Saturday, May 13, 2017

Makey Makey Sprinkler Simulation

One of our school sites has had sprinkler issues in their campus garden.  I had recently introduced Makey Makeys to four of the classes ranging in grades 1 - 4 (here's the blog post click here).  The awesome principal who has her contractors license and knows a thing or two about sprinkler solenoids decided to come up with a great Makey Makey simulation for some of her students.

Aurora noticed that the Makey Makey alligator clips matched the colors of the wires to the solenoids (she substituted grey for blue).  She also noticed that the Earth clip on the Makey Makey simulates the grounding wire for the solenoids.  So she realized that if she had the students set up the Makey Makey so that it would play the piano using the color coded alligator clips (grey for blue), the students would be able to go to the sprinkler system and wire up the solenoids for the different watering stations and get their garden watering system functional for the spring and summer months.

Students Simulating the Sprinkler Solenoids

The best part of this lesson was how she grouped the students.  The first group had 4 fourth graders, two of which are special education and emotionally disturbed.  The second group had 4 second and third graders and again had two special education students.  All of the students had used the Makey Makeys with me at least one time.  I was able to watch Aurora and her students as they quickly used the Makey Makeys to simulate the system and then take that understanding and go outside to take turns wiring the solenoids.

Students testing the system and watching each station water the garden.

It was an awesome lesson for the principal, Aurora, and her students who now understand more about circuits and wiring in a real life context.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Covered Wagon Maker/Design Challenge

Last week one of the STEAM teachers I work with weekly texted me and asked if I could find a Covered Wagon maker activity.  The great part of being an instructional coach is that the teachers call on me to do the leg work and research they do not have the time to do.  It is my goal to start by doing the research and activity creation to model for them.  As we are shifting pedagogy the teachers are overwhelmed and it is my job to take the fear out of the shift by creating, coaching, demonstrating, and collaborating with them.  As they build confidence, they will begin to slowly take over and start creating lessons on their own, but IT TAKES TIME.

Day 1:

  • we completed the Padlet (you have to let them play if it is their first time, just like manipulatives)
  • watched the video
  • read the articles 
  • collected information 
Day 2:
  • build the Covered Wagon
  • test how much weight they can hold
Day 3:

  • I'm going to add and application activity
  • I'm going to add a reflection activity

Here is what I created:  I have comments on the side to explain my process etc...

Monday, April 17, 2017

Introducing Makey Makeys

This week I will be working in many classrooms introducing Makey Makeys to our elementary students.  When introducing, I like to hand the student groups the Makey Makeys and then have them explore and figure out what to do or not do.  I like to force them to struggle and their teacher and I watch and reply: "I don't know" and "You can figure it out" when they ask questions about what to do.  Like many of my other STEAM activities, I created a simple HyperDoc to guide the students through the process.  I can push the document out on Google Classroom and the students can use it to guide their explorations.  In the following weeks we will be using the Makey Makeys to explore electrical circuits.  I'll share those explorations also.

CLICK HERE to view the Introduction to Makey Makey Activity HyperDoc

Have a great week!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Failure, Fear and Perseverance on the Ski Slope

It's spring break and instead of heading to the coast and our great California beaches, we (Skyler, his buddy J, and I) headed up to the Sierra for a day of spring skiing on  the 400+ inches of snow that are still on the ground in April.  I was looking forward to having a friend with Sky because I know it can be frustrating for him to ski with his parents being told how and what to do.  As I crammed our things into a locker and got bundled, it was snowing most of the day, Skyler and J headed up the lift for a warm up run.

As I waited at the bottom of the lift ready to jump on with the boys, Skyler's buddy J skied up carrying one of Skyler's poles.  I calmly asked him where Skyler was, although I already knew.  J told me that he had crashed and won't ski down.  I sent J up the lift and told him to stay with Skyler until I got up there, we were meeting friends and I had to let them know that I needed to go on a rescue mission.

As I loaded the lift with our friends and we took off there was Skyler laid out flat on the snow with J standing over him.  I knew he was not physically injured, just his ego was injured.  As I skied down to the boys, I was prepared for Skyler's state when I got to him.  He was crying nearly hysterical and he was yelling about hating skiing, wanting to quit, and informed me that he would be in the lodge for the rest of the day.  Now let's forget about the amount of money I had spent for rentals and lift ticket, there was NO WAY I was letting my son quit.

I did not rush up because I wanted Skyler to sit, stew, and be with his feelings of failure that I knew he was wallowing in as he laid on the snow.

  • Skyler is an intermediate skier but hasn't been skiing in over a year
  • He takes at least 2 runs to get warmed up and remember how to ski
  • Going up with J, he would try to keep up with his buddy and not remember his basics and get himself into trouble
When I sent the boys off, I was about 90% sure that this exact scenario would transpire.  Instead of stopping Skyler, I set him up to FAIL because I knew it would provide great learning for the rest of the day. 

So, here's how it went down:
  • I made sure I stayed calm, cool, and collected - in a calm voice I told him he would be at Boys and Girls Club the rest of spring break - okay, I needed something to get his skis back on and his butt in the chair lift.
  • He put his skis on and we got on the chair lift together, he was still crying, wanting to quit, hating skiing, etc...
  • Again remaining calm, I told him that we would go down the easy run, not the intermediate one, that he knows how to ski, he just needs a refresher, and that he has to trust me.
  • He continually said that he could not stop or turn or control his speed - all things I knew he could do if he was reminded.
  • By the time we reached the top, I sent J down so he did not have to wait for us and I told Skyler that after today, if he never wanted to ski again that would be fine, but he had to ski the rest of today because I would NOT let him quit without trying again.
As we began skiing down the beginner hill, he was scared, apprehensive, but willing to listen and do the two things I asked of him, arms out in front and weight on the bottom ski.  Within minutes it had all come back to him and he became calmer and more confident.  By the bottom of the run, he was ready to ski the rest of the day and we all had a wonderful day with each ski run better than the previous.


Of course I have to connect this to education...

  • As Skyler's facilitator of learning, I HAD to know where he was in his skills and what had to be done to get him on track or on a path of getting up and getting going - knowing our students is imperative to their growth and risk-taking.
  • I also had to know how much or how little I needed to support - I knew he had the physical skills, he needed a pep talk and moral support to get going again.
  • I had to let him fail and fail big because that became part of the motivation to persevere - this is a tough one because there is a delicate balance between enough failure to continue and total shut down.  Again knowing your students is important in assessing where they are and when you need to swoop in and support.
Both Skyler and I were pushed as learners and educators on our spring break ski day! 

Sunday, January 22, 2017

If You Hopped Like a Frog - Fractions

The next few weeks I will be co-teaching a third grade fractions unit with one of the teachers I "coach".  Actually, I think she is now my coach.  I have created this document: click here as a Multi-Media Text Set.  Our goal is to create some enrichment lessons that will provide meaningful and connected activities that also integrate technology in a meaningful way.

I will be blogging about each activity in the coming days/weeks to give some insight to my thinking and possible implementation of these activites.

One of the activities is "If You Hopped Like a Frog" based on the book by David Schwartz one of my all time favorite authors who integrates mathematics into children's books.  The activity helps students start thinking about proportionality.  This activity is a cooperative Google Slide presentation where students will use Google Search to research the proportions in the book.

If You Hopped Like A Frog - David Schwartz -
YouTube Video of the Book - Click Here
  • This is a proportional reasoning and Google Search Activity Using Google Slides.
    • You will need to go over search methods
    • You will need to teach students how to find images that are for non-commercial use
Group Google Slide Deck Template - Click Here

Here is the Instructions Slide:

Here is the Example Slide:

I'll be doing this with my third grade classes in the coming weeks and will let you know how it goes and share any modifications/revisions.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Hour of Code 2016

This month is Hour of Code month.  My Google Calendar is filled to the brim with teachers who have requested me to come in and coach them and their students in coding.  I began coding coaching last year and I have learned many valuable tidbits that will help teachers as they embark on this venture.  I work with teachers in grades TK-8, however it is the elementary teachers (TK-5) who have taken advantage of my coding coaching sessions.  Below I have shared what I have learned.

This week, I created a Multi-Media Text Set (MMTS) on Hour of Code as a reference sheet for my teachers and their students.  CLICK HERE

My Goal in creating this resource is to make it easy for teachers to try Hour of Code and have an easy reference to share with students.  This document gives one click options for trying Hour of Code and/or Coding with K - 8 students.

NOTE: I'm still adding to the MMTS


Here are some tidbits I have learned by providing coaching for teachers and students for Hour of Code the last 2 years:

  • I love using the Courses especially to start with the younger students because it gives them experience navigating the technology - we use chromebooks.
    • The courses have up to 20 stages of learning that allow for continued coding throughout the school year.
    • When students login using their Google Suite for Education accounts, their progress is tracked and they can start exactly where they left off from previous sessions.
  • For K-2 I like starting with Course 1 before working on an Hour of Code activity as mentioned in the MMTS
  • For 3 - 5 I like starting with Hour of Code and then going to Course 2
  • Because many of the district students participated in Hour of Code last year, I am having the 4th and 5th grade students do the Star Wars JavaScript Hour of Code activity.
  • My preference is no headphones because I love watching the collaboration between the students even when they have their own device - but it is always STUDENT preference as to whether or not they wear their headphones.
This is process that I use as an instructional coach to introduce and support my teachers and students with the Hour of Code.


Sunday, November 27, 2016

Changing Teachers' Mindsets one Baby Step at a Time

Last year and this year I have had the privilege of being a STEAM coach.  It was not part of my original job description as a Curriculum Coordinator, but I added it because I missed being with the teachers and students.

Since it is Thanksgiving time, I am truly thankful for the small district I work in and the MANY roles and responsibilities I get to experience.  I have shared many STEAM activities on this blog and on Twitter.  One thing I emphasize with the teachers and students I work with is that they will be out of their comfort zone, like Sylvia Duckworth's sketchnote:

With this sketchnote in mind I have witnessed a growth progression in the STEAM teachers I coach weekly:
(this is only a small part of my overall coaching role)

My Coaching Process:
  • Weekly STEAM time with a 5th grade, a 3rd grade, and a 1st/2nd grade class.
  • Give students a Maker or Coding Challenge: (CLICK HERE to see what we've done so far this year)
  • Create a HyperDoc to accompany our activity: (Included in the link above)
  • Get out of the students' way tell them to figure it out and/or make it work (I'm a Project Runway fan)
  • Have the teacher walk around and support but NO helping or rescuing
  • CLICK HERE for some photos of our work this year
What the Teachers Do:
  • See their students' engagement
  • See their students struggle and persevere
  • See that their students are creative and capable problem solvers and critical thinkers
And eventually they step out of their comfort zone and start creating their own HyperDocs and activities with a risk-taking mindset.

The week before Thanksgiving vacation the 1st/2nd grade STEAM teacher created a HyperSlide on Salmon for her students and had the work on it during our STEAM time so I could support her and the students.  The incredible part of the lesson was when she realized she needed their names and so she told the kiddos that she is learning along side of them and that she needed them to "redo" the form with their names.  It was an awesome example of modeling and risk-taking for a self proclaimed "non-techy" teacher and her students.