with a mystery "what's our fragile futuristic tool?" activity. Once the tool was guessed, we began drawing what we thought a 3D printer looked like. That lead into a big discussion until it was finally unveiled and followed by a fun Kahoot survey to see what students may have known.

This activity took up our entire technology time and definitely left the students excited to come back and learn more!  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

EdTech Baton

Have you heard of or held the EdTech Baton yet? Not quite sure what it is? Hopefully, you will be the next one to carry it!

EdTech Baton is an Instagram community for you guessed it, Ed Tech! Similar to a relay race, each day a new teacher gets the honor of holding the virtual baton and sharing their innovative stories with all to read. You can sign up HERE!

A former colleague of mine told me about this experience and I knew I had to quickly jump on. It is a great way to share the amazing tech integration in your classroom, but to also gather ideas that you can utilize.

Here is a breakdown of how it works.
1. Signup with the link above and you will hear back from EdTech Baton to confirm your date.
2. Closer to your scheduled date, EdTech Baton will continue to check-in with you, make sure you don't have any questions to make sure you feel as comfortable as possible.
3. The week of your virtual baton you will receive another email with the login information for their Instagram account. It is definitely a good idea the evening before you hold the baton to make sure it works by logging in.
4. The day of, it is time to run with that baton and share. Post anywhere from 6-8 photos, but make sure to use the rules and policies as a guide.

What better way to gain EdTech Friends, resources and get motivated from ideas! Best part, you can even sign up again in 90 days to continue sharing!

EdTech Baton's website has a ton of information to guide you and answer any questions you still have. It is definitely something work checking out! Check out the images below from our technology lab virtual baton day!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Syntax Coding

After two weeks of block coding and two weeks off for winter break, I figured my next logical step would be to introduce my students to syntax coding. Some have mentioned that they have dabbled a bit with script, but many were unfamiliar by it....including myself. The most knowledge I've had with script was mostly working html, just like most bloggers, to fancy up my site.

My winter break was spent searching, trying to find just the right programs that I knew my students would enjoy. I also referred back to many of my notes from a local chapter of our Illinois Computing for Educators, DeICE. This was a mini conference that I attended one Saturday for local PD. I happened to attend a class by Tara Linney, you can follow her on Twitter @TechTeacherT. The one part I loved about her session was that she didn't only give various activities for different types of coding, but she also visually presented how coding is aligned to the Common Core!

So, what did I end up deciding on? Drum roll please....

My programming language of choice: Java Script (I knew it would be something students had heard of)

4th Grade Activity: Students would be introduced to Java Script using Code Combat. Students can save their progress through their Google Accounts, I also like that it is game based and fairly easy to pick up on. The students can type the script out, or it gives the students the option to click on their code. This was great for students that were uneasy about scripting! Overall, it gives them the connection between programming and commanding something to move. It also allows students to get familiar with how the lines of code are generated.

5th Grade Activity: Once again, I selected Java Script as my language of choice, but I used Code Avengers to introduce scripting to the students. I knew this would be a bit more challenging compared to Code Combat, but that the students would be hooked because in the end result, they create a game that they can share with other students on Edmodo.

How did I start my introduction to syntax? With a Google Slide Presentation again of course! Simply to generate some background knowledge and make some connections to the Hour of Code that we participated with before. The one thing I wish that was available, was a great video to introduce syntax coding specifically. There are so many great sites for block coding, but I wish there was more of a focus on script.

Overall, the students loved the lesson! I was actually surprised by this because I thought they would have favored the activities of block more. I'm so proud of them all for trying and some of them even teaching me a few new things! :)