Saturday, January 28, 2017

Makers Empire 3D Printing

As part of Silicon Valley Education Foundations iHub program, a co-worker and I piloted Makers Empire in the fall.  It's a 3D printing app we used on our iPads.  I haven't used any other 3D printing apps so I can't make a comparison, but I've been very impressed with it.

With minimal guidance (a 5 minute basic intro from me) my students were easily able to create objects to print.  We primarily used the Shaper and Blocker  sections of the app, although students have had fun with the Toy Tester.  Creation involves easy drag and drop features along with re-sizing and changing colors of items.

After some initial play time, the first assignment was to create a monster to go with our "I'm Not Scared" literature unit.  That was followed by creating landforms (social studies), a symbol of hope, a healthy snack (science) and a plant (science).

The teacher dashboard allows me to check and comment on student creations as well as send them to the printer.  In addition, there's a lesson plan section with lesson ideas for specific grades and tied to Common Core standards.  My students did one of the suggested 2nd grade lessons, which was to create a device that would allow Ormie (a pig) to get a cookie jar off the top of a refrigerator.

We plan to use Makers Empire for the rest of the year and even my co-worker's kindergarten students have independently created spiders and people.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Using FaceTime to Offer Real World Solutions

This school year rather than having my students FaceTime other classes or professionals to gather information, we've been using FaceTime to solve problems.

I started by identifying real problems and decisions that people I know are currently facing.  The key was to choose problems with multiple viable and desirable solutions and problems that could be understood by 2nd graders.

Next, students FaceTimed with the person who had the problem.  This was an information gathering phase in which the person shared details and the students asked clarifying questions.

Students created groups of 2-4 to work out a solution.  They created a presentation, poster, or mock-up of their solution with evidence to support their reasoning.

At a follow-up FaceTime conference each group presented their advice.

So far we've offered advice about

--creating a video game character that would appeal to elementary age students
--how to organize supplies in a college dorm desk
--options for exercise on a rainy day
--options for replacing an afternoon nanny who was moving
--staying in a current job or accepting a new job offer
--which vacation house to rent for a family reunion

These activities have presented authentic topics for my students to discuss and they've had to listen carefully and work on their empathy skills to clearly understand the problem and the pros/cons.

Seesaw NBC Interview

Last week I had the opportunity, along with Kelly Galante, another teacher at my school, to talk about Seesaw.  We were interviewed on the Asian Pacific America show on NBC.

Here's the clip of what we had to say.  It was part of a longer segment about our school district.