Friday, March 3, 2017

STEAM Simple Circuit Operation Game

I loved the game, "Operation!" as a kid. It was awesome and ridiculous fun. When I saw that the 6th grade Next Generation Science Standards reference body systems, I knew there was a STEAM project in there somewhere. This simple circuit, "Operation!" game is the result.

Here is the full lesson:

Here is a link to the presentation that explains the lesson, and provides a visual, step-by-step process of how to build the game:

And, here is a template I use for the body:


P.S. If you try this out, send me pics of your kids' works!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Black History Month Visual Art Projects

February is Black History Month, and now more than ever I see my friends, colleagues, and just simply people discussing race, gender, society, and the intersection and interaction of both (sometimes politely; sometimes less so). While I strongly feel we should be consciously engaging in critical discussions about race on a near daily basis, I also strongly feel it is important to take the time to recognize the amazing Black voices that have so richly contributed to our society. 

With that spirit in mind, here are a few projects that lend themselves to the celebration of Black History Month.

Images of Social Justice

Split Portrait with Text

Yes We Can

Digital Anti Bullying Posters 
(incorporate Black heroes and/or issues relating to Black civil rights)

Text Portraits
(use text and/or portraits from Black heroes)

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Digital Visual Idioms: Visual Arts and Language Arts Integration

It Costs an Arm and a Leg (my digital visual idiom example)
I love anything that is a play on words. Metaphors, similes, double entendres, and idioms; I love them all! Lately, I've been focusing on integrating visual arts into "general" (non-arts) classrooms. Figurative language often relies on highly visual wordings; it is a natural way to integrate visual arts and language arts.
Bad Hair Day by Robert Deyber, source

by Keren Rosen, source

This lesson is designed for 4th-7th graders (the lesson I wrote is specifically with 6th graders in mind) and focuses on using idioms. We used for the digital design aspect.

Here is a copy of the full lesson plan:

Here is the process:

1. Identify and define idioms
2. Identify and define visual idioms
3. View various examples of visual idioms
4. Discuss the meaning of the idiom textually vs. idiom meaning visually (figurative vs. literal)
5. Review popular idioms / make a class list
6. Students select an idiom
7. Students brainstorm what images are needed to create a visual idiom
8. Students use Google Images or Open Clip Art to source copyright-free / royalty-free images

9. Students view a live or video demonstration of how to search for royalty-free and/or copyright-free sources images and using Pixlr to create their visual idiom

10. Students use the "Pixlr Tips and Tricks" handout for reference 

11. Students create their artwork

12. Students self-asses their artwork

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Digital Art and Math: Animating Fractals

Oooh-wheee! I have been studying up on the maths lately. My high school math teacher buddies tasked me with coming up with a new (no proportion grids or tessellations) math arts-integrated lesson (and if it could include digital art, too?).

Everything you need to know how to throw this down is below. We used the free, online program to make these animated fractals. All is free. Please be cool and attribute if you re-post and do not sell my work.

Project overview 

Project Presentation

Fractal Tiling Cheat Sheet

Fractal Tiling Rubric

How-To Videos

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Digital Arts Integration with English Language Arts and Social Studies

Recently, I re-vamped my Cereal Box Package Design lesson to integrate with English Language Arts and Social Studies Curricula. All of the digital software used in this project is totally free available online (and does not need to be downloaded)

This project is provided totally free to you; please enjoy but do not reproduce without permission.

Here is the entire process (click-through this downloadable presentation):

Here is a copy of the PNG Cereal Box Template:

Here is a copy of a few Pixlr Tips and Tricks

Here is a copy of the rubric:

This project is provided totally free to you; please enjoy but do not reproduce without permission.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Using Pokemon Go in Any Classroom as an Anchor Activity

Unless you are living under a rock, you have heard of Pokemon Go. Actually, scratch that, if you live under a rock someone has probably turned it over to find a charmander. Buuut, here’s the thing, Pokemon Go debuted in the summer. Our students have had all summer to enjoy mostly uninterrupted Pokemon Go play (hey, it gets the kids moving and outside; if I was a parent I’d looove it),  and now we’re going to ask them to sit still and learn. . . And, there is a Pokegym right next door!

Why not just embrace the madness, and put it to good use in your classroom?

Here’s my personal idea for using the Pokemon Go excitement in your classroom: Send your students on a Pokehunt to “catch them all” and connect it to learning via anchor activities.  

1.       Download the free Aurasma application onto either a classroom device, your device, or that bum device rolling around in the junk drawer (you just need wifi access).
2.       Print out pictures of items that relate to your content (content pics), and hang them around your classroom.
3.       Make a folder (as in a real folder you can hold and touch) and put a different Pokemon on the cover of each folder. Put a different anchor activity in each folder. Dedicate a place in your classroom to be the Pokemon Folder Place.
4.       Make a graph with the X-axis marked with the different Pokemon names, and the Y-axis marked with all the student names. Call this the Pokemon Chart.
5.       Use wifi to connect to internet on device. Find and save Pokemon images to device.
6.       Make an “aurasma” of each content pic and overlay it with a Pokemon image.
a.       Open aurasma app
b.      Click on the “+” sign
c.       Take a picture of the content pic
d.      When prompted for an overlay, choose a  Pokemon pic
7.       When students finish early, they can use their own device (with aurasma downloaded),or the classroom device to scan pictures around the classroom. When students scan an “aurasma-ed” content pic, the Pokemon you chose to use as an overlay will appear (the same sort of augmented reality is used in Pokemon Go).
8.       Students find the folder that matches the Pokemon they just found in the Pokemon Folder Place.
9.       Students do, complete, and turn in the anchor activity.
10.   Students get a sticker to put on the Pokemon Chart indicating they have “caught” that Pokemon.
11.   Students repeat the anchor activity until they have “caught them all”
12.   The first student to catch all the Pokemon wins a prize.

Not sure about what that whole "Aurasma" thing looks like? Read the picture captions below for more explanation!
Let's pretend I hung this pic of the Eiffel Tower in my classroom. 

I take picture of it using the Aurasma application. When prompted for an overlay (the app automatically does this), I add a picture of a Pokemon (for this example, I chose Pikachcu). 

When a student goes on a hunt, s/he clicks on that big purple button which opens a scanner. 

Student scan the classroom until they find an image that has been Aurasma-ed. When they find one, the overlay will appear. Here you can see Pikachu appearing when the student scanned the picture of the Eiffel tower. 

Here is what the overlay looks like when it is done fading in. 

Annnd, you got a great system for using Pokemon Go for enriching anchor activities. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Teaching the STEAM Arts Integration Medieval Castle Unit

I love medieval art and architecture. I also love to teach about medieval art and architecture. Since my first year as an educator, I have taught some version of a castle-building project. About three years ago, I started doing a STEAM version that involved aerial perspective, engineering, building catapults, and a siege tournament. I posted about it, and I still get lots of questions on it.  I taught the same unit last year (when I was a new teacher at a new school), and it wasn't as successful as in years past. Personally, I feel the success (or lack thereof) of the castle unit from last year was due to my lack of structure. I've reconfigured the entire unit, and am sharing with you. Please enjoy!

This unit is designed to build connections between science, math, history, and art. Students will learn about aerial perspective, simple machines, medieval war machines, and medieval architecture. In groups, students will synthesize what they learn to design, sketch, and build their own medieval castles using recycled materials. The culmination of the unit is a medieval siege tournament wherein students use their “Quick Build” catapults  to attack other castles. In order to survive the siege, students must build a strong castle, and a working medieval war machine.
Lessons Contained:
1. Quick Build: Catapult
2. Aerial Perspective
3. Medieval Architecture & Castle Design
4. Design Your Own Castle
5. Assemblage Castle Sculpture
6. Medieval Siege Tournament

Everything you need to complete the unit is contained in these two documents (include links to videos, handouts, and aerial perspective lesson plan). PPT is download-able. Once downloaded, you can edit it to add/delete as it suits you and your teaching style/needs. 
Click here for PDF download

These are contained on the guides above. . .But, in case you want to have another version of links, here ya go!
-Teacher Guide for Unit:
-Aerial Perspective Lesson Plan
-Handout “Castle Design”
-Handout “Siege Tournament”
-Handout “Tournament Score Sheet”
-Video “Levers & Fulcrum”
-Video “Bill Nye & Catapults”
-Video “Living in a Castle”
-Video “Tour Conway Castle”
-Video “Storming a Castle”
-Video “Mythbusters Trebuchet”
-Video “Trebuchet in Action”

Click here for PDF download

Click here for PDF download

Click here for PDF download