Friday, April 21, 2017

Taking on 3D Printing: Or Testing my Comfort Zone

 This post originally appeared on FTISEdTech

Math makes me nervous. And, not your run of the mill, mild, tingle in your belly
kind of nervous. It's the kind of nervous that literally initiates the fight or flight response, where every neuron is on edge, skin feels prickly to the touch and a waterfall of tears is being held back by not even a shred of willpower: It's the kind of nervous that shuts a learner totally down.  

Needless to say when I wrote a grant for a 3D printer last year, I wasn't thinking that I would actually have to use math to use it.  I mean, my general plan was that the kids would figure out how to use it, and I would just cheer them on, and probably tweet about the cool stuff they were doing.  And then it became apparent that I had to learn how to use it. For real use it.

As a last minute challenge, one of our district technicians, Andrew, talked me into meeting him and Michelle, one of our second grade teachers after school, on a Friday no less, to learn how to use the District's Dremel.  

Andrew's teaching method was brilliant in its simplicity. We simply had to use Tinkercad to design something to fit inside something else. He brought with him a rectangle cut out of wood, and explained that basically we were going to make a piece that fit into it, similar to the old Perfection game.

As part of the lesson, we had to use digital calipers to measure the rectangle.  I probably could have stopped after the lesson on digital calipers, I'm not really accurate when it comes to measuring, and I probably needed a ton of practice with just that, but we continued. 

Within an hour we each had designed something in Tinkercad, had exported it as an .stl file, imported it in the Dremel software and created the .gcode to be able to make the print.

Mine did not fit. Michelle's fit like a glove.

I got myself some digital calipers and realized it was time to start practicing. 

I didn't want to forget everything I had learned, so a few weeks later, I started messing around with 123D Design app. At that time, the app was available to use on the iPad, and I really wanted an iPad to 3D printer solution. I played around with process of trying to put shapes together on the iPad, and created a basic trinket.  This time I had plans to use the Ultimaker 2 Extended that was available at Johnson.

When I went to export the file and import it into Cura, the Ultimaker software, I realized that the design was floating! It was hard to tell this on the iPad app. I got some help troubleshooting and ended up having to bring the design into Tinkercad to insert a rectangle. I exported the .stl file from here and then converted the file in the Ultimaker Cura software. 

The print from the Ultimaker turned out ok, and I was ready to try my hand at measuring again.

It was time to get some serious design work done.

As part of a PTO grant, Johnson had acquired some really great robots, including the Dash and Dot Wonderpack. We were looking for a way to use the launcher attachment to launch smaller things from Dash, what a perfect way to buckle down and try my hand at designing my own accessory.  To make it a bit more fun, and to hold myself accountable, I threw the challenge out to a few other teachers, to try to design a bucket attachment to work with the Dash launcher.

Still working off the idea that I wanted to use the iPad to design things for the 3D printer, I worked through the process of designing a bucket using a model of design thinking that I have worked out for students that I call ICE.  Check out the video below:

I used an interactive notebook I designed in PowerPoint to keep track of "most" of my thinking and design process in a way that I would have a student design.  The typical notebook I use has 3 iterations, I ended up working through five, and, in truth should keep going.

I am happy to report that I am getting better with measuring. By better, I mean things aren't a total disaster.  

My first print fit perfectly in the launcher. 

The bucket looks great, in my opinion, but it didn't stay in the launcher, so I attempted to make a bracket that would fit over the lip of the dome and around the launcher piece.  In theory, it could have worked, but in practice it didn't. Remember I'm getting better with measuring things, that doesn't mean I'm actually good at it.

After two bracket attempts, I decided to just go for another bucket design.  This one was going to be deeper using the cylinder shape in Tykercad.  I was a bit concerned about the weight of it, so I used a dome for the bucket piece, a smaller cut out on the bottom of it and two rings for the launcher to fit into. There was a pretty big flaw in the dome piece.  I didn't leave enough space between the edge of the cylinder that I fit it into and there are gaps in the print.  I also didn't do a good job of sizing up the rings.
But this one worked - or at least it didn't flip out of the launcher, and I was able to get it in and out of the launcher with relative ease.

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep working this bucket launcher angle. I'm learning a lot and really could use at least one more iteration to be happy with my progress, but that's the thing with Design Thinking, it's never quite finished, and we have Ozobot accessories to think about now - or maybe something for poor Dot.

I have to say, when it comes to actually nailing it, 2nd grade teacher Ms. Leftin is the winner.  Check out her design:

Monday, March 13, 2017

App Smashing with Duck Duck Moose Apps & Green Screen by Do Ink

This post first appeared on FTISEdTech

Recently, while trying to help one of our Music teachers hack a lesson that included a paid app that we don't have access to, I discovered a strategy for using the Duck, Duck Moose apps - Draw& Tell, Superhero Comic Maker, or Princess Fairy Tale Maker combined with Green Screen by Do Ink that allows you to create a layered green screen videos that makes it look like students are interacting with comic book style characters.

Create your Animation

To make it look like you or your students are are between a background and the animation, you will want to create a "green screen" animation by either using the picture of a green screen or by filling in the background of a blank scene with green.

You will then set your scene.  Add writing, characters or letters.  Stickers will move during recording.  You can also add voice overs while you're recording, or maybe play a song in the background.  Whatever audio you have going, will be heard in your green screen video.  

You will also want to make sure that the video you make in your Duck, Duck Moose app is long enough to accommodate what you need to do with the Green Screen app - so storyboarding could be very helpful.


Once you are happy with your recording, you will go to the "My Comics" area and save it to your camera roll.





App Smash with Do Ink

Now that you have your animation video saved, you're ready to open up Green Screen by Do Ink and set up your project.  

Remember, whichever element is furthest down on the list, is what appears in the background.  So, you will want to place either a static image (or if you're feeling crazy a premade video) as the bottom option.  The middle should be your live camera and the top should be the video you made using one of the Duck, Duck Moose apps.

You are now ready to make your recording with the animations.  This will place your video on top of the subject of the green screen video.

It does help if students can see the animations so that they can react to them as it happens, so setting the iPad up on a tripod with the "Selfie" camera view will allow students to see things in real time. 

Record your video by choosing the red record button, and when you are finished press the stop button, which is a black square.  

You can choose to save your project from the menu or preview.  If you know you're going to want to re-record your project, press "Done" on the bottom right side of the screen and you will have the option to delete. 

You could obviously skip the background image altogether, depending on your needs and use a background you create in the Duck, Duck, Moose app - however it will have a more flat affect where it doesn't appear that your subject being recorded is actually inside the scene. That added layer adds a bit of interest to the project.

I am very interested to see what teachers and students are able to do with this kind of app smashing strategy.  It could be a great way to edit together a student/ character interview or create a dynamic presentation.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Interactive Notebooks in the Digital Age #KySTE17

This year I am so glad to have discovered the power of using digital style interactive notebooks with students.

As a new Technology Integration Specialist in a district that has recently adopted a digital conversion process at the elementary level, I was looking for ways teachers could integrate our new technology while maintaining teaching practices they were most familiar with.

As a result, I turned back to the work of Robert Marazano and the research his group has done in regards to High Yield Strategies for teaching and learning, and I began to re-examine some of the texts I had used as a new teacher a few moons ago.  

By looking at High Yield strategies, I was able to begin the process of identifying ways that we could incorporate tech into every day activities like reading assignments and vocabulary.  

I settled on the idea of adapting those strategies into interactive notebook style that I was seeing on a variety of websites in digital form and that some teachers were enthusiastically using in paper form.

My first notebook was a vocabulary notebook that capitalized on the Frayer model and used Nonlinguistic Representations.  Before I knew it, I was finding all kinds of ways to use the format.  Everything from reading notebooks to research and custom projects.

Here is a bit of what I have discovered:

Students in our district primarily work with Microsoft products and iPads, so I chose to use PowerPoint to create these notebooks.  The bonus of using PowerPoint on the iPad is that students can easily add content to their presentations like student created videos from a variety of apps like Chatterpix and Superhero HD and photo collages from apps like PicCollage.  They also have a draw feature that is missing even in the desktop version of PowerPoint.

Here is an example of an interactive reading notebook that utilizes Marzano strategies:

Making the Notebooks

When I create the notebooks I create jpegs and use those jpegs as the background for the slides:

I am not a designer by nature, so to make these notebooks I count on Canva.  I use the presentation size (16:9) as the template size and create a way.  I choose to use Canva because the graphic elements are really visually interesting and I can create jpegs to embed in the notebooks. 

You could also design the entire notebook in PowerPoint or Google Slides and save those slides as individual images, then insert them as the images.  

This is what it looks like in Slides:

Creating elements, like manipulatives or letters is also easy in PowerPoint because you can save individual elements as images.

These are just a few tips for creating notebooks. The possibilities are really endless with this format.  What will you create first?

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Design Thinking KySTE17

I first saw the concept of iterative design discussed in the book Invent to Learn by Gary Stager and Sylvia Libow Martinez.  It didn't really sink in though until I was learning more about Minecraft and chatting with Minecraft experts on a MinecraftEDU Twitter chat. 

The more I discovered about the concept, the more I realized it was exactly what I was missing in my makerspace project development.  For me, iterative design, or design thinking, helped to bring an element of mindfulness to creation.  It also helped to establish an expectation that our work can always evolve, and through that evolution we continue to grow as learners.


I saw a need to create a model that would work for elementary students K-5, and wanted to give a nod to the work of Martinez and Stager, who kept it simple, and work the work of Mitchel Resnick, discussed by Martinez and Stager in their book.  Resnick's hit on a cyclical model of imagining that really appealed to me.  As a result, I came up with ICE - Imagine-Create-Evaluate

Design Thinking Tools

To help students think through the design process, I created an interactive notebook that coaches them through three iterations of a project.  The tool can be used for physical models, multimedia projects or even live demonstrations. 

Check out the interactive notebook to see how the process works.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Lesson Redesign with Technology Integration in Mind

This post originally appeared on FTISEdTech

The elementary "Digital Conversion" is well underway, and now that we have a semester under our belt, it's time to think about modifying lessons to include a mindful integration of technology that capitalizes on teaching and learning strategies that we know work.  

Teachers have worked really hard to give students a chance to try out new apps, strategies and approaches, and now that students have some skills, we can start to consider our own technology tool-kits as compared to our traditional instructional toolkit and find a way to join those things together.  

Below is a Thinglink that highlights Marzano High Yield Strategies that we have been using for years, and suggests ways you can use technology to supplement for standard paper/pencil based learning.  While most of these may fall into the "Substitution" or "Augmentation" levels of SAMR, they are strategies that have been proven to benefit students.

Many of you are already using these apps with your students, it may just take some adjustment to how you use them.  For example you can get a lot of mileage out of some well designed graphic organizers in a digital notebook designed in PowerPoint.  Hover over the image below for more information.

For some teachers, simply substituting tools isn't going to satisfy a desire to really transform learning for students.  While it is hard to hit "Modification" and "Redefinition" levels of SAMR on a daily basis, you can start to move your students in simple ways toward transforming their learning by giving them more choice and by considering the 4Cs: Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration.  

Check out this Thinglink below on the 4Cs.  Many of the suggested tools featured here are student favorites.  With some mindful planning, you can get kids engaging in 21st Century skills using tools and strategies they already feel comfortable using.

Need some more ideas?  Consider these:
  • Instead of group read-alouds TRY having students use an active reading strategy that involves taking a photo of the page, inserting in a whiteboarding app, PowerPoint or OneNote and annotating the text for key ideas.
  • Instead of vocabulary worksheet practice TRY having students create a P presentation of their words that includes: original drawings, image collages that remind them of the definitions, self made quizzes, and video stories that use the vocabulary.
  • Instead of a traditional science observation journal TRY having students keep a digital notebook in OneNote or PowerPoint that includes photos they have taken, short videos of the investigation, self selected graphic organizers with key ideas.
  • Instead of a teacher led math lesson using an Interactive Whiteboard with lecture and problem practice TRY having students view a teacher-made screencast, or Khan Academy video  on the topic embedded in Schoology with a discussion thread or short quiz where students can discuss or check their understanding for homework and then use the class time for the teacher to help work through misconceptions and provide guided practice.
  • Instead of watching a video that highlights the main ideas of a chapter in Social Studies, TRY having students make quick videos of assigned chapter sections that reviews key ideas, then airdrop them to a classmate who assembles them into a longer review.
  • Instead of having students do cold and hot reads individually TRY having them record them on Seesaw, marking words their not sure about during the cold read, then going back later to do record the hot read and reflecting on their progress.
  • Instead of having students create a model of a science concept on paper TRY letting gets create a model in Scratch where they also get to practice coding skills.