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. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Connections Across the State - Really Long Distance Learning (Part 2)

Mrs. Rainey's sixth grade class also participated in an interactive video conference last week with the McDonald Observatory and several other classes from around the state. 

First, students were oriented to the location of the observatory and were given a brief tour of the observatory. The door in the roof slowly opened and the telescope was positioned for viewing Venus. Students were questioned as to what they thought they would see and then he turned the telescope on to see Venus live. It was oddly shaped and he explained that, from our perspective, Venus goes through phases. He shared a drawing from Galileo' observations of Venus that reflects the same phases we see.

Connections Across the State - Distance Learning

Mrs. Mattioli's French students were able to participate in an interactive video conference with a museum educator from the Bob Bullock Museum in Austin. they offer many free lessons for classrooms to join.  The French students enjoyed a session on the La Belle. This was one of La Salle's ships he sailed from France to start colonization in America. The presenter told us the story of La Salle and how he came to Texas and how this ship ended up sunk off the Texas coast. She shared artifacts found and films of the excavation of the ship.  As it turns out, this museum was built to hold the ship.

The French class will be following up on the conference by taking a field trip down to the museum to see the ship in person. If you're interested, the exhibition "La Belle: The Ship That Changed History" will be at the Bob Bullock until May 17 and will return again later in the year.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Karaoke time

Good lunchtime behavior is rewarded with a little help from technology. Students requested a little karaoke time from assistant principal Luiz Lazaro and he was happy to oblige.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Geometry in 3d

Our ITS department loaned us a 3d printer for a few days and the geometry class took advantage of that opportunity. Students created name tags in Tinkercad, a simple computer aided drawing (CAD) program. They saved their files in a compatible format for the printer and Mrs Lind, ITS, printed the objects. This exercise will be followed by an evaluation of the printing and designing used and a lesson about surface area and volume. The students were all very excited to use this printer. Once word got around that it was In the building, many students were eager to create their own 3d objects.  We also were able to print a hravket piece from Inventor and the little building was extracted from a Minecraft Texas history mission world. We will be awaiting our next turn at the use of his remarkable device.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Want to learn a new language?

Canyon Vista offers courses in Spanish and French and next year German. The Spanish classes conducted by Mr. Garza have been trying out DuoLingo - both an app and a website on which you can learn languages. Many languages can be learned through this free program - Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Irish, Danish, Swedish,  Turkish, and English. For example, Mr. Garza's students are learning Spanish. They are given phrases to practice by converting them from English to Spanish, Spanish to English, reading and then speaking them, and repeating the phrases orally. Progress is measured for each person and the program adapts as to how the student advances the skills to be learned. Students are also given options to test out of lessons to progress at a rapid rate.  This is a wonderful program that anyone can use. So try it yourself at

Monday, March 23, 2015

Poetry in Motion

Mrs. Jalil, sixth grade English teacher  had a vision to bring poetry alive!  She guided her students to use the iPads in the library. In particular, students used the app Chatterpix, by Duck Duck Moose. This free app allows a student to take a picture of something, draw a line where a mouth should be and then record up to a 30 second audio recording.  In this case, students recorded the poems they had written. After recording, the app connects the mouth with sound and make it appear that the object in the picture is talking. Students can add effects or props to the photo for bringing the object to life.

Video Study

Eighth grade history teacher Heather Neill has an innovative approach for student test reviews.  If a student creates a review video, they get extra credit points.  In addition, Mrs. Neill shows the video in class.  This acts as a review not only for the student creating the work, but for the entire class.  The videos are uploaded to YouTube and posted on her website making learning available 24/7.  Here are a couple of examples for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Diary of Anne Frank - Virtually

Eighth grade ELA classes have begun their study of Diary of Anne Frank.  This year, they are using technology to boost their understanding of the time period and the culture of that time.   

In this photo, Mrs. Olson instructs a student on how to manipulate the virtual tour of the Anne Frank house.  

Try it out yourself. Walk through the secret bookcase and see where the Frank family and van Pels family spent two years of their lives hidden from the wicked world.

View videos from the time period. Learn about the eight people that lived their lives here.

Monday, February 23, 2015


This year we have been fortunate to receive a grant for all math students to have an account in Mangahigh.  This software has 2 parts - math problems to solve and math games to play.  This software is like no math software I have ever seen before. Students actually want to do math in their spare time.  It provides competition between students as well as offering week long competitions between schools. 
Teachers can assign various math topics as it pertains to subject and grade level. They can assign topics to whole classes or to individual students.  They have the option to present the lessons as problems, games, or both. As students progress through the assignments, they can see their ranking. They squeal with delight when they see the flames at the top of the screen.  They are 'on fire' as the program states on the display.  Teachers can then monitor progress of each student as well as class progress. They get analytics as to class ranking vs. other schools in the U.S.
 The games are very varied and they are very challenging. The game to the left is called Save Our Dumb Planet. You have to protect Earth from space hazards by using algebraic equations to calculate trajectories for Earth's missiles to destroy them.

The game on the right is Sigma Prime. You must use multiplication and division to factor the primes to defeat the alien invaders. You must think quickly to defend our base.

Want to practice your times tables?  Look no further than Jetstream Riders. You must get the answers correct to keep your balloon floating in the jetstream. This multiplayer game is addicting and one of the student favorites.

Ice Ice Maybe requires acute estimates skills to position icebergs in the water to help penguins safely navigate over the shark-infested water.

If you want to try it, you can go to this website and try the word problems and games for free. ( Scroll down to the bottom of the screen for the free games.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Live with K2!

One of our assistant principals, Melissa King-Knowles (K2), has been helping construct a school in the Dominican Republic for the past 2 weeks. She was selected by Lifetouch Memory Mission to participate in the building process. Students at Canyon Vista raised over $4000 to send with her to donate to he construction and needs of the school children. This morning, we had a Google hangout with K2 live from the Domican Republic. Students were able to ask questions of students as well as K2. This unique global experience will be a valuable memory for all involved.  Here is a link to the Google Hangout....

Friday, January 16, 2015

Skyping with an author

Our book club members, sponsored by the library, had a special treat this week. They had a video chat with Joelle Charbonneau, author of The Testing,  as well as other mystery books. The students and Mrs. Stiles asked her many questions about her books and the writing process as well as fun facts about herself.