Sunday, July 24, 2016

Throwing Light on Circuits

In 2014, +Maker Jawn helped to host a Make Cycle in CLMOOC. Ever since then, I have been dying to use paper circuits and LED lights in my classroom.

Chibitronics recently came out with some new sticker lights that made paper circuits even easier. My coteacher and I brainstormed, and ended up using them in three ways in our ELA classes this school year:

1. Treasure Maps

Our first unit teaches narrative writing. We had students create a fantasy treasure map and add in a paper circuit to light up where the treasure was. The treasure ended up being everything from cupcakes to gold in Africa. Then they based their first big narrative on their maps. Our thinking was that the circuitry aspect would help to increase engagement, and it definitely did. (Plus it was fun.)

2. Random Acts of Kindness
Our students have been placed at our school because they are unable to function in their homeschools. As a result, we place a big emphasis on Social-Emotional Learning. We had our kids make a card thanking a staff member for their help and support. They could attach a paper circuit or a throwie. The throwies led to a lot of experimentation about how many lights we could light up with one battery, how long they would stay lit, etc. Our classroom glowed when the lights were turned off! Students presented their cards in person and were thus able to both show appreciation and feel the impact of their positive behavior. Staff still have the cards hanging in their offices (although we need to give them new batteries).

3. World Peace Game
In our last unit, we did a version of John Hunter's World Peace game. The poorest country in the game, Snowenia, did not even have electricity. That team spent three weeks researching how a country would "get" electricity. Once they finally had an understanding, they added actual "electricity" to the World Peace Game map in our classroom.

I am a big believer in multidisciplinary teaching and using hands-on projects to increase engagement. Our students learned about topics from all disciplines via these circuitry activities. It was not a science classroom, but it often looked like one!

How can you use paper circuits in your classes?

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Escargot Mail (Without the Garlic)

Focusing on our Make Cycle 2 and #CLMOOC theme of gratitude and reciprocation...

In the typically phenomenal fashion of #CLMOOC, Sarah Honeychurch helped to inspire Karen Fasimpaur who inspired lots of others-to embrace the beauty of snail mail

Karen's Postcard Project took wings and kept its legs (mixing metaphors) throughout the year, often giving those who were participating in it an emotional lift when they most needed it. 

I love this project.  All winter long, I added cards to my kitchen walls and cabinets. Just seeing the connections made real - with concrete, hands-on objects - helped me through the gray, cold winter. In the spring, I finally installed a stainless steel postcard display in my house. The postcards are here to stay!

At the beginning of summer, inspired by the thought-provoking cards I had gotten from others, I decided to try some interactive postcards.  I got one set on which a person can doodle and another set which gives creative ways to interact via the postcards. The last set is aptly called "Everything is Connected."

I love to draw, so I sent out some with doodles already on them.
#postcard #doodle animated GIF

I also sent out some with "missions" on them, like this one I sent to Kevin Hodgson:

and this one I sent to Scott Glass:

I got some non-CLMOOC-ers involved, too, because I knew they would love the interconnectedness of it all.

There's something uplifting about interacting on such a concrete yet heartfelt level. Someone took the time to make something, buy a stamp, and mail it out. Online interactions are great, and rewarding, but the feeling of Escargot Mail is just different for me. 

I am grateful to those of you who took the time to send me postcards and those who were willing to receive or play with my interactive postcards. (And sometimes the Postcard Project was more like a gifting project...)

This project wants and needs you! It has no beginning or end, and you are just on time. Want to join us?

You don't have to be an artist, just willing to connect via escargot mail!
Image result for snail
Yours in connectedness,


See also: and this