Making for Educators Week 2: Makey-Makey

This week was Makey-Makey week and I have to admit that this is one I have been looking forward to the most. I have not used Makey-Makey with my students yet, but my colleague did a week long summer camp class and it was a great success. Our challenge this week was to combine Makey-Makey with Scratch and design a project that we could incorporate into our curriculum. I started thinking about my second grade students and their fractured fairy tale unit that they do mid school year. Normally they come to the tech lab and illustrate their covers and pages for their stories. I would love to expand on it and have them design a story or game using Scratch that uses the characters from their fractured fairy tales. They can then use Makey-Makey to navigate through their Scratch programs. I designed a very simple version of what this could look like using the theme of Dusty Locks and the Three Horses.

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I then hooked up Makey-Makey with a few bananas and before I knew it with the click of a banana Dusty Locks was having a conversation with the three horses.

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As I was brainstorming and reflecting on the different projects I do with my students throughout the year I started thinking about my first graders when they participate in International Dot Day. We would create dots in Pixie and then import them into Scratch so that we can use Makey-Makey with them. The students could even make “squishy” dots to connect to their Scratch projects. Stay tuned for more Makey-Makey photos as I will be using it in one of my summer school classes this week and I look forward to the ideas my students will come up with!

For more Makey-Makey inspiration and resources please visit vstinkertown.weebly.com

 

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Making for Educators Week 1: Squishy Circuits

I just started a 6 week Making for Educators symposium and it is off to a great start. They introduced squishy circuits and we spent the week making homemade conductive and insulating dough and experimenting using the dough to connect components such as: battery packs, LED lights, buzzers and motors. The best part about the project was that my 7 year old son was immediately drawn to what I was doing and all but took over the design and creation of the different squishy circuit projects. We had so much fun together!

Here is what my son and I learned:

First we made the conductive and insulating dough. Big decision- what color should we make our dough?!

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Now that we have our dough ready what should we make first?

A Flower

A Flower

We quickly discovered that we could not make all of lights work with our first design so we went back to the drawing board.

These lights worked- hurray!

These lights worked- hurray!

Next up- what animal should we make?

A horse of course

A horse of course

And we all know that a horse is not complete without a tail that lights up.

Finally we made a squishy pig:

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We had so much fun and I can’t wait to introduce this to my students next year!

Squishy face

Squishy face

 

For those of you that are not familiar with squishy circuits check out these two resources:

Squishy Circuits at University of St. Thomas

Super Awesome Sylvia Show

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

aurasma

I am spending my first day at ISTE 2013 in an augmented reality full day workshop. Wow the possibilities for using it in a classroom seem endless. We are using the Aurasma app as well as Aurasma Studio which are both free. We started by creating simple “Auras” with trigger images and animated overlays that were already in the Aurasma library. We then moved on to creating an Aura with a video overlay that we uploaded from our devices. I now have a public channel in Aurasma that can be followed by anyone that has downloaded the app to their mobile device. There are plenty of tutorials available within the app as well as on our instructor Dr. Scott Garrigan’s website. Happy creating!

Aurasma channel link

Follow my Aurasma channel

Summer PD and Toolbox Building

May is the time of year for me when I can reflect on the school year and think about the skills I would like to add to my teaching toolbox (there are so many!). I have a few professional development opportunities lined up this summer that I am really excited about.

The start of summer is marked for me by the ISTE conference. Last year was my first time attending ISTE and I was blown away not only at the size of the conference but by all of the sessions offerred. I have never wanted so badly to be able to clone myself and be in 10 different places at once. I have started filling up my conference planner for this year and am pleased that I have been able to narrow down my interests and be more specific and intentional about what I want to take away from the conference. I am most excited to attend a full-day workshop on augmented reality in the classroom!

My next venture will be a six week online Making for Educators symposium. Each week after a Google Hangout we will be asked to make something with different materials from clay and  textiles to electronics and programming. We will document our progress, successes and failures and share them with our D.I.T. (Do It Together) community! I am loving the latest “maker” trend that is happening now in schools and can’t wait to be inspired by others with lesson plan ideas. I am even thinking about starting a maker club at school! I also just started reading Invent to Learn by Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager which offers wonderful insights into nurturing creative expression in students.

Finally, I will be attending Playdate LA on August 17. It will be a perfect way to end the summer and prepare for the upcoming school year. Playdate LA will be geared for those that want to explore things they have heard about and simply is an excuse for educators to play with technology! See below for the teaser video and think about joining us!

Friday Fun

I saw this first video today from code.org and had to post it as it is a perfect follow-up to my post from yesterday. The second video was created by my first graders today and showcases their Bee-Bots in “disco” action. Enjoy and happy Friday!

 

Early Ed and Programming

I belong to a fabulous professional development group of educators and one of the discussion threads this week has been about programming, particularly in the early elementary grades. As I mentioned in a previous post, we introduce programming with Bee-Bots in kindergarten and progress each year into more challenging projects using MicroWorlds turtles and eventually Lego Mindstorms Robotics.

A recent article published by THE Journal challenges us to rethink about what it means to be fluent in today’s society. Mitch Resnick, LEGO Papert Professor of Learning Research at MIT stresses that teaching students the ability to code or program is an important part of being “fluent” today. He states, “In the same way that learning to read opens up opportunities for many other things, and learning to write gives you a new way to express yourself and seeing the world, we see coding is the same.”

Personally, I am a big believer in creative expression and allowing students to make meaningful connections to what they may already be learning in other classes. It is important to give students a break from the standards and curriculum driven aspect of education and allow their brains to think in a different way. As their teacher, I can facilitate those connections while still giving the students freedom to express their creativity in a logical way. This quote by Mitch Resnick sums it up for me perfectly… “Our goal is not to help kids learn to code, but to code to learn.”

Here are a few Apps that were recommended by the group to teach and facilitate programming in younger students. Click on the image for more info:

Cargo-Bot

Bee-Bot

Kodable

Hopscotch

Daisy the Dino

Will We see More of This in the Future?

I have been reading a lot of negative reviews about Google Glass recently. This video (courtesy of Freetech4teachers.com) is a good example of a positive way in which it can be used and it was refreshing to see another point of view. I am not sure that society is ready for Google Glass yet, but perhaps we may see more of it (and similar products) in the future?