Today was Science Discovery Day at our school, which is an annual event, organized by an amazing third grade teacher at our site. Students in grades 1-5 get to attend 3 hands-on science sessions and are in small mixed grade level groups. In the STEM Lab I had the 3-5th grade students create squishy circuits, for their Science rotation with me. If you have never heard of Squishy Circuits, you are missing out!!
Students used conductive dough, battery packs, and LEDs to create series and parallel circuits in the STEM Lab. I did a mini lesson (10-15 minutes) describing a circuit and the flow of electricity. I modeled how to create basic circuit, discussed safety procedures, then let them loose!
If you would like to hear more about how I use Squishy Circuits in the STEM Lab, leave me a comment below. You can also check out the Squishy Circuit website.
This week I was informed that I had been selected as the 2017 SDCUE Innovative TOSA of the year! CUE stands for Computer Using Educator, and the SDCUE is the San Diego affiliate of the national CUE. I was encouraged to apply for this honor by the OUSD director of technology. I thought that it was probably a long shot, with all of the amazing educators in San Diego, but I applied anyways. I was extremely surprised and honored to be chosen for this award.
You can view my application video below!
Are you wanting to try Design Thinking with your students? Would you like some guidance with creating and implementing a Design Thinking unit? The James Dyson Foundation provides a kit called the "Ideas Box" that can help you implement a Design Thinking style unit with your students in grades 4-6.
The "Ideas Box" contains a Teacher Manual, 6 brightly-colored, engaging posters, a DVD with informative videos, and a Dyson Air Multiplier fan. The box is on loan to the teacher for 4 weeks, then must be returned with the included mailing label. The Teacher Manual walks you and your students through the steps of the design process, providing real world examples and ideas along the way. The lessons can be taught as is, or easily modified to meet the needs of your students.
I just finished using the "Ideas Box" with two 5th grade classes. Some modifications that I made include choosing items from the STEM Lab that needed to improved. I also wrote a letter to the students about each item, explaining the issues that the items have, and what I would like to be improved. This helps to bring in the EMPATHY piece, so students understand that design engineers must consider the needs of others when designing. I also allowed students to use Tinkercad to design in 3D, and then 3D print their prototypes. Some students also created cardboard prototypes to communicate their ideas.
The students were engaged and empowered to make a better product that others could use in the STEM Lab. They were so creative and loved designing their ideas in 3D. I would HIGHLY recommend reserving an "Ideas Box" for your students!
Here is the link to the Jame Dyson Foundation for more information.
The National CUE conference in Palm Springs is my all time favorite technology conference. Each year that I've attended, I leave with great ideas and am ready to make big changes in the classroom. This year was no different. During my three days at the conference, I attended sessions and keynotes that were inspirational and motivating.
One difference this year, however, was that I was experiencing all the awesomeness through a slightly different filter. My EdTech TOSA position will be different next year. I won't be teaching any classes of students, but rather coaching and supporting teachers everyday. With this in mind, I definitely came away from CUE with some ideas to innovate and empower teachers. Here are a few of the great sessions that I attended:
Google Classroom is such an amazing tool, and as most of you know, I love teaching teachers how to use it. I was so excited to have the opportunity to present an "Introduction to Google Classroom" for beginners at this year's National CUE conference in Palm Springs, CA. My colleague and friend, Melissa Monroe, and I presented to a room full of educators who were excited to learn more about this powerful Google App. The entire hour long presentation was full of excellent questions and feedback from our audience. If you were part of that crowd, "Thank You" for attending and making our work so meaningful.
I am posting the presentation slide deck below. Please feel free to pass this along to any colleagues that could benefit from it.
Last year (2016) was the first annual STEMfest for Stuart Mesa elementary students. The event was an opportunity for Middle School students to share their learning from the STEM Lab with parents, classmates, and the community. It was the first time that I had ever organized a student showcase, and although it was highly successful, I have some ideas for improving this year's event.
Today in STEM Lab, students began to think about and research their projects for this year's STEMfest. There was a lot of excitement and brainstorming happening, and I'm really excited to see the projects that the kids are planning. I gave students a link to sciencebuddies.org to help them brainstorm and check out possible project ideas.
The students do the bulk of the work for the STEMfest. However, as the organizer of the event, I have my fair-share of work too! Some changes that I will be making to the event this year include:
Friday, May 19th from 5:30 - 7:30 pm
For the past few weeks, the 4th and 5th grade classes at Stuart Mesa have been building roller coasters in the STEM Lab, using mini K'Nex kits. I was able to purchase the kits for the STEM Lab with a grant from Genentech and the Oceanside Chamber of Commerce. Building the roller coasters has been a fantastic experience for the students so far! There have been moments of frustration, perseverance, and celebration amongst the students. Some students even discovered a building talent which they didn't know they had!
The science concepts that we've been focusing on with this unit are some basic physics topics - kinetic and potential energy, gravity, inertia, friction, etc. We have also focused on math concepts, such as finding the mean speed of your roller coaster, measuring the track length, and the height.
I've recently discovered HyperDocs ... and I'm absolutely obsessed with them now! If you haven't heard of them before, a HyperDoc is basically a Google Doc with a ton of hyperlinks included. Student follow the directions of the HyperDoc, watching videos, reading articles, and accomplishing various tasks along the way. I really like using them with my Middle School students in the STEM Lab. HyperDocs make things easier because there are usually about 15 different things happening in the Lab with my Middle School students. I also really like them for Extra Credit assignments, since they can work through the HyperDoc independently.
One of the first HyperDocs that I used with my Middle School students was "Comic Life Digital Citizenship." This HyperDoc walked students through creating a Super Digital Citizen character that protects people online. It's based on a lesson from Common Sense Education, but also incorporates the Comic Life software that I use in my lab.
Check out this awesome student work!
A great resource for sharing HyperDocs is Teachers Give Teachers. This website has a massive amount of HyperDocs that you can easily add to your Google Drive, make a copy of, then modify however you need to. I just recently downloaded a "Getting to Know GAFE" HyperDoc that I'm excited to share with my Middle School students.
Try out a HyperDoc with your students today!
As I've mentioned in a previous post, teaching digital citizenship is a big goal for Stuart Mesa Elementary this year. One of the many hats that I'm wearing, as a site-based EdTech TOSA, is to model lessons and support classroom teachers as they present Digital Citizenship lessons to their students. I created a bulletin board in my STEM Lab that is all about the Digital Footprint, as a way to remind students that they should pause and think before posting anything online. I'm super happy with the way the bulletin board turned out, and wanted to share all of the pieces that I've created with all of you!! I cannot take complete credit for the bulletin board idea. I found some great inspiration on pinterest for this board, and put several of those ideas together with some of the excellent resources from common sense education.
All of the pieces that I created for this bulletin board can be found in this Google Folder. The giant footprint was traced on black butcher paper, using a google image of a footprint projected on my whiteboard. Feel free to use these resources for your own classroom and share the link with colleagues too! Add a photo of your own Digital Citizenship bulletin board in the comments, or share it with me on twitter @mrslovefleck. Good luck on your Digital Citizenship journey this school year!
Although I haven't begun to see students in the STEM Lab yet, I've been visiting classrooms to talk about digital citizenship. This year, Stuart Mesa has set the goal of becoming A Digital Citizenship certified school. Woohoo!! Basically, this means that students will receive lessons that focus on various areas of digital citizenship. So, why is digital citizenship so important? Watch the video below to get a better idea of the amount of time tweens and teens spend online.
So, excluding the time spent using media for school or homework, tweens (age 8-12) spend about 6 hours and teens (age 13-18) spend about 9 hours online each day. It is important that students are learning about what it takes to be a good digital citizen! We will be providing lessons on digital citizenship and handing out literature to parents as well. Join Stuart Mesa in our effort to create good digital citizens, one student at a time.