Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Spring Breakin' 2019!

My favorite part of spring break has definitely been spending time with the windows and doors open, enjoying watching my dog race in and out of his dog run through the doggie door in pursuit of whatever captured his attention at the moment.

Spring break 2019 has also reignited my love for reading for the sake of reading.  As a child and young adult, I devoured books weekly.  As an educator, I've shifted to mostly children's literature and educational resources.  As a techie... well, I've always been somewhat attached to my devices, and have found it is quite easy to get lost in a simple game of solitaire or rummy....

And in doing so, I often left the simple joy of recreational reading behind.

Until now.

I deleted the games off of my phone.

And I rediscovered a love of reading just to read.

Now, considering I've seen 1:00am a few times in the past week, the challenge is going to be to remember that once started, a book need not be finished in one day!

So, for anyone out there reading this, if you'd like to share any recommendations for good (non-school) reads, please do so!

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

BrainPop: Creative Coding

As part of being a Certified BrainPop Educator, I have to keep my training fresh.  So a few months ago, when BrainPop offered up some new tools, I jumped at the chance of giving them a go.  
Creative Coding is a new favorite tool that I am excited to try with my school.  It offers a simple way to bring the skills of coding into the familiar tool that is BrainPop.  Because it's connected to different BrainPop movies, it makes for a fantastic formative assessment tool, as well as an engaging way for kids to explore creativity and showcase their knowledge of content and coding skills!

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Masterpiece, Take 2!

Feeding of the fantastical-ness of the 3rd grade Osmo Masterpiece experience last week, this week 2nd grade gave it a go!

The kids are in the midst of an exploration on character traits, so what better way to explore character traits than to examine their own traits?

And what better way to examine your own traits than by drawing a self portrait?And what better way to draw a self portrait than with Osmo Masterpiece?

With what we learned from the 3rd grade experience, we were able to modify so that things were a little smoother.  One thing that made a huge difference was a suggestion from our art teacher - flip the pictures upside down.  That helped the kids focus on tracing the lines, instead of trying to draw perfect eyes (which, by the way, are really challenging to draw!)

The kids, of course, all whined about how terrible their drawings looked in the process.  The finished products, though?  Once outlined with Sharpie and colored with watercolors?  Yeah.  Pretty fantastical.

Now.... which grade will Osmo Masterpiece tackle next?

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Break out the Robots!

Among other tech fun last week, 6th grade kicked off their robotics unit by spending some time with Dash and Dot.  If you ask them, they'll say it was pretty fun, as would me and their science teacher!

Now, these kids have spent a bit of time with Dash and Dot over the past few years, mostly using the Go app, and maybe a bit of Path.  This time, though, as they are preparing for further robotics exploration, I switched it up on them a bit.  Or, as I told the kids, I threw them to the wolves!

Don't worry, these wolves don't bite.

To kick off the unit, the kids were given either a Dash or a Dot, along with a challenge card from the Learn to Code Challenge Card Deck.  Then, I told them that the only app they had access to was Blockly.  Which meant they had to actually do more than record funny sounds and drive Dash around the room.

What I love about this group of kids most?  They rose to the challenge.  They worked their way through the Challenge Deck one letter at a time.  They made tape squares on the floor and persevered through challenge after challenge.  Dot became a magic 8 ball, a petting zoo, and quiet the entertainer, too.

Friday, the last group had their introduction.  As that particular group had several students who are rather advanced in coding, we pulled out, for the first time, Cue!  Which meant on Friday, during the last period of the day, there were eight robots working their way through a series of tasks, and a full class of kids actively engaging in the challenges!

The sights and sounds of learning on Friday afternoon were the perfect way to end a long, long week!

Friday, April 5, 2019

FanGirl Friday: Nicholas Provenzano

Ever heard of Genius Hour?  Or 20-Time?  In a nutshell, it's the concept of giving students one day a week to work on any project of their choosing...  Such a novel idea - giving kids time, in school, to learn something they wanted to learn?  Wow.  Enter Nicholas Provenzano's 20-Time projects.  Projects his high school students experienced for a year.  The experience these kids had... made me wish I was a student in Mr. Provenzano's class!  If you have a little bit of time, you have to watch the culminating TEDx talks the kids did.  It will be well worth it.

Also known as The Nerdy Teacher, Nick is an incredible educator, innovator, and person.  In his blogs, Nick shares himself with such authenticity, it's hard not to be inspired. One of his posts that really landed with me was one about asking for help.  For some people, it's easy.  For others?  For me?  Ehhh, no.

Always love connecting
with Nick at MACUL!
The post that touched my heart?  This one.  As someone who has battled depression and anxiety and whatever since my early teens, I've always kept that part of me hidden, like a dark secret.  After reading Nick's post, I realized that I am not alone.  Shortly after reading the post, I spoke out publicly (read: FB world) about my depression for the first time.  And I haven't hidden it since.

In addition to being an incredible person, and educator, Nick is one of the founders of #EdCampDetroit (which is coming up in May if you want to register!)  He's also an author (check out his books!)  Lots of fun stuff on Nick's twitter feed, too!

Thursday, April 4, 2019

It's a Masterpiece!


This week our 3rd graders were readying to trace pictures of the famous people and turn them into masterpieces in art class.  (They are researching different people as part of their biography unit.)  While taping a picture to a window, and taping another piece of paper on top of it is nice... things took a technological twist, instead!

From my perspective, it was one of the coolest experiences this year - seeing all the third graders, so focused, so intent, and so excited about what they accomplished with this new tech toy?  It was awe-inspiring.

If you're not familiar with Osmo Masterpiece, it takes an image you upload (or use one of the many provided images!) and turns it into a line drawing on the screen.  From there, you place a piece of paper in front of the Osmo, and you see your hands tracing the picture on the screen, while the pencil draws the lines on the paper.  Definitely not the greatest description, so check out the intro on Masterpiece for details that make more sense (hey, it's been a long, long week here!)

Because we used pretty big paper (12 x 18, maybe?) and Osmo Masterpiece works best with letter size paper, we experimented with elevating the Osmo base using blocks.  And while I can't exactly explain how it worked, it definitely worked, as the kids pictures filled much of the paper.  Oh, forgot to mention one of the neatest features!  While you're creating your drawing, Osmo is recording the whole process.  At the end, you have a time-lapse video of the process!  So cool!

Now that the kids have finished their drawings, they'll be taking them to Art class to turn them into detailed works of art in time for the 3rd grade Wax Museum in a few weeks!  I had a blast watching them work, and the kids?  They are already asking when they can use Osmo Masterpiece again!

Another win for Osmo!

Monday, April 1, 2019

Among the Chaos....

So the past two weeks have been massively chaotic - between the Ah-May-Zing Macul Conference (more later!) and then parent-teacher conferences... yeah.  Busy busy busy!

What is one to do when there is so much happening?  A scavenger hunt, of course!  Or at least that's what the second graders did the past two weeks during tech time.  And since it was March... and March is Reading Month.... why not make it a reading scavenger hunt?  And since it happens to be during tech time.... why not make it an EPIC scavenger hunt?

Which is exactly what we did.

Since we kicked off tech time in March is Reading Month by introducing Epic, what better way to wrap the month than with a full on exploration of all that Epic has to offer.

It was a fun way for the second graders to explore the different offerings in Epic - read-to-me books, building a library of favorites, finding a series to dive into - it was, well, Epic!