Apr 29, 2015

Ancient China STEAM Projects

The 6th Grade Language Arts and Social Studies teachers at Monroe Middle School have proved that STEAM integrates well into all subjects! Nicole Lavia, Katie Herr, Andreas Zappacosta, and Jason Van Aken, planned a relevant and rigorous way for their students to extend their learning about Ancient China. All of the sixth grade students selected the STEAM discipline that they were most interested in focusing on. They then did additional research on an ancient China topic of their choice through the lens of Science, Engineering, Art, or Technology.

The teachers were each experts in one of those disciplines and the students switched classes to be with that teacher for the three weeks of the STEAM projects. Some of the projects that students researched and completed were: Chinese medicine, hot air balloons, catapults, The Great Wall, calligraphy, shadow puppets, philosophers, and dynasties. On the final week, all of the students got to present their projects and the other students rotated as audience members. Awesome job, sixth grade teachers and students!

Apr 8, 2015

Bee-Bots in Second Grade

The Bee-Bots have landed in Campbell!  I was so excited when my Bee-Bot order arrived last week.  I had first heard about them from the STEM teachers in Los Altos.  They use them with the kindergarten to second graders as a hands-on introduction to coding.  When teaching coding, it's so important for our youngest students to understand that coding doesn't just happen on a computer, but that it affects real life situations.

Shelley Smith, second grade teacher at Castlemont, was the first teacher to pilot the Bee-Bots with us!  We first had her students use the free Bee-Bot iPad app a few days before to solve a series of 12 computational puzzles.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/bee-bot/id500131639?mt=8  The app introduces the students to programming sequences of forwards, backwards, and 90 degree turns.

Leading up the classroom pilot, Heather Haggerty, CUSD Manager of Technology Integration, and I prepared 5 Bee-Bot stations for the students to rotate through that related to second grade content.  We decided on time, geometry, sight word, addition, and maze stations.  We printed out the pictures, words, and numbers and taped them onto the mats, so that they could be switched out as necessary. We had ordered the 6 Bee-Bot hive, 6 mats, and 6 command card packs from http://www.bee-bot.us/

On the big day, we brought the second graders into the Castlemont STEAMSpace (currently an empty, flexible classroom), they were so excited to see the "real life" Bee-Bots that they had previously been programming on the iPad.  We had them rotate through each station in groups of 4 - 5 students.  Heather, Shelley, and I also rotated between the stations.  The students had a great time programing the Bee-Bots to different destinations as a team and gaining a deeper understanding of computational thinking.

P.S. I think Heather was having even more fun than the kids!