Monday, August 20, 2018

Careers A to Z

Do teacher brains ever really shut-off in the summer. Even when we aren't attempting to plan and enhance our classrooms, I find my brain just does it on its own. Sort of like autopilot at this point. I shared this elsewhere and decided to cross post here. It is another educator goal of mine to try to document more frequently the happenings and thinking taking place in #OurSTEAMCafe.

Here are some such recent thoughts:
Have you seen the Amazon commercial this summer? Commercial - Amazon Back to School 2018 

A teacher begins her attendance roll call. But instead of calling names she looks for her "Future Paleontologist", and "Aspiring Zoologist" and "Rainbow Unicorn Trainer". The first few times I saw the commercial, I smiled but viewed it passively. I was still in the consumer stage. "Oh, isn't that cute." But the more I saw the commercial, the more it caused me to put my educator hat on. "Hmm, my students could do that." Why not allow students to think and dream in terms of their future selves. And when I heard the little girl described as "Rainbow unicorn trainer". I admit my first thought was, "Oh how precious. She has such imagination!" But then I had to stop myself. The careers of tomorrow are not invented yet. So today's impossibles might just become tomorrow's possibles with a little hard work and creative thinking. Now perhaps there will be some limitations like the question of do unicorns really exist. But perhaps this little girl's dreams and aspirations will bring her to the field of graphic design and computer programming. Maybe she will create an app where you can design your own unicorn be it blue, purple or rainbow colored. Maybe she will create an app that let's you train the unicorn object to perform tricks or run commands. 

Or maybe she will find a completely different path in life. But perhaps we should allow them to think outside of the box and dream of all possibilities. The jobs of tomorrow have not yet been invented. So who knows what she will create and define as her own future self. Today's creative thoughts can become tomorrow's realities.

If you are interested here is a tent card that I made to go with the idea. I will give my students in #OurSTEAMCafe some time to think to think and dream. And finally self-identify who/what they want to become in the future. Then they can complete a tent card to stand at their table space. Maybe their desires and goals will help another child brainstorm their own future. And the beauty of this simplicity is that their career aspirations and dreams for future selves can adapt and change and develop throughout the course of the school year. Just edit or print another tent card to update their thinking.

Link to tent card activity If you opt to use this in your classrooms, I would love to see you share a photo (student faces are not necessary) and tag #OurSTEAMCafe.

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 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?