User Generated Education

Education as it should be – passion-based.

Posts Tagged ‘experiential learning

Social Entrepreneurship with Elementary Students: A Perfect STEAM Lesson

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I have done a social entrepreneurship unit with three groups of gifted students, grades 3rd through 6th. It was one of my favorite units . . . ever, and from their reactions, I believe it was one of theirs, too. I call it a perfect STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) unit. The first part of this post explains some of the rationale for this project, and the second part describes the unit, itself.

Why a Unit on Social Entrepreneurship

First, I wanted my learners, who are from lower income families, to develop both an entrepreneur mindset and entrepreneur skills along with the creativity and innovation that comes with these skills.

Entrepreneurship education benefits students from all socioeconomic backgrounds because it teaches kids to think outside the box and nurtures unconventional talents and skills. Furthermore, it creates opportunity, ensures social justice, instills confidence and stimulates the economy. Because entrepreneurship can, and should, promote economic opportunity, it can serve as an agent of social justice. Furthermore, entrepreneurship has historically spurred minorities, women and immigrants to create better lives for themselves and their families.  (Why Schools Should Teach Entrepreneurship)

Second, not only did I want my learners to gain entrepreneur skills, I wanted them to experience the benefits of starting a company in order to raise money to give to a “cause” also known as a form of social entrepreneurship.

Not every child is temperamentally suited to be a social entrepreneur. Not every child is suited to be a scientist, mathematician, or artist. But elementary school-age kids do have the natural curiosity, imagination, drive, and ability to come up with innovative ways to change the world for the better. By exposing our kids to a variety of disciplines, including social entrepreneurship, we are teaching them they have what it takes to “be the change.” One well-known expert on social entrepreneurship, David Bornstein, puts it this way: Once an individual has experienced the power of social entrepreneurship, he or she will “never go back to being a passive actor in society.” (Young Kids Need to Learn About Social Entrepreneurship)

Third, this unit met my own criteria for an effective and powerful unit:

  • Instructional challenges are hands-on, experiential, and naturally engaging for learners.
  • Learning tasks are authentic, relevant, and promote life skills outside of the formal classroom.
  • The challenges are designed to be novel, and create excitement and joy for learners.
  • Learner choice and voice are valued.
  • Lessons address cross curricular standards. They are interdisciplinary (like life) where multiple, cross-curricular content areas are integrated into the instructional activities.
  • Learning activities get learners interested in and excited about a broad array of topics especially in the areas of science, engineering, math, language arts, and the arts.
  • Communication, collaboration, and problem solving are built into the learning process.
  • Reading and writing are integrated into the learning activities in the form of fun, interesting books and stories, and writing stories, narratives, journalistic reports.
  • Educational technology is incorporated with a focus on assisting with the learning activities not to learn technology just for the sake of learning it.
  • There is a natural building of social emotional skills – tolerance for frustration, expression of needs, working as a team.

Schedule of Learning Activities

Here was the schedule of learning activities I used for this unit:

  •  Introduction
    • Video
    • Online Games
    • Kidpreneurs
  • Market Survey – Google Form
  • Analyzing Results, Deciding of Products, Testing Products
  • Expense Sheet – Expenses and Assets
  • Business Plan
  • Making and Selling the Products
  • Visiting the Interfaith Homeless Shelter to Deliver the Profits

Introduction

The following activities were used to teach learners about entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship:

Video. Learners were first introduced to entrepreneurship with the following video:

Kidpreneur Readings. We read the Kidpreneurs’ book and did exercises from book – these readings and exercises continued throughout the unit. 

Online Games. They were then given the opportunity to play some online games that focus on entrepreneurship:


Market Survey 

Based on their own interests and hobbies (and with the help of the Kidpreneur workbook), my learners decided on possible products they could make (all products were handmade) and sell. They developed a market survey from this information:


Analyzing Results, Deciding of Products, Testing Products

Learners requested that their respective classes and family members take their survey. It was quite a treat watching them continually examine the graphs found on the Google form response page. Here is an example from one group’s survey:

Screen Shot 2022-04-19 at 6.53.44 AM

From the results, they decided to sell:

They started by testing out how to make these products to discover how to best produce them.


Expense Form

I acted as the bank and purchased the materials for the learners to make products. I saved the receipts, made copies of them, and had each learner create her or his Google sheet to record expenses.


Business Plan

From all of this information, the learners developed a business plan using the following Kids-Business-Plan simplified for kids. It included:

  • Their business name – Gifted Community Craft Story
  • Startup costs
  • Cost per item
  • Marketing strategies

Highlights – Making and Packaging the Products

Here is a photo essay that shows the students making and packaging the products.


Highlights – Selling the Products


Students Delivering Raised Monies to The Interfaith Community Shelter (serves the homeless)


Additional Resources

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 22, 2022 at 10:26 pm

Building a Sustainable City

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As I’ve discussed before, I offer electives to my 4th-6th grade GT students (see Offering Electives to Elementary Students). They chose paper engineering. A few started making city structures. They then stated that they should make a city. I suggested that it be a sustainable city (Sustainable Development Goal 11). From there, the innovation, creativity, passion, fun, and final product exploded due to the efforts of the students.

Standards Addressed

Education for Sustainability Standards and Performance Indicators

  • Responsible Local & Global Citizenship. The rights, responsibilities, and actions associated with leadership and participation toward healthy and sustainable communities. Students will know and understand these rights and responsibilities and assume their roles of leadership and participation.
  • Healthy Commons. Healthy Commons are that upon which we all depend and for which we are all responsible (i.e., air, trust, biodiversity, climate regulation, our collective future, water, libraries, public health, heritage sites, top soil, etc.). Students will be able to recognize and value the vital importance of the Commons in our lives and for our future. They will assume the rights, responsibilities, and actions to care for the Commons.
  • Inventing & Affecting The Future. The vital role of vision, imagination, and intention in creating the desired future. Students will design, implement, and assess actions in the service of their individual and collective visions. (https://cloudinstitute.org/cloud-efs-standards)

Common Core English Standards

CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.CCRA.W.7
Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.

Next Generation Science Standards (Science and Engineering)

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved (https://www.nextgenscience.org/topic-arrangement/msengineering-design).

Resources Shared With Students

Tools and Materials Use

A Snippet of the Student Planning Session

Informational Posters by Students for the Display

Highlights – Making the City

A Map of the Sustainable City – Drawn by a Student

Artist – Valerie M., a 4th Grader

Highlights – Finished City

Teacher Reflection

I have an expression, “Show students the possibilities and then get out of the way.” I did this for the Sustainable City project and the students didn’t disappoint! The project processes and products came out so much better than I expected. This fits into another of my beliefs, “Let go of expectations about about the products students will produce,” which I wrote about in Focusing on the Process: Letting Go of Product Expectations. I let students drive what they want to produce in the context of the processes desired., and they often create products way beyond what I could imagine.

I watched as they worked together as they planned their city, deciding what will be included and where it would go. I watched as they almost spontaneously created new areas and artifacts: gardens, orchards, farmers’ market, stables, and bike racks.

I have the privilege of observing great incidents of creativity, innovation, passion, and joy. I love my job. I love these kids.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 22, 2022 at 12:42 pm

A STEM-Driven Marble Run Using Instructables and Tinkercad

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STEM lessons are a strong focus in my 4th-6th grade gifted classes. I teach at two Title 1 schools with primarily Hispanic students. Our district works to identify students often underrepresented in gifted education programs. My mission in working with my students includes helping them gain knowledge and skills to situate them to be competitive with more privileged students when they get to high school and college. I believe that STEM lessons are perfect for doing so. For this STEM lesson, they made marble runs based on the following Instructables:

Standards Addressed

Next Generation Science Standards (Science and Engineering)

  • Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
  • Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
  • Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved (https://www.nextgenscience.org/topic-arrangement/msengineering-design).

ISTE Standards for Students (Technology Standards)

Innovative Designer Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students:

  • 1.4.a. know and use a deliberate design process for generating ideas, testing theories, creating innovative artifacts or solving authentic problems.
  • 1.4.b. select and use digital tools to plan and manage a design process that considers design constraints and calculated risks.
  • 1.4.c. develop, test and refine prototypes as part of a cyclical design process.
  • 1.4.d. exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems. (https://www.iste.org/standards/iste-standards-for-students)

Common Core Math Standards

  • Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system (e.g., convert 5 cm to 0.05 m), and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

The Learning Activities

Measuring the Objects for Their Marble Runs

Students used calipers from the Tinkercad Autodesk Innovator Kits (thanks to the company for providing these to my students!) to measure the objects that they used for their marble runs: straws, cups, boxes, and cardboard tubes.

What a fantastic math lesson this provided. Even though the students ranged in grades 4th through 6th, and studied fractions in their regular classes, they really didn’t understand how fractions worked using authentic measurement in the real world. Our discussion included the fractions between inch marks, and how these fractions function, i.e., how fractions are reduced. Our discussion was similar to the one presented in this video:

They also learned/reviewed some of the geometric properties of rectangular prisms and cylinders. I believe that using math concepts to solve real problems increased its relevance and made more sense to the students. Deeper learning occurred.

Creating the Objects in Tinkercad

This become another great math lesson as the students needed to convert the measurement fractions into decimals in order to create their objects in Tinkercad. With input from them, I created a graphic on the white board similar to the one below:

They then made their marble run prototypes in Tinkercad using these objects.

Using Tinkercad Designs to Create Real Life Marble Runs

While making their real life marble runs from their Tinkercad designs and because this process was iterative, students made changes as they experimented with making their marble runs work. They were asked to make changes in their Tinkercad designs when they made changes in their real life marble runs.

The Results

Here is one of the completed marble runs with the students providing a brief statement of their processes. Of special note is one of their comments, “We struggled a lot, but we made it work.”

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 9, 2022 at 11:04 pm

Artificial Intelligence: Generative AI

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The Generative AI learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective as well as being part of the ISTE AI Explorations course I am taking.

ISTE Standards for Students

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

The Hook

Students explore the following Generative AI technologies:

Introductory Videos

Students watch the following videos to gain some background knowledge about GANS:

Warm-Up Activity: Create a Mythical Creature

Students create a mythical creature using Google’s Chimera Painter-https://storage.googleapis.com/chimera-painter/index.html. “Chimera Painter is a demo that lets you run wild by drawing out creature shapes that become fully fleshed out by our CreatureGAN machine learning model, which was trained on hundreds of thousands of 2D renders of 3D creature models.” To begin, students watch the following video. It provides a great overview about how GANS work in the context of using the Chimera Painter. Once they create their creatures, they write a short story about them. Students can be instructed that their favorite creation can be used in the next activity – their presentation assignment.

The students loved making these.

Assignment: Create a Generative AI-Enhanced Presentation

For this assignment, students are going to make a presentation out of Generative AI Art that shows the projects they created for our AI unit (see previous blog posts). An alternative can be that the theme for the presentation is decided upon by the student and/or the teacher). It needs to include AI Art, AI sounds or music, and AI Drawing or Painting elements.

To begin students experiment with and create artifacts for the following GANS. They then choose their favorite creation from each of the following for use in their presentations. Students can use Google Slides to upload their creations, and possibly add text to create a GAN-enhanced presentation.

Generative AI Art

Generative AI Music

Generative AI Drawing / AI Painting:

Example Student Project

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

April 4, 2022 at 1:30 pm

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbot Activities for Students

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The chatbot learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective as well as being part of the ISTE AI Explorations course I am taking.

ISTE Standards for Students

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test automated solutions.
  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.

The Hook

Learners try out the following chatbot:


Video Introduction


Main Activity 1: A Scratch Text to Speech Language Translator Chatbot

Student Examples


Main Activity 2: Create a Chatbot on a Topic of Your Choice

Learners create their own Chatbots using Scratch 3.0. They are expected to research a topic of personal interest to create a Chatbot that can answer questions about interesting facts related to their topic.

Students explain how the ones they created work:



Extension

To extend knowledge about and coding of Chatbots, learners do the Python-drive CodeMonkey Trivia Chatbot course: https://app.codemonkey.com/hour-of-code/trivia-chatbot/course#1

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 30, 2022 at 1:54 am

Artificial Intelligence: Machine Learning Activities

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The machine learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective, and part of the ISTE AI Explorations course I am taking.


Education as it should be – passion-based.

Artificial Intelligence: Chatbot Activities for Students

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My gifted students, grades 4th-6th, selected Artificial Intelligence, as their elective during Spring, 2022 semester. (For more about this see Offering Electives to Elementary Students.) The chatbot learning activities I describe below are part of their larger Artificial Intelligence elective.Here is another

ISTE Standards for Students

  • Students leverage technology to take an active role in choosing, achieving and demonstrating competency in their learning goals, informed by the learning sciences. Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and
    troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
  • Students use a variety of technologies within a design process to identify and solve problems by creating new, useful or imaginative solutions. Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
  • Students develop and employ strategies for understanding and solving problems in ways that leverage the power of technological methods to develop and test solutions. Students understand how automation works and use algorithmic thinking to develop a sequence of steps to create and test
    automated solutions.
  • Students communicate clearly and express themselves creatively for a variety of purposes using the platforms, tools, styles, formats and digital media appropriate to their goals. Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations

Introduction to Machine Learning Via Videos

Real World Examples

Teachable Machine Activities

Introductory Activity: Using Teachable Machine with Google

Website Used: https://teachablemachine.withgoogle.com/

Here is a video tutorial how this works:

My students tried the Teachable Machine using three categories of objects (images) found in the classroom:


Rock, Paper, and Scissor – Machine Learning for Kids

This project uses Google’s Teachable Machine (images), the Machine Learning for Kids website, and Scratch 3.0 to create an interactive game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Website Used: https://machinelearningforkids.co.uk/#!/welcome

The following video used in conjunction with the website above describes how to create this project.


Machine Learning with Marshmallows and Tiny Sorter

This project uses Google’s Teachable Machine (images), p5 Sketch, and Arduino’s Circuit Playground to create a mechanism that sorts mini-marshmallows and cereals into respective cups.

Full directions for this project can be found at: https://learn.adafruit.com/machine-learning-with-marshmallows-and-tiny-sorter?view=all


micro:Pals

This lesson uses Google’s Teachable Machine (poses), Stempedia’s Pictoblox, and a micro:bit to create a micro:Pal (see the video below for an example).

Web Resources Needed:

I created the following video to describe the step-by-step directions for this project.

Here are my students doing making their microPals:

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 22, 2022 at 10:51 pm

The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain by Annie Murphy Paul (A Guide for Educators)

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As an educator who . . . began my career as an outdoor and experiential-based counselor; loves and studies educational trends; and teaches elementary students, and pre-service and in-service teachers; I believe good teachers naturally do what’s best for their students. This is in spite of (all meanings intended) of the multiple, and often conflicting and changing mandates placed on them.

With that said, I was excited to hear Annie Murphy Paul discuss her new book, The Extended Mind: The Power of Thinking Outside the Brain, at toddle TIES.

Over many years of elementary school, high school, and even college and graduate school, we’re never explicitly taught to think outside the brain; we’re not shown how to employ our bodies and spaces and relationships in the service of intelligent thought. Yet this instruction is available if we know where to look; our teachers are the artists and scientists and authors who have figured out these methods for themselves, and the researchers who are, at last, making these methods the object of study. For humans these [methods] include, most notably, the feelings and movements of our bodies; the physical spaces in which we learn and work; and the other minds with which we interact—our classmates, colleagues, teachers, supervisors, friends. (https://www.amazon.com/Thinking-Outside-Brain-Annie-Murphy/dp/0544947665)

From The Harvard Book Store:

The Extended Mind outlines the research behind this exciting new vision of human ability, exploring the findings of neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, psychologists, and examining the practices of educators, managers, and leaders who are already reaping the benefits of thinking outside the brain. She excavates the untold history of how artists, scientists, and authors—from Jackson Pollock to Jonas Salk to Robert Caro—have used mental extensions to solve problems, make discoveries, and create new works.

What we need to do, says acclaimed science writer Annie Murphy Paul, is think outside the brain. A host of “extra-neural” resources—the feelings and movements of our bodies, the physical spaces in which we learn and work, and the minds of those around us— can help us focus more intently, comprehend more deeply, and create more imaginatively.

In this book, she proposes a series of strategies that for me reflect best practices in education and ones that I typically use with my students (of all ages) on a regular basis. As mentioned earlier, I believe good educators often naturally integrate these practices in their classrooms:

(Note: It should be “Interoceptive“)

created by Cindy Blackburn

Here is an written summary of these keys points and strategies:

Source: https://jenniferlouden.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/Paul.THE-EXTENDED-MIND.list-of-takeaways.pdf

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 13, 2022 at 4:47 pm

Pi Day: An Example of an Interdisciplinary, Engaging Lesson

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I have the privilege of teaching my gifted elementary students at two Title 1 schools for multiple years. Each year I have special thematic days for which the students get very excited, e.g., Halloween and Day of the Dead “Wars,” Valentines Day, Book Celebrations, and Pi Day. I love planning a variety of interdisciplinary activities for these days. It is like planning parties. I want to give them memories of positive school experiences that last a lifetime. When I announce these upcoming celebrations, the students who have been in my program for multiple years cheer loudly. My new students then get excited, too.

I’ve blogged about the value of interdisciplinary units before – All Lessons Should Be Interdisciplinary https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2019/01/13/all-lessons-should-be-interdisciplinary/

benefits-of-interdisciplinary-learning

Pi Day Activities

The day consisted of the following activities:

  • Introduction – Pi Day Trivia
  • Book: Sir Cumference
  • Kahoot Pi Games
  • Digital Breakout
  • Making and Decorating Pies
  • Measuring for Pi
  • Stations
    • Pi Fortune Teller
    • Pi Sky Line
    • Race to Pi Card Game

Standards Addressed

A variety of cross-disciplinary content standards were addressed during this lesson.

Common Core Math Standards:

  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.7.G.B.4
    Know the formulas for the area and circumference of a circle and use them to solve problems; give an informal derivation of the relationship between the circumference and area of a circle.
  • CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.5.MD.A.1
    Convert among different-sized standard measurement units within a given measurement system, and use these conversions in solving multi-step, real world problems.

Common Core English Language Arts Standards:

  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.6.7
    Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.
  • CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RI.5.10
    By the end of the year, read and comprehend informational texts, including history/social studies, science, and technical texts, at the high end of the grades 4-5 text complexity band independently and proficiently.

National Core Art Standards:

Pi Day Trivia

Students were introduced to Pi and Pi Day through the following videos:

Sir Cumference

The students then were shown a reading of Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (A Math Adventure) by Cindy Neuschwander:

Join Sir Cumference, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius for wordplay, puns, and problem solving in this geometry-packed math adventure. King Arthur was a good ruler, but now he needs a good ruler. What would you do if the neighboring kingdom were threatening war? Naturally, you’d call your strongest and bravest knights together to come up with a solution. But when your conference table causes more problems than the threat of your enemy, you need expert help. Enter Sir Cumference, his wife Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius. With the help of the carpenter, Geo of Metry, this sharp-minded team designs the perfect table conducive to discussing the perfect plan for peace (https://www.amazon.com/Cumference-First-Round-Table-Adventure/dp/1570911525).

Pi Kahoots

My students cheer when we do Kahoot quizzes. The Kahoot quizzes made and submitted by other teachers make it so easy to use. Here are the two Pi Kahoots I did with the students:

Accessed at: https://create.kahoot.it/details/0210be57-ce68-489a-9054-d9165b8165ff

2019-03-31_1035.png

Accessed at: https://create.kahoot.it/details/pi-day-trivia/a7605cd3-4c93-4c13-bc23-eec96da2a627

Digital Breakout EDU – Pi Day

Breakout EDU is an immersive learning games platform. Breakout EDU games consist of a combination of physical and digital puzzle elements that must be solved in a set amount of time. Players of all ages are challenged to open the locked Breakout EDU box using critical thinking, collaboration and creativity. (https://orrhslibrary.weebly.com/what-is-breakout-edu.html).

Here is the Pi Day Digital Breakout EDU game they did.

2019-03-31_0947

Can be accessed at https://platform.breakoutedu.com/game/play/pi-day-digital-breakout-4th-6th-grades-90608 .

Making and Decorating Pies

One of the activities students enjoy the most during Pi day is making pies. They were given ingredients and recipes for:

They needed to follow the recipe which included figuring out the directions and using measurements. I even bought a Pi pan for them to use. After the pies were made, they decorated them with Pi symbols and characters.

Measuring for Pi

With tape measures in hand, groups of students carefully measure the circumferences and diameters of various round objects.  The class makes a table of measured values and calculates the quotients.  When they see time and time again the same answer result from division, whether it be from big circular objects or small ones—eureka!—they will have unwittingly discovered π for themselves (http://ccssimath.blogspot.com/2013/03/the-life-of-pi.html).

I created a competition to see which team could achieve Pi based on their measurements of diameters and circumferences of real world objects. I watched as they struggled with and learning about circumferences, diameters, and pi; about doing accurate measurement; about converting fractions into decimals to do their calculations; and about using the Pi formula.

Stations

Students could choose from the following stations to complete their Pi days.

Pi Fortune Teller

Pi Graph Skyline

Directions for this activity can be found at https://carrotsareorange.com/pi-day-activities/.

Race to Pi Card Game

Directions can be found at https://mathgeekmama.com/pi-day-card-game/.

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

March 12, 2022 at 2:21 pm

Transmedia, Digital Storytelling Project

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As someone who, for years, has been using educational technology, I have \said the often stated quote, Technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who don’t use technology will be replaced. More recently I heard the quote from my brilliant colleague, George Couros, Technology won’t replace great teachers, but in the hands of great teachers can be transformational. This better fits my sensibilities.

As an educator of 1st-6th grade gifted students, I love asking them to use digital platforms that permit them to be content creators. I believe that learners, in this high tech, highly connected world, should be producing as much or even more content than they are consuming. From Digital Promise:

Schools, libraries, and classrooms have traditionally been a place for the consumption of information and ideas. Empowering students as creators means educators shift their professional thinking, instruction and instructional program to enable authentic opportunities for students to individually and collaboratively tinker, build, inquire, design, create, and iterate.

The research surrounding students as creators recognizes their potential to engage, participate and their potential for developing agency as citizens of the world. As digital-age learners, students are not merely consumers of content and ideas. The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) identifies “Empowered Learners,” “Knowledge Constructors,” “Innovative Designers,” and “Computational Thinkers” among seven core standards for students (Empowering Students as Creators).

To support students as content creators, they were asked to create transmedia, digital stories. Digital stories are:

At a basic level digital storytelling means using technology to tell stories. You can tell digital stories in many ways, for example: through text on a website or social media tool, through narration and images in a video, or through narration in a podcast. Digital stories are not just facts presented with accompanying images, they are narratives crafted to take the listener or reader on a journey. Just like a novel or a documentary, digital stories have a plot, characters, and themes (What is Digital Storytelling?).

. . . and similarly, transmedia storytelling is defined as:

Transmedia storytelling uses multiple media platforms tell a coordinated story.  Multiple narratives come together, constructing a larger storyworld. Like a giant puzzle, each piece contributes to a larger narrative. The process is cumulative and each piece adds richness and detail to the story world, such as character backstories and secondary plotlines.  This makes for a richer audience experience and multiple access points (What is Transmedia Storytelling?).

For this project, my gifted students, grades 4-6, were asked to write a fictional story, alone or with a partner (most chose a partner). It was open-ended in that the fictional content was determined by them. They did, though, have to create:

  • Characters with each student creating a Makey-Makey/Scratch bottle character,
  • The Story Setting with each individual or team creating a CoSpace to portray their story setting,
  • A Story Arc using Storyboard That or Google Docs.

Makey Makey/Scratch Bottle Characters

To begin this aspect of the project, students were asked to compose 5 facts about their characters. They then created sculptural versions of their characters using water bottles and craft materials. They used Makey Makeys/Scratch to “speak” those facts – see the video below. Scratch is coding language with a simple visual interface that allows young people to create digital stories, games, and animations. Makey Makey is a simple circuit board you can use to create your own keyboard for a computer. For this project, students used Scratch to work using the Makey Makey. See Biography Bottles With Makey Makey for how to do this.

CoSpaces Story Settings

CoSpaces Edu is a 3D creation web and app-based classroom tool that allows students to create in a 3D augmented and virtual reality environments. It permits for collaborative creation so students were able to work with their partners to create a 3D, VR versions of the settings for their stories.

Since CoSpaces projects are VR enabled, I bought a cheap Bnext™ VR headset from ebay so students could view their spaces in virtual reality. It was so much fun to watch their reactions.

(The above images are royalty-free, but my students looked like this when viewing their sites. I couldn’t take photos as they were using my phone/camera to view CoSpaces.)

Plot – Story Arc: Storyboard That

I really love using Storyboard That, a digital tool aimed at students who want to create a storyboard to communicate. The online-based platform lets anyone easily create a storyboard in order to tell a story in a visually engaging way. For this project, I assigned the Plot Diagram and Narrative Arc template for students to use, a more complex one for older students and a less complex one for younger students.

Benefits/Results

From observing my learners for the multiple hours they were engaged in this project, I found it had the following benefits:

  • Full and total engagement,
  • Increased creativity and use of imagination (more than simple, written work) ,
  • Student voice and choice,
  • Learning how to use new content creation technologies,
  • Learning the mechanics of writing,
  • Project management (due to the long term nature of this project),
  • Joy and pride in learning.

Science-Based Valentine Day Projects

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I really like using maker education and STEM/STEAM projects to celebrate holidays and special events. My method of teaching new concepts is to use the Stages of Make Education that I presented in Learning in the Making: How to Plan, Execute, and Assess Powerful Makerspace Lessons:

The following Valentine Day projects were completed by my 3rd through 6th grade gifted students. Due to the new skills involved, they were asked to copy the basic instructions. Then as is typical of my students, then went quickly into the Advance and Embellish Stages of Making.

Circuit-Based Valentine’s Projects

NGSS Standards Addressed

  • Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
  • Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another

Introduction

I began asking who knew what an electric circuit. Sadly, none did. I showed them Electric Circuits – BrainPop UK https://youtu.be/3LsXGAbwTOQ

Circuit Project 1: Conversation Hearts Box Operation Game

Project Description

The Instructable, Operation Valentine: a Game, a Gift, a Lesson in Electric Circuits, was used for this project. I substituted aluminum tape for the paperclip and pre-wired LEDs instead of the Christmas lights.

What follows is a video that shows how one student took this project from Copy to Embellish of the Stages of Making:

Circuit Project 2: Chibitronic LED Valentine Day Card

For this activity students were asked to create a Valentine Day card by making a paper circuit using a Chibtronic LED and a cardstock switch built into the circuit. I adapted the activity from two activities from their website:

I cut out the front “cover” of the card using my Cricut machine to show a heart where the light would shine through. The students chose a piece of colored tissue paper to cover it. Instead of providing a circuit temple, I drew it on the whiteboard and asked the students to draw their own on another piece of cardstock.

This student were from the Copy Stage to the Advance Stage of Making by creating a popup card he figured out and crafted:

A Little Chemistry

NGSS

By the end of middle school, students will be able to apply understanding that pure substances have characteristic physical and chemical properties

Introduction

I showed them Physical and Chemical changes (Brain pop) https://youtu.be/hq8K-dF8_4c

Project Description

I used the following video as my reference for both materials and procedures:

What the students’ molds and candy looked like . . .

Written by Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D.

February 13, 2022 at 2:19 am

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