MakerSpace and Tinkering Lab

Our school MakerSpace and Tinkering Lab (MSTL) was put together with items we found in our homes, classrooms and around the school. We made circuits using a few inexpensively purchased materials, found a great deal on eBay on Snap Circuits (A retiring teacher was selling 4 kits for a song!), added Lincoln Logs we had in our homes, and an assortment of art supplies, some traditional and many not traditional. Anything we had that we weren’t sure what to do with, we put in the MakerSpace. Our cabinets were found in the school and we happily found a use for them.
The second graders love exploring in the MSTL and below they share what they chose to explore.


Making Slushies!

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One thing we have plenty of right now in Michigan is SNOW! We have tons of clean, white, cold, fluffy snow. The kids love to play in it, build forts, and throw it on the slide to help them slide faster. This week we decided to use what nature gave us to make some yummy juice slushies. First the students poured juice into a small zipper top bag, and sealed it closed. In a larger zipper top bag they scooped snow (about two or three cups) and then added a tablespoon or two of rock salt. The sealed juice bag was placed inside the large bag, and the large bag was zipped close. The students then squished and squeezed the snowy mixture around the juice bag. They discovered that the bag got pretty cold, use of mittens was encouraged. After a few minutes, the students began to see and feel the changes. The juice began to turn into slush. When at their preferred slushie consistency, they discarded the outer bag, and using a straw and spoon, enjoyed the delicious slushie.

To learn more about the science behind making slushies or ice cream using, watch this Discovery Education Video Clip on Making Ice Cream. You can find a recipe for homemade ice cream here, and a recipe for Slushies here.

DENSI2014 – Reflections

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Wow! I am still recovering mentally and physically from DENSI2104. Lack of sleep and too many great ideas swimming in my head to sleep, as well as thinking I could run the DENmazing Race have taken their toll. So much to process and I feel a bit ADD in trying. I have an idea, I get work on it, I check Facebook, I comment, I get up and get a snack, I check my email, which leads me to Twitter, where there is a link I must check out, I go back to the first idea, SQUIRREL! and then well I am back at the beginning. I have also realized I should not attempt to cook and check Facebook and Twitter the first few days after DENSI2104. Good thing I put the battery back in the smoke detector.

My first take away from this DENSI was the people. I really feel as though I talked to just about everyone. I met so many new people and I am friending them like crazy on Facebook and following on Twitter. I loved all the Newbies that I met and got to know many of the veterans even better. I can’t wait to set up Mystery Skypes during the first month of school with as many as I can.  I have invited everyone to apply to present at MACUL our Michigan Ed. Tech Conference mainly because I will get to see them again! (Proposals are being accepted now – http://maculconference.org ) Dean Shareski’s Name that Tune, Heads Up!, The Maker Faire, and the UnConference added to the fun by giving us more opportunities to interact informally. Thank goodness for social media so I can keep in touch and continue the learning, sharing, and fun with all of these amazing educators!

The learning that takes place at DENSI is immense and deep and hard to pin point. I have many blogs to read, links to check out (thank you Chad Lehman for collecting the links) and ideas to flesh out. I loved MaryAnn Sansonetti-Wood’s “I Must-ache you a question” and will be getting my mustaches together for this school year. I learned how to make Lip Balm with my students (Patti Grammens) as well as Light up Ping Pong Balls (Karie Huttner) and how to use Shaving Cream and food coloring to make cool paper designs (Patti Duncan.) I Got to play with Sphero ( I want one!)  The Keynotes were awesome as well and I love that they were Live Streamed so I can go back and catch the ones I missed. I loved learning from Lodge McCammon and I WILL flip my classroom and my staff training this year. I am planning my first staff training using some of the videos from DENSI2014 and Ka-Hoot (thanks Kelly Hines.) Loved hearing from Adam Bellow (and playing Heads Up with him in the lounge!) and of course Steve Dembo. The Kathy Schrock and I sang Brady Bunch tunes on the way to dinner in addition to talking tech.  Jannita is an inspiration and I need to keep using those S.O.S. strategies as well as check out the DEN Ambassador program. Everyone was awesome, amazing, inspiring, including _________ (insert YOUR name in the blank.)

I appreciate so much being able to attend DENSI2104. I was on the wait list and got the call about a month before DENSI2014 was to start. It came at the perfect time and everything fell right into place. I was able to hitch a ride with the very fun Sara and Jeremy Badiner, and even better was able to learn from them on the way to and from Nashville. I wish I could be at every future DENSI, and I will not stop applying, but I also know that this amazing week MUST be experienced by as many educators as possible. DENSI is changing the way we teach and sending us back to our schools with new ideas, new enthusiasms, new friends and renewed energy.

Thank you Porter Palmer, Lance and Martha Rougeux and all those who are part of Discovery Education and DENSI. Your work is so very much appreciated and I am thankful for the opportunities that I have been given because of of y’all!

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Animal Reports with DE and 3rd Graders

I am loving my job change this year. I am now half time second grade teacher and half time Tech Lab Teacher for grades Preschool through 8th grade. I love having the opportunity to work with all grades, especially all of my former second grade students, although I must admit that Preschool and Kindergarten are a new and sometimes scary challenge for me!  More about that another time.

One of the great things about being the Tech Teacher is getting to work with all grades and help the classroom teacher support technology use. In third grade the students came to the lab ready to do research on an animal. I sent them to Discovery Education as their first stop. They were also given links to some other safe sites for students. They spent time in the classroom researching as well. While they continued writing the report with their teacher, they next used lab time time to search for images of their animal – again beginning with Discovery Education and then continuing with safe and copyright free image sites. The images were put into an iMovie. The students added titles, transitions and some music to the iMovie. Bringing the final copy of their report to the lab they narrated the iMovie by Recording themselves reading their report. The iMovies were exported and uploaded to Schooltube and then embedded on their Kidblog. I was very pleased with how well the students worked and the quality of the iMovies. The step in the process we need to add is citing the sources. We need to add that slide at the end of each movie that gives credit to Discovery Education and the other research and image sources we used.

To view the rest of the iMovies, visit the 3rd Grade Kidblog http://kidblog.org/SS3rd/tag/animal-reports/
and feel free to leave a comment or two.

Multiplication with EduCreation App

My second graders used Educreations on iPads to demonstrate multiplication. As they watched the first student learn how to use the App, they each were excited to give it a try themselves. Using iPads is always an engaging time for my students! They began by drawing a picture using the Drawing Box lite Free App, and then used this picture to write a multiplication story. The stories show multiplication as groups with the same number in each group, or as an array.
My second graders found the App easy to use and their stories were uploaded to the EduCreations website which makes it easy to grab the link and share the stories. You will find the rest of the children’s multiplication stories on our Kidblogs.

Ready to Rock!

Thanks to a grant from MACUL (Michigan Association for Computer Users in Learning) my second graders and I will be Rockin’Our World with a brand new iMac desktop computer!
As part of Rock Our World we will use our iMac to make music (Garageband), learn about Healthy Habits, and video chat with students all over the world! Rock Our World’s lead Rocker is DEN Star Carol Anne McGuire. I met Carol Anne during DENSI-2010 in Boston. She has created an amazing collaboration opportunity! Thank you MACUL for the Grant and thank you to the DEN for the Carol Anne connection! Woo Hoo!

2nd Grade Rainforest Facts and Fun

I had a great time working with my 2nd graders on this Rainforest Movie. All images and video clips of the Rainforest are from Discovery Education. The kids enjoyed searching through the Discovery Education website for the images and I was happy knowing they were searching in a safe place. They found many great images and video clips.
When we film, we cover the back wall with Green screen Material, and the students practice reading their parts. When filming begins, they know what to do when we yell “Quiet on the Set!”
The first video is the Movie Trailer we created to tease the parents before our Movie was released at our School’s Academic Night. The Rainforest Facts and Fun Movie is below.

Wikis and Web 2.0

Last week I was honored to present “Wikis and Web 2.0 in the Elementary Classroom” at MACUL (Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning.) The MACUL conference is a highlight of my Tech Year, especially as Steve Dembo and Hall Davidson are often presenters. Much of what I know and have included in my presentation I can trace back to a past Steve or Hall session. Here is the ppt from my session, although I am embarrassed that it is not a Prezi (still getting the hang of that one) or that I did not include transitions (my 2nd graders create amazing ppts with transitions and sound effects.) I love to talk tech and am always happy to answer any questions about my presentation.

Rock Our World = Wow!

This fall my 2nd graders participated in Rock Our World, a Global Collaborative Project founded by the DEN’s own Carol Anne McGuire. Since September we have been making music and collaborating with classrooms all over the US and the World. We made music together every week when we added an instrument to another school’s Garageband track. We have Skyped with schools in Peru, Poland, Canada, and New Zealand as well as US schools in Florida, North Carolina, Iowa, Pennsylvania and California. We worked with Peter Reynolds, author and illustrator of “The Dot” and “Ish”. He provided us with his Animation-ish software and we worked on Animations around the theme of Peace. This Saturday is our Family Day where we will meet the other classes in real time via Ustream. We will be interviewed by Carol Anne’s students, see the Peace Animations each school created and learn more about the other schools in the project.

I know I am gushing when I talk about this project. It has been incredible! I have learned as much as the students. I cannot believe how often and easily I am scheduling Skype calls with other classes. I love how the students look forward to them and am amazed at how much they learn and remember from each call.   The children and I have enjoyed it and do not want it to end! Carol Anne has created something truly wonderful and I am so thankful that I was a part of it.

Polar Bears and 2nd Graders!

Today the 2nd graders and I tuned into the Tundra Connection with Discovery’s own Lance Rougeux. It was amazing! It was 11 am our time, which meant we were supposed to go to lunch in 20 min. When 11:20 arrived the children opted to eat in the classroom and continue watching the Webcast. They were attentive throughout the entire program and loved seeing a live Polar Bear on the ice. They learned a great deal and we will be blogging about it on our classroom blog.

Here are some of the things the 2nd graders learned today during our “working lunch”.

When polar bears get old, their claws turn white.
Some of the older polar bears had scars on their noses from fights with other bears.
Polar bears lose their teeth in fights too. One polar bear had a tooth that fell out, and it got infected and the infection spread to his nose.
Polar bears eat only the skin and fat from a seal. They do not want to eat the protein because it makes them need water and water to drink is hard to get in the Arctic.
The mother bear was 800 pounds when she was expecting her babies.
Polar bears cannot live anywhere else, not even Pennsylvania!
That is why we have to work hard to save the environment and slow Global Warming.
We have to recycle, reuse and reduce.
We need to save energy by turning off TV’s and lights when we do not need them.
We should lower the heat and wear a sweater.

Tomorrow we will take the Polar Bear quiz and see what else we know about Polar Bears.

Thank you DEN, Lance and Polar Bears International. This was amazing!