Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Student Designed Challenge

2 days before holiday break...
What images come to mind when thinking of 10 year old students?
For some, loud, hyper, barely manageable, right?

Maybe not!

Tinkerbox have captured my students' attention and ignited their imagination and passion for design! With 2 days before break, anyone visiting my room would be surprised at the very cool learning taking place. 

After break, we are heading into a VERY cool section of science involving LEGO Mindstorm NXT units. This will involve constructing the LEGO rovers, programming the rovers using computer programming, and completing various challenges similar to the challenges the real Mars rovers have faced. To prepare for these challenges, I loaded Tinkerbox and Cargo-Bot apps to our class iPads. Both apps involve elements in programming and problem solving. I had NO idea the interest that would develop.

Several students used the Tinkerbox app one time in class and were hooked. Two students, Luke and Dawson, became so hooked on the app that they loaded the app to their devices at home and began building! Both student emailed me their inventions. In our conversations, Luke and Dawson helped to map out an Epic Tinkerbox Challenge for the remaining students. I typed up the challenge, and today was the day to jump in.

This was the challenge.

I allowed Luke to get our first science class rolling on it. I stepped back and watched Luke demo the project. He mirrored his iPad to the computer, gave some pointers, rotated around the room to support other students, and continued to build while still projecting to the class. I think that I spoke MAYBE 3 times during the class. I had the BEST student teacher.

I wanted to share some of the conversations:

"I tested it like a ton of times." Luke, in response to student questioning his building method.
(Sounds like a science standard to me!)

"I'm going through the training because I'm not sure what to do." Miranda
"The training helped me a lot." Luke

"This is what came from my right here." Matthew
(20 minutes of working through his design)

"I made mine better here." Madelyn
"You JUST gave me an idea." Seth

The conversations around the room were very, very cool!

Student created design...check!
Student engagement...check!
Students as teachers...check!
Problem solving, work ethic, science...check!

And, transition to the LEGO rover investigations...check!

I think Tinkerbox is a great app! I think Luke is a great teacher! I think learning with students is great!

How we utilize a tool as powerful as an iPad makes all the difference. Capitalize on your students' interests. Put the learning into their hands. Become learning partners. And, trust...while there will be mistakes and bumps in utilizing iPads (or other technology), the payoffs will be EPIC! ;)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Liebster Award...Cool!

Thank you to Nancy C at Teaching is Elementary for the Liebster Award Nomination. How cool!
I think it is a pretty cool process, and I'm excited to get involved.

So, here goes...

The Rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. You must answer the questions that the nominator set for you. 
3. You must create 11 new questions for the people you nominate.
4. You must choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post. 
5. No tag backs to the blog that nominated you, but do leave a comment on their post with the URL of your Liebster post.

Random Things About Me:
  1. I would rather drive my first car, Chevy Chevette, than my current SUV, Envoy.
  2. I bought my home because it had a maple, willow, and apple tree!
  3. My daughter and son are the only people that can get me to sing.
  4. My husband proposed to me on Halloween.
  5. I LOVE Arizona and all states west!
  6. I love skiing and kinda stink at snowboarding (but love to claim it).
  7. I love Muppets, Fraggles, Ninja Turtles, Scooby Doo, and Darkwing Duck. Seriously, LOVE!
  8. My first school project that I remember enjoying was a mock interview video in which I was featured as a world known brain surgeon. (I said that I wanted to fix my sister's brain. Ha!)
  9. I cried when my maple tree was cut down this summer. I sobbed when my apple tree was taken out in a storm a couple years ago. And, I plan on moving if my willow tree ever falls!
  10. I get SO excited watching my kids play sports, but I'm terrified of them getting hurt. So, I mostly hold my breath during their games.
  11. I can't help but SEE science all around me...constantly. Seriously, I'm thinking of electrons, light energy, and more while typing this!

Questions from Nancy:
  1. Favorite Book? John Steinbeck- The Moon Is Down
  2. What is your earliest memory? Playing with my older sister and Holly Hobby dolls.
  3. Favorite Sound? My newest dog, Leo, "talking" and my oldest dog, Shadow, breathing.
  4. Book or eReader? BOOK!
  5. Last movie you saw at the theater? Life of Pi...loved it!
  6. If you weren't in education - what would you do? Roofer
  7. Can you speak another language? If so, which one? Nope!
  8. Favorite subject to teach? Science
  9. Sports team you like to watch? Cleveland Cavaliers
  10. A favorite lesson to teach? Animal Adaptations
  11. Would you rather receive an email or letter in the mail? Letter in the opening a letter from one of my best friends, Katie!
My questions:
  1. Do you remember your first school project that mattered to you?
  2. When you see a sunset, do you think "gorgeous" or "refracted light"?
  3. Have you ever wanted to talk to a former teacher? Did you?
  4. What is your least favorite movie?
  5. Are you ever interested in running a marathon?
  6. What is the most interesting idea you've heard in the last week?
  7. Do you have a comfy place to read in your home? Or, are you a roaming reader?
  8. Do you have a special cause or foundation that you are passionate about?
  9. When are you most likely to check your twitter feed?
  10. What is your favorite holiday?
  11. Given a million dollars, who do you tell first?
My choices:
I hope that you check out blog posts from the list above. I have learned from all of the authors. Each offers my brain something different that I need to keep learning and growing.

Again, thank you, Nancy! You have connected with me on some of my key posts, and I so appreciate it! Your voice is always welcome in my mind.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Agnitus...Finding Apps for Derrick

I know I should follow up my last post about NearPod with my observations/work/results/impressions of using the app in the classroom with students, and I will get there. I promise!

But, I have to share about an app that I've started using with a little guy that I tutor on the weekend...using the ipad.

So, first...
let me introduce you to Derrick!
Derrick is a sweet little guy. I've known him for about the past 4 years of his 9 year old life. He's had a really rough start in life, but now he is in the care of a loving family that is committed to doing everything they can to help him live an independent, happy life. With a combination of therapy and love, these parents are doing the very best they can to bring Derrick from an isolated, angry, scared, non-communicative  and uncontrollable state to one in which he can start making sense of the world.

And, they've asked me to help with guidance on the technology front. :)
(They know about my love of tech because my family helped with respite care in the past. We were able to get Derrick to calm down with us and communicate by using the iPad. The parents were very impressed with the way we used the iPad, and they were desperate to know more! So, here we go...)

Working with Derrick, I use apps for creating social stories (stories that help him understand the world around him):

  • iMovie (movies about going to the library, sharing, brushing teeth, reading books, content stories)
  • Scribble press (stories about his stuffed animals, family, my daughter)
  • Toontastic (showing how characters can share ideas)
I also use story book apps:
I also use apps for learning life skills:
  • Brushing Teeth
  • Learn 2 Dial (combined with a real phone and making the screen lock his phone number...we are working on this!)
I work with Derrick on communication skills with:
And, periodically I pick up free/cost apps by using:
That's where I found:
  • DinoPuzzle which is one of Derrick's favorite apps from break time!

But, I wanted to share about a little app called Agnitus...

This app is phenomenal! It capitalizes on game based learning in such cool ways. It also sends me such detailed reports on Derrick's progress...even when he's using the app at home without me. I can see how he is working through the curriculum, how much time he spent in the app, and what percentage he is accomplishing at.

(This is kind of what the email looked like. Sorry...little unorganized in the screen shot!)

This skill report looks a little better. :)

The game based portion is really in line with games like Angry Birds. Derrick is flinging vowels at birds and making attempts to say them as well. This is huge! To help this little guy build speech and vocabulary is a massive goal. He also has the opportunity to work on colors, numbers, life skills like washing up, and shapes, and...MORE!

In an hour long tutoring session, Derrick, Jayden, and I create a quick video or scribble press book that Derrick can access later. We take time to play with apps, practice sharing, and learn with great apps like Agnitus.

Seeing him light up with THIS app is great! He's learning...his way...and HE'S HAPPY!

He hugs me when he sees me. He is excited every Saturday morning knowing that he's going to work with me. The boy that screamed, kicked, and bit me when he stayed in my care for a week during foster care rubs my cheek with his little stuffed toys that he brings to our session. He enjoys me...but he LOVES what I represent...a way to unlock what is inside of him.

What a wonderful way to learn, teach, and grow.
It really is all about the conversations! The iPad is just helping me unlock barriers for Derrick to give him the ways to connect with his world, family, and friends.

Please take the time to visit their website if you have any inclination to pass this app along!