Fostering Digital Leadership: A Next Step

chromville1I recently rolled out our 1 to 1 devices to grades 3-5.  During this orientation, I talked with students about digital leadership.  Since then, our oldest grades have started taking their computers home, but our 3rd graders are still waiting.  It’s their first year with their own computer and we are trying to do a better job of helping them understand what kinds of things they can do with their computer when they take it home.

The third grade teachers chatted with me about digital leadership and digital citizenship and we thought about what would be the most important thing to explore next.  We looked at Common Sense Media and their scope and sequence.  We also talked about ideas that I planted during the orientation.

Based on our discussions, I decided to focus on our digital snapshots.  What are we currently doing with technology?  What do we want to strive to do with technology?  What is ok to share?  What do we keep private?

I created a short set of slides to guide our conversation, and I’m fascinated by some of the things that came up.  I started with a small piece of my own digital snapshot.

It contained my blog as well as a screenshot of my home screen on my iPhone.  I asked students to look at this one piece of my digital life and see what they could learn about how I use technology.  They had conversations with partners and I eavesdropped.  I heard things like:

  • He misses a lot of calls and doesn’t answer his text messages
  • He likes to share things
  • He takes a lot of pictures
  • He likes to travel
  • He is very organized with his apps
  • He uses his phone to look up books in the library
  • He has 2 kids

The list continued to grow with each class, and each class inferred something more than the last class.  I was actually amazed about how much they could learn from me just by focusing on my phone.  In fact, that’s all they focused on.  Not a single student talked about the picture of my blog.  There focus was completely on the apps on my phone, which was also interesting to me.

I used their noticings to connect to some of the decisions I make as a user of technology.  I talked about how I know when I share a picture or a blog post that it is going to be seen around the world.  I once again shared our blog map to remind students where people are looking at our work.

Next, I had students talk with partners about what their digital snapshots look like.  How are they using technology in their everyday lives?  We started adding some of these ideas to a doc.  We didn’t capture everything, but I at least wanted a list we could refer to.

All of this was leading up to us spending more time talking about using our devices in school and at home for educational purposes.  I loved having this list because most students thought it was bad for them to go onto Youtube.  Many were surprised when I talked about all of the great things Youtube is for.  In most classes, we spent a bit of time brainstorming why we might use Youtube.  This list also gave me some insight into what students are doing at home that I haven’t even heard of.

After students reflected on their own digital snapshot, I showed students what other students have already done at our school with technology.  I couldn’t show everything, but I gave them a quick look at pictures to show some of the awesome ways we’ve used technology to connect, collaborate, create, and share.

Finally, I asked students to spend time brainstorming how they might use their 1:1 technology.  This was only a starting place.  Many students focused on videos, games, or websites they might visit, so we have some work to do in regards to thinking about our devices as creation tools and tools that connect us to opportunities.  Students added their ideas for how to use technology at home and keep it connected with learning and appropriate use for an elementary student to a padlet.

Some students were also able to move on to a wonderful coloring page from the augmented reality app, Chromville.  This coloring page features Zoe and a computer screen.

Students can draw or write about a digital citizenship message on the screen.

chromville 6 chromville 5

Using the Chromville app, Zoe comes to life on the screen displaying the students’ digital citizenship message and you can even click the mouse to display additional messages about staying safe online.  I want to make sure all of the students get to try this out, but only a few made it this far during our hour together.

chromville4 chromville 5 chromville 6

We will continue to revisit these topics in classrooms and during library projects and lessons throughout the year.  If you have an innovative way to have these conversations with your students, I would love to hear them.

chromville

 

Kindergarten Mission to Mars: A Makerspace Tinkering Lesson

hocking makerspace exploration (15)

Ms. Kelly’s Kindergarten class has turned a curiosity into a year-long project.  They became interested in space, and it has turned into a research project about planets, creating planet ebooks, writing original songs about the planets using ukuleles, and having a Fat Tuesday parade dressed as the planets.

Now, these students are on a mission to figure out how to support human travel to Mars.  They don’t actually want to go to Mars themselves, but they want to think about what might need to be invented in order to support human travel to Mars in the future.  Wow!  Some might look at a Kindergarten class and think this is silly.  How could students as young as Kindergarten come up with ideas for traveling to Mars?  I think Ms. Kelly’s class proves that even our youngest voices should not only be listened to but empowered as well.

Mars Makers

These students have spent extensive time researching Mars.  They know about the land, the weather, the atmosphere, and ways that Mars has already been explored.  They have brainstormed things that they might need to think about when traveling to Mars such as water, food, oxygen, and how to survive the dust storms.

They recently came to the library to read the book  You Are the First Kid on Mars by Patrick O’Brien.

She and I brainstorm a lot over email.  When working with her, nothing is impossible and our biggest limit is time.  She wanted a way to capture all of her students’ brainstorming, so I suggested a Padlet since they could post ideas, websites, pictures, and files.  I set one up for her and they got to work adding to it.

Within their brainstorming, they talked about creating robots that could help them explore Mars as well as several other technology-heavy ideas.  This brainstorm naturally brought us to our library makerspace.  We wanted students to have a time to explore some facts about robots, technology, electricity, circuitry, energy, and space exploration.  Ms. Kelly books an hour of time for student to explore, and I created some experiences for them to move through.

Experience 1:

I pulled as many books as I could find on all of our major maker concepts from 3d printing to robotics to circuitry.  I also pulled books about space.  This experience was a time for them to look at lots of pictures, read captions, and skim text with one another and an adult to get ideas that they hadn’t even thought of in their brainstorm.

Experience 2:

We have several robotics options in our makerspace.  Since robotics was part of their brainstorm, I wanted them to tinker with a robot that was manageable by a Kindergarten student.  I chose Sphero.  Since Sphero alone couldn’t do some of the things they were thinking of robots doing, I showed them a Youtube video of how Sphero can be combined with other things like a chariot to pull a camera or add an attachment.

Then, students used the Drive app to practice driving Sphero and brainstorming how this might help them explore Mars.

Experience 3:

Students have talked a lot about wiring and circuits during their brainstorming.  They really want to wire something that could actually work. I have 2 littleBits space kits which have instructions for creating things like Mars Rovers, Grapplers, and Data Collection Tools.  The age range is high for these kits, but age range never stops us from trying something.  We just look at what barriers are in place and then figure out how to build a bridge.  For this experience, I started students with the instruction booklets.  They got into 2 smaller groups and looked at the diagrams, instructions, and functions.  They started to think about their brainstorm and how these littleBits inventions might work with their ideas.  Then, they moved to a table of littleBits.  In pairs, they used a battery, power cord, and blue power switch to connect to one input (pink) and one output (green).  The idea was just to start tinkering a bit with littleBits to see how they work.  They weren’t necessarily making a space invention yet.

Here’s a quick look at what it all looked and sounded like:

Next, our students will go back into their classroom and continue working on their padlet using the ideas from the makerspace exploration and the books.  They also checked out some of the books to take back.  Then, students will begin constructing prototypes of tools that they might actually invent for space.

 

Honoring Our Veterans with The Poppy Lady, Padlet, and Flipgrid

Last year, we were honored to have Barbara Walsh, author of The Poppy Lady, visit our school and share her book about Moina Michael’s vision for honoring veterans with the poppy.  Now, last year’s fourth graders that attended that visit are in the 5th grade.   They are about to host several veterans at our school for Veteran’s Day on Tuesday.

British use poppies to commemorate WWI

To prepare for our luncheon, the 5th grade classes each came to the library.  We read The Poppy Lady again.  We also watched a video from CBS news.  The video gave the students some great context on why the poppy is so important and what it really symbolizes.  This paired nicely with the advocacy story of Moina Michael.

We also had a great discussion about the importance of honoring veterans and what students might ask when they sit at a table with a veteran.  They brainstormed questions/statements like: “Tell me more about your time of service”, “What division of the military did you serve in”, “What were some of your biggest challenges in the military”, etc.

Then, students took time to visit 2 centers in the library.  I setup multiple iPads as a Flipgrid recording station.  With Flipgrid, students reflected on how we could continue to honor veterans just like the poppy lady did.

Flipgrid. Relax and discuss.

 

The 2nd station was a padlet where students could send messages to author Barbara Walsh about their appreciation for honoring the work of Moina Michael.  I pulled the site up on both projection screens and three other computers in the library for students to visit.

The Poppy Lady

Now the 5th graders will continue to work on poems, artwork, letters, and speeches for Tuesday’s luncheon.  During the luncheon, they will sit with veterans and have meaningful conversations.  I hope that they will take time to bring up the Poppy Lady while they talk.

 

 

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2014

Our pirate map of connections

Our pirate map of connections

September 19th is Talk Like a Pirate Day.  There are so many fun pirate stories out there, and each year we seem to discover a few more thanks to the connections we make around the globe through Google Hangouts and Skype.  Planning a day of connections like this definitely takes some time but students love talking with people around the globe, sharing a story, and learning a bit about one another.  It always seems to reinforce the idea that we aren’t alone in our bubble of routines of day to day life.  There are other people out there doing the same things that we are and quite possibly they are doing those things in different ways.  I love the spontaneous conversations that take place on days like this that you could never plan through a standard or a lesson plan.  Students always bring up a question or a comment that makes the day special.

This year, 8 classes came to the library for Talk Like a Pirate Day and we connected with 6 different schools in 5 different states.

  • We connected with Edie Crook in Gastonia North Carolina to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We had a great conversation about “treasure” and students took turns stepping up to say what treasure meant to them.  We were delighted with words such as being kind, family, friends, Skylanders, and baseball.
  • We connected with Jan Pelias through Google Hangouts in Frisco Texas to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  It was fun to connect with someone in another time zone because we could talk about how time is different at the same moment around the world.
  • We connected with Melanie Thompson in Jefferson City, Missouri to read the book How I Became a Pirate.  Melanie’s students had researched pirates and they took time to share all of their facts.  This made our students very curious about pirates as well.  I have a feeling all of our nonfiction pirate books will be checked out for a long time.  I also love how Melanie embraced her inner pirate as we chatted with each other through Skype chat prior to our connection!

Pirates (11)

  • We connected with Okle Miller in Tampa, Florida to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  Tampa has a pirate festival called Gasparilla .  Students loved hearing how pirates take over Tampa during this festival and kidnap the mayor (all for fun).  The class we connected with even called themselves pirates and used the word “pirate” as an acronym for their classroom expectations and beliefs.
  • Both of our PreK classes came to the library for their first visit of the year.  In class, they made pirate hats and hooks as well as added some pirate mustaches to their faces.  We read the book Pirates Go to School and made a class video chanting the pirate chant at the end of the book.
  • We connected with Carol Scrimgeour in Essex Town, Vermont to read the book No Pirates Allowed Said Library Lou.  We noticed that all of the kids were wearing warm clothes, so we had a great conversation about how cold it had been in the northeast.  It was sunny in both places but with a very different temperature.
  • Finally, we connected with Shawna Ford in Texas and she read a new pirate book we had not heard before: No Bath No Cake Polly’s Pirate Party.  Now the students want to get it for our library.

Before each connection, we looked at a map from our school to the school we were connecting with.  We talked about distance, travel time, and also all of the decisions that go into choosing your route for a trip.  We also created a Google tour of our trip using Google Tour Builder.  After each connection, we wrote a summary together.

We also created a Padlet to write pirate sentences.  This was shared with our friends around the country and became a place to crowdsource our words.

Finally, we spent a lot of time creating pirate sentences, phrases, and even conversations and practicing them aloud.  Students had access to a list of pirate vocabulary words as well as multiple pirate stories to get ideas.

We used Flipgrid as a place to record our favorite pirate expressions.  Students also had a great time trying to imitate a pirate voice and pirate faces and gestures.  Take a moment to listen to them because they are quite entertaining!  I loved how this evolved from a sentence writing activity into a practice of fluency, oral speaking, and performance.  Again, Flipgrid became a place for us to crowdsource our voices with the voices of our connecting schools.

I love how these events connect us with new people around the world.  This year we connected with some old friends, but we also met some new teachers, librarians, and students we hope to connect with again.  I also want to continue to think about days like this to build long term collaborative relationships.

Observing the Day & Night Sky with Kindergarten

IMG_1377Kindergarten is working on observing the day and night sky in science, and they want to use technology to document their observations.  They are working on the following standards:

ELACCKW6 digital tools help writers write and share their stories.

ELACCKW7 writers work in groups.

SKE1 Students describe time pattterns (such as day to night and night to day) and objects in the day and night sky.

Classes came for 2 separate lessons.  During our 1st session, we used Capstone’s Pebble Go to read about day and night.

PebbleGo - Capstone Digital

Then, we read the book Sun Up, Sun Down: The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey.  During our reading of both Pebble Go and the book, students discussed the scientific reasons we have day and night.  We setup the idea of starting to “notice” things about the sky and how it changes during the day and night.

IMG_1376For our 2nd session, I opened up the blinds on our massive library windows and setup observation areas for students.  We started our time together on the floor and shared some observations we had already made at recess or at home.  We practiced saying aloud what we would write on our clipboards at the windows.  Next, the teacher paired the students together, gave them a clipboard with paper and pencil, and I placed groups in front our our windows.  The teacher, parapro, and I walked around and talked with kids about what they saw.  We encouraged them to write and sketch.  We also helped them make connections to the information that we had learned from Pebble Go and our book.  For example, the sun was blinding us in the windows on he left side of the media center but on the right side of the media center it was shady.  We remembered that the sun is at different positions in the sky throughout the day due to the Earth rotating.

Day & Night Sky Observations

At the end, we split the class in half at our 2 projection areas.  Student groups shared what they observed and we used Padlet to capture the observations.  I tweeted the link to our padlet and later in the day Margaret Powers, Mrs. Keating, and Mrs. Bolster and their students added to the wall from Pennsylvania.  It was interesting to hear about the cloud-filled sky there compared to our cloudless sky in Georgia.

Now, the Kindergarten teachers will share this link with families and encourage them to add notes to the Padlet from home.  This will allow students to make some observations of the night sky.  Please feel free to leave some comments on the Padlet about what the sky looks like where you are!