Hour of Code is Coming This Week!

We are very excited about the opportunities planned for our students in the library this week.  It’s Computer Science Education Week and to celebrate several classes in grades K-5 will participate in Hour of Code, which gives kids hour-long experiences in a variety of kid-friendly coding tools.  The hour of code site has multiple step by step tutorials to help kids learn some basics of each coding tool, while allowing them the freedom to be creative.  Theres’s something for every age from 5-106 🙂

Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) is an annual program dedicated to showing K-12 students the importance of computer science education.

Organized by the Computing in the Core coalition and Code.org, CSEdWeek is held in recognition of the birthday of computing pioneer Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (December 9, 1906).

Why would we want our students to learn computer coding?  Take a look at some of these statistics.

more-jobs-than-students

job-student-gap

2012-hs-ap-enrollment

Some of our Kindergarten and first grade students will use an iPad app called Kodable.

kodable

Second and Third grades will be exploring both Blockly and Tynker.  Some first graders will also try Tynker.

https://i2.wp.com/www.tynker.com/image/hp/course-intro-to-programming-videotutorial.jpg

Tynker Intro

Fourth and Fifth graders (and perhaps a few other students too) will make holiday cards with Scratch.

During the week, we plan to make connections with other schools around the country who are also participating in Hour of Code in order to allow our students to share, brainstorm, and problem solve across the miles through Skype and Google Hangouts.  On December 17, we will participate in a live Google Hangout On Air where students will share their coding creations and learning with students in multiple states simultaneously.

The intention of Hour of Code is to give as many students as possible experience with coding, which will hopefully lead to both individual exploration or class projects in the future.  I’m prepared to be amazed this week by what students discover.  Look for posts throughout this week to share our progress.

 

Our Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer is Here!

IMG_1428It’s here!  A lot has happened since our project was funded through Donors Choose.  I attended the American Association of School Librarians Conference in Hartford, CT.  While there, I attended several sessions on Makerspaces.  During one of my conversations, I had the pleasure of connecting with Shelley Diaz at School Library Journal.  She was very interested in our 3D Printer project and wanted to interview me about it.  You can read the article here.

Our local newspaper, the Athens Banner Herald is also in the process of writing an article about our 3D printer adventure.  In addition, Stroud Elementary and Hilsman Middle here in Clarke County are both getting 3D printers thanks to Donors Choose projects posted by their school library media specialists, Shannon Thompson and Leslie Gonzalez.

IMG_1429When the boxes arrived today, I was extremely excited but extremely nervous to leap into something new.  I reminded myself of how I always tell the kids to take risks, so I modeled my own philosophy.  However, I carefully read the instructions along the way.  The instructions were fairly easy to follow with photographs, clear descriptions, and on-screen instructions.

I loaded our first spool of clear filament and used the SD card to print a stretchy bracelet.  With each pass of the extruder, the bracelet magically appeared on the print plate.  The hardest part was getting the bracelet off of the build plate.  With some carefully prying and pulling, we were able to break it loose.  My second print, a comb, broke when we tried to remove it.  Later, I learned that it really is helpful if you use blue painters tape on the build plate.  I reprinted the comb and removed it fairly easily from the plate.    I’m sure there are some other tips and tricks that I will learn, but getting the print off the plate is definitely tricky.

Excitement was in the air as students and teachers came into the library to watch the printer go.  Even though it was printing pre-loaded items, it was extremely cool to watch and imagine possibilities.  A group of third graders is eagerly awaiting their chance to print their gems that they are designing.

I could see the wheels turning for several students and teachers, and I’m sure we will be printing all sorts of things before the year is over.

Explorers and Native Americans: Perspective & Transliteracy with 4th grade

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Update:  This post is featured on Jane Yolen’s page for Encounter. 

Our 4th grade is studying Native Americans and Explorers.  When I met with the 4th grade team to plan, one of the main topics of our conversation was how we wanted our students to really think about perspective.  We didn’t want them to come away looking at the explorers as only a group of heroes, but instead to question what the costs were of their exploration.  We wanted them to think from the Native Americans’ perspective and consider how they felt about the explorers coming into their land.  We decided to approach this in a few ways.  The teachers planned regular social studies instruction in their classrooms.  They made Google presentations that were shared with the kids.  They also created graphic organizers for students to use to collect info.  Some students chose to have paper print outs of their organizers while others chose to fill out the organizer digitally.

Our guiding standards included:

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in
North America.
a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit),
Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee),
and Southeast (Seminole).
b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing,
and shelter.
SS4H2 The student will describe European exploration in North America.
a. Describe the reasons for, obstacles to, and accomplishments of the Spanish,
French, and English explorations of John Cabot, Vasco Núñez de Balboa, Juan
Ponce de León, Christopher Columbus, Henry Hudson, and Jacques Cartier.
b. Describe examples of cooperation and conflict between Europeans and Native
Americans

In the media center, I pulled multiple folktales from each of the Native American tribes.  During 2 separate sessions, we looked at Google Earth to see where the tribes were located originally.  Then as we read the folktales, we considered how location impacted the food, shelter, and clothing of the tribes by citing evidence from the tales.

The teachers wanted students to have access to multiple kinds of resources for their research portion of the unit.  We talked about classes coming individually to the library, but we ultimately decided that it would be nice for students to all be together in one location with multiple resources.  We scheduled 3 hour-long sessions.  I pulled together folktales, books about explorers, books about Native Americans, a pathfinder about Native Americans, and a pathfinder about Explorers.

During session 1, we met as a whole group.  I showed students a video of Christopher Columbus from National Geographic.  After the video, I asked students to think about how they would describe Columbus.  After talking with partners, I put as many words into a Tagxedo as possible.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

These words were how students described Christopher Columbus after watching a video about Columbus.

Then, we read the book Encounter by Jane Yolen, which is the Columbus story told from the Native American perspective.  After the story, I asked the students to once again describe Columbus.  Their words made a big shift.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

These words are how students described Christopher Columbus after reading Encounter by Jane Yolen.

I followed up by talking about perspective, and how so many stories in history are silenced until the perspective of that group of people is brought forward.  I cited authors such as Phillip Hoose and Tanya Lee Stone who have written multiple texts about stories from history that have been untold.  I encouraged students as they did their research for this project to strongly consider perspective.  I did not want to tell them what to believe, but I asked them to be critical of the information they read and form their own opinions of history.

During sessions 2 & 3, all classes came back to the media center.  On one projection board, I posted the Native American pathfinder.  On the other projection board, I posted the Explorers pathfinder.  In addition, I made QR codes for each pathfinder and pulled out our cart of iPads.  I separated the books into 3 separate areas:  folktales, Native Americans, and explorers.  All students brought their netbooks, but they had the option to use the iPad if it fit their learning needs better than the netbook.  After  a quick reminder about our focus and where things were located, students freely moved around the media center.  About 75 students simultaneously made choices about which resources to start with, where to work, whether to work with a partner or small group or alone, and what technology supported their needs the most.  All 3 classroom teachers, a teacher candidate (student teacher), a gifted teacher, and I walked around and checked in with students.  Sometimes we were troubleshooting technology or redirecting, but often we were able to have individual conversations with students about the information that students were collecting.  Teachers worked with all students regardless if they were in their class or not.

What amazed me the most were the decisions that students made about their learning.  I saw transliteracy in action.  As I walked around, I saw students with pencils, papers, iPads, netbooks, and books all spread out around them.  They were simultaneously moving from one device or tool to the next.  Some students sat at tables while others sat inside bookshelves.  Some students tucked away by themselves while others worked in a large group.  Some students worked with very few resources at a time such as 1 book while others had every possible resource in front of them at once.  After months of wondering about how our space would support the kinds of learning I hope to see in our library, I was finally able to truly see it today.  I saw every piece of furniture in use.  I saw students combine pieces of furniture to make themselves comfortable for learning.  An entire grade level descended upon the library and remained productive while groups of kids were still coming into the library to checkout books.explorers & native americans (15)

It was loud, energetic, productive, and fun.  It’s a model I hope to replicate with other groups and a model that I hope carries into our classrooms, which can now accommodate some of these sames types of opportunities.

21st Century Learning: A visit to the GA DOE Center for Classroom Innovation

What does learning in a 21st century classroom look like?  We had the opportunity to visit the Georgia Department of Education’s Center for Classroom Innovation.  The room is setup with different spaces depending on the kinds of learning and collaboration taking place.  The room also offers flexibility with some mobile furniture such as rolling chairs, rolling tables, and screens that divide the space into different learning areas.  The spaces include:

  • The bar:  a high top table for collaborative group work
  • The Mediascape Area:  a space with a U-shaped couch, 2 Mondo boards, and the ability to easily connect devices for display on the boards
  • The Campfire Area:  Another collaborative space with a couch and a table that has a pad of paper as its top so that you can write on the table and take your ideas with you.
  • The high top:  A high table that can be used for large collaborative projects and hands-on activities
  • The Post and Beam:  An area that can be divided multiple ways such as 4 smaller meeting spaces that contain tables, chairs, and dry erase boards
  • The Node Classroom:  A space that features  “desks” that swivel and have a tray table that can be for either left or right-handed people
The room is also equipped with these technologies:
  • Wireless internet with multiple access points
  • Document camera
  • Xbox with Kinnect
  • Laptop cart
  • 3D projector w/3d glasses for a class
  • 2 Mondo boards (large touch screen computers) w/videoconferencing capabilities
  • Plug and play connections to easily display content from any device
You can view a slideshow of the room and find out more here.  The room is available for any classes to use as long as you schedule the room with Chara Lee (404) 651-9500.

This visit began taking shape several weeks ago when we were invited to bring a class to the space to engage in a lesson and be filmed.  Our collaborative wheels immediately began turning as me, Mrs. Selleck (fourth grade teacher), Mrs. Foretich (art teacher), Mrs. Yawn (2nd grade teacher), and Mrs. Hunter (gifted teacher) began planning.  We chose a 4th grade unit focusing on the social studies standards about how price incentives affect people’s behavior and choices.  Ultimately, students would design a t-shirt for our temporary home at Barrow 2.0 while our new school is being built.  Their role would be to establish themselves as a business, create a design, consider wants/needs/cost, and create a marketing plan for their new shirt.

Several pieces of our project took place at our school before we made the journey to Atlanta.  Our principal created a video charging Mrs. Selleck’s class with the task of designing a new shirt.

In class, Mrs. Selleck established 4 groups of students.  Each group had a manager, an accountant, a designer, a technology specialist, and an advertiser.  The groups created names and logos for their companies.  Mrs. Selleck also did a lot of work with wants and needs as well as developing products and advertising slogans.  In art, Mrs. Foretich worked with the students on their designs and discussed multiple art elements that they might consider in creating an effective design for a shirt.  In the media center, the technology specialists met with Mr. Plemmons and Mrs. Hunter to go over many technology options that the groups might consider while developing their advertising components of the project.  These included Glogster, Animoto, and Prezi.

At the Center for Classroom Innovation, several things happened:

  • Mr. Plemmons introduced the day with the book Have I Got a Book for You by Melanie Watt.  Persuasive strategies were discussed
  • Mrs. Selleck led the group in a needs and wants activity where students split into separate areas of the space to work and then came back together
  • Mrs. Hunter met with all the advertisers.  Mr. Plemmons met with all the technology specialists.  Mrs. Yawn met with all of the managers.  Mrs. Selleck met with all of the accountants.  Mrs. Foretich met with all of the designers.  Each group focused on their specialty and learned more about the role they would play in designing a shirt and marketing the shirt.
  • Groups met in separate meeting spaces within the room to design.  Using Zazzle, groups considered the images they would use, explored options for t-shirt types and colors, and considered how the price was affected by their decisions.  Groups also used giant dry erase boards to take notes and brainstorm as they worked.
  • As needed, groups went to the Mondo boards and Skyped with our graphic design expert, Tony Hart.  His feedback helped groups revise their designs as needed.
  • Students were treated to a great pizza lunch before launching into part 2.
  • Students considered what technology tool they would use to market & persuade people to choose their design.  Three groups chose Animoto and one group chose Glogster.
  • All adults assisted students as needed during their product creation.
  • The day closed with each group presenting their final advertising product.  Mrs. Foretich led the students in a critique session.

While all of this was going on, the Department of Education had 2 videographers documenting the day.  They will eventually edit this video into a model video for how this space can be used with students.  It was an exciting day.  Our next steps will be to continue the project, but also to reflect on how this space served us in the kinds of work that we want to do with students.  This will inform the design of our new classrooms in our new school.  We loved how productive students were in this space.  The flexible divisions of the space allowed students to create their own private nooks and work spaces.  Even though there was a rumbling energy in the room, groups did not distract one another from the tasks their group was trying to accomplish.  The space was a big component responsible for this success.  The space also supported students with a strong infrastructure for technology.  We did not have any problems with computers connecting and staying connected to wireless.  The large Mondo boards were very dependable for displaying student work as well as video conferencing through Skype.  We had one of the best Skype connections I’ve every experienced.  The size of the room wasn’t extremely large, but again, the divisions of the space provided multiple ways for students to be productive and engage with technology and other forms of documentation.  Seeing students work in this space is inspiring.  We  have already been doing this kind of learning in our media center and classrooms, but today showed us how a space and tools can strengthen 21st century learning.

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Here are the 3 Animoto videos created by groups today:

Here’s a  link to the Glog created by one group:

Lightning Minds