Monday, November 9, 2020

3rd Graders’ Excellent Adventure to the Ice Age: A Mashup of Research, 3D Design and Virtual Reality

 The end of the 19-20 school year and the beginning of 20-21


The last year has been so challenging. Starting in March my school went to full remote. Trying to limit screen time and thinking about social emotional needs of students and families, the decision was made to limit some of the classes including library and technology live teaching. I tried to make connections with teachers and students through videos and building and making project ideas for students to do at home as well as trying to make connections with what students’ home life might be like, suggesting walks and neighborhood scavenger hunts. We made it through the remainder of the school year. 


The summer was filled with anxiety and uncertainty about what it would look like if we were able to return to school in person or how to start the school year if we were not. My school made the decision in August to return in person but with strict social distancing guidelines. Classes would be split into two pods, each pod with a max 10 students, students would be in their desks spaced six feet apart, no shared materials or resources could be used. All of these limits presented so many challenges, especially for a teacher who focuses so much on collaboration, building and making. How could I make connections with teachers, curriculum and have students connect with each other and their work with all of these restrictions placed on how we could teach and students could learn? 


We are now moving into month three of the school year and it has not been perfect or even easy, it is not a way that I would choose to teach or work with students but we are surviving and I think the students are doing some really wonderful things, learning in different ways and we are still finding ways to allow for students to be creative and build.


Collaboration with Third Grade Teachers 


This year I am rotating between grades every three weeks to limit cross-contamination. Each week for three week I have three sessions with each pod. When it came time to work with my third graders, I wanted to do a project that connected something they were learning in their classroom with research and building, something we would have done in a normal school year. The building would need to be in a digital format or space because we would not be able to use all the materials and resources in our makerspace. I connected with the classroom teachers to find out what topics they were working on in their classrooms and thinking about possible projects to do with students. The third graders were learning about the Ice Age and what the area of Chicago and Illinois was like hundreds of thousands of years ago and how the land we live on, Lake Michigan and our space was formed. What if students learned about the environment and then had to design a time machine that would be able to travel around the Ice Age to document the Chicago of the past? And what if they had to create the Ice Age world as well? Third Graders’ Excellent Adventure to the Ice Age! (Collaborate School Library III.A.2 “Leading inquiry-based learning opportunities that enhance the information, media, visual, and technical literacies of all members of the school community.)


Research and Understanding: The Ice Age


Students were engaging with research and discussion about the Ice Age in their classroom work. In their library time I was going to continue to have them research about the Ice Age using the library’s online research resources. I created a Google slide deck with videos and links to National Geographic, Encyclopedia Britannica, and BrainPop. The slides had sections that students could edit to add their notes. The prompt that I gave students was to think about what the environment was like in the Ice Age, what animals lived during that time and what did they learn about the formation of Lake Michigan. Students spent time reading and listening to the articles, watching the videos and collecting their notes and information. They asked more questions about more types of animals that lived during the Ice Age and we did some whole class research to learn more about the animals and the distant cousins that still live today. (Collaborate Learner III.B.1”Using a variety of communication tools and resources.)











The Building Challenge: A Time Machine!


One thing that I always try to include in projects that I do with students is a building or making project with the research and information that they learned about, it is not just about collecting information, what is something new that you are going to make with that information. The challenge for third graders: based on what you learned about the environment of the Ice Age and the animals that lived at the time, design and build a time machine that could travel back to the Ice Age, travel around the world, and collect pictures and videos of the time period. (Collaborate Learner III.A.2 “Demonstrating their desire to broaden and deepen understandings.)


Students started sketching out their designs thinking about the land of the Ice Age. They took into account the glaciers, snow and ice, and changing format of the land as glaciers retreated and the Great Lakes were formed, as well as the animals they might encounter and the extreme cold of the time period. Next, I introduced how they were going to make their time machine, with the 3D design program Tinkercad. Tinkercad is an awesome online and app 3D design program that is great to use with students to make and create in 3D. Tinkercad can be a challenging app to work with and students need to think about shapes and space to design their projects. Third graders spent time looking at their design plans and thinking about how they could take the shapes and tools in Tinkercad and create their time machines. Even though students were at their individual desks and not able to work collaboratively, they still found ways to help each other. When a student was unsure how to make something or what shape to use, they mirrored their work up on the screen in the classroom and other students offered suggestions and ideas on how to make it work. Students were so creative with their designs and ideas, they built their machines to have space for the time travelers to collect samples, store supplies and clear roofs to observe the world around them. Their designs included unique ways to travel around the Ice Age including flying, giant tires to travel over ice and machines that could also go in water. (Collaborate Learner III.B.1”Using a variety of communication tools and resources.)









Challenge Part 2: An Excellent Ice Age Adventure! 


Now that students had their time machines, they needed to travel to the Ice Age. The next step was students recreating the Ice Age using the virtual and augmented reality website and app CoSpaces Edu. CoSpaces Edu is a great tool to use to introduce students to AR/VR applications and creation. In the site students are able to choose a 3D world, add objects and items from the CoSpaces library as well as upload 3D designs, images and videos. Another feature allows users to code items from the CoSpaces library to move, animate and talk. Students are able to use block code to add all these features to their worlds. Third graders were able to learn how to create in a new format with the AR/VR tools and continue to build on their coding skills using the block coding in the CoSpaces platform.


Third graders were given guidelines on what their worlds could include, they had to make sure it was accurate as possible. Students referred to their Ice Age research to think about what animals might be in their Ice Age world, water and what plants might be similar to what existed during the Ice Age. As students were adding 3D objects to their world, we talked about what animals might have been similar including the woolly rhino, a distant cousin of the deer, and the Giant Ground Sloth. We talked about how none of the people available in the CoSpaces library really fit in the world, but agreed that having the astronauts in the CoSpaces library could represent the time travelers to the Ice Age. (Collaborate Learner III.B.1”Using a variety of communication tools and resources.)






The third graders worked so hard to learn this new technology, they figured out how to design their worlds, offer help to their fellow classmates in their designs, and do more research to make sure what they were creating was as accurate as they could be with the tools available. Once everyone was done with their worlds, students had an opportunity to explore the Ice Ages of their classmates and the rest of the students in third grade. It was wonderful to see them offer compliments and ask their fellow classmates how they coded their items or designed their time machines. (Collaborate Leaner III.D.2 “Recognizing learning as a social responsibility.)





Overall this project was a great success. Students did a great job navigating research resources and recognizing when they needed new information as they were building their worlds and returned to do more research to complete their projects. They were beginning to understand that research is an ongoing process, a skill and mindset that I hope to continue to develop. Third graders also learned a new design tool in Tinkercad. The 3D design process can be frustrating and the students handled managing their struggles and finding a way to complete the project. They were also creative and embraced the challenge of learning how to design and build their own worlds in virtual reality. Students also continued to build their coding skills, taking the block coding they had learned in earlier years and learned new coding techniques and blocks in the CoSpaces platform. It was also wonderful to see students explore their fellow classmates’ world and give feedback and compliments on their work.





Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Kindergarten: Coding, MakeyMakey and a Field Trip around the Solar System

My kindergarten schedule is hard. I only see the students once a week for thirty minutes and that includes time for checkout. A couple of years ago we created something called Library Flex days in order to have some more time to do in-depth projects with the students. How flex works is each of the three kindergarten classes have a four week time when half the class comes on Monday afternoons for thirty minutes and the second half of the class comes on Wednesday afternoon. This allows us to do more hands on projects because of the smaller class size and gives me more time with the students to explore topics that they are interested in. Before each flex session I talked to the classroom teachers about what topics the students are interested in, what have they been exploring in the classroom and what areas to they think the students would love to explore more. Over the years we have done some fun projects about mazes, dinosaurs, clouds, coral reefs, peace and monarch butterflies. Flex time is a way to lead “inquiry-based learning opportunities that enhance the information, media, visual, and technical literacies of all members of the school community” (School Library III.A.2). This year one of the kindergarten classes is really into space. They did a huge project in their classroom about the moon, the moon landing and astronauts. In their library flex time we continued exploration of space by studying the planets in our solar system.

We started the project time with research and reading about the different planets in the solar system. We read the book “If Pluto was a Pea” by Gabrielle Prendergast. I really like this nonfiction book because it focuses on the different planets in the solar system and how much they vary in size. The book compares the planets to different objects that students will be familiar with, like Pluto is a pea and Jupiter is a beach ball. This helped the students to make connections with the significant differences in the planets. Next we used the library’s Merge Cubes to explore the solar system using augmented reality. The Merge cube is a really cool device that when you view it through an app on the ipad the objects pop out. SKers explored the solar system AR app with the Merge cube to learn more about the where planets are located in the solar system and how they all rotate around the sun. The solar system AR app also has information boxes to share facts about each of the planets. AR and the Merge Cube are new tools to share with learners and “[models] the use of a variety of communication tools and resources” (School Librarian III.B.1) by highlighting a new technology as a resource for finding information.

Students continued their research during the next session using the library’s PebbleGo database. PebbleGo is a research resource for younger students and is a wonderful entry point for online research.PebbleGo also has a ‘read to me’ function that allows younger students to be more independent information seekers.  SKers worked in small groups to research different planets and collect notes on their topic. Working in small groups to collect and discuss information is a way for learners to “[develop] new understandings through engagement in a learning group” (Learner III.A.2), students listened to the facts, talked to each other about what they learned and decided as a group what information was important to document.

The next session focused on building the planets! Students looked at their research and explored images of their planets and then worked together to build the planets using round paper lanterns and tissue paper. They also used pipe cleaners to add rings and foam balls and wire to include the moons for the different planets. The sun group learned about the solar flares on the giant star and used lots of tissue paper to add flare! The learners were focused on “establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge,”(Learner III.B.2) kindergarteners worked together to make connections with the research they had done and then collaborate to create their own models of the planets that reflected their understanding.

The final step was creating an interactive map with MakeyMakey and Scratch coding! The map was created based on a Instructables project shared by Makerspace Librarian Colleen Graves. I follow Colleen on twitter and have gotten so many ideas and so much inspiration from her. Twitter can be a wonderful professional development resource for librarians! Sharing that ideas were sparked from social media interactions is a great way to “[demonstrate and reinforce] that information is a shared resource.” (School Library III.D.2)

The map included conductive tape, wires, MakeyMakey and students holding hands to complete the circuit to make music and voice recordings play. We created the map using the instructions from Graves and made adjustments to create a path that followed the order of the planets from farthest to closest to the sun. Next students recorded facts they learned about the planets and the recordings were uploaded to Scratch coding and connected to the different inputs on the MakeyMakey. When two students walked on the conductive tape while holding hands space inspired music played, at each planet there is a copper footprint, the student on the yellow path stepped off the conductive tape onto the copper footprint, this triggered the input to play the voice recording sharing facts that students recorded about each planet. All of the planets were put in place on the map, the wires connected, the sun hung up and the final touch the Colonel Francis W. Parker, the founder of our school, put on a spacesuit, ready to explore the solar system!




The students were ready to share! The final day students paired up to explore the solar system map they created, walking the path and completing the circuits to learn more about the solar system. While groups were exploring the interactive map, other students used the library’s virtual reality Google Expeditions goggles to explore the solar system in an immersive 3D field trip. It was a great trip to outer space! The interactive map is up in the library so students can bring their families to share and students in other grades can see this cool project.





This project was so much fun for the students and for me! I loved trying out a new project inspired by my twitter PLN, learning some new tech tools and skills when I was building the interactive map and being able to share this project with students and the larger school community. My students learned so much about the solar system, used some really cool research and building tools and worked together on a really, really amazing visible interactive map.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Junior Kindergarten: fairy tales, non-fiction, & collaboration

During the junior kindergarten (preschool) classes in the library one of the focuses is on early literacy and understanding elements of a story. In the past, I have read different fairy tale stories that the student might be familiar with, Red Riding Hood, 3 Little Pigs, etc, and then talked about the beginning, middle and end of the story, as well as the characters and the setting. This year, I was thinking of making some more connections with some of the other resources in the library and with a student building project. My students have been asking to do a building project for a couple of weeks. I planned a project that included fairy tales, building the setting and nonfiction research with the library’s PebbleGo database and all ending with a dramatic robot retelling of the stories!

The project started with each of the three classes reading a different version of a fairy tale. The first class was the “Three Little Gators” by Helen Ketteman. I started the lesson by asking students if they have heard the story of the three little pigs. They started sharing the story, most remembered all the elements. I then introduced the three little gators, I showed them the cover and asked what they thought would be the same as the three little pigs. Students shared that the gators were the same as the pigs and they predicted that the gators would build houses. Then I asked what they thought the setting of the story was, I explained that the setting was the background, where the story took place. I asked if anyone knew where gators lived, several students said a swamp and then made the connection that the setting of this story would be in a swamp. Before I started the story I asked students to think about what happens in the beginning, middle and the end of the story and to also think about who the characters are in the story. We read the very funny story and then I documented what the junior kindergarteners said about the events that happened in the different parts of the story and the main characters of the three gators and the big bottomed boor.


I followed the same discussion and process for the next two classes. I have all three of my junior kindergarten (JK)  classes in a row on the same day. The next class read the story “Pretty Salma” by Niki Daly, a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood set in the grasslands in South Africa and the final class read “The Three Snow Bears” by Jan Brett, a Goldilocks story set in the arctic. This process focused on students making deeper connections with stories they had heard before and seeing the similarities and differences in different versions in the story. This is a way for students to “demonstrate their desire to broaden and deepen understandings” (Learner III.A.1).

The next library session, students started with sharing what they remember about the beginning, middle and end of the story, the characters and the setting. I told the JKers that we would be learning more about the setting of our stories. We used a great online database we subscribe to PebbleGo. PebbleGo is a great introduction to online resources for students. The interface is very accessible, the layout of the articles are easy to navigate and the information is presented in digestible bites for young students. PebbleGo also has a “read to me” function making it a great resource for students to navigate independently. Students were divided up into small groups and worked with a teacher to listen to the article about the setting of their stories, wetlands, grasslands and tundra. As the students listened to the articles, the teachers collected the facts students learned about the ecosystem. We also looked at images of the different areas and students documented what they saw in the pictures, what they noticed about the trees, ground, the water, etc. I explained to the students that this research was going to be important for the building project. This was a way for students to “use a variety of communication tools and resources” (Learner III.B.1), junior kindergarteners made connections with the images in the book, facts from PebbleGo and pictures of the ecosystems to find the information they needed to be able to build their own settings.

Building was the next session. Students were reminded about the story we read and the research they did on the ecosystem where the book was set. The junior kindergarteners were put into small groups of about five students. Each group was given a large section of cardboard to build on and at each table there was a collection of different materials to build wetlands, grasslands and a tundra. For the wetlands there was lots of green moss, rocks, blue table clothes for water, different green papers and small plastic animals including snakes and alligators. The grasslands had lots of different types of grasses and rocks, orange, yellow papers and zebras and giraffes. The tundra had white paper and boxes, blue paper for water and white foam craft balls to build snow drifts, as well as penguins and polar bears. Students worked together to plan out their space, make connections with what they learned about the different ecosystems and use the materials in creative ways to build the settings for the stories. During this part of the project, junior kindergarteners “established connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge” (Learner III.B.2). Students talked and collaborated with each other to use the different materials to build their setting based on what they learned about the setting and ecosystem and making connections with classmates’ understanding about the ecosystem. They were also “actively contributing to group discussions” (Learner III.D.1). Throughout the building process junior kindergarteners were talking to each other, making decisions about what materials to use and how to build with them, they discussed and negotiated how to collaborate on their setting.

The final library session for this project was the dramatic robot retelling! We set all the boards created by the junior kindergarteners in a row. Students all sat on one side of the boards. We decorated some of the library’s Dash robots with pictures of the characters. Then we shared a whole class dramatic retelling of the stories, the robots moved around the setting that JKers built, while students chimed in at different points to share the beginning, middle and end of the story.


This project was a big hit. It was a great way to combine early literacy skills to help students understand story structures, introduce online databases and nonfiction. This was also a way for students to engage in creative building. They were given the opportunity to take a variety of materials and creatively use them to make build the setting for the books based on their fiction and nonfiction research. Students also collaborated during the whole school discussion, small group research and small group building. The whole project ended with a fun way to add the robots into another project with junior kindergarteners.

Friday, January 31, 2020

Pinball Machines: Making, Storytelling & Collaboration

I am always looking for ways to do collaborative projects with the older elementary classes. The packed curriculum and set projects have made it a challenge in the past. Last year we were able to find time to design a cool project that incorporated storytelling, design, maker technologies and games. This is the second year of the fifth grade Pinball Machine Project and it has become one of my favorites!

The fifth graders at my school go on a fall camping trip for a week. For many of the students this is one of their first experiences away from their families for several days, outside for a long stretch of time and sharing cabin spaces. There are several goals for this trip that incorporate the science, art, writing curriculum and the theme of challenges is woven throughout. Students spend time preparing for the trip reading different stories and journaling about overcoming challenges and how we can grow when we push ourselves to try something new. During the trip, students spend time journaling about their experiences and collecting their thoughts.

The connections with overcoming challenges, experiencing something new, and going on a journey, fit well with storytelling. This sparked an idea of connecting storytelling with developing a student project that connected these ideas with collaboration, making and building. These lead to students making pinball machines!

The project started with students learning more about pinball machines. We looked at the history of the games and how they have evolved over time. We explored websites about pinball machines and watched videos of some of the earliest pinball machines all the way up to the electronic, complex games of today. Students focused on how the pinball board helped to tell a story. We looked at the bumpers, ramps and lights as well as the illustrations and images on the boards. Students talked about how the goal of the game is to keep the marble on the board, hitting targets and making difficult moves to gain more points and overcome challenges.

We were able to purchase the Pinbox 3000 cardboard pinball machine kits. These kits have all of the pieces needed to build the base of a working pinball machine. The machines are all made of cardboard and all the pieces can be assembled without the use of tools. This was a perfect project kit for students to use. They built the base models following the printed and video instructions provide by Pinbox 3000.

Next, students thought about their challenge, how to design a pinball game that told the story of their camping trip. First, they wrote out the story of their trip, thinking about their experiences and challenges. Students reviewed their journals and brainstormed words to describe the trip. Then they were paired up with other students to talk about their stories and share their reflections. The groups started to sketch out the pinball game board, incorporating ideas from all the members of the group. Once they had a design sketch of their game board, students  planned the materials they would use for the design. They used cardboard for different ramps and pieces, model magic, paint, cotton balls, and ramps. Students were also able to design and cut pieces using the library’s laser cutter and 3D print objects with the 3D printers in the makerspace. Fifth graders were creative in their use of makey makey and scratch coding to add cool features like sound and electronic point boards.


Throughout the building process, students tested their machines and asked other groups to test their designs to get feedback. Groups made changes and adjustments based on the feedback they received from their classmates to make their games more challenging or better illustrate their stories and ideas.




The final step was a pinball arcade in the library. All of the machines from all three classes were out on display in the library and the whole grade took turns going around the space and playing the pinball machines and sharing what they like about each game and sharing ideas for additions to the games.




I really enjoy this project for a couple of reasons. There is a lot of collaboration throughout the project, students need to work together to build the machine, following the instructions and make sure everything is in the right place to ensure the machine works and then again when they needed to collaborate to design and build the game board based on shared experiences on the camping trip. Students had an opportunity to think in a different way about storytelling and making their thinking visible. They had to think about bumpers, barriers, ramps and materials that shared the camping trip and also made a challenging and exciting pinball game. Students were able to use different materials and be creative about using the laser cutter, 3D printers and coding. There was a lot of giving feedback to fellow students about their games and also receiving feedback and being able to make changes and adjustments based on suggestions from their classmates. Finally, pinball machines are so much fun! Students were engaged and excited about the project and the machines!

Monday, December 16, 2019

Conversations, Collaboration and Cookie Cutters

There is a lot going on in a school, finding time to sit with fellow educators and plan is not easy. Trying to meet sometimes feels like trying to make all the pieces in the game of Tetris fit. Finding time to co-plan lessons and collaborate with classroom teachers can be hard, but sometimes the quick conversations you have in the hallway or before a meeting starts can lead to a cool, connected project! These short conversations are a great opportunity to “[partner] with other educators to scaffold learning…” (School Library III.A.1). The conversation can spark ideas for a partnership, a collaborative project, or topic shared in the classroom and the library.

I was looking for something to do in the few short weeks before the winter break in December. It is always an awkward time because it is not enough time to do a deeper dive project but I still want the work the learners are doing to be meaningful and engaging. My second graders love to do projects and we had not done anything with 3D printing yet this year, so I was brainstorming some 3D printing project ideas. I was talking to a second grade teacher and she mentioned a cookie making project her students do with the chef in the cafeteria. Making connections with the math lessons, students would be measuring different amounts of ingredients and then baking cookies. This was a lightbulb, what if the students designed and 3D printed cookie cutters that they could use in their math lesson!

This project connected some of my school library curriculum goals to continue to advance learners’ design and 3D skills, connected to the math curriculum in the classroom and was a fun project for second graders to take home and share with their families.

I started the project by reading the very funny book “The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?” by Mo Willems. The pigeon books are favorites in my library and always lead to lots of laughter. I then shared a story of purchasing some cookies for a Thanksgiving dinner I was attending. I talked about how the cookies were shaped like turkeys, pumpkins, and pumpkin pie slices. Second graders shared different cookie cutter shapes they had seen. The whole class did a Google search to find images of different cookie shapes. I also brought a couple of cookie cutters to school for the students to look at and get ideas for different shapes and to explore the design of the cookie cutters.


The next step was planning and designing. Students drew pictures of the items they wanted to make into a cookie cutter, everything from snowmen, to soccer jerseys and flowers to pizza slices. Second graders added all the details to their pictures. I then had them take a black marker and just outline the outside of their drawing. With the outlining, students were able to see the shape of their cookie cutter.

During the next library class, I introduced the Morphi app. Morphi is a great 3D design app. I really like to use this with my younger students because the app is very user friendly and students are able to use the 2D to 3D feature. Second graders used the 2D to 3D feature to draw the outline of their cookie cutter design, then with the press of a button, the app converts their 2D drawings into 3D designs ready to be printed. The Morphi app was a new tool for my students, introducing the app was a way to “[lead] inquiry-based learning opportunities that enhance the information, media, visual and technical literacies of all members of the school community” (School Library III.A.2). Learners were introduced to a new technology tool, building on previous knowledge, and growing their skills with apps and technology.





Over the next couple days, we printed the cookie cutters using the library’s 3D Makerbot printers. The finished cookie cutters were passed out to each student to use in their math lesson and then students were able to take their projects home.



This was such a fun project! My second graders were so excited to design their own personal cookie cutters and learn a new 3D design skill. They were also thrilled to be able to use their cookie cutters in their math less and then take their cookie cutters home and share them with their families. I was happy to engage in a meaningful project that helped me reach some of my library curricular goals and find a way to collaborate with a fellow educator to help with a lesson in their math curriculum. All around the project was an awesome way to spend the couple of classes before the winter break!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Riding Freedom: Literacy & VR Make a Good Pair

A fellow educator stopped by the library to talk about her class’s book study. The fourth graders read the book “Riding Freedom” by Pam Munoz Ryan. She was looking for a project to do with her students that connected making or designing something that expressed their learning and understanding of the major events of the story. We talked about what she was thinking and some of the connections that could be made with the character’s journey in the book and some of the geography study that the students were doing. The library has been using virtual reality and have a subscription to CoSpaces, an online coding program, that allows students to design and build their own virtual reality worlds. This impromptu conversation lead to a collaborative project that connected literacy and new technologies. This quick on the fly conversation is another example of how school librarians can "[partner] with other educators to scaffold learning and organize learner groups to broaden and deepen understanding" (School Library III.A.1). Collaboration does not need to happen in pre-scheduled professional development or set planning times, sometimes a quick conversation sharing ideas and a couple of follow up emails is all that is needed.


The first step was introducing the project to the students. We talked about the setting, beginning, middle and end of the story. Then we talked about important events that happen for the main character Charlotte Parkhurst. Charlotte loses her parents at a young age and is sent to an orphanage, she later escapes the home, dresses as a boy, travels across the continent and ends up becoming a famous stagecoach driver. Students were put into collaborative pairs. They talked with their partners and brainstormed five to six major events in the story. Then they talked about what an important artifact would be for each event. Groups documented their ideas on their planning sheet, the sheet listed the major event, when it occurred in the book, the geographic location, the artifact idea and how the artifact illustrated the event. Learners were "actively contributing to group discussions" (Learner III.D.1) and "establishing connections with other learners to build on their own prior knowledge and create new knowledge" (Learner III.B.2) as they were sharing and planning their virtual worlds.




Next, we introduced CoSpaces. In CoSpaces, students are able to work in a shared space. They are able to upload images, video, 3D objects and use items from the CoSpaces library to create a 3D dimensional world. The objects from the CoSpaces library are codable. Students are able to use simple drag and drop coding to add movement and sound to the objects. Fourth graders were able to add text to explain their objects and the connections to the story. CoSpaces was a new tool students were learning to be able to share their understanding. This was a way to have learners "use a variety of communication tools and resources" (Learner III.B.1)

Then, students started creating. They all used the same map as the “floor” of their VR space. Each member of the group was able to be in the same space. Students talked to their group members and decided who would focus on what event. Then students started building. They looked for images that would fit with the different events, some used Tinkercad to design 3D objects to upload into CoSpaces. Some used the items in the CoSpaces library and added coding options to add motion to their objects. Students talked through challenges when they were not able to find the exact object they were looking for, struggled with coding or needed help with 3D design. They also used the library’s Oculus Go headsets to “step into” their VR world and see what viewers would experience and made changes and adjustments. (Note: VR headsets are not necessary to use CoSpaces, students can explore and view the world on the website).Students even had other groups check their worlds and give feedback on the experience and made changes based on that feedback. By engaging in this process, students were expanding their ability to "[solicit and respond] to feedback from others" (Learner III.C.1).






The final step was a whole class share out. Each group had their world on one of the Oculus Go headsets and students went to different stations to experience the worlds created by their classmates. There were lots of “oohs and aahs” as fourth graders put on the VR headsets and navigated around the worlds created by their classmates.




There were a lot of aspects of this project that I really loved! One, I loved that a 15 minute conversation lead to a collaborative project that integrated literacy, design and technology. Two, I really loved to see the students engage in creation with new materials. We have used virtual reality as a passive experience, to view material that someone else had already created. It was wonderful to find a way for students to be able to create in this new medium. Finally, I love when areas merge together to create an opportunity for students to be collaborative with each other and develop those skills and to work and support each other. I am excited to see how this technology evolves and new opportunities for students to be creators.