Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tech for the Classroom: Makey Makey

Banana bongo drums!
(Photo taken by Katie Upah)
What is Makey Makey?

 Makey Makey is "an invention kit for everyone." According to the information provided with the kit,
"You can use it to turn everyday objects into keys for your computer."

In our presentation, we are showing how to use Makey Makey to create bongo drums as well as start/stop a video on YouTube. We also briefly show how the bananas can be ripped apart to create a piano keyboard. These get students excited about technology, circuts, and music.

I could see Makey Makey being used in a science unit on circuts. In high school, I remember doing circut boards in physics and being very confused. While Makey Makey is designed for younger audiences, I believe it could still be used in a high school as an intro to the circut boards. It could also be used in a music lesson (such as the bongo drums, the cardboard guitar game, or the piano). As we discussed during our presentation, the piano could have an apple hooked to the "A" note, a banana for the "B" note, cantaloupe for the "C" note, etc. to help students learned the notes of a piano.

Possible materials to use with the Makey Makey are basically anything that conduct a circut: fruit, silverware, rings and watches, and even Play Doh. The device works on Windows, Macs, and Chromebooks.

For more ideas on how to use Makey Makey in the classroom, here is an additional link to lesson plan ideas. Some ideas mentioned on the site include creating webcam stories, musical water, and logic puzzles. This is a good resource to use to see how Makey Makey can be used in any subject area.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Lincoln School Visit


My class visited Lincoln Elementary School on Tuesday, April 5th, 2016 to see the technology the school offers its students. We met with Colleen Nelson, a teacher-librarian. Below are three of the main applications I noticed during our visit.



1. SeeSaw on iPads (Kindergarten)

2. The main uses of SeeSaw for the kindergarten students include sharing materials, posting work, and collecting data. Teachers can share materials such as links to sites with their students and the students' parents. Whoever has the access code for the student has access to their work. There is a "like" feature on the app in which the teacher and parents can "like" their student's work. Students can post work through photos, videos and drawing or by uploading from other apps. There is a voice over feature students can use for their videos. Finally, this app serves as a way to collect data that shows student growth over time. This is beneficial for teachers to see samples of a student's work from their previous years in school.

3. According to the article Evaluating Technology Use in the Classroom, I believe the way in which the kindergarten students use SeeSaw is an example of doing "Old things in New ways." When the kindergarten student solved the math problem with her iPad, she first physically counted out 13 chips. Then, she took a picture of the chips and posted it on SeeSaw. She used the drawing feature to divide the chips into boxes, then wrote "10+3=13." To me, this is a new way of doing something old, for she could have simply used a piece of paper to draw the chips and write the math equation. I think the most impressive aspect of SeeSaw for kindergarten is the fact that parents can virtually see what their students are working on during the day and have the ability to "like" their students posts. To me, this is much more effective than a student bringing a folder of their work home with them for their parents to review.

4. One way to make SeeSaw on the iPads more student centered and move it up one stage of adaptation is to have the students create math problems for one another. In this method, students could either use the drawing, photo or video features to showcase objects (like chips) that need to be counted. Then, they would share their image with a classmate, and the classmate would need to count the objects on their device. Then, they would upload the photo and share it with the classmate who had created the problem, and they would have to check to ensure the problem was completed correctly. I believe this takes the activity a step further by making it more student centered.

5. I could use SeeSaw on iPads in my future classroom to promote students sharing their work with one another. For example, since I plan to teach high school English, students could take pictures of their drafts to post and share with the class. Then, students could make comments on their classmates' drafts through SeeSaw. Students could also use SeeSaw to generate ideas for their papers when they get stuck or don't know what to write about.

1. SeeSaw on Chromebooks (Fourth grade)

2. The fourth grade students use SeeSaw a little differently than the kindergarten students. For fourth grade students, SeeSaw is primarily an organization and accountability tool. Their assignment uploads are organized on a calendar by date, allowing the teacher to see if a student turned in their assignment on time. There are individual folders for each subject in order to organize student work. It is more difficult for these students to take photos on their Chromebooks to upload to SeeSaw. It can also be difficult to find a quiet place in the school to record voice over for their videos. Similar to its use in kindergarten, Seesaw serves as a communication tool between parents and students. However, the fourth grade students take this a step further by using SeeSaw to lead their parent-teacher conferences. The fourth grade student who spoke to our class also said she used SeeSaw to post her goals for the Iowa Assessment.

3. According to the article, I believe the use of SeeSaw on the Chromebooks for fourth grade is also doing "Old things in New ways." Instead of students possessing physical folders to file their assignments, there are virtual folders. In addition, students are using the video feature of SeeSaw to record their narratives instead of using tape recorders or microphones on computers. I like how teachers can use SeeSaw to hold students accountable for assignment deadlines on the calendar feature because it can be hard for teachers to remember what day students turn in assignments. I also like how students are responsible for using SeeSaw to lead their parent-teacher conference, but this could still be done with a physical copy of a portfolio.
4. To make SeeSaw on Chromebooks more student centered and move it up one stage of adaptation, I believe students should have more choice in creating their own folders and choosing how they organize their assignments. I also believe that in regards to conferences, students should use SeeSaw to record their own video in which they explain their work for parent-teacher conferences. The video could be approved by the teacher and then shared with the parents at home. This way, the conferences would still be student led, but parents wouldn't even have to come to the school for face-to-face conferences with the teacher (unless they wanted to).

5. I could use SeeSaw on Chromebooks to give students a tool to stay organized with their assignments. I think it could be helpful for students to have several folders for my class for each unit. This way, they could organize their journals, drafts and final papers by unit. Since I plan to do some sort of portfolio assessment for my summative assessment of my course, this would be beneficial for students to reference in order to measure their growth throughout the course.


1. Mimio boards (First grade)

2. In the first grade classroom we saw briefly during the end of our visit, they had a Mimio on the white board of their classroom. The Mimio board functions as an "interactive smart board" that allows the teacher to pull up interactive games. One of the games we saw during our visit allowed students to practice counting money. The board could also display a calendar for students to practice skills associated with days of the week. The convenient feature about the Mimio board is how easily it could be removed from the white board and transported to a different white board in a different classroom.

3. Based on the article, I believe this is an example of doing "Old things in New ways." The fact that the Mimio board can be transferred from one classroom to another with its clip-on feature is new and goes beyond the traditional whiteboard. However, if the teacher is simply using the Mimio to do activities such as counting money or looking at the calendar, than the technology is not transforming learning; it is simply doing it in a new way.

4. To move this application up one stage of adaptation and make it more student centered, I would have students use the Mimio to showcase their knowledge for assessment. If students are expected to learn ideas such as counting with the Mimio, I think it would be beneficial and appropriate to assess students using the Mimio as well. I struggle to see how this tool could become more student centered in a first grade classroom, but I think looking at it as a possibility for assessment is a good start.

5. As a high school English teacher, I don't see the Mimio board being as helpful for me as it might be to a math teacher. However, if I had access to one in my classroom, I may use it to annotate a text that we're reading as a class. For instance, I could mark important parts of the text by underlining it on the white board with a stylus. Students could also come to the board and mark important parts of the text that they wished to highlight for the class.

My impression:

To me, Lincoln seems to be a very modern elementary school that is ahead of the game in their technology usage. While they may still need to work on doing "New things in New ways" with their technology, it appears they are always searching for devices or apps to improve the learning of their students. This is much different than the elementary school I attended in which we had no technology in the classrooms and simply went to typing lessons once a week. However, I attended a small, Catholic elementary school with only 15-20 students per grade, so our school did not receive state funding. If I had attended Lincoln, I would have benefited from exposure to technology at a young age. I never actually learned how to type in elementary school and still use two fingers to type to this day. Also, I think Lincoln may have been able to help me find new ways of learning material through technology. I struggled with math in the 3rd-5th grade, and perhaps an app like SeeSaw could have allowed me to experience math in new ways. However, by attending Lincoln, I think I would be a lot more reliant on technology throughout the rest of my time in school. It could be hard for a student to transition from Lincoln to a middle school in which technology does not play a big role in the daily lives of the teachers and students.