Teacher Feature & Student Showcase: Robot Rally at MDHS

I had the pleasure of attending a Robotics Challenge hosted by Michelle McDonald and her students at MDHS last week. Kids spent the day coding robots and participating in a series of obstacle course challenges. You could feel the excitement and the buzz in the air as students collaborated to solve problems, applied critical thinking skills and strategies, and persevered to achieve their goals. Here’s what a few competitors had to say…

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I asked Michelle to share her experience…

In the fall, my grade 8 class worked in groups to built and code Lego EV3 robots.  As a culminating activity, the students designed a Robot Olympics.  Each group designed a creative challenge, organized materials, and figured out how they were going to run and score the challenge.  The Robots Olympics were a great success!  The students not only learned how to code a robot, but they also learned how to problem solve their part in running this event.
20170424-144639.jpgAfter the Robotics Olympics, several of my students continued working on coding the robots and attended D&D Automation’s Battle of the Bots.  While at the event, my students thought that they would be able to run a robotics competition for other teams at our school.  When we got back to school, the students went directly to the office to ask if this could happen, and happily, we were encouraged start planning!  We introduced the idea to the rest of the class, and they were excited to get started.  The class worked together to plan which events to include, what to call the event, and how to schedule the event.  We started organizing by thinking about all the jobs that needed to be done to organize this event successfully, and students dove into organizing their part of the event.  These jobs included making challenge boards, creating score charts, calculating how much pizza was needed, designing t-shirts, and making signs and posters.  My class has been working all year to fundraise for the Right to Play PLAY programme, and they decided to sell treats at the Robot Rally, so this became part of the event organization.
On the day of the event, several students arrived at school before 8am to set up the challenges, tables and chairs, and to hang directional posters around the school.  When the teams arrived, they were greeted at the doors my my students and the rest of my class were at their stations and answered any questions.  Two of my students were MCs for the event and the rest of the class judged the challenges, did the scorekeeping and answered questions at the information desk.  Thanks to the planning done before the event, the Robot Rally ran very smoothly!  Robots were following lines, going through a maze, identifying colours, and sumo wresting.  It was exciting to see all the teams in their school jerseys excitedly showing off the results of all the coding they had done at school in preparation for the event.

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At the end of the Robot Rally, when all the teams left, my students returned to the classroom and were very proud of the event that they had coordinated.  I don’t think they realized the magnitude of what they had just done!  They didn’t just organize this event, they worked through all the issues and questions that came up at their stations and were completely engaged all day.  My students even cleaned up and packed up at the end of the day without a lot of direction.  I am very proud of the students in my class for organizing an event that allowed so many students from all over our board the opportunity to work collaboratively on their coding and problem solving skills!

If you are interested in integrating coding into your classroom program, but don’t know where, or how to start, please contact me! #EveryoneCanCode

Watch the World Festival of Children’s Theatre Live!

WFCT_kids dancing

For the first time in North America, 300 children from 6 continents and 22 countries will flood Stratford, Ontario for the 14th World Festival of Children’s Theatre (WFCT). The WFCT is one-of-a-kind event that brings the world’s children together to share each other’s stories and culture through theatre. This year’s theme is “My World, Our Planet” and performances will take place from June 5th-14th, 2016.

Ensuring that as many students as possible are a part of this global experience, the Digital Human Library (dHL), the Foundation for Education Perth Huron and the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) will be live streaming the Festival performances daily at 1PM EST. To watch the performances, simply visit the Digital Human Library (dHL), the Foundation for Education Perth Huron or the Avon Maitland District School Board (AMDSB) website to tune in!WFCT MASTER SCHEDULE FINAL-page-0

“The festival is for children, by children,” says Ron Dodson, the Festival’s Artistic Director. “Its varied performances will give us a window on how children see their world and we know that they will inspire and challenge theatregoers with their fresh and thoughtful perspectives.”

Traditionally, each country’s festival reflects its own culture, and allows its children to show each other how they work in theatre, and to share both their ideas and their views of the world.

More information about the Festival, including the full calendar of performances and information about purchasing tickets if you’re in the area, can be found on the World Festival of Children’s Theatre website, and the WFCT Facebook page

Tweetables (Please help spread the word!)

#WFCT takes the stage from June 5-14 in Stratford ON. Performances will be live streamed on digitalhumanlibrary.com weekdays at 1PM EST #CanEdu

On June 5, 226 young theatrical artists take part in the 14th World Festival of Children’s Theatre. Watch live: digitalhumanlibrary.com RT

World Festival Children’s Theatre -by kids for kids- begins June 5th! Watch perfomances live streamed here: digitalhumanlibrary.com #CanEdu

#WFCT showcases the future of theatre w/ performers from 16 countries & five continents. Watch here 05/06/2016: digitalhumanlibrary.com RT

World Festival Children’s Theatre is a 10day festival w/ performances from around the world. Learn more/ watch live: bit.ly/WFCT_dHL #CanEdu

#WFCT brings the world’s young people together to share each other’s stories & culture through theatre bit.ly/WFCT_dHL #CanEdu RT!

Leigh Cassell
WFCT Community Education Committee
Founder, Digital Human Library

Student Showcase BCE: App-Smashing to Create a Video

I was working at Blue Water Coast with a group of grade 5/6 students who are creating a movie for the holidays – but this isn’t just any movie! It involves a lot of creativity and app-smashing. Not familiar with the term? (me neither!) App-smashing is the process of using multiple apps to create a project or complete a task. Denver and Ryan are leading this movie making project with contributions from most students in the class. Their goal is to use multiple apps to recreate the video that inspired them just a few short days ago:

Canadiens Players Get Together to Sing “Let it Go”


During a conversation with Denver and Ryan, we worked through all of the steps and apps they would need to use in order to re-create this holiday video (I should make it clear that these 2 grade 5/6 boys identified everything they needed to do to pull this off themselves):

1. Film video clips of each student singing one or two lines from Frozen using a green screen and the Camera app.

2. Locate and download the Frozen audio file from iTunes or YouTube (no lyrics) and save it to the iPad.

3. Use iMovie to create a movie using all of the video clips. Include transitions.

4. Add the audio file to the iMovie and match the video clips of each student singing to each bar of music from Frozen (we discussed that this may be a BIG editing project – timing is everything!)

5. Locate and download a YouTube video to use as a background. Save it to the iPad. (See instructions here)

6. Upload the iMovie and YouTube video background into Green Screen by Do Ink to create the final video.

6. Publish the video to YouTube and share on the class blog, student blogs, and via Twitter.

Where I was able to provide assistance was figuring out how to download YouTube videos and save them to the iPad. So I wrote a blog post about how to do this and shared it with Denver and Brad so they had the instructions. And I’ve shared them here for you as well: How to Download a YouTube Video to your iPad

After my conversation with Denver and Ryan about the “how”, I asked them to document and share their work from start to finish to showcase the process they followed to create their video. Why is this important? From a teacher’s point of view, I have a documented record of the process, and product which better informs my assessment. From a student’s point of view, it’s motivating to reflect back on the work from the initial stages, and compare it to the finished product. Kids see their accomplishments and growth – it’s rewarding. From a parent’s point of view, I can see what my child is working on at school and this information informs the conversations we have outside of school about learning. If we consider the benefits for the wider blogging community as a whole, providing our audience with access to information about “how” a project or task was created, gives others access to information they can use to better understand, and appreciate the skills required to complete the work, and of course, create – or re-create the work in a similar way themselves, or create something uniquely their own. One simple act of sharing benefits so many in so many ways . . .

Grade 5/6 Spoof on Canadiens “Let it Go“:

So what will these two creative minds do with that documentation? Last we talked there were creating a documentary which I will share as soon as it’s been published! Stay tuned . . .

How are your students documenting their learning to showcase their awesomeness? Share you stories here, and be sure to show your students that AMDSB is reading all about the Husky Howlers!!!