Friday, July 18, 2014

Jitterbug Robotics!

On our last day at the Create Make Learn conference in Burlington, Vermont, several of us were fortunate to have the opportunity to create little robotic jitterbugs.  Our jitterbugs were powered with craft motors connected to AA batteries.  The circular platform of my robot is made from a CD, its propeller is made from a glue stick, and its base has been constructed from four up-cycled film canisters.

Although constructing the jitterbug was great fun, there was quite a lot of problem solving and experimentation involved in constructing it.

While mounting the battery and motor to the underside made the jitterbug more aesthetically pleasing, I soon figured out that the electrical tape holding the battery to the motor was not strong enough to maintain a strong connection.  I also learned through trial error that the my propeller needed to be slightly off-center, without touching the floor, in order for my jitterbug to move around, rather than jumping up and down in one spot.

This project required me to apply the following practices, as outlined by the Next Generation Science Standards.

1.  Asking questions and defining problems
2.  Developing and using models
3.  Planning and carrying out investigations

Green Screen with the DoInk App

During my second day at the conference in Burlington (July 15-18), I got to experiment with a Green Screen under the expert guidance of  Dr. Wes Fryer and Doug Dunbebin of RETN.

I used the DoInk green screen and DoInk animation apps to create this example.

This video is not a finished project, but it is the first time that I've created a green screen video.

I'm excited about the way that DoInk allows you to add animations as an additional layer!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Shift Happens: The Power of Video

I just finished taking a powerful course through RETN and Southern New Hampshire University titled "From Idea to Impact:  Harnessing the Use of Video in your Classroom."

Because I am camera shy and prefer to work behind the scenes, this course was a huge opportunity for growth.  It stretched me, made me think deeply, and challenged me in ways that few other courses have. My approach to teaching and assessment has shifted as a result of this class.  I cannot recommend it enough.

During the course of one packed week, eight of us worked under the guidance of award-winning instructors and video professionals.  We learned how to work in teams to storyboard, shoot, edit, and distribute a relevant, high-quality video production by planning and executing projects from idea to impact.

As we grappled with what it means to use, practice, and assess 21st century skills with our students, we created, collaborated, communicated, and solved problems in ways that most of us had never done before. At the start, we experienced the pressures of wanting our projects to be the best they could be.  We over-thoughts things.  We worried.  We feared judgement and failure.  We grumbled at the limits of time that repeatedly interrupted us in the middle of meaningful work.

These feelings had been engineered:  we were supposed to feel inadequate, frustrated, harried, scattered, and nervous...just like many of our students do when the focus is on grades.

Then something shifted.  We accepted the fact that failure is vital to growth.  We understood that artistic process is at the heart of deep and meaningful learning.  We brainstormed, researched, drafted, received feedback, and revised revised revised.  We looked back reflectively on where we'd started and were grateful for the opportunity to feel proud of how far we'd come together.

While this is my final product, it was the PROCESS of experiencing collaboration in a new way that will make me a more compassionate and effective teacher.