Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Full STEAM Ahead: Incorporating Art with STEM at Highfalls Elementary

At the core of STEM education is design thinking and problem solving.  STEM refers to science, technology, engineering, and math, but what about the arts?  Highfalls Elementary’s new art teacher, Brianna Scott is putting the STEAM in STEM and proving that STEM can be embedded in all classrooms-even art.

In Ms. Scott’s classes, middle school students are publishing their artwork and artist statements on her class Weebly, they are using Google CS First to learn how computer science and art work together, and they are even coding snowflakes to create digital Christmas cards!  

Art students programming Mona Lisa using Google CS First and Scratch
Ms.  Scott explains, “I think it’s important to integrate technology into my art lessons in order to promote 21st century skills. I love to teach technology, life, and career skills as they relate to art. Technology grows at a rapid rate and I like to do my part to prepare my students to be successful adults. I also want them to see that art is not just about drawing, painting, or sculpture. Artists can be animators, web designers, graphic designers, filmmakers, photographers, video game designers, and so much more.  My ultimate goal is to provide my students with the experiences and discover interests that may end up shaping their future careers.”
So what’s next for the art students at Highfalls Elementary? Ms. Scott hopes to acquire a 3D printer or 3D pens that students can work with. She is also interested in teaching Photoshop skills and stop motion animation. Artbots and claymation are also in the works for this year.

When it comes to embedding STEAM in her art curriculum, Ms. Scott says, "The possibilities are endless".

You can check out the Highfalls 6-8 student art portfolios by visiting

Ms. Scott showcases student artwork on her class Twitter account daily.  Follow @Highfalls_Art to see all of the great things happening in this class!  

Data Science Discovered

Researchers from Brown University are working to design lessons, which infuse coding into mainstream curriculum.  Over the past two years I have been making it my priority to find ways to incorporate coding and computer science in such a way, ensuring teachers do not have to stray from their content.  With regard to these coding lessons and other computer science lessons, I have been asked to offer suggestions so that coding experiences in the classroom may continue to be relevant and enhance students' problem solving and critical thinking skills.  

Mrs. Henry, a 6th grade language Arts Teacher at West Pine Middle School, was excited for her students to experiment with this data science lesson.  This lesson will eventually lead to her students writing an argumentative essay, choosing their own created topics pertaining to the following positions:  

1.  Data science is an excellent career to pursue.
2.  Data science should not be portrayed as "the best job in America."

Mrs. Henry and I worked together to transform the standards to reach the students more effectively and incorporate the aspect of coding.  

Lesson Essential Questions:


1.  To give students an overview of data science and explain why it has been labeled as the "Trendiest New Career."

2.  To share the 5 questions data scientists ask themselves.

3.  To allow students to participate in an activity where they move around the room posting examples of data science topics underneath the corresponding data science questions.

4.  To show students how to code an actual data set using the Pyret Programming Language.  The data contained in this Google Sheet contained their current ELA Vocabulary Words.


One of the most interesting aspects about data science, which caused much student interest was the fact that data scientists help credit card companies code algorithms, which detect fraud.

For example:  Do you ever wonder why you get a text, email, or maybe even a call when you charge over a certain amount?  Or maybe you are traveling and try to purchase a few things in another state, but your card becomes deactivated.  

This is a result of a data scientist programming a computer system to think:  Is this weird?

Data scientists also thumb through data manually to find trends, patterns, and/or discrepancies. Sometimes data scientists are known as: "Data Miners."  

You must enjoy math, looking at data, and coding to become a successful data scientist, and as an added bonus, the pay is pretty wonderful!  

The lesson started with a KWL Chart:

"List one thing you learned today."  Was the "Ticket out the door."

Student examples:


Click HERE to watch some lesson highlights!


Any grown-ups out there interested in learning more about data science?  These videos are fascinating and offer excellent information:

Students!  You are welcome to watch too.  :)

As Always...  Happy Coding!

Monday, December 12, 2016

With just a few days left, we are excitedly making the final preparations for our first annual [?] FTC Winter Warriors event. Union Pines High School will host all seven Moore County sponsored teams: UPHS (2), PHS (2), NMHS, WPMS, and NCMS. This sort of “live action” tests will prove incredibly helpful for our kids to get the feedback they need to improve their bots and programs. Our kids and coaches have been working hard for months and I’m glad we can give them this opportunity to test their designs, engineering choices and programming skills in a fun way before they try to qualify for “states” in January.


What is FTC?
First Tech Challenge robots are by far the most customizable and challenging bots in the MCS robotics k-12 family. Teams start with only a box of metal, wires and cell phones to construct what they hope will be a highly functioning bot. They have to analyze the year’s challenge, collaborate on a strategy for scoring, then design and build to that plan. Building well is hard but that isn’t enough though for FTC success, students then have to build an multiple computer programs that allows the robot to be controlled by hand as well as programs that the robot runs autonomously.

This event is also a great example of the generosity of the Moore County community and beyond. The robots and competition floors were all made possible through the gifts of the Public Education Foundation and Microsoft Inc. I have to also thank the Digital Integration team of MCS who all volunteered their time and talents to plan and staff the event as well as our terrific hosts at UPHS.

You should come!
The Winter Warriors are taking over the Auxiliary Gym at Union Pines High School Thursday. 1981 Union Church Road in Cameron. The first of 14 rounds begins at 11 AM and our champions will be crowned around 3PM. Come see what it’s all about and encourage the kids to win it all. Park in the grassy field and you can sign-in at the Gym entrance.

Can't be there? Follow the event on

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Teacher Feature: Julie Willis- Making Science and Social Studies come alive!

Teacher Feature: Julie Willis- Making Science and Social Studies come alive!!

When it comes to testing there may not be as much emphasis on Science and Social Studies as there is Reading and Math, but you would never know that walking into Ms. Willis' 6th grade classroom at Southern Middle School.

If there is an idea to tie effective technology into a lesson, she has had it. Probably once a week she is in my office planning some other project that she wants to do with her class. I get questions like: "Can we do a maker space to make pyramids?", "Can we do an augmented reality periodic table?", "Can we 3D print instruments that the kids make?", "Can we use the green screen so some students can use Pokemon to explain states of matter?"; and we have managed to do all of the projects that she comes up with. That's the beauty of teachers like Ms. Willis. Not only is she excited about what is happening in class, but I'm excited, and most importantly her students' are excited.

Most days when you walk into her room the kids are out of their seat. Not in the undisciplined kind of way. But in the we are doing this really crazy experiment that requires me to walk around the room and collaborate with my friends kind of way. And it's not just about the technology, although that is technically what I'm there to support her with. It's just the excitement that she brings to her classroom that can be so infectious to everyone else.

Recently she approached me with an idea for the students to use a 3D creating website called Tinkercad in order for the students to build their own sound machines so that they could study sound waves and how they change based on the size and measurements of the sound making device. It started simply enough, but by the time we were done, they were creating some of the most interesting sound devices I have seen, and they were all so different. All of the minds in the room came up with so many different ideas that no 2 were alike. The project was beneficial in so many ways, including a great number of her students asking to create more 3D objects in the future to further their understanding of concepts. Isn't that what we want from our students? To WANT to do great things?

In my time on the Southern Middle School campus, I have witnessed some amazing learning opportunities for students. Things like augmented reality, computer coding, country fantasy leagues, maker spaces, and digital art projects. There are so many opportunities being offered to these amazing students and Ms. Willis is one of the teachers leading the way.

Go Dragons! Show Me Success!!

Beth Alderson
Digital Integration Facilitator
Southern Middle School/ Aberdeen Elementary School

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ready, Set, Robotics!

   Elementary students from around the county are excited to join this year's robotics clubs. Many schools have either started clubs or are in the final selection process. Robotics has become a booming activity in Moore County over the last three years. We are now in our third year of our elementary showcase, second a year of our middle and high school competitions, and first year of holding regional competitions. "It has been amazing to watch the growth and excitement of robotics over the past couple years", Mrs. Steingraber, a Sandhills Farm Life (SFL) 3rd grade teacher reports.

  At Sandhills Farm Life, the robotics program is well under way and the students couldn't be more excited. "We had to fill out applications, use our best handwriting, and really explain why we wanted to be in the club", says Aiden, a robotics club member.  According to Mrs. Elliott, another robotics coach at SFL, "there has been so much interest in robotics, we are doing two showcases! One showcase will take place at the school and the other will be for the county."
   The theme for this year's Moore County Elementary Showcase will be "American Cities". Students will be designing boards centered around an American city theme and will create challenges for robots to solve. The middle school competition will also be centered around the same theme; however, instead of creating boards, students will come prepared with advanced pre-written programs. We are eager to see how this year's showcase and competition unfolds, and more information will be coming soon about our regional showcase/competition. 

   Robotics has been an exciting way to interest students in the careers associated with STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). As a county, we are now holding two STEM camps during the summer due to increased interest. The week long camps are filled with inventions, robotics, 3D printing, and entrepreneurs from our community. STEM careers and learning is the wave of the future and Moore County students want to be a part of it!

~Deanna Boesch

Friday, December 2, 2016

Travel the world (and beyond) with Google Expeditions

Google Expeditions

Wanna get away? That's the catchy slogan that Southwest airlines uses to advertise their low prices on airfare but I think this would make a nice jingle for virtual reality headsets too. You may have seen the commercials for companies like Samsung and Playstation who have brought virtual reality into the homes of consumers but now these headsets are popping up in classrooms across the country. It's basically comprised of three things, a cell phone that has the gyroscope feature to enable the virtual reality pictures, a headset to house the phone and a set of lenses that view the pictures (usually included with the headset).

You'll find a number of apps that are compatible with virtual reality but the one that I've found most helpful for teachers is Google Expeditions. This is the perfect app for teachers who are interested in taking their class on virtual field trips. There are over 400 locations to travel to within this app. There are many appealing features that this app offers for educators. First and foremost, it's free! But what I love about Google Expeditions is all of the information that is provided for teachers with each location. For each destination Google Expeditions provides:

  • Descriptive paragraphs that teachers can read to students to provide background information while they're immersed in their journey. 
  • Leveled questions to check your students for understanding
  • Focus Points that direct your students' attention to certain spots where Google provides you with more information to enhance your trip 

Another thing that I love about Google Expeditions is the teacher is the "Leader" of the expedition which puts them in complete control and the students are the "Followers". The teacher determines where we go on our expedition and they can also stop the expedition at any time through the use of a separate device, I used an iPad. There are locations that are waiting for you to explore that are directly aligned to the curriculum. We've traveled to a Native American fair to learn more about their culture and how they adapted to their environment. We're flying into space to examine the many features of our solar system next week. I'm really looking forward to that lesson! 

Here's what we purchased and the cost for each:

Teefan Headsets - $15.72 from Amazon   Samsung Galaxy S4 Smart Phones (Refurbished) - $120.00

Be sure to consult your IT department to ensure your district has the wireless capability of pairing the cell phones to other devices, such as an iPad. 

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Making WIZER Worksheets

Wizer allows you to produce great looking worksheets with embedded elements including YouTube video and formative assessments including matching, fill in the blanks, short answer and several more.
  • Wizer support single sign-on with Google
  • items with a definitive answer are graded automatically
  • Wizer supports “assign to students” > Google Classroom option
  • There are tons of lessons already created by your peers

Examples: (click the course below)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

DASH as an Ambassador -Student Feature: Jacob Pyska

Jacob is a fourth grade student in Elaina Aponte’s self-contained classroom at West Pine Elementary.  Jacob is first and foremost a lover of robotics and technology.  Jacob has autism and because of this is very shy and has a hard time in social settings, including school.  That is until recently.  Jacob’s mother, Jeannie, had a goal she set for her son: to be able to walk into school independently without her walking beside him. At the beginning of the year mom would circle the parking lot a few times, giving her son a pep talk and would ultimately end up walking him in.  Mrs. Aponte and I put our heads together and thought we could use Dash as a way to entice Jacob to come into the building on his own.  Dash would greet Jacob at the door and Mrs. Aponte would let him take on the role of the ‘programmer’ and he would code him to get back to class.  Within about a month, Jacob now comes in school and doesn’t want his mother’s help at all. He tells his mother in the parking lot “I can do this!” When Dash is working in other classes on STEM infused lessons, Jacob walks to the classes he is in to check on him.
According to Mrs. Aponte, “Dash was able to give Jacob confidence and independence.  Jacob is proud of himself and that makes me happy.”

“Jacob has been a student here for three years and has grown leaps and bounds.  This robot has given him purpose and something to be excited about each day.”- Lisa Epling, Assistant Principal

Dash is programmable robot that is great for students as young as kindergarten to learn the basics of coding and programming. It is really exciting how much this little robot has helped this student in such a huge way! Recently, the Public Ed Foundation of Moore County awarded a grant to myself and Clint Rogers and we were able to purchase 14 Dash robots and iPads so that he may have an impact on learning in classrooms all over Moore County.  

Friday, November 4, 2016

A New Way to Engage: Using Video Creation Tools in the Classroom

Teachers often struggle to engage students when teaching concepts that are, quite frankly, boring.  We have all taught lessons that we knew the students would not enjoy, but are an essential part of the conceptual framework of the subject, so skipping the lesson was simply not an option.  Why not transform these boring lessons into fun, engaging lessons by integrating video creation tools!

Why Video Presentations?
Using video creation tools provides a platform for all students to demonstrate their understanding of a concept in their own unique way.  By providing the opportunity for students to be creative with their video, engagement increases exponentially which leads to a better understanding of the once "boring" concept.

One common fear that teachers have about using technology in their classroom is that it will shift the students' focus from the subject content to the digital tool being used.  Good news!  Video creation provides a content-centered approach to learning.  Students must first have a solid understanding of the concept being taught before creating a video presentation that displays their understanding of the concept.  This allows video creating to integrate seamlessly into any lesson across any subject.

The Tools
Students at New Century Middle School have used video creation tools for a variety of projects across many different subjects.  Here are the tools they used along with their finished products:

Touchcast (iPad and iPhone)
This tool is free and includes a variety of effects including green screen, virtual whiteboard, unique sounds, and many other virtual apps (called vApps).  Students used Touchcast to create videos discussing economic issues in social studies.  They researched an economic issue in America, then created a video to present their findings and give their opinion on how to fix this particular issue.

WeVideo (web-based)
WeVideo is a web-based tool that allows you to easily edit video clips from your computer.  This is a great tool for students who are using Chromebooks.  Students used WeVideo to create videos for Red Ribbon Week detailing the dangers of taking prescription drugs.  This particular video won second place in a drug prevention video contest.

Splice (iPad and iPhone)
The easiest of the tools to use, Spice allows you to create videos using pictures and video clips from your device.  Because of it's ease of use, minimal class time is needed to teach students how to use the tool.  This particular student used Spice to create a digital "book report" on a novel they read in class.  

The Bottom Line
The next time you are looking to increase student engagement during a lesson that is far from exciting, have your students create a video presentation.  Then watch in amazement as your students create digital masterpieces that helps boost engagement and leads to content mastery.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Robots in the Elementary Math Classroom!

As we all know, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has fast become the focus of national and local attention. Skills in these areas are going to be necessary for citizens in our technologically-advancing global society to be successful and productive. Many times however, when we include robotics in our STEM conversations, we think about the wonderful work being done in science. Robots are used to aid in surgeries, create realistic prostheses, find distant galaxies, and even mimic animal behaviors for scientists to learn more about the creatures of our planet.

Mr. Powlen, a 5th grade science and math teacher at Southern Pines Elementary, has found a different way to leverage the power of robots - in his math class! Mr. Powlen recently had his 5th graders use LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots to master concepts related to decimal place value, while at the same time working through the Engineering and Design Process.

SPES 5th graders testing wheel rotation.
At first, students had to measure the distance of one rotation of their robot’s wheels. They then used their math skills and the engineering process to plan out how to program their robot to travel given distances. Trial, error, and redesign ensued! This led to learning about pivot turns of varying degrees, and finally the challenge of putting all of this knowledge together to conquer a large maze.

Engineering trials...
As educators we can learn so much from each other’s experiences. Mr. Powlen was kind enough to share his thoughts following his math unit integrating the EV3 robots:

Q: What curriculum standards were you hoping to cover with the robotics integration?  
A: Students were having some difficulty in concretely seeing how place value affected the worth of a number and decimals can be a tough concept to get sometimes.  My primary focus with this project was to improve adding and subtracting decimals (5.NBT.7), but we also utilized concepts from powers of ten, rounding, and number comparisons when deciding how to alter the basic program.  While I felt this went pretty well, I think I’ll start it a little later and I’ll definitely be tweaking the homework a bit.  The homework/classroom work revolved in showing the work done during the programming work.

Mr. Powlen's kids testing out their measurements.
Q: How did the project meet/exceed your expectations and in what way(s)?  
A. I was really excited to see how the students enjoyed the project, but students really seemed to process adding and subtracting decimals with greater efficiency.  Also, the level of conversation about how one tenth or one whole made a big difference on how the robot moved was great.  This real world, hands on work seemed to pull in their interest (I was asked daily if we were using robots!) and do more authentic teaching than I could in any given lesson.
Re-programming the decimal commands.
Q. What value do you feel the engineering and design process had in what your kids did during the lessons?  
A. Our lessons lead to making the robot move independently.  The engineering process was in full effect when they went to complete the simple maze I had laid out for them.  Most measured, discussed, and planned what to program.  Some programmed and tested, then discussed what to do next.  There was a lot of testing and improving that occurred!  One of the stipulations I put in was that they only could use the actually maze so much before it would start going against their score, so some went to extremes (i.e. – One group has a student walk the maze while watching their robot run off to the side to mirror its movements!) but most groups were fairly successful.  The fact that they weren’t perfect on the first try was also important.  While I had taught them exacting distances and turns, I wanted them to use this as a beginning point, not the answer, and it worked out so well!

If you need help designing ways to integrate robotics into the subject(s) you teach, don’t hesitate to contact your DIF! He or she would be glad to brainstorm, help plan, and assist you in the classroom in whatever ways will be most helpful.

Keep Calm and Engineer On! -- Kim

Monday, October 24, 2016

Halloween is coming but Mrs. Futral isn't afraid

Integrating technology can be scary. 

Technology is constantly changing. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance. Especially when the computer, iPad, app, robot, chromebook, website (you see where I am going with this) is not working like it should. It is easy to become frustrated. But through it all, Johnna Futral knows that integrating technology is worth the risk. I have worked with Johnna over the past three years and she has become one of my closest allies in the world of digital learning. I know that if there is something new that I would like to take for a test drive I can approach Johnna and she will be eager to give it a shot. Not only is she open to my suggestions, she's an advocate for the benefits of digital learning. I wanted to share her teaching pedagogy that includes using technology to enhance her instruction so that other educators may see that the rewards are worth the risks that you take when you step out of your comfort zone. Here's a piece of my interview with another one of Moore County's finest:

Question: How long have you been a teacher in Moore County Schools?
Answer: This is my eighteenth years teaching. All in Moore County Schools. I’ve taught second grade for seven years, Kindergarten for seven years and two years in fourth grade. I also worked as an assistant for two years.

Q: How would you describe your teaching style?
A: My teaching philosophy has always been that high expectations lead to high achievers. I like a lot of movement in the classroom. I like to change things on a whim. I’d like to say that I’m organized enough that I’m effective but if something isn’t working I like to change it on the fly. I’d say I’m a little bit of a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of teacher. It depends on what the kids need. What I think when I’m planning may be different than what happens when I’m actually teaching. I also like a lot of creative in the classroom. I like to integrate arts and science because the kids enjoy it and I bring that passion so then the kids get excited.

Q: You often integrate technology in your lessons. How does technology enhance your instruction?
A: For one thing, when the kids are using technology they are a lot more engaged compared to when they’re talking to their classmates. I think it has a lot to do with the world we’re living in. It enhances teaching when you bring in something they're familiar with. 21st century learners must be fluent with technology to be able to function as an adult. Showing students those skills of creating, collaboration, and publishing prepares them for what’s to come in their future. They still need to be able to talk through their thinking as well. That way we don’t take out the personal connection part.

Q: What are some of your favorite lessons that included technology?
A: I especially enjoyed the solar oven engineering lesson where our students created a plan, then made and tested, as well as improved a way of using the energy from the sun to make s’mores. I also enjoyed the Lego robotics lessons where our students created and programed robots that supplemented math lessons in measurement and comparing numbers. You can see the kids enjoy these lessons and you know the content will stick with them because of how much they enjoy it. Even though some of those lessons are harder to prepare for, it turns out being some of the best lessons. Once we got out there to see that something they created was successful when the sun had melted our chocolate...they’ll remember that forever..

Q: What would you say to a teacher who may be reluctant to use technology with their students?
A: I would say to utilize your resources. If your Digital Integration Facilitator is offering to give you help, you should take advantage of that resource because if you’re not comfortable with technology, your DIF is so you’ll be able to step outside of your comfort zone and then you’ll grow as a teacher. You are more likely to try something new when you’re working with a DIF. Until I see it, I don’t understand how it works. The only way you’re growing to grow as an educator is to step outside of the box of comfort. No one is going to grow until they take risks. Just like we tell our students. I often find that if I do take a risk and fail it’s a good lesson for my students as well. You teach them perseverance and not to give up with some things are hard.

Q: Does your principal affect your motivation or desire to use technology?
A: No. I think he’s very tech savy. It’s something that I do on my own because I think it’s beneficial.

Q: You’re an inspiration to many people, including myself, what inspires you?
A: From the time I was a small child I knew I wanted to be a teacher. I was inspired at a young age by my kindergarten teacher. I don’t know exactly what it was but she was a huge inspiration for me. I even did an internship where I went back into her classroom and worked with her.  My children also inspire me. My colleagues inspire me. I get inspired by other educators. I think that my daughter inspires me and that I inspire her as well as my students. They’re so much love in a school building that is enough in itself to be inspiring. I like to have fun. I don’t like to do things like in the olden days. I like to be creative and I think teaching allows me to do that.

Q: What is your favorite part about being a teacher?

A: I think my favorite part is the kids and how much they love you. It’s like having a classroom full of your own children that you mold and shape. Even though you send them home at the end of everyday you still think about them. Why else would you be a teacher? It’s about the kids. I like to see them excited about things. Like today, when they were building their robots today that’s something they were excited about.

This is Mrs. Futral's first year at Cameron Elementary School and they are beyond lucky to have such an amazing teacher. If I had kids, I would love for them to have her as their teacher. She is a phenomenal educator and I absolutely love collaborating with her.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Engineering has Taken off in Mrs. Rallings Class!

   Nationally there is a big push for student interest and careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). The Moore County School District has embraced this push and has currently integrated an engineering thread into the K-5 science and math curriculum. This thread offers teachers two projects, one with robotics and one without. Lessons were created by staff this summer and are meant to last several days. 
   The teachers at Pinehurst Elementary, in Moore County, have welcomed this new addition with open arms! The students are eager to do science and participate with friends on engineering design. Mrs. Kathy Rallings, first grade teacher at Pinehurst Elementary, has gone above and beyond with integrating STEM into her classroom. Her students not only know the design process, and can recite it, but they have developed perseverance when solving problems related to STEM. "You have to be like an engineer and keep going until you solve the problem", says one of Mrs. Rallings first graders. 

I asked Mrs. Rallings her thoughts on incorporating STEM into her classroom and these were her thoughts:

    1. What did you know about STEM prior to this year?

Prior to this year I really thought of STEM as robotics and activities for older students.

     2. Do you feel the STEM lessons have excited your kids about learning science?

The exciting thing about STEM lessons is that every child is given an opportunity to be creative, be a problem solver and to work cooperatively with others.  So you may see a student that is not engaged in reading or math, but in the STEM lesson this particular student might actually take the lead and excel. This student gets to feel a sense of accomplishment he may never feel during the course of a reading task or math activity. 

    3. What is the most enjoyable part of teaching these lessons to your kids?

The most enjoyable part of teaching these lessons for me as an educator is taking a step back and letting the students take the initiative with their partner or group in solving the problem or challenge with the STEM lesson.

    4. What has been your best memory so far?
Seeing your students guide each other, encourage each other, and work through the challenge of a STEM lesson is a memorable moment for me. Just the other day, I saw a particular student who usually does not work well with his peers and does not work cooperatively with others, showing such kindness and understanding as he helped his STEM partner through the blog questions for our Global Read Aloud book, The Troublemaker. 

     5. Do you have any advice for other teachers thinking about incorporating STEM in their classrooms?

My advice for other teachers would be, go ahead, jump in head first and try at least one STEM lesson each week. Rise to the challenge and your students will guide you through the learning process. That’s what true learning is. It’s the process not the product.

    I look forward to many more STEM lessons throughout this year in Moore County. A huge thank you to Mrs. Rallings on her willingness to try something different and embracing a change in her classroom!

~Deanna Boesch

Let's Animate

Lego Movie Maker has always been one of my favorite Apps. It is easy to create a custom animation with titles, pictures and sounds. With the built in camera, students can easily take still pictures of whatever they choose to animate.

Recently, I co-taught with a 9th grade ELA teacher that used this App to help his students remember the parts of The Odyssey. He provided a few props relevant to the storyline, a title card with the Episode number, and action cards with the main ideas from the story. This was an excellent process because it kept students on task with a directed plan.

Later, the videos could be watched as a review for an upcoming assessment. The sky is the limit with this App. Give it a try.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Bringing Elements to Life with Augmented Reality

Cupcakes, Twizzlers, bottle caps.  When it comes to studying the periodic table, these are probably not materials that come to mind, right?  Not the case for eighth grade students at Westmoore Elementary who recently completed a mega periodic table project.  For this project, students were assigned a different element from the periodic table and were required to describe all of their element’s properties on folded piece of paper.  In addition, students created models using everyday materials and pantry items to represent their element’s atoms, with the correct number of protons, electrons, and neutrons in the proper place on the model.
Mega Periodic Table by 8th graders at Westmoore Elementary

Description of the element Fluorine
Thallium atom model

But they didn’t stop there.  After students presented their atoms, they linked photos of their models to their element cards with the augmented reality app Aurasma.   

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality (AR) layers content on top of a trigger image.  The content can be accessed by scanning a trigger image with a mobile device that creates a subsequent action. This action can be a video, another image, QR code, or whatever you want it to be.

For the Mega Periodic Table Project, students used the Aurasma app to layer pictures of their atom models on top of their periodic table card.  Now anyone with the Aurasma app can scan each element to view the models!

AR in the Classroom

Getting started with augmented reality in your classroom is as easy as downloading an AR app and printing out an AR trigger.

Here are a few of my personal favorite augmented reality apps and resources:

How can you use Augmented Reality in your own classroom to bring learning to life?