Making Monsters to “Say Boo to Drugs”

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Our latest foray into WMS’s MakerSpace was not only festive fun for the upcoming Halloween holiday but also in support of next week’s school-wide celebration of Red Ribbon Week.  The theme of the week is “Say Boo to Drugs”, so we took that theme to the MakerSpace with a frightful challenge for our 6th grade innovators.

taskThe Task – Create a Halloween Monster that relates to next week’s theme of “Say Boo to Drugs.”

Requirements:

  • Create a free-standing monster
  • Must use at least 3 different elements from the MakerSpace
  • Challenge:  some part of it must move!

The students were told that they would have about 30-35 minutes to work, and then each group would present their monster.  After the presentations, each student would vote on the “Best” monster via a Google Form.  Not only were they given an awesome challenge, but there was a bit of a competition as well.  They were psyched!

The students were grouped into triads with a random group generator and were told to first talk with their teammates about a plan for their monster before heading for the supplies.  The groups were abuzz with ideas on how to tie in the theme, how to make their moster move and how to add elements of unique creativity.  They were communicating, collaborating and using valuable negotiation skills as they shared their ideas and listened to their classmates’ ideas in turn.  These students have already been to the MakerSpace twice, so were pretty well-acquainted with the items in our space:  Lego, K’Nex, Sphero robots, Romo robots, race track, magnetic building blocks, Little Bits, Snap Circuits, arts & crafts, and other miscellaneous things.  They quickly came up with their plans, had them ok’ed by their teacher and off to the supplies they went.  As the classes are 60 minutes in length and we had to save time for each group to present, group voting, and clean up, they only had about 30 minutes to plan and create their monsters.  That time FLEW by and in no time the buzzer was sounding time’s up!

Check out some of the creation and innovation in action:

Then it was time for the presentations.  Wow!  Not only did these monsters represent the theme of “Say Boo to Drugs”, but many of them also had a story that went along with them.  We had Spheros that had taken drugs and were erratic drivers, drug users turning into Frankenstein, Lego jets shooting down a big Sphero drug dealer, mechanical K’nex monsters chasing down drug dealers, a doctor whose head was a Sphero with a paper face taped on, body and arms part of Snap Circuits and flashing lights courtesy of Little Bits, and many more innovative drug-busting monster creations!

After the presentations, the voting was on!  We whipped together the Google form below for each class to vote on what they believed was the best monster.  Best could be up to them, with no real category in mind.  It was interesting to see which monsters took the prize in each class!!

Check back next week to find out the winners in our first of hopefully many “Say Boo to Drugs” MakerSpace Monster Workshop.

Want to see more photos of this amazing day?  Click HERE to access an album with even more photos of students’ monster creations!

Oh – in addition, while the students are innovating and creating, so are the teachers, including me!  My biggest challenge these days is mastering our new MakerBot 3D printer.  I’ve been learning how to design things via Google Sketchup and Tinkercad, but I’ve also been learning what happens when I change settings with items from Thingiverse.  This is my contribution to “Say Boo to Drugs”!

WP_20151023_14_25_56_Pro 1

 

Happy Halloween and Happy Red Ribbon Week!!

Follow the WMS MakerSpace on Twitter at @WMSInnovates and with #WissLearns & #WMSInnovates


WMS Innovates!

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Wow, what an awesome day yesterday!  In addition to all the great 21st century teaching and learning that happens on a daily basis at Wissahickon Middle School, yesterday was a day for global connections, innovation, creativity and making.

The day started with a 6th grade teacher conducting her first ever Mystery Skype with another class from Georgia who also experienced their first Mystery Skype.  Mystery Skype is a 20-questions type guessing game played by both classes to figure out where the other class is geographically.  As the classes take turns asking and answering the yes/no questions, they are not only reviewing geography but also practicing speaking, listening, critical thinking, and most of all – laughter and smiles.  It was a great first Mystery Skype and the classes are both ready for more.  Maybe we can connect with a class from another country next time?  If you are interested in connecting via Skype, please don’t hesitate to contact me!

Mystery Skype in Action!

Mystery Skype in Action!

After the Mystery Skype, I headed up to our MakerSpace to get the Sphero robots all charged up and the rest of the space ready for the day’s Science lessons.  In 6th grade Science, the students are learning about the layers of the atmosphere – troposphere, mesosphere, stratosphere, thermosphere, etc.  Their task in the MakerSpace was simple, but complex at the same time:  work in small groups to create the layer of the atmosphere assigned using any materials from our Makerspace.  As these students had already been into the space last week for their first “Maker Monday”, they were knowledgeable about what was in the space already that could be used – Lego, K’Nex, Sphero, Little Bits, track, magnetic building materials, paper, glue, cardboard, etc.

Task for the Day

Task for the Day

As the teacher and I anticipated the first class to come in and get started, we were very curious to see what the kids would come up with, and I have to say that EVERYONE was very impressed at the results.  Check out some of our great layers of the atmosphere!

First, some live action sequences – these three groups created mechanical representations:

Now for some photos!

 

If you’d like to keep up with the great innovation going on in our MakerSpace, be sure to follow us on Twitter – http://twitter.com/WMSInnovates and through the hashtags #WissLearns and #WMSInnovates

Follow us!

Follow us!


The Beginnings of a MakerSpace

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As each WMS student and teacher now has a district-issued laptop, the former computer lab at the back of the library sat empty last school year.  It was used here and there by different classes, clubs and trainings, but this year the space has a new purpose – a MakerSpace!   Last year, along with school budget and grant funds, we acquired several items that were MakerSpace worthy, but we did not yet have a truly dedicated space for our Romo and Sphero Robots, our Little Bits electronic sets, Hot Wheels Speedometry Kits and our MakerBot Replicator 5th Generation 3D Printer.  However, with new building leadership and innovative drive by our librarian and several teachers, Wissahickon Middle School now has their own space dedicated to making, innovation, creativity and design – our MakerSpace!

Although we have many plans for the use of this space among teachers, students and curricula, we are starting with a few teachers and their students.  We have collected a variety of items for our space including the items above plus generously-donated Lego, K’Nex, Snap Circuits, and old electronic items to be used in the future for our “breakerspace”.  One Science teacher has claimed the lab for “Maker Mondays” and another teacher is heading up our “8th Grade Advisory Group” for 8th graders who want to be forefront of our MakerSpace and 3D printer learning.  We put together this MakerSpace Inventory of Interests to gauge students’ knowledge and collect some data before students enter the space.  We plan on having a similar “exit ticket” for students to fill out after they have spent some time in the space… more to come on that later.

So, we are just in the beginning stages of our work in the MakerSpace, but yesterday was our first Maker Monday.  6th grade science students came into the MakerSpace to experiment, learn, think outside the box, be creative and have fun with the items in our space.  We began each lesson with a few guidelines as for our expectations in the space such as it being a space for students to build, discover, create, a space where students work together and collaborate respectfully and a space where thinking outside the box is not only accepted, but encouraged!

Then, based on the interest survey they had taken, we determined that the students knew the least about the robots and the Little Bits so we showed short intro videos to Romo, Sphero and Little Bits before letting the students loose in the space.  Then, students were given the choice to choose what they wanted to experiment with, how long they wanted to stay at each “station” and encouraged to check out multiple things.

Wow!  What a great day!!  The students were engaged, solving problems, asking questions, motivated, and best of all, were learning with and from each other.  It is everything that we hoped it would be and more!  Check out the images below to see firsthand how our students spent their first Maker Monday.

Be sure to follow our MakerSpace in action through our new Twitter account – @WMSInnovates #WMSInnovates and #WissLearns .  A dedicated blog will be coming soon!

 


Top 5 Back-to-School Tools for Creation, Collaboration and Communication

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Along with the preparation of bulletin boards, seating charts, classroom procedures and syllabi, it is also important for teachers to consider the go-to digital tools and resources they will rely upon as they head into the school year.  The five tools and resources outlined below can be utilized by teachers and students in many different classroom settings, grade levels and subject areas for creation, communication, collaboration, and so much more.

Tool #1 – OneNote & OneNote Class Notebook

To maximize efficiency and rise to the top of the class in organization, consider using OneNote (free to download for any device) and the OneNote Class Notebook as the backbone of your digital life. Teachers can deliver engaging and interactive content easily and efficiently to their students and students can complete work by typing, annotating text, inserting images, linking notes, drawing with digital ink, etc.  With Class Notebook through Office 365, teachers have immediate access to all student work and can provide on-going, detailed and specific feedback to each student privately, through text, ink, audio or video recording.  Class Notebooks also have a Collaboration Space through which all students and teachers with access to that notebook can collaborate, communicate and create together.  OneNote really IS the ultimate classroom tool!

class notebook

Example of a Class Notebook

collaboration space

Collaboration Space

Be sure to check out http://onenoteforteachers.com to learn about OneNote and its use in school, and don’t forget – OneNote is free on all devices!  http://OneNote.com

Tool #2 – Office Mix

It is easy to flip, blend, individualize and differentiate instruction with Office Mix. Although Office Mix is an excellent tool for any classroom, many educators believe it is THE ANSWER for the flipped or blended learning environment.  This free add-in to PowerPoint allows teachers and students to enhance and amplify their presentations by adding interactivity and engagement through voice and screen recording, digital ink annotation, embedding videos and polling. Content creation and delivery is not only easy and efficient, but highly motivating to the end users – the students!  Also remember, it’s not just for teachers!  Students too can get “in the mix” to demonstrate their learning or teach a new concept to their classmates – and ask questions of them to see if they were listening!  To get Office Mix visit http://mix.office.com and to learn more about using it in your classroom visit http://mixforteachers.com.

Office Mix Toolbar

Office Mix Toolbar

Check out this great video for an introduction and step-by-step guide on how to create your first Office Mix.

Tool #3 – Sway

Are you ready to Sway?  In just minutes, teachers and students can create stunning visual presentations with a unique web URL that can be easily shared for viewing or collaboration.  By adding interactive content such as photos, videos, audio files, Twitter feeds, charts, documents and maps, students can easily demonstrate their learning and present their thoughts and ideas without having to spend a lot of time on design.  As each Sway has its own unique web address, it can be used for a variety of items in the teaching and learning environment including delivery of content, demonstration of learning, but also for communication such as blogging, parent newsletters, student publications, faculty updates, etc.

sway

A Sway in Edit Mode

Learn about the “Sway Way” below:

Don’t miss the new Sway tutorial videos and start Swaying today!

Tool #4 – Skype

How have you connected your classroom with the world?  With Skype and Skype in the Classroom, it is easier than ever to connect your students with other teachers, classrooms, experts and projects to help break down the walls of your classroom to bring the world in.  Not sure where to start? Play Mystery Skype with another classroom from somewhere around the world.  It is a fun and easy way to get started with Skype and providing global opportunities for your students.

Tool #5 – Microsoft Educator Network

Learning and using tools and resources from tutorials and websites is an awesome way to be a lifelong learner, but learning from and with others is the true hallmark of a 21st century educator.  The Microsoft Educator network provides today’s educators access to a plethora of resources including hot topics blogs, discussion communities, professional development courses, quick tip videos, tutorials, learning activities and opportunities for educators.  In addition to all that, the Educator Network also provides access to a host of FREE Microsoft tools & resources and the Bing in the Classroom daily lesson plans based on the Bing image of the day.  Join the Educator Network today!

Microsoft Educator Network

Microsoft Educator Network

  


E2: Microsoft Global Educator Exchange

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I had the most life-altering experience of my life a few weeks ago as one of 20 educators from the United States chosen to join about 250 other like-minded educators from around the globe at the Microsoft Global Educator Exchange, E2.

Check out the Sway that I created below as a recap, photo album and reflective blog post all wrapped into one!  You can view it as embedded below, or click HERE to open it up in its own tab to see it fully.  Enjoy!