Saturday, September 3, 2022

"Dot or Not" Dot Day Project

Dot Day 2021 found me pushing into 18 different classrooms on a cart. I wanted to plan something for Dot Day, but I wasn't sure where to begin given my situation at the time. What we came up with is something I think is worth sharing - even if it has taken me almost a year to do so! The theme I used was "The Little Things are the Big Things."

First, I partnered with the research team at my school. We are a K-12 school, and they have a truly state of the art facility in the high school building. While many of the elementary classes toured the lab during the year, it was going to be hard to take all of my  elementary classes during the first couple of weeks of September. So after talking about types of microscopes with my students, we took a virtual tour of the Owls Imaging Lab. This was a huge hit! With one-to-one devices, I was able to let my students explore the virtual experience independently. They loved that they got to choose what to look at first.

After viewing the lab, I read Do Not Lick This Book to my classes. This book was popular with students of all ages. We talked a lot about the difference between macro and micro images. I emphasized how things can look quite different when magnified. Most of the images in the book were taken with imaging tools. I introduced the idea of macro and micro photos of the same items.

Then it was time to start the project. I told the students that the art teacher and I had picked a few items from her room. We were wondering what they would look like under a microscope. With Dot Day coming up, that led us to ask the question, "Dot or Not?" 

Each student chose an art supply and predicted whether they thought the images the imaging lab took would contain a dot. I recorded the names and each hypothesis on a spreadsheet like this one. I made a big show about how these items were going to be imaged in the actual lab that we had virtually visited. 

The next week, I shared the image folder. The research team used the best tools for each item, so not all items were viewed with all tools. There was great excitement. 

I did this project with K-5, so different grade levels shared their results in different ways. I worked with the art teacher to have each student make a large dot with the words DOT on one side and NOT on the other. We used these to record green screen videos to share whether or not the micro image had a DOT for Dot Day.

(My then-kindergartener)

(My then-4th grader)

My younger students used Seesaw to tell about their project. They completed most of it themselves, and I added our green screen videos after they turned in the assignment.

My older students first used Google Slides to share their results. I found out as we were working on this that using Adobe Spark (now Adobe Express) was an option for the local science fair. To show that you can share information multiple ways, the upper grades also created an Adobe presentation with the information. They LOVE this presentation tool.

(Adobe Express Presentation)

This project ended up going into November, but it reinforced a lot of the tech skills I wanted to go over with my students.

(Photo taken right before Halloween)

We were also creating things as we went along and dealing with quarantined classes. I expect this could be recreated in a multitude of ways and not so drawn out.

Dot or Not Spreadsheet Template (Force copy link to spreadsheet I used with my students)

The Owls Imaging Lab research team has put together the watermarked photos in a folder and gave me the okay to share them. I'm excited to see what others come up with using these tools!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Summer Wrap Up & Wish Lists

After two years of pushing into classrooms on a cart, I will have a NEW classroom this year! Due to construction, we have a bit of an extended summer, though teachers are back now to set up the new spaces. While the public schools around us started this week, students don't report until Aug. 23. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I am excited to share photos of the new space soon!

This summer was a great one. We started off in DC for the Exploravision awards. At the end of June, I joined a team from my school at ISTE. July was a lot of family time and a trip to Orlando for the Florida Teacher Lead Network Alumni Event. 

So, now I am up to my eyeballs in alligators trying to get ready for the new year, but it is SO exciting. I've put together a wish list of items for my room. A certain social media giant flagged my list and wouldn't let me post it there, so I am going to try here.

Thank you for anyone able to help! I appreciate it!

Photos of the new space coning soon!

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Exploravision, Cart Life, and Green Screen Summit

I am working on another post about my new favorite project from this school year, but I realized as I worked on it that my "occasional blogger" status means that I hadn't updated on things in a while.

First, my students won 2nd place in the 4th-6th grade division of NSTA/Toshiba's Exploravision competition. We are one of eight nationally recognized teams that will be heading to DC for an awards celebration next month. I am SO proud of The Replenishanator team and all that they accomplished! 

In other good news, we have 10 days left of school. Due to the pandemic and then to construction on our new building, I've taught from a cart for the last two years. Last year I pushed into classrooms and my cart had an extra monitor connected to the students at home on Zoom at the same time. This year everyone is in person, but I lost my classroom when others were relocated when the portables were removed to make way for the new building.

While this year has been just a little less crazy than the last, I think this video is still relevant. Look out for my specials team. We are the unicorns pushing carts at the 1:39 mark.

Speaking of summer, If you happen to be looking for a fun virtual PD opportunity during your time off, I suggest the Green Screen Summit.

I attended last year because one of my edtech creative heroes was presenting. I was absolutely delighted when she asked if I would present this year! Whether you are a newbie or a green screen addict, you will love this virtual event! Early bird pricing ends 5/15.  The event this year is July 20-23, but the sessions are recorded so you have flexibility in viewing. If you do sign up, please use my affiliate link so I get credit for it.

I hope that the end of the school year goes smoothly for you!

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Back to "Normal"

When things shut down in 2020, I decided that there were some things that I wasn't upset about missing. I really focused a lot on work/life balance. I have always been an ambitious person, but I discovered how much I like going to bed at a reasonable hour instead of working until I can't keep my eyes open. After the first 6 months or so when I took up making sourdough bread, I started going around my neighborhood trying to walk off the extra weight I put on due to my new hobby. I carved out time for myself and things that made me happy.

I found Twitter wasn't good for me at that time. While I usually love finding out the newest edtech ideas, there was too much noise. I had to step away.

In the last few weeks, things have started to feel more like "before." I have been staying up later. Events and projects that haven't happened since 2020 (or even 2019) are returning. One one hand it is exciting. On the other hand it has me reassessing my priorities.

Next week I am going to NSTA in Houston. I've missed conferences and the ideas I always come home with afterwards. I am also venturing back to Twitter. I have an exciting opportunity this summer and am realizing that it is time to reconnect.

I call myself an occasional blogger, but I guess this break was a little more than that. I think I'm ready to dip my toe back in the water and see where it takes me.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Classroom Wish List Links

So, a major social media site won't let me share my wish list links, so I'm getting creative.

STEAM Lab Wish List 2019-2020

STEAM Lab Book List 2019-2020

If you are able to help out with supplies for the STEAM Lab, I'd really appreciate it!

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

NSTA 2019

I’m writing this on the plane home from St. Louis, and finally posting it weeks later. I have to admit that I was not excited about the fact that NSTA was in the Show-Me-State. This is my third NSTA conference, and it was one of the best organized conferences that I have attended. Don't get me started on the food! We ate at so many fantastic places in downtown St. Louis. Yummy!

The conference kicked off with a keynote from retired astronaut Scott Kelly. His message was inspirational and informative. “I was trained not to focus on the things you can control, not the things you can’t.”

The results of the “twin study” were released just the next day. It was pretty neat to have heard his story and then to see him on the morning news the next day.

On Thursday I also had a Technology Advisory Board meeting. I am excited to get to work with the team this year.

The plane ride home is always my favorite time to reflect on what I’ve learned and to make plans for how to implement changes in my classroom. I attended two sessions in particular that made me think.

I actually attended a session that I had seen last year. I love the idea of holding a School Maker Faire. The team from South Orangetown Central School District was back again this year to explain how they hold a district-wide Maker Faire. With all the maker-resources we have on our campus, I think it would be amazing to showcase the work we are doing to the entire school community. The presenters talked about how many of the projects are done in school and saved, but others are done by students at home and brought in.

I also really like the “Science Fair of Optimization.” The 4-6 grade team from Captain Samuel Douglass Academy told of their science fair woes and how they were able to make things easier for the teacher, but still meaningful for the students. The developed group projects based on a problem that requires students to apply the engineering design process. Students are presented with a scenario based on a problem facing a cleverly named fake company. As a group they must decide what variables to test to solve the problem. Each student then completes a “science fair project” where they test the variable using the controls set by the group. At the end, the students come together to create a prototype using the information they learned from the individual projects.

Our school has not had an elementary science fair in a while and we are trying to move in that direction. Once of the problems is helping student to understand variables. I love that this project focuses on identifying variables and creating a way to test a single variable. I look forward to talking with our upper elementary teachers about the idea.

Our Bringing Student Creativity to Life in the Elementary Science Classroom workshop presentation was one of the best that Cara and I have done. Just a few weeks ago we were panicked because HP Reveal Studio is in transition and we cannot create augmented reality projects using that website. At FETC, we learned about Thyng. We sent them a message and the responded almost right away. They have been great to work with and even stayed in the office late on a Friday to be “on-hand” during our workshop. The projects look great and we think they are going to be a great tool for our First Grade Garden next month.

The workshop was a lot of fun. We set up the green screen and demo-ed how simple it is to use the Green Screen app by DoInk. We were the last session of the day, but we had a nice crowd and got some great feedback.

Saturday morning Suzette joined us to add her middle school perspective to Transforming Your Science Classroom with Technology. It was an 8am session on a Saturday morning in a very large room.

We had a nice crowd and got some great feedback. After the session, a STEM Coordinator stopped us to ask questions. She said that her district had a lot of the tools and resources that we talked about, but that the teachers were not using them in a way that connects to the standards. One of the greatest compliments to me was the fact that beyond all the tools we told about, it was the way we used the tools that stood out to her.

We did have time to enjoy a little bit of the city. We walked to the Gateway Arch one evening.

We also made it to the Botanical Gardens and the St. Louis Zoo.

The biggest surprise of all though was the weather on Sunday.

We knew it was going to be cold and rainy, but the temperature dipped and we actually saw some snowflakes and winter mix. For three teachers from Florida, that’s a big deal!

Sunday, April 14, 2019

FETC 2019 Reflections

In my bio, I call myself an "occasional blogger." I supposed that blogging about a conference months later just reinforces that point!

This year our school sent a team of teachers to FETC. Towards the end of the trip, the elementary team was sitting at dinner and I brought out a notepad and pens. We each sketchnoted something that we learned about that we wanted to try in our classrooms.

Many of the ideas overlapped. (Cara was mad that I wrote down the Alexa Skill Blueprints before she could do so.) What was fantastic was the fact that no one batted an eye when I suggested the sketchnote. We had meaningful conversations about Flipgrid, OneNote, Kinful, Loom, Immersive Reader, thyng, Merge Cube, and Alexa Skill Blueprints. We brainstormed ideas for using these tools in the classroom. It was one of my favorite moments of the conference.

I also got to meet Paul Reynolds. We recently purchased Fab@School from Fablevision Learning for the STEAM Lab, after years of trying to find funds for the purchase. I love the STEAM focus of Fablevision Learning and the STEAM books that Paul Reynolds has written.

I am a huge fan, so it was wonderful to have some books autographed. I also talked with Peggy Healy Stearns, who created Fab@School, about ideas for using the program.

This conference was not all fun and games. Cara and I presented a two hour workshop called Bringing Learning to Life with Green Screen & Augmented Reality. It went well, even though we got an email from HP Reveal the FRIDAY AFTERNOON before we left letting us know that HP Reveal Studio will soon stop working. That is not news you want to hear before you present a 2-hour workshop on how to use green screen (DoInk) and AR using HP Reveal. (I'll blog soon on our recent replacement)

I also presented a lecture session on STEAM in Action. I had only 30 minutes between sessions, so one of the ladies in my session made this meme for me.

We also got to cheer on Nicole.

It was a wonderful few days of learning in Orlando. Many of the ideas we learned about have already been applied in our classrooms. Thyng has been the biggest find for me so far, but that will be a blog post of its own. I hope to make it to #FETC20 in Miami!