Ed Tech extraordinaire, Tanna Fiske, shares the hAPPy Friday app with us this week -- Overdrive. See her blog post here and check out the app integration sheet here.
This app is not yet in self-service students, but teachers can add the free app from the App Store. This app allows users to use their Westbank Library or Austin Public Library account to download ebooks. You could use it to share books during read aloud time or in one-on-one work with students. Check it out!
Cardinals have been sharing their cultural backgrounds with each other while also building friendships and understanding. Fifth graders created circuit boards for our international day celebration a couple of weeks ago. They began their work via a little survey to learn more about their own family culture. Then, using our Macbook cart and iPads, students continued with deeper research on one of element of their family culture, and began constructing a simple matching exercise using facts about their selected country. Finally, students printed their work, added images, and then assembled circuit boards using cardboard displays, wiring, batteries, lights, and metal elements. They displayed these circuit-board games in the hallways and students around the school enjoyed walking by and testing their knowledge of other countries. Before taking the circuit boards home, 5th graders got together with their 1st grade buddies to share their work. The halls were filled with blinking lights, laughter, questions, and warm conversations as the 1st graders and 5th graders shared cultural knowledge while also building friendships. Thank you for sharing your family history with fellow friends, fifth graders!
Ms. Abell and Ms. Moore worked with first grade students in Ms. Alden's class today as students explored two of the tools from the new STEAM carts. Students explored two items -- Squigz and Magnatiles -- and worked with partners to complete different tasks according to a given list (determined by the roll of a die). Students created playgrounds, castles, people, and even dragons. They also used their iPads to take photos of their creations. Students can then use these photos for future writing prompts. Ms. Alden's class will continue exploring with the materials this week, and then next week they will move to another first grade classroom. Way to go, creative Cardinals!
First graders explain all the elements of their playground design, completed with Squigz pieces.
This week's hAPPy Friday app is the simple presentation app Shadow Puppet EDU. VVE students have used Shadow Puppet for a variety of tasks including recording art reflections and sharing about their family culture. In Kindergarten last week, families and students together filled out a little survey about how their family came to Texas and what they loved most about Texas. We then used Shadow Puppet EDU to display student drawings of their favorite thing about Texas and recorded them telling their stories. Each recording was then given a hyperlink and a QR code. The QR codes were pasted in the back of students' "All About Me" books as well as on a master map indicating the variety of cultures represented by VVE students. At our Open House, parents could view the books and scan the QR codes to view the videos.
For more information on how to use Shadow Puppet Edu, check out the App Integration Sheet and see the video example below.
Two amazing moms have helped VVE celebrate its first-ever International Day! Ms. Anita Lakshman and Ms. Maile Kono-Wells worked tirelessly to plan with VVE teachers and staff, and with local groups interested in helping us learn more about our own cultures and the cultures of others. Our International Day was made special by a variety of activities, including performances by local artisans (including some of our own students, and even some of our WHS Chaps friends), a multitude of classroom experiences, and a culminating Open House event replete with music, video, and food from around the world.
To prepare for the special day of performances and Open House, VVE Cardinals have been learning about their own cultural heritage and as well as the cultures of others. Over the course of the last few weeks, students have been interviewing family members, gathering artifacts, and creating materials to share their own histories. Each grade level worked on special activities that they then shared with family members at Open House on February 2. Ms. Moore even created a special website to share images and information with families. Check it out by visiting vveinternational.weebly.com.
On the actual day, students participated in a variety of performances, including: Japanese Taiko Drummers; African Storytelling shared by Elizabeth Kahura; Classical and Bollywood Indian Dance by one of our own VVE students, and Westlake HS students who shared Chinese Yo-Yo skills; Chinese Ribbon Dance; French Folksongs; and Slavonicka Polka music. We are so grateful to Ms. Lakshman and Ms. Kono-Wells for helping to organize this educational (and fun!) day!
As indicated in an earlier post (see January 11, 2017, "Coding in Third Grade"), VVE students can now use ROBOTS to practice coding! As part of our hAPPy Friday series, Ed Tech Debbie Smith shares about one of the apps that works with our Dash robots -- Wonder App. See her blog post here and check out more lesson ideas here.
Our own VVE fourth graders learned to code the Dash robots using Blockly (another app by the same company). They explored the puzzles to learn how the different coding blocks worked and then had opportunity to create some of their own simple codes.
Students then shared their feedback about coding using our Showbie app. It was a great way to gather a little formative assessment feedback!
Eanes ISD is full STEAM ahead, thanks to some amazing new materials purchased for each school. Each grade level at VVE will be receiving a STEAM cart, replete with materials that allow for open-ended exploration and play. In our faculty meeting yesterday, we reviewed the many aspects of play and the way it can contribute to cognitive, language, social emotional, and even physical development. We reviewed Jerome Bruner's discussions of how play "provides not only a medium for exploration, but also for invention" (1983, p. 61). Further, Bruner states, "There is everything to be said, indeed, for letting the child loose in a decent setting with rich materials and some good cultural models to follow.” (Bruner, 1983, p.63) We engaged in some open-ended exploration and play with several of the materials and are now working to design some STEAM based lessons for students across grade levels. Thank you, Eanes Curriculum & Instruction Department, for sharing these amazing materials with us!
Third graders were so excited to explore coding this week using three different programs. Using our student work-flow app Showbie, students were connected with one online coding program and two apps. Students rotated through three centers: Center 1 focused on the non-profit coding lesson website: studio.code.org; Center 2 focused on the MIT and Tufts University created app, Scratch Jr.; Center 3 focused on coding with the Blockly iPad app and Dash robots. Through each of these centers, students explored coding with visual programming. Studio.code.org uses coding games to teach learners the principles of coding logic using arrows and simple strategies like loops and functions. There are four courses learners can work through, as well as popular media-based games (e.g., coding with Frozen, Angry Birds, Mine Craft, or even Star Wars characters). Scratch Jr uses visual programming blocks and has a more open-ended interface whereby students can program a cat (or other character) to do things on screen. In this app, there is also a feature in which learners can import and build on existing codes. Finally, the Blockly app teaches students to code a Dash robot to move via puzzles, and then allows them to code their own projects to set the robot in motion. Students shared their feedback to the initial exploration via Showbie. We look forward to continued exploration and creation using these programs!