Maker Space, Teaching, Technology Integration

10 Ways to Use Spinners in the Classroom

spin11111111Ah, spinners. The newest toy designed to drive teachers mad.  Pokemon, hackey sacks, digipets, it’s an age-old problem for teachers.  The hot toy of the day makes it into the classroom.  Schools quickly ban the toy and kids create a black market to sneak it in. Why fight it? Embrace it!  Invite those spinners into class as a learning tool!

Here’s 10 easy ways to be the cool teacher:

  1. Review friction– students find different surfaces around the classroom to spin their spinner. Use timers or cell phones to time how long the spinner spins on various surfaces. Students can then enter their data in Google sheets, and even use the “insert chart” feature to make  a line graph of their data.
  2. Write a persuasive letter– students hate being told, “You’re not allowed”. Have students write a persuasive letter to the powers that be, enumerating all the reasons they should be allowed to have spinners in class.
  3. Practice vocabulary– (use this sheet) ask students to make small squares labeled 1,2 & 3. Have students tape each number to an arm of the spinner. Choose some vocabulary words. Students then spin their spinner and stick out their pointer finger towards their spinner. Whichever arm stops closest to their pointer finger, is the action from the sheet they will use with their first vocabulary word. Students repeat this process for each vocabulary word.
  4. Practice spelling– students use the same labels from above. Students then spin the spinner, whichever number their pointer finger points to, their partner has to write spelling sentences with multiples of the number that was spun. If I spun a 3, my partner would have to write sentences for spelling words #3, 6, 9, 12, 15, & 18. If they spin a 1, the partner writes spelling sentences for #1-8. Then switch, and have the partner do the same.
  5. Multiplication practice– Are your students studying 1×1 digit multiplication, 2×2, or maybe 3x?  Ask students to create three labels for their spinner. They can choose their own numbers, but they should correlate to the number of digits they are practicing. If you are studying 1×2 or 2×3, ask one partner to choose 2 digit numbers and the other partner to choose 3 digit numbers.  Tape the labels to each arm of the spinner.  Partners point at each other’s spinner.  They take each number that they spun and pair them together to practice multiplication.  Repeat.
  6. Division practice– students again choose their own labels for their spinner. Students can practice in small group, with one student making numbers for the divisor, and the rest making numbers for the divisor or quotient. Everyone spins at the same time. The group must use the divisor from the one student.  That student may choose which dividend they want to use. Everyone uses the divisor to solve for the number they spun. Once they have gone through all their numbers, have them switch spinners clockwise.
  7. Revise & redesign– Ask students, “Where will a spinner not spin?” Can students redesign a spinner to spin better? Ask students to design a better spinner. Have them draw up plans, diagram it, and even create an advertisement. Then, put their plans into action. Provide basic supplies: Popsicle sticks, jewel cases, old CD’s, aluminum foil, brads, paper clips, etc. Allow students to create their design and demonstrate at a “Spin-off”.
  8. Fraction comparison– students label their spinner with three labels, this time fractions. Students tape their labels to their spinners.  Students then go around the class, spinning their spinner and partnering up to compare their fractions.  They choose a new partner for each spin.  Students can even keep tally of the number of times their fraction was the largest.
  9. Random name generator– use word art to make a page with everyone’s name. Attach a paper arrow to one of the spinner’s arms.  Then place the spinner in the center of the circle and spin.  The class will love this new take on an old favorite.
  10. Reading with purpose– Find the history of the spinner here and its original purpose. Great article, but there are many ads. The article also mentions toys of the past.
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Technology Integration

A Venture into the Square Side of Education with Minecraft

minecraft

Minecraft is becoming very popular among educators.  Teachers have begun to see the many possibilities Minecraft Edu (a version with teacher controls) has to offer.  I recently won a grant to install Minecraft Edu on 24 computers at my school.  As I begin to experiment with the possibilities of teaching and learning with Minecraft Edu in the classroom, I thought I would make some notes for those that might be considering a venture into the square side.

Setting Up

  • Minecraft Edu lives on hard drive of your computer, but networks all the computers with a teacher computer.
  • Teachers have controls that allow them to control the environment the students are in.  This includes being able to freeze them, mute them, teleport them, gift them with items and enable/disable them from building.
  • There are 3 types of worlds the teacher may choose from: Minecraft Edu, Creative, and Survival.

Minecraft Edu World Option

    • Students start with no inventory
    • Students have no way to gain inventory unless you give it to them
    • Students can craft in this option

I have only experimented with Minecraft Edu world option thus far, but I can see the benefits.  My latest lesson involved third graders using Minecraft Edu world option to practice their area/perimeter skills.  When students enter the world, they default to start with no inventory and there is nothing that can be found for students to add to their inventory.  This would seem very limiting, so why is this option attractive?

For my third graders, this was a great way for them to be introduced to Minecraft Edu.  They were given a task, create a structure with a perimeter of 12.  I gave them 20 Oak blocks.  Just enough for them to make a few mistakes as they learn.  I also gave them a sign to label the area and perimeter of their structure when done.  By being able to control inventory in mathematical learning situations, you can help students to think about the reasonableness of their answers.  It also stops most of them from being off task.  If they needed more blocks, I made them present me with a valid argument as to why.  

Another great reason for students to not have an inventory- you can offer to give pieces of inventory as incentives for hard work.  When students accomplished a task, or helped a neighbor, I gifted them with inventory pieces they desired, such as glass, gold ingot, doors, etc.

Most Importantly….

Even students who have played Minecraft at home, have probably not played it on a computer.  There will be a learning curve for most students.  Make sure your first assignment is something that gives the student enough space to learn and be creative, without them worrying too much about their grade for the day.  
More adventures from learning with Minecraft coming soon.

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Technology Integration

Can I Offer You an Appy Meal?

Would you like to encourage your students to be adventurous with their use of technology?  All while encouraging them to be explorers, risk- takers, and to nurture their creative talents?  You can do all of this and still teach the standards you need.  This is an “Appy Meal”.

Copy of appymealrefined

Copy of 4cswithspinnerCopy of improvedsamrpic

Teachers can create this to be a stand alone technology center or a whole class activity.  Here is the box design and resources.  See below for instructions on how to use the Appy Meal with your class.

Explore: Use this page to find suggestions of “Apps” (this term is used throughout to include websites) students can use to explore topics.  The teacher can cut these out and fill the Appy Meal with them when it is time to engage students in new learning or have them research for deeper understanding.  These apps can also be substituted with your favorites.

Create:  Use this page to find suggestions of “Apps” students can use to create products.  The teacher can cut these out and fill the Appy Meal with them when it is time for students to synthesize their learning by creating something new.Copy of apps

Resources:  The SAMR image is thanks to Sylvia Duckworth.  I made the Hello name tag on Canva.com, but you could use a real name tag.  I suggest you use one side of the box to paste directions or a QR code that has directions recorded on a voice file that will play when students scan it. The 4 C’s image can be found here.  Credit to http://runteacherrunriley.blogspot.com/  I added an old spinner from a game of Life to this image.  You could also use a paperclip and a brad.

*Author’s Note-  For the use of this box, I would suggest the Critical Thinking piece be used for students to question something they’ve learned during exploring or edit their neighbor’s work while creating.  The activity already calls for creativity, so on the Creativity piece, students can create a question to ask another student about what they learned.

Center Work

The teacher can choose to put the box in a learning center.  The teacher would decide if the apps inside the box are “Explore” apps to explore a topic they are learning about or “Create” apps to create a product about something they have already learned.  There is a die in the box for students to decide who gets a turn to draw an app out of the box first.  The student rolls the die and then draws an app out of the box.  Students then spin the spinner on the “4 C’s” and make sure they incorporate one of the “C’s” into their center work.  By each student having the additional challenge of trying to figure out a new app while still needing to achieve an objective, students are learning to become risk-takers in an environment that is supportive.

Variations on Center Work:

  • Have 2 boxes (explore and create) in the center.  Students draw from each and “smash” their apps together.
  • When doing explore pieces, each group that comes to the center could add to the knowledge of the group before.  This could be digitally or on paper.
  • If creations are posted, students could list the positives and negatives of the app they used to aid others.

Whole Class

The teacher decides to put either explore apps or create apps into the box.  Then every student in the class chooses an app out of the box.  Once everyone draws out of the box, all students will have different apps, but the same intent.  For whole class, the teacher could choose one of the “4 C’s” for the whole class to do or each student could spin for a choice of one as they draw an app.  Think of this like speed dating an app for one class period.  Have students stick with the app they chose, even if they dislike it.*  The knowledge they gain from this experience can help themselves and others in the future, not to mention it builds tenacity.

Variations on the whole class:

  • While exploring, students can add their gained knowledge to a class poster or shared document.  Teachers can make the No Repeats rule if desired.
  • Students can spend half the class exploring.  Then the teacher can reload the box with create apps and students draw from the box again.  Students spend the other half the class creating with the knowledge they gained exploring.
  • SAMR Challenge: Once a student has created a product with their app, they pass their creation to the next student who is challenged to create a product on the same topic, but one level up on the SAMR model.  If redefinition was originally reached, then the challenged student tries to reach redefinition with a different app.

*Teachers should keep in mind the objective of the lesson when choosing the apps to put in the box so that the apps are related to the content when necessary.

The Appy Meal was created to offer the classroom teacher an easy way to integrate technology without a lot of prior planning.  There are many ways to adapt these ideas to fit your classroom.  Feel free to email me your idea at 1hightechteacher@gmail.com.  I would love to present this make and take technology PD to your staff.

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Teaching, Technology Integration

The Mindset You Need for Tech Integration

Using technology in the classroom is a little bit about skill, and a lot about being a daring tight rope walker on a high wire.  It has incredible thrills and engagement for all, when it works. But when it doesn’t……. your fall from on high can resemble falling off the high wire and into elephant poo.  Most of using technology in the classroom is planned out and prepared for during instructional preparation.  For this reason, technology use should not be a risky proposition.  However, we all know too well that computers are unpredictable.  Screens freeze, the internet goes down, servers become overwhelmed, and let’s face it- something I can only call tiny computer goblins often take over.  For all of these reasons, your regular type A plan-everything personality, may find many situations in a technology classroom unsettling.  In order for technology integration to work, you must adopt a certain mindset.  The thinking goes something like this:

  • Something will go wrong everyday and it will be ok
  • From each failure will come an instance of learning for you and your students
  • Each day will come with unexpected rewards in tiny ways
  • You didn’t become a teacher just to teach content
  • Good teaching can happen no matter what or where
  • You are NOT the most knowledgeable thing in the classroom, you are a talented education facilitator
  • Student collaboration is essential to the environment
  • If you must choose between believing if it was student error or computer error, give your student the benefit of the doubt
  • Your students may be able to fix your tech problem

Your mindset is always an integral part of your classroom.  You are adding an unpredictable element, technology, to your classroom upon which your instruction and your students’ learning relies.  The way you mentally approach technology integration in your classroom will make it or break it for you and for your students.  Remember: the learning process should be enjoyable for all with or without technology.  I truly hope your daring tight rope walk is an incredible success enjoyed by all.

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