Friday, April 21, 2017

Making Math a Movement Based Learning Experience

Students master content when they are provided opportunities to learn it in a variety of different ways. 

Kelly Mally shared a great interactive Math lesson that can easily be applied to other subjects. The tables have equivalent fractions to the ones written on the balloons that are on the floor. Students walk around the classroom trying to match the equivalent fractions on the balloons to the ones on their tables. Think of the math discussions being had by the students as they are trying to find a pair. 

I think that teachers often underestimate the value of students being able to stand up and move around. My control freak peers that don't want students to flinch without their permission. 

You try to sit for long hours a day and see if you can focus on what's being said without being distracted by how uncomfortable you are. 

Let's not forget what it feels like to be a student. Let's provide students of all learning types, the opportunity to master the concepts. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

3D Printing Student Samples

Many schools are experimenting with 3D printers. I've unfortunately not had the privilege. 3D printers are still very costly. 

What is a 3D printer? It's a printer that allows you to print out an image in 3 dimensions, instead of just a flat piece of paper. The computer tells the printer how to print out the object in layers so that it achieves a 3 dimensional effect. 

This tweet shared by Matt Hiefield shows a few useful items that his students have created. Among them: a cell phone stand, a butterfly shaped paper clip, and a tripod. 

I love how Matt's class projects are creative and useful. Students can take what they have made home and share the excitement of their lessons with their parents. 

STEM/STEAM teachers: Are you doing 3D printing with your students? How are you determining what the students should create?

Teaching the Art of Animation with Pixar

If you are a cartoon lover and Disney fan like I am, you probably are aware of the many Pixar films. Pixar recently had an exhibition in the California Science Center where they taught children the process of animated a character. Pixar provides educators with activities and guides aligned with Common Core Standards with the focus of helping students learn more about Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM)

While the exhibit is no longer available and not everyone lives close enough to have experienced it, I'm sharing the link that contains the video resources and activity sheets. Click here for the link.

You might also be interested in Pixar in a Box.

It's a series of free lessons available through Khan Academy that teaches students about the steps involved in animation. Khan Academy is also a great resource for Math students. 

Pixar in a Box provides an insiders view of what animator at Pixar goes through from concept idea to creation. Animations are being used in a variety of ways these days, not just for cartoons. We can use animation as a way to motivate students to bring their creations to life, while learning about STEAM. 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Star Wars, Virtual Reality, and Google: Force for Change

Star Wars Force for Change is donating money for the purchase of 270 Starlight Virtual Reality (VR) headsets and equipment for children hospitals across the U.S. Lucas Film will provide Star Wars themed content for the VR headsets! Can you imagine being a sick child in the hospital, feeling sick, bored, and being able to travel to another galaxy and fight with Obi-Wan. 

The grant also includes the delivery of Starlight Brave Gowns. Picture a hospital gown, but with a Star Wars theme! Makes wearing a hospital gown that much cooler. 

The Starlight VR Set will include both a stationary and a mobile unit. Google will provide all the content they already have available for VR: Google Expeditions, Virtual Field Trips, Daydream, Google Earth VR, and Tilt Brush. 

You can join the force and help make these experiences possible for children. Donations give you tickets for a chance to win 3 amazing Star Wars Experiences:

  • Spend the night at Skywalker Ranch
  • A visit to the Han Solo Set and a chance to be in the movie
  • Meet the Star Wars Cast at the premiere of Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Flights and accommodations provided for the winners and a guest 
A chance of a life-time for any Star Wars fan and your contribution will help thousands of sick children.

Click here for more information. #ForceForChange

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When did Maker Spaces Become Solely Robots, Coding, & Circuits

The maker mentality has been popular among educators. It focuses on the importance of (STEM) Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Some argue that it should be (STEAM) with the A representing Art. 

Many schools throughout the U.S. and the World are creating some type of maker or STEM project in their schools. Some have maker spaces or rooms and others, give students opportunities to learn about STEM as it applies to their curriculum. 

While exposing children to technology at an early age continues to be important, I feel like we are missing other opportunities. As educators and administrators have narrowed their scope to just the proponents of those subjects mentioned above, they are limiting the opportunities available for students to develop a true maker mentality. 

The maker mentality is not limited to just Science, Technology, Engineering or Math. There are many hobbies and professions that use this type of thinking process in the day to day. For example, does a chef not make delectable culinary masterpieces? Does a knitter not make functional objects, like scarves, hats, and more? Can a maker space then have culinary opportunities? The current wave of thought is no, because it's not technology related. It doesn't blink and make noises when you program it. 

Perhaps this is the splitting point for both STEM and STEAM supporters. In order to reach all students, we need to provide them with a variety of experiences.