Creative Thinking, K-5

Mom’s Dream Home

Since my 2nd graders are studying structures right now, it seems only right that they should design one of their own.  With Mother’s Day coming up, I thought I could make their designs seem more relevant if they had a “client” in mind.  I keep talking about the importance of empathy in Design Thinking, and they seem to have a difficult time empathizing with fictional characters, so I chose someone they might know a bit more.

We started by brainstorming things that their moms like.  One hand immediately went up.  “Facebook,” the student declared.  LOL, I thought, hoping this wasn’t about to become one of those situations where the students volunteered more information than needed to be shared in a public school setting…  My own daughter would probably respond, “Playing Sudoku on her iPad while she watches ‘Call the Midwife.'”

Fortunately, the rest of the responses were pretty standard.  “Peace and quiet” seemed pretty popular, as did “sleep” and “me.”  Some of the students suggested they also put things that their moms don’t like, such as shoes on the floor, to help them with their later designs.

After the students brainstormed decent lists, I showed them an example of a house floorplan.  We talked about what unique rooms we could add to customize a house for their mom.  “For example, you might like basketball so an indoor basketball court would be in your dream home.  But what would be in your mom’s?”

The floorplans are just rough drafts at the moment, but you can see a couple of examples below.  I’m still debating what the final product will look like.  Draw the outside of the house and do a green screen video?  Make a card with the house facade on the outside and the floorplan on the inside?  I think the moms will get a kick out of what their children think they value no matter what the medium of delivery, but I’d be happy to take any of your suggestions in the comments below!

By the way, if you would like some other ideas for Mother’s Day activities, here is my post from last year.

Photo Apr 23, 12 55 10 PM
This student decided to provide a literal “emergency escape hole”
Photo Apr 23, 12 55 54 PM
Note the Antique (anttek) Room, the giant facebook screen, Hawaii (Hawwi) waters, and the Stress (sress) Room.
Depth and Complexity, Education, K-5, Language Arts, Student Products

Fairytale Ads

A few weeks ago, I received an e-mail from a GT teacher named Pedro Delgado.  Mr. Delgado was a finalist for TCEA’s Classroom Teacher of the Year.  He shared a link to his class blog, and I stumbled upon a cute photo gallery of a project that his 4th graders did using real company logos in ads with fairytale characters.  The posters made by the students cracked me up!  I asked if he would mind if I shared his idea, and he gave me permission.  This is a fun idea for using the “Multiple Perspectives” icon from Kaplan’s Depth and Complexity.  You could really use the activity with any characters from history or fiction – not just fairytales.  A couple of the pictures by Mr. Delgado’s 4th graders are below, but please check out the rest by visiting his class blog here.

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Apps, Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Education, K-12, Language Arts, Student Products, Teaching Tools, Videos

Using ChatterPix Kids to Teach Perspective

ChatterPix Okapi

I should probably confess right now that this lesson was pretty much a bust.

“Then, why are you sharing it?” you say.

Well, like most of my lessons, it was not a complete bust.  There were some “boom” aspects to it.  Plus, I think I now know most of the factors that contributed to the bust, and I want to record them for posterity for the next time I try this idea.

“Oh, I thought you were going to say that you wanted to help your readers avoid all of your mistakes!” you say.

Okay.  That, too.

I have been discussing “Multiple Perspectives” with my 11 GT first graders.  A couple of months ago, word of the ChatterPix Kids app arrived in the Twittersphere, and I thought that this might be the time to have the students try using it.  (I used it, myself, in December to make some Augmented Reality cards.)

So, here is the saga.  The starred portions are where, in retrospect, I’m pretty sure I contributed to the ultimate doom of the project.

To set the scene, I read Who is Melvin Bubble? by Nick Bruel to the class.  This was probably one of the “boomier” parts of my lesson.  In the book, different characters talk about a boy named Melvin Bubble, giving their opinion of him.  The perspectives range from Santa’s point of view that he’s “always on my nice list” to the Tooth Fairy’s opinion that “he has a big head!” I used different voices, and the kids were practically rolling on the floor.

After discussing the book, I asked the kids to divide sheets of paper into fourths.  On each fourth they drew: a self-portrait, a holiday character, a book character, and their favorite animal. I told them to make the pictures big – especially the faces.

Why is it that students never want to use up space with drawings?  They have a whole 1/4 of a paper, and they still draw faces the size of a flea.*

Why did I have them do four pictures? I should have had them do two.  Or one.*

I showed them how to use the ChatterPix app.  So many things went wrong right here.  My Reflector wasn’t working, so I had to show the iPad under the document camera.*  I did not emphasize the importance of zooming in on each pic individually.**  I did not show them how to focus the camera by tapping on the screen.***  I apparently did not emphasize the importance of drawing the mouth on the actual mouth of the picture (resulting in talking chins and cheeks).  ****

Of course, I didn’t realize any of this at the time, so I be-bopped happily around taking pictures as the kids chattered away.*

Later, when I watched and listened to the videos, I realized that I also did not make my point clear about the purpose of the activity.  They were supposed to have each character talk in the first person about them (as in the video embedded below).  Instead, the students talked in the first person about their characters.*  Argghhhh!!

Next class, I gamely tried to rectify all of the above issues.  Thankfully, the new perspective on perspective made a difference.  Horrifyingly, however, one of my examples became an oft-repeated favorite. “And, remember the Tooth Fairy in Melvin Bubble?  Not all of your characters have to say how much they like you.”*

Ergo, 50% of the videos commenced to speak about how much they disliked the student who drew them.*

Oh, and did I mention that my plan was to add every video to Aurasma Studio so the students could take their papers home and the parents could scan them to see the cute videos?*

Oh, and did I mention that I told the kids this was the plan, and told the parents (on our class blog)?******************

Lessons Learned:  do only one or two videos, don’t suggest that your students make disparaging videos about themselves, teach kids that talking mouths look kind of creepy on top of noses and even creepier on pin-sized heads, and never, NEVER reveal your future plans.

On the plus side, the ChatterPix app had them completely engaged for 2 class periods 🙂