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!
Across the last two weeks, students in kindergarten, first, and second grades have been exploring coding! All these students began learning (or extended their learning) with the iPad app for Scratch, Jr -- a program designed by researchers from Tufts and MIT. This app has been specially designed to help children learn more about coding through visual programming. You can learn more about it here. In our introductory lessons, kindergarten and first grade students began by writing scripts and algorithms for non-digital enactment by a puppet, and then for each other to act out through movement. Students then began coding for characters within the app itself. They explored with the tools (e.g., making characters move, adding characters, adding a background) and some even figured out how to add voice recordings, hand-drawn characters, and text. We will continue to explore the tools for a couple of weeks and then move on to trying out specific tasks or -- as they say in Reggio Emilia programs -- "provocations" to invite deeper exploration and creativity with connections to real world experiences. Second graders explored in the same way after first engaging with Code.org's introductory visual programming course #1. Students log-in to their own account via our district Clever app, and the program keeps track of their progress. Code.org is a non-profit agency committed to supporting computer science. You can learn more about it here. Students can explore more coding games linked in our Coding Fun page. Fifth grade GT students have been exploring Lego Mindstorm Robots with Ms. Paeir and Ms. Abell, and third through fifth grade students will have opportunity to engage more with coding in the spring semester. We look forward to seeing what students can design. Happy creating!
Our VVE choir and percussion put on quite a show last week! We are so proud of all our singers and instrumentalists, and ever grateful for the hard work they put in before and after school every Monday through Thursday for the past four months! The dialogue was witty, the choreography jazzy, decorations stunning, and the music was magical! Before the evening show, Mr. Z even conducted backstage interviews using Facebook Live and shared them via live link to the parents watching in the cafeteria -- so cool! Thank you, Mr. Z, for writing such a beautiful show! See the slideshow below and be sure to check out Mr. Z's facebook music page for the video!
Ed Tech Ashley Pampe at Barton Creek shares a coding app this week for hAPPy Friday -- Swift Playgrounds. This app is appropriate for older students who have some previous coding experience; see the app integration sheet here.
In addition, Ed Tech Marianna Ricketson shares creative ways BPE teachers are using the updated Photo app to annotate iPad photos, and the using the Notes app as an interactive white board via the drawing feature.
Recently, some of our students shared their creative thinking and problem-solving skills at an Invention Convention. During this session, parents and special guests were invited to visit and learn from student inventors about a creation they made to solve a particular problem. Students created design prototypes of robots that would go around the house and pick things up for you, shoes that could display important messages, solar panels that would power up your electronic devices, and robots that would tighten your shoes. In addition, they shared facts about an inventor they studied. In addition to using their iPads to research their chosen inventos, student also used Pic Kids to create fliers to advertise their products. Thanks for sharing your creative thinking, VVE Cardinals!
VVE Tech & Learning
Holly Moore, Educational Technologist, and Lilly Kephart, Instructional Partner, share student learning here, in our Cardinal Community Blog.