Tuesday, April 30, 2019

3D Printers Bring Experiences, Learning & Make A Difference For Our Elementary Students at Van Meter!

I have always been fascinated by 3D printing.  We purchased our first 3D printer in the Van Meter School Library about 6 years ago when I wrote a Donors Choose grant for one. 
We were so excited when it was funded and loved finding ways to use and integrate it into our K-12 classrooms and curriculum.  You can read all about this here

3D printing was one of my goals again this year.  I wanted to not only bring 3D printers to our elementary, but I wanted to empower and teach our students and teachers how to create and print on them too.  And of course, I wanted to learn and print right along with them.  This was going to be a new adventure for all of us.  

I turned to our amazing VMEPC (Van Meter Elementary Parent Committee) to ask them to help us bring a 3D printer to our elementary school.  At first, I found one that was $1600.00 by doing a lot of research and asking many questions.  About the same time, I received an email about a special from one of my friends.  This was for a Monoprice MP Voxel 3D Printer for $220!  That was reasonable enough that I could even buy one to use at home.  
I thought to myself, 

If I had one at home, I could learn, create and print with my family!  I could get really good at all of the different programs and apps and be even better at bringing it to our community, teachers and most of all, our kids!  

So I ordered the Monoprice.  It came about 2 weeks later.  I was so excited.
From the first day we got the 3D printer, my family and I had a blast learning how to create in Tinkercad, find designs in Thingiverse, and print all of these things on the Monoprice 3D Printer. 

Hagan wanted a Hawkeye, Brady wanted a porcupine that holds toothpicks, and Eric wanted to print an engine block.  And we did all three of these designs and more.  It was so cool, super easy and fun to use. 
That Monday, I brought it to school and couldn't wait to show everyone what this little printer was capable of...and what we could be capable of too!
After doing a little research and talking with my principal, Cody Tibbetts, we decided to order not one 3D printer for $1600, but five 3D printers for $1600!  By purchasing the Monoprice, we not only saved money but we were able to put several 3D printers into the library, classrooms and hands of our students and teachers. 
These could be easily moved around to accommodate a large classroom 3D printing project, or be used one at a time for smaller printing projects...
...such as the 3D butterfly project I have been working on with our kindergarteners in Molly Wosmansky's classroom.
The Monoprice is easy to use because it allows us to send the print to the printer through our wifi network, stores prints on the hard drive on the printer, shows a timer so the students can track the progress of the print, is light and easy to move around and has several other reasons and qualities that makes it great. 

We have big plans for our little 3D printers during the last month of school here at Van Meter.  Our kindergartners are going to be creating and printing animal cookie cutters based on their animal research from their Bloxels PBL; 2nd graders are going to be creating and printing game pieces to go along with their Fractured Fairy Tale Crayola CreatED Game Project; 4th graders are going to continue printing their designs based around their wax museum characters; 5th graders are going to be creating game pieces to go with their Crayola Game and BreakoutEDU Project, and I hope we have a few more! 
My goal is to have every single one of our elementary students exposed to 3D printing by the end of the year.  And not only our students, but teachers and families too. 

This is just the start Van Meter and thanks to our awesome families that support our students and the VMEPC, we are able to bring this special technology, amazing experiences and opportunities for our students to develop and foster passions now and for their future. 
Together, we are making a difference for our kids.

Thank you. 

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Kicking Off An AR/VR Program At Our School With MERGE!

A big focus at our school this year has been integrating augmented and virtual reality into our K-12 school district in meaningful, engaging and creative ways. 
We have visited the Macy's Day Parade, China, 
National Parks like the Red Wood Forest, the North Pole, 
colleges around the world, oceans, zoos and lots of other places. 
We have Skyped with MERGE, CoSpaces and teachers who are experts in augmented and virtual reality.  Our students created gingerbread houses, 
natural disasters, atoms and book talks for the MERGE cube in CoSpaces using augmented reality. 
Our kindergarteners even used the app Object Viewer from MERGE's Miniverse to view the butterflies they drew using augmented reality before we uploaded the designs into Tinkercad to print on our 3D printers. 
We started off with 12 headsets with 12 iTouches. They are housed in a cart that allows us to charge, update and move them around as needed.

Then right before spring break, we had something awesome happen at Van Meter. We added 100 MERGE headsets and cubes to the augmented and virtual reality resources we had. With our secondary students having their own devices, we realized we didn't need to have iTouches for these. We wrote a letter and sent it home to families to share our ideas and the policies for this program.
Diana, Jessica and I talked through how we would manage these as part of our library collection.

Diana cataloged each MERGE headset and cube in Follett's Destiny Discover so teachers, students and families could check them out to use at school and home in order to bring these technologies into school and home activities. It will be easy for them to come to the library to check out and even put in one of the plastic storage containers we purchased for transporting larger class sets.

To kick off this new program with our secondary, we invited our friends from MERGE, who are based in San Antonio, Texas, to come to Van Meter for a big....

...MERGE Day Kick Off!
It was amazing to have Jeremy and Brandon from MERGE with us for this special event.
My friend and colleague, Quin Pelz, and I organized this for our 8th and 9th grade students on this day.  We thought these would be two great grades to start with since they represent our middle and high school grades, students and teachers. 
Together, we shared what augmented and virtual reality was, 
the apps and sites they will use and little tips and tricks which will be helpful as we venture into these technologies.

You will find the presentation that we used for this time together here
Throughout the morning, we invited the 8th and 9th grade students and teachers into our East Dining area so they could....
...explore, discuss and...
...learn lots of things that will be helpful to them in this journey. 
It was really fun to see how everyone worked together....
...as they tried things out.
As an incentive, we set up the Student MERGE Headset Challenge where the students could check out a headset, try out a set of apps we put together on a take home sheet, and then add a video of what they learned and enjoyed to a Flipgrid we created.  You will find the challenge sheet here. 

The winners would be put into a drawing to win their very own headset.  
They were excited about this contest.  When we told them they would be able to check them out from the library, they were even more excited and....
...lined up in the library to...
..check some out too! 
In the afternoon, our friends from MERGE visited elementary classrooms to see how they were using augmented and virtual reality.  
They also wanted to hear from some of the students who had used the other tools such as CoSpaces and Tinkercad with MERGE.  These 4th graders did a wonderful job sharing.  

This is just the start to our augmented and virtual program at Van Meter.  We can't wait to see where this takes us for the rest of the year and into the future.  

And thank you MERGE for helping us with this journey and supporting us every step of the way.  You guys are the best!  

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Star Wars Day Collection...May The 4th Be With You!

On May 4, we celebrate Star Wars Day and with all of the Star Wars fans out there, this is always a hit in the library and classroom!  

I always had so much fun celebrating Star Wars Day in our library and community.  We made, watched, read, ate, sang, experimented and a whole bunch more to celebrate the force being with us on this day. 

This year, I brought together a very special Star Wars Day Collection by Destiny to share with all of you.  It is filled with so many awesome ideas, resources, books and sites including...
a great Titlewave List of Star Wars books (which I cannot wait to read lots of them),
science and experiments from blog posts like this one
loads of Star Wars crafts, projects and food ideas from Pinterest, 
and one of my favorites....the Star Wars Font Generator! 

I am sure a lot of you have other things that will make this the best Star Wars Day ever.  If you could please share them with them, I will add to the Collection.  Or ask me to be a collaborator on the Collection and we can do it together. 

Happy Star Wars Day, friends.  May the 4th be with you and your students too!  

A Podcast For Future Ready Librarians...Don't Judge A Book By Its Cover!

When my friend and Director of Library Services for Metro Nashville Public Schools, Stephanie Ham, reached out to me about their wonderful podcast series, I had to ask more about it so I could share it with all of you!  

This is what Stephanie shared, 

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover: A podcast for FutureReady Librarians launched October 17 by the Library Services department in Metro Nashville Public Schools.

The idea of the podcast was simple; MNPS needed a new form of PD to reach their librarians and all of us spend a lot of time in the car (traffic in the metro-Nashville area has gotten horrible!). Most librarians are commuting approximately 25 minutes a day, so our podcast was born. The podcast is approximately 25-30 minutes long and we produce 2 episodes a month. The topics and guests range all across the education from budgets, publishing, collaboration and essentially great library talk.

Producing the podcast is actually very simple, it just takes time when editing. All we use is a computer, Yeti microphone and the recording software; Audacity. We are fortunate to have a recording studio (hello we are Music City!), so we have a sound proof space to record. Conversations are recorded in the studio or virtually using Zencaster. We are fortunate that we have a very musical librarian that recorded our jingle. It is all self-produced! The podcast is averaging 1000 listeners an episode. We couldn’t be more surprised and excited to share with this amazing community.
You will find Don't Judge a Book By It's Cover here in iTunes.  
There are 10 episodes so far and every one of the podcast are awesome!  I learn so much listening to them and love sharing every one of them. 

They are perfect for all of us as Future Ready Librarians and for those who work with and support librarians too.  I hope you listen and subscribe to their podcast too.