Hi everyone, well so much has happened since our last blog post. I stepped back from running the Makerspace in Term 3 of last year while filling the role of DP and handed the reins over to a new TAKP teacher Kim Horne. I have to admit this was a real challenge at first, letting go of something you have seen grow from an idea into a reality is not easy.....yet the more I stepped back the more proud I became seeing Kim adding her own flavour and talents and seeing the smiles on students faces as they shared their creations. You know something is truly embedded if you can take a backward step and it continues without you. Time has gone on and now we are nearing the end of Term 1,
I also now have more than 25 Apple Books published on the iTunes Store - all of which are free to download, so check them out too.
Here's my latest book purchase, 3 treasures to ignite thinking and making....I also have a new project underway which incorporates play based learning, making and creating so keep an eye out for developments which I will share via social media. Follow the hashtag #takpschool to see what all our teachers are up to in their classes.
It's looking like I may have nailed my 2018 professional goal of building teacher capacity while also nurturing student voice and choice, every teacher is now embedding the maker movement through their classroom practice which is fantastic. A couple of weeks back I posted about the KaleidaCam challenge station I introduced for the Year 5/6's. You can read the blog post here year-5-and-6-and-the-antlered-ship.html
I also ran a 10 minute byte at our Inspire (staff meeting) so that all teachers could learn through both seeing and doing regardless of year level. Teachers loved this app and how it integrated across the curriculum in so many creative ways. Check out some of our students stunning creations below.
Technology (iPad and Mac) plays a role in all that we do in the Makerspace and within our classrooms but it is just another tool for learning.
Students having rich discussions while getting hands on and creative and becoming both problem solvers and solution seekers while bubbling with excitement and wondering......that's where its at!
Today was ‘test and assess’ day for our Matariki golf course. After our initial planning and LEGO prototyping in the Makerspace each year 5/6 class worked to create their very individual and challenging golf hole. The creativity, perseverance and sheer determination shine through! Today learners (and a few teachers who couldn’t resist the competition!) stepped up to test and trial. The afternoon was spent revisiting, refining and improving. Tomorrow lunchtime we ‘open for business’ then in the afternoon each day for the rest of the week our seniors will buddy up with juniors to let them try their luck. The course is fantastic and many of the individual ‘degrees of difficulty’ exceeded both mine and the classroom teachers expectations. I particularly loved the ‘Seesaw’ into the hole, the ‘spinning star’ which you had to get just right or your ball careered off and the colourful Matariki shooting star ‘tunnels’ were vibrant and a real hit!
Tomorrow the initial planning teams will also have the opportunity to assess each hole - deciding on the ‘par’, giving points for design, creativity, degree of difficulty, sticking to plan etc.
This challenge covered so many curriculum areas, nurtured deep thinking and allowed creativity and individuality while also including constant collaboration and teamwork. I’d love to be able to do this with more permanent materials and have a community course on our school grounds. HUGE potential...
Our Year 5/6’s are totally engaged and motivated working on their Matariki projects. I can’t wait to see these completed, spray painted and hung from the ceiling. I wonder if students will think traditionally and want their ‘stars’ gold and silver or if their vision is for colour? Learners are considering movement and sound and how these might react with light and wind.
We had a couple of cold melt glue guns in the mix yesterday, these were not successful, marbles fell of when students lifted their creations, even light plastics didn’t hold. A visit to the warehouse last night saw me armed with $8 hot glue guns which were brilliant for today’s group. For this sort of project you need a glue gun for every pair working collaboratively, so watch out for cords and surfaces. A tip to remember after advice from a visiting electrician, replace your glue guns regularly, if they get a build up of melted glue......the melted glue can cause all sorts of problems to your power supply.
The 3D LEGO challenge was embraced by several classes after day 1 which was great to see. Motovated by one learners success (and stop motion video) several students went above and beyond what I had expected. The problem solving and perseverance was very evident, I loved how the group supported each other to get more and more intricate in design and detail.
Sometimes what appears as the simplest challenge can give the most surprising results. This activity involved so much maths, number, measurement, fractions.....then layering hand eye co-ordination and fine motor skills on top, proved a real challenge for some learners.
Our geo board star creators became filmmakers and animators as their designs evolved. They have some stunning time lapses to reflect on and challenge others to create back in class.
We now have 6 of our 8 Matariki mini golf holes planned and prototyped. I’ll do a separate post soon with all the videos and initial buildings......it’s super exciting!
Happy Making everyone!
This week I have 8 classes of Year 5 and 6's in the Makerspace, this is their second session with a focus on 'Mountain to Sea' back in class (their first session was 'The Antlered Ship which I blogged a few posts back). Today's ignitor was a video rather than a picture book as I wanted to make links to the New Zealand geographic landscape and to the time lapse photography used and this medium fitted. We had a rich discussion before outlining the challenges, students related their prior experiences of Matariki to this version of the story. The narrative made very clear links to our school 'Skills and Attitudes'.
I used the video below which I downloaded from You Tube and played directly from my laptop mirrored using an Apple TV onto a large flat screen. I don't play videos directly from the internet, this ensures videos play smoothly and I am not relying on the internet to stream.
There were 6 Challenge stations for this weeks sessions
Each station had a Matariki flavour and learners were encouraged to focus on the role of the twins Waitā and Waitī, that of teamwork and collaboration.
I was inspired by a Twitter post by 'Mr Forrest' and shared this with students via the 'Students Link' page on this Website. The end product would be a transportable 'mini golf' course with a hole created by each of the 8 senior classrooms (each with its unique Matariki link or thread). In this session students were challenged to work as a team to complete the planning stage, including a LEGO prototype to test their thinking. Learners collected the materials they needed and took these back to class to begin construction - the goal was to have the hole completed by the end of week 9 with a student versus teachers 'tournament' planned for week 10.
Here is an example of the first 2 classes LEGO prototypes created today...
Recently I posted a series of challenges for our Year 5/6’s ignited by the picture book The Antlered Ship. One of the stations had an art and design spin where students began the project with me (30%) and then needed to complete (70%) back in class. With me students learnt the process of ‘transferring’ the outline to their Matt board and were given lots of ideas of how they might complete it back in class eg, pencil shading, geometric shapes, pastel etc. I briefly discussed techniques. One of our students shared her finished project with me today and I was stunned, I think it is simply gorgeous.
I had Year 2’s in the Makerspace but this challenge could be done with any year level. The team focus for this group was ‘Interactive Art’, so the end product would be a ‘jigsaw’ style piece of art, made from a Perfect Square which would then be added to a backboard with 'clues' to held others complete it, the pieces would be held in a CD case with a photo of the finished product on the front so that other students could complete and interactive with it.
You will need:
We read the book, learners guessed what the square would turn into. After reading the book we revisited each day to see how the square was treated eg torn, shattered, snipped etc. I role modeled each action showing how NOT to make pieces to tiny or they would fall to the floor and be lost. After learners chose their square they shared their idea with others at their table.
It’s important to remind learners that the goal is to use the whole square and to cut, rip or snip from one side of the square all the way to the other. It's about turning the square into something even more interesting and later back in class writing about the adventures your square would have.
Once they have set their idea and begun I discussed the plan with each learner, providing them with a Matt board to suit. Learners created their design in the board and added their drawing ‘clues’ for those that would complete their design (jigsaw) later.
Once done learners took a photo and airdropped it to a laptop, once printed they glued it to a CD case which held their ‘square’ pieces.
Soooooooo many creative ideas! A boat, monster truck, flower garden, cat, polar bear, a mountain range, farms, zebra, dinosaur, robot.....and many more.
The Year 3 team have grasped the maker movement with both hands and are now trialling their own version of the Maker space one day a week across their team. They are in single cell classrooms with students rotating throughout the day...each classroom is set up with a focus eg Coding, Construction, LEGO etc and learners rotate around each space, the learning is ignited by a picture book in the same way as I do. Students are absolutely buzzing and it has become a highlight of their week. I'm looking forward to hearing feedback from teachers and posing questions around how they are assessing this learning and how/if what they are doing is impacting on learning outcomes across the curriculum.
So this week the Year 3 team wanted a Matariki focus in the Maker space and after lengthy discussions we decided to do things differently. Rather than having different challenge stations I ignited a large collaborative team project - building giant kites, art installation style that can be hung from the ceiling.....imagine 'adult' size in height. Each classroom will complete 2 kites and I will take an 'extension' group who will complete another one so that we have 7 in total.
After reading the story, The Seven Kites of Matariki, and pointing out different features of each one, especially the shells and unique materials used eg, fish skin, I used the iPad camera to mirror each kite up onto the TV from within the pages of the book. Learners identified their favourites, putting their hands up and then a few from each 'page' highlighted they favourite feature to the class. We then discussed how the kites would have been made eg the Harakeke used as fastening.
I introduced the project and showed some of the possible materials we could use.....and also shared the vision of having huge amazing handmade kites hanging above us!
Learners then drew a picture of their 'ultimate' kite, including their favourite parts from the kite in the book and then adding their own creative spin. We took our time and added detail, some even labelled the materials they would use. We grouped back together.
We then overviewed the similarities and differences and grouped 'like-minded kites' by shape eg Diamond kite, Rectangles, Circles etc. These 'teams' then sat together and looked at and discussed each others kites. I visited each group and nominated an 'artist' who was the only one allowed a pencil. Team members looked at each others kites then took turns to decide which feature/s they wanted to take from their design and add to the collaborative group design. Team members were able to negotiate and vote on each decision. I really wasn't sure how this would go with Year 3's but was absolutely thrilled with the outcomes.
Every group came up with unique and creative designs, it was great to hear several groups saying "Wow, I could never have done something that amazing on my own, I love our design". If I'm honest this session was a challenge for me as I appreciate the process but it is so reliant on what happens back in class and it definitely meant me stepping back from having more 'control' of the outcomes.......usually a 'project' is started with me and I have set very high expectations and done the ground work. I'm also use to small groups and multiple things happening at once and this felt a lot more like 'whole class teaching' which goes against everything I believe in for catering for individual needs and differences. But when I reflect although learners didn't have 'choice' in the actual project they did have voice throughout the process and each and every learner was 100% committed to the task. I'm keen to talk to learners throughout the project to capture their thinking and reflections, I'll visit their Seesaw learning journals to see this.
The next step back in class is for each group to make a small prototype kite to experiment with and share back to the class. From these prototypes the class will have a whole class discussion and decide what they want to keep in their two final creations. I'll post again later so you can see the progression and the final products.
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.
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.