Monday, December 14, 2015

Hour of Code Happenings

On Friday, December 11th we had a couple of exciting events in the Design Tech classroom.
Approximately 20 middle school students set up their games created in Scratch and Unity with a variety of handmade game controllers.  Three classrooms of third and fourth grade students visited the classroom and sampled the games.  It was a great way to show the younger students how to take coding to the next level.  We also had about 20 guests from VITA-Learn Northwest visit.  They were very excited to take back what they learned to their own schools.

For the afternoon, we had a live Google Hangout with Marguerite Dibble of Game Theory.  She graduated from Champlain College in 2012 with a degree in Game Art and Animation. As CEO of Game Theory, a company she founded, she produces games, apps and engagement strategies focused on making learning fun.  A dozen middle school girls from WCS joined the conversation and asked Marguerite some great questions!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Plan B=Low Tech

Happy Monday morning!  I arrived to school to find we had no internet service this morning.  With five new classes, my plan had been to get everyone in our Google Classroom and kick off our vinyl projects.  I think they enjoyed Plan B...index card towers!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Game Controller Progress

This group made great progress on their tabletop game controller today.  Materials used: Recycled Styrofoam packaging, playdough, dish scrubbers, alligator clips, and a Makey Makey!

Friday, November 6, 2015

Vinyl Cutting

Check out what we have been doing with the vinyl cutter in Design & Technology!

Saturday, October 24, 2015

VT Tech Jam

On Friday, October 23rd I took a group of six students along with our school librarian, Ellen Arapakos, to Vermont Tech Jam as part of the VT Agency of Education's STEM Showcase  Although they were a bit nervous to present their projects to a large audience, the students did a fantastic job sharing their work and representing Williston Central School.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Shop Curtain

We ordered a custom shop curtain over the summer and it finally arrived a couple weeks ago.  The students had a long weekend so our awesome maintenance crew was able to install the curtain last week.  We now have our woodshop sectioned off to prevent dust from getting into the "high tech" area of the classroom!

Monday, October 5, 2015


Today was awesome.  The Scratch/Makey Makey project we have been working on has been a perfect MAKER project.  As students finished up projects today we had all of this happening at once:
  • soldering
  • programming
  • vinyl cutting
  • sewing on the sewing machine
  • sewing by hand
  • building with playdough
  • constructing with cardboard and paper
  • hot gluing
  • painting
  • connecting circuits with alligator clips and wires
AND lots of problem solving, designing, redoing, collaborating.  What a great morning!

AND I was running around and didn't have a chance to take any pictures...

Monday, September 28, 2015


It was an exciting day in Design & Technology today!  the students started working in small groups to create games in Scratch and controllers with Makey Makeys.  Here are some of the things they created:
  • One 8th grade girl successfully made a mouse with playdough using the back of the Makey Makey board
  • one 7th grader made a "joystick" type controller out of has playdough underneath to sense direction.
  • One group is making a dance game to Watch Me (whip/ nae nae)

Friday, September 25, 2015

MaKey MaKey experiments

My middle school classes are having fun learning about MaKey MaKey this week.  Today they experimented with different objects to find out which ones were conductive.  Next week they will start building their game controllers using the MaKey MaKeys!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

While I was out... awesome sub, Stephanie Bliss, created hovercrafts with the students.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A motor, an LED, some batteries, and a few craft supplies...what can you make?

We took a break from our vinyl projects today for a quick design challenge.  It was fun to watch the middle school students work in small groups on their creations.  I was surprised by the varying levels of knowledge and comfort with the materials.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Getting Started with Vinyl

Last week I introduced the middle schoolers to vector graphics.  We talked a lot about the difference between vector and raster files and uses for each.  After I thought that they had a good understanding of why we use vector graphics for vinyl cutting, I invited them to design their first piece.  Students were paired up and asked to create a piece in Google Drawing that included both partners' names and an image.  They needed to save it as an .svg and then convert it to an .ai file to use in CutStudio (the program that came with the Roland vinyl cutter).
Working on a shared document worked well because they had individual ownership: their name, font choice, etc, but were able to work together and give each other feedback.
The biggest issues we had were:

  • converting files to .ai
  • saving to USB
  • formatting problems when opening files in CutStudio
  • weeding
In the end, all were able to complete the assignment in a few sessions.

Friday, August 28, 2015

First Week

I had a great first week.  The kids were terrific and my colleagues were supportive.  There were many "Is this the same room?" reactions.  I am exhausted, but I can't wait to do it all agin next week.  Here are some highlights:
I borrowed Kevin's idea and played this video as each new class entered the room:

For the first day, I went over our syllabus and gave them a tour of the new space.  I also asked them to  share some of what they had been doing in Tech Ed for the past few years (this is the 8th graders sixth year in the class).  We talked about new ideas for the class and about things we'd like to keep the same.
Next week I plan to jump right into teaching about vector graphics and the vinyl cutter, but I wanted to start off with some activities to see how they worked together.  Each group did the Cup Pyramid Challenge and then spent a couple days designing pom pom launchers.  


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Before & After...First Day of School Tomorrow

I'm feeling ready for tomorrow!  Still lots of work to do, but the space has come a long way!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Tables Complete

Today my father and my husband joined me in the classroom and we were able to build the two tables and a few bookshelves.  I think they came out pretty well...just need another coat of Polyurethane tomorrow.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Table Plans

The parts are in so I will be building a couple new tables this weekend.  I got a couple butcher block tabletops from IKEA and some bench legs from Amazon.  The plan is to screw the bench legs on and connect another piece of wood to stabilize the legs:

I also made my first vinyl decoration today...a little quote for the cabinet:

My husband doesn't think the kids will appreciate this poster: