October 13

Wabi-Sabi: Celebrating Transience and Imperfection

In traditional Japanese aesthetics, the concept of Wabi-sabi centers on the acceptance and celebration of transience, mindfulness and imperfection.

We have begun to use the concept of Wabi Sabi in the Learning Commons to help influence our thinking around Maker Ed. Whilst some maker projects appear more permanent than others, students are encouraged to remember that their temporary maker creations are all the more valuable because they are to be enjoyed and appreciated for a short time. We celebrated our Indian Banga / Japanese Kimono creations as we made them but remembered wabi-sabi as we broke them apart. What remains is the learning.

Wabi-sabi also encourages students to be mindful, to notice details, to focus on the materials and to think carefully and critically as they work. To find beauty in unexpected places. The celebration of imperfection may encourage students to take risks, challenge themselves and try new ideas. Mark Reibstein’s book Wabi Sabi is a great read aloud for this concept.

We look forward to seeing how this idea pans out as the year progresses.

 

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May 31

How to create digital I Spy puzzles

Students in Grade 3 created their own I Spy pages. The items were gathered from yard sales, usually by the bag full, for a few dollars, and put through the dishwasher. The first class was spent exploring ‘I Spy’ books and arranging the items onto colourful card. I had 9 baskets of items so small groups or pairs each photographed the same designs but did their own clues.

During the second class period, students cropped their photos and used PicCollage App to add clues. Image quality is an issue with closeups with our iPad 2s. Other classes will try to find the items in the images and they were included in a school assembly video.  Continue reading to see more examples.

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May 24

Celebrating a Student Art Gallery using Superimpose App

Students in Grade 4 created digital images that celebrate the work of younger students in the school. Each student used a background, art work from the iPad photos, a frame and their own photo to create a four layer image. This was tricky as each layer had to be exported and re-imported into the Superimpose App. Students are developing techniques in masking, editing and photography. Our goal is to help create pride and community by displaying the Kindergarten and Grade 1 work that was left on the iPads. Read more for the ‘how to’.

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May 20

How to Paint with a Sphero

As our annual Parent Thank You Tea was approaching I decided to try using the Sphero robots to create some artwork for the tabletops and walls. Here are a few ideas that worked for us. The lesson incorporated art in the style of Jackson Pollock, programming and using the Lightening Lab App and big ideas around showing appreciation, and learning and creating cooperatively. Read more for some tips we learned as we worked through this project.

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May 13

The Importance of Tinkering: Robotics and Coding

Spheros, Snap Circuits and Ozobots

We have been exploring a variety of robotics and coding tools in the Learning Commons. Students are highly interested and motivated to ‘play’ with technology that they have not used before. I introduced the tools with only loose guidelines so that the students would have the opportunity to figure them out independently or in their small groups.

The 5/6 class needed to explore the items for two 50 minute blocks before they were ready to start to create programs. By the end of the second block they began to have a better understanding of the potential of the robots and this would not have been possible if they had not had the opportunity to tinker and play before beginning the programming.

Dash, Ozobots, Cubelets

 

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May 13

Making ‘I Am a Maker’ letters

This was a fun and easy to prepare lesson on co-operative learning, pre-plannning and time management. In pairs, students were given a small basket of manipulatives and tasked with making the assigned letter from our Maker message. Students had to decide how to best use both the materials and the allotted time.

I had 9 baskets of manipulatives, mostly picked up by the bagful from yard sales, although any small math counting items would also work. The letters were photographed and placed in Pic Collage App. We will soon be using these same items to build and label our own ‘I Spy’ creations.

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May 13

Binary Coding with Beads

Students were excited to learn more about binary code. After discussing the numbered data language and looking at examples we blended in our ‘I Am a Maker’ theme and created stands of beads with our message in binary code. The activity was completed during one Grade 4/5, 40 minute learning commons prep class. The strands are hanging on display in the LC with a chart and informational sign.

I found an easy to read chart and we used perler beads as they are inexpensive and have large holes. I chose plastic craft string for ease of threading but any slightly stiff thread would work. Students tied a black bead at the beginning. This holds the beads on but also delineates the start of the message so it can be read correctly.

 

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April 29

Keeping the Literature in Maker Education

The Maker Movement can be a great way to approach literature study by using meaningful, high interest problem based and project based learning.   As Teacher-Librarians incorporate Maker Education activities into the Learning Commons, there are endless opportunities to use literature to facilitate this hands-on learning.

Reading can spark interest and provide context for projects in the same way that Maker activities can create enthusiasm for further literature explorations. It is not the case that designated time spent in the elementary Library Learning Commons must be either literature based or have a Maker focus. The two can be complimentary and interwoven.

Here are a few book titles and projects that might help to spark ideas:

 

Wondering if building a clear plastic green house might speed up bean germination? Does the shape or size of the structure affect the rate of growth? Using recycled materials such as clear plastic cartons or create a frame with popsicle sticks and kitchen wrap.

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April 18

Making the Elizabeth Tower and Digital Creation

Students in Grade 4 used popsicle sticks to create their interpretation of the Elizabeth Tower in London. After learning about the tower, they worked in five groups to plan their design and to create their structure using popsicle sticks and hot glue. The towers were painted and clock faces added along with a Union Jack flag.

The grade 4/5 class photographed the towers (with permission) and used Superimpose app to show our connection with countries around the world. Text added using Pic Collage app.

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