Sunday, August 27, 2017

New School Year in the STEAM Lab

At the end of this week I sat down and realized that I had enough missed "tweets" to warrant a blog post. There were so many wonderful things happening in the STEAM Lab this week!

Full disclosure, I also saw this week that my blog bio said I had two children. My youngest will be two in the next couple of week, so I decided it was time to pay the neglected blog some attention! Either way, this week was blog-worthy!

Monday started with the eclipse. The school purchased glasses for all our students. The STEM coordinator also made these signs.



Once school was out for the day I was able to take my kindergartener and my second grader out to view the eclipse with me. It was pretty special!

I decided to bring back this project again this year. Instead of just self portraits like the onse in the picture below, I asked students to draw themselves as scientists. I started by asking what a scientist looks like. I typically got the answer I expected - a man in a white coat and googles. From there I showed the search results on PBS LeanringMedia for "Scientist Profile" and picked  few students to select a scientist to learn more about. Interestingly enough, very few of their drawing ended up wearing white lab coats! I have parent volunteers putting the project together next week. I'm excited to see how it comes out!


I always try to start the year with digital citizenship. A could of years ago I purchased the Nearpod version of the Common Sense Media curriculum. I love that I don't have to copy any pages before class starts. It is the perfect way to start the year in the STEAM Lab.


This year the elementary specialists got together and decided to try something new. I still see all elementary classes on a rotating basis, but we added a fourth day to the rotation. Instead of traveling to specials with the whole class, on the fourth day students go to Special Project Enrichment Classes (SPEC). Each quarter students have a different SPEC Class. We even had a team of teachers that have given up their planning once every four days in exchange for a stipend.


This quarter my SPEC class is all about LEGOs. My fourth and fifth graders get to travel into the high school STEM Lab. It has been a lot of work (and will be another post), but it has been worth it so far.

It was a full week, but it was the kind of week you look back at and feel good about. I've spent the weekend trying to distract myself from watching storm coverage and worrying about my mom and sister. I grew up in the Houston area and am praying for all those that are trying to deal with the effects of Harvey. Hang in there my Texas friends!

Have a great week!



Monday, June 26, 2017

ISTE 2017

I am so excited to be back at ISTE this year! Last time I was at ISTE I was 8 month pregnant. I'm excited to have a little more energy and many more friends with me with time!


Today I am presenting a 15 minute mini session at the Tynker Booth.  They asked the Tynker  Blue Ribbon Educators to sign up to do this so I figured I could talk about using "Using Tynker and PBS LearningMedia to go Beyond Hour of Code."

They've created this Tweetcard for the conference.


I'm honored to be included in such a group! If you are at ISTE you can sign up here for any of the session: bit.ly/2t4Fg1g

I'm also presenting a poster with the very talented Cara Pavek on Tuesday. We were up late last night preparing our poster.



 We present our poster on using green screen with augmented reality on Tuesday from 4-6.  We will be working again tonight to get the finishing touches just right, but we are still having a great time!





Friday, March 31, 2017

#NSTA17

I started a blog post a few weeks ago, but never hit post. I have it in my drafts waiting for another time. This week however, I'm at #NSTA17 in LA. There is nothing like presenting at a conference to make me realize how neglected my poor little blog has become. Something about teaching full time and having three kids makes that happen.

Yesterday I had the privilege to share STEAM in Action at the National Science Teachers Association Conference. It was a 30 minute session and went SO fast. I could have easily talked for an hour. I was pleased with how it went and I made some great contacts.

Now I get to enjoy the rest of the conference! So far I've heard Bill Nye and Andy Weir speak. How cool is that?


Sunday, May 22, 2016

First Grade Garden Preview

It is hard to believe that it has been almost a year since my last post! I've been busy with these darlings.




I went back to work just before winter break. Working full time with three kids has been an adjustment, but it is going well. The baby is already 8 and a half months. My oldest finishes kindergarten in just a couple of weeks. Time flies!

I have some posts planned for this summer, but I wanted to share this video before then. I worked with the first grade team on an amazing project the last couple of months. This was the promotional video we put together before the big culminating activity.


I plan to share more of the behind the scenes once the end-of-school craziness dies down, but I couldn't wait to share the preview!




Friday, June 19, 2015

Earthenware Explortions: A STEAM Unit Overview


Last summer I applied for and won a License for Learning Grant. The STEAM Lab was a fine art classroom before, so it still has a kiln. Last year I did projects with my kindergarten and fifth grade classes.  My goal for the year was to be sure that all my classes got to participate in a ceramics project. Thanks to the grant funds each of my 18 classes got to do a ceramics project related to math/science concepts taught in the regular classroom.

Here is an overview of the projects that we did:

Kindergarten: Ladybugs (insects)
First Grade: Shape bowls (geometry)
Second Grade: Footprint Necklaces (measurement)
Third Grade: Bells (sound energy)
Fourth Grade: Owls (heat energy)
Fifth Grade: MC Escher hot plates (area)

I consulted with an art teacher I worked with at summer camp who talked me through the ordering process. Each student started with clay and formed their project. We waited for the pieces to dry and did a bisque fire.


This was the first time I attempted using glaze. I was nervous, but it went well.


I managed to keep everything organized. This cart was my organizational crutch. I sorted the projects by class/grade. That being said, we *might* have finished the fourth and fifth grade projects on the last full day of school, but it all got done!


Grades 1-5 took pictures and posted about their individual projects using Padlet. This was a great way for me to remind students to focus on the classroom math/science content.


I plan to post about each of the projects over the next week or so. This was one of my very favorite projects. I'm already working on finding funding to continue next year.



Thursday, June 18, 2015

iPad Apps from the STEAM Lab


After two years of requests, this spring I got a class set of iPad minis thanks to a school wide technology grant. Knowing they were on the way, I spent a little over a month going through the apps I wanted to include. I organized them in a Google Doc for our IT specialist.

I started with the STEAM subjects: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. I added folders for Augmented Reality, Creation Apps, Coding, Photography, and Video. The list is available here. I plan to update the spreadsheet later this summer.


I moved the Utilities (including Settings), and other standard apps that you can't move to the second page. There is a link to my Portaportal on the second page as well.


We spend most of our time App Smashing using the Creation Apps folder. The pottery app is the student choice. While I still feel like we have just started to scratch the surface, I'm loving these new resources.

I have a few minor tweaks planned this summer. There are a few apps I don't think we need that are taking up valuable space. I want to add KonaKona and Popplet. Is there anything else that you think I'm missing?

The other big purchase was a class set of wireless Bluetooth headphones.


I tried headphones with the iMacs when I first started in the STEAM Lab. The first week I had two computers pulled down by well intentioned kindergarteners that forgot they were still wearing the headphones. I quickly removed the headphones and muted the volume. For about a year I searched for wireless headphones that could work in the lab setting. One of our first grade teachers recommended Lil Gadgets. I've had a class set of the Untangled Pro headphones for three months now. So far I'm impressed. They come in several colors - white was not my choice! They are a small company and have a year warranty. They are worth checking out.

I have been really happy with these new additions to the STEAM Lab.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Summer Days

The school year ended and I went right into summer camp. I've taught drama at the enrichment camp at my school for about 7 years now. I've always done half days, but this summer I was able to pick up mornings teaching STEAM as well. It is laid back and fun, but working 8-5 each day at 6 months pregnant is hard. The extra money will allow me to extend my maternity leave in the fall though, so it is more than worth it!

My oldest starts kindergarten in the fall. She is at camp with me this summer and loving every minute of it! I actually stayed home today because her younger brother was sick. I finally had time to look at the presenter details for ISTE. I had no idea the poster area would be so large! I've done both these presentations at other conferences, but now that school is out I need work on updating and final touches. I'm really looking forward to the conference!

I also have wrap up posts planned for this week. I have neglected my blog in all the craziness of this school year, but there were several projects that I really want to share.

I hope your summer is going well!