Monday, December 7, 2015

Wearable Tech

Several students from all grade levels participated in the 2nd tech mini camp just before Thanksgiving break.  This camp was all about wearable tech and included learning opportunities in several areas - sewing, circuitry, design, and programming.  

First they learned about what wearable tech was through a few videos from leaders in the wearable tech arena. Then students learned about the Auduino Lilypads and designed how they wanted to lay out their electronic components.  

The kits come with the little CPU, a light sensor, temperature sensor, a couple of switches, 5 white LEDs and a multicolor LED thus providing several inputs and outputs for students to work with.

Now in order to test their concepts, they hooked up the circuitry with alligator clips. This verified that once sewn properly, the circuits would actually let electricity flow to the desired parts.

Since sewing was a new concept to the students, we first went through threading a needle, how to put knots in thread and basic stitching.  Then following their paper designs they connected positives from LEDs or sensors to appropriate locations on the Lilypad. Then finally connected the negative circuit to all of the LEDs.

Then came programming. Students activated sensors and blinked lights in the desired rhythms with their programming skills using the Arduino language (subset of the C language). They connected their creations to the computer and downloaded code to the onboard processor on the Lilypad in order to test the code.

The final day came for the projects! Students hooked up the battery, disconnected from the computer and proudly displayed and put on their fine art!  Please watch the video below for their final pieces of wearable tech!


Monday, November 9, 2015

More than the basics

Occasionally we have early release days where students go to classes for most of the day, but then leave while teachers have PD. During the last one, our school decided to have an enrichment program. Teachers decided on what they would teach and students selected 4 courses they would like to take. While that was a huge undertaking to get everyone scheduled, the results turned out very successful.  We had a wonderful variety of topics from outdoor activities to technology to crafts and even pumpkin carving.

One such project was students creating story with images hosted by 8th grade history teacher, Mrs. Neill. You can see that many areas where touched on - writing, safe and legal searching and creativity.

"The students thought of a story they could tell using five images and I showed them an example I had created.  I suggested a history event they've been studying or a narrative they've worked on in ELA.  I also gave them the choice of a seasonal tale since the website had a Halloween-themed option at the time or a fairy tale if they had writer's block.  I reminded them to make sure they were using Google safe search and we reviewed how to use advanced search settings for ''free to use, share, or modify" images and how to save an image.  They set up an account using their student email (14-day free trial) then created the Animoto.  I gave them a quick overview of how to upload the images, rearrange the slides, and edit the captions. They were to encouraged to increase the length with additional images and play with the other features, such as adding customized sound, if they had enough time.  "

Here are a few of the stories.

Cats in the Glade by Fiona 

The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood by Nickhil 

Spooky Scary Skeletons by Jack

Back to the Future, Part 4
William even added drawings over dinosaur pics before composing his video.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Playing with Math

Say what?  Playing with Math? 

Yes, students are more engaged in math activities that are visual and hands-on rather than by solving problems on a worksheet. When was the last time you, as a professional, completed a worksheet?  Yes, you may have done the actual calculations on paper, with or without a calculator, but words on a sheet are not as relevant to a student as something they can see.  

One of our math teachers. Mrs. Lauffer, has introduced a new website into the 6th grade curriculum. It's by a company called Sheppard Software and the website is of the same name. They provide a wide variety of educational games and activities for many subject areas, including math. The image below shows only a partial list of their offerings. Try it out by clicking on this link.  You have permission to play some math!

Musicians at work

For years professionals have created audio books for our listening pleasure. The computerized version became known as podcasts. Some podcasts are singular in nature, while others come in a series. A user can subscribe to a feed to accumulate all of the work of a serial podcast. 

Students in Mrs. Fritch's 8th grade ELA classes have been using their class iPads to create their first podcast. 

The assignment was to create a personal narrative podcast. The first step was to draft and write the narrative. 

After a basic lesson on using garage on the iPads by the ITS, they recorded themselves reading their creations. They spent several days creating their own musical compositions to complement the mood or actions of the reading.

GarageBand is a music composition tool native to the iPads. many instruments such as strings, guitars, basses and percussion are included in the toolkit. GarageBand provides tools for people who are not musicians as well as advanced features for people who are. Pre-made loops and instrument samples are provided for those who want to create musical pieces quickly.  Advanced users can connect their own electronic musical instruments to an iPad to record their own unique sounds.

The results are quite impressive and I am including a sample below.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


Monday was a very exciting day at the canyon. Late last Friday, we were given an opportunity to be a part of the Google Expedition Pioneer program and we jumped at that chance. I scheduled a full day of 15 teachers to bring classes to the lab and library to participate.   

Our administrators weren't left out either - they all came to try it out!

Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is brand new. It is being piloted across the world in the U.S., Australia, U.K. and Brazil. It is a virtual reality system using Google Cardboard and either an Android or iOS phone. Currently, an expedition consists of going to a location on Earth, the Moon, or Mars. Cardboard viewers have been around for a while, but this program adds the dimension of teacher control for a classroom of Cardboard users.

So how does it work? The teacher tablet and the cardboard viewers are connected through a server. Teachers select a location in an expedition and the signal is sent to the paired Cardboard viewers. The teacher is able to direct students to look at something in particular and sees smiley faces that represent where students are viewing. In only a couple of clicks, the teacher can change the location within an expedition to a different viewpoint. It was also very easy for a teacher to change to an entirely different expedition. 

Once the students receive the photo, they can view it from any angle - the picture is 360 degrees. Students look up, down, turn around and get the sensation of being in that environment.


It was an exciting, engaging, active day of traveling around the world!  We look forward to the day it becomes available for schools to have them.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Storytelling from a Distance

Today is Global Collaboration Day. Free events from across the globe were created by teachers. Any class that wished to join could an event. Events such as video chats, collaborative projects and online polls were available - 112 events and projects were submitted.

Students in Mrs. Malo's 5th period Spanish class took advantage of such an opportunity today provided by Viviana Lopez LarretChart of Colegio Newlands school in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They took part in a Google Hangout on Air (video chat) with children from Argentina as well as other school-aged citizens from the U.S.   

Prior to the video chat, the  hosting class sent us a slideshow of vocabulary that the story would include. Then today, during the Hangout, they read us a story about the legend of Yerba Mate in Spanish and then told us what it was in English. After the story, the students told us about the custom of drinking Mate and demonstrated making it with traditional materials. We followed up with questions and exchanged 'so-longs'.

That was a fantastic experience for all of us.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Posting on posting

Eighth grade students in Mrs. Fritch and Mrs. Martin's Next Generation Digital Coasssrooms are using their new iPads to begin this journey into the world of blogging. They  choose the topic of this choice and write almost daily. But before taking the plunge into the actual bog, they have perused a variety of existing blogs from award winning bloggers to get a sense of style and design.  Theses teachers then provided constructivism activities letting the kids create a sample blog design with a plethora of crafting materials. They will soon begin their digital writings and photo taking. Posts will not be public at this time, but they will share with classmates.