Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 04/11/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 04/11/14

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We spent another session in the PC lab (also known as Elementary School Lab #1 or ESLAB1) working on our PowerPoint Alphabet Books. We will need one more session after this to complete the project.
  • Kids logged in with the “Kindergarten” username and password, traversed the network to locate and open their files, and continued adding text (alphabet words) and graphics (matching clip art) to their books.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • The kids genuinely seem to be enjoying this, far more so than I expected. Several students are going ‘above and beyond’ by coming up with their own ABC words, rather than using the ones I provided. All are engaged, working diligently, and without complaint.

What students can do at home:

  • Even without PowerPoint at home, kids can still benefit from keyboarding simple words using any word processing program. If the program includes clip art, that can be searched too. I do not recommend image searches on the Internet unless you have web content filtering software at home or are familiar with Google SafeSearch, one of Google’s free and very effective safety tools.
  • There’s always the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun learning games and keyboarding activities!

Untitled

Untitled

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We have been working for the past several weeks on use of the Internet, exploring ways it can be used safely to learn new things, entertain us, and connect us with people we know.  For this week’s lesson, we introduced the students to the concept of Internet research via the site http://www.borrico.com/, a sister site to the fabulous (but a little more confusing) http://www.kbears.com/. First, kids offered observations why and how Borrico.com was “just right” for kids and how they could tell; we explored site navigation, including identifying and following hyperlinks; using site navigation controls to access the information we want; reading animal facts and putting them into our own words; and finally, creating a colorful “research page” with some of those facts.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This was very successful – even more than I’d hoped – as kids enjoyed both the digital (using the website, locating information) and analog (coloring by hand) aspects of the work. They enjoyed reaching into the “mystery bag” I’d prepared to get a small card with a photo of the animal they were to research; they enjoyed paraphrasing the animal facts and writing their sentences.

What students can do at home:

  • Borrico.com is a great site suitable for use at home. Let your child show you around, including how to find information on the site and print the coloring pages. Then, explore http://www.kbears.com/ together – there’s even more to see and do.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities.

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students completed the second of two planned weeks’ work on bridges for our STEM project, this time, finishing bridge designs and performing strength tests. The final bridges needed to a) allow for a ‘crayon barge’ to pass underneath and b) allow a toy car to drive across. Then, students had to place a plastic cup over the spot where the barge passed through and add successive amounts of weight (3/8″ steel nuts) until the bridge failed (defined as flexing more than 1″ from its starting point.) Each time the bridge failed, students were challenged to notice why and how it failed, then to redesign their bridge to strengthen it, recording data along the way. Next week, we’ll be reflecting on the design and testing process.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Everyone enjoyed the testing phase and there was plenty of evidence throughout the week that kids were applying their knowledge (and leveraging others’ ideas) to make the strongest bridges they possibly could. Creativity and enthusiasm were on full display as bridge designs (some very unconventional/unusual) either held up to the weight tests or didn’t. At the end of the lesson, kids could take the bridges home (playing Rock/Paper/Scissors to decide who got it).
  • All the bridges were a combination of styles – beam, arch and suspension – and some needed reminders of the various elements in order to be successful. (Which isn’t surprising considering the terminology was introduced to them in this unit.)
  • It’s a shame we didn’t have more time (i.e., a longer class period) to do this project as I think we could have completed the design and testing in one go, but it was just too much for a single 42-minute lesson.

What students can do at home:

  • Talk to your students about bridges – there are many around us – ask them what they know about the design, what type (suspension, beam, arch) it is, why it was created, what other design elements they can identify (perhaps a bridge that combines different design elements.) Ask them how they might have designed it differently, and why.
  • For online practice and skill development, the Second Grade Symbaloo awaits!

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • This week was the same as last week, except that we rotated activities – kids who built and programmed LEGO WeDo Robots last week worked instead on BotLogic to learn the basics of coding, and vice-versa.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • It was another exciting day of creation, experimentation and learning by doing marked by hard work, furrowed brows and spontaneous cheers!

What students can do at home:

  • Those with LEGOs might want to download the free and fabulous LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) software, here, for hours of virtual LEGO building fun.
  • Check out the BotLogic lessons and see how far they can go! If they need more, I highly recommend a free account on Tynker.com.
  • Check out the Third Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • Students finalized their 3D “dream school” renderings using Trimble (Google) Sketchup. We started printing their designs using the 3D printer (above.) My goal is for every student to have a work product to take home. We also grabbed ‘screenshots’ of their designs for use in presentations about the project.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Sketchup is tough, but, once the kids have the basics, look out – their creativity and imagination will run wild!

What students can do at home:

  • Sketchup is free to download – click here – and I know several students have already done so (because they told me!) I recommend the Sketchup MAKE version only because it’s the most current and will get regular updates. I actually dislike what they’ve done with the interface and prefer the version we use at school, which is Sketchup 8 (available here.) Don’t take my word for it, have your kids try ‘em both and decide! The good news is that anything they design in Sketchup can be rendered in 3D, all I need is the .SKP file!
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities, in particular, keyboarding.

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 04/04/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 04/04/14

PowerPoint ABC book, Kindergarten

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Kinders this week got their PowerPoint on with a template created to get them comfortable with the basics of the program – icons, menus, input boxes, slide layouts, images and text entry. They logged into the PCs on their own using the Kindergarten credentials and then navigated our network folders (!) to locate the template to begin working. They learned how to enter words onto a slide and type into a text box to search for images. For those who might need help spelling (or thinking of words for each letter), I provided a one-page sheet with some common words and images. When we were done, students saved the files with their first names.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This went well, thanks primarily to our amazing kinders, and to the slow, methodical, step-by-step approach we took with explaining the template. Kids who grasped the concepts quickly were able to move on to more letters while those who needed extra help were able to get it (from a teacher or sometimes a classmate.) These kids are extremely hard workers and are very eager to please. PowerPoint’s novelty is significant and they enjoyed “making the show go” to see their progress.

What students can do at home:

  • Even without PowerPoint at home, kids can still benefit from keyboarding simple words using any word processing program. If the program includes clip art, that can be searched too. I do not recommend image searches on the Internet unless you have web content filtering software at home or are familiar with Google SafeSearch, one of Google’s free and very effective safety tools.
  • There’s always the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun learning games and keyboarding activities!

PowerPoint Adjectives Project, First Grade

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • A conversation with First Grade teacher Amanda Jakimowicz led to this lesson, which builds upon work the students are doing in ELA while strengthening their technology skills, specifically in this case, PowerPoint. Before we began, we brainstormed visible signs of spring (using our imaginations since there are few around us these days) and then thought up rich adjectives that described them in terms of our senses of sight, touch and smell. After we had a few examples, students accessed a PowerPoint template with a prompt to complete, i.e., “I see…” They entered text and searched for clip art which they inserted and resized. We planned to have them also change fonts and colors but were unable to given the short time we had in class.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • The brainstorming “signs of spring” part of this lesson was the hardest as kids provided examples that, while correct, weren’t the most suitable for our task at hand. One sign of spring: “warm air.” You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, but you can smell it … sort of. We were able to steer the conversation in directions that worked, and, once everyone had a few nouns and adjectives that were usable, off they went.
  • Technically speaking (with regards to PowerPoint), kids did very well, easily navigating the program, entering text, locating, inserting and resizing images, etc. We had covered it earlier in the year and it was gratifying to see so many retained the knowledge.

What students can do at home:

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Kids could hardly contain their excitement as they entered the STEMLAB this week … they knew this was the week we started building! Preparing the materials for a class of 20 (times five, remember) is a challenge for these STEM activities but it’s worth the effort. Kids began by diving into the “Imagine” phase of the Engineering Design Process by working with their partner to sketch out four preliminary designs incorporating the available materials. They spent some time deciding which was best and then sketched out a “Plan” before they began construction, also known as the “Create” phase. They  were provided with a bridge deck, several sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ paper, four paper cups, some string, scissors, tape and straws. They also were given some steel nuts and a plastic cup to test their structures. The goal is to design a bridge a toy car can cross that is also capable of allowing the “Crayon Barge” to pass underneath. Once successful, students use the nuts, placed one by one into a cup at the center of the bridge, to determine its strength. In addition, the bridge could not be attached to the table or support cubes in any way.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This was the first of a planned two-week effort and it went well. Students were able to build bridges that worked but quickly discovered they were not as strong as they could be (the toy car used to test is very small and light.) The failing bridges provided excellent feedback, demonstrating where the designs were weakest, prompting rethought and redesign. Teamwork was evident (though we still have some work to do in this area…) as we worked to ensure everyone contributed to these initial designs. The class went by very quickly! Everyone was proud of their accomplishments and excited about finishing next (this coming) week, embracing the final “Improve” phase of the Engineering Design Process.

What students can do at home:

  • Talk to your students about bridges – there are many around us – ask them what they know about the design, what type (suspension, beam, arch) it is, why it was created, what other design elements they can identify (perhaps a bridge that combines different design elements.) Ask them how they might have designed it differently, and why.
  • For online practice and skill development, the Second Grade Symbaloo awaits!

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Robotics and coding were the theme last week (and will be this week as well) as students either constructed and successfully programmed an animated LEGO model (using our LEGO WeDo kits, provided by the Northfield PTO) or explored programming concepts via the lessons at BotLogic.us. (We can only accomodate five teams using the WeDo kits at a time, and to keep the team sizes down (pairs), I could only have half the class using them at one time. So, I needed a second activity for the rest of the class and chose BotLogic (Mrs. Heenan’s class will be using it this week; they used the excellent online LEGO simulator BuildWithChrome (Google Chrome browser required) instead.) The BotLogic activities start easy but get progressively more complex; students found them challenging but no one got frustrated.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This lesson was inspired by our work with the LEGO WeDo kits in Second Grade earlier this year, but with a twist: the programming activity was more involved as students needed to customize and alter the code after it was completed, adding visual and sound effects, changing operating parameters, and more.
  • The BotLogic.us lessons were among the most popular activities during the “Hour of Code” initiative back in March. The lessons have great online help and do a fine job explaining what’s required to progress successfully through the activities.

What students can do at home:

  • Those with LEGOs might want to download the free and fabulous LEGO Digital Designer (LDD) software, here, for hours of virtual LEGO building fun.
  • Check out the BotLogic.us lessons and see how far they can go! If they need more, I highly recommend a free account on Tynker.com.
  • Check out the Third Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!
School Design, Trimble Sketchup, 4th Grade

School Design, Trimble Sketchup, 4th Grade

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • Students continued working on their 3D renderings using Trimble (Google) Sketchup, adding details to their designs and additional “features” from the 3D Warehouse, a collection of user-created models of amazing detail and complexity that can be easily added to a project. The pool furniture and beach ball in the model above came from the 3D Warehouse.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kids loved this, almost without exception. The software can be challenging – I am still learning it myself and wish I had a better command of it – but we worked to ensure everyone was proficient and successful by the end of the class.
  • I will start rendering these models using our 3D printer this week for delivery to the students, as promised.

What students can do at home:

  • Sketchup is free to download – click here – and I know several students have already done so (because they told me!) I recommend the Sketchup MAKE version only because it’s the most current and will get regular updates. I actually dislike what they’ve done with the interface and prefer the version we use at school, which is Sketchup 8 (available here.) Don’t take my word for it, have your kids try ‘em both and decide! The good news is that anything they design in Sketchup can be rendered in 3D, all I need is the .SKP file!
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities, in particular, keyboarding!

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 03/28/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 03/28/14

Sample e-mail exchange (circa 2013)

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Last week, Kindergarteners learned how the Internet is both a source of information and means to connect with others. This week, we showed them what it meant in real time as we demonstrated e-mail with a live example. The classroom teacher went back to their room and I entered a message from the students. They received it and replied (unintentional hilarity often ensued.) We contrasted that with how “classroom messengers” get information to the office – on foot. Kids then used ABCYa’s PaintGo app to create images of what happened.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This lesson is always fun and effective. New this year: the number of students who claim experience with e-mail – about two thirds of the class, which seems extremely high. (Hey, they tell me it’s so, and I take their word for it, okay?) Again, the kids were nonplussed by the immediacy of e-mail as a form of communication, as “instant” is all they have ever known in life. They were more impressed by their teacher’s witty responses to our questions!

What students can do at home:

  • If you don’t already, involve your child in the process of e-mailing relatives. Let them ask questions, maybe even keyboard a bit. Watch in awe as they react when replies arrive. It may not be as cool as FaceTime but it’s important for them to understand the medium as a communication tool.

Worksheet

NCS Aerial View

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • This week we introduced students to the use of Internet-based maps. We began by asking how many students knew their house number and street. Consistently, only about half did. I mentioned that it would be a good thing to know and moved on, showing them an aerial view of our school using Bing Maps, whose imagery blows Google’s out of the water. (In one version of the images you can actually see Kindergarten students on the “Greentop.”) We talked about addresses, ZIP codes, compass roses, and satellites. After I demonstrated the process, students entered the school’s address, entered ‘Bird’s Eye’ view, and saw the details themselves. We then passed out strips of paper with everyone’s home address, which they used to locate their houses. The completed the worksheet above (the artwork was the best part – kids chose to illustrate the most amazing things.)

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • We do this lesson for a couple of reasons. First, the Cumulative Progress Indicator for NJCCCS Standard 8.1.2.F.1 says that by the end of Grade 2, students should be able to “Use mapping tools to plan and choose alternate routes to and from various locations.” This is an introductory lesson that lays the foundation for work we do in Second Grade. To be honest, many of the kids already know how to look up places on a mapping site, even if they don’t know their home number and street (which is another reason we do it.) We also do it because it’s ridiculous amounts of fun.
  • The lesson did not go off without a hitch; in every class, someone can’t find their house. Usually it’s due to a misspelled street, or an out-of-date map (new houses don’t always show up), but most often, it’s just WRONG, identifying the wrong house a few doors down. I use this as a great teachable moment, because kids are more likely to believe that “if it’s on the computer, it has to be true.” Might as well start helping them develop their sense of “healthy skepticism” now.
  • It’s also fun for kids to find each other’s houses, and realize some friends are just a block away (or less), when they didn’t know. (Exciting times for your typical First Grader.)

What students can do at home:

  • First, be sure your child knows their house number and street name. It’s just a good idea. Second, head over to Bing Maps and have them enter their address to bring up the location. Remember to click “Bird’s Eye” on the top toolbar and then to zoom all the way in. Prepare to be amazed…the resolution is truly incredible. Now ask your child to see if they can recognize local landmarks – the school, Birch Grove Park, Rita’s Water Ice, etc. Challenge them, you’ll be amazed at what they find.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities.
Image credit: Museum of Science, Boston / Engineering is Elementary

Image credit: Museum of Science, Boston / Engineering is Elementary

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Image credit: Museum of Science, Boston / Engineering is Elementary

Image credit: Museum of Science, Boston / Engineering is Elementary

Image credit: Museum of Science, Boston / Engineering is Elementary

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

Image credit: http://commons.wikimedia.org/

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We finished the storybook, “Javier Builds a Bridge” and found out how Javier responds to the challenge of designing a new bridge to cross the creek and get to his fort. We learned about different types of bridges (suspension, beam and arch) and discussed some real-life examples (local and otherwise). We took a quick “Exit Ticket” (quiz) as a class to see how well they remembered what we just talked about. We finished with some keyboarding – I wanted to make sure we had time to complete the lesson, which we did.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This story was okay, not one of the best I’ve seen from EiE, but not one of the worst, either. The premise is good and the dialog is too. The ending could have been more dramatic and powerful but it got the job done. Overall the story is believable and is very solid realistic fiction.
  • That said, the kids were happy to see the story end because they know that means we start BUILDING bridges in our next class. They’re very excited. I hope they enjoy what we have planned.

What students can do at home:

  • We introduced some new vocabulary – bridge types (beam, suspension, arch) and components (piers, span and abutment). See if your child recalls those details. I didn’t think I’d get through the week having to say “abutment” without snickers and comments from the kids, but, we managed to do so.
  • We are going to start building bridges so it would be great if kids could notice and try to identify bridges in the area, as it will help them with their designs.
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

slides

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • As a quick follow-up to last week’s lesson in which students created catchy graphics with Internet Safety tidbits, they added them to a Google Presentation, which we will be using later this year in another lesson involving collaboration with another Third Grade class designed to emphasize online teamwork.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This was a fairly simple lesson, especially in comparison with one we did recently utilizing PowerPoint, which has more features and is therefore more complex. I actually prefer the slimmed-down interface in Google Docs; it allows the user to focus on content, not nifty effects.
  • Students like and appreciate the auto-saving nature of Google Docs; it’s great to know their work will never  be lost.

What students can do at home:

  • Internet safety is always a worthy conversation at home. You may be surprised how much your kids know. Ask them!
  • Check out the Third Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Google Sketchup Deisgn

Ideal School?

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • After taking a couple of weeks for a brief tangent to study databases, we returned to our “ideal school” design project with a visit to the PC-equipped computer lab (equipped with Google Sketchup, which does not run on the Chromebooks.) Students are using what they know about existing school buildings and those they can only imagine and are creating mockups which will be printed on our Makerbot Replicator 2 3D printer for them to take home.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • After a quick orientation, students learned the basics far more quickly than I expected, and they are all successfully designing structures – some of which are very traditional, others, not so much. We will be continuing this design exercise next week.

What students can do at home:

  • Talk to your child about what an “ideal school” would look like to help them flesh out details.
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities, in particular, keyboarding!

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 03/21/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 03/21/14

Spring has sprung!

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We warmed up with a keyboarding activity for a few minutes then had a conversation about the most important event this past week – the first day of spring. We talked about the changes in the weather, the things we are all looking forward to, and things we notice when the season changes. It was a lively discussion!
  • We headed over to Kerpoof.com to whip up a quick illustration for the occasion. Kerpoof is great because it’s simple but powerful. The interface is easy to explain. I demonstrated how to add images and change their size & orientation; how to remove them; how to add text and change its appearance; and how to print/save their files. With that, the kids were set free, and had to select an appropriate setting, add appropriate images, add the provided text for a title and their name, changing its color and font, and finally, printing in color.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This went about as well as I expected; we are making progress with our keyboarding skills and text entry was quick. Students took what I asked of them to heart and created images like the one above with well-sized and well-placed graphics and text. Printing in color was the final reward – kids love taking their work home!

What students can do at home:

  • Head over to Kerpoof.com and let them explore. We used “Make a Picture” (the yellow square) for this activity. Check the others out, too, but be forewarned some are for older kids!
  • Check out the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun learning activities!

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • This week’s theme was online safety  - specifically, going places safely on the Internet. We discussed what the Internet actually “is,” how a website address is like a person’s address, and why it’s important to have an adult nearby when going online. We also watched the brief and helpful video above and learned three tips for online safety: 1) Ask permission before going online; 2) only talk to people you know; and 3) stick to websites that are just right for kids. This activity was derived from the excellent Common Sense Media lesson entitled “Going Places Safely.”
  • After finishing the video and our discussion, students had to complete an illustration of their favorite website (using paper and crayons). They had to explain what they do on the site, what it looks like or includes, and how they get there.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kids are getting smarter and smarter about online safety, largely due to immersion at home. Most reported having some sort of computer or handheld device they use for accessing the Internet. Years ago this was not the case; children are now coming to school with a solid foundation of Internet surfing skills including how to get to a website for the first time and the importance of having an adult nearby when surfing.
  • It was heartening to see how many kids chose the First Grade Symbaloo as their favorite source for website surfing at home. I’m glad they find it useful and fun.

What students can do at home:

  • Review the three safety rules above.
  • Talk with your child about websites they visit, how they get there, how they know it’s right for them.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities.

Slide1

Slide4

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Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We started a new Engineering is Elementary (EiE) unit on Civil Engineering. “Javier Builds a Bridge” is the storybook that is part of EiE’s “To Get to the Other Side: Designing Bridges.” As is customary for these units, we read the first half of the story, working in comprehension questions as we progressed. This time, however, at the end of the reading, students had to complete an “Exit Ticket” (quiz) as a class. (I am experimenting with using quick surveys as Exit Tickets to check for understanding.) We also built in some time for keyboarding practice at the start of class.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This lesson went very well overall; students were able to get logged onto their Chromebooks and into Typing Pal to complete an exercise without much difficulty. The story was fun and fast-moving; the Exit Ticket also worked as planned and gave me valuable feedback that helped me in future classes during the week.

What students can do at home:

  • Spend some time talking about bridges in the area. See which ones they can name. Have the students describe the bridge, what it’s made of, it’s shape, etc. We will be discussing bridge types in this coming weeks’ lesson.
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!
Image credit: http://www.everythingkids.co/

Image credit: http://www.everythingkids.co/

Quozio

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • After a brief keyboarding warmup, students gathered some quick Internet safety tips utilizing resources I provided including the image above and this link from the New York Public Library. Students put tips into their own words on a worksheet I provided then used Quozio.com (above) to create graphics. The images they create will be used this coming week in part 2 of the project.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This went well, about as I expected, the research & rewriting/restating was done quickly, and Quozio.com was fast and easy to use. Kids were easily able to save their images for next week.

What students can do at home:

  • Internet safety is always a worthy conversation at home. You may be surprised how much your kids know. Ask them!
  • Check out the Third Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Database

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • Students used Microsoft Access to explore a database of information about 4th grade students. We reviewed some vocabulary about the structure of databases (i.e., tables, fields, records) and how information can be extracted (e.g., queries, reports). We then challenged the kids to answer questions like: a) how many students skip breakfast? b) What is the most popular birth month? c) Who does more homework – boys or girls? Students used the ‘Filter’ function in Access to determine the answers.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This was great fun, as it always is, because once the kids “get it” – they can find trends in the data – they immediately start wondering things – things that can be answered with a query – and they literally jumping out of their seats with suggestions and ideas to explore. The database, built in this fashion, did exactly what I wanted – it made the process of generating queries more personal and a lot more fun.

What students can do at home:

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 03/14/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 03/14/14

Image credit: http://ljpskindergartenteam.blogspot.com/

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Using Skype and Google Hangout technologies, we connected with Kindergarten students as far away as Plymouth, Massachusetts (and as close by as Somers Point) to learn about their schools, their home towns, and their classrooms.
  • Students prepared artwork responses to questions about Northfield including images of life at the beach, Birch Grove Park, our favorite sports teams, the weather, and more. We also “visited” the school’s locations in Google Earth.
  • We were so excited I forgot to take any pictures; the photo above is a good approximation of the experience.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Few of these students knew what “Skype” was but the majority knew about “Face Time” – so that is how we explained it.
  • Having the kids draw photos in advance was helpful as the papers gave the kid confidence when speaking. (In the past, kids have been so shy they did not participate at all.)

What students can do at home:

  • If you have relatives you can communicate with via webcam, I strongly recommend you check out one of these free video connection technologies. They are easy to use, fun and a great way to stay in touch.
  • Check out the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun learning activities!

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students located, opened and edited their Microsoft Word projects from last week, reviewing what they learned, and exploring additional navigation and text formatting techniques.
  • Since students worked so hard in our past two classes – for the full 42 minutes without a break (which is unusual) – we made sure everyone had some ‘free time’ this week.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • For some, fine motor skills at this age make it hard to accurately manipulate the cursor during text selection (highlighting).

What students can do at home:

  • Basically, my advice is the same as last week – if kids can do some basic word processing at home, that will help a lot. The formatting skills they are learning here are applicable to just about every word processor ever made.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities!

MS-Word

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Second graders have been doing quite a bit of work in their ELA classes using Microsoft Word so I decided to have them work through some basic formatting exercises to ensure their skills were up to snuff. I created five different sample documents, which, when displayed on the screen in two-page view, provide a helpful “before and after” comparison. I was able to show the kids subtle tricks like using the cursor to identify formatting, techniques for text selection, formatting changes, adding images, and so on. We opened and worked through as many as we could.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • I’m grateful that the second grade team has their students working so diligently in the lab during ELA and other class time. It’s critically important that kids get time to work with technology outside my classroom. Working as a team in this way we will achieve better results than either of us can working alone.

What students can do at home:

  • Most computers have basic word processing capabilities. Anything you can do to give your child a chance to write at home will help. They can keep a journal, write to a relative, help you make your grocery list, anything at all will help – particularly authentic tasks.
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We spent this week finishing up our PowerPoints from last week and exploring fun, new features of PowerPoint 2013 to make presentations more visually interesting, including page transitions (shown above) and object animations.
  • Students who needed extra time (or who were absent the week before) got caught up.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This was an interesting lesson. It was fun to see the reaction on kids’ faces as they saw the transitions play; they are, to be sure, pretty spectacular. The best part was explaining the purpose for the transition and explaining that they can easily DISTRACT from a presentation rather than ENHANCE it.
  • But, then I told them they were in third grade and they get a “pass” until they are grownups – and to go to town and just have as much fun as possible with as many different effects as possible. Why? Because PLAYING is how we LEARN…

What students can do at home:

Survey

Summary

Database

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • We took a break from our school design project for a quick two-week unit on databases. First we talked about databases and what we knew about them (not much.) Then we went shopping at Amazon.com for iPhone cases to illustrate an exceptionally powerful database in action – and how our ‘search terms’ reduce the number of ‘hits’ (matches.) This graphic example of a database in action drove the point home that databases are everywhere, extremely powerful and very fast (when done correctly).
  • We talked about the structure of a database (tables, fields, records), what a query is (see my Amazon example above), what reports are, etc.
  • Since we need a database of our own to work with, we use a Google Form (partially shown above) to gather general (i.e., non-personally-identifiable) information to populate the database. This has a number of advantages, including a) making the database more fun and relevant to work with and b) saving us the time and drudgery of manually building one.
  • With the results posted, we then reviewed the summary chart, making predictions about the data and seeing how accurate we were.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • We’ve done this for years and it’s always one of our favorites. Kids really enjoy it. They relate to the questions and have fun guessing the trends.
  • Next week, we will combine all the data from each class into a single database and use Microsoft Access to query the data and possibly run some reports. For example: among 9 year olds, who is more likely to make their beds – boys or girls? Does it change for 10 year olds? How many students get up before 7:30 am and do more than one hour of homework per night? The kids find these kinds of questions fun and engaging.

What students can do at home:

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 03/07/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 03/07/14

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We explored two- and three-dimensional shapes this week with dry spaghetti and marshmallows! We warmed up with a review of basic 2D shapes Purpy’s Shapes, giving those who finished early a chance to stretch their brains with the mind-bending Invention Playhouse. Then it was time to start building! As you can see above, kids REALLY got into this activity, giving us a chance to identify, compare and contrast 2D vs. 3D shapes, making whatever we could (starting with the shapes on our shape card) and ultimately letting the kids just go wild. It was awesome.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Last year, when we did this lesson for the first time, kids’ creativity really shined. This year, as last, we saw swingsets (again!), people, Sponge Bob, houses and more. We talked about lines and corners, depth, the fact that circles have no sides because they have corners. The materials were well prepared in advance and almost everything went smoothly!
  • Kindergarteners struggle with “group work.” They do best on their own; when paired, they often just end up working individually.

What students can do at home:

  • Sorry in advance if you try this and it makes a terrific mess! It’s great fun though and with practice (and support) even the youngest kids can be successful. Students have not yet covered this in regular Kindergarten so you may want to wait before doing the activity.

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We were back in the ESLAB for some additional work with Microsoft Word, this time, focusing on basic fonts and formatting. Students opened the document they created last week and learned about highlighting as the basis for applying visual changes to text.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Many students’ fine motor skills at this age are still very much in development and so it is natural for them to struggle a bit with text selection. Once they have that figured out the remaining tasks are simple

What students can do at home:

  • Basically, my advice is the same as last week – if kids can do some basic word processing at home, that will help a lot. The formatting skills they are learning here are applicable to just about every word processor ever made.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities.

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • After a keyboarding warmup, we continued working on our PowerPoints from last week, adding additional visual elements and cleaning up our writing. Along the way we reinforced network navigation (file open/save) and application of visual elements.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kids’ skills continue to improve with each passing class.

What students can do at home:

  • Same as last week. If you are fortunate enough to have Microsoft PowerPoint at home, by all means, let your child show you what they know. (It may be helpful to start the application for them, but, it shouldn’t be necessary.) PowerPoint is one of the most intuitive applications we use and most students take to it naturally. In fact, it’s very common to see students using PowerPoint for home-made projects like “Why We Need a Dog” or “Why I Need a Larger Allowance.”
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE! :)

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • After a keyboarding warmup, students created a basic PowerPoint using the research they’d completed previously.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This went better than I expected, with virtually every student powering through the task and completing their work with time to spare.

What students can do at home:

IMG_6171

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • As part of our “Remembering Kindergarten” challenge/unit, based loosely on this terrific lesson on design thinking on the Stanford d.School K12 lab wiki, and my desire/intent to get our kids doing some 3D design work, I’ve taken the conversation in a new direction, asking kids to design their ideal school. We started with a group brainstorm: “How do you like to learn?” We then broke into teams of students who scribbled ideas for the perfect school all over the IdeaPaint “Great White Wall”. I’m compiling these for further thought processing, cleverly disguised as writing / presentation / research questions that will have them testing their skills on a variety of PC and Chromebook applications. But for now, it was solely a brainstorming excercise.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • How do kids like to learn?
  • Building ideas ranged from the ridiculous (“giant playground made of jelly beans”) and the sublime (“holographs of famous people in history”) but there were some supremely interesting and insightful comments. Some favorites: “Invention Room.” “(illuminated) Hallway Navigation.” “SMARTBoard desks” (the entire desk surface is a personal SMART Board). “Glass Roof.” “Touchscreen Walls.” This is going to be interesting.
  • The grand plan here is for students to use Design Thinking to come up with a layout for a school which we will render using Sketchup and print in 3D.

What students can do at home:

  • Ask your child how they like to learn and how they’d make school better if they could.
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities, in particular, keyboarding.

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 02/28/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 02/28/14

Excel

Picturegraph

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • After a breif keyboarding warmup using either Keyboard Zoo or Keyboard Climber, kids gathered on the carpet in front of the SMART Board in my old classroom, a.k.a. Elementary Computer Lab #1, for a quick lesson on picture graphs and Excel.
  • We took a survey of popular pets and noted the data on the SMART Board.
  • Students then navigated the network (!) using Windows Explorer to locate the template I’d created, opened it, and entered the data.
  • Finally, the students displayed their picture graph and printed, in color. (Three of five classes brought these home this past week, the other two will have them to bring home this coming week. The delay was due to a printer problem.)

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • I encourage “keyboard awareness” in Kindergarten but wish I didn’t have to. The sad reality is that today’s Kindergarten student needs keyboarding skills more than ever – including for computer-based standardized tests.
  • Navigating the network using Windows Explorer (Start Menu > My Computer > Shared Drive > Folder > File) is something we normally introduce in first grade but we did it this week as a necessity: it was easier to show the students what to do and let them do it than to scurry around the room opening the file for them. This worked really, really well. We only had serious problems on Friday due to some network file permissions – not a fault of the Kindergarteners. They were awesome!
  • Navigating the spreadsheet template was pretty straightforward and no one got confused or frustrated.
  • Printing the graphs in color was an achievement in itself when you consider the complexity of the menus they had to traverse. I was impressed!

What students can do at home:

  • If you are fortunate enough to have Microsoft Excel at home, fire it up, create a basic spreadsheet with some math facts or other data and see what your child can do! Bet you they will be able to enter data with ease.
  • Check out the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun activities and skill builders.

Untitled2

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students logged into the PCs my old classroom, a.k.a. Elementary Computer Lab #1, and selected a keyboarding activity as a warmup. (Most chose Keyboard Zoo or Keyboard Climber, but Super Hyper Spider Typer is also a favorite.) We then brought up some simple sentences (provided by my outstanding colleague Miss Amanda Jakimowicz) to review proper sentence writing technique. Capital first letters, various ending marks, space after punctuation, one space between words, and so on. I demonstrated how to start Microsoft Word and what the sentences looked like when we typed them. Students then got to choose a sentence from the list above, printed off in colorful strips (which they brought to their workstation), and did their best to enter it into the Word document. This continued for the duration of the class period. Finally, they saved their work to their network H: drive.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kids REALLY enjoyed this, much more than I ever expected. By making the sentences varying lengths, and letting kids choose which ones to do first, we differentiated effortlessly and it showed in the kids’ confidence levels. Soon they were powering through sentences and scurrying over to the table to return one strip and get another. They were free to do them in any order but their work had to be perfect; we (the teachers) circulated around the room pointing out problems for the kids to fix, which they did, happily. Everyone worked at their own pace, no one got frustrated, and in every class, a select few students were able to complete the entire set.
  • I was blown away by how hard the kids worked. No complaints, no “I can’t do this,” just enthusiasm and hard work. I think the sentences had something to do with it; they related to the content, as Dr. Seuss’ work has been visible all around school of late (with the approach of Read Across America Day.)
  • Our number one problem with early writers – putting too much space between words – was almost a non-issue for us this week, which made me very happy. Kids continue to struggle with that issue well into Second grade. Perhaps this class won’t?

What students can do at home:

  • Typing simple sentences into a word processor is easy and fun if you make the sentences memorable and easy enough for the child to type. Subject and word choice is therefore crucial. Involve them in the process, maybe choose their favorite activity or toy. But keep it brief – no more than 10 or 15 minutes – unless they want to keep going. Don’t worry about fonts or other formatting just yet, we’re getting to that next week. Emphasize the writing and technique.
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities.

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students fired up the PCs my old classroom, a.k.a. Elementary Computer Lab #1, for a short warm-up with Typing Pal. [Our goal with the warmup is to have the kids complete a single lesson, meeting or exceeding the speed (10 wpm) and accuracy (95%) targets, while using proper technique as much as possible.] Students then used Microsoft PowerPoint to create three-slide presentations including their Doodle. (My goal is to familiarize students with PowerPoint so they can be proficient with it for other projects including lessons done in other classes.) Students browsed to their Google Doodle image on the server, inserted it, then added a title and explanatory text. Finally, they saved the file to their network H: drive.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This lesson went much more smoothly than I expected; students had no problems traversing the network in search of their scanned Google Doodle, or opening the PowerPoint template I provided, or creating new slides (as needed), or entering text, or saving their work.

What students can do at home:

  • If you are fortunate enough to have Microsoft PowerPoint at home, by all means, let your child show you what they know. (It may be helpful to start the application for them, but, it shouldn’t be necessary.) PowerPoint is one of the most intuitive applications we use and most students take to it naturally. In fact, it’s very common to see students using PowerPoint for home-made projects like “Why We Need a Dog” or “Why I Need a Larger Allowance.”
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE! :)

Untitled

Untitled2

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students fired up the PCs my old classroom, a.k.a. Elementary Computer Lab #1, for a short warm-up with Typing Pal. [Our goal with the warmup is to have the kids complete a single lesson, meeting or exceeding the speed (12 wpm) and accuracy (95%) targets, while using proper technique as much as possible.] Students then used either the website above or printed materials I had pre-assembled to answer some (admittedly very basic) questions about the Winter Olympics. (My goal was to get them to gather information we’d use for a lesson on PowerPoint this coming week.) Most worked with a partner until they were finished and then tore through a quick word search.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This went about as well as I hoped and expected, retrieving information like this may not be the most exciting learning task possible, but, we can’t be designing windmills and sailboats every day, now, can we? :) Based on my review of the gathered information, we’ll have enough to build upon for our projects this coming week.

What students can do at home:

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • Students logged into their Chromebooks and warmed up with Typing Pal. [Our goal with the warmup is to have the kids complete a single lesson, meeting or exceeding the speed (15 wpm) and accuracy (95%) targets, while using proper technique as much as possible.] Students opened their previously created Google presentations and answered this question, based on their interviews last week and their own experience: “If I were in Kindergarten again, I would like it to be…” Meaning, either the way it was when they attended, or now.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This was interesting to watch. I don’t have specific numbers but kids seemed to choose both “old” and “new” Kindergarten for a variety of reasons. My goal with this assignment was to get them thinking about how they like to learn because our next step is to begin designing a school, which I hope will lead to a lesson utilizing Sketchup and our 3D printer. Stay tuned!

What students can do at home:

  • Talk to your child about their Kindergarten experience, and the interview they conducted. Which “Kindergarten” do they prefer and why? Have them provide evidence to support their opinions!
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities.

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 02/21/14

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 02/21/14

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • Students worked in the “old lab” (officially referred to as Elementary Computer Lab #1) on a project designed to familiarize them with the basics of PowerPoint: entering text, capitalization & punctuation, moving around existing slides, dragging and dropping, and so on. We also got to practice logging on and logging off.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Thanks largely to the efforts of the Kindergarten teachers (who reinforced the concepts once I taught them), most students are able to successfully log onto our Windows 7 PCs using the Kindergarten user account. This is wonderful and an important skill for them to master as our classroom PC all run Windows 7.
  • Students were very successful traversing the network (opening drives, folders and files) which is something we usually ask of first graders.
  • The counting and sorting was fairly low-level but that was intentional as I wanted  them to focus on navigation and data entry skills.
  • The ‘color by number’ page was skipped in some classes due to time constraints.
  • Overall it was a very challenging lesson and the kids did great!

What students can do at home:

  • Unless you happen to have Microsoft PowerPoint, there isn’t much kids can do to practice with the application, but if you do, go ahead and create a basic presentation (several blank slides) and let your child loose!
  • Check out the Kindergarten Symbaloo for fun activities and skill builders.

EiE Designing Walls Lesson 1 Vocab Matcher_1

EiE Designing Walls Lesson 1 Quiz_3

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We finished the Engineering is Elementary unit, “Designing Walls” by working as a class on a quick review of key terms, then completing a refresher on the steps of the  Engineering Design Process, and finally, by having students complete a “visual reflection” capturing what was happening in the story during each phase of the  Engineering Design Process. Each of these is shown above.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Students seemed to enjoy these final few activities and the recap of the work we’ve done over the past several weeks. This is one of our most demanding STEM units. Thanks to the dedication and creativity of our students, it’s also one of the smoothest running.
  • Materials Engineering is a perfect subject for early elementary because it comes so naturally to kids of this age. They instantly “get it.”  Their understanding of material properties and changes in those properties under different conditions seems almost innate. Though the terminology is new to them, they learn it quickly.
  • The visual reflection is extremely powerful evidence of transfer  (knowledge gained). These kids can talk at great length about each phase of the  Engineering Design Process and what the characters were doing at the time. It’s truly rewarding to see.

What students can do at home:

  • Ask your child about this project, what they remember, etc., and specifically, about the five stages of the Engineering Design Process. See what they can tell you!
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital learning activities.

Second Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • After starting the lesson by logging onto the Chromebooks and doing a little keyboarding warmup, we presented and discussed an entire page’s worth of Google Doodle ideas generated by all of their classmates. They then created a Doodle (for some it was their second or more) which we collected. We will be using these in a PowerPoint project next week before submitting them officially for consideration.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kids’ creativity never ceases to amaze me. Between the ideas they came up with and the visual representations, I was blown away!

What students can do at home:

  • The Doodle for Google contest will be running for several more weeks and students MAY enter as many times as they like! So feel free to follow the link and print off more entry forms as desired!
  • Check out the Second Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Nitro Type

Third Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • We finished the Engineering is Elementary unit “Designing Windmills” with teams doing some analysis of their final blade designs and a whole-class review of important concepts from the past several weeks. Students also tried several keyboarding activities, including Nitro Type (above) to help me decide which to begin using more frequently.

What I learned / observed / inferred:

  • This unit, though it took a bit longer than expected, was rewarding, effective, and I believe, will be memorable for years to come. The science concepts presented were easily understood thanks to the experiments and hands-on creative aspects of the lessons. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen kids this excited in my class, and, that’s saying a lot!

What students can do at home:

  • Ask your child about this unit, what they learned about wind energy and how it can be converted into other forms of energy. Ask them what they thought of their windmill design and how it could be improved.
  • Check out the Third Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities and KEYBOARDING PRACTICE!

Fourth Grade

What we covered / did / explored:

  • Inspired by the Stanford d.School lesson, “Back to Kindergarten,” 4th graders interviewed Kindergarten students to find answers to questions about life in Kindergarten today. They took notes which were then transcribed into Google Docs when we returned to the STEMLAB.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This. Was. AMAZING!!! It was so refreshing to watch 4th graders carefully and patiently phrasing their questions, and it was inspiring to watch Kindergarten students talk IN DETAIL about aspects of their learning experience. It was over very quickly but it was extremely effective.

What students can do at home:

  • Ask your child to compare and contrast life in Kindergarten when they were students to what it is like today. You may be surprised at the results! We will be writing up our findings this coming week.
  • Check out the Fourth Grade Symbaloo for fun learning activities.

Last Week in Lab: Week Ending 02/14/14 (partial)

This post is part of my continuing series of weekly lesson summaries. My goal is to give parents & caregivers in our school community the resources needed to extend student learning at home, and to share my professional practice with teacher colleagues around the world in the hopes of improving my craft.

Week ending 02/14/14

Kindergarten

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • This week’ s lesson was stolen borrowed adapted from the STEM Mom Gummy Worm Measuring Activity which I loved the moment I saw it. Children learned subtraction using manipulatives while practicing measuring skills… and they got to enjoy a tasty treat  too! Students were asked to first measure the unstretched Gummy Worm and record the result (in CM) on their worksheet. Then they were to carefully stretch the gummy worm as far as it would go (without breaking) and record that measurement. Finally they would use the cube manipulatives to line up cubes equal to the larger of the two measurements, then “take away” cubes equal to the smaller number. What’s left is the difference, which they recorded on their worksheet, and then they got to eat the gummy worm! Each student got to measure and record data twice. Kids also got to color in a worm worksheet at the end of the lesson.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • Kinders are learning subtraction now, so my timing was good. Unlike last year, students worked independently rather than in teams. Everyone was at least partially successful!

What students can do at home:

123IMG_5895

First Grade

What we learned / did / explored together:

  • This was DEMOLITION WEEK as we got to TEST our mortar walls to determine which mortar was stronger: clay flour + sand or clay flour + soil. First, we examined the walls: where they the same size? Shape? Color? Which mortar had more cracks? Did we think the wall shapes/sizes would affect our results? Then it was time to do some damage! Our “wrecking ball” was a golf ball suspended between two traffic cones. We used the provided guide to ensure each ‘drop’ was the same angle/distance. We predicted the level of damage we’d see – either “no damage,” or “a little damage,” or “a lot of damage.” Once we observed the actual results and compared them to our prediction, we came up with another estimate, this time, of the number of strikes necessary to completely destroy the wall. We continued until the wall was totally obliterated. Then we talked about what we saw and what we thought it meant, and determined, based on the data, which mortar was stronger.

What I observed / inferred / connected:

  • This was only the second time we’ve ever done the lesson, but the results were just as interesting. Kids were fascinated by the rock walls’ ability to withstand damage and cheered every time a chunk of mortar or stone went flying (off in the reverse direction, away from students). In the end, with all the walls demolished, we had our data from all five first grade classes and are now ready to make a final analysis this coming week.

What students can do at home:

  • Short of having a conversation with your child about the experience, there isn’t much you can do to replicate this part of the lesson, unless you’re really, REALLY dedicated. :)
  • Check out the First Grade Symbaloo for fun digital activities.

Second Grade

I’m skipping the update for Second Grade this week to get us in ‘sync’ with my other summaries. Catch us next time when we will be talking about the next phase of the Doodle for Google contest!

Third Grade

I’m skipping the update for Third Grade this week to get us in ‘sync’ with my other summaries. Catch us next time when we will be talking about the assessments that we used to wrap up our Engineering is Elementary unit on wind energy!

Fourth Grade

I’m skipping the update for Fourth Grade this week to get us in ‘sync’ with my other summaries. Catch us next time when we will be talking about the results of the Fourth graders’ interviews with the Kindergarten students. Hopefully the picture above will pique your interest!

Well, isn’t that special? (The STEMLAB gets some local press…)

In The NewsWhoa! The STEMLAB had two media visits this week! Our local paper – The Current of Somers Point, Linwood and Northfield – came by, and a team from NBC40, the local NBC affiliate, did as well. It was great fun to see the kids’ reactions to all the equipment and attention; they were on their best behavior!

Click below to check out the stories. The NBC40 piece has video. (I really need to lay off the cheeseburgers…)

Just want to say THANKS to Superintendent Dr. Janice Fipp, my Elementary Principal Mrs. Maureen Vaccaro, our Board of Education, and our parent community (especially the Northfield PTO and Northfield Education Foundation), for all the support – it makes our unique and innovative classroom possible!