Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Who doesn't love to play video games in class, let alone BUILD their own video game?! Today's Tech Tuesday tool is Bloxels! Bloxels does just that. Using eight different colored blocks to code the board, students can create their own video game, characters, backgrounds, animations and then play their own game. 

I do eventually tie Bloxels into content, however I let them play first to get familiar with the program. There are two ways students can play with the Bloxels. Each kit comes with a board and the colored cubes. You will also need an electronic device that is compatible with the Bloxels app. As teachers, we like to reach all of our learners. The Bloxels board and cubes allow students to create their board game and characters physically, for those learners who like to have something tangible. You can also build your game board on the electronic device as well. 
I give each student group this page, which can be found on their website to help guide them as they are creating their game.

Letting them play to gain familiarity with the program was a lot of fun. Students were really creative when designing their characters. I had Donald Trump, Spiderman and a Minion. 
Students are able to add the characters they create into their game, so the are able to really create their own game, from the ground up. 

When students enter the app, they will want to click on Build New Game. When they click on that, they will see the screen below. As you can see, the blocks are on the right. Students just have to click on the color they want and then click on the board to place the block where they want it. 

Here is an example of a board that I created. 

Students will be able to "edit" several blocks. Students just have to hit configure down at the bottom and they will be able to edit any of the blocks the have a bouncing arrow, like below. When they click on the white box, they can choose to add text or end flag, to end their game. Clicking on the purple, students will be able to choose their villain and with the pink, they will be able to edit their level-ups. 

Once students have done this, they can insert their character by clicking the character icon on the bottom, in the configure section. This will insert their character into their game that they have created. They can draw their character to anywhere on the screen to have it start anywhere in their game. 

In the video below, I am playing the fame I created. While playing, I realize that there are some edits that I need to make, so I went back and edited my game. Then I tried again. A great conversation to have about how scientists have to go through trials before putting a product out into the world. 

There are SO many great ways to use Bloxels in the classroom. My favorite way to use them is in Science and Social Studies, however I have used them in all subjects. In Science I had students create a water cycle. Their character was a water drop and they use the white text boxes to talk about the water cycle and what the water droplet experienced as it was traveling through the water cycle. 

In Social Studies, I had students research a country and how they celebrate Christmas. They then created a game to share with classmates to teach their classmates about the country they researched. 

Since I am teaching 5th Grade to this year, I am excited to add American History to the collection of Bloxels games. Students can create a video game about Columbus' first experience in the New World, the First Thanksgiving and SO much more. 

In Math, you can give students a certain amount of money and label each block to have a certain price. Students will then have to manage their money wisely, along with adding and subtracting decimals. 

In ELA and Writing, students practice Story Structure by creating their character, setting, problem and solution. Once they have created their game and play it, they can write about what happened with their character and how it solved the problem. 

Bloxels EDU gives you, as an educator, more structure. You are able to track your students progress and give them digital rewards. It does cost money, starting at $125 for 25 students. You can try it for free for 25 students for 30 days by clicking on the link above. 

Bloxels are a relatively cheap Tech Tool, only costing $21 on Amazon Prime. Click here, which will take you directly to the Amazon page in which you can purchase them! There is a Star Wars version, which I have but not played yet! The Star Wars version is a tad bit cheaper too!  (I am no way affiliated with Amazon.)

Next weeks tech tool is the last tool that I am teaching and in fact was my first blog post, the Class VR. Feel free to read about how I used those in the classroom! (we had a lot of fun with them!) 
Let me know what you think! 

Until next time! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

What looks like a light up ball, is actually one of my favorite STEM tech tools to use in the classroom. While the students like driving them around, there is so much more to do with these rolling balls of fun! Did I mentioned that you can throw them up in the air and they won't break. Use them paint or run them through light water. 

Sphero Edu is a STEAM-based tool that uses coding within their software to promote 21st Century skills. Sphero Edu prides itself on going beyond the coding by nurturing student's creativity, which is more than a lot of programs can do. 

One of the wonderful things about the Sphero, is that the app works on almost all devices. You can download the app on Mac Apple Store, Google Chrome, Amazon App Store, Microsoft and any mobile device. This means that even if you don't have iPads in your classroom, students can use them using Chromebooks or classroom computers.

The app is super friendly. After you create an account, you will be asked to connect your Sphero. Depending on the kind of Sphero you have depends on how you connect it.

Once you have connected your Sphero, you can browse through already made programs, take your Sphero on a test drive or actually code your robot to do what you want.

In the videos below, are my students just having fun driving the Sphero's around. Depending on time, this is what I have them start off with. This gets them accustomed to the directions (which tend to be opposite). They can also change the color that their Sphero is. 

After letting them play around with them by driving them is when you can begin to have your students code. When creating a new program, this is what you or students will see. Below the blank screen, students can scroll and have a bunch of different options to choose from. I created a sample of what the code could look like. Students can change the degrees of the Sphero's turn, how fast it goes and for how long. They can code the Sphero to say something, make a noise or even turn a different color. 

I used the coding specifically when we were talking about Geometry. I gave my students a checklist and they had to create a maze for their Sphero to move through. For example, it had to have an intersecting line, right angles, straight angles and so on. It took a lot of trial and error for them to figure out how to work it exactly. 

Other ways that you can use the Spheros in the Classroom are: 

1. Have your students code them to be planets in the Solar System and orbit a sun. 
2. Force and Motion 
3. Use the Sphero in reading to play the "Big Bad Wolf" and knock down students structures 

While these are just a few ideas for the Sphero, their website offers already made activities that you can have your students complete or play around with. 

Check out their website, download their app and have fun! 

Monday, June 24, 2019

Thanks for joining me on my first ever Makers Space Monday! Today I will be talking about how you can create paper circuits in your own classroom!

At the beginning of the summer I attended a STEM Convention that Utah hosts every summer. One of the best things about the conference is that it is FREE. You gain so much knowledge, ideas to implement in your classroom and I even won something from ETA Hand to Mind, so cool! One of my favorite things that I did at the Convention was learn how to create paper circuits.

Paper Circuits can be found here at Makerspace.com . There you can go to the top of the site and go to free, where you can grab the free pages that I used. It does require you to enter your e-mail in order to get to the free pages. I printed the pages on cardstock so that they were more durable in holding the lights, paperclips and brass brads.

I ordered the following supplies from Amazon, as that was the cheapest way to do it, however I am not affiliated in any way with Amazon. 

For both projects you will need basic scotch tape. For the Traffic Light Project, you will need a brass brad and a jumbo paper clip. 

With the LED Lights, there is a great lesson to talk to the students about while also teaching them how to spot the negative and positive side of the light. 

As you can see the "legs" of the lights are different sizes. While discussing the different sizes, you can tell students that there has been scientific evidence that people who are POSITIVE have a longer life span than those who are negative. Therefore, when we look at the LED lights, the longer leg shows the positive side, while the shorter is the negative. 

Once you get your supplies together, you can either head to my Instagram for the video reel under my highlight that says Makers Space! Otherwise, I will give you the rundown here! 

Step 1: Students need to take the copper tape and carefully little by little place it over the lines provided on the paper. If it at all rips, students just need to make sure that they reapply the tape where it ripped, so that it stays connected. It is a great conversation to have about what happens if it doesn't connect. 

Step 2: After students finish with the copper tape, they will need to take the lights and carefully split the legs so that they lay on the copper tape. Make sure students are paying attention to the positive and negative sides on the paper and on the lights. They will then need to tape the legs of the LED Light onto the copper legs, making sure that the metal legs are directly onto the copper table. 

Step 3: Now students will take the battery, paying attention to the + and - sides of the battery. They will place the battery on the page (it's the gray/blue circle on the paper) 

Step 4: Fold the paper on the fold line, so that you can activate the lights. 

Here is what it looks like when the the circuit is connected! It is pretty cool! 

This is such an inexpensive project to have in your Makers Space or as an Early Finisher Activity. I wholeheartedly think that students could also great a game with this. Join me next week for another Makers Space Monday! I will be back tomorrow for Tech Tuesday! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

I am teaching a Tech Tuesday to 5-8 graders this summer, so I thought I would blog about it too. Every Tuesday for the next couple weeks, I will write a post about a specific STEM Tech Tool that I have used and absolutely loved! 

Today's tool was Ozobots. Probably one of more simpler tools to use, Ozobots was actually my first STEM tool.  Ozobots are small little robots that blend both the physical world and technological world. It teaches students how to program and code by using FOUR markers: black, red, blue and green. With one type of Ozobot, the Bit, you just need the Ozobot itself, paper and the markers. These can be any brand of markers. The other type of Ozobot, the Evo, you can actually use it on a digital device and code from there. Both types are great, I however prefer the Bit. They are more affordable, selling on Amazon for about $40-$60. 

I have used the Ozobots mainly in Math and Social Studies/Science. The first time I used them for Math, was during our Monster's Inc. Multiplication Day. I wanted to integrate STEM, so I actually introduced students to Ozobots on this day and they were a hit. If you go to the link above, it will take you to the Ozobot website. There they have a lesson library for lessons that you can use in your classroom and printable for you to use. I used the printables to allow students to get adjusted to using the Ozobots. When they felt comfortable with the tools and codes, I had students create a map of Utah, with the different environments we had learned about in Science and code their Ozobot to "travel" through the state visiting each landform. 

The next time that I used them it was for a Math lesson. As you can see in the picture below, Sully and Mike needed to help return Boo safely to her door before Randall catches them. Naturally when you place the Ozobot on the black line it will start moving, but when it gets to Door Number 1 it will stop because it doesn't have a code or command. That is where I snuck in math problems. The second page of this had five multiplication problems, where students needed to solve them. Their answer to their multiplication problem would give them the code that they needed for the door they were at.  For example, the answer to Door Number 1 is 365, students would then find their answer from the codes below and then color the boxes at Door Number 1 to match the codes. This code is Super Snail Dose, meaning their Ozobot then would go super slow. The Ozobot would then continue to follow the path until they made it to Door Number 2 and the process would start all over. 


The next way that I used Ozobots in my classroom was in our Geometry Unit. I was doing a Race Car Room Transformation and wanted to stick with the same thing. I set the scene and told students that race car drivers have to use their knowledge of lines and angles to plan their perfect route. Using the markers they had to to code what they thought would be the perfect race car track BUT they had to include different types of lines and angles. This is where you see a lot of s student creativity come into play because they are able to have choice in what the end product looks like. I have included a video of a students map with some coding on it at the end, so you can see what it looks like with this activity! 

Make sure to visit the Ozobot website and check out their Lesson Library. Let me know if you have any questions by commenting or e-mailing me. 

Sunday, February 17, 2019

When you think of virtual reality, I am sure the last place you think of using it is in the classroom. THINK AGAIN. Using Class VR, I was able to bring to life our anchor texts within our reading curriculum to help students understand and picture what was happening.

When I brought the Class VR sets into the classroom, I first introduced them to students by allowing them to virtually see anything. Scaring them by swimming with sharks or with a polar bear directly in their face was quite comical. After wrapping up a historical fiction story on the San Francisco Earthquake, I was able to show them virtually the actual damage an earthquake can do. The paired text for that week was a non-fiction piece on Tornadoes. I then, was able to show students a group of storm chasers witnessing a tornado.

The following week, we began a firsthand account on a journey to Antarctica. The author described the ice, the blue whales and the Adélie penguins. The Class VR library didn't have anything like this, so I was able to convert 360° YouTube videos and upload them to my ClassVR account. I found a video on the blue whale and its anatomy, great footage of the penguins hanging out and a boat traveling through the icy waters of Antartica. All experiences, that my students wouldn't normally be able to experience, I was able to bring it into the classroom, thanks to Class VR.
Students using the Class VR Headsets in the classroom to observe Adélie penguins. 
I am grateful because I work with my district on their STEM committee. We have STEM tools available for teachers to check-out on a regular basis, which is how I was able to use these in my classroom. The sets are made for students, in that they can use them by holding them up to their face or putting them on their face using the straps for a hands-free experience. Students who might be prone to motion sickness, just have to tilt their head to the left or the right in order for the image to move or they can spin around.

For more information on the Class VR Sets, visit their website at www.classvr.com

I am in no way affiliated with Class VR. Just a teacher who was able to get her hands on a set and use them in my classroom.