Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Story Telling in Math Class Stretches Student Creativity

Storytelling can be a great way to empower a student’s voice and clarify students’ understanding of different topics, even in math class. Wait, do you mean story problems? Nope - storytelling in Math Class.  I was able to work recently with Solon Middle School Math Teacher, Nancy Trow, and Instructional Coach, Julie Smith, on an idea that Mrs. Trow created for her students by having them create children’s books over middle school math concepts.

One of the driving forces of the success of this project was student choice.  Students were allowed to choose what story they wanted to tell and how they were going to tell it.  Students had the options of creating a hand-drawn children’s book or an electronic book.

For students who chose to create an electronic book, they had even more choices to make: Did they want to start with a blank slate?  Or did they want to allow artwork to guide their story?

For those that chose to start with a blank slate, they created their books using Google Slides.  Google Slides may get stuck with the wrap of being PowerPoint for Google, but it can do so much more.  Under File -> Page Setup, you can choose a custom size to be able to print the book on normal paper.

Using Google Slides, it gives students a blank template to incorporate copyright-free pictures of their own choice, create layers with the pictures, and upload photos of their own to assist in telling their story.

For students, who let artwork guide their story, they used a website called Storybird.  Storybird houses collections created by different artists.  A student chooses a collection to work with and organizes the photos and adds in text to help their story come alive.  

Just check out a few examples of the students’ creations.

The student's creativity flourished connecting Unicorn horns to triangle angles using Google Slides.


Getting inspired by art to help tell their stories with Storybird.


And creating their own original designs with some assistance from Comic Life.

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Technology Consultant from Grant Wood AEA.  Want to share what's going on in your classroom or collaborate me on an upcoming project?  Feel free to email me

Friday, March 25, 2016

Watch Your Step! Spheros in Action

Around lunch time in the library at Lakeview, you may spot a white ball whizzing by you on the floor.  No, the students haven’t organized an indoor baseball game.  4th grade students are learning with robots called Spheros.  Spheros are a tough, spherical robot that can be controlled and coded to drive around and change colors using different apps on the iPad.

On the day that I visited, students were using an app called Drive and Draw.  It appears deceptively simple, draw a path or shape on the iPad and then hit play and the robot travels in the drawn path.  However, on the app surface, there is a grid.  Students were testing their math estimation and measurement skills by determining how far each grid square is in “real life.”  Once students have determined the distance, they design an obstacle course using common objects around the library, including books, chairs to see if they can draw their Sphero successfully through the course.  The students showcased their imaginations and innovation skills to rethink purposes to common objects and applied their math estimation skills in a whole new way.  

Check out their creativity below!

-Contribution from Amber Bridge, Technology Consultant from Grant Wood AEA.  Want to share what's going on in your classroom or collaborate me on an upcoming project?  Feel free to email me.