Tag Archives: education

Help Desks

As my students gear up for this year’s Global Cardboard Challenge, they will also be researching a charity to which they will donate the proceeds from their cardboard arcade.  I want them to keep in mind Angela Maier’s mantra, “You are a genius and the world needs your contribution,” and to cultivate their empathy along with their creativity.

Help Desks for Indian children, created by
Help Desks for Indian children, created by Aarambh

As I was thinking about how to inspire my classes this year (many of whom have already seen the Caine’s Arcade videos), I ran across this video from an organization called, “Aarambh.”  Committed to helping students become more comfortable in their schools in rural areas of India, Aarambh found a way to make combination desks/backpacks out of discarded cardboard.  For less than 20 cents in American dollars, a child can be outfitted with this invaluable piece of equipment.  This is a great video to show students so many things:

  • the value of an education
  • how fortunate many of us are to receive a free education with numerous resources
  • how simple, yet creative, ideas can have an incredible positive impact
  • that recycling is not just a luxury but an imperative

It Ain’t Rocket Science

“You think that video game is fun to play?  How about inventing one?”  This is a quote on Part 3 of Episode 4 of It Ain’t Rocket Science.  In this segment, you will see a FIRST Robotics competition and the winner of the first “Wouldn’t It Be Cool If…” contest.

It Ain’t Rocket Science is a project from Time Warner Cable as part of its Connect a Million Minds program, which endeavors to get more young people involved in STEM activities and studies.  According to TWC, the series of videos hosted by Adam Balkin,  “introduces parents and kids alike to some of the coolest opportunities, events and careers in STEM.”

So far there are 24 episodes, which you can watch on Time Warner Cable or access on the website for the show.  The 30-minute episodes are divided into bite-size pieces so you can sample them or show them to a class.  This is another great resource for getting students excited about STEM.

Screen Shot from Episode 4 of It Ain't Rocket Science
Screen Shot from Episode 4 of It Ain’t Rocket Science

Phodable Phun

For today’s Phun Phriday post, I bring you three examples of the impact the ancient art of origami continues to have in the modern world.

Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.
Check out this story from the New York Times, which includes a video of a robot that starts out flat, then folds itself into a 3-D creature.  The video is amazing!

 

Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself - starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail!
Or, get yourself a metal origami sculpture that you put together yourself – starting from flat pieces delivered in the mail! Back this Kickstarter project, Poligon, if you love this idea! (You’ve got to watch the video to see this awesome concept!)

 

Richard Byrne just published a post about an app and a website that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations.
Richard Byrne just published a post here about an app (Foldify) and a website (Paper Toys) that you can use to make your own paper foldable creations. Read his post for a cool idea for what to do with your finished products!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

As I established yesterday, I don’t like bulletin boards and I do like stealing ideas from other people.  It’s ironic that I have posted two bulletin board pictures on this blog from my classroom in the last month since it is my least favorite part of setting up my classroom – but it makes more sense when you realize that I’m just building on the ideas of others.

I’m really emphasizing Growth Mindset in a big way this year, so both of my bulletin boards are aimed at that while I wait for my classes to start so I can hang up student work.  (I am currently testing students for the Gifted and Talented program.  Stapling their tests to the board would probably be frowned upon…)  A few weeks ago, I mentioned my “Courage Zone” bulletin board.  Today’s post is about a board I did that integrates a programming theme with thinking about mindsets.

All of my students from last year are familiar with Kodable, a great iPad game for learning the basics of programming.  So, I “stole”  one of Kodable’s beloved characters, Blue Fuzz, as well as a screen shot of the programming blocks and arrows.  I made a little path of blue squares and added some gold coins to make it look more like the game.  My twist was adding words to each path that represent Fixed and Growth Mindsets.  To top it off, I have a list of questions for the students to consider in preparation for a discussion about the board.

I’m not very artistic, so the board isn’t as “pretty” as I would like it. However, I’ve noticed all of the students I’m testing have looked at it with interest, so I’m hoping it is sending the message I intended.

I’m also a terrible photographer (but I keep trying because I have a Growth Mindset!) so forgive me for the low-quality pictures! You might want to click on the top one to get a better view of my blurry photo ;)

For more mindset resources, check out my Growth Mindset Pinterest Board here!

Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!
Program Your Way to a Growth Mindset!

programgrowthquestions

 

 

LMS Blog Challenge: Interactive Bulletin Boards

So, lesson learned – never beat Laura Moore in a small little Twitter kerfluffle unless you’re ready for a bigger challenge.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, Laura and I fought over who would blog about Lisa Johnson’s most recent amazing contribution to teachers everywhere – Customized Padlet backgrounds.  Laura countered with her own post yesterday, and she has thrown down the gauntlet.  Here is her challenge: “What is one idea worth stealing that made you a better educator/blogger? Share your experience through a blog post, tweet, or whatever platform you prefer. Make sure to pass on the challenge so we can all benefit from new knowledge. Use the #LMSchallenge. GO.” (By the way, her blog is “Learn Moore Stuff.”  Hence, the LMS.)

Do I steal stuff?  You bet I do!  I try my best to give credit where it’s due, but sometimes I don’t even know where an idea originated.  If you want to see a list of the people I regularly steal from, check out my Engaging Educators page :)

As I tweeted to Laura, the hard part is choosing just one thing I’ve stolen! As you can see from the title of this post, though, I’m going with the idea of interactive bulletin boards.

I hate doing bulletin boards.  But I love showcasing student work.  When I read this article by Sylvia Tolisano on the Langwitches blog, I got a seed of an idea – to use QR codes with art.  But I feel less guilty about stealing ideas if I kick them up a notch.  So, the result was a bulletin board with poetry, art, QR codes, a quiz, and an opportunity for student feedback.  Students were invited to guess which piece of poetry matched which artwork.  Then they could scan the QR codes and listen to an audio file to see if they were right.  Finally, they could scan a 2nd QR code that took them to a Google Form where they could vote on their favorite one.  You can find more details in this guest post that I did on Richard Byrne’s blog.

Of course, that led me to more interactive exhibitions, like ones that use the augmented reality app, Aurasma (which I stole from Richard Byrne).  In this post, I mention one of my favorite activities, where the students made videos of themselves in snow globes to go with a writing piece. (If you want some more augmented reality ideas, check out my page of resources here.)

Thanks to all of the people who share their ideas, because I would be an awfully boring teacher without them!

And now I must challenge three more people to carry the baton. Joelle Trayers, Brad Gustafson, and Todd Nesloney – consider yourselves tapped!  Follow Laura’s instructions above to share the ill-gotten gains that make you such great educators!

Customized Padlet Backgrounds

@LearnMooreStuff and I had a history-textbook-worthy Twitter battle yesterday over who would blog first about this amazing resource from @TechChef4U.  Laura Moore graciously conceded (although I think she is secretly afraid that my light saber is more powerful than hers).

I love to use Padlet (formerly known as Wallwisher), and I’ve recently started to make my own backgrounds to organize the notes added to the board.  Yesterday, Lisa Johnson (@TechChef4U) tweeted out an awesome resource that she is offering for free – 13 Graphic Organizer backgrounds to add as your Padlet wallpaper.  That is truly an awesome deal!  She even gives instructions on how to insert them.

Padlet Graphic Organizer Background from @TechChef4U
Padlet Graphic Organizer Background from @TechChef4U

 

If you want to make your own Padlet backgrounds, one easy way is to make one in Powerpoint or Keynote and save the slide as a .jpg file.  If you check out this post from Cari Young, there is a video from The Organized Classroom that gives a tutorial for using slides to make desktop backgrounds – which could easily apply to making Padlet backgrounds as well.

Recently, I’ve used backgrounds in Padlet for mini-EdCamp type PD. Teachers add notes about what they would like to learn about, and then the notes can be sorted into sessions.

Padlet is such a versatile tool – device neutral and user-friendly.  And, there have been two recent upgrades – an option to have a grid layout, as well as a Chrome extension.  Now, thanks to Lisa Johnson, it has even more potential!

Scratch + Dot Day = Global Learning

International Dot Day is just a week away (9/15/14!) and I wanted to share with you this great project I saw posted by Louise Morgan last year.  It is a collection of Dot Day projects from all over the world presented in Scratch.  (If you are unfamiliar with Scratch, the free programming site from M.I.T., click here for more info.  Also, Scratch Jr. is now available for free as an iPad app.)  I love the way this project integrates programming with showcasing the creativity from students in many different states and countries!

Screen Shot of a Scratch Dot Day project.  Click here to read more and play the game!
Screen Shot of a Scratch Dot Day project. Click here to read more and play the game!

Here is this year’s post that I wrote about the upcoming International Dot Day.  There are lots of ways to get involved!  Join us for this celebration of creativity and uniqueness of children around the globe!