Stained Glass and Snowflakes

Stations. The best unkept secret in education.

Snowflakes are hexagonal… perhaps the best kept secret in advertising.

macro photography of snowflake

Photo by Egor Kamelev on Pexels.com

During #DBC50Summer, I followed every author from Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc on Twitter and love being connected to them! One of the funniest authors is easily Denis Sheeran, author of Instant Relevance. His sense of humor pulled me into his book and now I get to enjoy his wit through social media. He created a hashtag to serve as a Public Service Announcement. Snowflakes are hexagons. Really! #Snowflakesarehexagons

The poetry written to the companies along with the photos of his own version of “false advertisement” cracks me up! With those posts, do you know what he did? He made me stop and count the dang sides of every. single. snowflake. in every. single. ad. I see.

Our amazing 8th grade math teachers, Ms. Luce & Mrs. Hawks, and I had already planned to do an extension of a PBL in MinecraftEDU. The students had learned about how linear functions are used to create stained glass windows. They had a guest speaker a few weeks ago who actually showed them how she creates stained glass and students have been creating their own stained glass (by coloring) and figuring out the linear function in slope-intercept form of each line. In MinecraftEDU, students could create a stained glass of their choosing. This could be done by modifying the one they created with linear functions to be “blocky” so it could be built in the game, they could create anything from scratch, or they could look up pixel art and use stained glass blocks or wool to create it.

This gave us two stations in our classes, but we needed a third. I had just discovered that Sprite had six-pointed snowflakes on their product (thanks to Denis’s Twitter PSA) and thought students might have fun discovering which products had “the right snowflakes” on them.

Our third station was a huge hit!

First, students searched for snowflakes in advertising and shared an image they found on a Padlet. Bonus for me: I get to talk about digital citizenship next week and have students determine if this was best practice for using images! (Hint: No, no it was not.)

After finding an image, they read one of the three articles referenced in Denis’s blog post Snowflakes are Hexagons. They were to secretly tell me how many sides every snowflake has and why it has that many sides based on their research.

Upon giving me the correct answer, the students did exactly as Denis suggests in his blog… they created paper snowflakes. There were a lot of octagons, decagons, quadrilaterals, and circles, until finally someone used their resources and googled “How to make a six-sided snowflake.” HA! My principal suggested taking it up a notch further. These paper snowflakes (with the correct number of sides, of course) will be used as decorations for their Winter Dance in December.

Check out a few of their creations that I tweeted out! There are dozens and dozens of hexagonal snowflakes in our media center now!

 

Then, this morning, this kid blew me away!

The MinecraftEDU station turned out pretty fantastic, too! I am currently working to upload the file on my YouTube channel and will embed here when finished, but for now, check out this link to a walkthrough on my Google Drive. (There is no sound.) I was so impressed with what they built in the 25-30 minutes they had available to create. Several came before and after school as well as during their lunch to finish their stained glass pixel art and more have asked to return this week. Students showed one another how to “light up” their windows using glowstone, so when the world turns to night it glows in the most beautiful colors!

I am so proud of the students I serve, and the teachers were blown away by both their stained glass creations and their unique snowflakes. This was one of those times that we got it right. Thank you, Denis for inspiring a way to make learning relevant for our students! This definitely serves as one implementation (I’m sure there will be many more to come) for my #DBC50Summer post on Instant Relevance! I am honored that our 8th grade math teachers trusted me to help create this PBL extension and spur-of-the-moment lesson on snowflakes. I’m looking forward to more lessons like this!

#DBC50Summer Book 31-40 Recap

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I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! Here we are – entering the final stretch for #DBC50Summer with books 41-50. The official end of summer is on September 22 at 9:54 pm EST. Are you thinking there’s no way I can do it? Are you thinking that this lady has less than 14 days to read, develop an implementation, and blog 10 more books? I have a secret! You’ll have to check out the next ten blog posts to find out my secret(s)!

This journey was born out of creative alchemy. I had probably half of the books published by Dave Burgess Consulting, Inc on a shelf and came home with five more after meeting Dave in April. I thought my husband would flip his lid when I came home with five more books to essentially fill space on a shelf. I’d wanted to read them, but never had the opportunity. There was always something else to do. I also wanted to get back into blogging. I remembered the growth I experienced the summer that I did the EdTechSummer series on my blog. It reframed my mindset and provided an opportunity to be intentional about viewing “outside” technology as tools for use “inside” of education. Sharing it allowed me to expand my PLN that summer as well. Finally, I desperately wanted new ideas for the new school year. After my students shared their hearts in a survey at the end of the year, I realized that I wasn’t doing all I could to make school the very best experience they could ask for. New ideas would motivate, inspire, and excite me as I prepared for 2018-2019 with them. Put those three things in a cauldron and stir it up… you have the ambitious plan for #DBC50Summer – reading, choosing at least one thing to implement, and blogging reflections about each book. See Summer Recap 1 on books 1-10 here and Summer Recap 2 on books 11-20 by clicking here. Summer Recap 3 on books 21-30 can be found here.

Since I’ve been back at work several have asked why I did this journey with #DBC50Summer. I’ve been given “the alien look” from Kids Deserve It. They want to know why I put so much time into it? “What’s in it for you,” they’d ask.

Seriously? What’s in it for me? It just sounds so selfish. Yes, #DBC50Summer was my idea (an insanely crazy one, but mine nonetheless). But it’s not about me. This has never been about me! This has been about my students, my staff, my school by making myself the best educator I can for them! It’s been about knowing there’s a lifeline out there and grabbing hold with all my might. It’s been about relationships. It’s been about bettering teaching practices. It’s been about inspiration and motivation. It’s been about making 2018-2019 the very best school year I possibly can for those around me. It’s not about me. It’s about them. Dave Burgess has his six words that drive him crazy… I guess I have my own version now… five little words.

What’s

In

It

For

Me?

Well… if you really want to know – here’s what was in it “for me” as they say.

*#DBC50Summer is in order of release dates according to authors, blogs, and tweets. This was intentional so I didn’t just grab the books I was interested in reading first and neglect the others. There have been so many books that surprised me – books I probably wouldn’t have read due to content that was seemingly irrelevant to my current position. Now I can look back on the past 40 books and say that they were all relevant.*

31 – Ditch That Homework by Matt Miller & Alice Keeler: Giving students an authentic audience pulls them deeper into the learning. Homework isn’t a bad thing if it’s relevant to the student. It’s not about the philosophy of homework, but the type of homework given. If my homework after reading these books was to fill out a worksheet sharing the title, author, theme, conflict, setting, etc, I would have never even started. I have an authentic audience and am making the content relevant to my world.

32 – The Four O’Clock Faculty by Rich Czyz: Giving teachers opportunity to have choice and voice in their professional development makes a world of difference in attitude and experience for adults, just as giving students choice and voice does the same. Reflecting on the best professional development I’ve had, it’s been voluntary, collaborative, relevant, and has had some sort of follow-up. This book gives oodles of examples to make PD better for educators by taking charge of your own learning.

33 – Culturize by Jimmy Casas: This entire book was an eye-opener. It tore me apart, then put me back together. It’s a must-read for every educator. It makes us take responsibility on the individual level for the culture of our schools. Rather than complaining about our culture, if we start with the “(wo)man in the mirror,” we can make effective change toward a positive environment for students and staff alike.

34 – Code Breaker by Brian Aspinall: I am fortunate to be able to provide my students and teachers with incredible opportunities to develop coding skills through robotics, computer science discoveries, and MinecraftEdu. We have evolved way beyond “Hour of Code” and are starting to work toward coding being about the critical thinking and problem solving. This book gave me multiple ideas for lessons as I work with teachers to create cross-curricular project-based learning opportunities for students.

35 – The Wild Card by Wade and Hope King: Every student has been dealt a different hand in the cards of life. How can we be that wild card for them to make their hand better, not worse? How can we give them the extra boost to get to the next round? There are no excuses for mediocrity. I should want to go all out for my students, doing everything I can to make middle school the best years they’ve ever had. What advantage can I give each student and teacher I work with?

36 – Stories from Webb by Todd Nesloney: So I’m going to write a book. This book is about my epic fails in teaching – from fails with parents, other teachers, administrators, and my students. We all know that hIndsight is 20/20, but what should I do differently next time? What could other teachers learn from my failures? What could they identify with and realize someone else has done something similar? Todd and his teachers, parents, wife, and other stakeholders inspired me with their stories, and I look forward to writing mine. It may never see the light of day in its entirety, only living on my Google Drive. Some of it will likely work its way into a new blog series though! Stay tuned!

37 – The Principled Principal by Jeff Zoul and Anthony McConnell: I have to be the calming voice of reason when others are in a frenzy. When people talk to me when they feel as though they are in a hurricane, I should be the eye of the storm, calm and peaceful. Hopefully I can help with whatever is on their mind, but if not, I certainly don’t need to add to the wind and rain, but be their few moments of sunshine. This was one of the unexpected gems of DBC for me. With no desire to be an administrator, I expected to get nothing from this one. Instead, I identified with almost every single chapter in the book! Don’t let “Principal” scare you; it’s about leadership, and if you’re an educator, you’re a leader.

38 – Google Apps for Littles by Christine Pinto and Alice Keeler: If you get nothing more than logistically managing devices from this book, that’s enough! Christine blows my mind with all that her transitional kindergarten students (four and five year olds) can do! This book is about believing in kids. Give them the opportunities to prove they can do something rather than shutting the technological door as they walk up to it. So many excellent strategies and tools in this book, no matter the age of the student!

39 – The Limitless School by Abe Hege and Adam Dovico: These North Carolina boys brought the house down with their book. Removing limitations by breaking down barriers is what Abe and Adam do. They show you how to do it, too! Another must-read for all who want to improve the culture of their school for your students and staff – and let’s face it. We should all want to improve.

40 – The EduProtocol Field Guide by Marlena Hebern and Jon Corippo: I loved my second trip into this book! Listening to my students’ feedback, I knew I needed to revamp some of my media lessons and I’m thrilled to have read this the weekend before having my first media lessons of the year. Overhauling this week’s lessons, with the help of Marlena herself, to include Smart Starts and fast-paced mini-lessons has me enthusiastic about heading back to work tomorrow! It’s a fresh start and an immediate look into things to come for students and staff from my #DBC50Summer journey.

Well… isn’t that interesting? Every single one of those books gave me something to change, do, or continue doing for my students and teachers. What’s in it for me looks pretty good if you’re a teacher or student that I have the privilege of serving, doesn’t it?

If you want to see what’s in it for you by hopping on the #DBC50Summer journey with me, do it! You don’t have to commit to reading the first 50 books published by DBC! You can read just one! Just one book and implement something you learned. Share your reflections, your implementation plan, and then reflect on it upon completion. It’s that easy!

That leads me to two things I need your help with!

A) The flipgrid that Andrea Paulakovich and I are copiloting is silent. When Andrea mentioned this digital space for global collaboration for all DBC books, I was blown away by her creativity! Still am! Would love to have your thoughts added to the flipgrids. We will release the link to the grid itself once we are finished with the books and blogs. (We’ve also got a couple of awesome things in the works so stay tuned for that, too!) For now, you can use my implementation plan which includes the links to individual topics within the flipgrid!

B) Summer is over in less than 2 weeks. I will finish the final 10 books in the first 50 books published by DBC. I have no plans to stop reading, reflecting, and implementing something from DBC books after book 50. There are incredible books waiting to be read and shared after book 50! So how do we rebrand #DBC50Summer? Help me think! Tweet out your ideas for a new hashtag that can remain relevant no matter the season or book number, or add your ideas in the comments below.

When I started this journey in June, I had no idea what it would look like. I figured no one would ever read these posts, and that it would essentially become a notebook of reflections that I could refer back to as needed when supporting teachers and students. I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined my summer would turn out the way it has. My PLN is incredible. Absolutely, mind-blowingly (not a word, I know), insanely spectacular! I am beyond thankful for each person who has read even one word, tolerated my incessant tweets (and e-mails for those who are subscribed to receive emails for each new blog), encouraged me, and supported me. You have inspired so much growth through your conversations and kind words and I can never thank you enough. But it’s not time to get sappy yet. This isn’t the acceptance speech, because we’re not finished yet.

Just as the first 40 were, these last 10 are for my students and staff. What’s in it for them?

Ten books, less than 14 days… and I’ve got a secret. Let’s go!

Top 5 Must-Have VR Experiences

I have spent the past year using the htc Vive to help teachers give students experiences that they cannot possibly have otherwise.  Through this year, I have compiled a list of five of our must-have VR experiences in SteamVR.  (Note: I have not added pricing information as it can change, but check for sales!)  These are in no particular order as they all served their purpose extremely well!

Google Earth VR

romancoliseum

The Roman Coliseum in Google Earth VR

It started out shaky; I’ve got to admit that I hated it at first.  I was not a fan at all.  It made me nauseated and it wasn’t very user-friendly.  With the addition of the search feature and the newly rendered locations, I am in love with Google Earth VR, and so are my students.  We’ve used this in several classes.  We explored the Roman Coliseum, enjoyed a tour of London, and stood at the summit of Mount Everest.  We found and labeled various biomes, went to Pearl Harbor to discuss why this was so important to our military during World War 2, and of course as everyone does, found our school!

theBlu

theblu

This was my very first VR experience and will likely always make my top 5 list.  It would have to be a mighty contender to knock this one out of the top five.  I used this with every science class to discuss different content in each grade level.  With one grade level, we discussed bioluminescence using the experience called Luminous Abyss.  In another, we used the experience Reef Migration to discuss water pollution and migration of animals.  Finally, using Whale Encounter we discussed the magnitude of the oceans and ocean water.  This is also my go-to for the first encounter for others in VR.  It is a quick experience that shows exactly how immersive today’s high-end virtual reality has become.

The Lab

thelab

This experience is brought by Valve, and has so many easter eggs included that it automatically makes my first list of top five.  I spent an entire afternoon just discovering easter eggs!  I have also used several of the experiences within The Lab to explore content from the classroom.  There is a human body scanner, which is fairly impressive to see the heart, brain, and lungs.  The solar system within The Lab is perfect to share inner and outer planets, planetary motion (both revolution and rotation), the asteroid belt, and to discuss size of planets.  Bonus – you can pick up the planets and throw them around like bouncy balls.  There is an adorable robotic puppy in The Lab that my students have loved playing with; he will even fetch!  Finally, and easily my favorite experience in The Lab is the Slingshot!  Imagine… you’re in a cardboard factory with boxes on top of boxes.  Placed between some boxes are loads of TNT explosives (yes, I know – so cool!).  You are given “cores” to calibrate, which just means that you are launching these spherical objects into the factory and the more damage you do, the higher your score.  Your score is given in dollars of damage! It’s great!  Two tremendous parts of this experience – tracer cores and core personalities!  Yep – there are boxes (they look like blue box fans to me) placed in the factory.  Hit one of those, and you can aim your tracer core shot – great for hitting the TNT in the distance!  In ELA, this game is perfect for point-of-view and characterization!  Each core has it’s own personality and talks to you.  They are hilarious, so turn up your volume!

Tilt Brush

tiltbrush

Another goodie from Google is Tilt Brush.  This experience is perfect for students to draw settings of stories, create 3d sculptures, generate nonlinear and linear graphs, and thanks to Jimmy Fallon – Tiltbrush Pictionary is a thing and can easily be done using vocabulary words in class!  This takes a few minutes of practice to learn the controls, but it is well-worth the time and money.

Water Bears VR

waterbears

Do you remember the app called “Where’s My Water?”  You had to dig through dirt to clear the route for water to reach a bathtub for an alligator… please say you remember that.  It was one of my favorites until I got stuck on a level.  Anyhow, this puzzle game is very similar.  You are given pipes and a water source, and these absolutely adorable animated gummy bear looking creatures in a bubble.  The goal is to use the pipes to move the water from the water source to the water bears to free the bears and move on to the next level.  It is super cute!  The levels get progressively harder and there is critical thinking and problem solving that must be used.  My personal favorite thing about the experience is catching the water bears when they are released and listening to their laughter at being released.

Bonus: Vivecraft

vivecraft

Let’s face it.  I can’t just do 5 must-haves.  I’m sorry!  Go get Vivecraft and let your students build and mine on Minecraft IN virtual reality!  They get to experience it through the eyes of Steve/Alex!  How cool is that?  Want to make it even cooler???  The coolest thing my students did this year with Virtual Reality was to create their own splash pads to scale, designing in class, building in Minecraft, then experiencing in Virtual Reality using Vivecraft!  It was pretty epic and the students (and teachers) loved the experience!

Comment with your must-haves from SteamVR!