Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wind-Powered Lego Cars Speed the Learning in First and Second Grade

Guest Post by Dustin Rauenzahn of Upper Township Primary School in New Jersey @MrRauenzahn

Kindergarten, First & Second Grade students built wind-powered Lego cars. We discussed how the shape, size, and weight affect how the car would travel. Then, students worked in teams to build their very own Lego car complete with sail(s).

We used straws, index cards, and tape to make the sails.
Groups planned, built, tested & improved their designs to create the perfect wind-powered car! Students placed their car in front of a fan to see how many feet the car could travel using only wind power.

Partners then went back to improve their design and see if they could get the car to go farther during the next test session.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Global Educators #ExploreEarthEveryday Global Makeathon

Guest Post by Ian Matty 

The Mountain Lakes Makers Club @ the Mountain Lakes Public Library is a community makerspace whose mission is to provide maker education opportunities to all students.  We have found much success combining different types of maker technology (robotics, programming, 3d printing) with the arts, science, literature, and nature.  We focus on how robotics and programming are collaborative with all subject areas and not an independent discipline. 

Building on the philosophy that all kids – even preschoolers – can benefit from maker education’s interdisciplinary approach, I worked with six educators from Hong Kong, Cyprus, Nigeria, Ohio, and Pittsburgh to develop the #ExploreEarthEveryday Global Makeathon.  The idea is simple.  Kids love nature.  Nature is very important.  How can we combine nature with robotics so kids can have a deeper sense of learning about their environment?  The makeathon approach allows students and educators to be creative, show their love of their local nature, and learn about robotics and programming.

The Mountain Lakes Makers Club partnered with Beekeeper, Alicia Deley to create robotic pollinators.  Additionally, we collaborated with Janet Horst of the Mountain Lakes Garden Club and learned to build soil moisture sensors for native plants.  Bringing in community members with specific knowledge of bees and plants really ties together the project-based learning process.

How do we build these projects?  First, it is important to recognize that robotics technology today is perfect for hands-on learning because of standardization created by Arduino.  Almost every type of robotics product you can purchase is compatible with each other, both via hardware and programming connections.

The Hummingbird Robotics kit, built by Birdbrain Technologies (and co-developer of the makeathon) provides a perfect student friendly hardware and software platform for first-time roboticists.  The Hummingbird CPU is clearly labeled and all of the components, whether it is a servo, motor, or sensor can easily be connected; No soldering or breadboarding necessary, just an understanding of how sensors work.   Once you start a discussion with students about sensors in a car or the grocery store automatic door, they begin to understand robotics and programming.  To program your robotic Hummingbird CPU, you can connect to various programming languages, from the basic Create Visual language, Scratch (the standard for elementary education) to Python. 

For our robotic pollinators class, some students wanted to create bees.  First, think about how the bee will move.  Will it move back and forth? Or spin completely around?   Will its eyes or antennae light up?  Will its nose buzz? 

Let's say a student wants their Honey Bee to move back and forth between two flowers when the sun is out. 

First, craft two flowers and one Honey Bee.
Second, we need a servo motor. (Servos move between 0 and 180 degrees)
Third, we need a light sensor.
Fourth, connect both components.
Fifth, go into Scratch programming and write your STORY – that is correct, programming is just like writing a story.

If the Sun is out, I want my Honey Bee to move back and forth between the two flowers.
If the Sun is NOT out (cover up with a paper moon!), the Honey Bee goes back to the first flower.
Do not worry!  You do not need to use sensors at first.  You can just control robotic actions by simply pressing a key on the keyboard.  You will be very impressed with what students can learn and create.
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To implement Makerspaces in your classroom, please visit our Makerspace Mondays at the SRI&ETTC. Upcoming dates on our summer schedule are: 
May 21, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
June 11, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
July 23, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
August 6, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
August 20, 2018 – 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Monday, March 19, 2018

More Fonts for Google Docs with Extensis Fonts add-on.

We all love fonts, especially when building visually engaging hyperdocs. Now you can install a popular add-on in your google docs account that will give you access to even more fonts. In your google doc, go to Add-ons>Get Add-ons> and type Extensis Fonts in the search bar. Install the add-on to the google account where you wish to enable all of Extensis Fonts' latest choices. When you wish to use the fonts, start the add-on and simply highlight which words in your document you wish to impose the font upon and select the font of your choice from the right-hand side menu. You can close the Extensis Fonts menu when you are finished changing out your fonts.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Hyperdocs Trick with Bookmarking

Their answers are all over the place! 

Not every teacher enjoys the process of weeding through a hyperdoc to grade their student submissions. So we have this simple bookmarking tip to keep the hyperdoc organized with all student submissions routed to one area for easy feedback and grading. This tip works with google docs specifically.

How do I insert a bookmark? 

To add a bookmark in a Doc, put your cursor where you would like to add the bookmark then go to Insert menu and select Bookmark. You will see a little bookmark icon appear. Then you can add a link to that bookmark by highlighting the text, and using the link tool or the shortcut (CTRL or CMND + K), then click “Bookmarks” to see all the bookmarks you’ve added. Simply select which bookmark to which you want to link.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Adventures in Flipgrid

Have you introduced your students to Flipgrid yet? If not, you will enjoy this adventure with them. Flipgrid allows teachers to create discussion-style questions that students respond to through recorded videos. Each grid is effectively a message board where teachers can pose a question (Topic), and their students can post quick video responses that appear in a tiled "grid" display. Grids can be password-protected, public or private and are an excellent way to collaborate with one another and other classrooms. 

Students do NOT need to login to participate, nor do they need an email address; they just need the code to the discussion topic or the grid. They can respond using any device with a webcam, be it PC/MAC, Chromebook, tablet or phone. 

Digital pen pals! 

For those of you looking for digital pen pals, connect your classroom with students of your fellow Flipgrid educators around the world! Explore possible connections by grid, age, or subject domain. Look at what Janie Hachen's students recorded for Read Across America Month! 

Co- Pilots! 

You can even add a Co-Pilot to your grid, meaning that other Flipgrid educators can edit the grid, create Topics, review videos, and provide feedback.

Do they hate being on camera?

For students who are not allowed on camera, or are a bit camera shy, they can use puppets or point the camera to their classwork or somewhere other than their faces. They can also record avatar videos using apps like Chatterpix kids or Voki and upload that video as their response. There are some samples at this post by Jen Giffen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Fotobabble- Photos with voices!

Fotobabble enables students to attach their thoughts to a single image to relate a short story or inform a listener about a topic related to a visual. It's free! It's a photo, with a voice.  You can access it on the web, or if you have iPads in your classroom, you can download the free app.  Students young and old, enjoy creating projects or blogs with Fotobabble, as it's a fun and easy way to make a "talking" picture. Students can customize projects with different backgrounds, and slideshows are also included with this tool.

There are many ways to engage students with the help of Fotobabble. This tool is often used for students to make their bio's at the beginning of the school year.  Using Fotobabble for a reading assignment has the students drawing pictures of the story they read, making recordings of their summary, and then sharing their Fotobabble with the class, exposing all of the students to a variety of stories.

If you are interested in learning more about Fotobabble, Saker Alexander just posted this video for his students who are using the tool for the first time. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Cramberry Offers Students Great Study Habits

Cramberry is a user-friendly web tool that helps students with studying.  With this web tool, you can create your own, or use a previously made set of flashcards to explore.  What separates your creation from standard flash cards is the ability for this tool to store data for students on the flash cards they are getting correct and incorrect.  It analyzes this data and will emphasize the questions that your class did not perform well on as they continue studying.  

                This helpful tool promotes good studying habits for students and is useful to teachers because they can create their own flashcards for their class and share them publically for everyone to use.  Cramberry is free to all users, but they must have an account to create their own cards and track their progress. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Google Drawings Vector Portraits Lesson

Watch this amazing option for schools with G-Suite. Students can create their own vector graphics to use in presentations, for art projects, for profile pictures and more. The value in student-created images promotes creativity, avoids Copyright/Fair Use concerns, and promotes Visual Literacy

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

If This Then That Recipe for Photo Blogging with David Theriault

We loved this share because it actually worked well with an app that our students use all the time. We used the Instagram"New photo by anyone with specific hashtag", but were super worried about posts that might sneak into the blog that we do not want. Not everyone who uses hashtags has good intentions and the automation of this actually makes bad posts harder to catch, so we STRONGLY recommend that all posts are vetted by the teacher.  Unfortunately IFTTT does not offer a draft feature in connection to Blogger. We NEED that  because so many schools have GAFE.  Wordpress offered some choices such as "Save as draft" or "publish as private" that blogger did not have. We feel Wordpress in this instance is the better choice for an educational setting. Thank you Dave, you definitely gave us good ideas for using instagram, wordpress and IFTTT.