Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Coding in a Winter Wonderland

This post first appeared on FTISEdtech

I was thrilled to get the chance to work on some coding centers with a second grade class, and so impressed with their persistence and hard work.

The kids got a lot of practice with addition, measurement, algorithmic thinking and even a little storytelling.  

These would be great centers to try out any time this winter.


For the centers, you'll need: 
  • At least 6 sets of Dash and Dot Robots
    • Launcher accessories
    • Plow accessories
    • Ping Pong Balls
    • Bunny ears accessories (for Dot)
  • 4-5 Ozobots
  • Large sheets of paper
  • Black, Red, Green and Blue markers
  • Cotton balls
  • Painter's or Masking Tape

The Centers

Center 1: Winter Activities with Scratch JR

In this center students create a winter scene in Scratch JR and then write about their favorite activity using the speech bubble or audio record feature in the program.

I like this basic tutorial from Paul Hamilton about how to use Scratch JR:

Here's an example of a program a student wrote about being in school:

Center 2: Santa's Village

For this simple center, students explore many of the different coding activities on Google's Santa Tracker site.  Here they can check into art, games, and basic block coding activities.

Center 3: Snowball Throw

For this challenge, students code Dash to launch "snowballs" (ping pong balls) through Dot's bunny ears.  They should work in partners with one partner acting as a timer and score keeper while the other partner gets 1 minute to try to get as many points as possible.  Each time a ball goes through or over Dot's ears, they earn 2 points.  Once they get the hang out of how the launcher works, encourage students to try to use the automatic reload feature and to program Dash to "sneak" up on Dot by moving in from different directions and turning. 

Center 4: Winter Scene

With this center you will need Ozobots, markers and paper. Students should draw a simple winter scene for the Ozobot to "explore" and use the different colors to achieve different effects like speeding up and slowing down.

Center 5: Snow Plow

For this center it's nice to have at least two simple mazes made up of straightaways and right angles.  If you have groups of four, it's also nice for each student to have their own Dash to test their program ideas. Explain to students that Dash is automatically set to go 50 cm for each move forward block.  Then show them how they can change that variable. Encourage students to measure the straights so they know how far they should program Dash to go for each distance. 

Check out the directions here:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Design Thinking and 3D Printing

Post used for 3D Printing PD as a resource page.

Have you heard the story about the middle school teacher in Wisconsin who helped to save the life of a duck by making it prosthetic feet or maybe you've heard about the 6th grade students making prosthetic hand a classmate.  

While printing prosthetics may seem unusual, there is no doubt that 3D printing technology can revolutionize problem solving for teachers and students of any age. For example, consider how this Assistive Technology Specialist in Sonoma used 3D printing to design solution specifics to the needs of a student he was helping:
By using Design Thinking strategies and guiding students to empathize with end users and define problems, teachers can turn things over to students to problem solve.  With a simple design process like ICE (Imagine, Create, Evaluate), even elementary aged students can successfully imagine and design solutions.

How can you organize student work?

Consider guiding students through an exercise in 3D printing using tools like Digital Interactive Notebooks built using tools like PowerPoint or Google Slides.  Interactive notebooks, depending on the age of the students, allow you to structure learning so that students can develop a sense of empathy as they work towards defining the problem or need and the constraints that go along with that need. It also provides time for checkpoints and evaluation.  

Check out the examples below:

Design Thinking/3D printing Workshop Notebook


4th Grade Design Wars Project Template

Need more?

Hover over the Thinglink below to see resources.

Friday, November 10, 2017

PBL: Planning for Success ECET2CNKY 2017

What do you think when you hear the word project?  

Top Google search results for "School Projects" returns Pinterest pages of 25 best projects and plenty of science fair projects. Image searches are full of planet models, tri-fold boards, and dioramas. In contrast, ask someone in the business world what they think of when they think of the word project, and you might get a much different answer.

With the rise of Project Based Learning (PBL), we often see much confusion about what it is, and what it isn't.  PBL, Genius Hour, Projects, Service Learning - these are all terms that might be discussed during PLCs, conferences, on Twitter chats, and explored through countless professional readings in the form of books, research papers and blogs.

Designing PBL? Check out some of the Basics:

From format, to planning, to collaboration, to integrating technology in a mindful way, there's a lot to consider before the project begins. 

When designing a PBL experience for your students, it is important to plan ahead, develop your assessments, project calendar and expectations ahead of the project.  BIE has a number of incredible planning tools to help you do that, and you can find excellent ideas at Teach Thought and Edutopia.

A simple planner I have had success with can be found as a Google Slides file.  Choose to copy the document to your Google Drive, and you will be able to add text boxes and information where appropriate. 

Managing the Project in Progress

When it comes to extended inquiry, having a plan for how students will conduct the research, and how they will synthesize it into a project can be aided by formats such as the: Super 3 (appropriate for grades K-2), Big 6 Research (appropriate for grades 3-6), and Guided Inquiry Design (grades 6 and up).  You can encourage students to design their projects using design thinking.  Check out resources from Stanford's d.School or I have developed a model that can be used with elementary students called ICE  -Imagine, Create, Evaluate.

You might consider setting up a self serve area in your classroom that has research sheets, graphic organizers and project materials available.

I have found that using these models is often best supported by putting together a project website, or providing steps and resources on an LMS or using a Digital Interactive Notebook. You can check out this "generic" project notebook by clicking [here] and saving a copy to your Google Drive.

What technology tools or tips and tricks do you have for keeping a project organized and moving forward?

Need Ideas?

There are some great resource out there if you need ideas for projects.  Be sure to see BIE's searchable database or Teach Thought's "A Better List of Ideas for Project Based Learning".

For elementary teachers, you can find ideas that I've tested by searching PBL on this blog or the PBL posts on FTISEdTEch Blog

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Pd While You.... October

Second in my "PD While You..." series.  The image is hung in "strategic" places around schools:)  Originally shared here.

Links to Get You Right Where You Need to Go

  • Make Learning POP! Check out the resources for My BrainPOP.  You will need the code from the print flyer to set up your account.  But you can have your kids making movies just like the real deal BrainPOP videos in no time! Check out this playlist to get you started:

  • Learn how to make a BrainPOP movie here - perfect for letter writing!

  • Gettin Appy With It - Solve Me Mobiles get your students thinking in algebraic terms with fun puzzles
  • Do This Tomorrow! Toontastic 3D is an amazing storytelling tool for kids to use - check out this example my 3 year old made:)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Focused on the Future with Future Ready Libraries #KLAConf17


These materials were for a collaborative presentation built by librarians in Fort Thomas Schools to show the progress we are beginning to make towards supporting students in a future ready way.

Check out our slide deck for Future Ready Libraries to see images of how we are working towards supporting a focused on the future vision.


What ideas do you have or are you doing that fit in each of the areas of a Future Ready Library?  Insert your thoughts on the padlet
Made with Padlet


Hover over the ThingLink below to see links to tools and web pages you might find useful

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Quest to Personalize Professional Learning Begins... #SYD17

From the first day I stepped into my very first library assignment, after 10 years in education, I realized that a million things had prepared me for the moment, but if I was going to leap beyond that moment, I was going to have to take full control of my own learning. 

This was a novel idea to me, as up until this point, I had always been told professionally what to learn based on what initiatives were important to a district and a school. But here I was, the only person in my building in my role, and I had a full school of children ready for something - anything.  

To hold myself accountable and to push my learning in new ways, I began this blog. The Work in Progress page, written in July of 2012, explains that premise, and I took my own learning to heart.  At the beginning of each school year I chose topics and dove in deep to learn everything I could.  I read books, found blogs, and began to connect with people on Twitter.  From topics like using centers in Elementary libraries, to genre-fying a library, to Flipping learning, Makerspaces, PBL and lately Design Thinking, I have expanded my professional toolkit in ways I didn't expect. I learned everything I could about the topic, put it into practice for myself, reflected on my failure here, adjusted my practice, and intentionally signed up to present on these topics to really hold myself accountable in public ways.

Identifying the Problem

Last year I took on a new role as a Digital Learning Coach in my district, with a focus on elementary schools and iPads, and I found that I had to not only invent my position based on the needs of the elementary schools I was working with, but I also had to figure out a way to help other teachers connect to their own learning.  I tried a number of strategies from PLCs, PD in your PJs using Schoology, to morning Tech Tip sessions, to face to face after school PDs, and even newsletters.  But I never really felt like I was helping teachers discover what they needed to improve instructional practice in the 21st Century.

When my district began to explore ways that we were supporting our district vision of fostering an experience that allowed students to be creative, curious, innovative, global leaders, I began to realize that it would help if teachers felt like they were experiencing that themselves.  I spoke with Ginger Webb, our Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction at the time, and said it might help to encourage teachers to identify needs and create more personalized goals that aligned with our vision. She came up with the idea to work with a teacher cohort to try out some different methods.

With this I was off and running.  

Formulating a Pre-Plan
I attended ISTE this year with the idea in mind that I would seek out all I could about edtech coaching and  working towards developing strategies for personalized professional learning. I attended sessions where I learned about ideas that used Pineapple Charts, Sandbox Classrooms that included flexible seating and technology tools that teachers could reserve to try out concepts, PD in your PJs and different models of short PD similar to the 20 minute sessions I was already providing. 

When I got back from ISTE, I had made a few new mental connections and had a reading list as long as my arm to read with Personalized PD in mind, but I knew I was going to need something more. Through some brainstorming and sharing ideas with others, I settled on calling the cohort The Polaris Project.  Our District motto is "Rich in Tradition, and Focused on the Future".  In my mind, Polaris, meaning North Star, traditionally helps provide direction to travelers, and there's also the connotation that to think big we should 'shoot for the stars'.   To me there was no better combination of tradition and forward thinking. I began fleshing out the cohort expectations and put together a flyer for approval.  The idea would be that teachers in the cohort would take a chance at my own model of learning: dive deep into a topic of choice related to the district vision, test it out with their class, and share it.  They would also be working towards Google Level 1 certification and Apple Teacher badges. 

Jumping Into Google

Realizing that I needed a bigger push, I reached out to Donnie Piercey  to ask him about the Google Innovator program.  Donnie had been encouraging me to apply for a while, but the timing just always seemed bad.  I knew I needed to take a leap and just go for it with this problem of personalized professional development in my mind.  After a bit of talking through, with one day left before the due date, I decided to submit my application, believing that I would likely need to apply a number of times before I was accepted.

Innovator Application

In my application I really tried to highlight the idea that I wanted to help teachers develop ideas that would support our district vision.

Application Slide Deck

Application Video

On July 7, 2017 I found out that I was selected to be part of the August Google Innovator Cohort in Sydney, Australia.  My own personal journey in this quest to find ways to personalize professional learning was getting ready to take a new direction.

This is the beginning...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Improving PBL Practice with TeachThought

At the end of the 2016-2017 school year, we were very fortunate to have a three day Project Based Learning (PBL) workshop led by Drew Perkins, Director of Professional Development at TeachThought.

For me, the three day workshop was an opportunity to fine tune my understanding of PBL, work with teachers on new ideas and dig into strategies that can help teachers think through the planning process.

Day 1: Aligning from the Top Down

Some of my big takeaways from the first day of our professional development with Drew was that when designing a project with specific skills or standards in mind, it helps to begin by brainstorming possible products, purpose and audience and projects, in terms of Bloom's Taxonomy, really start at the top and as students work through the project they move down into understanding and remembering. 

In my role as coach, when I work with teachers to develop PBL, I think the audience piece is really important for us to consider more carefully. Often when planning we think of a possible audience last or we skip it because it's easier to think of potential projects. When you can identify an authentic audience (and with that purpose) for a project the learning and the product of that learning becomes more meaningful for the students. For example, when the Johnson third grade class designed their entrepreneurship project this year, they worked closely with the Fort Thomas Sesquicentennial Committee to design souvenirs for the city's 150th Anniversary. The students were incredibly invested in this project, hitting the streets to make sales quotas so they could be sure to donate money to the city's big projects.

As we learned through the morning, my second big take away was when Drew talked about how Bloom's Taxonomy relates to Project Based Learning. Because students are grappling with creating a project to demonstrate their learning for a specific audience and purpose, they are working from the top of the Bloom's pyramid down to deep understanding and remembering.  When students begin with the end in mind, they can sort through the content to analyze and make new meaning.
Morning Sketchnote of PBL Workshop Day 1

Day 2: The Importance of Assessment

I am infinitely grateful for the guidance Drew has given me as I have wrestled with learning all I can about PBL. One of my earliest and biggest mistakes was really poor assessment practices. During the first time I used PBL in the library I did not have project check points or even a rubric.  As a librarian I knew I wasn't going to grade projects, and I didn't bother with check points because I figured I would just tell students what to do each week.  This resulted in student projects that had nothing to do with the driving question - one 3rd grade group made an 11 minute video about princess and squirrel and forgot entirely to discuss the dangers of poor digital communication. 

By year three of using PBL in the library with students, I had learned, with Drew's coaching, that I needed to post a timeline of due dates, build in check points through formative assessments like conferences, graphic organizers and project expectations charts and I even began to design, at Drew's recommendation, Single Point Rubrics that all really helped to guide student work and the quality of the projects received. 

When I work with teachers to develop project based learning experiences for students I try to use some of these experiences to help them see possibilities. This year we worked a lot with digital interactive notebooks that included built in rubrics, conference checkpoints with reflection based questions and planners.  

As we discussed assessment, I realized that one piece I may be missing with teachers is encouraging the use of project calendars or timelines that are embedded in digital notebooks or posted on Schoology calendars.  This could be a great way to communicate to students due dates and expectations for successful time management. 

Here is an example of a notebook template I worked up for a 5th grade Math PBL.  For this work-up, I added the timeline/calendar option, and the teacher would be able to fill in the missing pieces like rubric, final driving question, dates, expectations etc.

Our discussion that day was a good reminder to me that I need to make sure I check in on assessments so that teachers can be sure they're getting the best quality work out of their students.  So often I work to help teachers figure out the possible projects and standards and I slack off on helping them fine tune their assessment practices.  PBL is not a time for slacking on assessment.

Day 2 was also the day we began looking at strategies for critiquing work. This is a topic that I really needed to hear about as a "new" coach, and it will for sure be a topic I continue to explore as I add tools to my coaching toolbox.  During a "gallery walk" time, teachers posted project ideas on large chart paper and informally wandered around the halls to preview the beginning steps of the project and left "I wonder" statements.  The feedback in the gallery walk was to be focused on the project tuning rubric that TeachThought uses in their workshops, which considers their five levers of quality PBL.  

During the gallery walk I tried to think of ways that I could use this same strategy digitally with teachers. So often we don't have time to meet during the year to talk through our ideas.  I think teachers could do a similar exercise virtually across district with slide deck templates ( like the example below). Teachers could use our project planner and upload to O365 or Google Drive, share with others virtually and make comments using comment features in those web based tools.  I think this is a long term idea, and we can work to build skills to move towards that approach.

I really enjoyed seeing new ideas being generated and connections that could be made between disciplines and specials areas with the PBL. I was also excited to see teachers discussing how the strategies we were using in the workshop would be perfect to use as their own students developed work as a peer or class conference strategy.  I hope in the near future we see students and teachers using digital tools to conference and peer review their work.

Day 3: Strategies for Success

On the third day we discussed some of the nitty gritty things that would have to happen to make the projects a success.  Teachers need to think of grouping, managing projects and hooking the kids in.  We do focus in our planning guides quite a bit on "entry events" but we do not often in that planning phase think abut grouping of students.

We worked on a Project Tuning Protocol through part of the afternoon, and that was extremely fascinating and beneficial to me.  The project tuning phase, unlike the gallery walk, is done in small groups that rotate.  The tuning protocol relies on fairly structured procedures with each person being designated a time for talking or time for quiet/listening. The quiet/listening phases was the hardest since by this time people were bursting with ideas and explanations. 

I keep trying to consider if this is a model that can be moved to a digital environment, but I can't help but think that something in this process would be lost without the group being in the moment together.  I think processes such as this would be best utilized periodically during faculty meetings. With a process like this, teachers could use it as a project design check point, or as a review of completed project that looks to troubleshoot problems.

Final Thoughts

I am so glad that I finally got to participate in an authentic PBL workshop.  So much of my learning with this topic has been on my own or virtual that it has been nice to take some time to learn new strategies, review ideas and work with others as a collective, with the idea that the more minds there are working to support each other, the better.

I really believe that after those days the teachers who participated are better equipped to think through possible scenarios and are ready to take on critically looking at their own work to improve their practice. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

4 Things for Teachers to Try This Summer

I couldn't narrow it down to four actual things - but there are four topics to explore!  Pick something and play this summer to help refresh after a long school year.

Hover over the image below for hot links to things to check out.  

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Much Needed PBL PD Do-Over

At the end of last year when I took on the role as Technology Integration
Specialist for the elementary schools in my district, my first major task, before my official start date, was to plan two days of professional development at the end of the year.  Day 1 was to get teachers acquainted with the SAMR model and the iPads that all students would be receiving in August, and Day 2 was to introduce teachers to Project Based Learning (PBL). The iPad training was an ok start.  It was differentiated, with different teams leading sessions based on teacher experience.  

When I reflect back on it now, we should have stuck with two days of iPad training, but one school already had a plan to spend a day with a book study on PBL, as a way to get teachers started with it, and the other schools decided to join in.  The deck was a bit stacked against us, we didn't have copies of the book for each person, two schools were entirely unfamiliar with the concept, and I was really green when it came to navigating PD for three schools.  I rewrote that day of PD no less than three times, filling chart paper with ideas, looking for a way to let people work in small groups with big ideas.  We looked at chapters of the book, articles, videos, discussed examples, met in teams to brainstorm ideas. At the end of it though, what I had was a lot of overwhelmed teachers dealing with the prospect of going 1:1, with a device they had little experience with and another entirely new idea to them that asked them to step out of the center of the classroom.  It was overload.  I felt like I had failed.

It was a much needed and hard lesson in PD design.  I realized that it was imperative to design PD that gets teachers engaged and excited about the process of learning at a time when they are ready to hear it. I have thought back on that day of PBL training often, and have used it as motivation to be better.  

The Do-Over Plan for PBL

This year when I was given the shot of planning a reintroduction to Project Based Learning PD for one of the schools - it was the do-over that I really needed.  This time, I decided to come ready with a Plan A, Plan B and an experience that would allow the teachers to get involved in using 21st Century learning skills that included: Creativity, Communication, Collaboration and Critical Thinking.

As I began mocking up the agenda, I was looking for ways to incorporate an actual PBL experience for the teachers.  I had used this model in the Fall at a workshop I did out of state, and it was a lot of fun.  I was, however, stuck on the Driving Question.  I was worried that if I went with a straight STEM based experience, they would get stuck on just looking for ways to integrate PBL into science, or if I went with a literature based PBL, they would be turned off because we're adopting a new reading series, and they need to learn the textbook before deviating from it.  

I ran the agenda passed the principal and gave her the run down on my dilemma, and she had the perfect solution.  Currently, the school is under heavy construction, and inspired by a teacher and some students she met in Washington D.C., she was thinking there was an outside space that could be used for a vertical garden.  We talked through the topics and before I knew it I had a real, work-able plan.

The Plan: Reviewing PBL

Since teachers had already been introduced to PBL in a full day of training, we worked through a shortened review of PBL.  We watched a video, and while they were watching, teachers jotted down notes on a graphic.  They could either work with the image on their iPads using apps like Paper 53 or IPEVO, or they could hand write notes. 

As a group, we came back together and shared out ideas, and I filled in gaps using sketch noting and the Procreate app.

We then discussed the differences between PBL, projects, service learning and Genius Hour.  Teachers were encouraged to Google those topics in small groups and write down their findings. We then went over a list I created in advance and compared our findings.  The information they discovered and the list that I created were very similar in content.

The Plan: Leading Teachers through Project Based Learning

With our review under our belt, it was time to engage teachers in what it actually feels like to move students through the process of PBL.

Using a PBL Planner I have developed to work with teachers, I worked through the process of what our PBL would look like.  The plan was to have teachers work in grade level teams to answer this question: How can we create a sustainable garden in a designated space, with a budget of $1,000.

I created a Digital Interactive Notebook, similar in nature to notebooks I have created when I work with teachers who are planning PBL for their classes.  The notebook helped guide teachers through the critical thinking process of using the Big 6 research process for extended inquiry, and a model of Design thinking I call ICE to help them plan their projects creative ways.

The Notebook
This is the format that teachers worked with to help them think through the process of research and project development. We brainstormed group roles for them to use to aid in collaboration, and there are check points along the way that requires them to stop and conference.  

Big 6 Intro

Before beginning the "research phase" we went over project specifications, rubrics and the Big 6 model of research using this video:

ICE Intro
To help kids (and in this case, teachers) work through the project design phase of PBL, I like to use a model of Design Thinking that I call ICE (Imagine, Create, Evaluate).  I tried to simplify the big ideas behind Design Thinking for elementary aged students to easily work through and remember the process.

The Plan Evolves

As part of the entry event, the principal spoke to the group about her intention to get them to create a garden space.  She brought along with her landscaping drawing that had previously been approved, and she said that she was willing to go to the board and advocate for a change in the plan, based on teacher design and input.  Originally, the intent was to create a garden, but in thinking through things, she realized to really give teachers ownership of the space, she needed to leave it more wide open.  

On the fly, we adjusted the driving question to respond to that need (not something you would do with a class - I had to keep reminding teachers of that).  We altered the driving question to be: How can you design an outdoor space for $1,000 that would meet the needs of the learning community, how will your class support and use that space. Luckily the planning guides and the rubric still worked for the changes to the plan.

Work Begins...and Continues...

As teachers got into the research and development of their ideas, you could sense the creativity, critical thinking and positive energy that was at work. I wandered from group to group, providing support and modeling how I would lead a class in this kind of activity, and was excited to hear amazing ideas about creating collaborative outdoor learning spaces that included things that would stimulate senses and also provide a sense of calm.  

As we got closer to lunch it became clear that people were really invested.  We made the collective decision to continue with PBL for the rest of the day so that teachers could take their research to the presentation phase.  I altered the schedule, put together a timeline and a method for voting on the final plan.  The principal put in a call to our Assistant Superintendent and got her to add change orders to the outdoor plans to next board meeting in two weeks. 

By 2:20, groups had put together multimedia presentations to pitch their ideas to the full group, knowing that the winning group would get to speak to the board about their ideas in just a few short weeks.

If all goes well, we will get to see the design of an outdoor collaboration and learning space for students that includes small amphitheater style seating space, art features, and natural stone.

What Comes Next?
I am hoping that we can capitalize on the energy that teachers experienced with this type of project, and work towards implementing PBL into different areas next year.  We plan to do a book study through the year and explore different strategies for including technology in Project Based Learning.  My hope is that if we have a successful book study, and if we can get some teachers to take the leap into the format, that we can look at a more intensive adoption of PBL and more formalized training.

The Plan B That We Didn't Need - Schoology

Modules in Schoology
Because we were  worried about teachers being overloaded with PBL, especially after last year's PD, I had developed a Plan B that would allow us to gauge teacher attitudes at lunch and move on to a different topic - Schoology - if things were taking a sour turn.  

For the afternoon, I had planned Schoology training that utilized Blended Learning strategies.  For this PD, teachers would work through self-paced modules in Schoology that included readings, video, and performance tasks, followed by short quizzes for different Schoology related topics. I planned to have teachers take a survey to gauge their understanding of topics so that I could group them by experienced and beginner levels and provide the beginners with more hands on help while letting the experienced work through modules more quickly on their own.  The plan was to break each hour, come back together and share big aha's and brainstorm ways to implement at each grade level.

Because of the set up, I knew I could easily move this to a PD in your PJs format I have developed, or that we could use it next year in PLCs, so when we didn't end up needing this Plan B, I was actually thrilled, despite the work that had gone into it.

In this case, I think putting in the extra time to develop the extra PD module was well worth the piece of mind, and in the end I think teachers ended up getting some much needed positive collaboration.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Taking on 3D Printing: Or Testing my Comfort Zone

 This post originally appeared on FTISEdTech

Math makes me nervous. And, not your run of the mill, mild, tingle in your belly
kind of nervous. It's the kind of nervous that literally initiates the fight or flight response, where every neuron is on edge, skin feels prickly to the touch and a waterfall of tears is being held back by not even a shred of willpower: It's the kind of nervous that shuts a learner totally down.  

Needless to say when I wrote a grant for a 3D printer last year, I wasn't thinking that I would actually have to use math to use it.  I mean, my general plan was that the kids would figure out how to use it, and I would just cheer them on, and probably tweet about the cool stuff they were doing.  And then it became apparent that I had to learn how to use it. For real use it.

As a last minute challenge, one of our district technicians, Andrew, talked me into meeting him and Michelle, one of our second grade teachers after school, on a Friday no less, to learn how to use the District's Dremel.  

Andrew's teaching method was brilliant in its simplicity. We simply had to use Tinkercad to design something to fit inside something else. He brought with him a rectangle cut out of wood, and explained that basically we were going to make a piece that fit into it, similar to the old Perfection game.

As part of the lesson, we had to use digital calipers to measure the rectangle.  I probably could have stopped after the lesson on digital calipers, I'm not really accurate when it comes to measuring, and I probably needed a ton of practice with just that, but we continued. 

Within an hour we each had designed something in Tinkercad, had exported it as an .stl file, imported it in the Dremel software and created the .gcode to be able to make the print.

Mine did not fit. Michelle's fit like a glove.

I got myself some digital calipers and realized it was time to start practicing. 

I didn't want to forget everything I had learned, so a few weeks later, I started messing around with 123D Design app. At that time, the app was available to use on the iPad, and I really wanted an iPad to 3D printer solution. I played around with process of trying to put shapes together on the iPad, and created a basic trinket.  This time I had plans to use the Ultimaker 2 Extended that was available at Johnson.

When I went to export the file and import it into Cura, the Ultimaker software, I realized that the design was floating! It was hard to tell this on the iPad app. I got some help troubleshooting and ended up having to bring the design into Tinkercad to insert a rectangle. I exported the .stl file from here and then converted the file in the Ultimaker Cura software. 

The print from the Ultimaker turned out ok, and I was ready to try my hand at measuring again.

It was time to get some serious design work done.

As part of a PTO grant, Johnson had acquired some really great robots, including the Dash and Dot Wonderpack. We were looking for a way to use the launcher attachment to launch smaller things from Dash, what a perfect way to buckle down and try my hand at designing my own accessory.  To make it a bit more fun, and to hold myself accountable, I threw the challenge out to a few other teachers, to try to design a bucket attachment to work with the Dash launcher.

Still working off the idea that I wanted to use the iPad to design things for the 3D printer, I worked through the process of designing a bucket using a model of design thinking that I have worked out for students that I call ICE.  Check out the video below:

I used an interactive notebook I designed in PowerPoint to keep track of "most" of my thinking and design process in a way that I would have a student design.  The typical notebook I use has 3 iterations, I ended up working through five, and, in truth should keep going.

I am happy to report that I am getting better with measuring. By better, I mean things aren't a total disaster.  

My first print fit perfectly in the launcher. 

The bucket looks great, in my opinion, but it didn't stay in the launcher, so I attempted to make a bracket that would fit over the lip of the dome and around the launcher piece.  In theory, it could have worked, but in practice it didn't. Remember I'm getting better with measuring things, that doesn't mean I'm actually good at it.

After two bracket attempts, I decided to just go for another bucket design.  This one was going to be deeper using the cylinder shape in Tykercad.  I was a bit concerned about the weight of it, so I used a dome for the bucket piece, a smaller cut out on the bottom of it and two rings for the launcher to fit into. There was a pretty big flaw in the dome piece.  I didn't leave enough space between the edge of the cylinder that I fit it into and there are gaps in the print.  I also didn't do a good job of sizing up the rings.
But this one worked - or at least it didn't flip out of the launcher, and I was able to get it in and out of the launcher with relative ease.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep working this bucket launcher angle. I'm learning a lot and really could use at least one more iteration to be happy with my progress, but that's the thing with Design Thinking, it's never quite finished, and we have Ozobot accessories to think about now - or maybe something for poor Dot.

I have to say, when it comes to actually nailing it, 2nd grade teacher Ms. Leftin is the winner.  Check out her design:

Monday, March 13, 2017

App Smashing with Duck Duck Moose Apps & Green Screen by Do Ink

This post first appeared on FTISEdTech

Recently, while trying to help one of our Music teachers hack a lesson that included a paid app that we don't have access to, I discovered a strategy for using the Duck, Duck Moose apps - Draw& Tell, Superhero Comic Maker, or Princess Fairy Tale Maker combined with Green Screen by Do Ink that allows you to create a layered green screen videos that makes it look like students are interacting with comic book style characters.

Create your Animation

To make it look like you or your students are are between a background and the animation, you will want to create a "green screen" animation by either using the picture of a green screen or by filling in the background of a blank scene with green.

You will then set your scene.  Add writing, characters or letters.  Stickers will move during recording.  You can also add voice overs while you're recording, or maybe play a song in the background.  Whatever audio you have going, will be heard in your green screen video.  

You will also want to make sure that the video you make in your Duck, Duck Moose app is long enough to accommodate what you need to do with the Green Screen app - so storyboarding could be very helpful.


Once you are happy with your recording, you will go to the "My Comics" area and save it to your camera roll.





App Smash with Do Ink

Now that you have your animation video saved, you're ready to open up Green Screen by Do Ink and set up your project.  

Remember, whichever element is furthest down on the list, is what appears in the background.  So, you will want to place either a static image (or if you're feeling crazy a premade video) as the bottom option.  The middle should be your live camera and the top should be the video you made using one of the Duck, Duck Moose apps.

You are now ready to make your recording with the animations.  This will place your video on top of the subject of the green screen video.

It does help if students can see the animations so that they can react to them as it happens, so setting the iPad up on a tripod with the "Selfie" camera view will allow students to see things in real time. 

Record your video by choosing the red record button, and when you are finished press the stop button, which is a black square.  

You can choose to save your project from the menu or preview.  If you know you're going to want to re-record your project, press "Done" on the bottom right side of the screen and you will have the option to delete. 

You could obviously skip the background image altogether, depending on your needs and use a background you create in the Duck, Duck, Moose app - however it will have a more flat affect where it doesn't appear that your subject being recorded is actually inside the scene. That added layer adds a bit of interest to the project.

I am very interested to see what teachers and students are able to do with this kind of app smashing strategy.  It could be a great way to edit together a student/ character interview or create a dynamic presentation.