Category Archives: Art

TurtleArt Tiles

Yesterday, I featured a great series of images and video taken during a Maker Space event at a public library in Westport, Connecticut.  The man behind the event, Josh Burker, also has a great blog sharing other ideas for making.  The most recent entry caught my eye because it involves using “TurtleArt” and a 3D printer – two things with which I have little experience, but would like to know better.

Josh details an activity in which students use TurtleArt (similar to Logo programming) to create designs on the computer.  These designs are then used to make stamps with the 3D printer.  After practicing using the stamps on Play-Doh, the students stamp clay tiles and paint them to make amazing works of art.

The step-by-step process can be found on the post by Josh.  There are lots of photographs, and it seems fairly straightforward – even for a layperson like me.

I love this intersection of logic and creativity!

TurtleArt image from Josh Burker
TurtleArt image from Josh Burker
Final Clay Tile image from Josh Burker
Final Clay Tile image from Josh Burker

Lessons Learned When Offering Summer Learning

GOALS

Regular readers may have noticed a few blog posts I have done this summer regarding an online class that I offered my students through Edmodo.  This is the second year that some colleagues and I have gotten together to do this, and I thought I should share a little bit more about the project in case any of you might consider doing it for your own students.

The group of teachers involved in this particular enterprise are all elementary Gifted and Talented teachers in my district.  We chose to create this program for free for our students, and are not paid to participate.  Last year, 9 teachers volunteered their time.  This year, there are 6 of us.

Each of us chose our own topics and length of the courses.  We created a catalog, and sent it out to our students (3rd-5th graders) in April, giving them plenty of time to choose a course.  Because there were fewer classes this year, we decided we would only be able to offer the program to our own students, rather than all 3rd-5th grade gifted students in the district as we did last year.  Fewer students than expected signed up, so we extended the deadline and allowed them to sign up for a 2nd course if they were interested.  We used a Google Form for registration.

By far, the “Programming with Scratch” class was the most requested.  If you have read any of my posts about teaching students to code, then you know I am a huge proponent of introducing programming to elementary students.  My belief that there is a desire to learn this amongst our young people was certainly reinforced by the number of people who signed up for this course, taught by my colleague, Kacie Germadnik.

Last year, I also taught a programming course – using Tynker.  But I decided to go a different direction this year.  After jumping into the Maker Revolution during the past school year, I saw many students enjoyed the opportunity to create in a variety of ways.  So, I came up with “Make a Theme Park” as my class.

The premise was that the students would create imaginary theme parks, and would focus on one portion per week for four weeks.  To motivate them, and because I am probably one of the least creative people I know, I thought I would invite some other talented people to give them some ideas each week and “judge” their creations.

I debated the judging part, I must admit.  Just to be clear, the only prize was an Edmodo badge and a mention on this blog.  However, I still struggle with the idea of external vs. internal motivation.  I’ve asked for feedback from the participants now that the class is over, and I’m still getting responses.  So far, though, they seem to like the judging aspect.

Our judge/mentors were: Joey Hudy (Theme Park Ride), Braeden (Theme Park Mascot), Michael Medvinsky (Theme Park Song), and Sylvia Todd (Theme Park Game).  I want to thank them one more time for their awesome contributions.  They, too, donated their time to this project – and they all have precious little time to donate! You can see specifics about each of their weeks by going to my most recent post about the course and following the appropriate links.

From past experience with Science Fairs and other huge home projects, I thought I would have two categories for each week – Family and Individual.  My daughter and I posted projects in the Family category each week.  No one else did.  So, I guess 2 categories was a bit much…

The students posted their entries on a Padlet each week.  This worked fairly well.  They could post pictures and/or video.  One recommendation I would make for videos is a little trick I learned after the first week.  If you are using an iPhone to make your video, record in landscape with the home button on the right.  Then your video won’t post upside-down or sideways on the Padlet.  We did have problems with longer videos being posted on the Padlet, so you might want give students other options such as uploading to Google Drive or Dropbox just in case.  The advantage of the Padlet was that the judges were able to see all of the projects in the same place.

Things that Went Well:

  • amazing creative ideas and use of many types of materials and media (from using Scratch to compose a theme song to muffin pans and wrenches)
  • great input and feedback from our guest judges
  • a purpose and outlet for students that hopefully showed them ways to be producers rather than mindless consumers over the summer
  • I was able to monitor and post to the class even when I was, myself, away on vacation!

Things that Didn’t Go Well:

  • a lot less students ended up participating than who had signed up for the course
  • there were a few issues with the mentors/judges using Edmodo as 3 of them had never used it before
  • uploading large videos to Padlet caused a bit of stress to some of the students
  • having a Family category

The feedback I’ve received so far from students who participated has been excellent.  Of course, the number who signed up compared to the number who actually completed the course is not very encouraging.  Is this a result of disinterest – or students who found it too difficult to fit it in with summer camps and family vacations?  Should I open the course up to even more students next year, or give it up all together?  Should I offer more interaction between our guest judges/mentors – such as Google Hangout – or is that asking too much?

I would certainly welcome suggestions for improving the program.  We will be getting feedback from the students and their parents as well.  Knowing me, I won’t do the exact same thing next summer – but I think that I would definitely like to modify this course in a way that would encourage more participation.  Please feel free to offer advice or ideas in the comments below!

By the way, if you like the idea of an online Maker course, don’t forget that the Google/Make free online course started this week!

Theme Park Game

Adventure Claw
Adventure Claw

This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders.  My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.”  Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged.  You can see the post I did on the winners here.  During the second week, the students created theme park mascots, and Braeden the Master of Puppetry was our judge.  Here is the link to that post.  For week #3, I invited Michael Medvinsky (@mwmedvinsky) to judge theme songs created by the students for their parks.  You can find the winner, as well as a link to the Padlet of their submissions, here.

The final week of our “Make a Theme Park” class was judged by Sylvia Todd.  For those of you who don’t know Sylvia, she is the delightful host of Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show.  She also, along with Joey Hudy (our 1st week’s judge) appeared at the first White House Maker Faire this summer.  And, she has a book coming out – hopefully very soon!

Sylvia’s task was to judge the games that students to made to go along with their theme parks.  This project assignment was similar to the Global Cardboard Challenge in which some of my students participated last September and October.  Sylvia chose “Adventure Claw” to be the winner for the week.  The game, pictured at the top of this post, was described this way by its maker: “The alligator on top is the claw, and when you pull the string it moves! If you are lucky, you might even get a prize. I was able to pick up a dime.”

Some of the other entries were:

undertheseaUnder the Sea – You get five tries to throw the water balloon through the holes. The eyes are two points each and the mouth is three points (like basketball).

jellyfishdefenseJellyfish Defense – I made a pinball machine. You have 3 lives to try and get as many points as possible. I used magnets to get the double ball and multiball.

whackamouseWhack-a-Mouse – When someone underneath the box pushes up the cups you will have to whack the mice with the cat paw.

Catch Indiana Jones (sorry I don’t have a picture available as only a video was submitted) – Can you catch him? Or will he escape? You get three tries to roll the boulder and hit Indiana Jones. The first Indiana Jones you hit is the one you score points on.

Theme Park Song Winner

Theme Song Padlet This summer, some other GT teachers and I got together to host some free online classes through Edmodo for our 3rd-5th graders.  My class is called, “Make a Theme Park.”  Each week, the students are invited to make something for a theme park that they have imagined. For the 1st week, the challenge was to build a model of a theme park ride, and the fantabulous Joey Hudy judged.  You can see the post I did on the winners here.  During the second week, the students created theme park mascots, and Braeden the Master of Puppetry was our judge.  Here is the link to that post.

Our third week of our online “Make a Theme Park” class invited the students to create songs for their theme parks.  Michael Medvinsky (@), who is an amazing music teacher and Master of Making I connected with through Twitter, was our judge for the week.  As usual, the creativity and variety in the submissions thoroughly impressed me!  Our judge was dazzled as well, and had a very difficult time choosing the winner.  There were songs created with Garage Band, piano, Scratch, and even a muffin tin with wrenches!  My daughter and I tried to create one with Incredibox and iMovie – but somehow lost the sound :( In the end, Mr. Medvinsky chose the Kittyana Jones Theme Song that was created with Scratch.  You can see and hear all of the songs submitted, as well as Mr. Medvinsky’s wonderful comments by going to our Padlet.

Tried and True – Global Cardboard Challenge

The Cardboard Theater created by one of my 3rd Grade students for the 2013 Global Cardboard Challenge
The Cardboard Theater created by one of my 3rd Grade students for the 2013 Global Cardboard Challenge

On this blog, I tend to post about a lot of ideas that I find, and some readers don’t always get a chance to know if I ever tried them – or if they were complete flops.  This week, I want to feature a few past ideas that I did try and that were successful – and that I definitely want to do again.

In 2013 I stumbled across the Global Cardboard Challenge, and decided to see what my GT students could do with it.  I had great hopes for it – and I was not disappointed.  Here is one of the posts that I did while we were in the midst of the project.  My GT students in 1st through 5th grade all participated.  You can see some of their creations here.

When I say that I have never been so completely useless as a teacher in my life (except when I administer standardized testing), I am not exaggerating.  Why was I useless?  Because once the students got to work, they were completely engaged for hours at a time – and they really did not want my help or suggestions.  I stood around and made cuts in boxes and distributed packing tape.

I am planning to expand the Challenge this year to include not only my GT students, but also students in a Maker Club that I am going to be sponsoring after school.  We also have a fundraiser in the works where the students will display their final products at a local business and the community will be invited to play the cardboard games for a small donation to a charity that my students will determine.

This year’s Global Cardboard Challenge is scheduled for October 11, 2014.  But you do not have to actually create on that date!  Go to the site for the details and resources, and think about what works for your community of creative kids.  And, if you or your students have not seen Caine’s Arcade, the amazing video that inspired this event, make sure you watch it!

3 Doodler Remote Control Plane

Remote Control 3Doodler Plane image from: Makezine.com
Remote Control 3Doodler Plane image from: Makezine.com

In January, I posted about my acquisition of the 3Doodler from a Kickstarter project.  My students used it with varying degrees of success in our Makerspace (B.O.S.S. HQ) this year.  Some were frustrated immediately, and some went to that center any time they had the chance.  I’m trying to encourage them to expand their thinking about what they can accomplish with it.  The other day, I ran across a post on Makezine.com that featured a remote control plane that someone built using a 3Doodler Pen!  What I particularly like about the story is that it shows the process of building it and testing it – and gives reasons for its somewhat shaky flight.  This is a great little video to show students T.M.I. (Think, Make, Improve – recommended by Gary Stager and Sylvia Martinez in Invent to Learn).