Tag Archives: integrated

Building water rocket launchers with @bendickraikes in 6th science at @The_School

@BenedickRaikes is the 6th grade science teacher at The School at Columbia University and an extraordinary colleague. He was inspired to build water rocket launchers this semester. In preparation for that, he purchased a book, Make: Rockets, and a Water Rocket Launcher kit from Maker Shed. (Update: these kits do not seem to be currently available…)

After assembling the kit’s prototype, Ben felt much better about asking 6th graders to build their own water rocket launchers as well. We purchased all of the parts using the supplies list from the book (also on the DIY project website). Most of the materials came from Lowe’s, and this process was made substantially easier as the book includes all of the parts numbers. Other bits and bobs were sourced from Amazon and the neighborhood hardware store.

Ben and I thought it would be fun if the students were to “place an order” at Lowe’s for the materials, so we shared the shopping list with them. Students were tasked with filling out a spreadsheet in math class that included space for them to insert an image of each part and an area for them to tally the cost of the project. See below:

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This week, 6th graders assembled their water rocket launchers using plans from Make Magazine: http://makezine.com/projects/water-rocket-launcher Students were divided into 4 groups of about 4-5 students. Each group had a faculty mentor at their table — 6th Grade Math Teacher Catherine Hildebrandt (@KKleinNYC), Math Associate Jazmin Sherwood, Intermediate Division Principal Kevin Fittinghoff, and me — which left Ben to float from group to group offering help and guidance. We had to saw PVC and wood, join pieces with epoxy or PVC primer and cement, assemble materials, work with drills, screwdrivers, utility knives, pliers, clamps, and more.

After two days of constructing rocket launchers, students were asked to fill out a self-reflection feedback sheet with the following questions:

  1. Did you enjoy the rocket launcher building project? Give reasons.
  2. What was your favorite part of the project?
  3. What did you find difficult or challenging?
  4. Did you learn anything new doing this activity?
  5. What are your thoughts about working in a group of 4 or 5 children?
  6. Would you be interested in doing a project like this again? What would you chose to build? (Realistic suggestions only please!)

Tomorrow students will have a soft launch (pun intended!) of their rockets. On Monday, the grade will gather together in the park for the official launch and to compare results.

After seeing my tweet about our project, Chris Casal (@Mr_Casal) shared a link to a wonderful video highlighting the work of Christine Boyer (@5boyer) and her 5th graders who launched rockets last year. Christine also provided a wonderful documentation of the project here, and she recently presented her class’s work at the National Science Teachers Assocation‘s annual conference!

LIFTOFF TO LEARNING from Ralph King, Hawkview Pictures on Vimeo.

 

 

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6th graders are uploading/sharing their finished StoryCorps-esque interviews today

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StoryCorps is an independent nonprofit whose mission is to provide Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs with the opportunity to record, share, and preserve the stories of our lives. Since 2003, StoryCorps has collected and archived more than 40,000 interviews from nearly 80,000 participants. Each conversation is recorded on a free CD to share, and is preserved at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind, and millions listen to our weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition and on our Listen pages.

Students interviewed someone at home and used Garageband to extract a 2-3 minutes story. These audio pieces were exported as .m4a files and then converted to either .mp4 or .mov files that were then uploaded to TheTube (our internal video server powered by Drupal). Finally, students gathered links to their audio files, a description of their piece, a direct quote from the story, and an image. These were added to a table on a collaborative GoogleDoc to loosely model how StoryCorps organizes their files.

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I’m presenting “Social Networking and Literacy” on 2/5/11 at 6:00pm EST #CO11

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I’ll be presenting online Saturday evening (2/5 at 6:00 pm EST) as part of the free Connecting Online 2011 Conference (#CO11). My specific session will be “Social Networking and Literacy,” and I am going to describe how two of the English teachers at The School at Columbia University are using new media to enhance an independent reading program and book groups.

 

The Independent Reading Site (Google Site)

Marisa Guastaferro (6th Grade English) and I created The Independent Reading Site two years ago. It is a Google Site; Hence, it is free, there is a whole suite of tools, it is accessible from anywhere, there is a built-in search feature, kids can comment on each other’s reviews, it is user friendly, and it is sustainable in that their profile travels with them from year to year.

In their profile, the students include what they read, where they read, how they read, and then list their favorite books, genres, and/or authors. These profiles are grouped by the year the students graduate from high school (this is how we list them in all of our databases anyway). The students create a sub-page for each book review they complete and create their book reviews in the form of text, video, audio, slide-show, or comic-strip. Students and teachers extend the conversation and share opinions in the comment section below each review.

The built-in Google Site search feature is awesome, as it allows users to search by name, year, genre, author, title, etc. This is invaluable and allows students to learn about other people’s reading habits and locate new books to add to their bookshelf.

To Kill a Mockingbird Book Groups (Elgg social network)

Eve Becker (8th Grade English) carefully considered how to best negotiate our in-house social network (powered by Elgg) to structure teacher-led and student-led discussions for To Kill a Mockingbird. [The book celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010!]

First, Eve divided her students into small reading groups of 3-4 students. All students were required to join the TKAM grade-wide group created by Eve. Here, Eve listed description of responsibilities for the groups and offered a weekly teacher-led discussion question. The students formed their own private groups on The Social Network and invited Eve (and sometimes me) to join their closed space.

On their group page, students addressed Eve’s weekly question, posted and responded to their own questions and comments inspired by the book, and maintained two pages: Quotations and Vocabulary. On the Quotations page, students took turns choosing and posting a quotation and an explanation about why it was chosen. On the Vocabulary page, students were required to write the word, an educated guess at its meaning, its part of speech, the actual definition, and an original sentence with the word.

Using Google Sites and Elgg for these projects meant that students were working in the cloud and could access their work from any location at any hour. Also, anytime they posted to their profile or to a group page, there was a time-stamp included that tracked who posted what and when. So, students are held accountable for their own work when working independently and/or within a small learning group. Win-win.

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