Tuesday, April 22, 2014

WGS on the Map - #GlobalSelfie

In celebration of Earth Day 2014, NASA is inviting the entire planet to participate in the #GlobalSelfie event. So, I took the challenge and put our quaint little rural, 94 year old, technology blessed and future minded elementary school on the map. WGS participated using the #GlobalSelfie Goolge+ event page. To find out the details or to participate check out NASA's Earth Right Now event.
Walnut Grove School on NASA #GlobalSelfie map!
Shout out to Jennifer Whitt and Vickey Sullivan for the nudge.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

iPad Storage Solution

With our school achieving 1:1 student to iPad ratio we were faced with a new issue, secure storage. We needed to find an inexpensive way to store/charge our classroom sets of iPads. When I started researching I could find no inexpensive charging stations ($800 - the average rate), so this is what we came up with.
I decided on a rolling, locking file cabinet like this mobile file cabinet ($130). Luckily, our principal found someone at Central Office that had this type cabinet to give away so we didn't have to purchase them. We also bought surge protectors that had twelve swivel plugs, protector ($50). Someone then drilled a hole in the side to run the iPad cords through. Two surge protectors were mounted on the outside. We also bought protective cases for the iPads. We store/charge approx. 20 iPads per case. 
For about $250 we were able to adequately meet our need for secure iPad storage and charging. With iPads costing $500, this is a small investment.

Beyond Hour of Code – WGS Code:tasic Club

In December Walnut Grove K-5 students participated in the Hour of Code, sparked by code.org, during their library and computer lab time. It was hit with the students! Due to the success of this activity, we offered a 6 week after school coding club. Grades 3-5 participated in WGS Code:tastic Club up to three afternoons per week.
Mrs. Whitt, WGS Librarian, Mrs. Jenkins, WGS ACE teacher and myself used Code.org’s K-8 Intro to Computer Science course. The course is comprised of a 20 hour series of tutorials and activities. The robust course includes plugged activities and unplugged activities.
In the plugged activities (on the computer) the students learned a programming language called blockly to solve fun challenges and were introduced to JavaScript. With unplugged activities (no computer necessary), we taught the basic concepts of Computer Science in a hands-on kid friendly way. For instance, teaching conditionals by creating rules to our own card games and functions by creating patterned sun catchers. We also created games, sung songs and did relay races, all while introducing key vocabulary and concepts.
Learning coding helps students with math, problem solving, and critical thinking. Now the students will have the foundation to pursue their interests in programming.
We culminated the event with a Code-In (akin to a lock-in), wrapping up our plugged and unplugged activities, washing it all down with pizza, cupcakes and drinks. It was a huge success and for our efforts Code.org has awarded WGS $1000 in prizes through the DonorsChoose.org program. With this generous donation we are purchasing kits to begin teaching robotics and basic circuitry using Lego Robotics, Arduinos and LittleBits.
WGS kids are rocketing through this century!
Acknowledgement - Thanks to Holly Whitt for contributing content for this post