Thursday, April 21, 2016

Innovating...the Shark Tank way

My students have been working on a project-based learning module based on Shark Tank.  It's provided an unparalleled opportunity for them to integrate so many skills and concepts that span the academic and interpersonal spheres.  Each company had to sign a group contract and submit individual "applications" for positions within their company - pitch perfecter, CEO, tech guru, designer.  Here are some of the highlights that show integration of purposeful and relevant use of technology alongside standards for teaching and learning:
Each company is creating a website for their business that displays their original logo, designed using Google draw or another graphic design tool of their choice.




Each company was required to do market research prior to selecting their product to prototype.  How did they do this?  By pitching their top three ideas in a Youtube video which they then put into a Google form.  After this, they shared the link to their video with me and I posted it to Google Classroom where all my classes could then submit their vote.




What next?  Well, after they had their market research complete, they got to work on integrating researching, writing and prototyping.  They researched and analyzed what would need to go into their prototype and budget.  The process of prototyping led them into practical application of the design process and iterations upon iterations.  The really neat thing was that during the process of prototyping, they were able to use everything in the classroom - Arduino, LittleBits, Hummingbird Robotics, cardboard, plastic cups and more - to bring their concept and idea to life.
Take Flip-tastic for example - they integrated Hummingbird robotics, and a few hacked LEGO parts to create their innovation:






Looking forward now to the final stage when each company presents their business pitch to some sharks from our community. On top of all the researching, writing and designing they have done, they now integrate speaking and listening skills.  Real world meets real kids - nothing like it!

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Monday, April 4, 2016

Making Music

Chrome Music Lab is a fun, hands-on way to explore rhythm, music, art and more.  The most fascinating thing to me about it was the story behind its creation - a collaboration of programmers and musicians paired with the unparalleled accessibility of both the actual music lab and code so that more creating can take place.


So, here it is, my middle school students exploring and experimenting with the lab.
Here's an experimental band...
Here's the oscillator feature...
Now that they had time to experiment, I began to think about next steps.  The music lab reminded me in many ways of things that I have students do in Scratch, so I created a studio in Scratch where they can put in their own music lab creations...random colors while notes play and so on.  They can create their own Kadinsky or Picasso music lab for that matter!

I was also reminded of Ted-Ed Lessons and the many interactive and informative lessons there.  Here are a few that go right along with the music lab:
Rhythm in a box: the story of the cajon drum - Paul Jennings:
A different way to visualize rhythm - John Varney:

Next, I plan to have my students connect the music lab with what they have been doing with coding. The random colors that appear in the Chrome Music Lab?  That reminds me of the "random color" feature in Scratch with the "pen down" block that allows the students to draw.  Adding notes and music to the mix will allow them to create their own music in a music "studio" in Scratch.  So excited about the possibilities and applications!  This is real STEAM in action!