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Girls Make Games

YodaAbove: a 5th grade coder mentors a 1st grader using Scratch Jr. 

A group of nine Kennedy-Longfellow students spent a weekend in November coding as part of the first ever Boston-based “Girls Who Make Games” workshops at MIT. These students immersed themselves in game design, art, and programming using software called Stencyl.

Not only did they get to network with other local girls who code, they were mentored by local professional developers. We sat down with these students and asked them to share their thoughts on what makes them tick as programmers at K-Lo, and beyond. To view the video, click here.

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KIBO Brings Robotics Alive for JK-2nd Grades

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This fall, K-Lo launched robotics in the primary grades in partnership with Tufts University’s Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. The school piloted the KIBO, a robot designed with support from the National Science Foundation, with one kindergarten, first, and second grade class. During the seven week project, students learned about programming, sensors, and the engineering design process with ties to readers theatre in the kindergarten, and earth science in the first and second grades.  

The Lesley team will continue to support the other primary classrooms in learning about the KIBO and how it can be used to deepen understanding and engagement in other curricular activities. To see more about the KIBO, you can see the company discussion of this innovation, and stay tuned to hear more from K-Lo students about their own experiences with robotics!

Check out a couple videos of students presenting their final projects:

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4th Graders Gone Green

Meet KLO’s first paperless classroom! Karla Anderson’s 4th grade class has jumped into the paperless fray with digital notebooks for science and math. Ms. Anderson walked the class through setting up individualized math and science notebooks in the Notability app. Notability was chosen over other apps because of the following features:

  • Creation of separate, color-coded notebooks.
  • Ability to easily sync with student and teacher district Google doc accounts.
  • Ability to import PDFs and images and draw on top of them.

To share assignments with students, Ms. Anderson simply places a worksheet in a Google docs folder shared with all of her students. Students log into the Google Drive app on their iPads and open the worksheet right into Notability, where they can either type or draw their answers. When finished with the assignment, they “share” the worksheet back into their Google Drive so Ms. Anderson can review, comment and grade the work.

The app Book Creator has long been a favorite KLO app for students to create their own eBooks. Ms. Anderson has found an innovative use for it thanks to Tim Harkins (@mrtharkins), 2nd grade teacher at West Elementary School in Andover, MA, who presented his science eBook idea at the 2013 fall MassCUE Conference. Ms. Anderson has created eBook “texts” for each science curriculum unit. The eBooks are shared out with students via Google Drive. Each student then brings the ePub into Book Creator on their iPad and plug in their answers, photos and videos as the unit progresses. Each text also included pre and post assessments so that students and teacher could see the measure of student growth nested conveniently among the content.

We asked two students to share their experience using the eBook texts as well as to give a brief tutorial on how to use the Notability and Book Creator apps:

Ms. Anderson will then take you deep into her Google Drive process to demonstrate her paperless workflow:

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The Confidence to Create

Yodamael St. Rose isn’t your typical 4th grader. In the past year she has directed her own movie, programmed interactive games in Scratch, and created a tutorial for other students on how to connect and use the school’s Raspberry Pi (the “3P K-LO”) computer packs at home. We asked Yoda to share what kind of tools and projects give her the confidence to create and here is what she shared with us:

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3-2-1, Action!

When asked how they would like to present their informational texts on habitats, a group of third grade students unanimously chimed, “the green screen!” The project began with each student identifying a habitat they wanted to study. Research started in the classroom and school library, where students read habitat-specific books and narrowed in on an animal of choice. The group recorded notes in their science journals, distilling their reading into informational bits related to each animal’s environment, prey, and physical characteristics. We then discussed the idea of an essential question to build a deeper focus on one aspect of their animal. It was agreed across the board that everyone was interested in finding out how each animal survives in their respective habitat, but students felt they needed to do more research to explore this question, so we moved onto the iPads where they could access Newsela.com, KidRex, and Kids InfoBits. Newsela.com is a website that produces Lexile-leveled articles on current events neatly organized into categories such as: science, kids, money, law, etc. KidRex is a free, online search tool that screens only appropriate web content for children of all ages. Students also accessed Kids InfoBits, which is a student friendly database that houses a wealth of text, images and videos. (See student tutorial below.)

Together with the teachers, students chose articles closely related to their animal/environment and set about close readings of the text to hone in on the main themes. After another group check in, it was then determined that all of the students were intrigued by the idea of how climate change was affecting their chosen animal, and essential questions were altered to address this specific interest. It was also agreed that they would like to share their research with their peers by creating public service announcement (PSA) videos using the Makerspace green screen, with one student choosing to make a stop-motion animation using the iPad app myCreate. Once students felt their research was complete, we watched examples of PSAs online to get a sense of how they are crafted to share a strong message with the audience. Inspired by the possibilities, they eagerly jumped into storyboarding, which included writing a script, with specific dialogue for each scene. Students conferenced with a teacher one-on-one to choose corresponding images, music and/or sound effects for each scene. We made sure to use only images and music that were free under public domain.

Students took turns filming their scenes in front of the green screen (simply a large green cloth backdrop!), reading their script off of the SmartBoard projection. The one student doing the stop motion created a backdrop and characters out of felt, and using myCreate on her iPad, took a still image of each different movement of her characters that were automatically combined into one timeline video. Lastly, the green screen and myCreate footage were brought into iMovie, where students worked with teachers to add in images, music, or narration to their video. The final products shared out with third grade students and families to much applause.

Student videos:

Student tutorial on safe research sites:

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Junior K uses Augmented Reality to Search for Gingerbread Men! (JK)

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Junior Kindergarten (JK) students at Kennedy-Longfellow school solved the mystery of the missing gingerbread cookies with some help from an augmented reality iPad app called Layar. JK teacher Siobhan Patterson developed the interactive scavenger hunt, based on the Gingerbread Man book, which included gingerbread cookie paper cut outs placed with different staff throughout the school. Audio clues were prerecorded on the computer using Garageband and pitched up to mask the teacher’s voice, as well as sound more “gingerbready.” The recorded clues were cued by holding the iPad in front of each gingerbread cut out with the Layar app interface open. When the Layar app recognized the image, it triggered an overlay of an audio recording (it could be video, image — or whatever you want) and the students pressed the play button to hear the clue.

Once the group solved each of the clue “riddles” they were excitedly off to the next location! Ms. Patterson found that it helped to hold up the iPad as close as possible as well as make sure there was enough light for the Layar app to recognize the trigger images. Teachers at KLO are excited about the possibilities with Layar, especially experimenting with using it to support language acquisition.

 

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Reading Strategies Video

Ms. Hanna’s first graders at the Kennedy-Longfellow School decided to make a video to share the reading strategies they are learning at school with their families. The class began by a whole brainstorming session to write song lyrics based on the 5 reading strategies they had been learning in class:

  1. Look at the pictures.
  2. Make the first sound.
  3. Read it again.
  4. Look for a chunk you know.
  5. Think about the story.

Once the song was complete, they broke up into groups based on the five strategies. Each group devised a visual prop or idea for their scene and shared it back with the class for fine tuning. Finally, the moment the class had been waiting for: shooting the video! Everyone was feeling pretty energetic, so we started with the singing and dance scenes first. Students memorized the strategy song and sang/danced their hearts out in their classroom and in the library while the teacher videotaped the show. Then each group took turns having their scene videotaped (this took several takes each until the group agreed on a good shot). Finally, the teacher dove into editing the movie using iMovie on her laptop, including adding captions for each scene. The group was ecstatic with the final result and couldn’t wait to share it with their families. Here is the first grade Reading Strategies video:

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Scratch & Programming Club (2nd-5th)

Students in the after school Scratch Club have been using the MIT developed software, Scratch, to program their own animations and video games. Scratch is a kid-friendly tool based on color-coded programming blocks that snap together to create unique scripts, or codes. Since September, students have created interactive video games, multi-stage mazes and animations. We will also be using 2 LEGO We-Do robotics kits and the invention kit, MaKey MaKey, which uses alligator clips and USB to create interactive programs between objects and a computer. The Scratch Club is very excited to be presenting their projects at the 2013 Lesley Community of Scholars Day on March 27th.

Scratch Projects showcased at the Lesley University 2013 Community of Scholars event

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Collective Compost eBook (2nd)

Ms. Dillon’s second grade class studied soil and compost during the month of October. After reading books, observing the KLO garden and collecting leaves and cuttings, each student created their own compost baggie, complete with worms. Each week, the bags were taken out for observation, with students recording their hypotheses, questions, and findings in their science journals through writing and illustrations. The project was documented using the iPad camera to take snapshots of the process and the recording app to record video of student questions and reflections. Images and video were then combined into Book Creator, with the final eBook being shared with all students and families.

Screenshot from the eBook:

DoWormsDrink

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Digital Adventures (JK-2nd)

Each student started off creating a stop motion animation using the free web based program, JellyCam. Students have since used iPad apps such as Toontastic, PupetPals and Little Birdie Tales to create narrated digital stories and animations.

This spring, we’ve introduced Bee Bots, programmable mini bee robots, to learn basic computer programming. We’re following a STEM curriculum created by Judy Robinson Fried, which includes lessons exploring concepts in math, literacy, social studies and art. Students were introduced to the concept of programming, beginning with basic commands to move the Bee Bot (right, left, forward, back). Using a basic square number mat, students were tasked with making the Bee Bot move to different numbers. We then jumped into addition and subtraction problems using a straight number line mat, where groups would have to program the Bee Bot according to each problem. For example, if the equation was 2+3, the correct command entered on the Bee Bot would be: clear, forward, forward, pause, forward, forward, forward, go. The Bee Bot would move 2 steps, pause, and continue 3 more steps to land on 5, where it would beep happily at his destination!

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