Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Technology Tuesday: Time to Innovate

I just started reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros for a book study with some of my teachers.  We are not very far, but innovation has been on my mind.

For three years, my third grades have been doing research about natural disasters and creating an online graphic novel to share their work.  You can read about that here.

This year we spent last week doing the research and appsmashing to create the pages and so today I started putting the books together in BookPress as I have for the last 3 years and when I emailed the link to myself - the pages were blank!  UGGGGG!

I don't know if this is a sign that I need to innovate and find another project to do or if it is just an update in the Book Press app that prevents me from making the free books but whatever the case, I think this will be the last year for our graphic novels.  Time to put on my Innovator's Mindset and as George Couros says in the book "change is the opportunity to do something amazing."

But for this year, I need a Plan B and another eBook creator!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Technology Tues: 3D Printing From a Pro

This week my 4th grade students were treated to an introduction to our 3D printer from a pro.  Travis Howk, a senior at Hendrix College in Arkansas, and the son of one of my very good library friends, explained 3D printing to my 4th graders better than I ever could!  Travis is a math and physics major but got involved in 3D printing when he discovered his campus had one.  He learned about it by watching and asking questions and pretty soon was teaching others how to use it.

This week, he spent an hour with each of my 4th grades. First, talking about what 3D printing is and showing them actual models of things he printed (all plastic, of course).

  Then he rocked their world when he told them you could 3D print pancakes, chocolate, clothes, and a house in less than a day.

Travis encouraged questions and answered all of them.  From the silly ones about 3D printing characters and logos to very thoughtful ones like "What will happen to construction workers if houses can be 3D printed?"

Students then logged in to Tinkercad where Travis walked them through creating a name plate.

 The students were so excited and proud of their designs.  

The 4th grade teachers and I am thinking of a way we can use the 3D printer with their research project coming up later in the spring.

We had a great day of learning from an awesome young man.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The "Gift of Reading" Tree

Over the Thankgiving break, I saw this post on Facebook and reposted it on my library Facebook page.
On of my teachers texted me and said I should do that in the library.  I loved the idea, but wasn't sure about the logistics of it.  I had a few days to think about it and talk it over with my assistant and a few teachers and decided to do it.  I borrowed a small tree from another teacher and set it up the in the library. My assistant and I pulled enough books from my stash of book fair purchases and freebies to give one student in each grade level a book for each of the school days in December - 90 books!  We wrapped them and put them under the tree.  I asked the teachers to each send me the names of 3 students in their class that either came from a book barren home or could use an extra gift this holiday season.  I put the names in envelopes by grade level and every day on the morning announcements I would call one student from each grade to come to the "Gift of Reading tree to choose a book.  

The students were so happy to get a book of their own to keep.  

Teachers told me that every day students would cross their fingers, hoping their name was called. We wanted the students to unwrap their books in the library so we could see what they got, but a lot wanted to wait and open the book back in the classroom with their teacher. 

This was a really fun way to celebrate reading during the holiday season. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

Technology Tuesday: Coding with Kinder

My kinder students have seen the "big kids" using Dash in the library and they keep asking when they will get to play with it.  I talked with the kidner teachers and we decided that during December's Hour of Code would be a good time to introduce Dash to the students.  We had school for three weeks between our Thanksgiving and Winter breaks so I decided to do a progessive introduction for them.  We started the first week using the Kodable app on the iPad.

The second time they came I introduced them to Dash and the Wonder Path app where students could make Dash follow a path they traced on the ipad with their fingers.  They had such a blast with this. 

The third week, we tried using the Wonder Blockly app.  I showed them how they could use the words to make dash do different things and limited them to the Movement, Animation and Sound commands since most are nonreaders.  This was by far the most challenging for them because of the words, but they still enjoyed it.They loved finding new noises and animations for Dash. Their favorite was the burping sound and the kissing animation.  

Maker Monday: 1st Grade Make Toys

In December, my first graders research transportation, communication and recreation in Colonial Times.  You can read about that here.  This year, I deceided to kick it up a notch and invite the classes in for time in the makerspace for students to make their own toy.  We talked about how in the Colonial Times there were no factories to make toys, no plastic and no batteries.  The children had to make toys from what they had on hand.  I showed them some of the different materials in our makerspace and then let them have at it.  Once again, the creativity the children showed, amazed me.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Technology Tuesday: New Makerspace Robots

I feel so far behind in my blogging.  So much has been happening in the library this year and I have failed miserably at documenting it. One of the most exciting things is that we have some new robot-y items for our makerspace that the students are LOVING! (Disclaimer: I really had not played with any of these things in depth before putting them into the hands of students.  I really have been saying "I have no idea how these things work, y'all will need to figure them out").

Wonder Dash and Dot: I have 6 of the Dash robots and we borrowed 3 of the Dots for a few weeks. The students love Dash because he has wheels and can move.  Dot, we don't really understand yet. There are free apps by Wonder that can be downloaded to the ipads to code or control the Dashes. The students at first just want to drive them around and race them, but now they have moved on to coding it to make it do anything.  We made some mazes using shower curtains from Dollar Tree and tape.

Even the teachers and principal love playing with Dash.

Sphero SPRK: Similar to Dash in that there are apps you can use to drive or code the sphero, but we had to do some troubleshooting for connectivity for these since they run on bluetooth.  I have 4 and students would end up controlling someone else's until I labeled each SPRK with their "name" on the bottom with clear tape.  The students like racing these and coding them around the mazes as well.

Cubelets: These are sets of different cubes each cube with a different function.  When you put the cubes together something happens.  We have been using the cards that come with the set to build so far.

Ozobots: Small robots that are coding from colored lines and dashes.  Students have been trying to have the ozobots trace their names in cursive and have been designing tracks for them to run on. 

All of these have been really fun additions to our makerspace area.  I am excited to see what the students will do with them as the year goes on.  Now if I could only find a way to keep them all charged.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Maker Monday: Kinder Halloween Makerspaces

When I started the makerspace at my school last year, I started it with 2nd-5th grades (you can read about that here). Thinking there was no way that I could run the makerspace the same way for kinders and 1st graders (if you read this blog consistently, you'll know about my panic attacks before each and every kinder class - haha) I decided I would see how it went the first year and try to figure out a way to give them opportunities the second year.

Well, in May last year, I decided to experiment and see if my kinder teachers wanted to come as a class to the makerspace to try a challenge.   You can read "5 Things I Learned From Kinder Makerspace" here.  I really liked this format so that is how I wanted to continue this year with them.

I found some Halloween STEM challenges on pinterest that I liked and couldn't narrow down which one I wanted to try so I decided to do 4, one each week in October (I know, I get crazier and crazier). I got the ideas from this blog and this one.  

Week 1: Build the tallest tower to hold a pumpkin.

Week 2: Make a monster bookmark (the bookmark folding was direct teach, but then they could decorate however they wanted)

Week 3: Make a Paper Bat Fly

Week 4: Design a Candy Tosser

The teachers and I had so many "Wow" moments watching the students these 4 weeks.  Like this student who was using pipe cleaners to hold 4-5 empty boxes together to make his tower for the pumpkin.

And I wish I had video of the last student in the bat video above when he asked me if he could tape a pencil to his bat.  When I said yes, his face was priceless.  Totally did not believe me and said, "I mean this pencil... can I tape it to my bat?" I said yes again and he still stood there.  Hilarious!

While kinders exhaust me, I am always amazed at what they can do, think about, design, invent and make and I am always glad that I give them the opportunity to do those things.