Monday, December 17, 2018

Enter The Future Ready Schools Film Festival Today!

Future Ready Schools has announced a very exciting project....the Future Ready Schools Film Festival!  

On the site, Future Ready Schools shares, 

The Empower Future Ready Students Film Festival is a brand new project within the network that seeks to capture, showcase, and celebrate the values, opportunities, and great things happening in schools and districts that embody the FRS framework, growth mindset, and spirit of collaborative leadership.
You will find all of the guidelines and details on how to create and submit your video, important deadlines and more on the Film Festival here

Now, until February 10 at 11:59pm PST, you can submit your video. 

Good luck, friends.  We can't wait to see all of the amazing stories and videos that you share.  The winners will be announced on Digital Learning Day, February 28, 2019. 

A New Coding Breakout EDU....Mission Maze Emerson Elementary!

When I saw this post today from my dear friend and cofounder of Breakout EDU, Adam Bellow, I was so excited!  This is a project I have been working on with my friends at Breakout EDU for a few months now and one that is so special to me.
This new Breakout EDU is based on the book I wrote with Blake Hoena, A Coding Mission, which is part of the Adventures in Makerspace series from Capstone.
Mission Maze-Emerson Elementary is all about coding and perfect for elementary students as they learn and practice their coding and computer science skills.  
In this Breakout EDU, the characters need help getting out of the digital pages and back to the Makerspace at Emerson Elementary. 

You will find the Mission Maze Breakout EDU here, along with dozens of other amazing Breakout EDU's and resources that will bring so much excitement, engagement, learning and fun to your libraries, classrooms and school communities too. 

Thank you Adam, Ann and Patti!  We can't wait to play this Breakout EDU at Van Meter! 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

A Virtual Reality Trip To The North Pole With The Polar Express, Merge and Our Kindergarteners!

I had so much fun visiting our kindergarten classrooms, with Molly Wosmansky and Melanie Smith, last week with the Merge goggles and a little virtual reality that tied into.... 
The Polar Express and holiday season.  After they read and...
....listened to, The Polar Express, by Chris Vans Allsburg, 
we told the kindergarteners they were going to have the chance to visit Santa at the North Pole and other places celebrating holidays around the world using the Merge goggles and virtual reality. 

They were so excited!  
I put together a few Google Slides to use during the visit with The Polar Express video and...
...360Cities, which included the Tallinn Christmas Market, Christmas Market in Berlin, Santa Claus in Finland and a parade of Santa Claus in Japan;
the Coca Cola Virtual Reality for Christmas YouTube videoand...
I also included the Christmas and New Year Holidays Collection from Roundme, which can be found here.  We didn't have time to do this one on this day, but I did do it with a few of the other elementary classes. 
It is very easy to set up the VR tours in Google Slides with QR codes, because it takes the little ones straight to the 360 image or video we want to take them.
By setting them up in Google Slides, we can project these in the front of the room and let the students have choice on where they want to visit. 
The teachers also printed the slides so we put a few of these around the room to give them even more options.  These could be sent home to show their families too. 
Working with virtual and augmented reality with our youngest learners has been amazing.  I love watching them figure it out together.  
They are so passionate and excited about this new technology and experiences, they always do too!
 When we put them into pairs, they help one another and take this job very seriously.
I think you can tell by the look on their faces what they think of these special virtual reality experiences. 
Also, don't forget to include the teachers too!  This technology and experiences has opened windows for everyone. 
And even when they need a little break to take it all in like our kindergarten friend Vinny, 
the extra work and technology needed to provide these wonderful opportunities are a game changer for education. This picture truly says it all! 

I will visit Ms. McClintock and Ms. Cranston's kindergarten classrooms this week, and quite a few others as we work with CoSpaces, Merge Cubes, ThingLink and more!  I can't wait to open even more windows and opportunities for our students and community with this amazing technology and resources. 

Please feel free to visit and use the Holiday and Santa Trip Google Slides here too

Author & Friend, Laura Murray, & Her Gingerbread Man Visit The Van Meter 2nd Graders!

With all of our gingerbread activities taking place around the 2018 Gingerbread STEM Community and Makerspace Global Projectwe just had to invite our dear friend and the author of our favorite Gingerbread Man, Laura Murray, to Van Meter during this holiday season.  
Laura is the author of The Gingerbread Loose in the School, The Gingerbread Man Loose in the Zoo, The Gingerbread Loose on the Fire Truck, The Gingerbread Man Loose At Christmas and....
...her most recent one, 
The Gingerbread Man and the Leprechaun Loose At School, 
which she read to all of us during our Skype. 
Our 2nd graders LOVED listening to Laura read and tell her story of being a kindergarten teacher and author.  And we were so excited to also have lots of very special guests in....
 ...Amana, Iowa, where my sister, Heather Fox, is the teacher librarian at Amana Elementary.
At Van Meter, our kindergarten, first and second graders have been using Laura's books and her Gingerbread Man character to create stories of their own gingerbread boys and girls traveling around the world and to global holidays, while....
....Heather's students in Amana are taking their gingerbread boys and girls to the zoo! 

We can't wait to share these stories using our green screens and the DoInk app super soon. 
Laura's website is filled with amazing resources including printables (this is where we found the Gingerbread Man template to print off), ideas from other teachers and librarians, articles, book trailers and much more!  It is definitely one of my favorite author sites to go to for wonderful literacy and creative ideas.  

Thank you, Laura for visiting Van Meter!  It always means the world to us to have you come and share your stories and love for literacy and children. I hope that one day you will come to Van Meter and visit us for the day.  You are the best!  

KEVA Planks Bring Joy & STEAM To Our Global Gingerbread Projects In Van Meter, Iowa!

Something new has come to Van Meter that has brought so much joy to our young builders.  
They are called KEVA Planks and I can't tell you how awesome the excitement has been around these incredible wooden planks. 
Two weeks ago at the NJASL, New Jersey Association of School Libraries, Conference in Long Branch, New Jersey, I had the honor of meeting Dr. Ken Scheel and his lovely wife, who were there demonstrating and exhibiting his invention, KEVA Planks. 
They can be used for so many things from free play and building, to tying into literacy and parts of the curriculum, 
to using the Brain Builders and... 
....3D KEVA Challenges, to so much more within Makerspaces, libraries, classrooms, homes and anywhere building and creativity can take place too. 

You can check out all of the KEVA products here
I loved meeting them, because one of the first things that caught my eyes at the conference was this giant tower built from KEVA planks. In fact, Ken built it on site! 
Here are a few interesting facts about what makes KEVA planks so unique from their site.....Every piece is the same. KEVA planks are about 1/4 inch thick, 3/4 inch wide and 4 1/2 inches long.
You build structures by simply stacking the planks. No glue, no connectors. They can be stacked upright which looks like it would be unstable as a house of cards, but even this type of structure is surprisingly stable. 
Children discover the joy of creating original works of art or cleverly designed contraptions. Creativity brings joy into the lives of humans which is why the arts are so important. At the same time, future architects and engineers are discovering their aptitude for building at an early age. Young KEVA builders today will be building our world in a few years.

After talking with Ken and seeing the KEVA Planks for myself, I couldn't wait to bring these to our school and to all of the students at Van Meter. 
Then last Monday a BIG surprise arrived at our school.  It was from our friends at KEVA Planks and we couldn't wait to start building! 
When I was thinking about a way to tie the KEVA Planks into our activities in the library this month, I thought about all of the gingerbread activities we have been working on in the library and classrooms to tie into the 2018 Gingerbread STEM Community and Makerspace Global Project and...
Laura Murray's wonderful Gingerbread Man stories.
Our second graders even Skyped with Laura, and my sister Heather Fox and her students in Amana, Iowa, last week.
Our kindergarten, first and second graders have created their very own Gingerbread boy or girl based off of her sweet little Gingerbread Man character....
...and have taken their Gingerbread boy or girl to places around the world, after researching countries and holidays in Capstone's PebbleGo, creating passports and using...
 ....the greenscreen DoInk storytelling app.
Our 3rd and 5th graders are creating video games using Bloxels with a gingerbread and holiday theme. 
Our 4th graders are using CoSpaces, Merge cubes and goggles to create virtual reality gingerbread houses. They even Skyped with CoSpaces and Merge to kick off the project....more on this amazing project in an upcoming post.
And our 2nd graders are creating gingerbread digital stories in Buncee with characters, stickers, animations and backgrounds they brainstormed with our friends at Buncee. You can read all about this Skype connection and project here.
Then one of the amazing Maker Maven STEAM Challenge activities popped into my head that I saw earlier in the day on their Facebook page.
Can You Build A House For A Gingerbread Man? would be perfect for the KEVA planks with all of our elementary students in grades K-5.

You can read all about the Can You Build A House For A Gingerbread Man? activity here, which includes this adorable little sheet for students to brainstorm, collaborate, create and reflect throughout the STEAM project.
We took this activity and instead of real graham crackers and frosting, we used the KEVA planks instead. 
Being one of dozens of schools around the world participating in the 2018 Gingerbread STEM Communities Global Project, we could even share these KEVA creations on social media and our blog using #GingerbreadSTEM.  Our students would love this!
Let me know you what we did and the amazing houses all of our students built for their gingerbread boys and girls!
Jessica, my teacher librarian partner, and I printed off the cute little posters we found here and....
...put them on each one of the tables where the four groups would meet. 
We included the activity sheet (that I showed above) so they would have a place to brainstorm,
write and draw out the house they would build out of KEVA planks...
 ....for their gingerbread boys and girls.
We loved seeing how creative they were and....
...the cooperative, collaborative and fun work that was taking place.

When they finished brainstorming, each group got to work at four different stations filled with KEVA planks around the library.
We loved watching them bring their ideas and gingerbread houses to life. Everyone was unique.  
As each group finished their KEVA plank gingerbread houses, the smiles on their faces and....
....excitement to share what they had imagined, 
and built, 
for their Gingerbread boys and girls were...
...the best! 
Not only did these accomplishments mean the world to each group, 
they meant the world to each student too!  
They were building something for their gingerbread characters and something they were very proud and excited to be part of. 

They knew their creations and stories would also be shared on the global hashtag #GingerbreadSTEM with others around the world, so this made them even more motivated to create and share something awesome and unique.

We saw imaginations grow and come to life with the KEVA planks.  We can't wait to see what they will bring to our library, classrooms and community all year long!

Thank you again Ken and everyone at KEVA! You have created something very special for our learners and communities.  We can't wait to connect and have you meet our builders soon. 
You can read all about KEVA Planks and find out more information about using them in libraries and education here