Safety in Makerspaces

Students and staff members who use the makerspace that exists in your school or classroom should have the skills necessary to foresee possible safety issues and it is in everyone’s best interest to anticipate possible dangers.images

Before your makerspace is in full swing, think about setting some boundaries and simple rules around equipment use.  This article, Safety in Makerspaces gives many good examples of simple rules that will make an impact in a small classroom makerspace.

As the teacher, always look at potential problem areas and create short, memorable rules around what could go wrong.  Take time to look at the materials and tools you are using in the space and how students are using them.

Although not all accidents can be prevented, a few critical rules before your students enter the makerspace can be effective at avoiding a mishap.  Stand in your makerspace and walk through what your students will be doing.  How will they access materials?  How many students will be working in a group? Will they be standing or sitting?  What will be plugged in?  Are the cords for the items taped down or a hanging, tripping hazard?  Minimize the amount of clutter and items on each table. It will get cluttered enough during the activity.

Also take a moment to view the room from your students’ perspective.  From that viewpoint you may be able to isolate other problem areas.

Some rules follow the common sense that mirrors being in any classroom.  Walk. Don’t run.  Keep the chatter below “deafeningly” loud.  Watch what you are doing.  Pay attention to what others around you are doing.  Listen and ask questions.  It is okay to fail and learn from what doesn’t work.

This document supplied by the Government of British Columbia will help you model some training and documentation of your own, especially for an elementary school setting.

Set up your classroom venue for success as a makerspace and then engage your students in making and learning.

 

Advertisements

Makerspace 101

The sun is shining, the temperatures are high and I am not yet on vacation so here goes a mid-summer blog post…

clouds-429228__340

Back to basics for this post.  This year in your classroom starting in September or when you are on practicum try to add a little “maker mindset” to the mix.  How does your classroom look?  Is it approachable for students who enter it?  Does it speak to the type of community you would like to create within your classroom?

art-2941706__340

In a theoretical classroom, where all the students are mid to top performing, totally engaged learners who are innately motivated, setting the scene for making should be fairly straight forward.  In Division 1 through middle grades, a makerspace in your classroom could contain a few fixed spaces where taking apart or putting together can exist full-time in order for students to gain knowledge of how things work.  These foundation skills will help when they go on to do some designing for problems prompted by various curriculum outcomes.

In a secondary setting, making connected to curriculum can still be included in your classroom, even though many sets of students pass through it in a day.  Connect a making experience to whatever literary piece you are delving into or create a game based on the social studies unit you are covering.  It can be a “plussing” exercise where each group of students during the day moves the process forward while handing it off to the next group showing clearly where they are leaving the project.

office-supplies-1149055__340

The bottom line is to make “making” part of groundwork of your classroom.  Make “making” part of your mindset.  Allow students to prototype the answer to a question just as often as they write or code or say the answer.  Imagine the students that will be engaged and invested in the learning taking place in your classroom. Trust the process.  Stand back and see the learning taking place.  Know your students well enough to give them time and space to do some of their own problem solving and watch the process close enough so that you may ask some pointed questions.  Know the subject well enough to ask questions calculated to move the project along.

And just … try it.  Give it a go and see what works for you and your students.

Radio Jones and His Robot Dad

images

Cost: Free

Size: 677.8 MB

Works on: iOS 7.0 or later

Radio Jones and His Robot Dad is an iPad app that is a graphic wordless novella.  Following the story that many kids experience, Radio Jones deals with a workaholic dad who appears to not have any time to spend with his son.

Radio creates a robotic dad that plays and explores and has adventures with him.  As you “read” the story, you will find a few interactive screens.

I won’t include any spoilers here but, let’s just say that Radio and his dad come to an agreement when it comes to the robot dad.

A lovely way to interact with an app in the days leading up to Father’s Day for kids (and for dads).

Wizard School App

download

Wizard School App

Size: 78.6 MB

Age: 4+

By Duck Duck Moose

Price: Of course, free

Do you remember when we used encyclopedias in schools to browse subjects or get some basic dates and facts about something?  Even if you don’t, we know that some students are “browsers.”  Some set in to read full length novels, and other flit around reading the backs of Pokemon cards and the Rules to Enter on the sides of cereal boxes.  Wizard School app will appeal to the latter group and, perhaps, even to the former on certain days.

This app will certainly appeal to students in grades 3 to 6 who have some reading skills.  The creation of an avatar that represents you in the app appeals to everyone.  Even me.

Subjects you can browse include:  Design (like Design a Vehicle), Animals (66 options), World, Drawing, People, Imagination, Space, Photography, Sports, Do-It-Yourself, Science, Kidpreneur, Health, Riddles and Puzzles.

In the animals section, I did open up the information about Polar Bears and it contained:

  • a small portion of video from the BBC featuring playful polar bear cubs with their mom,
  • Alysa McCall, polar bear scientist explaining what adaptations polar bears have made to live in the far north,
  • an interview with Elizabeth Bailey from the Memphis Zoo lets students know what they can do to help save a polar bear
  • and students can record their voice to make a PSA about saving the polar bear population using the knowledge they have acquired.

There are riddles and puzzles to challenge students and buzz feed videos that features many of the topics.

The front screen tells us that Wizard School is made in partnership with Khan Academy.

Download it on the ipads in your classroom and make it, possibly, a literacy centre during your Daily 5.

 

 

 

Social Media and High School

Yesterday, as many of you know, the ABC show Roseanne was cancelled after a very promising re-vamp.  This story in the news presents a perfect teachable moment for many middle and high school students.  The show’s star, Roseanne Barr lost a television series over a tweet.  One particularly racist tweet.

download

As many students look for summer jobs and apply to various companies, it is part of the learning process for them to recognize that their digital footprint is part of their identity.

Mediasmarts is the number one site to go to for digital citizenship resources for all ages.  Clearly, having a neutral social media profile is not always covered at the dinner table and teachers are on the front line with students to educate them about the repercussions of posting controversial comments and activities.

Starting the conversation with some experiences that students and teachers can attest to – about someone who called in sick and then posted photos of the awesome party they were attending, or particularly profane tweets seen by potential employers.  These stories have become the stuff of urban myths.

Using articles that are advising job-seekers like, “Why career-minded professional should think before they tweet” show students that posting responsibly is a life-long process and not just something to pay attention to in middle school and high school.   As part of the modern job application process, students should take for granted that someone will google them and look at their social media postings that are not hidden behind privacy walls. Why not include a short lesson on using LinkedIn as a valuable place to keep your work history accessible to employers?

In a follow-up lesson, discussions about the algorithms used by Google and other sites to collect data about you and customize advertising and information to your “likes” would be great information for students to have.  Although teachers often take for granted that this “digital generation” is knowledgeable about the workings of the internet, you may be surprised about how little they know about privacy, data collection and the manipulative nature of various websites.  This interesting video from Scientific American, “How does Google know everything about me?” , shows how your data is collected and used to entice you to purchase or join what is being advertised.

The conversation about digital footprints and keeping a “clean” social media identity may start and end at school without much in the way of parent involvement but it is information that is so important for each and every student.

ii’ taa’poh’to’p (a place to rejuvenate and re-energize during a journey)

“ii’ taa’poh’to’p, the Blackfoot name of the University of Calgary’s Indigenous Strategy, was bestowed and transferred  in ceremony by Kainai Elder, Andy Black Water on June 21, 2017. The name signifies a place to rejuvenate and re-energize while on a journey.  Traditionally, these places are recognized as safe, caring, restful — and offer renewed energy for the impending journey.  In a traditional naming ceremony, transitioning into the new name is a journey of transformation towards self actualization.” (ii’ taa’poh’to’p)

download

As the university and many other organizations begin the process toward reconciliation with the Indigenous people of Canada, individuals have an opportunity to do some of their own work to learn the devastating impact of colonization.

The Doucette Library has developed a top-notch collection of Indigenous resources for the K-12 audience and, while, it seems limited to certain ages, many of the resources are suitable for adults to read.  Fatty Legs by Christy Jordan-Fenton, although aimed at a young audience gives a feeling of a child’s experience in Residential Schools.  The Education of Augie Merasty: A Residential School Memoir by David Carpenter and Joseph Auguste Merasty gives an adult perspective to the life-long effects of being sent to a Residential School.

8th Fire: Aboriginal Peoples. Canada and the Way Forward is a 3-DVD collection hosted by Wab Kinew that gives a present day perspective to the continuing relationship between these two cultures.

download

A MOOC presented through Coursera and by University of Toronto called Aboriginal Worldviews and Education is free to audit.  The presenter is Jean-Paul Restoule and presents a current Indigenous perspective through lectures, special guests, readings and videos.  For a person beginning to learn about Truth and Reconciliation, this course is an excellent place to start.

A website entitled wherearethechildren.ca captures many residential school survivors and their stories recounted as adults.  This heart wrenching series of videos shows the results of the residential school system through the memories of these adults.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has published the “Calls to Action”  and that is a great place to start a personal journey to move towards reconciliation with Indigenous people.

Although the past shows the wrongs inflicted upon the indigenous peoples of Canada, the future is looking much brighter.  Werklund School of Education recently hosted a Youth Forum, inviting 17 grade 9 students from various parts of Alberta.  Working with these students showed how connected and involved they will be in recognizing the importance of having an indigenous voice in education.  Working with these students was a teaching and a learning experience.

 

 

 

Tips for Tinkercad

download
Tinkercad is a free, on-line 3D design website that allows people to create files for 3D printers and other equipment.  Kids are the target audience so students would be able to jump right in.  Students can have a free account and all of their designs are saved to the web account.  Students can, then, 3D print or render their design on a CNC Cutter (Computer Numerical Control Cutter.)
Teachers be aware that you can set up a classroom account so that you can look and comment on students’ work.  Lance Yoder of Edgaged talks about this feature in his YouTube video Tinkercad Playlist.
I would suggest working through the beginning examples to get a handle on how to design with the website and then spend some time on your own with additional YouTube videos or just the website itself experimenting with the options.
MatterHackers have a number of good related YouTube videos and also have other information about printing your design after saving it in Tinkercad.
Here is a place within the maker world where teachers can introduce a website and not know everything about it.  I think there are a few students in classes from grade 5 right up to 12 that will take the lead on designing and figuring out how to create many fascinating models.

Spring in the Doucette

At this time of year, the Doucette Library of Teaching Resources becomes a little bit more of a sanctuary for grad students and those who want to just come and spend some time with the resources.
Does that mean that staff are on the down low? Not at all.  We are busy working away on the new resources that we have received over the last year.  Spending time with books and kits to plan how we can help students use them effectively in the coming year.  We also do loads of planning for the UPE program and for the graduates that are on site in July.

IMG_1873

As you can see from the picture, one thing that we spend time with are the new round of robots.  These young upstarts are known as E-Z Robots and we are hoping to introduce the full range of what they can do to graduate students in July.

As you know, Meccanoid, joined our staff late in February for the Maker Faire. His behavior is not as predictable as I would like but he is still a very fun 4 foot companion.  His Kung Fu maneuvers are the best.  And he has various dance moves that are …”interesting.”

Please come and drop in to see what is new and exciting in the Doucette.  We can introduce you to Ozobots, Sphero Sprk 2.0, Meccanoid and soon to JD and his brother JD, our newest E-Z Robots.  Oh, and we have great books too.

 

On Graduation

Many of the second year students in our education two year after degree are finishing up their fourth practicum and anxiously awaiting information about new jobs.

But our commitment to theses students continues into the future.  Many of our students stay in the Calgary area and, therefore, have access to the many kits and books that fill our shelves.  We love nothing more than sharing these resources with our students and our alumni.

download

Here’s the ticket.  Go to the Unicard Office at the Dining Centre and get an Alumni Card and then you have what you need to come and take things out.

Also available from your device are the many Pinterest Boards, and our blogs, Apples with Many Seeds and Doucette Ed Tech.  Alumni also have access to our Library Guides that include curriculum subject areas and specialty subjects like Design Thinking and Makerspaces.

Even though you graduate from the University, doesn’t mean the Doucette doesn’t have your back.  Let us know how we can help.

And congratulations on your graduation.

 

Augmented Reality App

ARFlashcards are a very fun way to use an app to give an augmented reality view to some alphabet cards.  Have a look at this video to see how they work.

download

Augmented reality is defined by Merriam-Webster as “an enhanced version created by the use of technology to overlay digital information or an image  of something being viewed through a device (such as a smartphone camera.)”

Augmented reality apps are emerging as a fast way to integrate AR into your classroom.  Articles like this one on the TeachThought site includes a list of 32 apps that contain AR that you can include on your iPads to use in the classroom.

But why?

These are fun apps, especially the Alphabet cards that make A into an alligator and G into a gorilla.  But, when you get right down to it, once you and your students have seen it once or twice, is that it?  The caricature of the animal that appears, in fact, blocks the letter that it represents.

AR has a really cool tech vibe but I’m not sure the alphabet cards are where I would use this technology for the early literacy learning.

Once the technology is more robust, showing us the human body like the Anatomy 4D app (which I find very glitchy) or showing a real frog dissection or the way a tsunami looks as it approaches shore, maybe I will buy in a bit more but for now I am on the fence with this ed tech.

Don’t get me wrong.  This app and the accompanying alphabet cards are fun and when I showed my colleagues, we all found the AR fascinating until we started to think about how to use it in a classroom.  Nothing.  No ideas.  Nadda.

My opinion is to wait and watch.  Let’s see how the AR apps develop and how we can use it as an embedded technology in the classroom.  Perhaps, not yet.