Dec 11, 2014

November Highlights

I wanted to be more diligent about updating my blog, but I have clearly fallen behind.  So here are a few highlights of the many great STEAM ideas I've gotten to see in our schools:

Mouse Trap Cars - The MESA Program at Campbell Middle School with Pedro Garcia and Richard Timpson

Weekly Centers at Village Elementary School - Organized and run by Teachers and Parent Volunteers

Junior Achievement Social Innovation Camp at Microsoft - Sherman Oaks Elementary 6th Grade with Rocio Valdovinos and Kathryn Harrington

Design Thinking Building a Backpack For a Partner - Rosemary Elementary School 4th Grade - Amelia Von Gerer

Egyptian STEAM Museum - Monroe Middle School 6th Grade - Nicole Lavia

Nov 5, 2014

3rd Grade Rainschool Engineering

A few days ago, I had the opportunity to work with Ashley Watson and Amanda Ballinger's third grade classes at Capri and Castlemont.  After reading the book Rainschool, as part of their Engage NY ELA curriculum, we brainstormed an engineering project that would extend student learning.  In the story, the rain washes away a school in Chad every summer.  The students and teachers there must work together every summer to rebuild their school.  So using the engineering design process, we had students build a waterproof school using a plastic cup and materials we found outside.  Students first asked questions about the project and imagined the different building possibilities.

After that, we gave each team a plastic cup, that would be the base of their "school".  We then went outside to gather the materials that students and teachers might have been able to collect in Chad.  One big question was whether or not trash was allowed.  We discussed that they probably did have trash available when they were building.  The students who found plastic bags were very lucky!

After creating their schools, we lined all of the schools up for the big "rainstorm, " which was really the pouring of a big watering can.  We also talked about the importance of making your roof windproof, since a few gusts of wind blew as well.  Most of the roofs were very successful at keeping all of the water out.  We further discussed which materials were always water resistant and which ones eventually started to absorb water.  Student had a fantastic time engineering schools like the characters in one of their favorite books!

Oct 27, 2014

Depth and Complexity Icons

I had the privilege of visiting Christa Norum's 5th grade classroom at Castlemont last week.  She was introducing her class to the Language of the Discipline (Depth and Complexity) Icons.  While reading the book Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh, Christa challenged her class to look for specific words and tools for biologists and neurologists.

Once students found a specific academic vocabulary word, they posted the word on Padlet with a quotation and picture.  What a great way to have the students actively search for vocabulary words in an authentic way!  You can view their Padlet here:

Oct 21, 2014

Campbell's Cardboard Challenge

The Global Cardboard Challenge is making its way through CUSD!  After learning about Caine's Arcade, kids all over the world are designing and building games and other creations from cardboard, recycled materials, and their imaginations.  Students are planning and building their cardboard creations using the engineering design process.  Through this challenge, they will also be using their creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication skills. 

Follow our adventures on the Campbell Cardboard Challenge Blog:

Oct 15, 2014

STEAM Symbaloo

This past weekend, I created a Symbaloo of different STEAM resources for teachers to use.  Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking tool that allows you to save your favorite websites.  If you click on an icon, it will take you directly to that website.  I really liked that it is fairly easy to use and that I can now see all of my websites in a more visual way.  You can also view the Symbaloos that other people have made on different topics on anything from weather to gardening!

You can view the STEAM Symbaloo here:

Engage NY ELA and Levee Engineering

I love helping the 5th graders at Forest Hill with their STEAM projects!  Amanda Haughs' class has been learning about extreme weather in their Engage NY ELA unit.  They were particularly in the process of learning about Hurricanes last week, so Amanda wanted to tie in Hurricane Katrina and levees.  Students were asked to read an article on levees for homework and to come to class prepared to discuss how levees work and their connection to hurricanes.

Students were then given the task of designing a levee with their group.  Each group of "levee engineers" were given $10 of play money to purchase supplies.  They were also able to select 2 materials to test with water ahead of time.  Once students decided on their materials, they were able to purchase them at the store.

Students then prototyped their ideas, using a plastic tub to represent the town.  It was great seeing how resourceful the students were with their materials, even using the tape on the boxes!  Students also discovered which materials repelled water well and which did not.

When it came time for testing, we put a stuffed animal on one side of the levee to represent the town.  On the other side, we poured two cups of water.  It was interesting to notice that some of the levees protected the city for a little while, but eventually some water leaked through.  This was particularly true with the sand and the sponges.  The students came to the conclusion that those designs were strong enough to hold the water so that the town could evacuate!

Oct 9, 2014

Explain Everything Word Problems

As part of their Engage NY Math, first graders at Forest Hill were busy learning about addition word problems.  To extend their new learning, we had the students write their own word problem and explain how to solve it.  In Siobhan Schubert's class, we had students write their word problem on paper and then use the iPad to take a picture of it.  Students then used the app Explain Everything to solve the problem and record their explanation.

In Tina Lee's class, we tried having the students type their word problem.  Most of them did very well, but it was a little more challenging.  It was a great day to practice trying something new and perseverance!

Oct 5, 2014

Piktochart Infographic

Below is an Infographic that I created on Piktochart on why STEAM education is important:

Kindergarten Number Comics

This past week, I've been focusing on technology integration at Forest Hill Elementary School.  One of my most memorable lessons was working on Number Comics with Honora Hannan's kindergarten class.  To extend their Engage New York math lesson on different ways to represent a number.  We had her class work in teams of two to three students to create a number comic.  The first part of the lesson was helping them find the app "Strip Design" which we affectionately nicknamed the "yellow pow!"
Students then chose a "titled" comic layout and typed their number and names.  They were then challenged to look around the classroom and find different ways to represent their number.  We also noticed that several groups needed extra support with taking a clear, close-up picture.  Honora then had all of the groups share their work with the class and they were all so proud to present!  Finally, we stapled the comics into a book for the class to enjoy.  I'm sure the kindergarteners will all remember the real-word connections they made to numbers that day!

Oct 2, 2014

MESA at Campbell Middle School

Last week ended with one of the most exciting science lessons I've ever experienced!  7th and 8th grade MESA teacher, Richard Timpson, had his students literally "running on water"!  After learning about the different states of matter and their properties, Richard had his students create a mixture of cornstarch and water.  But Richard didn't just have his class mix a few boxes of cornstarch, they were filling giant tubs!

Once the substance was the right consistency, the students were challenged to figure out what type of matter it was.  Richard's students were joined by Pedro Garcia's 6th grade MESA class, all of whom were happy to join in on this scientific inquiry.  The group narrowed it down to either a solid or a liquid, but seemed in to be in slight disagreement as to which was more accurate.  Students then tried both running and standing on the substance.  They found that when they ran quickly, the substance behaved like a solid, and provided a flat surface.  But when they stood still, their feet started to sink, somewhat like quicksand.

At the end, Richard asked the students again what state of matter the substance was.  This time, some of the students were wondering if it could be both.  Richard explained that it was actually neither a liquid or a solid; it was instead a non-newtonian substance.  I commend Richard for planning such an ambitious project!  I'm sure his students will always remember the different states of matter!

Sep 28, 2014

Digital Safety Powtoon

For my Leading Edge Certification assignment this week, I created a Powtoon to promote digital safety.  While I was deciding what area of digital safety to focus on, I thought it would be helpful to provide teachers with information on safe search engines for grades TK - 8.  Powtoon can be a little tricky to use at first, but their website has a lot of great tutorials:

Enjoy my first Powtoon: "5 Safe Search Engines For Students"!

Sep 26, 2014

Marshmallow Catapult Challenge

Yesterday, I had the privilege of visiting Carrie Tibbs' STEAM class at Campbell Middle School.  Students very engaged building their catapults in groups of 3 to 4 students.  Each group was given a paint stick, a film canister, 3 rubber bands, and a marshmallow.  Students were actively problem solving as they prototyped their designs and had to figure out how to measure distances longer than their tape measure.  Carrie did an exemplary job of explaining to her students that, "the definition of success is that someone can take your design and replicate it."  Students also took notes in their engineering log/journal.  Students also had a meaningful discussion at the end of the class and realized that the most successful groups varied their designs with each test.