MakerSpace Earth Day 2015

This year for Earth Day, I decided to go big, and do something environmentally focused in every class.  By using Edmodo, imovie, Google Drive, You Tube, and several other technology resources my class enjoyed an amazing opportunity.   In my ELA class, I was able to send my students multiple resources to get them started, and then display for our Genius Hour pen pals what we had created, and see some of the things they had created.  What a successful experience!

Big Question:  What could you make to help achieve an ideal world?

The following Common Core State Standards were applied. The common core truly allows for flexibility, collaboration and for teachers to have the most creative lessons.  It is amazing how many standards can be met in one single project.  The ELA CCSS helped me to realize just how creative my students are!

RL.7.2, R.7.1, W.7.3, W.7.4, W.7.7, 

SL.7.1, SL.7.5, L.7.1, L.7.6

Journalism class:  We interviewed a tree.  Personification, perspective writing, and truly stepping in to an object to think at a deep level generated all sorts of conversation and ideas about what we could do in the future.  It was a blast.

Computers classes:  We watched the Ted Talk that fourth grade Teacher, Rachel Card recommended.  Then students digitally created (paint, smart notebook, Sketch up, Google Draw)  something to answer the following big question.

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Students created everything from robotic trashcans to cars that would make use of pollution to grow plants.  One student engineered a car to actually collect trash like a magnet as it drove.

7th Grade ELA:  We started out with the TED talk, then moved into answering the big question about what students could create to help our global community achieve the ideal world.  4th grade teacher Mrs. Card and I had planned ahead of time, that we would be doing a similar Makerspace activity today and then sharing finished products.  Our students have been working together all semester on Genius hour projects, so they already had a relationship established.  I was most excited to have an audience to create for, and then for my see what her class had created.  Upon completion of the Makerspace, we decided to step inside the Earth. and write about what worries her, makes her happy, frustrates her, what she wonders about and so forth.  It was a fun way to make our thinking visible; just like the Makerspace project.

Here is where we started:


IMG_6992Riley, Eliza and Emma created an air cleanser that takes in all the bad pollutants and contains organic materials like grass, fruits, etc.  inside to then send out purified air.  It can be purchased in a small or large size.  

Austin created a portable trashcan.  It has four different sections based on sizes needed. You can see three different views of it.   


This is a mini trashcan created by Allison and Lauren. One side is for recycling and the other is for trash.  IMG_7016

Mark IMG_6985and Evan created the Sailboat Picker-uper.  It goes into the sea picking up trash.  The trash is collected at the shore and then the process begins over again.


Maddie, Lauren and Lainy created a fashion line of clothing and accessories out of bags that people have already used. It is a limited line of clothing because once the bags are gone from the stores, an idea for a new line will be created using other materials that we should stop consuming.

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Matt created a cereal box that would be reusable.  You would keep the same box, but bring it to the store to fill it up during each shopping visit.


IMG_7005Billy put together a water table reader.  It is made out of cardboard, tape and plastic.  It reads the levels of water when it rains.

IMG_6997 (1)Emily created a robot that picks up containers and packaging that works similar to a magnet  or Velcro.

IMG_7006Janine Created a scarf holder from cardboard and plastic.

IMG_7007Stephanie decided to use materials to make decorations that might hold pencils, bags, paper and all sorts of other things.

IMG_6996Anthony and Joey used recycling materials to create art.  This is a shark.  The decided to make animals out of the exact objects that are killing them.  It could be a very strong metaphor for what we are doing to our animals.  This could be displayed in a gallery or on line.

IMG_7014Sierra, Makayla created a robot that picks up trash.

Chase created structures that people can create for camping.  These multi-level structures can help with fires, or other tasks that need to be done.

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26.2 Reasons to say YES to the Common Core

In honor of my 18th Marathon (26.2 miles) tomorrow, and the Boston Marathon Monday, I have generated a list of 26.2 reasons to say, “YES”  to the Common Core State Standards. At times the standards might seem difficult, and we might wonder if the challenge might be too great.  However, they never said teaching with the CCSS would be easy; they said it would be worth it.  One of the coolest things about the marathon, is that everyone is out there doing the same thing at the same time.  You look around and realize that you are surrounded by like-minded people who have the same goals, and have come across the same challenges as you.  Everyone is headed in the same direction and has one common agenda- to cross the finish line in the most efficient way possible.  I would say that the same could be said for teachers teaching with the Common Core today.  There is nothing like the spirit of the marathon!  Likewise, there is nothing like the spirit in a quality educator, student or parent!


The 26.2 Reasons to say YES to the CCSS

1.   The CCSS teach students how to make their thinking visible.

2.  The CCSS teach students how to learn.  It is not just about how many facts you know anymore.  True knowledge comes from understanding how to learn new concepts.

3.  The CCSS help prepare students for a demanding workplace.

4.  The CCSS are solid standards that give teachers flexibility in how they approach a unit.

5.  The CCSS do not water down education.  They ensure that our kids are challenged.

6.  The CCSS give our students the opportunity to be ready for college.

7.  The CCSS can be combined, and allow for depth of teaching.

8.  The CCSS allow for teachers to foster an environment of creativity.

9.  The CCSS require that students read;  one of the most important things they can do.

10.  The CCSS are coherent and evidence based.

11.  The CCSS come with multiple resources for teachers and parents.

12.  The CCSS will help our sons and daughters compete in an every changing global society.

13.  The CCSS is not a curriculum, but a shared set of goals and expectations for what students need to succeed.

14.  The CCSS is like the most comprehensive running plan.  It is packed with all of the strategies that a teacher could imagine using in his or classroom.

15.  The CCSS might seem tough.  But, just because something is tough doesn’t mean you give up.

16.  The CCSS create the opportunity for students to learn more non fiction in English classes.

17.  The CCSS create an environment where traditional literature is valued.

18.  The CCSS make it so that a 7th grade student in Michigan has the same opportunities for learning as a 7th grader in California.

19.  The CCSS encourage a growth mindset. We learn that anything is possible.

20.  The CCSS provide a way for teachers and parents to measure student progress throughout the school year.

21.  The CCSS are visible, and easily accessible to parents who want to be involved in their children’s education.

22.  The CCSS allow for high achieving students to be challenged.

23.  The CCSS can work for students of lower ability.   We have paired up high level nurturing students with students who struggle and seen great progress.

24.  The CCSS for math allow our children think in a whole new way which will allow for more challenging math classes to be taken.

25.  The  CCSS show that learning is ongoing, and never fully complete.

26.  The CCSS are comforting to parents.  There is great trust built when we know that our kids are being exposed to what they need to know to survive in the world after high school.

.2  The CCSS with make state tests easier.  If students are prepared with the CCSS standards, tests will not seem as daunting.

So, take a deep breath and enjoy the experience.  It is exciting to be part of education today!


Using Makerspace to introduce a unit.

The idea of embedding the #Maker space concept into education is something that I am quite passionate about!  Since I teach in a computer lab, many students wish to simply consume material on line rather than create something unique.  The Maker Space movement allows for creativity, collaboration, communication and critical thinking according to Worlds of Making by Laura Flemming.  I have great experiences with the box challenges, and giving students an objective to create.  Today however, I decided to see how it would work as an introduction to a new unit on poetry.

So, here were my directions. (First image).  Create a structure.  We later talked about how it related to creating poetry.  Artists look at pieces and don’t just see pieces- they focus on what the piece of art will become.  The lego pieces are like words and literary devices.  One student mentioned that you need to start with the structure, and a base.  Someone else said, that you just get started and see what happens.  I think both are correct when it comes to writing poetry.

I thought the overall idea worked great!  The students literally lit up at the idea of playing with legos.  Everyone was engaged, creating, collaborating, communicating and fully excited about learning the day before Spring Break.

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Maker Space box Challenge

Day 1 Box 1

In an effort to find time to allow students to create and be inventors, I have created the Maker space box challenge!  A student or pair of students are given a box that includes 6 items.  They have to use each of the items when creating their new product.  They can choose to add any additional items.  There is a time limit of 15 minutes to keep everyone focused and on task.  They are given a choice of three things to make.  For example, today I had the list of three objectives read:  Game controller, camera, and microphone.

Watching the process and intensity is amazing.  I discovered that I have some creative students!  Watch the video bellow to enjoy the process of how the first challenge unfolded!  The cool thing is that in Laura Flemming’s book, “World’s of Making”, I was made aware that the maker space can work hand in hand with the Common Core!  I can see so many options for this!

Edmodo! The answer to many of my problems!

Life as a teacher can be stressful.  It is tough to have a short class period, 30 students at all different abilities, random interruptions and simply no way of guaranteeing everyone’s attention and participation at the same time.  Sadly, because of many of these things, students miss out on valuable instruction.

Edmodo reminds me of marathon running!  Some of the things about running that I love, are that you can run anytime, any where and go for as long as you would like.  Edmodo provides today’s 21st Century learner with those options.  He or she can literally learn anywhere!  The other thing about using Edmodo to provide resources like videos, podcasts and other supplemental materials is that it allows students to work at the pace the teacher sets, or their own.  By having access to materials that do not disappear like a teacher’s voice, or time (when the class is over), studnets can rewind, and fast forward through material.

There are all kinds of platforms to use for flipping your classroom or providing a blended environment for your students.   Edmodo is the one that I have used the most simply because it is simple, and it works. Over the years, I am learning how to better navigate it and provide more organization for my students by posting agendas and numbering assignments.   I love the opportunity to send the students book trailers, on virtual tours at colleges, and assess their common core knowledge through some of the snap shots that test for understanding of a standard.   The data that edmodo provides is amazing!

These are a few of the things that I included in my Edmodo Con 2015 application to be a speaker.  I am so excited for the possibility!!!

What do you wonder about?

Today, we want to teach students to think!  We want to teach them to ask great questions.  We want our students to be inspired to be different and know how the world works!  This is why, I have my students take a look at this amazing site!  Students are able to discover, learn, take quizzes, watch videos and do all sorts of amazing things with knowledge!