The Uplifting Words of Children

For the last technology lab of the year, I provided the first graders with several options:  Ozobots, Osmo Coding, and links on my website (TVS TechnoWizards).

As I walked around the room interacting with the kids, I came upon two students who were working on creating paths for their Ozobots. They were each working on their own paper so I asked, “What do you think might happen if you joined the papers?”

The reaction was great! One of those “wow” moments as they scooted their papers together! Then came the sweet words of children . . .

Child 1:  “Wow! You’re really smart!”

Child 2:  “Yeah, you are REALLY smart!”

Child 1:  “I wish I could have you as my computer teacher in college.”

Teaching doesn’t get much better than that!

Little Bo Peep’s Sheep: “Why are they always lost?”

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
and doesn’t know where to find them.
Leave them alone and they’ll come home
,
wagging their tails behind them.

I love nursery rhymes and fairy tales and, after doing a couple of design thinking activities with second grade with the fairy tale theme, decided to try something with first grade. While searching on the Teachers Pay Teachers site, I discovered STEM and Mother Goose: Nursery Rhymes with Engineering. After sharing the idea with the first grade teachers, I found that they had just finished a unit on nursery rhymes. Perfect timing! We chose “Little Bo Peep” primarily because we already had several of the materials.

However, when I asked the students who knew the Little Bo Peep rhyme, I was shocked that very few had heard of it! My boys grew up with nursery rhymes and fairy tales, but they are now in their thirties. I guess these aren’t as popular as in the past! Oh well, that didn’t stop the activity – I read the rhyme a couple of times and talked about poor Little Bo Peep who just couldn’t keep up with her sheep! We discussed what prototype meant and said that they’d be using straws, popsicle sticks, and/or coffee stirs to construct their model. Playdoh would be used to hold it together. The prototype would need to hold at least 6 cotton balls (which represented the sheep).

We used the The Launch Cycle model, developed by John Spencer and A.J. Juliani as our design thinking guide. I asked the students to first think what Little Bo Peep needed to keep her sheep in one spot. This was so hard because the children wanted to draw and discuss immediately. Think time was short; less than a minute for this age. Next, I asked the children to draw their ideas on paper; again without talking.

Finally, students were allowed to discuss and improve on their ideas. Lots of talking and hand motions occurred as they really got into the planning stage! Then, the materials were chosen and the building began.

As we walked around the room, listening to the conversations, we heard fantastic collaboration and encouragement.

“Don’t lose confidence,” said one child to another when frustration was expressed.

Another group was asked by their teacher if the sheep could hop out of the low pen. In an exasperated voice, the makers replied, “No! It’s a protype!” She almost got the new vocabulary word – prototype!

Another group was describing their structure and the girl started with, “Well, Mary Bo Peep needs a pen because she keeps losing all her sheep.” Love the combination of nursery rhymes!

We didn’t finish the first week but that was fine. The following week, the children were SO excited to return to the lab to get their pen built. In the second session, I also asked the kids to take a photo in the Seesaw app and record something about their design.

Sometimes we’re hesitant to try design thinking activities with our younger students. After watching the collaboration and listening to the conversations, I’m convinced this is a vital part of learning. These children AMAZED me! Is it messy? Oh, yes! Is it worth it? Definitely!!

Links for other class videos:

Mrs. Crumley’s video

Mrs. Hutchinson’s video

Ozobots Having Fun with Dr. Seuss!

Ozobots, Ozoeasy sticker codes, and Dr. Seuss!! How much fun is that??

Ozobots are fantastic tiny robots that can be programmed by either drawing in a color code combination or by using the drag and drop Ozoblockly online program. I love these little robots because all ages can use them; they grow with the child.

However, what we’ve discovered with the younger children is that it can be difficult to draw the codes “just right” so that the Ozobot can read them. That’s why I was thrilled to discover the Ozoeasy sticker codes this year. These small round stickers were created by an 8 year old – always fun to tell students that even young children can become an entrepreneur!

Enter the Dr. Seuss theme! Using PowerPoint (Only because I wanted precise lines!), I created a couple of “hats” to go with The Cat and the Hat.

The first hat the children worked with had only one place to draw a connecting line – at the top. The students were asked to choose a color other than black to connect the lines. After demonstrating how the code stickers worked, we talked about best places to add those. For example, the codes have to have black lines on either side and they can’t be too close to a corner. Students were also encouraged to draw colored lines across the hat.

After exploring the triangular hat, we moved onto the other template. This one had breaks in the black lines. The children could draw their own code, place a code sticker on a line, or add a connecting line of a color other than black.

What fun observing as the children discovered how the Ozobot reacted to the colored lines and the codes!

As our time together drew to a close, we regrouped to talk about our observations.

What happened when Ozobot rolled over a line that was a color other than black? What did you discover about Ozobot moving in opposite directions as it traveled over a code sticker? What did you learn about drawing your own codes?

Here are the templates of the hats. There are a couple of options included for each design.

hat template

Kindness Makes a Difference!

The entire Lower School focused on kindness during the month of February. Our first graders brainstormed about ways to be kind to others. We then asked the children to draw a picture showing a kind act using the Book Creator app.

The children then completed the sentence starter, Kindness Is, as they wrote and recorded their thoughts.

As the books were completed, the children air dropped theirs to me so that I could combine them into a class book. These were saved as an ePub book to be read on iOS devices as well as a video that can be seen on any platform.

We hope you enjoy their thoughts on kindness!

Below are links to the videos and the ePub books. To download the books, click on the link while on an iOS device that has the iBooks app. Choose download and open in iBooks.

Mrs. Crumley’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Crumley’s Kindness Video

Mrs. Hutchinson’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Hutchinson’s Kindness Video

Mrs. Kee’s Kindness Book
Mrs. Kee’s Kindness Video

 

Who Doesn’t Love Legos?

Legos and Seesaw – a fun combination! Over the past few weeks, we’ve been introducing the first graders to Seesaw; getting them used to using it so that they can work independently with it. Seesaw has created an extremely easy, user-friendly digital portfolio that allows students to add images, drawings, narration, video, and more that can be shared with parents. Students can “show” their work so that teachers can check for understanding.

This activity started with a tray of Legos per table. The only guidelines were that they had to share, they could work by themselves or with those at their table, they must finish their construction by the end of our session, and a photo had to be taken. The students couldn’t WAIT to get started! What a hum of activity! Yes, sharing limited Legos was difficult at times. Overall, everything went smoothly. The children knew that when that timer went off, they had to take their photo and then, take-apart time began. No one wanted an unfinished Lego structure!

During the next session, the children added their photo to Seesaw and recorded narration about what they built.

Here’s a sample Seesaw project. The students are loving receiving feedback from parents!

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“Just Right” Sites

The Common Sense Media Education website has a wealth of information for teachers (and parents) from digital citizenship to app evaluation and much more.

Our first graders recently discussed Going Places Safely on the Internet. The lesson includes a short video designed for grades K-2 along with a detailed lesson plan.

When the students arrived, I asked what they would do if they wanted to go some place. “We would ask our parents or our teacher!”  I next asked what they would do if they wanted to go on the internet. Most said they would need to ask permission to do that.

We watched the video then I told the students we would be taking some “field trips” to visit  online places far away from our school.

I chose to make some changes from the suggested sites in the lesson plan. Here are the ones used for this year.

These are linked here on my teaching website.

The children were asked to explore the sites for a few minutes. Then they would need to decide what their favorite “field trip” was so that they could illustrate it. The students enjoyed visiting the faraway places but the takeaway was the importance of always being safe online. This lesson is an excellent way to make connections in that, just as we practice safety in the real world, we also need to do so when we are online.

Safety Rules to Follow When Going Online:

  • Always ask your parent or teacher first.
  • Only talk to people you know.
  • Stick to places that are just right for you!

Here’s a quick look at the students exploring the sites and choosing their favorite place to visit. 

Who Doesn’t Like Legos??

Ever since the fourth graders were “caught” by the first graders working with Legos, the little ones have been asking, “When will it be our turn?”

Well, this week their turn finally came. I wish I could have everyone use the Legos at the same time but I just don’t have an unlimited supply! So, the students were divided into groups of three and were given a baggy stuffed with assorted Lego bricks, wheels, doors, and windows.

legos

The directions were: Make a stop-motion video of what your group builds.

mycreate appThe children were introduced to the MyCreate app ($4.99). This is an easy-to-use stop-motion app for all ages. The camera is built-in so students can easily take a series of photos to show change over time.

The most challenging aspect of using any app like this is convincing the children that the camera and object being photographed should be stationary. It is SO easy for one or the other (or both) to move and that really does disrupt the flow of the video. Fortunately, the app uses onion-skinning to view the previous image which helps line things up for the next photo.

Helping steady the photographer!

Helping steady the photographer!

My plan was to have students build something from whatever was in the baggie but they were soon begging for more! A quick change in plans resulted and the groups were allowed to send one person to collect additional Legos.

IMG_5178

I was amazed at how well the groups worked together to plan their structure and then to build and photograph each step. Of course, Lego building can never be limited to a 40 minute class session! Next week, we’ll finish creating the stop-animation videos and post to the blogs. I can’t wait to see the finished products!

IMG_5141

4th Graders + 1st Graders + Ozobots = Great Learning!

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased 8 Ozobots. Ozobots are small robots that can be “programmed” by using a series of color combinations (OzoCodes) drawn by markers on white paper. These were introduced to a 4th grade class that just happened to have some skilled Ozobot users!

After watching a couple of the students, I decided to ask their teacher if they could share their knowledge with a first grade class who happened to also have some college student observers from TCU.

We got permission and I presented the plan to two students who were absolutely thrilled to be asked! They suggested two others so we ended up with a fabulous group of four! I was a bit concerned that they would be somewhat intimidated by the college students. Didn’t even cross their minds – one boy told me, “No problem! I can teach the college kids.”

The fourth graders arrived before class started. They had spent their weekend drawing Ozobot paths to share with the younger ones!

The first graders were in awe of the older students! One little girl stated, “I just love these 4th graders coming to teach us Ozobots.”

What leaders these older students are! Our four young teachers were amazing! They all walked around providing tips and offering any guidance needed to make sure the little ones (and the college students) were successful at drawing codes for the Ozobots.

At one point, one of the fourth graders pulled me aside to share, “Uh, Mrs. Arrington, that little boy is getting marker on the table. What can I use to clean it up?”

And, as the older students left, I was asked, “Can we come back next week and teach?” We will definitely have to make that happen!

Celebrating Dr. Seuss with Ozobots!

ozobots

What is an Ozobot? A tiny robot that can be programmed by drawing “OzoCodes” using colored markers. Various color combinations cause the Ozobot to perform different functions.

To celebrate Seuss Week, the first and second graders were given a couple of hat shapes that were missing parts of lines. The children drew codes in these line breaks to program the Ozobots.

The third graders drew their own hats. (Or, at least these were supposed to look like hats!)

For the younger students, it was easier to concentrate on drawing the color codes rather than create a hat and draw code.

Even with the older students, there was some frustration that the Ozobots didn’t do what they were supposed to. We talked a lot about how everything had to be “just right” – lines not too thin or too thick. A code has to have all the colors about the same size. If you color too hard with the blue marker, the Ozobot thinks the color is black. I told the students that the Ozobot is like Goldilocks who had to have everything “just right” at the Three Bears’ house.

Lots of practice and problem-solving occurs with this activity! It’s loud but, my goodness, it is loads of fun!

Here are the templates I created:

Ozobot Dr. Seuss hats