Gaming and Math with Xbox

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I’ll admit that it has been awhile since I’ve used the Xbox in the library.  When you are juggling so many things, it’s hard to keep everything up in the air at the same time. I was so excited when one of our resource teachers emailed me recently to ask if I could do an Xbox lesson with her class. She had heard that we could weave some math into our gaming time, but she wasn’t sure what to do. The request also came from her students, which I loved. We put a time on the calendar and she brought her group of 7 students to the library for some gaming fun.

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For this lesson, I chose to use the Kinect Sports game and put it in “party mode”. This mode allows you to split a group into two teams. Each team chooses a mascot and players take turns competing in six rounds. I really liked this mode because it gave a very dependable structure for taking turns. It alternated between the red team and blue team and students kept track of the lineup within their own team and consistently rotated through that same lineup. The Xbox chose which game would be played in each round.

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We didn’t do math every time a student came up to play, but we did pause throughout the game to do some mental math as well as work out more challenging problems on paper. The team scores increased by hundreds and fifties so it was easy to do a mental comparison of how many more points one team had than another. We did this in between rounds.

game 1

For the discus game, it measured distance in meters. We took the two distances and saw how many more feet one student threw the discus than another. This was a perfect tie in to what students are currently working on in math because it gave them practice adding or subtracting decimals as well as reading decimals with tenths and hundredths.

In bowling, sometimes we did a comparison of the two totals of pins knocked down and other times we had students see how many pins both teams knocked down together. This gave them some practice with 2-digit addition.

Each student used his or her own strategy to solve the problem. The teacher and I walked around and checked in with students while they worked, and I muted the screen so that the game was paused and not distracting them. If students reached a frustration point with the math, I started writing beginning steps onto the board to nudge them forward.

More math and Xbox in the library #librariesofinstagram #math #videogame #gamification

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Since this was the group’s first time trying this out, I didn’t want to push too much math at once, so we were careful to balance play with work time. There’s certainly many more math problems that could be done using the scores, distances, and times in a game.

There was also a lot of other things going on during this time that I was reminded of. First, I was reminded of the amount of energy that is released during gaming. With the Kinect, students are actively jumping, kicking, running, and swinging throughout their turn. Even the students who aren’t playing are being active because they are jumping up and down in the background to cheer on their teammates.

So much fun doing some xbox math today with @fourthgradebarrow #game #math #videogame #xbox #librariesofinstagram

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I was also reminded of how much cooperation it takes to pull off this type of gaming.  Students had to take turns, deal with messing up on their turn, handle “losing”, and working through frustrations. We talked about these things before we played, but we saw the students really working through all of these potentially frustrating parts of gaming. It’s interesting to see students handle stress in gaming differently than they might handle stress in another environment or situation. It caused me to really ponder how we can make those connections or create similar environments in the situations where students have more difficulty responding to stress. I, of course, don’t have any answers at the moment, but I’m thinking.

I told these students that I hoped they would spread the news of their gaming experience back to their classrooms so that other teachers might try this with their class. I definitely need to throw the gaming ball back into the air and nudge classes to try this again next year.

 

Discovering Interests, Igniting Passions, and Amplifying Student Voice

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I’ve been doing a lot of work with teachers and students over the past couple of weeks focused on the IPICK strategy.  One of the big pieces of this strategy is “interest”.  The idea is that if we read things we are interested in then we are more likely to enjoy the books we read.  But…what if you don’t know your interests?

In each class I’ve taught, there has been a handful of students that no matter what you ask, what you suggest, or what stories you try to pull out they cannot name a single thing that they like.  This is frustrating, but rather than throw my hands up, it has made me very curious.  Why are these kids just shrugging their shoulders when you ask them what they like?  What can I do (we do as a school) to support all students in exploring their interests?

Ms. Spurgeon, a 4th/5th grade teacher, came to me with this exact same noticing. She had asked students to do an “All About Me” assignment, but when it came to interests, several students came up empty handed.  She wants us to do a project together this year using student interests, but we can’t start because we don’t know their interests.  We decided to try another route.

We were trying to decide what kind of text would immerse students in a variety of topics while still being very accessible to a range of reading levels.  I’m not really sure how we decided it, but we decided to try magazines.  I don’t really subscribe to magazines any more in the library, but we have all of the Ranger Rick, Zoobooks, Sports Illustrated, etc that we’ve subscribed to through the years.  I pulled out the boxes and put them all over the tables.  We did a very quick overview of how we really want to think about our interests and one way we do that is by trying as many things as we can.  Ms. Spurgeon talked about some foods she had tried like zebra and how she would never have known how much she liked the taste if she hadn’t tried it.  We modeled what “trying” a magazine looked like.  We were very specific to not read every page and were honest how we as adults often just flip through a magazine and pick out the pieces we want to read.  I loved this because I saw students perk up.  Knowing that they didn’t have to read the entire magazine was an invitation.  They dove in and started exploring.  They oohed and ahhed over so many pictures they saw, and Ms. Spurgeon and I had casual conversation with them about what they saw.

One moment stood out to me. Carlos and Carlena were looking at Kiki magazine together.  This magazine features a lot of fashion and crafts.  They discovered a page with a great 80’s style craft involving beads and safety pins.  The safety pins were put together on elastic string to create a bracelet.  They were glowing with excitement, so I told them I would take a picture of the page and send it to Gretchen Thomas at UGA to see if we could incorporate it into makerspace.

They looked a little shocked at first like, “You mean we could actually make this?”  Then, right after school I got an email from Carlos asking if I could email him the picture of the instructions.

It was that moment that told me I couldn’t let this momentum go.  This was a chance to empower individual students to explore a genuine interest.  Who cares if it was “just a craft”?  It was something they were suddenly passionate about when they had moments before been shrugging their shoulders.  That weekend, I went out and bought supplies, and I emailed them both first thing Monday morning.

I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw both of them walk in during their recess to get started on their project.

They came in for 3 days in a row during recess and didn’t even want to stop for lunch.

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As they’ve worked, I ‘ve shared their process via Twitter.  They have watched me documenting the process along the way, and I’ve told them that they are trying something out that they might teach to others or inspire other makerspace projects.

One day while we were working, Gretchen Thomas at UGA tweeted a picture of pins that her students had made.  When I showed it to Carlos and Carlena, they both smiled and said, “They’re doing that because of us?”

Another opportunity started to emerge because I saw how seeing the impact that they could have outside of our school walls was a motivator for them.  Next week for Dot Day, we are connecting with Sherry Gick and her 2nd grade class.  I asked Carlena and Carlos if they would share with this class how they are making their mark by being the first to try a craft in our makerspace and how they hope to pass on what they’ve learned along the way.  Without even blinking, they said yes.

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I have no idea where this is going to go, but I feel like I’ve tapped into something that I can’t let go.  I have to keep asking myself, my students, and our teachers how we can continue to explore interests, seek out individual passions, and amplify student voices beyond the walls of our school.  All of our students deserve to explore so many things to figure out what they are truly interested in.

 

Creating Wish Lists with Capstone Press: A Next Step in Student Book Budgets

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Jim Boon from Capstone Press has been doing student book budgets with me since the beginning.  Each year things change just a bit, and Jim naturally adapts right along with me.  This year, we have our largest group of students working simultaneously so it gets noisy fast.  The most challenging thing is making sure that every voice is heard and that all members of the book budget group are engaged.  I love bringing in Jim because he masterfully listens to all students.  He makes connections with them and even remembers them from year to year if they have been part of the group before.  The students in turn have come to know him.  The returning students welcome him back and the new ones quickly learn why we bring him back every year.

Ahead of Jim’s visit, I email him some possible dates to visit.  We establish a time and he mails catalogs for all of the students to use on the day of his visit. Once we have our purchasing goals, I share those with him as well.  He sets up a big selection of Capstone books for students to look at that match the goals that they have set.  He even divides the books into 2 displays: fiction and nonfiction.

Jim does a very short explanation of what students have in front of them. He shows them how to look for books in the index and as well as how books a grouped together. He shows them that the displays might only have one book from an entire series that they can find in the catalogs. He shows them where to find prices for individual books as well as complete sets.  He shows them how each set of books has a barcode in the catalog that can be scanned straight into a wishlist on capstonepub.com  This scanning feature puts the entire series into the list, but then you can go in an uncheck the books that you don’t want to add.

Finally, Jim talks to students about current promotions that Capstone is offering that might stretch their budget even more. I love this part because it helps students think about how they might invest their money or how they might request extra money from me in order to take advantage of a promotion.  This discussion usually doesn’t happen on this particular day, but I always love seeing their wheels turning as they give me reasons why we should spend our money a certain way.

The fun begins when students leap into action. They take books from the display back to their tables and look through them.  They peruse the catalogs.  This is the point where it is hard to stay focused on our purchasing goals.  With a catalog of hundreds of pages, there are so many interesting books that don’t match what we said we were going to buy, and students easily slip into what they personally want to buy rather than what the whole school wants.  I don’t really worry about this very much during our first day with catalogs. Instead, I give a few reminders to think about our goals, but I know that we will revisit the entire list when we make cuts to match our budget.

As students find books that they want to add to the wishlist, they begin forming a line at my computer. I pull up a student book budget list on capstonepub.com and students scan the barcode in their catalogs.  We uncheck all of the books in the series that they don’t want to keep and then save the list.

At this point we don’t worry much about money, but when a student scans a series of 32 books and says that they want to add all of them, I do let them know how much all 32 books would cost.  Most of the time, the student is shocked and quickly narrows down to a few books that they really want to add.

Across an hour, students made a wish list with 161 titles totaling $3071.91.  Capstone is not our only vendor we are working with, so we are definitely going to have to cut some titles from this list.  We will meet 4 more times to add more titles, revisit our goals to see that they are all represented, and finally narrow our list down to the budget we have agreed upon.

We thank Capstone Press and Jim Boon for their continued support of his project.  We appreciate that this company listens to students as well as offers a rewards program that allows us to stretch our student budget even more.

 

2015 Student Book Budgets Step Two: Goal Setting

Discussion

The students in this year’s book budget group have been busy.  We emailed our reading interest survey to all students in our upper grades, but our younger students needed to be surveyed in person.  The book budget crew have carried iPads to recess and lunch as well as picked up iPads before school to survey students.  Over the course of a few days, they have surveyed almost half of our school.

All along the way we have checked the progress in our form by viewing the summary of responses and seeing which grades needed to be surveyed.  We wanted there to be voices from every grade level on the survey.

Finally, we all met in the library for an official meeting to look at the data on the survey.

Discussion

First, the students started picking out the kinds of books that received the most votes.  They made a list of 11 kinds of books.  These books were the ones that received above 60% of the people surveyed who said they liked that kind of book.

Our Goals

The students decided that they wanted to keep this list of 11, so our next step was to decide how to divide our approximate budget of $2000 among the 11 goals.

This came with some controversy.  There were lots of ideas.  We decided to make a list of our ideas on our shared Google doc.  Four main ideas came to the surface.

Voting on Budget Plan

1.  Divide the money equally among the 11 goals.

2.  Create a stair step budget or waterfall budget where the top goal on the list got the most money and the last goal on the list got the least.

3.  Narrow the list of goals to a top 10 or top 5.

4.  Focus on different kinds of books for different grade levels based on the survey responsed.

 

The students voted on these ideas by putting tallies in a table on the Google doc.  The idea of a waterfall budget won the vote, so the next step was to start thinking about how to divide the money among the goals while giving more money to goals requested by more students.  This was even trickier, and we ended up not making a final decision yet.

Voting on Goal Plan

 

 

Deciding how to divide the budget really called upon the students’ math skills.  They wrote things on paper, Google docs, and used Google chrome as a calculator to try to add up various amounts to get to $2000 and divide the budget up into multiple categories.  Students were using their problem solving and reasoning skills as they discussed in groups why their various plans worked or didn’t work.  Some were even revisiting the survey data to try to look at percentages on the survey and correlating that to budget percentages.  Math wasn’t just a subject at this moment.  It was a real life skill that was being put into action.

Our process was again loud and messy, but I loved how the Google doc allowed us to get lots of voices represented in the conversation rather than hearing from one or two people speaking aloud.

Now that our goals have been decided, we’ve sent these to Avid Bookshop and Capstone Press.  Will from Avid Bookshop will visit the students to book talk some books from Avid that match our goals and Jim Boon from Capstone will share his company’s offerings.  I think the pairing of these two vendors will get the students a great variety of titles to choose from.

I can’t wait to see what they decide.

 

Sharing Our Math Strategies Using Educreations

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Second grade has spent some time tinkering with Educreations.  Educreations is a screencasting tool for iPad as well as a limited web-based program for computers.  Teachers can create an account and then have students join their class similar to Edmodo or Google Classroom.  As students login and save their work, the teacher can easily see each student’s work in the admin panel.  With Educreations, students can create a screencast about pretty  much anything.  They can draw or type, upload their own photographs as backgrounds, and search for existing photos for backgrounds.  Each movement on the screen as well as the audio is recorded and saved as a flash video.  Each video has a link to make it easy to share a student’s work online with the world.

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Math is not one of the main areas that develops into collaborative projects in the library.  I think we naturally gravitate to reading, language arts, science, and social studies.  However, I would love to support math in the library!  This year we made one of our school improvement plan goals centered on something that could potentially be a project for the library.

Students will utilize personal learning devices to create math instructional videos that demonstrate ways to solve math problems. These will be shared within and outside the school community.

A few teachers have been exploring this, but the 2nd grade team decided to take this on as a grade level project.  After tinkering with the app in the library, I asked teachers to setup a class account and have students join their class.  To help them, I made a screencast:

When students arrived for the 2nd lesson in the library, we quickly reviewed the many buttons in Educreations.  The students did all of this review based on the tinkering that they did in lesson one.  I reminded them that this 2nd work time was not about tinkering.  It was about focusing on using Educreations to show our mathematical thinking.  I reminded students that this would be very different than just solving a problem on a piece of paper or a computer.  Showing our thinking means that we have to talk about what is going on inside our heads.  During our mini lesson, I created a quick example to show them what I mean by sharing what is in our heads.

educreations example

 

The teachers and I gave students 3 math problems to choose from for their first practice tutorial:  14 + 18, 26 + 13, and 57 + 39.  I did this lesson with 2 classes at a time, so we paired students together on an iPad.  One partner wrote one of the math problems down, created a tutorial, logged in to his/her account to save, and then logged out.  The other partner was there for technical support.  Then, the students switched roles.  They did this back and forth until time ran out.

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The main problem we ran into was when students would forget to logout of their account.  The next student would record a video and then it would save that video into the other students account.  When you press logout, the videos disappear from the iPad because they save into the individual student account.  This became a great piece of learning that I built into lessons with other classes.  I think it will just take some practice to remember these specific steps of saving.  Also, if there are existing Educreations videos on the iPad when a student opens the app, those should be deleted before the student logs in.  Otherwise, those practice videos get saved into the student’s account.  It’s not a big deal, but it does cause their account to be a bit messy and it takes up storage.

Students were very productive and focused during the recording of the tutorials.  There was almost no questions about how to use Educreations.  I was able to see a big benefit from taking time to tinker in the first lesson, and it is something that I want to continue to experiment with.

Now, teachers are reserving iPads to use in their classrooms so that students can continue to create math tutorials.  I sent a follow up email to teachers to let them know that I am happy to work with small groups, individual students, or even the whole class again if needed.  Some of the teachers want to schedule another series of lessons using word problems instead of basic addition problems.  When we do this, we will use the camera to take a picture of the word problem and make it the background.

 

 

Riley's math problem I Educreations_ - https___www.educreations.com_lesson_

Check out how Riley solved 57 + 39.

The Power of Tinkering Before Assigning a Project

Educreations Day 2 (2)One of my library goals this year is to give students, teachers, and families opportunities to dream, tinker, create, and share.  That has meant many things during the course of this year, but one of the things that so many of our teachers are embracing with me is intentionally planning time for students to tinker with a new tool before we ask them to create a project with it.

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During collaborative meetings and virtual planning with teachers, I often ask if we can build in time for students to explore a technology tool with no limits, rules, or assignments.  The only assignment is to push as many buttons as you can and see what you can figure out about that tool.  In addition, there is an expectation that students will pass on their expertise to others as they figure something out through tinkering.

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There have been several instances of this type of tinkering happening this year.  Ms. Hocking gave her Kindergarten students time to tinker with storykit.  All of third grade tinkered with Puppet Pals before a folktale project.

This week, first grade is also taking time to tinker with the Puppet Pals app as they prepare for an opinion writing assignment in English Language Arts.

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Finally, 2nd grade is about to start creating math screencast tutorials using the Educreations app for iPad.

As I’ve facilitated these tinkering sessions, I’ve started to adjust how the sessions run.  We start on the floor to talk about tinkering.  Students share some knowledge about what they already know about tinkering.  Some of the responses I’ve heard are:  a time to explore, a time to be busy, and figuring things out.  I follow this with my own understanding of tinkering.  I establish two big ground rules: 1. Push every button you see in an app and see what it does.  2. Share what you learn.

In most classes, I breeze through the app with very little explanation of what I’m doing just so that students get a quick preview of what they will be looking at and what they might end up with.  In Educreations, I wrote 2+2=____ and then drew out a picture of how I solved that math problem.  I didn’t talk about clicking on colors, the microphone, or really anything.  I just wanted them to get a quick view of the end result.

Then, students had a large chunk of time to explore on the iPads.  For 2nd grade, we did this in pairs, but some classes have been individuals.  My role was to walk around and observe.  A few students were tempted to ask me how to do something, but I responded with a “give it a try”.  Very rarely did I do something for a student.  The only time I intervened was when students needed help getting the app up and running or if the iPad had a technical problem.

As I observed, I would stop and ask students questions like “What did you figure out?” or “Why did you choose to do that in that way?” or “Now that you’ve seen how that works, would you do it a different way next time?”.  These were common questions that I used again and again and they certainly were not ones that I started with.  I was very tempted at first to just jump in and show students something, but I learned to step back and ask questions that allowed students to show what they know.

I saw students naturally leaning over and helping other students, but during my observations, I sometimes saw an opportunity for 2 students to partner and share their learning.  This was another role for me to serve as a connector between students.

The energy level was high, and there was some frustration.  However, I did not see any student give up, get completely off task, or leave without learning something about  how the app worked.

At the closing of each lesson, we gathered back on the floor.  I connected an iPad to the projector and had students come and demo their learning for the rest to see.  We tried to move as quickly as possible to share as many tips as we could.  A big observation for me during this time was how attentive students were.  I’ve never seen students watch a peer presenter with such focus.  Usually, they are having side conversations or tuning out to think about other things.  This time they were watching, listening, and giving connection signals if they had also figured out that part of the app.  If time allowed, I had students turn to one another on the carpet and share even more that they had discovered.  During the closing, I tried to connect what students had discovered with the actual project that we would be implementing next.  For example, a student did a demo of how you can erase while you are recording and I added that this might be a tool you would use while modeling subtraction in a video.

Now that this time of tinkering has happened, our next step is to do the work.  First grade will use Puppet Pals to create opinion puppet shows and 2nd grade will create math tutorials to share.  I’m eager to see how productive students are now that they have had time to get familiar with the app before a curriculum standard expectation was placed on them.  My want to continue to explore the power of tinkering and how it can support the work that we are trying to achieve with students.

 

 

Coding and Beyond with PreK Using Sphero, Osmo, iPads, Computers, and Books

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I love it when a small seed of an idea turns into something much more.  A few weeks ago, I approached PreK about using our Sphero to practice writing letters.  I knew that PreK was working on forming the letters of the alphabet and I thought that the Sphero Draw and Drive app would be a perfect way to merge letter practice with some programming.  I originally thought that small groups might come to the library and use the Sphero with me, but further brainstorming with Ms. Heather resulted in us deciding to do 5 centers that students would rotate through in order to experience many technology, math, and literacy experiences.

Ms. Heather’s class has been bubbling with excitement about coming to the library to try out all of these centers.  Ms. Heather split the class up into 5 groups which was 4-5 students per group.  Ms. Heather, Ms. Melissa (parapro), Ms. Callahan (parent), and I all led a center and one center was independent.  Each center lasted about 10 minutes and took up about an hour with transitions. Here’s what they did.

Center 1:  Hour of Code programming with Sphero

Since this week is our hour of code, I was so glad that PreK got to experience an aspect of coding.  While coding didn’t fill up our hour, it certainly sparked their interest in how to make a computer or robot do what you want it to.  Students sat in a row and each took a turn to think of a letter to practice drawing.  Using the Draw and Drive app on iPad, students drew a letter and pressed play.  The Sphero drove around the carpet in the shape of that letter.  With a shake of the iPad, the letter was erased and the next student had a turn.

We repeated this process over and over until we were out of time.  Each time the robot rolled around the floor there was a burst of excitement.  As the facilitator, I asked students about the letters that they were drawing to make sure that they understood what they were trying to draw.

Center 2:  Osmo Tangrams and Words

Our Osmo devices are one of our favorite tools in the library.  The Osmo is came out this summer.  It includes a base to put the iPad in and a red attachment to place over the camera.  Osmo comes with 2 sets of tools to use with the apps: a set of letter tiles and a set of tangrams.  The three apps are free to download but you must have the base and attachment for them to work.  For this center, students used the Junior version of the Words app.  This app gives students a picture with a matching word.  The beginning sound of the word is missing and students have to lay the correct letter tile in front of the iPad.  If it is correct, the red attachment “sees” the letter tile and magically adds it to the word on the screen.  If it is incorrect, students have to try again.

Students also used the Introduction to Tangrams in the tangrams app.  This app shows students 2-3 tangram pieces pushed together.  For this beginning phase, the colors of the tangrams on the screen match the colors of the actual tangrams.  As students correctly place the tangrams on the table in front of the iPad, the red attachment “sees” them and fills in with black on the screen.  When they are all correct, a new combination is shown.

This center was one that needed adjustment as we went along depending on student needs and strengths. Some needed to focus more on the shapes while others were ready to think about letter sounds in words.  All students had a blast watching the magic of the Osmo happen on the screen and table.

Center 3: Starfall on Computers

Ms. Heather facilitated the computer center.  I put out a computer, mouse, and headphones for each student in the group.  One part of this center was simply using fine motor skills to practice using a mouse.  The other part was to use Starfall to continue practicing letters and sounds.

Center 4: Reading

A parent volunteer read aloud stories that I pulled.  The selections were Peanut Butter and Jellyfish, Job Site, and Stars.  She had students engaged in discussion about the story and the pictures all along the way.

Center 5: iPads

PreK has 5 iPads in each classroom.  Students have a variety of word apps that they can use at their own center time in class, so they are used to using these apps independently.  This made the perfect independent center since we didn’t have 5 adults.  Students sat on the bean bags by the windows and used the iPads by themselves for the 10 minutes of this center.

I think many times people think that our younger students can’t use technology or they are unsure of what to do with younger students.  I love giving things a go and seeing what happens.  We were amazed by students’ engagement and excitement today.  Some asked, “Can we do this every day?”  That was a sure sign of success.  When working with younger students, you have to think about what your barriers might be.  For us, we wanted smaller groups in order to have more adult support if needed.  We also wanted smaller groups so that students wouldn’t be waiting around since we only have 1 Sphero and 3 Osmos.  Using the teacher, parapro, parent volunteer, and me helped to make this possible.  You might have a different barrier, but I hope that you will consider what you might leap into with your youngest learners in your building.