Month: August 2015

Building a Program

The school year has been underway for almost a month now and I’m getting ready to start my maker club meetings.  Last year, I was able to start a maker club at my school known as the KS Makers.  This club consisted of 24 fourth and fifth graders at my school.  We went on field trips, participated in our school’s Hoʻolauleʻa, and had a Maker Faire at the end of the year.  Maker club was brand new for my school. I wanted to get us more involved in the maker movement.  My goal was to provide a space where kids can be creative and innovative driven by their own inquiry.  My first group of makers and I made many memories in the time we spent together.

This year, I was overwhelmed with the response to joining maker club.  I had the same parameters that I had last year.  Sign up was on first come first serve basis, I would accept 20 kids, and it would be the same cost.  A couple of the girls in the club last year made a commercial for maker club to get students to join for this school year.  I went into the fourth and fifth grade classrooms, showed them the commercial, told them how to sign up, and answered any questions they had.  They had a two week period to sign up.  That night, after school my mind was blown. Over 40 kids had signed up before I went to bed.  The next morning, I was up to 50 kids.  That is more than half of the kids I even offer maker club to!  50 out of 96 students wanted in.

Holy moly, what was I going to do? I couldn’t cut more people than I accepted.  I couldn’t tell a kid that they can’t learn. My mind immediately starting thinking of ways to make this work.  There’s no way I could fit that many makers in my tiny classroom, let alone manage that many kids making all on my own.  Could I have meetings twice a week with different groups each day?  Personally and realistically, I don’t have the time to do that.  Could I get a co-teacher to help me out?  Could I do something before school? During recess? Could I integrate it any more than I already have into my technology curriculum?  The questions went on and on.  My head was spinning.  I was shocked with the response and interest.  This was a beautiful disaster.  What a GREAT problem to have!  So now what?

I met with my administrators when I got to school the next day and we began brainstorming solutions.  They were completely supportive of my program and agreed that I could not turn away students.  We had several ideas of how to tackle this.  We settled on splitting it into two groups of students.  I will see one group the first half of the year and I will see the other group the second half of the year.  Both groups will participate in the end of the year Maker Faire and they will both have access to resources all year long.  Already, I’ve had so much feedback from parents and students.  They are so pleased that everyone who signed up got in and that they will all get that creative, innovative, opportunity to extend their learning.  I must say, I am super excited to start making this school year and to see what the kids come up with.  I am proud of this program I’ve built, my KS Makers. I MUA!

Google Extensions I Love

Move It is a great Google Chrome Extension I like to use.  It lets me know when I’ve been sitting too long and will give me a short movement to do.  https://goo.gl/5cUIt5

To get Google Chrome Extensions, open Google Chrome.  Click on Apps on the left hand side of the top bar.  Click on Web Store.  Search for whatever extension you are looking for or explore.  Click Add to Chrome and pau.

Another extension I like to use is goo.gl URL shortener.  This allows me to get a short url and a QR code for the webpage that I am currently on.

Google Keep

Google Keep is a great tool to use for productivity.  I learned about this over the summer.  You can access via the web or app.  It is a space where you can dump notes, photos, thoughts, lists, audio, etc.  It all links to your google account and you can share items with others.  It syncs across all devices, as well.  Check it out and get things done!

Graphite

Use https://www.graphite.org/ to explore different edtech tools you can use in your class.  You can filter through by subject, grade level, price, etc.  Very useful resource, especially if you are wanting to learn about new tools.  You can create boards for certain subject areas, too (kind of like Pinterest for ed tech tools). This is a resource from Common Sense Media. Go check ’em out!