Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Making Memories at Maker Faire Detroit

This past weekend, I had the wonderful opportunity to share Maker Faire Detroit with a handful of my students from last year.  During our Goal Time last year, our own version of Genius Hour, there was a group of students who created the T-Spa and began a sugar scrub business.  With the funds collected from their sales over the year at Glengary Elementary in Walled Lake, we were able to purchase materials for Maker Faire Detroit, and teach other people how to make their own sugar scrub.  In addition, a second business was created towards the end of the year making paracord bracelets.  C and J’s Paracord was also able to attend the Maker Faire.  Together, the businesses merged and became SpaCord. Maker Faire Detroit waived the fee to sell things, as the kids wanted the profits to go to foster kids. There is a resource for foster families in Livingston County called Hope's Closet that helps out foster families with getting clothes, hygiene supplies, and bedding for foster children.

We were lucky enough to be able to join together last week to prep our materials for Maker Faire.  We were not sure how many to prep, but we wanted to be efficient at our booth. We spent about 2 hours getting things ready! I was thankful for the help of supportive parents as we planned for the weekend!





My garage became a staging area for the weekend, complete with small 4 oz. cups of coconut oil, 60 pounds of sugar, marketing materials, and more!  I wanted to have a formal banner for our booth, and I lucked out, as Staples Copy Center was having a sale on banners.  I was able to get a grommeted banner for $25.00.


Here are some photos from Maker Faire Detroit!


My students shared the steps in making your own sugar scrub. 2 parts sugar...1 part coconut oil! 

There were awesome glasses that people could geek out with duck tape. 

Here are some members of my PLN making their own scrubs...Rachelle(@Miss Galang) and Mary (@WeverWorld)! 
We all had fun with our geeked out Maker Faire glasses! 
In addition to showcasing our Goal Time projects, I also promoted Destination Imagination, a creative problem solving competition for K-University students. I was fortunate enough to have promotional materials from the Michigan Creativity Association, as well as instant challenges I put together for the attendees of Maker Faire. People of all ages loved trying out the tasks, as well as learning more about this wonderful after-school program.  I am embarking on my 16th year as a team manger/coordinator, and I loved sharing my passion for the program with others! 
The challenge was to create a device that would balance a cup at least 6 inches about the table using an index card, a straw, 2 paper clips, and 1 label. :)

I have to give a special thanks to my family.  My husband had to make a special trip back to Brighton to pick up the banner that I left behind, and he hung out at the booth doing a great job of marketing our sugar scrub!  He's a salesman by trade...so he worked his magic on the attendees of Maker Faire! 

My own children enjoyed hanging out all over the Maker Faire.  They wandered around each day finding awesome things to do, in addition to helping out at our booth.  My daughter loved Theatre Bizarre, as well as taking apart laptops at the MSU/4H booth! 
One of the highlights was having Dale Doughtery stop at our booth!  We had tweeted back and forth at ISTE last month, and I tweeted him again while we were at our booth. 


 He found us and hung out for a bit!  We even sent him off with his own sugar scrub sample! 


Our Maker Faire Detroit experience was cut short due to Mother Nature.  We knew the rain was coming in, and actually it held off longer than I was expecting.  Luckily I had a wonderful family that helped me with our booth materials...even though we all got soaked in the process!  Thank-you Zube family! I left Maker Faire looking like a drowned rat and chilled to the bone, but inside I was thankful for the experience and glad that I participated as a maker! I received wonderful comments from the families that participated, and I am so glad that I was able to continue my impact on their lives...even in the middle of summer! 
My daughter and I were soaked from the rain but still smiling!


Thursday, July 3, 2014

ISTE 2014: Thank-You for Valuing Teachers!

I am a blogger that blogs when I am excited about things.  After 5 days in Atlanta for ISTE 2014, my head is full of blogs that I can’t wait to write. However, I also have 2 young ones that haven’t seen their mom in a while.


Though I would love to spend all day composing my thoughts while they are fresh, the reality is, I need to transform from the EdTech Cheerleader to Mom. Ideally, I am going to try and take a few moments out of each day to work on my blog posts, but I also know the holiday weekend is here, which also means family time and fun! So here is my first ISTE 2014 blog post with hopefully more to follow.

One of the greatest things about ISTE is meeting the founders of the apps and digital tools we use in the classroom. When I meet them, I can’t wait to talk to them and let them know how they have impacted my classroom. They are like celebrities to me, as I am so impressed with their innovation, risk-taking, and impact on education. I would like to take this time to highlight a few of them that impacted my ISTE 2014 experience.

Write About This:


One of my great EdTech friends that I met years ago at EdCamp Detroit is the creator of Write About This and Tell About This, Brad Wilson.  If you haven’t checked it out, it is one of my favorite tools to use in my third grade classroom.  Not only can children respond to tons of high quality prompts, but students and teachers can also create their own prompts.  This has been great to use when writing reflections, taking notes during science experiments, and responding to our reading. It is EASY to use and my kids love it!

2 of my students wanted my iPad while we were waiting to be called into the Michigan State Board of Education meeting.  Instead of playing a game, they chose to use Write About This! 

Remind:

Another Michigan connection, as he graduated from MSU, is Brett Kopf , co-founder of Remind (formerly Remind 101).  I had the wonderful opportunity to meet him at my first ISTE, which was in 2012 in San Diego. After that I got to know both Brett and his product manager, Christine Garland very well while visiting conferences! They were, and continue to be, so great at grassroots marketing, and in reflection...one of the best I have witnessed!  Smiles can be found on their faces wherever they are, and I am so proud of their growth as a company.  They have expanded their team, and I have enjoyed getting to know the wonderful staff members they have added.  This ISTE I was able to get to know Clara Galan better over a coffee meet-up with others, which was a treat! If you see the Remind team out and about, definitely take the time to say hi.  They are a welcoming crew and truly have great minds and caring hearts!



Plickers: 

In March I came across Plickers, and I was soooo excited about it, I jumped on my computer to write a post about it right after school! (Click here to read it and learn about Plickers.) In Atlanta, I saw some people walking on the streets with Plicker shirts, and I was going to approach them, but I was also running late, so I decided to wait.  After the EdTech Karaoke party, I ran into a young man with the shirt on.  When I asked him, “Are you the Plickers guy?” He said, "Yes," and I squealed with delight, as I love, love, love the tool and the quality technology that it includes.   In short, you can print off ½ sheet QR codes that are numbered for your students.  Each side of the code as an A, B, C, or D. When you ask a question, students make sure the side that is the answer they want points up. Using the camera on your device, you can scan the class and the results will be recorded and even graphed instantly...while you are still viewing your kids through the screen!  It is AWESOME! Plickers only has to be on 1 device, so if you are a teacher with no wifi, but have a smartphone or a teacher that lacks a 1-to-1 environment...this is the tool for you!

I was so excited when I first used it, I ran and got my wonderful co-worker, Jennifer Bonkowski, to have her demo it!  


Nolan Amy is the founder of Plickers, and he was just as excited to meet me...something I had not encountered before.  Then I was able to meet Jenn Kim, another team member of Plickers. They were awesome!  I used Plickers in my Digital Tools for Formative Assessment session at EdCamp Detroit, and Plickers was a hit.  I am a true fan, and I can’t wait to see them grow in the educational world in the near future! The icing on the cake was we figured out that we were in the same hotel...and right next door to each other!  ISTE Neighbors! What are the odds?

Padlet: 


It was surprising to me that founders of apps and websites are equally excited to meet teachers.  In fact, sometimes even shy and intimidated to approach.  That is crazy to me, as I would think it would be the other way around.  Hanging out in the Blogger’s Cafe prior to the closing keynote, Nitesh Goel, the founder of Padlet (formerly Wallwisher) introduced himself. Again, when I found out he was the creator of Padlet, I was honored to be in the presence of such an amazing app developer.  Not only that, but I had no clue he created Wallwisher as a college project!  Wow! What an impact he was able to make at such a young age! (I found this interview which tells his story.) I shared the ways Padlet has been used in my class...and even during Vacation Bible School at my church! He was so excited to meet me, which again, was crazy! I am not a teacher that has thousands and thousands of followers on Twitter.  Having the last name of Bond, as you can imagine, is a fun conversational piece. On my daughter's birth announcement DVD, I even joked that she liked her bottles "Shaken not stirred." However, I had never really taken a Bond photo until I met Nitesh.



Meeting the people behind the digital awesomeness of these companies is one of the things I love about educational technology.  Their stories are amazing, their impact in education is inspirational, and they also have something in common...modesty.  Though they may not be giants in the educational world, they have made a great impact in my life, and they are well on their way to growing by leaps and bounds.


In April of 2010, I was an early adopter of a digital learning platform that changed the culture of my classroom.  I shared my love for it at conferences all over, including my very first ISTE!  4 years later, I am still one of their biggest fans!  Edmodo had my heart when they were just a toddler in this EdTech world, and through the years they have grown into a huge company impacting millions of educators and students around the world.  Despite their growth, I have remained connected and truly feel part of the Edmodo family.  I feel valued and appreciated...something that I don’t always feel in my normal life as a teacher in this educational world.

Edmodo Cheer at my first ISTE! Notice the handmade bow complete with puffy painted icons! 

So thank-you Write About This, Remind, Plickers, Padlet, and Edmodo...thank-you for making me feel like I matter!  It means a lot! For those of you who have opportunities to meet the faces behind EdTech tools...go for it!  They can be a wonderful member of your PLN!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

ISTE 2014...Let the Fun Begin!

It's hard to believe that three years ago I was a newbie to ISTE. I had always wanted to attend, and I thought San Diego would be a great place to travel to. Knowing that it would be a hard sell to my husband to just go to San Diego as an attendee, I thought I would jump in a give presenting a try to justify the trip. I was thrilled to be accepted as a presenter, in which I did a BYOD session on Edmodo. What a wonderful experience I had! Thankfully I had fellow Michigan educators that were my security blanket for that first ISTE experience. From a fellow Walled Lake teacher, Mark Lada, who worked at the TechSmith booth to my fellow EdCamp Detroit organizers, Erin Klein and Nick Provenzano, it was nice to have a bit of home amongst a gigantic conference! One of the highlights was being selected by Texas Instruments to ask a question to Mayim Bialik during her session on the TI-Nspire, which led to a fun roof-top reception.
Now three years later, I though I still have my #MichEd security blankets, I also have the security in knowing that no matter where I go at ISTE, I am sure to find awesome educators from around the world. Educators that I have connected with face-to-face over several conferences and events, educators that I chat with each week on Twitter, educators that I have collaborated with on Edmodo, and my newest tech tool, educators that I have connected with on Voxer. Last year my ISTE blog post focused on my ISTE connections feeling like an #EduFamily, and I am so excited to be back at ISTE strengthening our family bonds and impacting the educational world together! Cheers to ISTE 2014...let the fun begin!
(ISTE 2014 with Erin Klein and Todd Nesloney)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Joys of Scrap Paper



A few years back, I had a Destination Imagination team that was made up of all Kindergartners.  At competition, their instant challenge consisted of cutting out pieces of dinosaur body parts from tagboard and making new dinosaurs. After their creation time, they had to create a play about their new dinosaurs.  When time was called and the play needed to begin, one of the partnerships did not have a new dinosaur created. The other kids began the play and used their new dino puppets.  One of the girls who was unable to complete her new dino grabbed a scrap piece of paper from the floor and started using it as a puppet to engage in the play.  It was a oval that was cut out and she used the edges as a mouth chomping up and down as she spoke. Then another boy grabbed a scrap and joined in.  It was so great to see the lack of barriers to their creativity.  Though they were not successful with the ideal outcome of having a new dinosaur created, they were successful in joining in on the performance.  A scrap of paper became a character to brought to life with a splash of imagination and the ability to take a risk! This has stuck with me for many years, as it was an example of raw creativity.

Today, my class was cutting out circles for our math lesson on mixed numbers.  They had a strip of paper with 4 circles that had to be cut out.  When I saw the pile of scraps in my recycling bin, I was reminded of the DI experience. Since it was also Earth Day, I decided it was the perfect day to have fun with the scraps. After lunch, I told the kids the story about the dino play, and I told them that they were going to have 15 minutes to play with a piece of scrap paper.  We discussed the many ways play could be addressed, from puppets to art work to origami and more! I was curious if anything would be different with 8-9 year olds.  Would they be able to see the opportunities in a small scrap of paper?

I ended up extending the time a bit, as my room became full of imagination, joy, and innocence.  The play I witnessed reminded me of the days observing preschool rooms, yet with a hint of sophistication, as many of the students were using their devices to create videos.  I was reminded of the hearts and minds in all of our students and the spirit of childhood within each of them.  They had a blast either playing with their 1 scrap of paper or collaborating with others. We had videos, live performances, and art work shared. One boy even created a soccer game with his scrap.  We will be doing this again, as it was a hit.  Not only did they have a bit of time to discover the possibilities of a simple object, but they also discovered that expensive material objects are not always the ultimate in entertainment.  I videoed some of the activity, and I encourage you to see the joys that a scrap of paper can bring to children!


(If you are curious to hear the reflections from the students, they begin at 3:35.)

Creativity is part of my soul, and I am always striving for ways to integrate it into my classroom.  To get a peek into the other things Team Bond and I are doing, please check out my website: Cheers to Creativity and Innovation! 



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Smore and Plickers...Great Tools for Teachers!

Smore is a great way to create digital newsletters and flyers.  I have been using Smore for almost 2 years now, and I just can't say enough good things about it!  With Smore, you can easily create attractive flyers and newsletters that include video, photos, titles with hyperlinks, text, buttons, forms, and many other neat tools! In addition, you can easily share your flyers using social media, unique urls, or embed codes.  My families enjoy reading these, especially when they include fun videos and photos!

Plickers was mentioned briefly last weekend on Edmodo, and I wanted to give it a try.  Unfortunately,  I did not remember the name of the app and spent quite a while trying to come across it online.  Luckily, someone else posted a reply to it on Edmodo, and it came up in my notifications again!  I jumped right in to pilot mode yesterday, and we gave it a whirl.  After reading a passage about the Detroit Flag, I typed questions right into the app.  It was great and worked very well!  I was so excited I immediately went next door to show my coworker Jennifer!  We then used it with our read aloud, and I asked questions while we read.  It was a very easy way to assess!

To combine both of these tools, I created a Smore with the theme of Plickers.  Take a look!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Playing Around and Making Discoveries: The Endoscope USB Cam

It is a cold day here in Michigan. We have had many snow/cold days off from school...I have actually lost count.  (Never in my career has this happened!)
Yesterday, I received an order I placed with Amazon for one of my Destination Imagination teams.  They are working with detection devices and retrieving items from containers for their challenge.  We found a USB snake camera a.k.a Endoscope Camera that is on a 16 ft. cord that can connect to a computer.  Today I decided to open it up and play around with it.  

Having 2 children, ages 6 and 9, we were able to have some silly fun with it.  Each of them wanted to see the inside of their mouth, nose, and yes, even their ears.  I have to admit, it was pretty cool...and gross...all at the same time.  Just to note, the camera is 2 cm in diameter, so it did not enter the nasal cavity, nor the ear canal. I thought of the ways that I could use it in the classroom.  Besides having them look inside their mouth, I bet they would love looking inside an animal hole outside, down a pipe, the viewpoint from inside classroom spaces like backpacks and desks, the roof of our school, and many more!  I am sure my students could help me brainstorm places too!

While focusing in on the mouth, I enjoyed looking up close to my inside cheek lining and to my back teeth.  Cavities look pretty interesting from another viewpoint.  While exploring my mouth, I started talking and noticed how clear the movement of the mouth is.  The lips, the teeth, the tongue all were able to be seen. One of my best friends is a speech and language pathologist, and I immediately thought of ways she could use this with her students.  The camera is clear, it is on a long cord, and I think students will be able to use it to self-regulate during their therapy.  Below is a quick video I created this afternoon so you can get a better viewpoint of what it is like.  (I used screencast-o-matic to record the video, which made the endoscope cam to appear not as clear.  I assure you, it is better when you are watching the camera live.)

I haven't researched a lot of these devices, as I bought it quickly during an inside lunch recess period with one of my students, so I am not sure what other types of cameras are available like this, but here is a link to the one I purchased from Amazon. Waterproof Endoscope Inspection Camera 

Overall, I am very happy with this product thus far, and I am so glad that I took a bit of time today to play and discover!  What a concept...learning through play and discovery!




Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Prepping for Our First BYOD Day of 2014



In preparation for Digital Learning Day on February 5, we are going to have some BYOD warm up days to get ourselves ready!  Tomorrow is our first official BYOD Day!  What is a BYOD Day?  BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device, and the day will include opportunities for your child to integrate technology into hi/her learning.  If your child has a device that can connect to wifi, he/she may bring it in for the day.  Devices like Kindle Fires, Netbooks, iPads, iPods, Chromebooks, Google Nexus Tablet, other tablets, smart phones, etc. are all welcome! We will have some devices available for students to use if they do not have access to a device...not to worry!

Some of the main concerns from parents typically revolve around trust and responsibility.  We have discussed this as a class and created an anchor chart.  In addition, we went over the Acceptable Use Policy created by Walled Lake Schools.


Then students wrote letters to parents to persuade them to let them bring in their device.  Below is one of the letters written by a student.  (I apologize...the scanner left off a part of the letter, but I think you can get the idea.) Parents...these were supposed to come home today, but we ended up Facetiming with LC's grandmother and a few students from a rural Mexican school right at the end of the day!

This will be our third year having BYOD Days in Team Bond.  We will use our devices throughout the day on Tuesdays and Thursdays from now on.  Often parents want to know what type of apps would be helpful to have on devices.  Here are some of the required/suggested apps:

Required Apps
Edmodo: This will be our BYOD platform.  All assignments will be posted and turned in through Edmodo.
A Drawing App: Any app will do, as long as it can draw and the drawing can be shared. 
A Notetaking App: Apps like Evernote, Notability, Good Notes, etc. are good.  Again, any app that best fits your student will be fine! 
Spelling City: This will allow them to practice their words each week. 
Camera: If you have not set up your camera to be able to share out, at least find a way to allow Edmodo to access the photos.  

Suggested Apps:
Minecraft: We will be integrating Minecraft into our next unit for Science, as it is on Earth Materials. 
Movie Editing App: We will create videos, and it would be neat to add editing at times. 
Math Fact Practice Apps: Students will be able to practice basic facts after they complete their assignment. 
Kindle or other eReader: Students will have the choice to use eBooks when they do Read to Self. 
Write About This: This is a writing app that students use already.  They really enjoy it and do well with it. 


As time goes on, I may send out other app suggestions, but for right now, this should be great! 

Cheers to Technology!  Cheers to Digital Learning!  Cheers to BYOD Days!