Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Creating a Makerspace in the Elementary Media Center

     For the past two years I have wanted to create a Makerspace in the media center. While I don't technically have the "space" so to speak I decided to set up stations this week to make it happen. This week has been the most fun we have had in a while. I set up four stations for the students to rotate around, a Makey-Makey station, a Littlebits station, a Stikbot animation station, and a Chalkboard tabletop. This week I had 1st, 3rd, 5th, and a Life Skills class. Each class has left the media center all excited about the next time they will visit.  The collaborating and creating among the students made the journey to having a Makerspace well worth it. 
         The first station was the Makey-Makey.  The Makey-Makey website describes it as "an invention kit for the 21st century. You can turn everyday objects into touch pads and combine them with the Internet. It's a simple Invention Kit for Beginners and Experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between." This is a great way to get your students creating new ways to interact with the computer. To start off I created a piano out of paper, tinfoil, and duct tape. This was my way of introducing it to the students. We have explored playing PAC-man, the bongos, piano, and even created a human piano this week.The students are looking forward to next time when they are going to be able to explore other ways to control the computer.


        The next station was a Littlebits station.  According to the website, Littlebits allows students to create inventions with easy to use electronic building blocks. The students have enjoyed creating everything from a buzzer, siren, a light switch, and even a prank handshake today.  Littlebits is perfect for collaboration, and problem solving. If the circuit didn't work they quickly set about trying to  discover how to fix it. The exploration of circuits and electronics is a great way to show your students how engineering and technology go hand in hand.

         After exploring at these two stations students had a chance to go "old school" so to speak. I purchased a Chalkboard Tablecloth for my students to use to create responses to books or research in the media today. I took advantage of the fact that it is National Poetry Month and had the students to research on Wonderopolis "What is a haiku?" Then the groups had to work together to write their own.

        Our last station was the Stikbots station; where the students used a simple digital camera and Stikbots to create a stop animation movie. This is a station that will take a couple of weeks to finish. Today the fifth graders had the bots doing the "Whip and Nae", climbing up walls, and more.



           Needless to say the Makerspace was a big hit with both the students and myself. I am looking forward to watching the students create, design, collaborate, and problem solve their way through each station. I am also planning to add a craft making station as soon as I collect enough supplies.  If you have been considering starting a Makerspace in your media center/library I would strongly recommend it.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Blackout Poetry in honor of National Poetry Month

         There are those activities that you start with your students that seem like such a great idea and then you try and they don't go as well. Then there are activities that you think - this might be over their heads but let's try anyway only to be blown away from the outcome.  This activity fits in the last category. I saw a great idea on Twitter called Blackout Poetry and had to try it. The premise is for students to take a page of a weeded book and then black out the words that they don't want to use for the poem.  The words not blacked out make the poem.
           Today's group did such a great job and you could really see the critical thinking that the students used for this activity. They were working on blacking out the words and kept going back and forth between what to use and what not to use and explaining their reasoning to each other. Then when we got to the end they needed a title. So one of the students looked at the words and said them out loud slowly: "stiff, look into her eyes, standing still". Then he had an "aha" moment and screamed, "MEDUSA! You turn stiff when you look at her."  It was a great moment of students analyzing their work and making connections to prior knowledge. Here is their poem and an image of the page that they use to create it.


Each one was standing alone,
looking stiff and angry, 
he had to pass them on the way.
He had to pass, 
didn't say anything. 
Just turned his head the other way.
They had the nerve to look at 
her in the eyes.

To read more check out our padlet: http://padlet.com/amitchell/poetrywall

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

More Poems to celebrate National Poetry Month and NCCBA

Third graders composed this poem after reading "Gravity" by Jason Chin.


Gravity, Gravity
Gravity Saves the Day
If we didn't have Gravity
Everything would Float Away.
The moon and sun would float, float away.
Thank God we have Gravity!


Third grade poem inspired by "Who said Women Can't be Doctors" by Tanya Lee Stone

Women Doctors

Twenty-eight Nos
Twenty-nine Tries
One Yes!
Graduated 1849
Proved Them Wrong
First Woman Doctor


Monday, April 4, 2016

Celebrating Poetry Month with our North Carolina Children's Book Award Nominees

This month I decided to revisit a lesson with 1st grade that I did with Kindergarten using the book Blue on Blue by Dianne White. I shared the book and then gave each partner a letter. The partners had to come up with a word that started with that letter that went with the book. Here is the poem that today's first graders came up with. It is entitled, "Rainy Day."

Rainy Day

Loud, Noisy Thunder!
Drop, Drop, Drop,
Rain hits umbrella,
Wet mud forms! 
Sun come out,
Mud Dries Up!

                                    - 1st Grade Class

Stormy Day

Rain Thunder & Lightning
Mud, Mud, Mud!
Umbrella keeps us dry!
Sunny Weather comes
Then beautiful night!

                                   -1st Grade Class

With third grade I put them in groups and let them read the books in groups. They then had to write a poem that went with the book. Here is a poem created to go with "The Cart That Carried Martin" by Eve Bunting.

Martin's Funeral

Martin's Funeral,
Sad, Sad, Sad!
Cart Pulled by Mules,
Cry, Cry, Cry!
But . . .
Hope and Freedom Still Lives!

                                    - Third Grade Class

This Orq

Cave boy
Has friend Woma,
Mama says, "No Woma!"
Woma makes a mess!
Woma saves Orq!
Mama loves Woma!

                                     -Third Grade Class

I will be adding more as the week goes on.