The 2021-22 student book budget team just completed their project for the year. Over 115 books were added to our library this year thanks to their work. We are so happy that this year’s books can be enjoyed for the second half of the school year. We are also happy that we were able to do this project in-person this year. We had to make a few changes such as not going on a field trip to Avid Bookshop and making sure students from the same class sat together.
I ordered the student selections for this project back in November, so supply chain and the holidays delayed the book arrivals until the first couple of weeks of January. I picked up our books from Avid Bookshop and cataloged them for students. Our Capstone books shipped to our school and included processing labels already attached. Each grade level of students helped unpack books, cross check with the packing slip, inspect for damage, label with genre stickers, and scan books into their genre categories. Students also helped display the books on the tables in the library.
Each student on the book budget team got to select one book to check out before anyone else. The remaining books were quickly checked out by classes visiting the library. I’m sure they will continue to be enjoyed many times this year and beyond.
This year we had many students try out this project for the very first time. At our final meeting, I asked for some feedback to see what students enjoyed and encouraged our 3rd and 4th graders to join the project again next year. No one really had any thoughts for improvements for the project, but I asked them to think about it. As usual, getting to survey students throughout the school, meeting with Jim Boon from Capstone, and prepping the books for checkout were at the top of the list of favorite moments. Hopefully next year, we will be able to go on our field trip again because that is always a rewarding experience for students and a connection to our community.
For now, we’ll enjoy these new additions to our library and build up our funds from book fair for next year’s project.
It has been several years since our library was reorganized by genre. Having books grouped together by genre has helped many readers browse our library shelves and discover new books based on their interests. Each November, we typically celebrate Picture Book Month by highlighting the picture book section and hosting a reading challenge. The challenge has ranged from having students read 1 picture book from each genre section to students setting their own goal and working toward that goal in November. Some past feedback from students and teachers was a hope for challenges that stretched beyond just the picture book section. Since the past year has put some barriers in place for book access, I thought it was a great time to introduce a new reading challenge and get students exploring all of our library genres throughout the whole year and rediscovering where sections are located.
For this year’s challenge, students choose between 3 challenges: picture books, chapter books, and informational books. They receive a bookmark for their challenge that has pictures of each genre section. This picture matches the signs and labels in each area of the library. As students read a book from each section, they get a sticker on their bookmark. When the bookmark is full, that part of the challenge is finished and they can move on to a 2nd or 3rd challenge. Students read at their own pace. There is no deadline to finish.
The bookmarks were created in Canva. Educators can sign up for free access to Canva. I’ll be honest. I’m terrible at graphic design. I’m also not that great at using Canva, but they have added so many tools that make it easier to use. Canva has templates for so many types of projects, including bookmarks. You can print the bookmarks just as they are, or you can choose a template and make some edits. I ordered the bookmarks online rather than dealing with printing and cutting them myself.
I’m not a huge fan of prizes for reading, but I gathered some feedback from students about what some good “rewards” could be for finishing the challenge. We tried to keep things connected to reading, and we might make some adjustments as we go. For now, if students complete one challenge they get a shout out on our morning news show and a choice of bookmark. For completing 2 challenges, students get another shout out and a “Barrow Reads” backpack clip that was made on our 3D printer. The backpack clip was designed in Tinkercad by me with some input from students. Students also get their name entered into a drawing for several prize packs of books. For completing all 3 challenges, students get one more shout out and get entered into a drawing for an autographed book.
I introduced the challenge to the whole school on our morning news show.
Right now students are mostly coming as a class for lessons and checkout so I’m explaining the challenge again and letting students pick their first bookmark if they want to start. Grades 2-5 are starting with any challenge they want. K/1st are starting with picture books or informational books. As students check out their books, me or the teacher help them get their name on their bookmark and add stickers for the books they are checking out. When they return to the library, they have to bring their bookmark back to get their next stickers. The trickiest part of this challenge is going to be keeping up with that bookmark. I can look back a student’s history if they lose the bookmark, but hopefully that won’t happen too much.
When students finish a bookmark, they fill out a quick Google form that can be reached on an iPad through a QR code. This will help me keep track of who has finished 1, 2, or all 3 challenges so I can track any shout outs or other rewards.
What has happened so far this week?
Most students who have visited have been excited to start the challenge.
I’ve seen that students are confused about the difference between picture books, chapter books, and informational. Also there has been confusion about sections that have the same name in each of those areas. It has been a chance for me to clarify misunderstandings and also think about changes I could potentially make to sections.
Students have discovered sections that they didn’t realize existed. This has helped me see sections I might need to teach more about.
Books that haven’t been checked out in a long time are getting checked out.
Some students aren’t interested in the challenge. They want to read what they love the most from just a few sections. That is ok because this challenge is a choice and not a requirement.
Some students have been frustrated that they can’t do all 3 challenges at the same time. I’m thinking more about this.
As I’ve been sharing the challenge with students, we’ve talked about stretching ourselves as readers to try new things. I remind students that they can still get books from their favorite sections while also doing the challenge. The main purpose is to try sections you may not visit often in order to see if you find a new favorite book, author, or genre. I never want to discourage kids from reading what they love.
It has only been a week, so we’ll see where the challenge takes us.
It’s a new year in the Barrow Media Center. We are fully in-person and trying to get checkout, lessons, collaborations, and special projects rolling. Our makerspace collaboration with UGA is on hold, but that gives us a new opportunity to begin our student book budget project early.
The student book budget team is a group of 3rd-5th graders who use our book fair profits to purchase new books for the library. Their purchases are based on survey feedback from students throughout the school. This project has been a yearly project since 2008 and each year it changes a bit. Last year brought our biggest change since most of our work had to be done virtually. This year, we have almost 70 students in 3rd-5th grade participating and I’m having to structure our project in new ways to keep everyone engaged and safe.
To begin our project, I created a Google form application and students had one week to apply. The survey asked them if they were willing to work during portions of recess time, whether they could think beyond just themselves when selecting books, and why they wanted to be on the team. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many new students interested in the project this year and I once again contemplated being selective since over 70 students applied. Every student agreed to all the terms and gave a genuine reason for being in the group, so I chose to keep everyone. Since we meet during recess, the biggest group I have at a time is 25. We meet on Tuesdays & Thursdays as needed from 11:45-1:20, switching groups every 30 minutes.
With a larger group, I had to think of new ways to make sure all voices were heard. Our first meeting was an overview of the project and to allow students to walk around the library and make observations about the sections of the library. I asked them to notice sections that seemed empty, sections that were overflowing, sections that were missing completely, or anything else. They wrote these noticings down on paper and we saved them for our next meeting.
Before meeting 2, I made a Google Classroom and added all the students. Under classwork, I added a list of resources that we would need. The purpose of our 2nd meeting was to create the survey that we would use with all students in the school to get thoughts on what new books were needed in the library. Rather than try to write the survey together during the meeting, I had them look at last year’s survey to see the types of questions. I also had them look at the noticings that we had all written on paper. Using Padlet, student answered 3 questions: 1. What do you like about last year’s survey? 2. What should be changed about last year’s survey? 3. Based on what you learned from walking around the library, what new questions should be added?
I took all of the feedback from our discussions and Padlet and edited our survey. During meeting 3, students learned how to scan a QR code to pull up the survey on an iPad and answered the survey themselves. Book budget students survey students in grade K-2 with iPads and grades 3-5 answer the survey in Google Classroom. Normally, we just go to lunch and recess and ask the survey, but I didn’t want students to have to survey maskless students at lunch. Instead, book budget students filled out a form to select which classes they wanted to survey. I also asked teachers when the best survey times were, and I tried to match teachers and students. I scheduled email reminders to teachers and students and also posted the schedule in our Google classroom and crossed my fingers that everyone showed up to survey at the right time. For the most part, they did.
Across 5 days, the book budget team surveyed students in grade K-2 while teachers shared the survey with grades 3-5. The data poured into Google forms so that we can analyze the data and set goals at our next meeting.
This project is one of my favorite student voice projects each year because I believe that the library collection is “our collection”. We develop it together. I can’t wait to see what decisions are made this year.
We have many traditions at Barrow. One of the traditions that I began is our Poem In Your Pocket Day. This event started off small back in 2008. I encouraged everyone in the school to carry poems in their pockets on a certain day in April and a few classes signed up to come to the library to share poetry into a microphone. Over time this event grew into a multi-day event where every class in the school comes to the library, which is decorated like a poetry cafe, and each student gets to share an original or favorite poem into the microphone. We also broadcast our poetry readings in multiple ways. As technology changes, our way of streaming our readings changes too.
Last year, we were still figuring out virtual learning so we used Flipgrid to share our poetry rather than having every class or student participate. This year, we decided to bring this event back with a few modifications for safety. We still have one class at each grade level that is virtual. We have 25 in-person homerooms. This stretched our event to 3 days. I scheduled a 20-minute slot for each class and teachers helped students prepare poems to read. Many students had already written poems as part of their writing workshops.
For virtual students, I created a video to show them how they might make their own “poetry cafe” at home since they wouldn’t be in our library.
For in-person students, I setup chairs in the library that were spaced out. In the past, we’ve sat at decorated tables or on shared cushions, but this year I felt spaced chairs was safer. For decorations, I pretty much pulled out what I could easily grab which meant decor from multiple seasons. I decided the theme was “poetry year round” since poetry can be celebrated anytime. We had moving snowflakes on the ceiling, flower lights around the board, lanterns, vases of flowers, colorful tablecloths, a READ pumpkin, and a beach towel. Our microphone had fabrics attached and a fabric backdrop with lights.
Whether virtual or in-person, students took turns sharing poetry into the microphone and we celebrated each poem with snaps and quiet claps. It’s a great opportunity for students to have a short moment in the spotlight and a space to be heard. Some students opted not to share, and no one was forced to come to the microphone if they didn’t want to. As students left, they received a bookmark with words like: “think”, “design”, “create”, “be kind”, “be strong”, and more.
I loved seeing our virtual students and teachers really getting into the poetry cafe idea. Many wore special hats or clothes and many created a backdrop to share in front one. One student even replicated our library microphone with fabrics.
Since families aren’t coming into the building right now, I shared a Zoom link for every poetry session. I also recorded the sessions and loaded them to Youtube for families to watch later. Families who joined live via Zoom were on the screen for students to see.
I put all of our videos into a Wakelet so anyone can enjoy our 3 days of poetry readings. We did have a power outage in the midst of the last day, so a few classes weren’t recorded as we scrambled to move forward with our schedule.
Since 2010, Barrow students have been a part of a project called our “student book budget”. It’s had a few different names over the years but the idea has remained the same: students having total control over how a portion of the budget is spent to buy books for the library.
This school year provided us with extra challenges. We have been virtual for most of this year with just a few weeks in person in November, December, and March-May. I had to figure out how we would take so many of the pieces that we do in person in the library and throughout the school and transition them to online. Here’s a look at how our project went this year.
In January, students in grades 3-5 had the opportunity to apply to be in the book budget group by filling out a simple Google form. They had to include their name & teacher plus answer some questions about their commitment to meeting online and making decisions for the whole school rather than just for themselves. Finally, students wrote a short explanation about why they wanted to be in the group. As usual, I took every student who answered all the questions and had a genuine interest in the group. This year’s group had 15 students.
I created a Google Classroom where I could share links to our resources and Zoom as well as communicate with families. We met each Monday on Zoom to talk about our ideas for each step of the project. One of the first parts of the project is always to survey the whole school about reading interests. In our first Zoom, we looked at past Google form surveys to see what we wanted to keep, change, or add. Based on their discussion, I made a copy of the previous year’s Google form and made edits. The book budget team wanted students to pick 2 genre categories in picture books, chapter books, and informational books that they thought needed more books. They also gave space for specific suggestions.
Normally, students in grades 3-5 answer the survey via email. The book budget students go into the lunchroom, classrooms, and recess to survey PreK-2nd grade on iPads. This year, we still sent the survey to 3rd-5th graders in email. Then, we assigned each student in book budget to follow up with a Prek-2nd grade teacher via email to ask if they could share the survey with their students or if a book budget student could come to their class Zoom to talk about the survey. Overall, our number of completed surveys went way down this year but we still had a good representation of voices at each grade level.
Once the survey results came in, the book budget students set some purchasing goals. This year, they decided to focus on graphic novels, humor, ghosts, fun facts, gaming, and a few transportation books. Normally our budget comes from our fall book fair. However, this year our fall book fair was online and only made about $400 in Scholastic Dollars. Luckily, I was conservative in my spending last year with book fair profits so we still were able to have a budget of $2,000.
One vendor we always work with is Jim Boon at Capstone. Jim has always taken the student goals and curated a selection of books to bring in for students to look through. He also gives each student a catalog and shows them how to scan into a list. This year, Jim met with students on Zoom. Amy Cox at Capstone also helped us think through how we might easily put together a list. We decided to create a new account on the Capstone site that students could login to and collaborate on a list without messing with any of my regular Capstone account. I shared Capstone’s online catalogs with students in Google Classroom and they quickly discovered that they could click on a book in the catalog to get to the book on the website and add it to the list. Jim showed students how to navigate the catalog and also pointed out books that matched the student goals.
Another vendor we use is our local bookstore, Avid Bookshop. We usually walk to Avid and select books in person. This year Avid is closed to in-person shopping, so instead, I linked the website in our Google Classroom and created a Google form where students could submit the title, author, price, ISBN number, and link of the book. We took a Zoom session to go over all this and then students added books on their own. This book list went into a spreadsheet that I could easily share with Ian McCord at Avid Bookshop for ordering.
We took about 2 weeks to add books to the list and then we were able to have one in-person meeting just as in-person school started back up.
We used this meeting to look over our lists together and see what was missing. Normally, we have to cut lots of books from the list, but this time we were actually able to add more because students hadn’t spent all the money yet. It was more difficult for us to add books to our lists during virtual. Once the budget was met, I placed our orders.
When the books come in, we usually meet to unpack, add genre labels, and scan books into Destiny subcategories. With state testing, safety precautions, and the end of the year looming, I had to do some of this myself and use only a few of the book budget team to help.
We met one final time in person to take the books out of the boxes, double check that everything was here, and display the books on tables in the library. The book budget students got to pick 3 books to checkout and then the rest were available for anyone to checkout. Each class that visited the library immediately went to look at the new books and it didn’t take long for them to disappear into the hands of readers.
We do our best to expect the miraculous, and it definitely took the miraculous to pull this project off this year. Overall, I think it was still a great experience that still gave students a voice in the decision making of the library. While I love technology and virtual connections, I can’t wait to get this project back to in-person soon.
April is poetry month and April 22 is Earth Day. Since our 3rd grade studies environmental standards in the 4th quarter, I decided to weave all of these things together using Wakelet, Padlet, and Capstone Connect. Currently, most of our school is attending in-person but we have one class at each grade level that is virtual. I’ve been planning lessons and projects for virtual instruction and then modifying them with activities we can also do in-person for our in-person classes. I find Wakelet one of the easiest ways to curate content in a sequential or choice-board format. I can easily share the Wakelet in Google Classroom for students to quickly access once the opening part of the lesson is complete.
Our 3rd grade standard is S3L2. Obtain, evaluate, and communicate information about the effects of pollution (air, land, and water) and humans on the environment. I decided to open our lesson with a short and powerful read aloud The Mess that We Made by Michelle Lord & Julia Blattman. This book has text that repeats and builds on each page to show how one choice environmental choice can snowball to impacts many aspects of our environment. It also has a great message of how we can be the ones to turn pollution around and save our Earth.
Once we read and discussed the book, I set the idea of recycling or reusing by talking about discarded library books. I showed books that were falling apart beyond repair and how I often tear pages from these books to save for projects during the year. I specifically chose some discarded books that featured animals or the world so that students could use the pages to create blackout poetry as a way to reuse instead of throwing away.
To setup our blackout poetry work session, we watched this short video from Austin Kleon.
Since the video offers a visual with a musical background, I could add in a few things about blackout poetry while the video was playing.
I also offered students the option of creating a digital blackout poem. This was especially helpful for our virtual students, but many of our in-person students chose this option too. We used an online poetry maker. Side note: This site was blocked in my district so I had to request that it be unblocked for this project. It has 3 texts already available to choose from so I used the Alice In Wonderland text to model making a blackout poem. My tip for students was to start with a noun and then find words along the way that described or connected with that noun. This was the poem I created in my demo.
The online generator lets you easily select the words you want, blackout the rest, render the text, and save as an image.
It even has a custom text box where you can copy and paste your own words. This is where I pulled in articles from PebbleGo via my subscription to Capstone Connect, an online hub that allows you to search by titles or standards across PebbleGo, PebbleGoNext, and Capstone Interactive Library. For our blackout poetry, I searched by our state 3rd grade science environmental standards and selected several articles from PebbleGo & PebbleGoNext that students could read and then copy and paste chunks of text into the custom text box of the poetry maker.
I also created a Padlet where students could upload their digital blackout poems or take a picture of their paper blackout poetry.
Once students finished with poetry, they could read or listen to the many interactive ebooks from Capstone Interactive library that that I included on the Wakelet. These books were also found thanks to the standards search in Capstone Connect.
To close our time, I added an exit ticket where students could share what they learned about helping the environment, what they liked about the lesson, and what didn’t really work well for them.
This lesson was a lot of fun and students were engaged the whole time. It was hard to finish it all in one session, so the classroom teachers will continue the lesson in the classroom. That’s another great thing about having everything in Wakelet. It’s a lot of resources, but it’s easy to share and continue using for future work sessions.
If you’re curious about Capstone Connect or how I have been using Wakelet to curate resources for grade level projects, I’ll be presenting a webinar on April 21 from 4:30-5:15PM CT. You can register here. Even if you can’t attend in person, you can reference the recording later. I’ll share more about this poetry project, some projects from the past couple of months, and something I’m setting up for the summer. Plus you’ll have a chance to ask some questions too.
The best projects start with a seed of an idea mentioned in an email or passing in the hallway. A few weeks ago, Ms. Olin, a 5th grade teacher, emailed me an idea about connecting 5th grade social studies standards to the current events of today. She wanted to possibly weave in photography or some type of multimedia project. I had to really brush up on my history. I pulled books about the dust bowl, the great depression, and the new deal hoping that something would spark an idea. In the current state of the world, I find it really hard to be creative because I can barely keep my head above water (evidenced by this blog post that is my only post in almost a year).
A few weeks passed, and Ms. Olin emailed me to see if I had anything put together. My head had still been swirling with thoughts but nothing had clicked together yet. I was on a time crunch, and just when I thought nothing would come together, I woke up one morning and picked up a book about the Migrant Mother photograph. I started wondering, what if we framed the whole project around the idea of “iconic photographs” and study one iconic photograph as our mentor text.
At the time, we were still 100% virtual with limited time for these standards. I decided to offer a lesson in 2 different ways: 1. A self-guided lesson via Wakelet 2. a whole grade level Zoom.
We opted to hold a grade level Zoom and use the Wakelet for students to reference as they worked on their projects or for students who were absent for our Zoom.
We began by looking at the Migrant Mother image.
In the chat, students wrote what they noticed about the picture as well as what they could learn about the people in the photograph. Next, I used our subscription to Capstone Connect to read from Migrant Mother: How a Photograph Defined the Great Depression. Capstone Connect gives schools full access to PebbleGo, PebbleGo Next, and Capstone Interactive Library as well as planning tools to search by standards and titles. I love that I can pull a direct link to a resource in any of these 3 databases and share it with students.
Once students had some background info on an iconic photo as well as how photographs can capture the past, we went through a series of slides to talk about how the events of the great depression can relate to events happening today. For example, during the great depression people lined up at soup kitchens for a meal during hard times. Today, people line up in cars at food distribution events or food banks as more people are unemployed due to COVID-19. I paired several photographs from the great depression with comparable photos of today as examples.
After this lesson, teachers offered Google slides templates for students to use to compare events of the great depression and today. Students could also choose to create their own slides or use a different tool for their project. They continued to use the Wakelet of resources to gather information and photographs for their projects.
Even though I couldn’t be a part of every moment of this project, I loved following along with what students were creating. Now, the projects are starting to pour in and they are amazing. I’ve sprinkled some throughout this post and put them all together on their own Wakelet. I’ll continue to add as projects come in.
The most amazing thing about projects like these is when people beyond our school take a look at the student work. I hope it inspires you. I hope it causes you to pause and reflect on how history repeats itself or how we learn from history. I hope you’ll also take a moment to leave a comment on this post to the students in general or to a specific student. I’ll be sure to share your voice with the students.
Quarantine put a big hold on the announcement of our Barrow Peace Prize. However, we finally were able to come together in a different way to celebrate the end of this special project. We wanted to still have a live announcement as we usually do, but we knew that all students would not be able to join us in person. I reached out to our friends at Flipgrid and we came up with a plan to record our individual parts of the announcement using Flipgrid and adding the videos for easy viewing and sharing in a Flipgrid mixtape.
I had already brought the awards home to work on over spring break, so I tracked down some envelopes and addressed them all to the award winners. On the day of the announcement, I visited the Post Office and mailed all the awards so that I could let students know to be on the lookout for them.
At 2PM on April 29, we met together on Zoom. The 2nd grade classroom teachers, art teacher, principal, assistant principal, instructional coach, counselor, family engagement specialist, and over 30 2nd grade students came together via Zoom to celebrate the announcement.
We looked at where our voices had reached on an analytics map. Student voices were heard in over 210 locations around the world and 6 different continents.
Prolific Persuaders –
-For using your persuasive techniques to encourage an authentic audience to vote for your civil rights leader.
Outstanding Openers –
-For using a creative hook to capture your audience’s attention from the very beginning of your persuasive writing.
Dynamic Designers –
-For creating an inspiring piece of art to accompany your persuasive writing and visually engage your audience.
We also recognized the designers of the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize. Before spring break, these 7 students met together to come to an agreement on the 2020 Peace Prize design. They looked at their individual designs and found common elements that could be combined into one award.
This 3D-printed award was given to all of the designers plus all of the students who researched the winner of the 2020 Peace Prize.
Finally, we came to the moment students had been waiting for. After more than, 1,000 votes from over 210 locations around the world, the winner of the 2020 Barrow Peace Prize is………….
I’m so glad we were able to come together to close out this project and I hope that students enjoy getting awards in the mail. You can watch the virtual announcement on our Flipgrid Mixtape.
Each year our 2nd graders work on a project called the Barrow Peace Prize. Every student researches one of four people from black history and gathers facts from PebbleGo, Britannica, books, and a few other online resources. They use these facts to write a persuasive essay asking people to vote for their person to win the Barrow Peace Prize. The criteria for the prize is also determined by the students after learning about character traits. These essays are recorded in Flipgrid and are now ready for viewing. We ask people all over the world to watch these videos, listen to these student voices, and vote on which of the four people from Black History should win this year’s award: Jackie Robinson, Sojourner Truth, Martin Luther King Jr., or Harriet Tubman.
You can vote as many times as you like and you are welcome to share this link with everyone you know. If you choose to tweet about our project and share pictures of you or your class of students watching our videos, we hope you will tag @plemmonsa in your tweets so they can be shared with our Barrow students. If you use Instagram, please tag @barrowmediacenter We love to see how this project spreads around the world.
Voting is open now through March 13 at 12PM EST. Simply visit our Smore page, watch several videos, and then click the link to vote. We can’t wait to see who will win this year’s award.
We love trying new things in our makerspace, so this February we decided to leap into Rubiks cubes. At AASL in Louisville, I visited the You Can Do the Cube booth and checked out their Rubiks cube lending program. You can check out sets of Rubiks cubes to create Rubiks cubes mosaics and simply pay for the shipping and handling each way.
I shared this idea for our makerspace with Gretchen Thomas at UGA and she was excited to give it a try. We collaborate with Gretchen and her students every Tuesday and Thursday in our open makerspace time. Instead of waiting on an available kit in the lending program, she decided she could use some funds to purchase some inexpensive cubes on Amazon. She ordered 120 3×3 cubes and 50 2×2 cubes.
In class at UGA, Gretchen’s students watched multiple videos on how to solve Rubiks cubes and worked to learn some strategies that would be helpful to our Barrow students. They also practiced designing their own small mosaics using the 3×3 cubes.
At Barrow, we selected some prepared mosaics from the You Can Do the Cube site. We chose Rosa Parks for our 3×3 and a flower for our 2×2. I measured out a grid on a piece of butcher paper and taped the individual mosaic pieces into the grid and numbered them. I made a second set of pieces that we numbered and cut out and put into an envelope. Students could select a picture out of the envelope, solve that picture, and place it onto the correct square in the grid.
For our open makerspace, teachers sign up students for a 30-minute slot on a Google document. They are signing up for all 6 Tuesday/Thursday sessions of Rubiks Cube. For this first session, students spent time exploring the cubes. I made a QR code for students to scan to watch tutorial videos about solving. Some followed these videos, while others learned from the strategies of friends and UGA students.
It was amazing to see how many students already knew some tips about solving Rubiks cubes because of their own practicing at home. We also downloaded an app on the iPads called Cube Solver that allows you to put in the colors on the cube and it shows you all the steps to solve the entire cube. Some students used this as a tool for learning more about the different turns required to solve.
Once students felt comfortable with the cube, they started solving actual pieces of the mosaic and adding it to our grid located on a large table in the back corner of the library. With so many students working on cubes during one makerspace and with so many students already talented in solving cubes, the mosaic started to take shape pretty quickly. By the end of the 2nd day of working on the mosaics, we had the Rosa Parks and flower mosaic done.
I had already prepared additional mosaics to work on: a dinosaur and Mona Lisa. We celebrated our achievement of solving the first mosaics and took some pictures. Then, it was time to start dismantling the mosaics and solving a new one.
Once we created 2 additional mosaics, I gave the students the option of designing their own small mosaics. They could do this alone or with a group. They sketched out their mosaic on grid paper first and then worked to solve and assemble the mosaic at tables. This would be a great way to extend this experience in future sessions because there wasn’t much time left.
The thing I loved most about this makerspace project was being able to see students bringing in a talent and passion they had outside of school and making it something for school. There are lots of ways this could be incorporated into grade level curriculum so I hope that this is not the end of the Rubiks cube. We have so many students who enjoyed this that I’m sure we could even just make this a center in the library for people to work on over time.