Saturday, February 21, 2015

Actually, It Is Rocket Science!

This week, some of our students Skyped with members of the Tarleton State Aeronautical Team, or Rocket Team as we are calling them. 

Dr. Keith Emmert, our parent volunteer who helps lead our maker club, is a math professor at Tarleton State University, and he helped arrange this partnership. The plan is for the rocket team to Skype with our 5th and 6th graders, as well as our after school maker club. Then the team will visit Curtis in March, bringing their 3D printer and rockets. Fifth and Sixth grade students will be able to watch the team launch one of their rockets, after learning more about rockets and seeing their 3D printer up close.

On Tuesday, our 5th graders Skyped with the team. Michael Daigrepont and Andrew Olbrich, explained about the competitions they participate in, shared the process of building their rockets, and answered questions from the group. 

The students were very interested in how high the rockets could go and how much it costs to build the rockets! They were also able to see video footage from a competition and footage shot from inside the rocket! It was interesting to learn what all is involved in a competition, including how they track their rockets.

The rocket team, now including Suleima Rangel, repeated their presentation with our after school maker club. 

The maker club was excited to learn that they would be able to work with a partner to design their own rocket to launch. The Tarleton rocket team will use their 3D printer to print these pieces and bring them with them for our rocket day! 

The rocket team explained how their 3D printer works, and showed students some of the things that they have printed. Dr. Keith brought rocket parts that had been printed so students understood what they were selecting for their own rockets.

For our the last Skype for the week, our 6th graders listened intently as Michael explained all about their competitions, 3D printing, and what would take place during their visit on March 4th. 

During this Skype, we had approximately 20 visitors come in from the Weatherford Chamber of Commerce Leadership group.  We were happy to have them see the great things that are happening in Weatherford ISD and in education in general!

To say we are excited about the visit from the Tarleton Rocket team is an understatement! Stay tuned for news of our rocket launch! More information about the Tarleton Rocket team can be found at and on Twitter at TSUAeronautics.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

TCEA15- Learning, Growing, Connecting

Last week I attended the Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) Annual Conference. As educators, we should model life-long learning and attending conferences is one way to do that. The week was full of learning & connecting, so much so that it would require a quite lengthy post to cover everything. Here are my major take-aways for the week:

Kristen Swanson, the founder of the Edcamp movement, started our first day with a reminder that "learning is fundamentally different in a connected world." When educators are connected, they can learn anywhere, from anyone, at anytime! It becomes personalized, which is exactly what we are striving for for our students. A big take-away was "when we change the learning for adults, they will change the learning for their students!" YES! This, as well as another session, helped me rethink the way I share information with teachers on our campus. 

The first day ended with a nice honor. I was recognized as a finalist for TCEA Library Media Specialist of the Year. There to support me were my biggest cheerleaders: Nancy Jo Lambert, Tina Berumen, Erin Griffith, and Racheal Rife! 

On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to present with some pretty AMAZING people! The first presentation was with my principal, Racheal Rife, and friend/mentor, Erin Griffith. Racheal encourages and supports innovation on our campus and inspires me to rethink how I look at our education system. Erin Griffith, worked in our district last year, and was a huge reason we hosted our first Edcamp Parker County! We presented on Collaborative Learning Spaces and how to create these spaces on a budget, with limited space, AND with student involvement. We shared spaces we created with our students, and talked about the WHY. It was wonderful to hear others in the audience share about their spaces. Attendees added pictures and links to the presentation's Google Slides which we hope will be a resource for others. A highlight of this session was discovering that Carl Hooker had created sketchnotes of the session and shared them!

The sessions were back to back, so I ran to the next room to present #Makerspaces with my #TLBFF, Nancy Jo Lambert! This was the first time Nancy Jo and I had presented together, and it was a lot of fun! She is such an incredible librarian and so willing to share with others! 

Makerspaces are a great addition to a school, whether it be in a library, classroom, or another part of the building. They are also easy to personalize, and there is no right or wrong in makerspaces. The purpose is to create a space where students are able to collaborate & innovate! We shared some of the items that we have in our makerspaces.

There was a full house in this session, with many of them being librarians. This seems like a good indicator that librarians are ready to be key players in creating innovative spaces for their students!

At a conference of this size, another great part is being able to connect with friends and members of your PLN. There are many people who inspire me that I am only able to see face to face at conferences. There were also many new people that I added to my PLN during and after TCEA. 

There were many sessions and learning opportunities throughout the week, and the last session we attended was an inspiring way to end this conference. A new addition to my PLN, Matthew Arend, mentioned that George Couros was presenting on Thursday. My principal and I made it to his first session, Your Digital Footprint, at 8:00 AM. I honestly would have gone to all three of his sessions that day if I could have, he is that good! There are many great resources on his blog, which I will be checking regularly! He reinforced my belief that being a connected educator is important. 

By watching the hashtag #TCEA15Couros, you could see how everyone was connecting with Couros! In fact, I went back and read tweets from the other two sessions to see what I missed. Like this question:

Right away, I was able to implement some of what I learned in Couros's session with my 6th graders on Friday as we talked about our Digital Footprint. 

This slide was all over Twitter on Thursday and is such a good visual for what we should be aiming for:

So I take back to my campus great ideas to share and the reminder that the most important thing is still RELATIONSHIPS! Technology is a wonderful addition, but forming relationships with people, whether it be our students, the teachers on our campus, or connecting with members of our PLN in person, that is where we really make a difference.