Friday, March 17, 2017

7th Grade English Students Use Maker Space for Study of Symbols in Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit Symbols Project

Students in seventh grade English headed to the Beard Center for Innovation to create a three dimensional object using Makerbots and the laser cutter to create a physical rendering of symbols gleaned from a close reading of Fahrenheit 451. In making their designs students were asked to explain how the object connects to the big ideas in the novel.  Symbols were constructed from 3d printers and textual evidence was be etched on wooden boxes that were laser cut for component assembly..  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

5th Grade Paper Circuit Design Challenge

Fifth grade students in Lauren Vanin's class learned about how electricity flows though a circuit by engineering circuits on their own.  Experimentation and self-direction were key elements to this unit as students were not told explicitly how to build the circuit.  Using a project specific design brief in their design thinking process, students had to strategically place a light in their construction that highlighted the achievements of the person they studied.  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Middle School Students Make Media Using TouchCast

"In Public Speaking 7, I try to find innovative and different ways for the kids to increase their confidence speaking in front of a group while also putting the necessary skills to be a successful speaker to work," reports Joanna Rominger, middle school drama teacher. "Now that we have access to a green screen in the MS, I thought it would be fun for the kids to expand on our current event unit by creating an original news broadcast/program based on what is happening on campus, in the USA and all over the world.  The students worked in groups of six or seven, and were assigned to be either the news anchor or reporter.  After picking their topics, and articles to focus on, they worked to create an original script inspired by news programs that are currently on TV.  Using the iPad app, TouchCast, they were able to put their script to work to record, and edit their news program.  The students had an amazing time from start to finish, and the end results were fantastic.  This was a learning experience for both the students, and myself.  I am looking forward to doing the project again in the spring with my second semester students.  It was a great way for the kids to put what we learn in class to work in a team atmosphere, while allowing them to explore a new area of technology at the same time."  

Sunday, February 19, 2017

STEAM Studio in the 4th Grade


At GA, we understand that the work of STEAM and innovation is the work needed for our 21st century learners.  This work represents so much more than what you see in the words of the acronym.  Embedded in the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics, we practice inquiry based learning, design thinking, empathy, collaboration and creative problem solving.  We practice failing hard and then picking back up and failing less-hard, followed by growth.  We learn to value process, and then joy in the satisfaction of seeing our determination come to fruition.

The STEAM Studio course was envisioned as a course for 4th graders to engage in student driven learning through collaboration, dialogue, and guided inquiry. The design thinking process, with an emphasis on fostering creativity and empathy, is central to the program's initiative.  While using critical and innovative thinking, students are encouraged to take thoughtful risks, and persist in problem-solving. The skills and concepts of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics are key as the students sketch, plan, and build prototypes to realize their ideas.

STEAM Studio was spearheaded by science teacher, Craig Newberger and art teacher, Jess Killo along with the 4th grade homeroom teachers, Julia Blumenreich, David Nagel and Connie Williams.  We meet each of the three classes, once a rotation (or once every 3-4 weeks) for 1-hour.  So far, we have had three STEAM Studio sessions for each class.  We expect to see each class a total of 7 times before the end of the school year.

  • 1st Steam Studio Session –
    • Introduction to STEAM,
    • Ice breaker, collaborative Team Tape Maze
    • Reflection
    2nd Session-
    • Special guest, Librarian - Bridget Flynn leads Guided Meditation
    •  Introduction to the keys of innovation
    • Exercise in collaborative Smart Recombinations
    • Student presentations of Smart Recombinations
    • Kid President video on innovation
    3rd Session-
    •  Students present three problems phrased as questions.  One problem that is their own from home life, one problem from school life, and one problem to help someone else.  Ie… How might I develop a product to help my elderly neighbor more easily collect their mail from the far end of the driveway?
    •  Students are paired by their interests and work collaboratively throughout the process.
    • Students work collaboratively to Begin Mind-mapping (a diagram used to visually organize ideas).
    Expectations for the next few sessions-
    • Students complete mind-mapping and begin the Design Thinking Process.
      • EmpathizeWho are you solving for, why your work matters?
      • DefineWhat are the needs? What are you trying to accomplish?
      • Ideate, Idea generation, What if…?  writing, dialogue, sketching, video diary.
      • PrototypeHow might this design be realized? Sketch and start building the idea.
      • Test, Does it work?  How can it be improved?  Iterate and repeat the Design thinking Process.
    • Students record daily diaries of their process and reflections throughout the sessions.  They can do this through writing, voice recording, and/or video.
    ·             Students are asked to pursue primary resources as part of their research; Internet, articles, interviews with community members, public servants, family, etc.
    ·             Students present their innovations to each other and finally to the GA community.