In the SMS Makerspace, 4th and 5th grade students are in the middle of a unit of study on coding, and one of the tools they will use is called Scratch, which is a web-based programing site for students created by MIT. Steve Gagnon, the technology integrator, would like students to have their own accounts so that they will be able to save and share their programs.
Students under 13 signing up for an account are requested to submit a parent email address that can be used to recover forgotten passwords. Please send me a note by Wednesday, December 23 if the parent email you would like your child to use is different than the one I have on file. To learn more about Scratch, go to the following link. http://scratch.mit.edu/parents/ Note: Without the ability to use a parent email, your child will not be able to participate in the web-based Scratch activity. In this case a less robust iPad application, Scratch Jr, that doesn’t require an email account will be used by the student.
Students who already have personal Scratch accounts may use them at school with parent permission.
I’m very excited to announce we will be using an online learning journal called Seesaw this year in the Makerspace. Seesaw is a web-based application that allows students to document their learning in a secure way that only the teachers and students within a class can access. Students can show what they know through photos of their work, links, PDFs, drawings, videos, and text. Seesaw makes it easy for students, teachers, and parents to review growth in learning over time. It is very much like a digital portfolio.
Seesaw works across all platforms, including Chromebooks and iPads. If a child is in a K-2 class, their teacher will create the student account. In grades 3-5, students will sign in through their SAU 16 Google account. Seesaw takes protecting student security and privacy seriously and has taken the Student Privacy Pledge.
Our makerspace took a huge step forward this winter by a startup grant from the Dorr Foundation. Through their generous financial assistance we have been able to add some amazing tools and materials for students to use. The items funded included the following:
*Makerbot Replicator 3D Printer *Makerbot Replicator Mini 3D Printer *10 Makey Makey Kits *10 Sphero 2.0s *Littlebits Workshop and Student Sets *2 Lego EV3s *10 iPads *2 K'nex Construction Sets *6 Makedo Toolkit 360s
Our students are so excited about the new opportunities and possibilities they now have in our makerspace. We are so grateful to the Dorr Foundation for helping us realize our dreams.
This week our K-5 students are participating in a worldwide event called the Hour of Code. We kicked off with a school-wide morning meeting. Three of our fifth graders who are avid users of Scratch spoke to over 500 students about their love of coding.
Primary grades are starting off their coding experience in our makerspace with an iPad app called Kodable. They'll then move on to Lightbot for their next visit.
Grades 3-5 are using the code.org site for their first coding experience. A few students are also checking out CodeMonkey, which is a web-based app. Students will also work in the future on projects using two iPad apps--ScratchJr and Hopscotch.
Each grade 5 student has also set up their own Scratch account. We've created a SMSWolves Studio in Scratch for students to share their projects. The same three students mentioned above are managers for the studio. Managers have the ability to invite other SMS students to our studio, and they can also monitor the projects submitted to the studio.
One benefit for our 5th graders is that the Scratch community has given us lots of natural opportuniites to discuss digital citizenship in a meaningful way.
Last week a couple of our fifth grade classes were able to meet and learn from fellow fifth graders at the Anglo-American School (AAS) in Sofia, Bulgaria. Ralitsa Tareva, the technology integrationist at the school, has connected with teachers and students here for several years now.
Our students are so lucky to have this connection because of the class demographics at AAS; students there not only come from Bulgaria but from all over the world, and they all speak English.
Last week we were fortunate to only have a six hour time difference due to Bulgaria moving back to standard time a week before the US. Because of this we were able to Skype twice during the week. Students got to meet each other, and we got to find out where they were from.
AAS uses a model of student technology leaders where students with expertise on a particular technology teach other students. We took advantage of this, and had their student technology leaders introduce our students to three different coding programs. It was a fabulous way for us to prepare for our Hour of Code event. I look forward to seeing who the student technology leaders are at Stratham Memorial School in the near future.
Fifth grade is finishing up a project in which they were given the task of designing and building an iPhone dock for me made out of Legos. Most of the students had used Legos before to create models, such as cars and airplanes, but none had built an item out of the material that actually could be used for something useful. The students were given my criteria in the first session and then began building. In the second session, they attempted to improve their design. Students in lower grades were able to view the prototypes and evaluate them.
I've been a long time Edmodo user and have loved using it as a Learning Management System (LMS). My plan was to continue using it across grade levels as part of my new position.
That all changed when Google Classroom was launched this school year. Every class in grades 3-5 has been introduced to it, and I intend on using it instead of Edmodo as a way for me to stay connected with my students and their work when we're not together.
One thing I'm looking forward to in particular is having my students submit their work to me in Google Classroom that has been created with our iPads (through the Google Drive app).
Edmodo will still be used with a few classes due to the fact that they will be working with other students outside our building and domain, and I need the ability to split kids into small groups for project work.