Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Keep the Mayflower Afloat!

On the last day before Thanksgiving Break, I wanted to do something with the kids that was exciting and brain stimulating!  I did a search on TpT, and came across some really cool Thanksgiving investigations!  One of these investigations stood out, and I knew that my kids would love it!  This investigation was called "An Engineering Challenge: Boat Builders".  The goal of this challenge was for the students to build a boat that could carry the Pilgrims, their livestock and their cargo without sinking.  The supplies that they were able to use were one tub of water (the Atlantic Ocean), one stick of modeling clay (The Mayflower), ten mini marshmallows (the Pilgrims), five Tootsie Roll candies (livestock), and ten pennies (cargo).  The students were tasked to build a boat, place it in the water, and then load it.  Many of the students questioned why they couldn't load it outside of the water and then place it in the water.  We had a great conversation about how boats are loaded in the real world!  This was such a fun and exciting activity.  We decided to video the investigation and share our results on Twitter.  The kids were super excited about making connections throughout the day!!!  Twitter has done so much for my kids.  Check out some of our videos below!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

DIY Energy Robots Green Screen Commercials!

The DIY Energy Robots' Project is complete!  The students worked so hard, and are very excited about sharing their final product locally and globally!  They spent a few days conducting research on the different forms of energy.  They were then tasked to create a robot that uses at least 3 of those forms of energy.  As an extension they also had to develop a commercial to promote their product.  For the commercials, the students and I used Do Ink.  Do Ink is a green screen app that is super kid (and teacher) friendly!!  The results were awesome, and I could not be more proud of my friends!!  This project ran a bit longer than I anticipated.  Time management is something that I know I need to work on when it comes to PBL.  It gets easier each year!!  We hope that you enjoy our commercials.  Anyone interested in a robot??

Monday, November 9, 2015

The DIY Energy Robot Project (PBL) Continues!

The students have completed their research, and they are close to having a final design of their robot.  Their ideas are out of this world, and I can't wait to see what kind of commercial that they come up with! Stay tuned for that!

Isn't this just the coolest!?

In other news, my staff is now working on our second Technology Take-Down of the Year!  During the first nine weeks, they were challenged to use Twitter in their classrooms as well as the Remind app.  I am using Thinglink to present the challenges to the staff, and for them to reference during each grading period.  The winners of the first nine week's challenge won Google Cardboard!  For this grading period, the teachers have been challenged to use GoNoodle with their students.  GoNoodle helps teachers and parents get moving by using interactive and engaging videos, otherwise known as "Break Breaks"!  Once a classroom graduates a "champ", they receive a certificate.  This will count as one entry into the challenge drawing.  Perry Wyoma of GoNoodle sent me some great swag to use for this challenge!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

PBL Day 1-DIY Energy Robot

How can you create a robot that uses at least 3 forms of energy?  That is the question that is driving this project!  This is the first project of the year, and the kids are ready to get started!  I found this activity on Teachers Pay Teachers, and I am adapting it for my kids (Click the image below to be taken to this FREE product).  In the end, the students will be expected to create a commercial to get the viewers to purchase their robot!  We are planning on using DoInk (green screen app) for this!

We will spend the first 2 days researching the five different forms of energy.  Today, the students were placed in their groups, and they worked together on a group Padlet.  Padlet is a virtual wall that allows students to digitally collaborate.  They are able to add text, photos, and links!  

I created the Padlets for each group, and then added it to our class website so the students could access it easily.  I also added some quick links for the students to use (if they chose too) during their research.  Their goal today was to find information and images on all five forms of energy.  They will continue their research tomorrow.  One of the things that I said today was that "You are in charge of your own learning.  How cool is that!"  I can't wait to see how far they go!!  Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

It is Time for Students to Take Charge of their Learning!

This past week, my kids worked with a couple of technology tools to foster the idea that it is time for our students to take more ownership in their learning!  I was motivated by Kayla Delzer to begin this movement in my classroom.  She truly is an visionary when it comes to education and student driven learning!  We worked with a couple of apps this week that aided in giving my students more control in their learning.  We began our week with a mini-lesson on the app, Explain Everything.  Explain Everything is an interactive whiteboard that allows students and educators to animate their thinking.  My goal with this is started as a simple idea.  My plan was to teach the students about a skill, and then give them the tools to dive deeper into that knowledge through the use of an interactive whiteboard and QR codes.  At the end of the lesson, they were challenged to create a how-to video about the skill that day, distributive property of multiplication, that could potentially be posted on YouTube for other students to use.  Their excitement was palpable, and one of my students said, "This is the best idea ever!".  I could not agree more!  I created a video using the ShowMe app, and then created a QR code with a link to that video. I then glued the QR code to one desk within the table groups, and titled it a "Help Desk".  My plan is to create "Help Desks" throughout the year for students to access when they require reteaching.

The students then created their own interactive videos within the app, Explain Everything.  I loved how this app, very effortlessly, lent itself to collaboration and creation.  The videos were great, and the students grasped the concept of distributive property without me ever having to pass out a piece of paper!  Imagine that!  Up next is Aurasma and TinyTap!! More to come soon once my students explore these awesome tools!

One of my students, Denton, wanted to share Explain Everything with my partner teacher to see if she could start using it in her class.  He took it upon himself to show her the app, and he even brainstormed ideas with her about how she could use.  And do you know what happened?  She loved everything about their conversations, and used it the very next day!  Below is a picture of Denton talking to Mrs. Serrill about his ideas.  We posted this image on Twitter, and Explain Everything retweeted it!  I wish I could have bottled his reaction to this when I told him.  He was so proud!  That is what it is all about!!

I Love to Train Passionate Teachers!

This has been a busy couple of weeks!  Two weeks ago, myself and my good friend, Jamie Spikerman, attended and presented at TCCA in Aldine ISD.  This was one of the best technology conferences that I have attended, and it was completely FREE! If you live in or near Aldine ISD, I highly recommend attending next year! It began with a wonderful keynote, Jennie Magiera.  She spoke on "when is the right time to take changes in education".  It was a powerful keynote, and it stressed the concept of "choosing to be bothered".  Our session was titled "Totally Awesome Technology Tools".  We used Symbaloo to house our awesome tools.  We spoke on tools that enhance and elevate the learning that is taking place in classrooms each and every day!  Google Cardboard was a huge hit, and I can't wait to see how it changes the learning environment of my classroom and others.  Check out the Symbaloo below that we used during this training.