Make Your Mark for Dot Day 2016…Let the Planning Begin

One of our favorite times of the year is Dot Day and September 15 will be here before we know it!  It’s a day to celebrate connecting, collaborating, and creating and seeing where our creativity takes us. Can you believe that it’s less than 2 months away?

Now is the time to start brainstorming ideas for celebrating creativity and supporting your students in making their mark in the world. You can read all about this special day and sign up here.  There is a wonderful educator’s handbook that you will receive as part of the registration.

Then head over to the Get Involved…Making a Mark page to be inspired to Read, Create, Learn and Visit on Dot Day too.

There are tons of ideas on Shannon McClintock Miller’s International Dot Day Pinterest Board

In our own library, we’ve enjoyed reading lots of stories related to dots and creativity as well as connecting Dot Day to core subject areas.

Check out these examples:

  • After reading the book, Going Places, with Sherry Gick’s students in Indiana, two of our students made their mark by teaching Sherry’s students how to create a beading craft from our makerspace

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  • We’ve enjoyed countless storytimes with classes around the globe reading dot-related stories and stories of creativity including Ish, The Dot, Press Here, Mix It Up, Let’s Play, Rose’s Garden, Little Elliot Big City, and more.

For the last several years, hundreds of us have used our Google Doc as a place to make and plan lots of special connections on September 15 and throughout the week of Dot Day. When we put our minds together, we come up with amazing new ways to celebrate the day with our students.

You can add your schedule, connect with others, and start making your mark with others around the world. Check out the doc here: http://bit.ly/dotday2016 

Please include your information including name, location, grade level and subject, Twitter handle and whatever else you’d like to share.  As you start planning, add your schedule and ideas.  Others can then look at your profile and connect if they’d like to on the Google Document with you. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out and ask.

Let’s Make Our Mark on the World! Happy Connecting!

Many thanks to Shannon McClintock Miller for co-writing this post.

 

 

Making Something New: A Makerspace Activity

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Recently, the Children’s Theatre Troup directed by Kelsey Brown presented “Another Kid’s Treasure Island” at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia. This play also featured a makerspace activity for attendees to use a variety of objects to make something new.

Gretchen Thomas and her UGA students helped pack hundreds of plastic coconuts with craft supplies to support the play, but several coconuts were left over. Our makerspace was fortunate enough to acquire these leftover coconuts for students to explore.

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This week, we’ve been reading The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires. I love the message that this book shares about perseverance and creativity. The character in the book tries multiple ways to make the thing she has in her head, but she just can’t get it quite right. At first, she easily starts over, but as time goes on, she gets pretty frustrated. However, even then, she goes on a walk to clear her mind. While reading the story, we paused along the way to setup some steps for “making”.

  • Have an initial plan after you gather your supplies
  • Try to make something
  • Take a look at what you’ve made and try again if needed
  • If something isn’t working, try to do it in a different way
  • If you start to feel frustrated, take a break or a walk, and come back
  • Don’t quit

We could keep adding to this list, but those were the basic principles we followed.

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I showed students one of the plastic coconuts filled with supplies and told them that their goal was to take the materials and make something new. We talked about how the girl in the story made something she could actually use, so they certainly could try to make something like a piece of jewelry, a hat, a container for rocks, or whatever else they wanted.

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I also put out some scissors, glue, crayons, and markers. Then, students got to work. Each student had a different strategy for how to work. Some got very frustrated and did indeed take a walk around the library. Some students collaborated with people at their table or traded supplies with a friend.  It was loud and messy, but I heard things from students like:

  • Is makerspace always this fun?
  • Do we really get to keep the things that we made?
  • When can I come back?
  • From a teacher: My students talked about what they did with you the whole next day.

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You could look at this and say….sure….this is just making a craft, but there’s really so much more there.

Perseverance, problem solving, creativity, inventing, collaboration, and more were all there. Thank you to Gretchen Thomas for giving us an opportunity to bring makerspace to some of our grades who haven’t had a chance to use our makerspace quite as much. We have a lot of new students excited about finding more opportunities to use the tools in our makerspace because of this opportunity.

Celebrating Reading and Learning Styles with Bookapalooza

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This year, the school library media specialists in our district decided to start a new reading competition called Bookapalooza. In the past, we have participated in Battle of the Books, where students read a set list of books and compete on teams to answer questions about specific details from the books. We had lots of discussion about trying a reading competition that offered students more choice in the books that they read as well as gave students a chance to show off their creativity and interests in a variety of categories rather than just answering factual questions about books.

A subcommittee of our group met to work out some logistics of how a new reading competition might work, and a new Bookapalooza website was created.

Students in 3rd-5th grade could compete in the competition. They could choose any book, author, or genre to read and create a project around. Five categories were created to give students a variety of choices to celebrate their own learning preferences: Art, Performance, Trifold, Writing, and Technology.

In the past, teams of students have worked together in Battle of the Books. Bookapalooza did allow for some collaboration but most projects were meant to be done by individuals. I had to think about organizing our school competition in a whole new way. I’m not sure that I really did the best job, but it definitely was a great first try. In November, I started sharing with students about what Bookapalooza was all about. Some teachers brought their whole class to the library while others just showed a short intro video.

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I created a Google form where students could sign up for Bookapalooza and indicate the category they were most likely going to enter along with the title of the book. This could of course change, but the form allowed me to get a good ideas of how many students were going to enter the contest and to make sure we had projects in all of the 5 categories. I was also able to make an email list from this form so that I could email the participants with updates on the competition.

In the past, I’ve held practices for Battle of the Books during lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but this type of competition really didn’t lend itself to that structure. Instead, I blocked off various times on the library calendar for Bookapalooza help sessions. Teachers could sign students up to come during these times or they were welcome to just drop by to ask questions or work. Some teachers chose to the do the competition with their whole class so they scheduled time on the library calendar specifically for their class.

I also contacted our collaborating teachers to ask if they would help each grade level with projects. Natalie Hicks, Jan Mullins, and Heather Carlson were instrumental in making sure that each grade level had representation in the competition.

As the deadline approached, I checked in via email with students and teachers and the projects started to come in. I cleared off the library shelves for projects to be displayed. As they came in, I numbered the projects for judging.  For digital projects, I created another Google form for students to submit links to projects. I put all of these links on a Google doc that could be displayed on each of our projection boards for viewing. The day after the deadline, we held our school competition, which meant that classes were welcome to come through and look at all of the projects and a team of 5 judges used rubrics to judge and rank the projects. We had to select one project from each category to move on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County Library.

Some of our technology projects included:

Some of our performance projects included:

Some of our art projects included:

Some of our trifolds included:

Since we had so many outstanding projects, I asked judges to write notes about things that stood out about various projects and we awarded many special certificates and bookmarks to students who didn’t necessarily place “first” in their category.

Congratulations to the following projects for moving forward:

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Our school level winners moved on to the district competition at the Athens Clarke County library where we were able to enjoy projects from most of the elementary schools in our district. Our school technology project placed 3rd n the district and our school art project placed 1st in the district.  Congratulations to all of the students in Clarke County who took time to share their love of books, their personal talents, and their creativity through numerous Bookapalooza projects.  We look forward to growing this celebration next year.

 

Winter Design Challenge Using Blokify and 3D Printing

Blokify Design Challenge (5)Our open makerspace on Tuesdays and Thursdays is taking a break while UGA is having finals and winter break.  However, the demand to use the makerspace doesn’t disappear just because UGA is on break.  I decided to have a design challenge makerspace on two days and feature the Blokify app and our 3D printers. Since 3D printing takes a long time to complete, I decided to create some rules to help us out with the number of pieces we would need to print in a short amount of time.

Blokify Design Challenge (12) Blokify Design Challenge (11) Blokify Design Challenge (8)

Rules:

  1. Design a winter symbol.  Any winter holidays or winter objects could serve as inspiration
  2. Design in 1 layer.  The more layers we have, the longer it takes, so we want our designs to be 1 layer only.
  3. Use Blokify to design and don’t worry about the colors of the blocks since your print will be whatever filament color we use.
  4. All blocks need to be connected so that your design prints in 1 piece.

Since Blokify uses blocks to design in 3D, I found some 8-bit winter designs to serve as inspiration for student winter designs.  I blocked off six 30-minute time slots on the library calendar and made a Google doc for teachers to sign students up.  I shared it with all teachers and encourage them to let any interested students come.  There were 8 slots in each time block.  It didn’t take long for the slots to fill with Kindergarten, 1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.

During each session, I gave a very quick intro to Blokify and shared the 8-bit winter designs to consider.  I went over the rules as well, and students jumped onto the iPads to work.  It was a short amount of time to design something, so I told students not to panic if they didn’t finish a design.  As usual, students began looking at one another’s work for inspiration and helped one another with Blokify tips such as how to zoom in, delete blocks, or change the view.

It was fun to see what some of the students came up with and which students naturally gravitated toward this type of design because of their previous experience with block tools such as Minecraft.  We had Santas, a menorah, Christmas trees, snowflakes, reindeer, presents, crosses, and a few randomly shaped symbols too.

A few students did get frustrated, but most of them persevered through their frustration to complete a design.

Once designs were done, we had a process for getting them to me for 3D printing.  I created a separate email account just for 3D files.  Students went to “3D print” on Blokify and selected “Email to me”.  They emailed the .stl file to the 3D printing email account.  In the subject of the email, they changed the “untitled” file to their first name and teacher’s name.  This would help me in getting the printed file back to students.

At the end of the day, I sat down, logged into the email account, and started putting the .stl files into Makerware and Cubify.  Makerware works with our Makerbot and Cubify works with our Cube 3D printer.  For Makerware, I put up to 3 student files in a row on the build plate.  On a separate piece of paper, I wrote down the main file name and then wrote the student/teacher name in the correct sequence that the files would print on the plate.  For Cubify, I could only put on design on the build plate at a time, so I named each of those files with the student/teacher name.

cubify

Once all of the files were complete, I loaded them on a USB stick for the Cube and an SD card for the Makerbot.  Each day, I come in and crank up both printers right away and start printing the files.

I write the student/teacher name on a Ziploc bag and lay them out in the right order of the floor to await the finished print.  When a print finishes, I remove and bag them.  Then, I immediately start a new print.  I’m making good progress and hope to have all of the designs printed by Friday.  It takes a lot of organization to get this moving efficiently, but I finally have a process that is working faster than how I originally started.

Even with the speed I’m working at, the kids are still dropping by to ask if their design is done.

I loved the experience of having a design challenge and hope that the students did too.  I think if I offer these types of experiences more often, the students will start to develop their own ideas for 3D designs.  They will also get more comfortable with the 3D design tools.  We will try others in future design challenges along with Blokify.

First Grade Wizard of Oz Meteorologists

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Our amazing 1st grade team and students have been working on their Wizard of Oz unit.  I love this unit because they weave in so many content standards with Wizard of Oz as their guiding text. A part of this unit is the weather standards from science.  Students have to know various kinds of weather as well as how to dress in that weather.  Since this is a part of what meteorologists do, we decided to try something new this year by looking closely at the role of meteorologists.  The goal was for students to write a weather report for the Wizard of Oz regarding the cyclone and to record the forecast in front of our green screen.

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Students came to the library and we looked at a few videos of meteorologists reporting on severe weather. As we watched, students noticed things about the posture and speech of the meteorologist.  They also pointed out many of the weather words he/she used.

As weather words were noticed, we added them to a shared Google doc.

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This doc was shared with all classroom teachers to continue to add to and use in class.  We also looked at another student-made video and noticed how the student introduced himself in his weather forecast and pretended to be outside in the story.

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In the library, we also spent some time beginning the writing process of creating a weather report.  Students continued working on this in class during writer’s workshop.  The list of weather words continued to be used and added to. They also did a bit of rehearsing.

Finally, students returned to he library and one by one recorded themselves in front of the green screen with a tornado or other weather behind them.  As students were recording, the rest of the class practiced, looked at weather books, and searched for the current weather in our area using apps on the iPad.

They loved seeing the weather magically appear on our iPad using the DoInk app on the iPad.  We took all of the videos from the iPad and uploaded them to class playlists to share back with the class.

You can enjoy the variety of videos in each of these lists.

One of my favorite parts of this short project was how it tied to a real career and gave students experience with a real-world job related to the standards they were studying in science.  They were each able to be a bit creative in their forecasting, and each student had a chance to use a cool technology to make their voice heard at such an early age.

Making Our Mark for International Dot Day 2015

What a week!  We connected the dots with so many places around our country, shared great stories, learned about other perspectives, and viewed student-created masterpieces.  I love the conversations that Dot Day brings out in our students.

It was an amazing week, and this time I’ll just let the pictures and tweets speak for themselves.

 

 

 

Let’s Make Our Mark and See Where It Goes for Dot Day 2015

How do you and your students want to make your mark on the world this school year?  International Dot Day, which is September 15ish, is the perfect time to make connections with other schools, spark creativity and collaboration, and see where it takes you for the rest of the year.  Whether you’ve celebrated Dot Day from its beginnings or you are just getting started, we invite you to get creative with your students and share that creativity with the world.

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From the official page:
International Dot Day, a global celebration of creativity, courage and collaboration, began when teacher Terry Shay introduced his classroom to Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot on September 15, 2009.The Dot is the story of a caring teacher who dares a doubting student to trust in her own abilities by being brave enough to “make her mark”. What begins with a small dot on a piece of paper becomes a breakthrough in confidence and courage, igniting a journey of self-discovery and sharing, which has gone on to inspire countless children and adults around the globe.”

There’s no “right” way to celebrate Dot Day.  In fact, every year people around the globe come up with new and creative ways to make dots and connect with others.  That’s the magic of this special day.

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What happens during a Dot Day connection?
Often, we start by reading The Dot by Peter Reynolds or other dot-inspired books such as Press Here by Herve Tullet.  This is done via Skype or Google Hangouts with a connecting class. We begin to connect the dots with one another by learning a bit about one another.  Sometimes we create something together.  For example, last year students in Barrow Elementary made collaborative digital dots with connecting schools via Google Drawing.

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If you need some ideas to get started, consider taking a look at Matthew Winner’s past lessons or check out what others have posted in the Dot Day gallery.

Shannon Miller and John Schu’s Dot Day video is always an inspiration.

Also, check out the Celebridots page for dots created by some of your favorite authors and illustrators.

Many times connecting schools send some of their creations to one another through traditional mail.

How to get started

  1. Register your school on the official Dot Day page.  You’ll be added to the global map as well as gain access to the educator guide which is packed with information
  2.  Visit our shared Google Doc to start making connections with other schools.  We plan to make connections during the whole week of September 14-18.  Simply post your schedule, ideas, and contact information. Then, browse the doc for other schedules that match yours.  Skype in the Classroom is also a great place to make connections.
  3.  Start collaborating with your connecting schools and get ready to make your mark with your students.

Part of making your mark on the world is getting your students’ voices and creations out into the world.  As you connect, share your creations on Twitter using #DotDay and #Makeyourmark  Consider creating a blog post to show your students’ work to the world.

Now, make your mark and see where it takes you.

tinyurl.com/dotday15

Celebrating Thanksgiving Traditions with Balloons Over Broadway and Looking Ahead

Second grade signed up for a rotation through the library as part of their Thanksgiving feast celebration on the day before our holiday break.  Their request was to read the book  Balloons Over Broadway by Melissa Sweet.  If you’ve never read this book, it is amazing!  The illustrations are filled with details that you can search through for hours and it is packed full of information while being very readable as a read aloud.  While I love biographies, sometimes it is hard to read a biography aloud because of the length.  Balloons Over Broadway is just right.

Before we read the book, we looked at information about the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Watching this parade has always been a part of my Thanksgiving tradition.  I was very surprised to see how many students had never watched the parade or even heard of it.  I was reminded of the importance of the picture book and how it brings out conversations that might never have happened without the sharing of a story.  Some of our conversations included perseverance, immigration, failure, and growth mindset along with some other Thanksgiving traditions.

There are numerous resources you can use to share about the parade and the book:

After we read the story, we used on of the pages out of the activity kit to design our own balloons.

www.hmhbooks.com kids resources BalloonsOverBroadway_ActivityKit.pdf

I loved watching what students came up with.  Once they finished, they had the option of sharing their balloon on a Flipgrid.

Students came up to the webcam on the projection board and I helped them click through the Flipgrid menus to take a picture and record.  Then, students came up to type their name.  I normally use the iPad app for Flipgrid, but this was a fast way of doing a lesson closing as students finished their coloring on their own time.

 

balloons

Click here to see and here about their balloon designs!

The book also made me think ahead.  Last year in 2nd grade, we did a great project with the force and motion standards in science where students investigated Rube Goldberg and made their own inventions.  Balloons Over Broadway was a perfect introduction to the idea of tinkering and using everyday objects and simple machines to take mundane tasks and make them interesting.  I want to revisit the opening pages of the book where Tony Sarg invents a way t feed the chickens when we do the simple machine project later this year.

I also thought about the Hour of Code and how that event brought about so many conversations about failure and perseverance.  This book would be a great example to share ahead of Hour of Code to think about a growth mindset and prep students for the failure that comes with coding and how you handle that failure as a learning experience.

Who knew that so many thoughts would come about from a simple request to read a story.

 

 

 

 

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.

International Dot Day: First Steps

dot day (14)Today, the very first classes came to participate in International Dot Day lessons.  Ms. Olin’s 5th grade class read The Dot by Peter Reynolds.  We talked about what it means to make your mark on the world.  I loved hearing their ideas because they really had a sense of how they could make a difference.  I had 2 separate areas setup for them.  One area had coffee filters, a variety of coloring supplies, a water bottle, and tables covered in black butcher paper.  They could use the materials in any way they wanted to be creative making a dot.  The other area had iPads loaded with Glow Coloring and Drawcast.  Students who chose iPads used a stylus to draw a dot and save it to the camera roll on the device.

Students chose where they went.  I made no requirements about doing a dot at both locations.  Some students chose to make several coffee filters dots by trying different techniques of using markers, crayons, color pencils, and water.  Others chose to make multiple iPad dots.  A few chose to do both.  Once students’ dots dried, I started making our dot gallery on the windows of the library.dot day (15)

dot day (16)Later in the day, Mrs. Kelly Hocking’s Kindergarten class came to begin a dot project.  They are going to be studying several artists and learning how they can express themselves through art.  One of the artists they will learn about is Chuck Close.  This is a perfect tie-in to Dot Day since Chuck Close creates paintings that are made of numerous dots that come together to make a larger picture.  I had already read Sky Color to her class and they became very interested in painting murals.  Today, I showed them pictures of a mural in my daughter and son’s room and how the idea for the mural came from several children’s books.  Then, we read Diego Rivera His World and Ours.  The book details how Rivera traveled Mexico to get ideas for his murals.  It also raises the question about what Rivera would paint if he were alive today.  I love that the book ends by saying, “Today Diego is not around to make this happen.  So it is up to us to make our own murals and bring them to life.”  This was Mrs. Kelly’s lead-in to the mural that they will now create using dots in their classroom.  The mural will be displayed in the library, and we will probably have some more lessons before it is done.

dot day (17)I also discovered a great new iPad app after reading about it on Fablevision.  colAR Mix is an augmented reality app that brings coloring pages to life in 3D.  They have made a special coloring page just for dot day.  I made a practice dot, and it was so much fun seeing it pop off the page on the iPad.  You can take a picture of your 3D dot and save it to the camera roll.  I’m sure several classes will try this one out.dot day