For 4 weeks our Makerspace Spark was open to the entire school for a special Lego Event. Through a series of LEGO challenges students were encouraged through the art of play in learning to further develop a mindset of creativity, curiosity and innovation. Many programs throughout the year in Spark support and extend Pike’s mission to develop lifelong, independent learners with a creative spirit. See a recap in the form of many pictures and videos below:
Upper School students working together to take the make letters out of LEGOs challenge.
Lower School students working together to design a bridge and car that will withstand an earthquake.
Designing and testing marble mazes with Lower School students
A Middle School student tests how far she can build out with LEGO bricks from a wall
Middle School students challenge themselves to follow steps and build something behind a curtain without looking.
Some couldn’t resist the urge to sort by color!
And a lot of cool structures were made to be part of our tiny city called Pike Micropolis, and there were many more activities.
The Apple Store made by some Upper School students
Another Pike Micropolis creation
You may be interested in exploring resources for using LEGOs in your own classroom. There are so many inventive possibilities. See some resources below. If you are ever looking for ways to bring LEGO into your classroom please let the Tech Department know.
There even has been some recent news about a new LEGO Educator program for anyone who wants to learn more about helping students develop the skills and knowledge to create, innovate and learn via LEGOs.
In the Pike School Tech Department we find that families are very interested in getting more information about media and technology for their kids related to using screens at home. We often recommend the website Common Sense Media to Parents because we find it to be an excellent resource. With such a comprehensive website it can be hard to find the time to sift through to figure out exactly how it can be useful to your family. To help with this, below are 3 easy ways that parents can get started using Common Sense Media immediately.
Apps, Movies and Television Reviews
Do you struggle to know which apps are right for your child and family?Common Sense Media’s App Reviews quickly show you the appropriate age, educational value, whether there is inappropriate content, reviews of what parents need to know and whether there are hidden in app purchases. My own kids know that I am going to check this before any app goes on our family iPad or if they want to watch a movie or new TV show and it has become a time saving resource for my family. The same level of detail is provided for movie and television reviews. In one place you can see information about the movie or TV show, with suggested talking points about your choice. YouTube Reviews
YouTube Reviews on Common Sense Media provide a good way to get an idea of the quality and age appropriateness of some YouTube content. It can be risky to just let your kids use YouTube without knowing exactly what they are watching since it is really easy to get sidetracked to inappropriate content and when the next video automatically plays parents can lose track of how long their kids have been using the app. I have set up limits for how much time my children use YouTube with ScreenTime available in IOS 12 (<– Apple support page linked if you are looking for more information) and they use the YouTube Kids app (Ages 7 and up) which improves the likelihood that they will be watching kid-targeted videos. YouTube’s curation process isn’t perfect so it is still recommended that you tune in to what your child is watching.
Advice for Parents
Looking for general advice about certain topics to help you navigate issues related to parenting and technology? Common Sense Media has advice that is broken down by Age, Topic and more. For example, this is where you might go if you are trying to decide what the right age is for a device in your family and you want to lay the groundwork for responsible use and manage the challenges and opportunities that come along with using a phone or iPad. There are many more topics and guides that can be helpful to your family in the Advice for Parents section.
All of these suggestions allow you to take in the parenting information that you need, while encouraging conversations and connection within your family about difficult topics. There is so much more available on Common Sense Media when you have more time to explore. If you are looking to stay connected with their timely blog posts you can subscribe to receive email updates on The Common Sense Media Blog or follow them on Facebook or Twitter. If you have any questions or find any interesting discoveries that you want to share please let the Tech Department know.
A #throwback post to before winter break. We (The Tech Department) wanted to challenge ourselves to make something with the 3D printer in the Makerspace. With winter break coming we decided to all design a cookie cutter in Tinkercad (A free tool that allows you to make 3D designs for printing) or Cookie Caster (a site specifically for designing your own cookie cutters) and then make cookies.
To give an idea of the process for 3D printing, after you use a 3D design tool like those listed above, you generate a .stl file that can be sent to a 3D printer. Here is an example of what the final design that is sent to the printer looks like:
In our case, we currently use a NVBot 3D printer. Here it is in action printing all of our cookie cutters.
A picture of a 3D printed Cookie Cutter in action:
Once the cookies were baked we invited the Pike Community to come up to the Tech Department Office to sample our selection. We really had fun with this challenge and thank everyone for helping us eat the results (see pictures below that include Pike Positron cookies, Android Bot cookies, iPad cookies and Yoda cookies). If anyone is looking for ideas to use the 3D printer with students or for classroom materials please reach out to us.
This article via Common Sense Media got me thinking about the bare minimum that our community can be doing as a first step to protect their data online. With more and more news about privacy violations it can feel daunting to know where to start. Rather than look at a big list and feel overwhelmed, one good first step is to pick one thing to work on. A good suggestion from the Common Sense Media article (see below) that is easy to start with is passwords:
Use tough passwords and change them frequently. The best practice for passwords is to use real words or phrases you can remember easily — but spell them incorrectly. They should be at least eight characters and have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters, such as 5pEAzhawh$ for “five pizzas.” Even better, use a password manager like Lastpass.
We all have multiple passwords to keep up with at Pike and in our personal lives. Many in our community use LastPass and find that it is a great help with this challenge. If you would like help getting started with a password manager let us know and we can help. Please reach out because if there is enough interest we could organize something that is useful for multiple people in the future. Keep in mind that getting a handle on your passwords could be a useful step towards using some technology resources and tools in your classroom with ease to amplify learning.
There is a brand new simple and fast way to create a new document in Google Drive now when using a browser on your laptop. Simply type any of the below in the address line of your browser(image below) to immediately start anything new in Google Docs, Sheets, Slides or Forms:
FlipGrid is a tool that allows student to easily upload video and an entire class set of videos can be seen in one place. Student thinking becomes visible and engaging allowing for deeper connections between students. Teachers inspire students by setting up a topic and then students can upload their own responses and view the perspectives of their classmates, allowing the topic to extend beyond your classroom with outside class participation in the FlipGrid.
Above is an example of a FlipGrid via DoInk where a Green Screen was used for their videos and Students could transport themselves to another place for their responses. This post has some great ideas and don’t forget that we have a Green Wall at Pike on the way up to the Tech Office if you would like to do a similar project.
For those of you using FlipGrid or interested in getting started there is a new Educator’s Guide to FlipGrid available. This detailed eBook outlines the How and the Why of FlipGrid and is by and for Educators to promote a tool that allows students to share their voice in the classroom.
If you would like help getting started with FlipGrid please be in touch with the Tech Dept.
Note: Learn | Try | Amplify @PikeSchool was created with the hopes that you will be exposed to some technology tools that have the potential to amplify your daily teaching in a way that can lead to powerful learning. The book Amplify by Katie Muhtaris and Kristin Ziemke has been an excellent resource about digital learning in the elementary and middle school classroom and inspired the name of this initiative.
Click here to find information about Pike Google Calendars with instructions and links, so that you can add the calendars that you need access to on your personal google calendar. This is only for Pike Faculty and Staff use. This information has also been added to our Faculty/Staff Info Page on this site for future reference. You can also find this post when searching this All Things Tech website. Please let the Tech Department know if you need help with this.