We talked to Principal Lynn Leslie about engaging students with Osmos, Makey Makeys & Little Bits
WHAT: Our goal was to introduce the students to new ways of learning and to introduce the idea of Makerspace in the Learning Commons. Specifically, we wanted to teach the students how to use the Osmo’s, Little Bits and Makey Makey’s in a responsible manner, have the students experiment with each of the new items and create something and increase math skills with the Osmo.
HOW: With the grant money, we purchased Osmos, Little Bits, Makey Makeys and IPads:
- Osmos/iPads are physical math/word manipulatives that link to an app on the IPad and allow student to get immediate feedback on their learning tasks (i.e. numbers, tangrams, letters, fractions, etc.)
- Little Bits are electronic pieces that allow students to create robotics related devices.
- Makey Makeys are devices that allow any material to become conductive and perform a task like game controllers, music composition etc.
- IPads, in addition to using them to interact with Osmos, are used to document the step by step documentation and reflection, as part of the challenge expectations.
WHY: The Osmo was introduced to the Grade 2 and 3 classes with much success. The students are very engaged in working together to solve equations with the Numbers software. Their excitement when a bubble bursts and they free a fish is over the top. After using it for a couple of weeks, their math skills have gotten sharper as they want to beat high scores.
The introduction of Little Bits and Makey Makeys to the Grade 4 and 5 students involved showing them what they were and how to use them. They were given a couple of classes to experiment with them. The students were then challenged to come up with a project using these items. In a group, the students had to come up with an idea, then research it, design it and build it. Some of the projects included: A Makey Makey Pac-man machine game, Little Bits monster car, Little Bits bubble machine, Dance Dance Revolution Makey Makey, Little Bits Bumper Ball and Water Music melody using Makey Makey.
- “I like the Makey Makey’s and the Little Bits because they are a little challenging but when finished, you feel accomplished.”- Jewel and Daniella, Grade 5 students
- “Both the Makey Makey and Little Bits in the Learning Commons are fun and I like that they are electronic.” – Tristan, Grade 5 student
- “You get to do epic things with Makey Makeys. You could play Pac-man and make controllers.” – Brooklyn, Grade 5 student
- “Osmo is epic. The Numbers game makes you smarter” – Randy, Grade 3 student
- “I love to use the Little Bits and Makey Makeys because they allow my students to create without any limitations. I love the idea that it connects to my Electricity and Magnetism unit and allows students to gain experience creating circuits through hands-on inquiry learning. I am excited that we have these resources in our school, because I believe that they really enhance our student’s learning.” – Grace Goudie, Grade 5 teacher
- “The technology involved in Makey Makey’s and Little Bits is so simple for kids to use and figure out, and the possibilities to build and create with them are endless! The students noted that you can create something that can actually be useful to you! Students really enjoyed how they could create something you wouldn’t necessarily expect, like building a piano out of a banana with Makey Makey’s. There is a strong curricular connection to Grade 4 as well with our Simple Machines unit and Building Devices and Vehicles that Move. Having more of these materials available to use would allow students more hands-on experience with building with technology for a purpose. Interactive hands-on learning is important for all students, but especially for our ELL population who tend to learn a lot by doing and experiencing. Technology is such a large component of our world and day to day life. Students need experience with using it in a positive and successful manner at a young age, in order to take those positive skills into their lives and the workforce when they are older. These simple, yet extraordinary technologies will foster creativity and possibility in students at a young age that can help instill an entrepreneurial spirit that they can take with them throughout their educational and professional journeys.” – Lindsay Anderson, Grade 4 teacher
- Our shift towards a Learning Commons environment over the past year has been slow and steady. The grant money allowed us to push full force into creating an environment of inquiry, imagination, problem solving and teamwork. I believe we have achieved one of the benefits as outlined by the Alberta Education ministry, “Learning Commons emphasize active and collaborative engagement and encourage the co-creation of knowledge by all learners”. The level of creativity and energy that is flowing through the room as the Grade 4 and 5 students work on their big projects using the Makey Makey’s and Little Bits is amazing. The Grade 2 and 3 students are so excited to play with the Osmos because they are working to beat high scores and advance levels; their math skills have increased because of this motivation.” – Kathy Conroy, Learning Commons Librarian
HOW THE CCEF HELPED:
The CCEF provided $3,950 in funding to purchase the new Makerspace items, which are positively impacting many students at this K-9 school.
Learn more about donating to the CCEF to help fund meaningful projects and school enhancements that positively impact Calgary Catholic students.
Don Bosco School – Artist in Residency Program and SMART Table
With the help of the Calgary Catholic Education Foundation (CCEF), Don Bosco School was able to participate in the Quest Theatre Artist in Residency program, and to purchase a SMART Table for use in the elementary observation classroom.
The curriculum enhancing theatrical program with Quest Theatre gave the students the opportunity to learn about the theatre and practice performing in front of an audience. The artists worked closely with students and teachers in order to integrate curriculum-based material into the plays. Each class from kindergarten to Grade 9 had the opportunity to work with a member of Quest Theatre to collaborate and prepare a creative story to perform on stage. The result was a school-wide production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
The students rehearsed daily and not only learned and developed new acting techniques, but also had the opportunity to learn more about the world around them, and to build community by participating in an activity involving all grade levels at the school. Parents were able to attend several performances of the play.
Don Bosco students and staff indicated this was a great opportunity for all the students at Don Bosco to learn new acting skills while having fun. Students also commented on the impact the experience had on the school, stating that the performance made everyone in the school feel like one big family.
CCEF also provided Don Bosco with funding to support the purchase of a SMART Table. Using the table with Grade 1 students has provided more visual and kinetic learning with math concepts. Teachers are able to save and reuse brainstorming notes and ideas for science and social studies. Students have also been able to write and interact through storytelling, which allows the class to learn and share together.
Funding from CCEF has had a meaningful impact on the education experience of students at Don Bosco School, providing exposure to theatre and performing arts as well as access to new technology to enhance learning
St. Gabriel the Archangel School – Enriching Education through Music and Technology
St. Gabriel the Archangel School received funding from the Calgary Catholic Education Foundation for a combination of equipment and resources to enrich the education experience of students using music and technology. The school received funding for a new piano, a digital double bass and a SMARTBoard to be used in sync with the school’s videoconferencing equipment.
St. Gabriel the Archangel students and teachers were immensely grateful for the new instruments, which are actively used in the music department and beyond. The school is able to provide enriched instruction through interactive software, inspiration for students with propensity towards fine arts, and musical accompaniment during celebrations. The piano and double bass are used by students and staff for concerts, talent shows, liturgies and music coaching.
One student expressed appreciation for the new double bass, stating, “It’s really neat for jazz music. I love the deep sound.”
The digital piano has also inspired students at the school. “It is the most inviting instrument for me. It is so versatile,” said one St. Gabriel student.
Teachers have been able to use the SMARTBoard to enrich learning activities in a classroom for Science, Math, and Religion students. Activities include experiment simulations, virtual manipulatives, and fluid work with various media. The SMARTBoard also allows teachers to more effectively generate study material straight from lessons, save the notes, and then place the material on D2L for students to reference.
These generous gifts have had a tremendous impact at St. Gabriel, and will continue to benefit students in years to come.
Father Lacombe High School – Senior Boys Basketball Trip to Saskatoon
With the generous support of the Calgary Catholic Education Foundation (CCEF), Father Lacombe High School was able to send its senior boys basketball team to Saskatoon to compete in a four day long tournament. This tournament was absolutely transforming for the basketball team. During the trip, the players came to understand the meaning of family, caring and trust through their interactions during the tournament. The experience gained during the tournament in turn helped students prepare for the 2011 Provincial Championships, in which they placed sixth in Alberta, putting Father Lacombe athletics on the map.
Father Lacombe is now considered to be a basketball powerhouse and has earned the respect of schools around the province. Furthermore, three students from Father Lacombe have had the tremendous opportunity to further their basketball careers in university. The chance to participate on sports teams is a tremendous opportunity and learning experience for all students.
Father Lacombe also received funding for new team uniforms. The school was able to purchase new uniforms for several teams at the school, including badminton, basketball, cross country, soccer, volleyball and wrestling. The new uniforms have had a strong impact on the students and athletes. It has positively impacted the players’ attitudes and confidence levels while participating in their sports. The student athletes are very proud to display their school’s colours and logo and represent the school with a new sense of pride. These uniforms have helped in building a strong school community where the students are eager and excited to represent their school.
John Paul II School – Literacy program
John Paul II School, with help of the Calgary Catholic Education Foundation, was able to implement a literacy program throughout the school called Literacy Place. This program gives teachers the resources to expose their students to a wealth of knowledge and print materials. These materials include both fiction and non-fiction books, stories, poems, and a wide range of different texts to help students on their reading and writing journeys. The literacy program has been a great help to the school, teachers and ultimately the students.
The literacy program has helped the students not only become better readers and writers, but also to instill a love of reading and writing. Students have had the chance to take part in numerous literacy exercises which they have found rewarding while still making reading fun. One student said, “I like literacy exercises, I have learned a lot of new words.”
The literacy program also helps teachers monitor and assess the reading progress of individual students through a focus on comprehension and word-solving strategies, discussion of a wide range of fiction and non-fiction topics, and enrichment of students’ oral language development. The program has given teachers the resources to create a safe and comfortable atmosphere where students are able to improve upon their literacy skills.
“Thanks to the use of the Literacy Program, I have been able to improve my set-up of a balanced literacy classroom,” said a teacher at John Paul II who has experienced the benefits of the program in the classroom. “The overall environment is now comfortable, inviting, easy to navigate, and flexible. Having a well-arranged classroom helps me to run my days more smoothly, enables me to maintain rules and routines more effectively, improves my management routines and gives my students appropriate workspaces, ensuring safety for everyone.”
Many teachers have seen improvements in their students’ reading and writing abilities and so have the students. John Paul II School is excited to continue using the Literacy Place program to improve the reading and writing abilities of their students setting them up for many successes in the future.
St. Patrick School – Artist in Residency
The Calgary Catholic Education Foundation makes it possible for students to participate in activities and learning experiences that they otherwise would not have the opportunity in which to take part. St. Patrick School was able to participate in the Artist in Residency program through CCEF funding. The residency program gave St. Patrick students the opportunity to work with an expert artist, Norene Procter, to learn to see the world around them and express themselves creatively through different art media.
The residency program involved all students at St. Patrick, as well as teachers. Students were given the opportunity to learn how to use different materials such as pencils, brushes and pastels. The students were also taught a variety of techniques such as pencil sketching, acrylic painting, and shading.
“I love learning about art. I liked learning to use materials like pencils, brushes and paint,” said one student. “My favorite art class is when we did pencil sketching. I liked it when we sketched the fruits and cups.”
Teachers also benefited from learning art techniques from Norene which they continue to use and implement in their art programs. For example, students write about their drawings, use their sketching skills to observe science, look for patterns in math, and environmental issues in social studies.
As a wrap up for the artist in residency program, parents and families were invited to view the final art gallery that the students put together. This was an exciting evening for students to showcase their artwork, as well as new techniques and skills acquired through the artist in residency program.
Working with Norene enriched the students’ art program and provided professional development for teachers that allowed them to learn new skills to implement in their daily classroom work, benefitting future students.