Sunday, May 29, 2016

That's a Really Good Question

A guest post by Sue Abuelsamid

Curiosity is the engine that drives all connection, relationships, and innovation. And if we all show up in a curious way in our lives, we will be happier, and so will those around us.  Curiosity moves us.

What compelled me to action.

A few years ago I read a book by Margaret Wheatley that reached down into me and spoke to my core, to my most primal self. It is called “Turning to One Another” and it is all about thinking together in conversation. This line changed my life and inspired me to run with that idea and eventually create the Curiosity Project and this book, “That’s a Really Good Question”. We can change the world if we start being curious again. 

What’s in this book.

This book explores how being curious will help us build relationships, create safer communities, allows us to become more engaged, be more personally invested in our world, and possibly most important, curiosity motivates us to learn.  And this book isn't just about conversation. It's about all the ways that curiosity weaves itself into our lives and our world. How it makes us better leaders, better friends, better educators, and better partners. How it makes us happier and healthier. 

Why I wrote it.

I believe in this because I've experienced it, and I've lived it. Our world is in a place of disconnection but I believe it wants to change. And we want it to change. Help make that happen.  Be a part of the movement. Start your curiosity revolution by supporting this project. 

What’s in it for you.

There are many ideas in this book, some you will connect with and some you may not. If you find one thing in this book that makes your life better then that’s enough for me because that one thing could lead to many other things. My only hope is that you get curious.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Making and Minecraft with @WithPiper #MakerEd

When I was at Picademy in February, I learned about an awesome company that uses Raspberry Pi as the brain of their project. Piper is an amazing start-up that has children build their computer and use Minecraft to learn how to use the different aspects of the Raspberry Pi and all of the buttons assembled. Here is a quick video that explains what Piper is and how it works.

When I got home, I had to get one. After waiting patiently, I was able to order a Piper and spent an afternoon building the set with my son. Here is the box and what can be found on the inside. Normally, I take pictures of the assembly process and share what it looked like, but Leo and I were so into building it piece by piece, that I forgot to take pictures. It was that engrossing. Watching the kit come together one part at a time was so fun Leo loved seeing the parts snap into place and he couldn't wait to hand me the next part to put in place. 

Once we had the battery charged, we were ready to go exploring. We started with the mouse and followed the storyline closely. The sound was great and the graphics were perfect. Leo thought it was super funny and wanted to dive into the buttons, but we had to go through the story until we could get to the button install. The pacing really allowed me to learn about the different things the kit could do and I learned as I played. That is the whole point. I learned so much about using the Raspberry Pi and the different functions. It was fun, it was engaging, and it was educational. Those are all of the things you want to see in any product designed for children. 

I played many of the missions in story mode and loved all of it. It was very engrossing and I still have so much more to learn. My only problem was moving it around. The case is wonderfully compact and is light, but the box was awkward to carry. It was missing a handle. So, I took a design I found on Dremel's 3D design site, uploaded it to Tinkercad to adjust, and printed it out. I was able to attach it easily to the box. 

The cool part of the kit is that its design allows you to hack it however you want. That is what is at the core of the Piper kit. They want you, or your students, to build, hack, make, and other things. It has the spirit of Making built in and kids are going to love exploring the world of Minecraft using a computer that they built. 

You can order a Piper Kit yourself and you can save $20 if you use the code NERDY! Check out Piper right now!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Project Based Learning and The Great Gatsby #EngChat

I'm a huge advocate for Project Based Learning. One of my favorite lessons is the one for The Great Gatsby. The assignment is very straightforward. Create something that explains two characters, a symbol, and a theme using a medium of your choosing. I always get some amazing projects and this year has been great. I have had great works of art and a student even built his own green light!

I am writing this post to showcase one of the best I have ever received. Here is a rap battle written and performed by four of my students. The nail the lyrics and one of the students created the beats using Garageband. If you have a few minutes, please listen to the song and leave them a message. They would really appreciate it.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Learning Fun with @TigglyKids

I was very lucky to run into the awesome people at Tiggly when I was at #ASCD16. I stopped by their booth and was blown away at what I saw. Manipulatives for the iPad to help students learn to count, spell, and create. Here is a video that explains more of what it is.  

Awesome right? Well, videos always make things look pretty cool, so I needed to see how my 5 year old would respond to Tiggly for the iPad. Tiggly sent me their educator kits for Shapes, Math, and Words. Here are some images of what comes with the sets. 

Each Education set comes with 5 student sets for $150.00. Along with the manipulatives, each set comes with a Teacher Handbook, 5 Activity books, and 5 Thinker Journals. 

The Teacher Handbook comes with detailed explanations of the different apps that are included with the purchase of the sets and how they are used. They also have activities that teachers can set up for the students. 

The Activity Books allows students to have fun away from the screen and do some learning on their own. 

The Thinker Journal is a place for young students to draw and share their thoughts. This could be a cool reflection space for students that are using the apps and the Activity Books.

A see these sets being a nice addition to an elementary classroom that has access to iPads so students can have fun on their own and still practice their reading, spelling, and math skills.

You might not want/need an entire 5 student kit for your home, so Tiggly has the individual kits for purchase as well. 

Each kit costs $29.99 and is worth every penny. Please do not take my word for it, trust my son Leo.

Leo was using the pictures he created using the shapes to make his own little story. This is just one short video, but Leo played with this for an hour before moving to another Tiggly app. He loves to create stories and the app was a very fun way to facilitate his story telling.

Here is Leo playing the Chef game for Tiggly. This has to be one of his favorite games on the iPad right now. He uses the manipulatives to count the number of ingredients needed to make a crazy recipe. When it is done, a whacky meal with a zany name is displayed. It gets him laughing every single time. I have had to go into the settings are reset the app so he could redo the recipes almost a dozen times.

Tiggly is an award winning product that can support young learners as they explore shapes, words, and numbers. I personally think it is cool and would be awesome in the classroom. Leo thinks it is "Awesome!" and it is his "favorite app". How can you argue against that testimony.