New Tech Teacher
Middle School technology will be led this year by Michael Kaufman. Mr. Kaufman is joining ASFG after 6 years at the Carol Morgan School in the Dominican Republic, where he taught upper elementary and middle school social studies. He is excited to be a part of the ASFG community and to help empower students with the many different tools of technology. Throughout the year middle school students will work on digital design, programming, video editing and publishing, research, and digital citizenship.
Students in 5th and 7th grade set up their digital learning portfolios. The students used Google Sites to create a website as a digital space to reflect and show off their learning. Students designed their learning portfolios keeping in mind the purpose and audience of their sites. Both grades wrote introductions to their portfolios as a collaboration in Language Arts class. 7th graders also created an image slideshow to enhance the look of their site and to accompany their introduction. As the year moves forward students will upload and reflect on work from all of their courses, which will serve as a growing portfolio for family, peers, and their teachers.
The 6th grade students have been engaged recently in an interdisciplinary (STEAM) exploration of electricity. Science class has been a tinkering zone, using Little Bits, cables, light bulbs, and switches. Math class has examined the numbers and calculations involved in electricity. In the art studio we've been working in pairs synthesizing their knowledge of electricity with the elements and principles of art to create symmetrical designs using copper tape. When complete, the designs will illuminate four LED lights with the help of a battery.
5th graders got a crash course in programming with Ms. Dallas. The goal was to design and build a Sphero obstacle course. There were a number of course requirements, like turns, ramps, and obstacles. Once the course was built, groups of students started the task of programming the Sphero robots to complete the course. This proved to be quite difficult, since the slightest change in the programming can change the entire route of the robot. Enjoy the video of the first group to complete the challenge.
The Live Curious and Go Beyond conference in Monterrey was inspiring for me as a Middle school science teacher. Gever Tully explained the importance of fooling around with materials with children to problem solve and to actually create and build something. Students through this process learn perseverance and that “failures are celebrated and analyzed”. I then went through the conference and learned about many real world projects other teachers had completed at their schools. These included 3D printing objects, making pallet gardens, creating solar heaters and building a balloon that collected data in near-space. It was a great opportunity and helped me remember to say yes to students when they want to test out their own ideas and figure out a way to make their visions happen. - Lisa Kelleher 8th grade science
As a way to get more Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) into classrooms, the construction of a mobile workstation has began...the STEAM MACHINE.
It began life as a laptop cart, designed to carry and charge up to 30 devices. This cart has seen some good times and bad, even surviving an attempted robbery. Once the cart was officially retired, our Tech Specialist (Jacob Bryant) found a new and exciting use for the old cart. With help from his father over the course of a couple days, the cart was given a new lease on life. New USB outlets, shelving, and storage containers were installed. The cart is now able to carry and store classroom sets of electrical circuits, Little Bits, paper circuits, Sphero Robots, and tools. With the help of some talented MS art students, the cart received a brand new paint job too.
The STEAM MACHINE is almost ready to make it's debut in classrooms across ASFG. This cart will allow the Tech Specialist to bring STEAM curriculum into any classroom, with all the supplies and tools ready to go.
The students of fifth grade had a different focus during their most recent rotation of technology classes. Rather than learning new tech skills, 5th graders focused on digital citizenship and website reliability, which generated lots of thoughtful discussion.
Using a quote made famous by Spider-Man, students considered the idea that “With great power, comes great responsibility” as it applies to online communication. Students had a lively discussion about the difference between playful teasing and cyberbullying, and we talked about how all technologies can be used for good or bad.
Classes watched a video about a real cyberbullying incident from Common Sense Media as a starting point for our discussion, and we talked about what to do if we became aware of a similar incident. Students also pledged to be careful communicating online and not let their behavior “cross the line” and hurt someone’s feelings.
In addition to digital citizenship, students learned a valuable lesson about website reliability: Just because you saw it on the web doesn’t make it true! Students were given a list of eight websites and were asked to determine which sites were real and which were hoaxes. Using their critical thinking and research skills, the 5th graders had to find evidence to back up their assertions about which sites were real and which were fake. Not only was this activity a lot of fun, it opened the students’ eyes to the amount of misleading information found on the internet and how to be more discerning about what they read online.
Special tech workshop sessions were held for 2 hours each morning for students not attending the 8th grade trip. This workshop featured two of our newest technologies here at ASFG... Spheros and Little Bits.
The first part of the workshop was learning and coding with Spheros. Designed to inspire curiosity, creativity and invention through connected play and coding, Spheros are far more than just robots. Powered by the Lightning Lab app, our students are learning coding and completing hands-on, collaborative activities. For the 8th grade workshops, students built an obstacle course, and then programmed the Sphero to navigate that course.
The second part of the workshop was an introduction to LittleBits. LittleBits are easy-to-use electronic building blocks empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small. There is a large variety of electrical components that easily connect together, making invention and innovation accessible to the students. The students were given six challenges to complete, including making a light-sensing flashlight and an intruder-sensing alarm.
Middle School students are using technology to transform their learning. Not only is the technology allowing them to virtually visit and research far-away places, but they are learning to use technology in new and amazing ways. Watch the following video, see how the MS students are doing things that just aren't possible without technology. Amazing stuff going on in MS. Great job Mr. Wolfe!
Mr. T (Vito Trentadue) is known for creating and delivering creative and innovative middle school projects. This year, he sought to modify or redefine his "Evolution of the Skull" project. Together with the K-12 Tech Specialist, Jacob Bryant, they were able to create something truly engaging.
In the beginning...there was information.
The students started by researching and taking notes from custom-made Google Docs (made by Mr. T). These documents contained all the information that would be needed for the upcoming parts of the assignment. Please feel free to take a look.
1. Cro-Magnon Man- http://bit.ly/2cokEEc
2. Modern Human- http://bit.ly/2dm8Y9Y
3. Neandertal Man- http://bit.ly/2cYOwHW
4. Homo Erectus- http://bit.ly/2djOxaQ
5. Australopithecus Boisei- http://bit.ly/2dm8Ozd
6. Australopithecus Africanus- http://bit.ly/2cU4jt8
7. Homo Floresiensis (Hobbit)- http://bit.ly/2cU5ZTn
Things start to get interesting with Mystery Skulls
Once notes were taken and important information was discussed, students moved on to the truly interactive part of the project. Students got to be scientists, using important information and features to identify a set of four mystery skulls. The online interactive tool allows students to rotate and examine the different features of the mystery skulls. Based on provided information and a couple of hints, students make educated guesses as to what species the skull belongs to. Students then completed a Google Form, identifying the skulls and providing reasons for that decision.
Time to get interactive with Sheets
Using Google Sheets, students created interactive timelines that displayed the newly learned information. These timelines were then embedded in a classroom Google Site (created and designed by Mr. T).
7th graders received their brand new MacBook Pros and started their one-to-one laptop journey with a Mac Orientation in their second week of school. The orientation program had two goals: to catch students up on the basics, and to prepare them for a new kind of classroom experience.
In one-to-one classrooms, 7th graders are often required to show their learning with slide presentations, so students learned the best practices for designing effective slides and how to cite images and sources in a presentation. They applied these skills to create a presentation on an important invention of the 20th century using Google Slides.
In a one-to-one Geography classroom, Google Earth can be accessed at any time. Because of this, students learned to use this app by taking part in a virtual scavenger hunt in which they used coordinates to find certain mystery locations on Earth. They also learned to use the ruler tool, historical imagery slider, and the Street View tool to locate their neighborhood, see how it looked it the past, and determine the distance between home and school.