Recycled Toys

Last nine weeks, I co-taught an Electronics class for our 7th grade elective.  I say “co-taught” even though my colleague, Kat Sauter, actually did nearly all of the planning and teaching – and I learned nearly as much as the students.  One of the projects that the students did was to take apart old battery-operated toys to identify the different electronic parts.  After dissecting the toys and making posters that illustrated diagrams of the inner workings, the students could make new toys using the parts and any of the tools we had in Zorro Astuto.  This group was particularly proud of the musical toy they transformed into a UFO, complete with 3d printed alien pilot, laser cut acrylic laser beam, and very confused 3d printed cow.

One of the resources Kat used for ideas was this “Toy Take Apart” project from the Exploratorium.  You can find some more ideas in this article from User Generated Education.  You can also see some other fun examples by looking at #toydissection on Twitter.

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Tinkercad Design Slams

For anyone new to 3d design, Tinkercad is one of the best options out there.  This free online design tool is an excellent introduction to creating .stl files that can be saved and imported into your preferred 3d printer slicing software.  When I think of the dearth of 3d printing/design thinking resources that could be used in schools, especially in elementary, five or six years ago, it is heartening to see all of the curriculum, tools, and tutorials that have popped up since the days when my colleague and I started using City X with our students.   Tinkercad has been a huge contributor of these resources, making it very educator-friendly.

Last November, the Tinkercad blog featured a post on “Design Slams”  that has links to curriculum that was developed for 3 different grade bands: preK-5, 6-8, and 9-12.  You can use these as starting points to integrate STEAM in your classroom and/or you can choose to enter the #AutodeskMakeItReal contest, also linked in Kellyanne Mahoney’s post.  The themes of these units (Make for Everyone, Make it Green, and Make Justice, respectively) all have the common goal of teaching students to think about how they can impact their communities with design thinking.

New to Tinkercad?  Don’t forget you can go to the “Learn” button at the top of the site to access tutorials to help you get started.

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Image by ZMorph3D from Pixabay

 

Goosechase Edu

While writing yesterday’s “Game of Phones” post, I started searching my archives and I was surprised to see that I hadn’t mentioned Goosechase Edu.  So, let’s rectify that today.

Goosechase is a scavenger hunt app available on the App Store and on Google Play.  Players need to download the free app.  (If you are using district devices, be sure to verify ahead of time that the app has been approved for use.)  Organizers need to create an account online.  There is a special, educational version of Goosechase available that has different pricing tiers, so be sure to visit the Edu site rather than the one designed for corporate use.

The pricing can be a bit confusing when you are new to using Goosechase Edu.  Suffice it to say that, as a classroom teacher, I found the free plan to work well for my class.  This plan allows you to have 5 teams compete against each other during a game.  This is in contrast to the next tier, which allows for 10 teams or 40 individuals to play at a time.  You only need one device per team, although you can use more – allowing team members to separate to complete different missions.

When the organizer sets up a Goosechase game, he/she adds missions to the hunt.  Each mission can be awarded points when completed, and the organizer can determine which missions are weighted more than others.  An example of a mission would be the following, which I used in my Principles of Arts class when we were learning about different camera angles:

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The organizer can make up missions, or use missions that have already been posted in the Goosechase Mission Bank.  In fact, you can even browse the library of public Goosechases, and choose to copy an entire hunt for your own use.  Each mission requires that a photo and/or video be submitted in order to complete it.

Like many online student interactives available these days, Goosechase creates a code, which participants will use to join the hunt.  Teachers can determine the amount of time for the hunt, and even when missions or automatic messages will appear for participants.  (When students first launch Goosechase, remind them to allow for notifications so you can get in touch with them during the hunt.)

I like to mix missions that require some, most,  or all of the group to be in the pictures or videos as well as some images that are of things around campus.  This way, the group has some accountability for staying together and on school property.  I also go over behavior expectations before they leave the room, stressing that teams must: stay together, not disrupt any other classes going on, stay safe when taking pictures, and return on time.  As students are off on the hunt, the organizer can pull up an activity feed to see the missions as they are being completed. I walk around the halls as I monitor the feed to help discourage any temptations for mischief.

With notifications enabled, you can send out a reminder to the teams when time is wrapping up.  Give yourself some time to do a debrief at the end, when the class can look at the team submissions and decide as a group how to assess them before declaring the final winners.  One of my favorite features of the game is that you can actually download all of the submissions to save for the future end-of-the-year slideshows or other reminders of silly learning experiences in class.

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There are plenty of Goosechase games in the library related to core curriculum that you can use.  Another great way to use Goosechase is in a unit on Growth Mindset.  I worked with my 8th graders on this a lot last year.  We talked about taking risks and solving problems, and then I sent them off to complete the following set of missions:

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Here is what I like about Goosechase: students can get out of their seats, students can be creative, students can choose the missions they want to do, we can laugh together as we learn, we are making tangible memories, and even the students who are the least engaged will participate.

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An “Impossibly Strong” submission from my Growth Mindset Goosechase

Game of Phones

If you teach in a secondary classroom where phones are ubiquitous, this might be the resource for you.  Amanda Sandoval (@historysandoval) recently tweeted out “Game of Phones“, an assignment created in Google Slides that she designed to help her students demonstrate their understanding of the causes of The Great Depression.  You can see some of the submissions from her students on her Twitter feed under the tag #gameofphones.  Of course, your class may not be studying The Great Depression, or you may just want to tweak some of the slides.  In that case, you can always make a copy to suit your own classroom needs.

And here’s another amazing (and timely) resource from Amanda – a Hyperdoc on Impeachment.  Be sure to follow Amanda on Twitter and/or visit her website for more digital wizardry to use in your classroom.

Stay tuned tomorrow for my post on Goosechase Edu, another way to capitalize on the power of phones and/or tablets during your lesson.

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Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

ALA Art Drop Day

I got to be a small part of an interesting project on my last day at Advanced Learning Academy.  One of my colleagues, Dan Mallette, teaches a class for the high school students called, “Global Changemakers.”  Inspired by the World Art Drop Day in which the Southwest School of Art participates annually,  Dan tasked his students to each create two works of art based on the Sustainable Development Goals each student had chosen to study.  About a week before Art Drop Day, they started advertising #alaartdropday on our web announcements, and encouraged the school community to follow the Instagram account for our makerspace/studio (@studiozorro).  On the day of the Art Drop, I was able to accompany a couple of the groups of students as they took their pieces of art to different spots around campus to “hide” them.  Once a student found the perfect spot for his/her art, we took a picture of it in its location, trying to include a couple of clues to its surroundings, and posted the picture of the artwork on Instagram with the #alaartdropday tag.  Any student or teacher who was interested in one of the masterpieces could try to find it based on the clues in the Instagram picture, and claim it as their own.

The students had a great time hiding their artwork (one piece ended up on the railing inside the elevator). It was the perfect activity for the last day before Winter Break – allowing the students to get out of the classrooms and to come up with devious ways to camouflage their pieces while leaving them in plain sight.  A couple of staff members I ran into were excited about trying to find particular artworks that spoke to them that they hoped to display in their classrooms.

Finding a way to give students a larger audience than just the teacher and their classmates can be challenging.  This was a unique way to achieve that goal, and I hope that it will become an annual tradition at the school.

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Punny Literary Pet Names

Coming back to posting on a regular basis means that I am restarting my “Phun Phriday” posts, which are silly-and-not-necessarily-educational-but-they-could-be things that I’ve found on the web.  I curate these in a private Flipboard magazine that I turn to whenever I need a laugh.  Today’s entry comes from McSweeney’s.  It’s an article called, “Literary Pet Names Using Puns Unworthy of Their Namesakes.”  Mary Laura Philpott and Kristen Arnett have created a short list of nicknames for animals that includes cute, simple illustrations.  The first one, for example, is a dog named, “Virginia Woof.”  You can find a second list by the duo, with Mary Shelley the snail as its introduction, here. (Just be wary if you show this to kids, as the final one uses a synonym for donkey that some may find inappropriate – though I find it wildly funny.)

Happy Friday!

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Thursday Appointment

Thursday Appointment is an Iranian short film by a 20 year old director that won an award at the Luxor Film Festival.  Though many of us may not understand the language, we can certainly comprehend the messages of kindness and forgiveness.  I am adding this to my Inspirational Videos for Students Pinterest Board.  Once you’ve watched it, you may want to click here to better understand the tradition that makes this film so beautiful.  This could also lead to a classroom discussion regarding customs in different cultures. I am including the original and a dubbed version here.

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