Monday, January 16, 2017

What Should We Put In Our Makerspace This Month?

As you may know, we started a Makerspace in our High School LMC starting this school year. We've been switching up the activities, experiences, and technology on a  monthly basis. Here are a few pictures from September, October, November and December:

With all of the various activities, students have been checking in regularly to see what is new and to spend some social time in our Makerspace with their peers.

And all of a sudden it is January and time to revamp and plan for new and creative activities and technologies for the Makerspace. 

Here is what we are planning:

#1 - I wrote a grant for a 3D printer and was awarded the grant. Thank you AEF (Appelton Education Foundation) So, we now have a Dremel 3D Printer in our Makerspace. We've been busy learning how to use the printer and one of our maintenance personnel, Craig, has been a huge help. He has a great knowledge base about 3D printing. I'm so thankful for his involvement. 
 One activity we have going right now is to print straw connectors to allow students to create, build and explore architectural design. We used files from Thingiverse (click here for the project). Before printing we bring our files into a program called Print Studio to view, resize and preview the print job before sending it to our printer. Print Studio is a free download that you can access here.

#2 - Recording Studio
We have a room next to our Makerspace that is being turned into a recording studio. We have big plans to give students the ability to record and create in this space. My colleague, Jeremy, created this Sketchup of the space. We plan to include a mixer, electric guitars, a keyboard, microphones, speakers, green screening, and more. I can't wait to see how this comes together.

#3 - Circuitry with Makey Makey
We have Makey Makey circuit boards on order and plan to allow students to create a giant touch floor piano as well as other Makey Makey projects when these arrive. 

#4 - LED Cards
All that is needed for this activity is LED bulbs, copper tape, card stock and batteries. Click here for how to directions. It is always a big hit when we include a craft makerspace activity. Students love these types of creative stations.

#5  - Virtual Reality
Since purchasing our Zen Smart Phones more students are taking part in exploring the many apps and videos for virtual reality. We have these VR viewers and they have held up really well. 

#6 - Interactive Projector
Technically this is not in the Makerspace, but it is going to be in the classroom teaching section of our library. I will share a picture of the finished project once it is installed. An interactive projector can project on any flat light surface and basically acts as a giant touch screen. 

Do you have a Makerspace? If so, what is happening in yours?  I'm always looking for new ideas and technologies to explore. Thanks for reading this post.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Google Forms - A New Feature!

Many of us use Google forms for assessments or to take a survey, however, did you know that students can submit files in a Google Form?  

Just think of the possibilities. . .  students could submit an audio recording where they record their answer verbally using Vocaroo or Twisted Wave.  

Students can submit an image, PDF or even a Google Drawing to show the answer to a higher level question that involves creation and design.

Students can submit a Google Doc, Spreadsheet or Presentation which makes it simple to integrate the Google Suite.

Students can submit a video file as well. So if students have a video they have saved in MP4 format, they can submit that video in a Google Form. 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Foster Peer Tutors In Your Classroom

Recently a colleague and I were having a conversation about how students often learn better from one another and how peer tutors can really boost another student's confidence and willingness to try. 

As I was reflecting on our conversation, I suddenly had an idea of how I might foster peer tutoring creatively in a classroom.  My idea is to have students show answers to questions the teacher gives them and record their responses to share out in a common place for all of their classmates to see.

It would work something like this. . . . 

First each student would get a different question to answer (math problem, grammar question, review question etc.) 

Next, each student would use a site like to upload a picture (or multiple pictures) of the question or problem. It could be a picture of the actual work that the student has done. Ziteboard will allow the students to annotate and mark up the picture.

Then, the student would use the extension Screencasify to record a video explaining how they answered the question they were given.

The finished Screencastify video would be saved to the student's Google Drive account. The students would need to make sure that the share settings would be set to anyone with the link can view. 

The final step would be to have the students place a link to their video in a Google Doc or a Google Presentation. The teacher would need to make sure that the share settings were set to anyone with the link can edit.

Each student would now have access to a student generated study guide with videos from their peers to help tutor them. 

Another option would be to have students work collaboratively on the videos. Ziteboard does allow for collaboration between peers.

Do you have a creative idea for fostering peer tutoring in a classroom? I would love to hear about it. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Christmas Brought Me Many Techy Gifts

Greetings friends,
I've missed you! With taking on several new adventures in November and December, I have not had the chance to blog lately. I taught a technology course for our local cohort and also became a technology online coach for ISTE and the VMLA (Verizon Mobile Learning Academy). Along with these two weekly commitments I also attended and presented at a local conference (SLATE) and kept up with the daily tasks of being a technology integration specialist which includes managing Chromebook issues, creating and maintaining a high school Makerspace and often teaching in classrooms. Thanks for understanding my absence from blogging lately.

The holidays are over and they sure were good to me. I received many fabulous technology related gifts that I would like to share with you.

First off, I am now the owner of the Amazon Echo Dot. Thank you Santa! Echo is a hands-free, voice controlled device that uses voice recognition to perform commands. I ask my Echo Dot to play music on Spotify (more about that next) and to tell me the news and weather each morning. I'm looking forward to connecting other items in our home to transform it into a smart home with controlled lights, switches and doors. There are many possibilities available. For now, my sons are enjoying playing Simon Says with Echo. It is quite entertaining. 

Spotify Premium for Family - This is a music streaming service that provides digital rights management-protected musical content from record labels and media companies. In other words, I pay for this service ($14.99 a month for up to 6 family accounts) and my husband, kids and I can all create playlists, listen to stations and podcasts and stream music legally and commercial free from anywhere. Yep, I think it is worth the cost and I know we are being good digital citizens.  And my teenage sons LOVE IT!

I also received a notebook from my friend Naomi Harm.  But this is not just any notebook. This is the future of notebooks.  It is called a Rocket Book Wave.  This notebook looks just like a normal notebook (it does come with a special pen) , except that when you are ready, you use an app on your tablet or smart phone to scan and send the page to a place of your choice such as your Google Drive, Dropbox, email or Evernote etc. And the really amazing thing is that when the notebook pages fill up you can microwave, yes microwave, the notebook to delete all of the writing on the pages to start all over again!

Dremel Idea Builder 3D printer - This past September I wrote a grant for a 3D printer to place in our high school makerspace and was awarded that grant. I am so thrilled to have this Dremel 3D printer in our high school and to be able to bring the technology of 3D printing to any student or staff member in our school that wants to give it a try! Stay tuned for future posts on how we will use this awesome gift!

Essential Oils Air Diffuser - Ok, this may not be real technical, but is was a gift from my dear husband, so it gets included in this post. He gave me this air diffuser and these essential oils . If you have never used essential oils, think of it as the experience when you smell the wonderful aroma of a fresh bouquet of flowers. Essential oils can enhance your health and quality of life. They are sometimes used for cosmetic or dietary purposes. And the diffuser acts as a humidifier as well as a night light.  I simply love this gift and recommend it as a nice gift for any loved one.

As you can see, I am one lucky gal to have received so many techy gifts.  What type of tech gifts did you get this holiday?