Last week I had fourth, fifth, and sixth graders working on creating a podcast. We connected our podcasts to the curriculum students were working on in class. We used the Chrome Extension, Beautiful Audio Editor, to create the audio clips. The students enjoyed collaborating and creating a script to read into their microphones.
Many students had not listened to a podcast before, so I also got the chance to show students some podcasts for kids. They enjoyed listening to www.storynory.com. These children's stories include different types of writing that is recorded and students are able to just click the play button and listen to these writing pieces.
When we created podcasts, classroom teachers and I work together to find a topic that connects to their students' curriculum. For example, fourth graders were writing a podcast script explaining all about the American Revolution. They chose some key topics that they wanted to discuss about the Revolutionary War and worked together to come up with a powerful script.
Here are the tutorial videos I showed students to help them understand how to use Beautiful Audio Editor.
We read the book The Three Billy Goats Gruff today and created a STEM project after our reading. I gave students the challenge of building a bridge between two tables. The two tables were exactly two feet apart. They had to use straws, craft sticks, masking tape, and pipe cleaners. They had to engineer this bridge so that three billy goats gruff could all be held on top of the bridge. It was amazing how many of the bridges were different and almost all of them held up the three billy goats. I am making this more difficult with my next classes by adding weights for students to put on their bridge in order to test how much weight their bridge can hold.
Each Tuesday there is a Code Ninja meeting after school. This after school club works on coding and computer programming. The club is run by MHS IT Academy teacher, Mr. Ferwerda.
The students get a chance to use Kodu Game Lab to create games and environments within their Kodu "world." This club has been a hit with students in grades 4-6. I have greatly enjoyed supporting this program and the work that the MHS IT Academy has put into teaching students about computer programming at the elementary level.
We have been looking for ways to integrate more technology exploration throughout the school day. One of the ideas the Gifted and Talented teachers and I came up with was to use lunch recess time to explore new technology. We decided to call this day, "Maker Mondays." During Maker Mondays, students get a chance to work with new technology and collaborate with others. We have found with this time that students are naturally coming up with projects to complete and expand on. When the permission slip went home, we had forty-three students to sign up to participate. Maker Mondays have been an awesome experience for everyone involved!
I introduced my students to the app Flipgrid this week and they loved it! We wrote a book commercial on the last book we read. We used this commercial to practice writing a summary on a fiction or nonfiction book. These summaries were a great way to check comprehension of the stories and hold students accountable for what they have read. My plan is to turn these book reviews into QR codes so that there can be book reviews around the library. These book reviews could be scanned by any student interested in reading that book! Flipgrid was a great platform for this project - It is easy to use and students liked putting a sticker on their 'cover photo.' Here are some pictures from the experience!
My Kindergarteners and First Graders participated in a Storytime STEM activity this week. We read the book The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Sciezka. Then, we created houses out of toothpicks and gumdrops. Their house had to be sturdy enough to withstand our "big-bad wolf," which was actually a hair blow dryer with a wolf mask on it. If their structure fell down, they had to find a way to make it stronger and more sturdy. Here are some pictures from our fun experiment! The kiddos loved this project and when their structure did not fall down they worked together to make a taller building.
The students at Prairie View and Eagleville have been exploring 3D printing. They started off getting more familiar with the program Tinkercad through mini challenges. We completed these challenges so that students could get a basic understanding of how Tinkercad works before we start on an actual project. Students learned how to drag an object onto their workspace, make an object bigger, make the object taller, put a hole in an object, add text to an object, and group objects together.
Eagleville students are working on creating a gear key chain with their names on it. I am excited to see what other projects we can connect to the curriculum moving forward.
Google Expeditions is amazing. We have used virtual reality the past two weeks in the library to extend on students' learning in class.
Third Grade: Went inside a cloud! This was an extension of their work in science about the water cycle and climates.
Fourth Grade: Went inside a circuit! We analyzed differences between parallel and series circuits. In addition, we saw how circuits are created in today's world through computer software.
Fifth Grade: We went to a Native American reservation and looked at different aspects of Native American culture. This connected to fifth graders' work in social studies.
Sixth Grade: Traveled all around the world to different biomes. We took notes on the characteristics of each biome and animals that lived in each place.
The students loved this interactive experience. It prompted great questions and discussion. I can't wait to connect this to learning we do in the future!
Storytime Stem has been the most fun time with my little ones! This week we read the book 10 Apples Up on Top by Dr. Suess. I picked this book because Kindergarteners are also learning about the life cycle of an apple. After reading, students got a chance to create a LEGO structure in which they could place two apples up on top! Kindergartners showed great collaboration skills throughout this activity.
Over the past two months I have spent hours interviewing librarians and educators about how they have developed a makerspace in their schools/library. I have read countless scholarly articles about STEM Labs, Creative Common Areas, and Makerspaces and their positive impacts on students. Additionally, I have toured several spaces in order to develop my vision of what our makerspace will look like.
All of this research has guided my creation of a Makerspace Integration Plan. This is a three-year plan and works to slowly develop a space that fits our school.
Despite all this research I am fully aware that the space needs to fit our school, students, and staff. My plan cannot stand on it's own. My integration plan must be readily adaptable based on the specific needs of the school.
My goal over the next six months will be to create a committee of passionate teachers who see a need, a place, and a benefit in interactive, hands-on maker challenges in our school. These teachers will help develop this plan in a more systemic, comprehensive way than I can alone. I look forward to sharing my vision and creating a new vision based on the thoughts and ideas of others.
Nonetheless, I'm excited to get my complete vision on paper. With this visual checklist, I can reflect, change, adapt, and make purposeful decisions for our school.
Basically.... It's a great starting point as we walk into the school year!