Monday, October 19, 2015

Starting over in a new school year

I know.... I haven't posted ANYTHING so far this year.  It has definitely been a different start to the school year.  I have wonderful students, but they needed some time to acclimate to my way of teaching, and thinking outside of the box, and I had to respect their needs. We are about to start a big hydroponic unit but aren't quite ready to unveil THE PLAN yet.  I think we are also going to start in on catapults, but with the floods in Columbia, our school times are still trying to get back to  normal, so we may miss the Halloween deadline I thought we would have.  The floods in our city were awful, and we have so many closed roads.  We missed school for a week, then moved to a two hour delay for a week.  This week is a short week, and a one hour delay.  Closed roads lead to all cars using certain roads that lead to big backups.  Thankfully all of my students were fine, but a lot of people in our community are displaced and houses are destroyed.

In the meantime.....

I came across the videoes on YouTube from Maker Camp while looking for a video tutorial on lashing that I could send to students.  They had one from my hero, Gever Tulley, and then I started purusing the sidebar videos. This one got me excited because while we have soldered and made origami move (a little challenging), this one looked completely possible.

Which led me to her website:

Which led me to this supercool kickstarter that I hope starts production and selling VERY SOON!
Can't you just see that little USB buzzer being used with our kindergarten buddies and our bugs from last year?  AND THEN IT RECHARGES!  I really need to learn more about making my own circuits so I can make these sort of things myself.

I'm feeling the ideas percolating, and will share some more when I get a more normal routine back together.

End of last year projects

This is a place holder....

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Still Scratchin'

My students are still actively using scratch.  It is their "go to thing" when they finish early.  I'm about to turn a few of them loose on our Hummingbird boards and use Scratch to program little moving puppet type creations.  Enjoy "Z's" creation!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Roaring 20's

It has been forever since I posted.  I was thinking that since I was revisting past projects it probably wouldn't be something anyone might want to read about again.  For our project for Roaring 20's. students worked in teams to create a stop motion animation with a free app on an ipad.  We only have 1 ipad in our classroom, so I borrowed from other teachers on the hall to get through this project quickly.

Students chose a topic, and developed a storyboard to design how to get their stories across in the genre of a silent movie.  This group chose the assembly lines, and the fact that Model T's were becoming more accessible to the public. **spoiler alert **** I LOVE when the horse dies, and I thought it was very creative how they showed the car developing on their assembly line.  They wanted to make an actual Model T but we had to be content with a version of a car because of limited LEGO.  Other groups were equally successful.

The app we used was called LEGO movie, and it was incredibly simple.  Three years ago when I attempted stop motion animation it took incredibly long because we tried to use Windows Movie Maker.  This free app was definitely easy.  It's on my phone as well, and can go on an ipod touch too.
On rainy day recess, or afternoon school I have students who are interested in borrowing the ipad to make their movie.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Personification and Glue Gun Safety

   As we ease back in to school this first week, I am working to finish up my figurative language requirements for ELA.  This week's mini lesson was personification.  We watched a youtube video, sang a song, and then wrote our own..... not very STEMsy.  We are also finishing up our science unit, and moving on to the next, which is force and motion.  Traditionally my students have made rollercoasters out of craft sticks and hot glue.  While, I'm not sure I'm going to repeat that this year (I tend to get bored and change things up), my students did need to show me they can handle a hot glue gun safely just in case. We also are asked to help with a couple Kindergarten projects in the spring with the 5th graders manning the hot glue guns.

I had the students go home last night and write 8-10 sentences personifying winter, and share them with me this morning. The goal is to simply hot glue craft sticks together in the shape of a symmetrical snowflake, and then write their personification sentences/stanzas on the snowflake.  I cleared off a counter, set up two hot glue guns so I can monitor them well, My rules for hot glue guns are simple: 1) Use a low temp one because they are less likely to burn the skin. 2.) Don't touch the "metal/pointy/hot" end 3.)  If Mrs. Dawson hears the word "OW" consider yourself warned.  4.) If I hear you/see you a second time you are sitting down because clearly your maturity level is not able to handle heat.   I rarely have any problems, and don't even begin to judge the students before they begin.  One thing I've learned is that often the wiggliest of kids likes to stand up and build something with a tool of some sort, and they tend to change the behaviors you may see at a desk and pull it together nicely. 

     As always, I giggle at the joy these simple little project bring the students.  Many were begging to use indoor recess time (hello 20 degree weather in SC) to take their turn, or offered to stay after school to get it completed.

     YES, this is more CRAFTsy than STEMsy, but I think the snowflakes fit the maker feel in my classroom.  They are learning to use a tool for the first time, and creating something different than the snowflake ornament. Safely using all tools is an important emphasis in my room.  If I can't trust you to do the right thing every single time, we can't possibly do the cool things you see kids doing in my room.