I chose the book 'The Antlered Ship' for the ignitor for this weeks Senior Year 5/6 sessions. I found this book recently in a little Indie style bookshop in the USA, it has a beautifully textured and illustrated dust jacket. The book focuses on Marco the Foxes 'wonderings' and his journey in an attempt to have his questions answered and to ultimately find friendship. It's a beautiful story with a very powerful message. I just searched and found the book on Amazon and it's on sale......even with the conversion rate its much cheaper than I paid!
The team wide inquiry for this term is 'Mountain to Sea' and they are nurturing 'Curiosity' as their focus 'attitude'.
I set up 6 Challenge Stations, each with a focus on 'wondering' and students were asked to record their initial wonderings either using their iPad (in Notes or recording using 'Camera' or an app of their choice), they would reflect on these wonderings later in class.
1. Flinking & Sphero
Will something float...will it sink......or will it 'flick' - which is something in between!
I provided a laminated challenge card with instructions and provided a raft of 'random items' to be tested in both normal and salt water so learners could wonder and hypothesise about the outcome. Learners recorded the process using iPad. Then we introduced a Sphero, would it float or sink? The challenge was then to created a 'body' for the Sphero to make it both sink and then travel when driven under water.
2. LEGO Station
Learners had the choice to either complete a Robotic Lego creation (eg Boost, EV3 or WEDO) or they could create their own creation and add a motor to code it or make it move in some way. This station evolved over the week to become a 3D collaborative city created on the large base board table top (this way totally unplanned but a group one of the sessions suggested it and away they went.....the results are growing everyday!)
3. Kalidacam & 3D Art
I love this app, I provided PD for our teachers this week on transforming the digital into a 3D physical piece of art using embellishments and cut out pop ups mounted with polystrene. Students used the app in the Makerspace and then took the matt board, polystrene and 2 A4 copies of their favourite Kalidacam shot back to class to work on the finished product. I can't wait to see them as what they have begun with is even better than I imagined.
4. Geometric Sketch
Using a range of 'Antlered' photos as the initial inspiration I introduced the concept of mirrored art. We used clear transparencies to draw over half of the photo with a vivid and then 'imprinting' onto our matt boards by drawing over with a blunt pencil. Learners were prompted to do any variation that they chose. In the first session one chose to completely sketch it freehand, clearly an amazing young artist. I envisaged half photo, half geometric sketch but I am looking forward to seeing the finished products as so many of them came up with their own creative ideas and concepts. Several teachers have decided to do this whole class as learners were so engaged and experimental with their ideas.
5. Tinker - a take apart station
This is always such a popular station. I have to continually be on the hunt for items to take apart and make sure I am clear with ONLY using items from the designated bin...one eager learner almost had my new blender (that made sea foam the day before) in pieces today!
6. Game making
This was a last minute addition to the sessions just a couple of nights before as I came across it on Pinterest...I had no idea it would be the most popular station in every session. We had some very creative and challenging pieces made, such a variety. I am glad I pushed learners to 'think outside the square' and not to just copy the design that was in the instructions as many of the first group did. The variety of designs was great to see and the detail that many learners added.
Heres the link to the instructions
Wow, what a change from last week!
Last week I was presenting on an international stage, sharing our school story of transformation through an Early Years lense......this week (well the last couple of days at least) I have been exploring scientific concepts through the eyes of a 5 year old. What better way to 'keep it real'......yes, sometimes its like herding cats but WOW is it soooooo worth it! I'm typing this with my fingers literally soaked in blue food colouring, with cornflour all over the sleeves of my dress and yip with bubble solution still dripping from the ends of my hair. And I LOVED every second of it.
Meet Lizzy, she likes fizzy...
But you will never believe what happens to her.....
This story not only has rhyme and rhythm but a hilarious outcome which involves farting! What more could you want? I begun the session by showing students the cover and asking them to predict what might happen in the story. I pointed to the bottle and asked them what might be inside? We shared our thinking and our prior experience.
After reading the book we discussed bubbles and how they move and what makes a bubble or a reaction and I used the students language to drive the next question or to provoke thinking eg 'gas' and how bubbles move and float. I was thankful for my 'Suzy Cato' days. I then role modelled a gas reaction using vinegar and baking soda and we discussed what happens and why, I related this to Lizzy and what was going on in her tummy. We passed the 'experiment' around and observed the bubbles and described what we saw.
Next I introduced the challenge stations. Our Early Years team has 5 classes of 5 year olds and during their Maker space session they rotate around the stations they choose to be immersed in. The choice is theirs whether they move after the timer goes off.
Challenge Station 1: Blow a bubble and capture a photo of a buddy's bubble floating.
Challenge Station 2: Build a LEGO Boat and make it float...
Test your boat and then see how many marbles you can add to it before it sinks.
Challenge Station 3: Make and explore 'Sea Foam' (then we added our sea creatures to it.....)
Our first few batches were more like thick bubbly water but we refined our recipe and ended up using hot water which made a much better consistency and also the warm bubbles were a big hit. At the beginning of each subsequent lesson I drained the water off the trough and let students 'scrap' off the slime mix from the bottom.....we then explored its texture and feel before adding it into the blender too make our foam. This was an added bonus I hadn't considered. We played with bubbles, using rich and exciting 'WOW' words to describe how it felt. The highlight of this station for me was when one of our new Korean students cupped his hands as the warm bubbles landed he giggled with excitement and beamed from ear to ear......his peers all taught him a new English word 'Bubble' 'Pop' 'Blue' and before he left he came up to me saying 'thank you' 'thank you' 'thank you' such a delight.
Challenge Station 4: Sensory Sea .......with foam.
I dyed rice (which worked brilliantly by adding and then chopped up small pieces of bubble wrap to recreate a sea look in 3 high sided trays. I then 'buried' sea creatures and laminated fish with upper and lower case letters on them, as well as some with words. The name of the game was to 'dive' and find matching pairs eg Upper and lowercase or matching words.
You can access the resource that inspired me here:
For each 1 cup of long grain white rice add ½ tsp Vinegar, Food colouring
Mix in a lidded ice cream container (etc) to get colour to desired strength. Spread out in a tray and leave to dry.
Add ocean creatures and ‘Fishy letter cards’ (laminated). I also added the chopped up Bubble wrap on the top as the 'froth'.
Challenge Station 5: Create a 'Sea Creature' to later explore the sea foam with...
Learners were provided with waterproof construction materials, including cold melt glue guns. They created a raft of different creatures, including mermaids, turtles, sharks and fish. This station was completely student driven with no prompting or teacher support other than overseeing the glue guns or cutting through any heavy duty plastic.
After the last few weeks away learning, sharing and presenting it's great to be back in the Makerspace.
I absolutely love this whimsical book by Kiwi illustrator Nikki Spade Robinson, it tugs at my creative heart strings while also aligning beautifully with the Maker Movement. Robinson also wrote the book "Little Kiwi's Matariki" which I plan to use later in the term. I chose this book as the Year 2 teams planning reflected a trip to the local art gallery which had an 'interactive art' focus and they would bring this theme into their classroom learning..
Remember that the book is an ignitor to rich discussion, to stimulate ideas and creativity so you need to spend time asking questions to promote deeper thinking. I was also able to draw on the students experiences of the art gallery visit the week before. I asked lots of who, what, where, why and how questions and also talked about the fact that not everybody likes or appreciates the same things and this is what makes art even ,more powerful as we explore our feelings....... "Why do we have art galleries?" and "What is an artist?".
I set up four stations (rather than STEAM focused this time they were action focused)
So what did the stations look like?
CREATE: I role modelled how to use the app through the Apple TV to the whole group, this then meant that both teacher and students new its features.. The ideal would have been to have been outside in our sand pit but unfortunately it was raining so I used trays and each learner had their own 'beach' (for supervision this actually worked well). Students created a picture of their face in the sand using natural resources gathered from our local beach. Many students also chose to create a creature just like our 'beach artist' did in the book we had read. Many of this year level had older technology which wouldn't run the TalkingPhotos app so they photographed their creations which they would then airdrop to another device later and complete the challenge back in class, this meant that many of them finished early so we chose to rotate this group with the Sphero group to build more 'expert' groups.
MAKE: Each learner had a heavy duty wire (that was still 'twistable), they threaded a raft of materials onto it (we also had a cordless drill which was only operated with me present) and separated the chosen treasures with modelling clay so that they were separated and could move within their own sections (we hoped they might also 'make music' when the 'wind' blew). Learners were also able to choose lengths of ribbon and crepe paper to tie on. Much of the problem solving involved in the 'Make' station was unplanned...learners realised once we tested the 'wind' that many of them had not tied their wires on very securely and the metal fan 'clicked' on them each time it attempted to turn. Each of the 4 classes repeated this challenge station and now each have a moving art installation inn their classrooms - the ribbons 'fly' through the air......the wires are very heavy but still look effective.
CAPTURE: Unfortunately I didn't capture any record of the Sphero station where the classroom teacher was stationed (so that I can build capacity teaching the teachers how to use the technology and then by sending devices with them back to their classes ensure the follow up and next steps) - they were situated under our large bench top unit which was then 'barricaded' in by our flip tables.....this made it super dark and very effective. We positioned some of our heavy duty cardboard tubes along the ground to ensure our Sphero's stayed within reach on our many test runs. On reflection my expectations were too high to expect that learners would also be able to layer using the Slow Shutter app on top during this activity. 1, the space was too small and full of little bodies.....as well as the teacher (who in one case was over 6 foot tall, which was hilarious, he was fantastic, so motivated and engaged), 2, both teacher and learners need time just to have fun and engage with the technology, 3, we ended up rotating this station as all learners wanted to have a go.
The ultimate goal of this station is to capture an image using the Slow Shutter Cam app which enables you to see the dramatic light 'beams' that the moving Sphero creates. For this initial exploration learners used the Sphero in 'drive' mode but would then be introduced to the coding concepts (they have used DASH and the LEGO Boost robots before so this is not new to them). I was inspired to replicate this experience after reading fellow ADE Cathy Hunt's blog post which you can read HERE.
BUILD: Learners airdropped the Amaziograph creations to my laptop so that I could print them out, they then glued them onto 'construction' boxes making sure they only covered one or 'opposite' sides with their design. This then meant when the boxes were completed they could be rotated to show different patterns and combinations. They looked stunning! I'd love to see a 'forest' of them that learners could move through and interact with.
After a long almost 9 hour wait at the Washington airport our flight to Chicago was cancelled, given the weather patterns and scary stories of flights that did go through from other cities and airlines that I heard later, I'm glad it was. I spent an extra night in Washington and boarded a plane to Chicago the following day with fingers crossed hoping for the weather in the skies to change, it was over 30 degrees on the ground and stunning by the way, the pilot turned up almost 2 hours after we boarded the plane though!. After collecting my bags I headed straight for an Uber and off to visit an educator who inspires not just me but all of our staff - Tricia Fuglestad. Tricia is a specialist art teacher, she threads and embeds digital technology within her programme. Another art teacher from a private school, Cassidy, in Oklahoma also joined us. You can visit Tricias blog HERE - but just a warning......if you are a creative like me and technology passionate.....this will change your life.
Tricia teaches at Dryden Elementary school in Arlington Illinois, it's about an hour and a half from Chicago city central and just a 20 minute drive from the O'Hare airport. The school is a public school with the same age students as a NZ Primary School. She teaches all year levels and has students for a timetabled slot, on the same day every week for the whole year eg the youngest students have half an hour and the oldest 45 minutes. Teachers are not present during the sessions, this is their planning time. Projects are ongoing and not finished in one session, eg the older students may take a whole term to produce one digital object either individually or as part of a collaborative project. Tricias animation app of choice is DoInk and I love that she would much rather use one app and know it inside and out that provide a range of apps (and spend countless hours wondering 'what else is out there') when DoInk does everything she wants and more.
iPad plays a role in many of the projects that Tricia facilitates and you can see many many examples, often with lesson overviews and resources on her blog, she is also an avid tweeter.
Here's some photos of the learning environment...
How Tricia stores ongoing projects was of interest to me and even though her school role is 500 she manages to do this effectively - I did notice that many of the class projects are collaborative and done in small table sized groups eg 5 or 6 to a group. In the Makerspace I currently do very few collaborative projects, this is something aI need to give more thought to.
Professional Learning - Rotoscope in a Retro Mutoscope
Tricia has done so many inspirational projects but one that stood out for me was the liner dance animation this was not just for the reason that it looked 'cool' (which every learner that ever sees it agrees) but also for the reason that she extended it to include high tech and low tech and linked it back to the layered processes of new and old. I particular like this. We discussed the why and the how and I explored the possibility of using the same concept across curricula areas.
Another learning opportunity for me was when Tricia shared the story of her progression animation journey.
Click here to read her blog post This is such a simple idea but is layered with opportunities for students to design, create, problem solve and innovate. This is a definite learning opportunity to will see happening in our Makerspace in the future and once I share this with staff I can see it happening across all year levels.
My must have piece of equipment
The images are not great sorry, but this is an animation iPad stand, Tricia had nothing but glowing things to say about it and after seeing it used to get such brilliant results it is definitely on my must have list. I will have to explore the cost of getting one in NZ.
When your inspiration is inspired...
I shared our journey and this blog with Tricia and I love that she was inspired by the way we do things too and we swapped many lesson ideas. I love that she was also looking for feedback on up and coming projects she is designing so we had rich discussion on the possibilities and implications of changing the parameters of each lesson.
This visit will stick with me because as a teacher you take away far more than the focus that you went for, this visit has challenged my thinking on several levels and also affirmed the current direction and thinking I have around STEAM and the importance of art threaded through all that we do. Tricia has given me several links and educators to follow up on so I look forwarded to the new learning that those bring.
Yesterday started out brilliantly with a visit to this indie bookshop I discovered while walking to the hop on hop off bus stop in the DuPont Circle, Washington DC. I walked away with 3 gems - Perfect Square by Michael Hall, A house that once was by Julie Foiano and At the same time around the world by Clotilde Perrin.
Perfect Square tells the week long story of a perfectly happy square, which each day is cut apart, torn, or crumpled. Being creative, the square is undaunted and persistent and using his ingenuity, he transforms himself into something new like a babbling fountain, mountain, a river, etc. I have already thought of loads of activities I can set up for students at any year level. Everything from using a coloured square of paper or textured card to get hands on and creating their own tangram style artwork to coding within a square to create a ‘dot to dot’ picture, to origami. So many possibilities.
Today I have arrived in Chicago and had an amazing afternoon meeting someone very special in the digital art world......that’s tomorrow’s blog post!
I wonder what the kids will call me, today one said "I'm looking for the Apple Teacher"......and another said "Are you Mrs Maker?" ......funny.