Camp Invention

This summer I participated in Camp Invention.  This is an amazing program designed to engage kids in STEAM activities.  Kids will participate in challenges and activities designed toward problem solving and 21st century skills.  I was the facilitator of the Maker Studio of the Epic Park series.  Students going into grades 1-6 rotated through the activities every day.  In Maker Studio the kids bring a machine from home to take apart.  The idea is to learn how the item works by reverse engineering.  As kids take the machine apart, hopefully they are learning what each part is and what each part does to make the machine work.

Camp Invention 3

Camp invention 2

Camp invention 4

These youngsters learn how to use tools such as screwdrivers, hammers, pry bars, and allen wrenches. They learn about power sources with batteries of different voltages.  They learn about manual power sources such as a hand crank.  They watch videos of inventors that challenge their problem solving skills as well as their creativity.  After a few days of taking apart the machines, these young inventors get to start planning how they can re-purpose the parts into new inventions.  The Camp Invention program supplies all materials needed.  The kids bring take-apart machines from home and recyclable materials to use in various projects and inventions.  Campers brought old VCR machines, flashlights, radios, DVD players, mixers, and many other types of machines to take apart.  One camper brought an old sewing machine.  They also brought many, many, many different recyclable materials:  egg cartons, boxes, carpet squares, legos, puzzles pieces.  You name it, someone probably brought it.  It took two large classroom to hold all of these materials.  On the last day of the week long program, campers showcase their inventions and parents visite the showcase to see all of the wondrous learning that has taken place.  This was an exciting week!  There are many different kinds of summer camps:  baseball, football, soccer, and just about every other sport camp imaginable.  Some communities offer various music camps.  Camp Invention is a place for those kids not interested in sports to go for a week of summer fun.  Don’t get me wrong though, Camp Invention is for all kids!   Every child who participates will walk away with new ideas, concepts, creations, and inventions.  Every child will walk away with a sense of accomplishment and a keenness to keep inventing!

Here is a link to the Camp Invention website.  Check it out, you won’t regret it.

Field Trip E-Readers

Every year after we finish learning about pioneers and early Texans, we take our 2nd graders to Dallas Heritage Village.  If you are from the Dallas area, this living museum use to be called Old City Park.  Teachers, students, and families love this trip.  We always have as many family members attending our field trips as students.  This support makes a wonderful day even better!  We usually go in the spring when the weather is at its best and let students and their families roam the park at their leisure.   The park provides information, but this year we decided to do a Photo Scavenger Hunt.

DHV Photo Hunt

Students and their family members sought out the suggested locations and took pictures.  Most people used their cell phones.  Some of the kids took the pictures themselves, but remember they are 2nd graders, so they mostly wanted to be in the photos.

After the field trip, family members sent the photos to teachers in an email.  Teachers uploaded the photos to a file in our Google Drive.  We shared the file with our students.  Next we taught our students how to make a Google Slide Presentation.  Students chose the photos they wanted to use and wrote about each picture.  We gave them parameters, such as how many slides needed to be in each presentation.  We wanted them to use correct capitalization, punctuating, and syntax.  They knew we were going to make these presentations into E-Readers they would share with their families.  Students shared their presentations with teachers, and we made some editing suggestions.  In the end though, we accepted the work they presented.  The kids loved making these E-Readers!  They had no difficulty in working with Google Slides.  Some of them did have a hard time deciding which photos to use.  When they completed their presentations, we saved them as a PDF.  We sent the PDF E-Reader to families in an email.  We chose to do PDF E-Readers because they can be opened on any device.

The students learned so much about creating a slide presentation.  They learned how to use the photos and write about them.   We also made End of the Year Memory Book E-Readers, as well as, Life Cycle of Butterfly E-Readers.

Click on the links below to view a couple of sample E-Readers from this field trip.

If you have done something similar with your students please click on the comments and share your ideas!

Dallas Heritage Village Aden

Dallas Heritage Village Shelby

21st Century Classrooms

I teach 2nd grade in a building that was new in the late 1980s.   It is a wonderful building.  Our classrooms are large.  We have storage space that most teachers would envy.  Our district does it’s very best to keep us updated in the newest trends.  They are updating our wireless infrastructure this summer.  It’s the best place in the world to teach, with parent support, administrative support, and community support in abundance.  But it is still a building constructed in the 1980s.  We are working hard to transform our teaching, our materials, and our building into a 21st century school that will enable our students to grow and excel to their maximum potential.  We are adding a MakerSpace in our library.  We are adding furniture and innovative classroom ideas to speed along this transformation.  A few of my teacher buddies and I painted our reading tables with Dry Erase paint.  Watch the video below for a step by step tutorial on how to make your own Dry Erase Table.  Then check back here periodically to see all of the ways we are becoming a school of the future.


Reading, Science, and Technology

I am always looking for ways to enhance my instruction so that my students will get the most out of whatever we happen to be learning.  This past spring, I combined a Reading and Science lesson and paired it with a technology concept.  My students thoroughly enjoyed every minute of the lessons.  I was impressed and pleased to see that they were indeed internalizing prior knowledge.  I use Common Sense Media’s K-2 Scope and Sequence for many of my technology lessons.  Here is a link.  If you haven’t used this material, you might want to check it out.  As an extension of learning to search the web, and learning about copyright, we discovered NASA’s public domain site for images.  We were also learning about the sun, moon, and stars in Science.  There was a non-fiction space story in our basal reader (which I don’t use very often) that the kids always enjoy reading.  This was an evolving lesson.  I had planned for the kids to find images on the NASA site, download the images, and write a caption for each image.  We did this, but I intended the project to be in google.  The kids wanted to print their images so each student ended up making a paper book.  After downloading and printing images, we visited NASA’s student page.  Almost all of my students found their image.  They were able to find information about the image to use in writing the caption.  This whole process took a bit longer than I had planned, but my students learned how to download and print an image.  They remembered previous lessons on copyright.  They also learned about non-fiction text features and how to write a caption for an image.  And of course they learned many new and interesting facts about the space, a highly engaging and motivating topic for 2nd graders.


space research9 space research4 Space Book 4 Space Book 3 Space Book 2

Welcome to

Welcome to I love classroom technology.  I have been wanting to start this blog for quite some time.  Let me tell you a little bit about what I envision here.  I want this to be a place where educators can find new ideas and share some of their own.

Education is undergoing a revolution.  STEAM, MakerSpace, Genuis Hour, and one to one classrooms are the foundation of what 21st century classrooms need to have in order to prepare our students for the world in which they are learning to navigate.  One day they will be in charge of this dynamic new world.  I believe as parents, educators, and mentors we have a responsibility to prepare our children for this world we ourselves may find intimidating.

That is the purpose of this blog.  I want to have a place to share what I am learning and doing in my own journey as an educator, parent, and grandparent.  I want others on this same endeavor to find this blog a place where we can all learn and grow together.  I want this to be an online 21st century learning community for all who want to see our children become the leaders of this “brave new world” they are meant to be.

Join me here each week as we seek to make the most of this educational revolution.