First and second graders had their first Vertex visit of the school year, and it was a resounding success! Volunteers started off by sharing information with students about cystic fibrosis, one of the diseases the company works on. Students then participated in an observation and analysis of simulated mucus samples. Students looked at healthy mucus samples and compared them to mucus samples from people with cystic fibrosis. Students loved describing what the different mucus types looked, felt, and even smelled like!
Students also got a chance to experiment with 3D pens. With the 3D printing pen students were able to draw anything they wanted and watch their creations become 3D models in a matter of minutes.
Thank you Vertex for helping bringing science to life and giving students a chance to use some incredible tech tools!
To celebrate computer science, Shaw students participated in a global event called Hour of Code. Students used apps like Kodable and The Foos to practice programming and sequencing. They also used Bee-Bots (a type of robot) to learn directional language and program the robots to follow set paths.
The people who tell computers what to do are called programmers. Students acted like programmers, using a special language known as code to move a “robot” forward, spin, and jump. Using this basic programming language, students used code to tell computers and robots EXACTLY what to do. They had to tell the computer and robots what to do in the right order or else it would not work correctly.
After all their hard work, students discussed that computers and other tech tools can’t do anything without people telling them what to do. We learned that people are a lot smarter than computers! Check out the following resources to keep working on computer science and programming skills at home!
Today was truly a day to celebrate, as eight P.A. Shaw students and their families graduated from our Tech Goes Home course. Tech Goes Home (TGH) is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to bridge the digital divide so that low-income, under-served populations in US cities have full access to technology and the Internet.” This is my second year teaching a TGH course, and they have helped provide the opportunity, tools, education, and access required for 21st century skills development.
I worked with parents and students, showing them how to embrace online tools. We created emails, made Google Slides presentations, found free summer resources and things to do in the city, and learned about educational apps and websites. Participants completed 15 hours of technology training and received their very own Chromebooks. The looks on their faces were priceless when they got to take home their very own computer. After having worked so hard, it really gave students and their families ownership of the device. I had a wonderful time teaching this course, getting to connect on a more personal level with students and improve relationships with families.
Congratulations to all of the families that completed the Tech Goes Home course! Great job acquiring 21st century technology skills and getting those brand new Chromebooks! I couldn’t be prouder of your hard work and dedication.
A good teacher never stops learning. I recently finished a course at Lesley University called "The Maker Mindset”. I was able to engage in hands-on activities that model learning through play, fostering opportunities for self-awareness and identity affirmation, creativity, collaboration, and problem solving. I also learned about some beneficial technology to start using in the Shaw library.
Using Scratch and Makey Makey, our K0/K1 students can participate in Reader's Theater! They can press the characters to have them speak for each role. This helps our non-verbal and shy students be included in our literacy activities, giving them a voice they didn't have before.
Using the Stop Motion Studio app, students can start making stop motion videos! They will be able to create their own videos, bringing stories and poetry to life.
Learning about circuits, students can combine natural materials with electronic components to make a nature bot!
Learning doesn’t just happen. Rather, it’s something you work at. Making can help students develop that growth mindset we want them to have, teaching them to push through obstacles and be resilient in the face of failure. Our students need the skills to succeed in a constantly changing world. Robots, computer programming, upcycling, and STEAM building challenges are all engaging ways of learning the essential skills of collaboration, communication, and digital literacy. These skills are critical to providing children with opportunities relevant to today's world, and having these resources will help to put our students on a level playing field in the future. Building and making is a way for some students to know something deeply. We have the opportunity to ignite a passion in them so they become doctors, architects, scientists and astronomers. We can start this when they are young so they grow up believing that they can and that they have the ability to do so. According to Dale Dougherty, Editor & Publisher of Make Magazine, “By the process of tinkering, we learn how to change and shape the world in small but significant ways and adapt it to our personal needs.” Making will open doors of opportunity for all our students, and I know they will have a positive impact on the world.
A few months ago our school was chosen to participate in BPS Technology’s Transforming Learning with Technology Initiative. Through this initiative we were the happy recipients of 90 Chromebooks. I am ecstatic to finally be achieving some equity in the access to technology. Students are now able to use technology in the library to access the resources they need to learn, explore, and engage in authentic learning opportunities.
Here is an update on the learning taking place in the library!
Kindergarten- We have continued to work on story comprehension and sequencing skills.
We read The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats and learned that visuals can be used as a retelling strategy. Students used pictures from the story and felt board pieces to put the story back in order. They did a great job talking with their partner to figure out what came next! They are getting more and more comfortable using expressive vocabulary.
We also read A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle. Again, we used visuals to help us remember which item from the ocean was added to the hermit crab’s shell first, next, and last. We also used puppets and movements as additional ways to retell the story. We used our bodies to sway like sea anemones, swim like fish, crawl like snails, and walk like crabs. We even tasted real seaweed!
The goals is for students to be able to share books, stories, and information with others. They will use these retelling skills throughout their entire lives.
First Grade- We have been learning what makes a fairy tale a fairy tale. We learned that fairy tales have common features such as “once upon a time…”, royalty, magic, etc. These features stay consistent throughout different tales. We have also been learning about fractured fairy tales and how they are meant to make us laugh. We read The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka, then made graphic organizers to help us tell the main parts of the story. We also used a Venn diagram to compare and contrast it with The Gingerbread Man. They have been doing a great job noticing similarities and differences between stories.
Second and Third Grade- I have started teaching the students about digital citizenship. I want them to be able to make safe, smart decisions online. Second graders went on a virtual field trip to the San Diego Zoo and learned rules for using the Internet safely. They discovered that the Internet can be used to visit far-away places. Third graders discussed their offline responsibilities (doing their homework, brushing their teeth, etc.) and then examined their online responsibilities (not giving out personal information, protecting their passwords, etc.) Having this technology in the library has allowed students to take control over their own learning, working at their own pace and at their own individual reading levels. The students have been so engaged in their learning and are always excited to use the devices.
Thanks to the winter break and snow days, we all had a VERY short first week back at school. But just because we aren't inside the Shaw doesn't mean learning has to stop! I thought I would share some of my favorite educational websites to keep our brains active during these cold days. And the best part about them... they are FREE!
Highlights for Kids
I remember reading this magazine as a kid, so it's great to see that Highlights now offers online ways for children to play and read. I love their Hidden Pictures puzzles! Put your brain to the test and see if you can find all of the hidden objects inside the pictures. They also have crafts, recipes, games, and jokes.
Learning Games for Kids
This site offers educational games to help build skills in literacy, math, science, and social studies. They also have some great games to get kids practicing and improving their typing skills.
National Geographic for Kids
I love NatGeo's mission stating, "We teach kids about the world and how it works, empowering them to succeed and to make it a better place." This site is filled will interesting facts about animals, nature, and different countries. You can watch animal cameras and try science experiments. There's also a "Little Kids" section for even the youngest adventurers in your house.
Games and videos from educational shows like Curious George and Wild Kratts.
This site aims to help preschoolers and kindergartners learn how to read. They do a great job of using games to teach letter recognition and phonics.
I hope everyone stays safe and warm. Enjoy the snow days!
Mrs. Keohane is the School Librarian at the P.A. Shaw. She loves hockey, going to the beach, and reading (obviously!)