Category Archives: Student Products

Kids Philosophy Slam 2015

The new topic for the Kids Philosophy Slam has been announced: Violence or Compassion: Which has a greater impact on society?

You can find out more information about the topic on their website, including rules and guidelines.  The contest is open to students in Kindergarten through 12th grade, so you really should consider giving your students the opportunity no matter what their age.  Here is a great post by Joelle Trayers about how she incorporated philosophy into her lessons with Kinder and 1st graders.

You can see an example from a Kindergartener below from the 2013 contest.

Kids Philosophy Slam

Whether you choose to formally enter the contest, or just discuss the topic, it could certainly make for an interesting debate in your classroom! Here is another post I’ve done on the Teaching Children Philosophy website.  Also, if you might want to check out Richard Byrne’s great review of Socratic Smackdown, a fantastic tool guaranteed to liven up any deep discussions!

 

More Ideas for Pic Collage

I had a great time at the end of last school year allowing the students to use the Pic Collage app on the iPads to create mini-yearbooks using pictures from our class blog.  There are many uses for the app, and I’m pretty sure that I have yet to use it to its full potential.

Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year
Using Pic Collage to summarize your favorite moments from the school year

At a recent PD about using apps for creating, one of my colleagues, Camala Rose-Turnage, suggested using the app for a fraction study. Students could take a group of pictures, of which only some have a certain thing in common (such as the color red), and then other students could figure out the fraction.  Awesome!  Besides the fact that I had never heard an idea like this before, I could see a lot of potential for differentiation.  Some students might choose obvious traits for their groups, such as color or shape; others might select something more abstract, such as objects that are used for particular activities (recess toys) or ones that all start with a certain letter.  The fractions might vary in complexity, too.  You could have some students portray fractions that could be reduced, or even – depending on the Pic Collage layout – mixed numbers.

Speaking of math, here is a post showing how students can use Pic Collage to create their own math reviews.  And here are some other ideas that could be used in a primary classroom.

Pic Collage is also great for app-smashing.  Use it with Thinglink and Aurasma for an awesome interactive poster.  You can find a ton of Pic Collage app-smashes on this Pinterest board by Holly Inniger.

What’s your favorite way to use this versatile app?

Powtoon Power

It’s Phun Phriday and I want to share this great Powtoon video that one of my students created to invite everyone to our Cardboard Arcade next week.  I love that he did this on his own time, and using a relatively new tool.

The Most Magnificent Book Hack

You may have read my fairly recent post about the adorable book, The Most Magnificent Thing, by Ashley Spires.  This is a fantabulous book to read to your students to foster a Growth Mindset.  And, it ties in super well with my students’ current participation in the Global Cardboard Challenge.

I was looking for some other activities to tie in with the book, and came across an interesting slideshow of pictures of an event that was hosted at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum during which participants “hacked” the book.  They were given copies of the book and tons of craft material, and told to make what they wanted!

Despite the part of me that abhors destruction of any book, I love this idea.  If any book was made for a book hack, then this one is!  And I am so impressed by the amazing ideas dreamed up by the children.

Book Hack of The Most Magnificent Thing by Marie @kidscanpress.com
Book Hack by Marie of The Most Magnificent Thing @kidscanpress.com

You should also see the book hack that the famous “Property Brothers” of  HGTV did of the book.  If I can believe my aging eyes, it looks like they used Little Bits to make their very cool hack!  (This link takes you to the Facebook video of their hack, so you may not be able to view it at school.)

And, of course, a book hack would not be complete if the author did not participate!  Ashley Spires did her own amazing hack, and you can watch the embedded video below.

This entire concept combines two of my favorite topics in education right now for which you can find even more resources on my Pinterest Boards – Maker Education and Growth Mindset.  Some other great picture books that I’ve featured that support these themes are Rosie Revere, Engineer and Beautiful Oops.

Pencil Code Gym and Code Studio

I’ve just added two new resources to my Programming for Kids Pinterest Board: Pencil Code Gym and Code Studio.  I haven’t played with either one of them, yet – but they look like they are worth exploring.

The "Draw" interface from Pencil Code Gym
The “Draw” interface from Pencil Code Gym

Pencil Code Gym gives you the opportunity to code your own art, music, or fiction.  It looks fairly elementary, but definitely best used by good readers if they are to work independently.

Code Studio from Code.org
Code Studio from Code.org

Code Studio is a new offering from Code.org, who sponsors the annual Hour of Code.  It allows for teachers to sign up and to monitor classes of students as they work through coding lessons.  You can read more about this new, ambitious project here.

I have many coding resources for students on my blog and Pinterest board.  If you are interested in participating in a Twitter chat about the topic, join in on #kidscancode every Tuesday night, 8 PM EST, hosted by @kodable.  It’s a great group of educators with many fabulous ideas!

 

What Breaks Your Heart?

My GT classes and our after-school Maker Club are participating in this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge.  Select projects will be chosen to bring to a local party/entertainment center, Main Event.  We will be inviting the community to play the games for a $1, as well as selling wristbands to access the other fun activities at the facility. All of the money we raise will be going to a charity that the students choose.

But, how can I get several classes of students – in addition to the 24 students in the Maker Club – to decide on which charity will receive our donation?  I decided to use an idea from Angela Maiers, who is internationally renowned for her motivational speeches about how we should Choose to Matter.  One of my favorite quotes from her is, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution.”

In a blog post last year, Angela described the process for:

  • helping students to determine what matters the most to them
  • determining what “breaks their hearts” about their passions
  • thinking of possible solutions to those problems.
by @Kara Dziobek
by @Kara Dziobek

So far, I’ve walked two of my classes through the first two phases.  It has been very enlightening.  Similar to the activity that Angela describes from teacher Karen MacMillan, I had students mind-map their passions in the middle of a piece of paper.  Then they drew branches from each of those that identified what breaks their hearts regarding those topics.

As an example, I told them that teaching and learning are both passions for me.  What breaks my heart is that there are still children, particularly girls, who are denied the right to an education.

One boy had brainstormed every single sport he could think of as a passion.  When asked what broke his heart about them, he replied, “When I lose a game.”  I had to question him a bit more to get a deeper, less self-centered answer – “when people get injured.”

After we shared the things that break their hearts, we looked for trends or patterns.  Sports-related injuries was a big one with my 3rd graders, as well as cruelty to animals and pollution.  The latter two were also common themes with my 4th graders.  Today, I will get feedback from 5th grade.  Armed with the information from three grade levels, we can then try to find a charity that many of them will find meaningful.

We will also be holding on to these papers to use as jumping-off points for this year’s Genius Hour projects.

I really loved this process for so many reasons.  It tells me about what is important to my students and gives them a voice.  It shows them that they have responsibilities to be contributors as well as consumers.  And, it helps them to understand themselves a little better.

I’ll keep you posted as we continue on this journey :)

Maker Club

As a powerful response to the rigidity of curriculum that has overwhelmed our nation’s schools during the last couple of decades, Maker Spaces are popping up in communities all over.  Many of these are stand-alone locations, but more and more are becoming expansions to libraries, museums, and schools.

In a recent video that I did for @GustafsonBrad’s #30secondtake Challenge, I mentioned that “making” is not about the space, but the time.  Time to create, especially during school hours, has become an endangered species.

In an attempt to head off the extinction of creativity, I applied for several grants during the past year.  I do have the good fortune to have an empty classroom next door (which my students named B.O.S.S. HQ – Building of Super Stuff Headquarters), which was great for the 50 or so students that I service in the Gifted and Talented program.  But what about the rest of our school?  With the materials purchased with these grants, participation from many more students is possible.

So, Phase II of my grand Maker Studio plan was to start a Maker Club that meets once a week after school. Students in 2nd-4th grades were allowed to apply (5th graders already have several other clubs to choose from), and we randomly chose 24 students from over 40 applications.

I say, “we” because two awesome teachers graciously joined me in co-sponsoring the club, and I am very thankful for their help!  Our first club project has been the Global Cardboard Challenge, and having three adults to help out 24 students as they chop through cardboard is a great boon.  (See yesterday’s post for some awesome tools that you might want to stock up on for participating in the challenge.)

After the Cardboard Challenge, we are going to do programming, video creations (including green screen and stop-motion), and electric circuits.

Phase III is to have some of these students trained as leaders so other students can visit B.O.S.S. HQ during the school day – probably during recess time.  I’m also hoping to collaborate with our librarian to devote a center in the school library to making.

I was thrilled to have the majority of the parents who filled out paperwork for Maker Club offered to help out during club meetings and other events.  Getting the community involved is definitely part of my vision as well.

If you are interested in learning more about Maker Spaces, particularly in an educational setting, check out my Pinterest Board here!

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