Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Global Maker Day

Today was a great day, I facilitated a full day of Making with Pukemiro School and visitors from Taupiri School.  What a great opportunity to work with students and teachers to encouraged a bit of making, creating and idea generating.  Everyone had a great day with quite a bit of pleading at the end of the day for some of the challenges to make an appearance again soon.

Pukemiro's Principal Wendy Sheridan-Smith tweeted during the day - I managed to make a few tweets too but was pretty busy being an idea coach for the Making Music and Crazy Maze challenges.

The Day started with introducing the students to their teams, creating a bit of buzz by renaming their teachers to be idea coaches for the day and then encouraging ideas by sharing What do you do with an Idea? By Kobi Yamada.  I really like this story as it talks about nurturing ideas and being brave about sharing them.  It's also inspiring, thinking about how ideas can grow and change the world.  I think it's important for students to realise that their ideas matter and to get real practice in working with a team and accepting, testing and challenging their own and their team mates ideas.

The students decided as a team where they would go first with not a lot of information about what activities were where.  Due to space constraints we had to be a bit careful about how many we could have in each space but apart from that students were allowed to move on once they'd completed a challenge as a team as long as there was space for them.

During the day the conversations amongst teams were fantastic, music to an educators ears.  It's heart warming to see students helping students, testing and challenging respectfully and really getting so engaged in something that they don't want to stop when lunchtime comes around.  It's also great to see a different side to some students, to give them an opportunity to really shine when they come up with an idea that gets the team through to the next stage of the challenge.

I find this sort of situation a great time to take a step back and really look and listen to students to find out a lot more about where they're at.  It's fairly easy to get a really good picture of what a student can cope with and what they might need more coaching on anything from how they're working in a team, motor skills, ability to work under pressure, what they do when things get hard, strategies for dealing with not knowing or feeling unsure.   There are plenty of other skills to look at too depending on what challenges you've set.

I think this will be great to repeat again soon. I'm Looking forward to seeing where the students take the ideas they started today over the next few weeks.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Creating games with Makey Makey

I've had Makey Makey's for a while - they're fantastic little boards with lots of potential in a classroom setting or actually any setting where you want to have a play with coding and making.

Tonight with inspiration from one of my favourite games as a child - operation I created a little prototype steady hands game.  I did this with a bit of cardboard, some tinfoil, lots of masking tape and a bit of trial and error, as well as a Makey Makey of course.  It doesn't look that flash but it was lots of fun and could definitely be worked on further to make it look a little less like a cardboard prototype and a little more like a real board game.

The prototype used a few Dupont cables together with tinfoil and graphite tape to make a complete circuit.  These were all connected to the Makey Makey and laptop then coded to react like the original game would.

As I used scratch I was able to add on the
points feature so gamers can accumulate points within a timeframe decided before the game starts.  The block coding in scratch is pretty simple to get your head around and there are plenty of great tutorials to get your started.  There are also really good help files when you get stuck.

This was just a simple start to a game I'm sure students and teachers alike could think of more complex additions to it.

If you haven't given coding with scratch a go yet here are a few ideas you might like to try in your classroom...

Check out this video posted by Eric Rosebaum

Here are a few more ideas in Padlet form.. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Virtual Reality - Creation in the Classroom

One of my new favourite tools in the classroom is CoSpaces.  There are plenty of possibilities with creation using this website and soon to be fully functional app.  If you haven't already discovered it, check it out...

How might we use CoSpaces in the classroom?
Where do I start with this one? CoSpaces has a wealth of examples in their gallery already from creating your own virtual art museum to recreating scenes from famous stories, poems and plays.  Really this is up to your imagination, I think that's the best part of using this website - imagination and creativity are pretty much essential in creating an engaging CoSpace. 

There are a few pre-designed objects so you can start to create a space without thinking too much about how to create to objects within it.  But the real power I think comes from putting together the 3D shapes to create new objects, importing images and creating your own textures on stages and walls and then adding in your own audio content.  

I've already started using this with a year 5-8 class focusing on comprehension based around a story we read together.  Watch this space for a few examples as they start to build the world they've imagined from the stories we've been reading.   I started by reading the story to the students, we then signed up to CoSpaces and talked about what they might choose to create.  From there I directed them to tutorials (link via their Google Classroom assignment) and let them have a go.  They're slowly getting the hang of it.  Once they're ready to share I'll post links to a few of the spaces they've created.  

We'll be looking at recording audio to go with our spaces in the next few weeks - a great feature you can add to your space.  We'll probably use SoundTrap or something similar to create a bit of backing track with a few voice descriptions of their space.  

Here's a Padlet with ideas I've started collecting about how you might use this tool in the classroom.

Educamp AKL - Professional Development in Real Time

Have you been along to an Educamp before?  I've now been to quite a few and I always come away inspired, pretty tired and full of lots of options for where to next.   The latest Educamp in Auckland didn't disappoint.    If you haven't been before here's the New Zealand Educamp Wiki - see if there's one near you soon.  Otherwise search for Educamps in your area - they're are plenty worldwide!

What I shared... 

Breakout EDU 
If you haven't managed to give this a go yet, give it a go asap!  The best way I can think of describing it in a few seconds is an escape room in a box... no it's not hiding students in a box :) but hiding clues around the classroom that eventually lead the students to the codes needed to unlock a series of locks and get into the Breakout box.
- immersion to start an inquiry
- reflection activity to stimulate thinking and discussion around a topic
- real time practice of collaboration, working under pressure, problem solving, all the key competencies, testing knowledge and skills in particular areas, team work the list goes on
They broke out!  Educamp Auckland

I mentioned when sharing that I was keen to collaborate and get some more New Zealand content appearing in the Breakout EDU space.  If you'd like to collaborate in a Race around New Zealand feel free to get in touch via twitter @nzleeangela.  The idea is to get a breakout centred around where your students / you work/live in New Zealand so getting some local content to showcase your area and to give others insight into what makes your space special.

I'm looking forward to sharing BreakoutEDU at Ulearn in October too.  Unfortunately I won't be able to share at Educamp BOP this weekend but hopefully someone else will jump in and share it.  It's a great resource to have at your disposal in the classroom.  So many amazing teachers sharing in the community too so if you haven't joined the Facebook group and signed up on the website get onto it - breakoutedu.com www.facebook.com/groups/breakoutedu/  If you're wanting to purchase a kit you can do from here www.breakoutedu.com.au (they ship from Australia) or you can use this open source list www.breakoutedu.com/open to find and create your own kit

Virtual Reality 
One of my other areas of experimentation at the moment is virtual reality.  I've been playing around in this space for a while now and I'm keen to chat to people about possibilities for use in the classroom beyond just the cool factor.
I bought along my Theta S so a few teachers were keen to see how that worked.  The app makes removal of the giant hand effect really simple as your phone will work as a remote control so you can get out of the picture altogether or just look a little more like you're meant to be where you standing.

I also talked to quite a few teachers about the new expeditions app by Google and gave teachers the chance to have a look at it in action.  A fairly stationary app as it is all controlled by the guide - usually the teacher and directs students to areas within a 360 degree image.  Again while not earth shattering it's a great way to immerse students in a space prior to starting an inquiry

Throughout the day I shared CoSpaces one of my favourite places at the moment - more on this in another post.  Give it a go if you haven't already tried it cospaces.io

What I learnt... 

Scratch and mathematics 
@michaeltheteacher shared his expertise in using scratch in maths, I'm excited about the journey he's going on with this.  There are great features of scratch that you may not have thought of for use in the mathematics classroom - or any curriculum area for that matter.  Michael shared a few potential games students can create fairly simply using the scratch platform.

@HelenofTroy also shared her experience using scratch with younger students and focusing on open ended projects rather than just the step by step projects offered in scratch itself and through help files online.

Maker Spaces and MakerEDNZ 
I've talked with @michael the teacher about this a lot lately and it was great to see him launch his ideas around sharing of ideas and resources in a New Zealand context through MakerEdNZ  Connect with this community through the new Twitter hashtag @makerednz and hashtag #makerednz.  As Michael mentioned there are plenty of teachers out there experimenting with makerspaces but not a lot of collaboration and buying power when it comes to getting resources.  The idea of the community is to build this.  Watch out for some more releases around sharing and collaborating in this space soon.

Where to next... 

  • Collaborate on BreakoutEDU games - maybe a hangout/appearin or something similar to create a few games in one sitting - watch this space
  • Virtual Reality - continue with CoSpaces and connect with a few teachers to help with ideas around touring learning areas with 360 images 
  • Collaborate with MakerEdNZ community to help build a resource for teachers just starting and those that have been using MakerSpaces for a while 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

A Little Bit of Magic...

I just got a stack of books from Book Depository and got straight on to reading Press Here by Herve Tullet.  It was relatively easy to read this to a three and a half year old with a bit of magic.  He was so happy to see what the dots did each time he turned the page after clapping, touching or blowing on them.

UPDATE: Check out the Herve Tullet website  I see many more of these books making it to our house in the near future :)

It got me thinking about how we present things to learners including adult learners.  In a time where information is so easy to come by I think it's even more important to present things with a little magic.  As teachers / trainers I think it's really important to create a little magic with whatever it is we're hoping our learners will learn.  It's something I've been playing around with when training, how am I creating magic?  What am I showing people or helping people to realise that's going to give them a 'wow this is awesome' moment in their learning?

We've now read the book around 15 times in the last two days - 3.5 year olds love magic books apparently :).  I think I'll be using a concept like this when I present on Virtual Reality next week... watch this space...