Monday, April 24, 2017

The Design Process in Action: Natural Disasters and Littlebits

A few weeks back I was able to work with the 6th grade social studies classes using the design cycle and littelbits.  They were studying Southeast Asia and some of the environmental processes that affect the region, such as monsoons, erosion, and tectonic plate movement.   It went so well and the 4C's were on full display throughout the lesson. 

I wanted to share this idea with others in hopes someone will take this lesson and make it even better!

Each class was divided into 4 groups and each group was assigned a disaster to learn more about and invent something to help the people affected.  We started with the following slides presentation and reviewed what natural disaster were (something they had just studied in science classes) and a brief view of what littlebits were.  




Originally we had a QR code on each table that the group would scan to learn more about their assigned disaster, but connectivity issues proved to be too much so we made a montage clip of the disasters and watched them as a class.

I would emphasize that the bits are fragile and need to not be knocked on the floor. (Things that I see happen when folks move too fast.) On each table there was a list of the group roles and each group will also need a copy of the graphic organizer.  We found the roles to be helpful so that everyone had a job to do. 



Once the graphic organizer was filled in and the group had a plan, the building began.  (Some groups took a bit of coaching to get to that point, but they all made it!)

Each group got one STEM kit of Littlebits and access to paper, tape, markers, and legos.   They were to build a prototype and pitch it on camera.   

Ways to improve or extend this activity:
  • Shark Tank spin - we thought of this later, we could have had them pitch their ideas to a group of "sharks" to see if they could get an investment in their idea.  They would use the persuasive techniques they had learned in ELA classes.
  • Math - another cross-curricular idea would be to give them a budget and charge for each littlebits piece they used along with paper, tape, legos, etc.   They would need to design something that came under budget.

Overall it was a great lesson and all kids were engaged with the process.   

Monday, April 17, 2017

3D Printing Artwork



Back in January I ran across the article  Seven 3D Printing Lessons for Teachers.  I was looking additional ideas for us to use the 3D printer on campus in the academic classroom.   I decided to try out the Roman Coin idea.

First  - start with an image with thick lines.   Skinny lines can get lost in the process.  The image can be drawn, or created with a graphic program, like Google Draw.  

Next the image needs to be saved as a jpeg.  For the drawn images we used the scanner.  for the computer generated ones we downloaded the image as a jpeg file.

Convert the image to an svg file.   We used picsvg.com/ to do this.    It worked well, but some images got the message that they were too large.  For those we took them into pain and resized the image before trying to load them into the website again.

On picsvg.com/  try to get the image as clean and crisp as possible by adjusting the filters.  We found that usually choosing "ready 1" worked the best, but not always.  Once the image was nice a dark, we then downloaded the image as an svg file.

The last step was to take the svg file into Tinkercad.  We have student sign in with their Google account, which is a bit hidden in this program.   Choose to Sign In and not Sign Up.  Click on More Providers and then Google is an option.   

In Tinkercad the students need to import their svg file and then adjust the image.
  • Click on "create a new design"
  • Import your svg file (drag from downloads bar is the easiest way) and choose import
  • Resize your image and make it taller if you want the design to stand out from the base. 
  • Drag in a cube and make it 10 mm tall and the adjust the size by clicking and dragging it from the corner to fit the design.
  • Export your file - be sure to move it to a location where it can be found and printed.  This can be in Google Classroom or in a shared folder somewhere.
Tips:
  • We went with 15mm for the design and 10 mm for the base.
  • It takes about an hour+ to print each design if one side is 7cm long.   So keep the base as close to the design as possible.
  • You can engrave the image by lifting it off the platform and using the hole tool in tinkercad.
  • There are many great Tinkercad tutorials out there to get familiar with the tools.  
  • It takes a LONG time to get all the student work printed.  Allow for that before booking another project on the printer.  
Lesson Ideas:
  • 8th Grade Language Arts have students design an image for "hope" as part of their Mythology project, this year one of the teachers then had students turn their image into 3D printed art.   
  • The art teachers have both run with this idea and all art students have turned a piece of artwork into either an engraving or an embossment.
  • For Texas History we have thought about having students create their own cattle brand.

I would love to hear what other ideas people have for using 3D printing in the classroom.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

6 Simple Ideas for Online Collaboration

 What if I told you that online collaboration can be simple and could be done in a few minutes of a class period?  Really it can be done!

Time is always a factor in the classroom. Online collaboration is often shown off at it's biggest and boldest.   Examples on the internet tell of students working with classrooms across the globe, conferencing with experts and publishing their work online for all to see.  The projects sound awesome and the learning is authentic, but for teachers venturing into this area, it also sounds big and time consuming.

Another concern I hear when working with teachers is that online collaboration is group work where a group of students work on a presentation for the classroom.  This type of assignment can result in one student doing all the work and parents calling to  complain about the assignment being unfair.

In an effort to make online collaboration attainable for the novice teacher, I have compiled a list of ideas to incorporate this skill in the classroom.

Ideas for students to collaborate with other students:

  • Allow students to peer review work using the comments feature the in Google Docs.   Students can share their document with comment access only.  Have students read and leave comments based on criteria of the assignment.  
  • Host an online discussion in Google Classroom.   Provide a discussion prompt in Google Classroom and after students have answered for themselves, have them comment on 3 other student comments.  Teach good comment format along the way for digital citizenship.  
  • Have students share their learning in a Google Slideshow.  Post a blank presentation in Google Classroom and give students edit rights in the options list.  Students open the google slide and add a new slide to add their thinking or reflection based on the prompt given. - Idea from Alice Keeler's blog


Ideas for students to collaborate with the teacher:


  • The teacher can take a part in the online conversations.   Take a few minutes to comment on a Google Classroom prompt you gave to the classroom, or use the private message feature in Classroom to send notes to the students about assignments.
  • Choose 3 Problems/Questions for feedback.  In this post from Alice Keeler she describes the process for students to choose 3 questions from the assignment they want feedback on and to have them add them to a google presentation using the web cam and turning it in through Google Classroom.
  • Use Google Classroom to comment on Student Work.    In google classroom, provide a template doc to begin with so teachers can comment and view throughout the process instead of when it is turned in. This is one of my favorite tricks that I have been showing teachers for the last year or so.  (See directions below)


Creating a template and adding it in Google Classroom:


1.  In Google Drive create a new document, sheet or presentation you want the students to work on.

2.  Name the document and close it out.  


3. In Google Classroom add an assignment:


4.  Give the assignment a name and attach the Google Drive doc you just created.


5. Navigate to the file:


6. Choose to Make a Copy for each student.




Once students log in and click on the document a copy will be made with their name at the end of the file name.  All student documents can be found in your google drive so you can access these files any time and leave comments and feedback throughout the assignment and not just at the end.




These are just a few ideas to get started with online collaboration in the classroom.  What are your ideas?

Monday, April 3, 2017

Definitions, Connections and Reflections - #IMMOOC Week 6

As the IMMOOC course draws to a close I am grateful for being a part of it.   Through the last few weeks I have taken time to think through my own mindset about education.  

I like that I now have a good working definition of what innovation is and is not.  It is a word that is thrown around a lot in school without a good grasp on what they are really saying.  I struggle with helping teachers move forward to new practices and now I have a clearer picture of what I am looking for in a lesson and a web tool.  

Connections is another take away for me from this course. It is important to connect with the people in the building, teachers and students.    I have also been challenged to push past all the busy work and get into the classrooms and get with teachers.    I have ideas on how to make this happen and have implemented a few this year and am looking forward to starting off the year next school year with these practices in place.  Connections outside the building are also important.  I have enjoyed reading other people's blogs and following new people on twitter.  These connections help push my thinking and encourage me to try new things.

The practice of reflection has also been beneficial.  I rarely take time to reflect in writing on what I am doing and thinking.   Taking the time has helped me to make connections between different theories, ideas and practices.  It has also helped me look at what I am doing and see if it meets the goals I have for my position on campus.   Taking time to reflect on a lesson that I took a lot of time to create also shares that lesson with other people who are interested.  I have learned so much from others who have shared that I need to add to that conversation.

I have enjoyed the challenges of this course and I plan to continue the practices I have learned and hope to look back in a year and see the growth that has occurred by putting these into place.