Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Regional Robotics Competition

Moore County was well-represented on January 16 at Cardinal Gibbons High School for the first FTC Regional Robotics Qualifier of the season.  All three high schools (North Moore, Union Pines and Pinecrest) and one middle school (New Century) fielded a team of students that had constructed a TETRIX robot that attempted to score points in the RES-Q Challenge playing field (video below).  FIRST Tech Challenge teams are challenged to design, build, program and operate robots to play a floor game in an alliance format (FTC Website).

In preparation for the event, students had to build their robot from a bucket of parts, motors and wheels.  Once the robot was built, they programmed the robot using the MIT App Inventor Software.  Their apps were uploaded to ZTE Cell Phones and paired up with remote controllers.  

The teams had a blast trying to push debris, rescue mountain climbers, climb a 'mountain' and the ultimate challenge - "Hang from the Mountain Top".  

North Moore Team

New Century Team

Pinecrest Team

Union Pines Team

Twenty three teams from across the state attended the event trying to conquer the course.  While none of the teams qualified for the state tournament at this qualifying event, each team left with lessons learned and experiences that will last a lifetime.  We are appreciative to the Public Education Foundation of Moore County and the teachers, coaches, students and parents for providing this opportunity.  

RES-Q Challenge Course

I want to also give a special thanks to Digital Integration Facilitator Lee Ann Holmes for all her help and hard work that made this a success.  She is a Robotics Rockstar!

Digital Integration Facilitator


Monday, January 25, 2016

A New Way To Review

Biology teacher, Connie Richards at Pinecrest High School, decided that she wanted a different way for her students to review for final exams. She knew that most students would never complete a review packet. Ms. Richards designed a unique review that gave students choices of creation for all the major topics covered during the semester. Some of her choices included creating a video, a music file, a scroll, a paper diagram, a piktochart, or a Popplet.

The students compiled all the work on a student-created website using We emphasized to the students that we were more concerned with content rather than appearance. This review worked so well and the students enjoyed it so much, that Ms. Richards is going to begin a student portfolio of classwork at the beginning of the semester for all Biology classes.

Here are some examples of the student-created review projects.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Total Collaboration

Over the last few weeks the DIF team has been working hard in several classrooms all over the county on a common project.  Lee Ann Holmes, the DIF at Pinecrest, had the idea to integrate 3D printing with elementary curriculum. Planning was underway and we decided to target fourth grade and their study of animal adaptations.  

Students in high school biology drafted imaginary biomes and shared those plans and drawings to our fourth graders at Vass-Lakeview, Carthage, and Robbins.  The high school students included everything the fourth graders would need to know like habitat of their animal, where the animal falls on the food chain, and other factors that might threaten the animal.  All of the details were shared within a folder in Google.  After the fourth graders had the opportunity to read the notes the Pinecrest students had in the folder, they were able to ask questions back and forth in a communication doc.  Students at the elementary level were charged with the task of creating an animal that would survive in the habitat created by PHS students.  The possibilities of these fictitious animals were endless.  Students were asked to scan their pictures and add them to the shared folder for their group and answer questions about the animal.  

The final steps are underway and we cannot wait to see what MCS students come up with.  PHS students are now planning and printing the animals these students created and the elementary students are making models of the habitats in shoeboxes.  The plan is to have the animals ‘live’ in their habitats when both parties are finished.  Stay tuned! I am sure this is not the last you will hear about this awesome project.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I do. You do. Mrs. Morris does with WeDo

Almost every kid loves Legos. Duh! I'm sure this isn't breaking news for anyone who's reading this. But using Legos in your classroom is new territory for a lot of teachers in our district. I've seen them in collaboratory labs and in after-school activities, but typically Legos haven't been seen as a way to enhance instruction. Well, let me introduce you to a teacher who has become a leader in integrating Legos into her classroom to build (see what I did there?) on her curriculum.

Meet Mrs. Morris. Mariah Morris is a second grade teacher at Aberdeen Primary School. She is a newbie in the elementary classroom, but you wouldn't know it by observing one of her lessons. Formerly a high school literature teacher, Mrs. Morris is only in her second year at APS and she has quickly become a Lego master. She has created engaging lessons through the use of the Lego WeDo kits from the Lego Education Group. I sat down with Mrs. Morris to pick her brain and find out how she utilizes the Legos so that I could share her knowledge with anyone who wants to use them in their classroom but may be unsure of how to do it.

Here's some of our interview:

What inspired you to integrate Legos into your classroom?
Originally, Dr. Capps sent me to the training and I felt like the kits were the perfect way to make the curriculum come to life in a STEM capacity. I think that the kinesthetic students and the visually learners are able to tap into the lesson. It introduces students into 21st century skills. I had students who wanted to be bus drivers before but now they want to be engineers. It’s been a huge gateway into higher education and learning options for their future.

What are some of the topics/standards that you’ve addressed with the WeDo kits?
We connected it to the math using the soccer player to hit some of our measurement standards. In science we addressed the force in motion standard by creating a spinning top. We’ve also introduced them into the basic coding skills for STEM and computer technology.

What are some of the benefits of using the WeDo kits with your students?
It’s been huge. In terms of classroom management, they think we’re this special lego classroom. We bring the lesson to life. Every student is engaged and you can’t say that for the majority of lessons. It gets kids excited about the lesson in a way that I’ve never seen in all my years of teaching. Students are carrying the build days home with them and they want these resources at home. It’s exciting as a teacher to see the excitement in my student’s eyes. We can see how the curriculum comes to life with hands on activities.

Did you have any obstacles or barriers when you began using the WeDo kits?
At first it was overwhelming having all these kits with my students. But we had the support of the DIFs in our district. I probably wouldn’t have used the kits without them (shameless plug).

What has been your favorite part of using the WeDo kits in your classroom?
It’s fun! For me, the students, we are get excited about the legos. It brings our classroom to life!

Thank you Mrs. Morris for being such an advocate for integrating technology in your classroom. It has been a pleasure working with you. I've grown as a facilitator by observing your lessons and learning new ways to use technology to increase student learning.

- Clint Rogers

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Coding in CTE

The Hour of Code brought many opportunities for students across Moore County. Students in elementary, middle and high school spent time exploring the website along with many others. 

Coding is the new literacy. To thrive in tomorrow’s society, young people must learn to design, create and express themselves with digital technologies,” says Mitchel Resnick, a media arts and sciences professor at the MIT Media Lab.

Students in the 6th grade Career Decision class at West Pine spent some time learning to code. They used the website began by working through some of the basics on the website, completing several levels before they began the assignment. They then had to create a story or a game using the program. The only requirement was “NO VIOLENCE!”

Aniyah was the first one in the class to figure out the complete her story. She was so excited to see her work on the screen and to see her accomplishment. She quickly worked through the tutorials and then began her project. Olaf and Frozen was her inspiration for her project. She didn’t see a snowman so she used a penguin because it fit with her snow theme. “It was really entertaining to work through the tutorial and then I got to use my imagination for my project. I learned to work with the computer better and to use the parts of the program. The pixels were controlled through the math actions; increasing the pixels controlled how far a character moved. I created the characters as I went along using the events action. Once I chose to put in a character, I was able to choose the characters from a long list of options. My favorite part was coming up with my idea. I think I could use it in other classes to show how the planets rotate around the sun, or the life cycle of a flower.”

“I worked on it for a long time, probably about 2 weeks. My favorite part was creating a story that showed my artistic side. Not only did I learn how to code, but I was also able to help others learn how to do things. I learned to be patient because it takes a long time and you have to concentrate.” Jada R.

“This was an ok project; I just had to put a lot of work into it. This showed me that video games are hard to design and we should appreciate the work they put into it.” Gerald O.

“I liked that we could go where we wanted to with this project and make what we wanted. We were able to get creative with this. I created a story about a lost dinosaur who was trying to find his way home. I learned how to code, which I had never done before.” Nick D.

“I created a story because a game was a lot harder. So mine had a Christmas theme and it was about a cat who is trying to find something he lost. It was hard learning to code and putting all the pieces together but it was fun. After learning how to code, I have practiced it at home too. I think a career in coding would be fun.” Joanna J.

“Honestly, I have never done coding before but once I got started, it got easier and easier. It was fun to do it with my friends. I learned how other people do this and there are a lot of complicated things and it is easy to get confused. It was good to have a partner to help you work through these problems. I made a story about unicorn who was trying to make it to a party. It took a few days and it runs for about a minute! It really is a lot of work to make anything happen.” Ainslee W.

Mrs. McMillan is a veteran teachers who teaches Exploring Career Decisions at West Pine Middle School.