Thursday, June 7, 2018

Ladybug Life Cycles and Learning About Ozobots

During May and June our first graders visited #OurSTEAMCafe. Mrs. Shields shared photographs of ladybugs from Discovery Education and Archive.org. This gave our students a context for comparing the various stages of the ladybug's life cycle. We watched a video segment from Discovery Education that helped students visualize the process of changing from the eggs stage to the adult stage.

Mrs. Shields then shared her Ozobot robots with the students. We practiced following a black line with the sensors in Ozobots. Then students participated in an inquiry activity that helped them discover how color codes function. Students tried several of the known color codes.

The last few days (and this continues) Mrs. Shields has been visiting the first grade classrooms to let students further explore the Ozobots. We are having collaborative explorations and inquiry experiences discussing line thickness and code colors. Students have been thoroughly enjoying our visits. Their questions and observations have been just wonderful.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Organizing our minds and backpacks

One of our third grade teachers had a friend that is a productivity specialist. She provided a wonderful distance learning experience focused on "Clutter-free Connection." She shared the concept with our students of holding onto negativity and worry. They discussed how to let such thoughts go so that our minds are not cluttered. Then students emptied ALL items from their backpacks. They had such fun participating in this portion of the program. Watching them dump out all items and the dimples of laughter emerged. Students then drew a backpack map to help organize their thoughts as to which pocket to best support which items that needed to be returned to their backpacks.

Zoom software helped us connect virtually to our "visiting" specialist. Mrs. Shield's equipment helped us have both audio, visuals, and discussions. The students seem to warm up to the concept of both being heard and seen as well as hearing and seeing our presenter.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Fairy Tales Featuring Technology

A second grade teacher asked about trying Chromebooks with her students. Absolutely! We partnered together and planned a lesson that connected her current teaching with the use of Chromebooks and GSuite. The class had been studying the genre of fairy tales. I showed this teacher how she can offer students text and picture to reinforce literacy skills. We made a slide show sharing the story of The Magic Fish. We then setup a template in Google Slides for students to reflect on the writing styles used in the tale. They were also asked to reflect on the story problem and resolution. Students learned some technology skills to facilitate this (typing, adding pictures, changing font styles, sizes and colors). We taught them the basics and then offered them more freedom to enhance the provided template. The teacher really liked this format. We had a few more additional lessons together with her and her class. And then she soared on her own providing instruction with this digital format. She looks forward to starting this even earlier next year with her students.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Clay and Chromebooks - a Classic

In the past, I have used this activity before. Each time the students amaze me and are so engaged. I setup party bag sized pots of Playdoh. One sits on top of each chromebook. Students are excited to login to chromebooks for the first time. And show double the excitement as they get to create with clay. This was work with a second grade class in #OurSTEAMCafe. Students are motivated to write as they are describing their own creations. It seems a wonderful introduction to working with chromebooks. This year's students were just as creative and engaged. I passed one student on the stairs later in the week and he asked, "Mrs. Shields, when can we come to The STEAMCafe again?" I'll take that as proof of happy students.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Second Grade Stikbots

A second grade class partnered with me on a longer range project. We met for a collaborative experience learning how Stikbots work. We then discussed options for creating green screen movies with Stikbots. Students spent time in their classroom with their teacher planning out their Stikbot movies by writing (pencil and paper) a draft outline created with Google Slides. Then we made a class movie. Each student had the opportunity to move the Stikbot for one of the 10 frames per second. We made a three second movie... What effort for three seconds! But students were so involved and motivated. The teacher shared with me that she had some students that struggled to find their voice. In planning out their Stikbot movies, they wrote much more in depth paragraphs for her.

We then invited small groups of students to visit #OurSTEAMCafe again. They were reminded how the Stikbot Studio app works, how green screen and chroma key works, and how to choose appropriate backgrounds to fit the settings from their writing. Students then got to work creating those green screen stop motion movies. They demonstrated great creativity working with Mrs. Shields' green gloves, straws, legos, construction paper and more. Together we problem solved and tried to figure out best practices for using tripods, stands, crates, construction paper and more to find best results. Movie play day was a big hit in this classroom.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Inspiration in the Aisles

Was just discussing with one friend this evening that I need to add more content here. I haven't really showcased anything from #OurSTEAMCafe this year. I will backfill with more posts soon. I know it is important to share back to our online community. It's a great way to give back to all those that have provided thoughts, motivation, ideas, and projects with me.

Another friend this evening asked for some STEM/STEAM ideas. Here is what I wrote in response:
"I would visit a dollar store and see what's available. You can probably get multipack items for $1. Inspiration can be found in the aisles. Cotton balls (like 100 a pack) can become snowmen, qtips (150-500) and white paint can make snowflakes, fingerpaint and thumbprints can make hearts, foam shapes (25-100s) can be assembled to create anything. I love tongue depressers and velcro dots (need to find more dots). They can twist the sticks into so many shapes and forms (bridges, frames, rafts and more)."

Perhaps this might give others some ideas to branch off from. Did you recently find inspiration within the store aisles?

Friday, August 25, 2017

Building Together

Today is still a summer break day. But today was also a preparing for September Day. Yesterday, I visited school for a little while. Worked on testing all the computers in one of our computer labs. Want to make sure everything is ready to go on the first day. Then I spent some time rearranging #OurSTEAMCafe for the new school year.

A few weeks back I had an idea for an activity for my teachers when we return to school. I hope to help them see that bringing creativity into their classrooms can be easy. I hope to let them see that activities can connect to the standards in simple ways. But I also hope to let them experience the joy that is exploring, collaborating, building, and more with a hands-on #makermovement activity.

Every year on the first day of school, I provide light refreshments in my room. It helps to encourage teachers to stop by, ask for any help they might need, share ideas that might be considering for the coming year, and pick up their SMARTBoard pens. Yesterday I printed labels in preparation for this gathering. The labels read, "Welcome to the new school year! On September 5th or 6th, please bring this envelope with you to #OurSTEAMCafe. Let's build a great year together. ~Mrs. Shields".

Color, size, shape, angles, & roles vary but we work well together.
Today these labels were adhered to self sealing envelopes from the dollar store. 80 envelopes have now been filled with 1 varying Lego block each. The envelopes are sealed. Each envelope will be randomly placed in a staff members mailbox before the opening of school. My idea is that staff should bring their envelope to #OurSTEAMCafe. There we will open them. There each teacher will have an opportunity to place it on a Lego base plate. Together we will build something. Do I know what we will build? No. Do I know how big it will be? No. This is that freedom of expression part one has to expect when working within the #makermovement.

Surrounding the table will be some extra part containers with more Legos. These will be labelled "Community Parts". A reminder that we can't do it all alone. To make something better we may need to reach out to vendors, parents, social groups, consultants, and digitally connected PLN members.

I hope to make some signs reminding us that our shapes, sizes, colors, angles, and roles all may be different. But we have one similarity. We all work well together. Additionally, I would like to print some photographs of samples of how other teachers have been using Legos with their students. This summer I invested in a few books about projects with Legos like storytelling and working with simple machines. These will help decorate the area and offer some idea sparks.

As we build together I will be photographing so that we can see how each group of staff that arrives adds something to the greater whole.