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Report on Kids Who Can Code-Seed Grant Winner Leah Obach

Here’s an update from Leah Obach on her Seed Grant project:

Kids Who Code Coding Club

 

The Kids Who Code project at Hamiota Elementary School focuses on introducing computer science and coding to young learners in engaging and meaningful ways.  Using student-friendly coding tools, students and teachers are learning how to code and exploring ways to build important 21st century skills through coding.  This year, a noon hour coding club for grades 2-5 students is being offered.  In one of their initial club meetings, students set goals and shared their interests related to computer science and coding.  One common goal that students identified was to explore robotics.  Many students expressed a strong desire to code robots and build robots.  Thanks to a ManACE Seed Grant, students can nowact on those desires!

Since learning about robotics was a student-identified goal, students have been involved in the decision making for this project.  The first step was to decide which robotics products to purchase, so coding club members worked together to research different options for educational robotics. Students were asked to identify pros, cons, features and pricing for a variety of products, including  BeeBots, Dash & Dot robots, Sphero and Cubelets.   Once students had completed their research, each club member voted on their top two choices.  Students felt that the Sphero robots and Cubelets would be best for the club.

The Cubelets and Sphero robots have now arrived, so students are exploring all that is possible with these exciting new tools! Students will bereviewing their robotics purchases to inform other students and schools, so be sure to check back for more information in the coming months.  Our reviews will be posted at mrsobachsclass.blogspot.com and shared on Twitter (@LeahO77).”


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Interim Report ManAce Seed Grant: Staying Fit

 

A lovely thank you letter/interim report from ManACE Seed Grant winner Jonathan Hofer:

“We would like to extend a special thank-you to ManACE for the approval of our project to use technology to help increase student fitness levels. We purchased the Garmin Vivofit® fitness bands for all the students in our school at the end of February. Students were very excited to receive and use the wearable technology. We have collected the baseline activity level data, and are now looking at using the daily activity logs to set goals to increase activity levels and step counts. This information will also be used to provide data for graphing in Math.

 

The Vivofit® fitness bands we purchased are capable of keeping track of exercise duration and intensity, as well as inclusion of “Time to Move” technology. This technology means that  trackers have a red bar that appears on the display after 1 hour of inactivity, and builds as the time of inactivity increases. To reset the bar, students have to move.

 

Students have been using the move bar and “Time to Move” technology to know when they need a small movement break, and this has for the most part gone respectfully and has not taken away from the school learning. An additional benefit we have noticed is that the younger students are using the step counts, km, clock, and date features to become familiar and learn about concepts that would otherwise be addressed in later grades. Our high-school students are using the activity logs to receive credit for their Physical Education/Health courses. Once-again, we thank ManACE for their contribution to our students’ ability to use technology to increase their fitness levels.”

 

 


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École Robert Browning Maker Club off to a Creative Start

This article is by Jon Sorokowski (@sorokowskij) and Jill Boychuk (@jillie_beans).

Thanks to our ManACE SEED Grant, we began the École Robert Browning Maker Club (#ERBMakerClub)! Inspired by the session format used by the Winnipeg Public Library, we set out to create a schedule that immerses Grades 3-5 students at École Robert Browning in making, creating, and innovating using various tools and technologies.

Our first session had students exploring using Little Bits circuit kits. The creations were endless, and students were rushing to the iPads to check out the ideas Little Bits features on their website. For an hour, the room was bustling with energy, and many teachers who were working late popped in to see what all the excitement was about. Most students spent the time exploring how the circuits worked together. Others created monsters and alarms that sounded when a button was pressed!

Our future sessions will be tool- and technology-based. For example, one session will look exclusively at coding, while another will use Dot and Dash robots. Yet another will include making projects out of consumable materials like recycled goods and duct tape. Once members of the ÉRB Maker Club have had a chance to explore each of these areas, we will invite them to create bigger projects incorporating many aspects of Making that they will dream up on their own.

With our ManACE SEED Grant, we purchased Dot and Dash Robots from Wonder Workshop, which can be programmed with an iPad app. We also picked up some Little Bits circuit kits. The rest of our funds will be used to purchase consumables, such as duct tape. We were also fortunate to receive a St. James-Assiniboia School Division Innovative Grant, which will allow us to purchase Makey Makey kits.

The feedback from students and parents has been tremendous. We have received multiple emails from parents sharing how much their children loved participating in the ÉRB Maker Club. We can’t wait to see what our students come up with!


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Makerspace at St. Augustine’s School

This article is by Trina Hayter (@trina_h).

“Creativity is intelligence having fun!” ~ Albert Einstein

Students at St. Augustine School have noticed many changes happening in their library over the past few months….the books and desks have been rearranged and old shelving has been removed – the space has been transformed into a Learning Commons; thanks in part to the generous help of the ManAce grant.  We are so appreciative of this contribution for our school.  Within this Learning Commons is Brandon’s first Makerspace – a unique place where students can come together to create, collaborate and become inspired with the help of our new technology.   Students can experience hands-on learning and become “Makers” themselves!  Our Learning Commons is the ideal setting for students to explore STEAM concepts as well (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math).  When students become Makers, they are engaged and challenged.  A Makerspace inspires wonder, invites curiosity and celebrates unique solutions to problems in a team approach.  It is designed to engineer and drive future-oriented teaching and exploration which will respond to the needs of the 21st Century Learner.

Through this grant, innovative technology was purchased for students to learn to become creators, and not just consumers.  With the Arduino Starter Kits, students have begun coding and creating circuits and have even shared their knowledge with other students in the division.  They are so proud of their teamwork and feel empowered to learn more.  As well, students have also learned the valuable concept that it’s alright to fail, problem solve, and then try again…. for no amazing invention was created on the first attempt!

We were also able to purchase a set of twenty “Cubelets” for our Makerspace with this grant. These innovative robots bring STEAM education to a whole new and exciting level.  Students can’t wait to see what they can design and build with the little cubes and can learn valuable skills in engineering and robotics, too.  They are amazing!

Along with our Cubelets, students from all grade levels are fascinated with the “MaKey MaKey Kits” we were also able to acquire – a new invention kit for the 21st Century.  Who would imagine that you could play a “banana piano” or create a video game console with playdough?  When utilizing this technology in Genius Hour, there is no end to what students could create for their “passion projects”….their imaginations can soar!

Our students are realizing that everyone is a learner (including educators, too!) and everyone is a teacher; working collaboratively toward excellence.  As one young student said to me as he was creating a circuit on the Arduino, “I didn’t fully understand it until I explained it to a friend.”  This Learning Commons Makerspace gives our students a place to build prototypes, explore questions, bounce ideas off one another and work as a team – thanks to your support.  Making puts kids in charge of their own learning; which is so very empowering for them.

We can’t wait to watch as our Makerspace continues to grow and develop.  It’s always a thrill to see what our students will Make!  Thanks again ManAce for this opportunity to enrich the lives of our students and prepare them for their future!

“We need to prepare students for their future, not our past.”  – Ian Jukes


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President’s Report

President’s Report:

At our board meetings we choose a topic to talk about before we get into the actual meeting and reports. One of our recent conversation revolved around, “What are the places where technology in education has the greatest impact?”

We have a pretty diverse group of tech educators around the table but a consensus seemed to be that it was all about communication, communication, communication. There are other areas, but this stood out most strongly.

There were four aspects of communication mentioned:

  1. The world is smaller! Educators connect their classrooms with other classrooms around the world, or they bring in virtual guest speakers to talk to their students, or they use social media to have conversations with experts, authors and politicians. Amazing!
  2. Connecting with our local community. Parents and others in the local community can be easily informed about school events and about the exciting things that are happening in the classroom to a degree that was never possible before.
  3. Communicating with a real audience. Student’s can now choose to have their work viewed by more than just the teacher. They can create for a larger audience and feel the excitement of products that can go beyond the school.
  4. Classroom discussions can now include everyone – even those who are reluctant to speak out loud. Using back channels or discussion forums students who don’t participate now have time and space to organize their thoughts and record them when they are ready. We have many, many thoughtful students who don’t like to speak publicly. Technology can help them express themselves.

These are not the only ways technology can enhance the teaching and learning process, but they stood out in our conversation and they impact other aspects of learning such as assessment, research, PBL, and motivation.

On a different note, I was at MTS for a meeting about tech in education with representatives from all levels of education. A common theme that emerged was, “Good teaching has nothing to do with technology.” Pedagogy has to come first and we need to sort out what aspects of technology give us the most bang for the buck. Technology will not save poor teaching practice and it can enhance good teaching practice. The focus must always be on good pedagogy and how technology might enable that.

What are your thoughts? In what ways does technology really make a difference? You can tweet your thoughts to #manace_manitoba or email me: rredekopp at gmail.com.

 

-Reynold Rededkopp

 

 


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A Little “Bit” to Stay Fit

This piece is from Beth Norrie and Laura Hey:

A Little “Bit” to Stay Fit!

Beth Norrie, Grade 4/5 Classroom Teacher, Volleyball Coach, Running Club Coordinator, partnered with colleague Laura Hey, Grade 2/3 Classroom Teacher at Oak Lake Community School, are excited to pilot the project,   A Little “Bit” to Stay Fit!

 

Currently at OLCS, through our Community Schools programming we offer healthy Food For Thought Breakfast Snack and nutrition education programming, Nutrition Nuggets Monthly Newsletters and active Community Schools lunch and after school programs. Our physical education programs also include swimming lessons, curling instruction and bonspiels, intramurals, as well as a number of other community based opportunities.

In order to enhance what we already have established, we wanted to further bring fitness awareness and healthy lifestyle habits to the classroom thus, promoting lifelong healthy lifestyle choices. The use of Fitbit Zips have engaged and inspired our young learners to lead a long and healthy life as well as meet many inquiry based cross curricular outcomes.  Students have collected data on a daily basis through their synced Fitbit app and charted it appropriately during math instruction. We are looking forward to continuing to spread the word about our project and continue to make connections locally, partnering with our seniors to promote fitness at all ages. Through the use of Twitter and Instagram we will inspire and collaborate with other global educators.

 

A Little “Bit” to Stay Fit, has promoted active and healthy lifestyles for students, providing opportunities to enhance and promote fitness in our school, our community and beyond.

A huge, Thank you, to the ManACE Grant Committee and Coordinators for your support on this project.

-Beth Norrie and Laura Hey


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Check out #mbedchat

This piece written by @zbettess:

 

“Are you on Twitter? Have you checked out #mbedchat? If not, you should! #mbedchat is a weekly Twitter chat every Wednesday from 8-9PM.

So what is #mbedchat? It is a weekly chat were educators from Manitoba and sometimes other provinces come together to chat about different education related topics each Wednesday. It is co-moderated and planned by Zoe Bettess (@zbettess), Georgette Nairn (@georgettenairn), Tanis Thiessen (@tjthiessen), and Jennifer Young (@TeacherJenYoung) as well as various guest co-moderators. These chats are a great to; connect with other educators, share ideas, learn new things, and develop as a teacher. Teachers, also, tweet education related links and other education related things throughout the week with the hashtag as well.

Don’t forget to check out the chats every Wednesday from 8-9PM.  You won’t forget coming and joining the #mbedchat.”