Tag Archives: education

Cuddly Blue Monsters

Happy Phun Phriday!  In this neck of the woods, today is the Phantastic Phright Phest otherwise known as Halloween.  To honor the day, I’m sharing two resources that have monsters who are anything but scary!

First up is Kid President’s recent Pep Talk co-hosted by everyone’s favorite Muppet, Grover.  My favorite line from this video? “Be like cheese and bacon, and make everything that you touch better!” Oddly inspiring, right?

from A Pep Talk with Puppets
from  A Pep Talk with Puppets

My second resource is a new offering on Made with Code.  Using Blockly programming, you can make the adorable Yeti dance.  It’s incredibly easy, and very cute!

Make this Yeti dance on MadeWithCode.com!
Make this Yeti dance on MadeWithCode.com!

Who says monsters are scary?  These two can jump out of my closet any time!

Team Shake and Other Ways to Group Partners

I love hearing about the clever ways teachers group students in their classes.  My daughter, who is in middle school, told me about using “clock buddies” in one of her classes.  A different teacher gave them each a sheet with pictures on it, and they put a person’s name next to each one.  When the teacher called out a picture, such as, “Eagle!” they would have to find the partner who corresponded to that picture.

I have been using Class Dojo to randomly make teams or select partners, but it isn’t exactly the fastest way to do it.  Last week, I heard about an app called, “Team Shake,” which is so much faster!  It does cost .99, so I just downloaded it to my phone rather than a school iPad.  Once I input the names of the students for a class (or a club), all I have to do is choose the number of groups I want and shake to sort everyone immediately.  Since I have multiple classes and clubs, I am able to save each one separately and load them whenever I need them.

screen shots from Team Shake app

Knowing I would be doing this post today, I did a little research to find some other ideas for grouping students.  I ran across this gem by Genia Connell that has two of the ideas I already listed – plus eleven more!  (And free downloads!)  If you’re getting bored with always using the same method, you should definitely check out her suggestions! (I love the “Synonym Rolls” and the “iPartners”!)

Sketch Notes

Yesterday I picked up my 3rd grade GT students for class, and one of them had a cute little notebook.  When I asked her what it was for, she said that she just likes to take notes and draw things in it.

Funnily enough, I had just participated in a Twitter chat the night before, and we had talked about student engagement.  Note-taking was mentioned, and we discussed how copying down what the teacher has on the board isn’t usually very engaging, but other types of notes can be.  I gave the Vi Hart videos as an example of taking note-taking to another level.

I was curious to see what my 3rd grader would do with her notebook. I don’t find myself saying a lot of “noteworthy” things during class, so I suspected she would do more off-task drawing than anything academic.  However, I didn’t want to discourage another potential Vi Hart!

In our small circle of 6 + me, we discussed systems thinking and the Billibonk and the Thorn Patch book.  The monkeys had just learned that elephants were easy to trick from watching the mice, and we talked about how, as role models, we never know who is observing our behavior.  My student was busily drawing in her book, and I asked if she wanted to share.

systems thinking

She explained that getting away with doing something wrong could cause an endless loop -like a person breaking a window makes other people think it’s okay to break windows, and it keeps happening.

Definitely not off-task.

During our Hands-On-Equations lesson, my student sketched a lot in her book.  She later showed me her drawings – detailed examples of an equation we solved on the whiteboard along with the vocabulary I introduced today, “legal move.”

Photo Oct 28, 12 37 51 PM

Some people call it Sketchnotes.  Others call it mind mapping or visual note-taking.  My 3rd grade student’s notes haven’t reached the sophistication of Vi Hart, Austin Kleon, or other examples you will find online.  But I will have this young artist in my class until the end of 5th grade, and I can’t wait to see what her notes look like by then!

If you are interested in Sketchnoting, Kathy Schrock has an excellent page of links, apps, and video resources to use with students.  I think it would be well worthwhile to show some of the examples to students, and give them the option of visual note-taking in class.

UPDATE: 10/31/14 – I just found this great post on Doodling from Leah Levy that explains why doodling is great for your students and gives even more resources!

from Austin Kleon's Visual Note-Taking Page
from Austin Kleon’s Visual Note-Taking Page

Elements 4D Lesson Plans

You may remember a post I did earlier this year on the Elements 4D Cubes by Daqri.  These augmented reality cubes, which you can print on paper (I would recommend cardstock) for free, are an awesome way to learn about the Periodic Table. And, yes, the app that brings these cubes to life is free, too!

Several teachers, including me, were asked to create some lesson plans to use with the cubes.  (Full disclosure – we received compensation for this.)  Daqri just released the plans last week. And guess what! Yep, the lessons are free to download! I’m talking Science Standards, printable worksheets, video links, and games.  ALL FREE!

elements

Once you start playing (and learning) with these cubes, you are probably going to wish you had a more durable set – like the wooden ones Daqri originally offered on Kickstarter.  You can sign up on this page to let them know that you would like to be notified when the new ones are available for purchase.  (Okay, so that’s not free, exactly, but it doesn’t cost anything to sign up – so that’s practically free, right?)

Feel inclined to create your own augmented reality content using the Daqri 4D Studio?  You can sign up and get fabulous tutorials here. Totally free! (See?  Back to the free stuff again.)

As you can tell, I’m a bit pumped about this.  Thanks to Drew Minock and Brad Waid, the Daqri 4D Evangelists who made all of this possible, as well as all of the teachers involved in the various plans! This is a great resource for teachers, homeschoolers, parents, and anyone else with curiosity and an interest in science.

If you want some more augmented reality resources, check out this page on my blog with activities, lesson plans, and recommended apps.

Goldieblox and the Movie Machine App

You may already be familiar with Goldieblox toys.  I’ve featured a couple of them on this blog.  I recently visited their site, and they’ve added quite a few more products to their selection – all with the aim of getting children, especially girls, interested in engineering.  One of the kits available for purchase is “Goldieblox and the Movie Machine“, which includes pieces and directions for creating a zoetrope.  The company has released a free app to complement this product, but you don’t need to purchase the kit to get a lot of fun out of the app.

screen shot from GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app
screen shot from GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine app

Our Maker Club has transitioned from making cardboard games to making movies, and one of the apps the students explored last week was Goldieblox and the Movie Machine.  They quickly figured out what they needed to do to create their own short animations, and they were too busy having fun to ask for help from me.  The club is still testing out different options for movie creation, so we haven’t worked our way up to making final products, but I think this app will definitely be a contender for most popular movie-making tool (along with the Lego Movie Maker app).

If you do happen to have the actual kit, then you can use the app to print out your drawings to put in the zoetrope.  However, this is certainly not mandatory, as you can watch your video play on the iPad just as easily.

I definitely recommend that you add this to the list of apps from which students can select for sharing their learning.  They could, for example, make a video of the life cycle of a butterfly or portray how a character changed in a novel.  I’m sure you can think of many more ways to integrate it with academics!

Desire to Fly

This week’s Phun Phriday post comes from an article I read on laughingsquid.com by Rebecca Escamilla.  She wrote about the short video, “Desire to Fly,” which features artist Samantha Bryan as she demonstrates and explains her process for creating fairies and the important machines they need to do their work.  Bryan’s creations are exquisite and delightful, and it’s fascinating to watch as she stitches and solder pieces together to create these one-of-a-kind fairy sculptures.  One of my favorite quotes from the artist is, “Being an inventor in this sense is a little like being a storyteller.” When you look at her work, you can probably imagine all sorts of stories about the fairies and their adventures. Surely a picture book and full-length movie are in these fairies’ future…

from the video, "Desire to Fly," featuring artist Samantha
from the video, “Desire to Fly,” featuring artist Samantha Bryan

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!