Thursday, January 29, 2015

Celebrating International Dot Day (only a few months late)

As it turns out, International Dot Day is celebrated around September 15th-ish.  We didn't get around to celebrating Dot Day in Mrs. Proudman's class until January!

For those unfamiliar with Dot Day, it is a special holiday centered around The Dot, a book by Peter H. Reynolds.  The Dot talks about a student who was initially reluctant to try her hand at art, but was able to conquer her fears through the creative influence of a special teacher.  In short, International Dot Day is all about creativity.  The students in Mrs. Proudman's class are all sorts of creative, so this was definitely a holiday made just for them.

We used the TumbleBooks service in order to view an interactive ebook/audiobook of The Dot.  After  viewing the book, we then had a discussion on what it means to be creative.  We especially liked that the main character in the book worked really hard to perfect her dots.  She was always experimenting with new ways to create her artwork.

After the book, it was time to try our own hand at a creative project.  I found great resources about Dot Day on this site: www.fablevisionlearning.com/pdfs/fablevision_dot_day_handbook.pdf

One of the ideas on the site showed how to create dots by using a piece of artwork from everyone on the class.  The first step was to make your own dot.

The second step was to cut your dot into equal pieces.  As an added bonus, this gave us a chance to talk about fractions.  Next, all of the students gave each of their classmates a piece of their own dot.

Last, the students used pieces of each dot they received in order to create a brand new dot.  I especially liked how some students chose to make different designs using the pieces of their dot.




Although every day with Mrs. Proudman's group is a creative day, sometimes it is nice to focus in and celebrate the creativity we all share.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Maker Club Begins

It has been a long process, but the Pioneer Middle School Maker Club has officially formed!  Here is a little of the back story.  In November 2014, a space in the library was cleared out in order to make room for our makerspace.  A book fair was also held in November in order to raise funds for new library supplies.  Some of these funds are also going to be used for some of the consumable items (origami paper, duct tape, etc.) to be used in Maker Club.

Once we had a space and some supplies, it was time to generate some interest in Maker Club.  During the Hour of Code event held in December, 74 students came to check out what computer coding is all about.  Many of these students were interested in continuing to code, so this is a natural fit for what we are hoping to do in Maker Club.

On Thursday, January 8th, the first meeting of Maker Club took place in the library.  There were 18 students in attendance.  All four grade levels were represented, which was nice!  First, students were introduced to the new makerspace in the library.
The completed library makerspace.  Plenty of room for supplies, how-to books, and a nice workspace! 
Looking forward to seeing what will be posted on the bulletin board by members of Maker Club.
Students were then introduced to what Maker Club is.  There was some confusion about this, as a Maker Club is a bit of an open-ended concept.
We then discussed the goals of Maker Club and provided students with examples of activities that would be appropriate for Maker Club.
Once students learned about what was possible in Maker Club, we asked them to write down three different activities that they would be interested in trying during the meetings.  These lists will help us when we go out to buy new supplies.



Of course, we did have to set some ground rules:
After that brief introduction, the students were up and running.  I guess I should say they were up and creating!  Students used their time in Maker Club to explore a variety of activities.
Students created with Legos donated by our principal, Ms. Prorok.  Thanks, Ms. Prorok!

Duct tape crafts.

Weaving with plastic bands.

Computer coding at code.org. Other students used computer programming to code a Lego robot, too.

Origami frog.
The Maker Club is off to a great start.  Because of the ideas generated on the entrance tickets, we will be gathering the supplies needed to try paper-mache at a future meeting.  We welcome any donations of crafting supplies, also.  Hope to see you at the next Maker Club!


Our First First Lego League Competition

On December 20th, six students from Pioneer Middle School were the first students to ever represent Pioneer at a First Lego League competition.

For those unfamiliar with FLL, it is a three part competition.  The spontaneous "Core Values" section assesses how well team members work together as a group in order to perform a specific task.  Team members must then discuss how the Core Values of Lego League can be applied to school and other settings.  The Core Values of Lego League are as follows:

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!
  • - See more at: http://www.firstlegoleague.org/mission/corevalues#sthash.cVFMw5M0.dpuf

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!
  • - See more at: http://www.firstlegoleague.org/mission/corevalues#sthash.cVFMw5M0.dpu

  • We are a team.
  • We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
  • We know our coaches and mentors don't have all the answers; we learn together.
  • We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
  • What we discover is more important than what we win.
  • We share our experiences with others.
  • We display Gracious Professionalism® and Coopertition® in everything we do.
  • We have FUN!
  • - See more at: http://www.firstlegoleague.org/mission/corevalues#sthash.cVFMw5M0.dpuf

    - We are a team.
    - We do the work to find solutions with guidance from our coaches and mentors.
    - We know our coaches and mentors don't know all the answers; we learn together.
    - We honor the spirit of friendly competition.
    - What we discover is more important than what we win.
    - We share our experiences with others.
    - We display gracious professionalism and cooperation in everything that we do.
    - We have fun!
    The original First Lego League team!
    The "Project" section is more of a traditional science project.  Students research a way to innovate ways that people learn.  The team shares their innovation with a group of people who can benefit from their research.  They then must create a short presentation to show the judges what they learned through the research process.  The innovation that the team developed involved making a Lego kit for blind children.  After researching blindness and speaking with a blind student who attends Pioneer, the team learned that there are not a lot of toys for blind children to play with.  The Lego kit developed by the team included a sound card with spoken directions, traditional printed directions, and directions written in Braille.  The team even contacted a patent agent to learn about patenting their idea!
    A team member explains the project to a captivated audience.
     Last but not least is the "Robotics" component.  Students are honing their computer programming skills in order to train a robot to complete missions.  Each mission is worth a predetermined amount of points, so the team that accumulates the most points will win this section of the competition.  This part of the competition requires a lot of trial and error; it is difficult to get the robot's programming just right in order to complete the missions.
    Last minute adjustments are made to the robot and its code.
    The robot was able to complete many of the missions.  Most excitingly, the team was able to program the robot to move to the middle of the board and shoot a ball into a goal.  This was a very difficult task to complete.
    Pioneer competes in one of the robot rounds.
    Pioneer was pleased to learn that they won an award for Best Robot Design during the competition.  This was a great honor for this first year team!  Pioneer will be competing in First Lego League again next year.  In the meantime, some of this year's Lego League participants are keeping their robotics and science skills sharp by participating in the middle school's Maker Club and Science Olympiad team.

    Pioneer First Lego League team and coaches.