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.