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.

Students began by photographing each other from behind as if they were looking at the art in a gallery.

I had a few empty frames students could photograph as well as a section of digital images here.

I had different coloured card at each table to photograph for the background and enhance in photo editor. The foreground was the student art which we ‘transformed’ to the correct size. This layer was then exported to photos, and deleted from the app and then reimported. The third layer was the frame which had to be masked to cover the green background and sized. This was then exported and deleted and re-imported. The final layer was the student which was the trickiest to mask. There is a new ‘hair’ filter which we have not yet tried.

Work was uploaded to Dropbox to be shared at our Maker Assembly, on Twitter and in the school newsletter.

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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.

It’s important to have a sturdy barricade around the painting area. I decided to cover the edges of my storage bins with paper also to make clean up easier.

I didn’t put plastic down under this base layer. Even though we used quite a bit of paint, none ended up on the carpet.

I put down three layers of large pink construction paper. This way, after each class had completed their creation, I simply lifted the 5 separate sheets out and it was already set up for the next class.

We started off using the draw program and had three Spheros painting at once. With 30 students all wanting a turn, we quickly switched to the drive program which took less time for each student to create a design.

I put the paint dollops on separate pieces of card which we moved around to avoid any blank spots. The Sphero’s get a little slippery as they drive through the very wet paint blotches on the paper. At the end we rinsed one off and popped on the bumpy cover for a cool effect in a darker colour. We didn’t wrap them in plastic or anything and they rinsed off as good as new.

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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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February 28

Using a Buddha Board for Social Emotional Learning and Digital Creation

A Buddha Board is calming way to paint and then watch your creation slowly disappear. The white board is mounted onto a black water tray and you use the brush to paint with the water. The brush strokes show up in black. As the water evaporates, the board becomes white again. We have been experimenting with our new Buddha Board in the Learning Commons and figuring out some ways it could be best utilized.

Our first use of the board in the classroom was as a calm down tool for students. The board worked in much the same way as Mind Up tools. Bubblers or glitter jars can be useful in helping students to self regulate and the board offers one more strategy for this calming activity. Students are able to create an image, for example, a representation of their frustration, and watch it slowly disappear as they practice their mindful breathing techniques. The image can take about 5 minutes to evaporate and the process repeated if necessary.

It was also handy for an impatient or anxious student to look at to help understand how long it would be before the next activity or recess. ‘ When the picture is gone’ was more concrete than ‘in 5 minutes’. The board was also helpful for a student who just needed a break from the current activity.

All of the students who tried the board liked the way the brush felt as they painted. They liked the idea that the creation would slowly disappear. Mistakes were not important and it didn’t matter if they felt themselves to be ‘good artists’ or not as there was no permanence to the painting.

We also video taped some Social Emotional Learning words as they disappeared, reversed the film and sped it up so the words seem to appear. As students create their own videos to show their learning we could imagine using this technique for adding titles, credits, thought balloons etc.

Buddha Board from Anna Crosland on Vimeo.

I am wondering about using the board as a ‘End of Day’ tool, i.e. ‘Let’s see if we can pick up all of the lego before the image disappears’. Overall, we are looking forward to experimenting with the board. It is great to be able to create with a brush without the problem of getting actual paint all over the library. We have the larger board but smaller ones are available. The larger one was about $35CAD at Chapters and Amazon .The smaller boards are about $16CAD but at just 5″ square, they looked a little too small to be useful.

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February 25

How to make a Fun Friendship Video and Random Acts of Kindness Cookies

I found a bag 10 of ‘nose and glasses’ from the Dollar store and used them to get some genuine, unposed smiles from students with their buddies for our Pink Shirt Day assembly. Students thought I was getting ready to take the picture but I actually filmed the students as they put the glasses on and saw each other for the first time, then snapped a quick photo and slowed the video down by 50% in iMovie.

Pink Shirt Day: Friendship from Anna Crosland on Vimeo.

We decorated cookies in the Learning Commons and 75 students participated. We discussed Random Acts of Kindness and the idea of how sharing a cookie can be a way to make a connection, start a friendship or show appreciation. The cookies were pre-made from kits bought on sale after Valentine’s Day so were easy to use. Each kit included 12 nut free cookies, icing and decorative candies. We set up a big bucket of hot soapy water for a hand washing station.

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February 25

Upcycle Cigar Boxes to First Nations ‘Cedar Boxes’

We began our project with a great ‘Tree of Life’ kit from Surrey Schools Aboriginal Dept. The kit includes CDs and DVDs as well as books and information on Cedar, Totem Poles and Northwest Native Art. An excellent resource, delivered right to your Surrey school. We also discussed A Journey into Time Immemorial: The Importance of Cedar.

Students added some of the many uses of cedar to a circular tree and coloured a totem for the top.

The cigar boxes came from a Vancouver tobacconist, I paid $20 CAD (cash deal) for 30. Some of the boxes had lots of glossy labels that had to be scraped off before painting. We added Mod Podge to the top surface to seal the picture and add a slight gloss. Students are proud to display their work and excited to take them home. Each time they open the box there will be a little reminder of the importance of the cedar tree to the First Nations peoples.

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