Maker Kit Lesson #2 UDL

Part #1: This week we spent a significant amount of time learning about Universal Design. After we read the UDL guidelines and explored free tools online, we used what we learned to modify our  original Maker Kit Lesson Plan to include elements that support the UDL framework . The revision process entailed focusing on how I could minimize barriers and maximize learning by implementing multiple methods of representation, expression and engagement in terms of what I wanted my students to learn and care about. Embedded you will find my modified lesson plan. To see what changes were made, check out my original lesson plan and read my reflection underneath the document below.

Part #2: Reflection

After reading the UDL Guidelines published by CAST Center, I felt slightly overwhelmed by all of the details. For each of the three principals there were several guidelines and within those guidelines there were several checkpoints with various implementation examples. However, after analyzing my notes and original lesson plan, I found that I had actually included several of the UDL components in the activities I originally planned; I just hadn’t specifically stated them as supports. I was surprised to find I could show evidence for at least two of the teacher implementation examples on most guidelines. With that said, UDL is intended to increase access to learning for all students by reducing physical, cognitive, intellectual, and organizational barriers, and although I am confident I provided options and supports, I did realize that I hadn’t considered all learners while planning. I left out supports for HI students, CI students, and ELL students. So, the goal for my lesson plan rewrite is twofold: to go back and add specific details regarding the options and supports that I already have in place and to implement tools and supports for students who are CI, HI, and/or ELL (because I teach students with those specific impairments I am choosing to focus on them).  Moreover, I believe that the changes made for those specific impairments will actually help students without disabilities as well, kind of like how wheelchair ramps also service individuals with strollers or luggage.

My lesson plan is A LOT more detailed and looks different in format. I started by downloading the UDL lesson plan format and copied what I had from my original lesson plan into their design. I added a few boxes to their design that they didn’t have because I felt they were important components and the UDL Guidelines did stress the importance of short and long term goals, which is why I added a box that shows what they learned, what they are currently going to learn, and what they will learn in the future. I also added a box for materials because it is a cooperative learning lesson and the materials were improved to provide supports that would remove barriers, such as headphones for text-to-speech. Aside from that, my lesson plan is true to their format. I really believe this helped me refocus my planning and re-writing because I had to consider what background knowledge my students should have and how I could help them make connections.

In my original lesson I planned for an exploratory cooperative learning lesson & as explained in my original post, the content actually allows for students to learn in way that it makes sense to them.  Moreover, by focusing on constructivism and choice theory, I found that my original lesson actually covered most of the 3 principals in the UDL guidelines. By paying close attention to the teacher implementation examples for each guideline I naturally began to consider small details that I may have left out, such as print documents for all auditory components I use or visuals to support vocabulary and/or instructions. By exploring online resources and reading about UDL before rewriting my lesson, I was able to easily identify barriers that existed in my original plans and I had a better handle on the supports available to remove those barriers. If you read through my new lesson, you will see I added a ton of support for hearing impaired students, ELL, and students who are cognitively impaired. I used the ideas I learned about on the free resources page we explored. Read my tweet!!

In terms of multiple means of representation, the goal of my lesson is to learn how to write a two-column proof, so there isn’t much autonomy in the structure of their written proofs. However, as I stated in my original post, the path that each learner takes to complete the proof is NOT linear. There are choices each step of the way…that is the beauty in mathematical proof. With that said, to help learners understand that there is not one right method to write a proof, even if it regards the same exact visual element, I added the “driving directions” analogy to my lesson plan (you can read it in my new and improved plan). The UDL guidelines suggest that analogies and metaphors help learners make connections and assimilate new information. I did, however, add additional presentation options, different methods of taking notes for reflection, different methods of communicating and receiving feedback, and alternate methods for viewing and playing with circuits (online switchboard/drawn out circuit). I believe that the original lesson plan included appropriate levels of challenge and support, so, in the rewrite, I focused on providing more options and descriptions that would make the existing challenges and supports explicit and accessible to all learners.

By learning about the three primary principals that guide UDL, I was able to rewrite my lesson plans with improved goals that were specific to the purpose, with differentiated teaching methods that provided support and matched the goal, with materials necessary for learners to access, analyze, organize, synthesize, and demonstrate understanding in varied ways, and with informed assessments that accurately measured learner knowledge, skills, and engagement. You can read about each of these specific changes in the actual lesson plan above. 

This weeks activities helped me re-think my teaching practices and supports. I have hearing impaired students that I wear a microphone for, but I hadn’t really considered all of the other supports they could potentially need that would help their classmates as well. The same idea goes for my ELL and CI students. I have some curriculum redesign ahead of me!!

References

CAST (2011). Universal Design for Learning Guidelines version 2.0. Wakefield, MA: Author.

Advertisements

Hustle & Flow: 21st Century Classroom Design

Classroom Redesign Project


”Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. 
Design is how it works.”–Steve Jobs

This week our goal is to use SketchUp to redesign our classroom, integrating experience design into our new and improved learning space. After watching a short video clip where Tedde van Gelderen explains Experience Design, I had a much better hold on how to complete this week’s task. In fact, watching the video made me realize that I have spent and continue to spend a lot of time planning and learning in accordance with Experience Design; I had just never heard it called Experience Design. In short, Tedde (2009) describes how an experience is a holistic view of how people go through a set of events in time. He stresses the importance of time, flow (or order of events), interaction [with the environment and people], and emotion and how they all play an important role in the overall experience—the experience is funneled by human senses triggered by what we see, touch, taste, hear, and smell. This theory resonates with something one of my classes came up with last year. They decided we should have a “hustle and flow” classroom. That is, our classroom should allow for diverse learning experiences to occur simultaneously…but that there should be “flow” or rhythm to the learning occurring at all different levels, kind of like how various instruments come together to make a beautiful composition. They decided that it may look like chaos to someone who walks in and sees different types of learning occurring all around the classroom, but that if that person sticks around they will see the “hustle” or efficient learning occurring with a natural “flow” or progression of organized activities that allow for multiple perspectives and learning styles. Moreover, I learned that Third Teacher+ & Edutopia just announced a new project called “Remake Your Class.” I watched a short video clip about the project. It reminded me of the TV show “Flip This House.” The group goes through a classroom and evaluates the learning space in accordance with the teaching style and teaching goals. The goal is to match the learning space with the values by identifying what works and what could work better. With the Design Experience and this short clip in mind, I began recreating my learning space.

I tried to be realistic while creating, although I know I wasn’t giving restrictions. I tried to follow the re-design process they did in the “Remake Your Class” clip by identifying what works and what could work better. Since I currently have one of the tiniest classrooms, if not he tiniest, I did allow myself to have a bigger classroom with more resources that I currently have. My goal has always been to create a classroom atmosphere that is both encouraging and stimulating, that develops a learning climate that supports thought and exploration and where the students feel secure and confident to take risks. For this reason, I also felt it was important to keep learning theories that support my teaching style in mind while recreating my classroom environment since the two go hand in hand. I tried to make features available in the classroom that align with Glasser’s (1998) Five Basic Needs – water cooler on my desk, various seating arrangements, etc. Below I have created a list of The Five Basic Needs and how they align with classroom re-design and learning goals.

ImageImageImage

The walls in my classroom will be adorned with learners’ work, learners’ goals, learners’ heroes, learners’ favorite quotes, or anything that reminds them of what they are working for. The learners can add or remove items they place on the walls as they grow and change. We all enter class with an ideal image of who we want to be. Typically, we haven’t achieved this ideal persona. My hope is that the learners can reflect on their personal inspirations as they develop who they want to be. I will also have at least one TV mounted on my wall for the gaming system I will have. In terms of my game collection, I will have leisure games and educational games. I hope to have an arcade game in my classroom for strategy as well. I enjoy game theory and especially liked learning about the learning opportunities the Kinect has to offer in a math classroom.

I had a hard time painting one of the walls in SketchUp, so I made them all white instead (my frustration got the best of me), but I would have my walls a pale yellow color like they are in my current classroom. Believe it or not, but I think the yellow walls I currently have are uplifting and mood altering. They are cheerful. Moreover, I would also use whiteboard paint on the tabletop surfaces. This works exceptionally well in the math classroom. Students can work out problems with their groups, by themselves, or with a teacher right on the table surface. I used whiteboard tables a ton during my undergrad work at Grand Valley and during my student teaching experience in Grand Rapids. We could use different colors to show growth as we progressed through a problem or worked with a partner. I believe whiteboard tables in my new classroom will be just as effective as they were in my previous experiences. The tables will support the social interaction and the interaction with the learning environment itself. Working on the tables will probe discussion and inquiry as learners explore mathematical concepts with others around them.

Moreover, I would have more permanent resources available in my classroom. Presently, we have a math computer cart that I have in my classroom twice a week; however, in my new classroom, there will be computers available at all times. There will be a stationary computer station as shown, as well as a math laptop cart that stays in my classroom at all times. Moreover, there will be a library with an assortment of books available for pleasure reading and for learning content, which provides balance. The library will have a sitting area with different light options. This area can be used for but not limited to group work, studying, or reading. Near the library you may notice a fish tank. I would like to bring the idea of classroom pet back into 21st century education. Fish are low maintenance and I believe a classroom pet would bring positive energy into the learning environment. In my math class we could chart the fishes growth, feeding times, or other components that relate to the math content we are covering. Aside from educational purposes, a pet requires responsibility and purpose.

The desk arrangement was the most difficult for me. I had to consider what the set-up I currently have says to students about what communication should look like in class. Currently my desks are in two columns with four desks in each row. It isn’t practical in terms of my teaching/learning style and doesn’t support the collaboration I require during learning activities; however, my space is limited and there are only so many arrangements that allow for thirty desks. In my new classroom, the instructional space will have tables. Although I will make various, alternate seating arrangements available so learners can engage in a manner they find comfortable. The learners can choose a beanbag, the couch, the bleachers, stools, or the tables. I set the tables up with 7 chairs; however, since I have a few larger classes, I could add additional chairs if needed. I chose to go with tables because they can be split apart but they also allow for conferencing in groups and provide a large work area. I anticipate some learners will choose an alternate seating arrangement that matches their learning style, though. With tables set up this way the students are able to split into two groups of four if needed. They could turn away from each other or they could split the tables. The table design and layout in my new classroom matches the design of an instructional space at Grand Valley State University that I particularly enjoyed. I felt the design was practical for all sorts of learning activities and was easily altered to accommodate particular needs. During my class at GVSU, the table arrangement supported group work, individual work, and partner work. The arrangement also allowed for all of us in the room to see the information being projected or written at the front of the classroom, which is a struggle I have in my current classroom design. The layout in my redesigned classroom is spacious and allows for students to spread out and for the instructor to move about freely and facilitate learning. Students are allowed to walk around the classroom freely, and this layout allows for movement without distraction. Further, when students are working in groups, there is plenty of room for me to walk around the class conferencing with groups and providing individual attention where it is needed.

Most learners have been well trained on how to adequately behave in a traditional classroom. Consequently, in order for this re-vamped classroom layout to be successful, it will be necessary for me to model appropriate classroom procedures for group work, resource exploration, and learner responsibility. I will not tell my students what to do, but I will show them how effective learning occurs in diverse settings, like the ones I have created in my new classroom model. Most importantly, my redesigned classroom matches my learning goals, my teaching methods, my collaboration expectations and supports learning and understanding.  I have created a trusting, safe, and fun learning environment where risks are taken and learning is stimulating and challenging.

For a large-scale project like this classroom redesign to happen, there would need to be several sources of support. Grants could be written for the technology, local businesses could be contacted and asked to donate items such as beanbags or books, and the school, of course, would need to be on board with the changes. Items like the bleachers could be donated from sports stadiums. Parents, students, community members, administrators, and staff members would all need to have an active role in implementing the changes. In accordance with Glasser’s Choice Theory and the students’ 5 Basic Needs, the students would have a large part in creating the specifics in the design to ensure individual and holistic learning needs are met. Like I mentioned previously, the teacher will model how learning occurs in diverse settings and will support students as they establish what an effective learning environment looks and feels like. This process should ensure that each aspect of the redesign serves a purpose and supports desirable behaviors and the types of learning we hope to see occur in the new environment.

The cost of the project would depend entirely on how the project was implemented and the types of materials purchased. The overall goal would need to be considered: will the classroom be redesigned efficiently using resources that are available or are low cost or will it be redesigned using a high scale budget, purchasing top of the line technology and materials. The items available for such a project vary greatly. Consider technology, whether it is a plasma TV or laptop, the price ranges significantly based on the product type and functionality. For example, I would love to have MacBooks for my classroom, but the school could choose to go with netbooks instead to lower costs. Either computer would be effective for what my students would be using it for. Things like tables, chairs, and whiteboards are easily budgeted within most districts, so those items shouldn’t be a problem. However, if I would like nice chairs, I may have to seek additional resources. Like I mentioned previously, community businesses may be able donate items or funds for such materials, which would help lower costs significantly. Or, fundraising and grant writing could be done to lower costs for materials as well. There are a lot of small things to consider when taking on a re-design project, from lighting to paint colors, each aspect should be considered in terms of how it will support learning and collaboration in the new space.

Finally, a project like this would probably have to occur over time. Changes would likely be implemented as funds or materials became available. However, depending on the situation, a school district could potentially choose to put all the changes into play over summer vacation or a holiday break during the school year. Typically these types of changes don’t happen overnight. The time frame for the project is directly related to the scale in which the changes are being made and the funds that are available: big changes will require more time and money. Realistically, in the district I work, technology would be purchased and replaced over time; it could be months or years. Lower scale projects like painting would occur much faster over a long weekend or holiday break. Although, I could apply to be a part of The Third Teacher+ & Edutopia’s new project and have my classroom remade that way. A girl can dream 🙂

Resources

Glasser, W. (1998). Choice theory: A new psychology of personal freedom. [Print]. New York: Harper Paperbacks.

van Gelderen, T. (2009). Tedde van Gelderen on experience design. [Video File]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BB4VFKn7MA4&feature=youtu.be

Maker Kit Lesson Plan

This week our goal was to create a lesson plan that connects learning theories with our Maker Kit. Right off the bat I had no problem connecting Choice Theory (and other learning theories) with my Maker Kit, Squishy Circuits. However, the biggest problem I faced was the interdisciplinary connection between science and mathematics, which seems weird because the two are so closely related. After tinkering and imaging how I could use my Maker Kit in my classroom last week, I came up with several possibilities of how I could implement Squishy Circuits into my curriculum. If I had more tools in my Maker Kit I could build a logic circuit and have students explore truth-values for conditional statements, which would be my first pick. Also, if I had a better handle on circuits, I could’ve had students explore graphing shapes and translating them on the coordinate grid, since we will re-visit coordinate geometry in the near future. I also tried to explore Graph Theory using LED lights as vertices, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it work & make sense. While I managed to come up with a game, I felt like it was a stretch and that I could play a similar game in class without circuits that was just as beneficial but took less time to set up. With that said, after reflecting on my learning process, I decided that making circuits is a lot like constructing a proof.

A mathematical proof is an argument that begins with known facts, proceeds from there through a series of logical deductions, and ends with the thing you’re trying to prove. There are several intermediate conclusions—if I do this, then I get this—that lead to the final conclusion. Similarly, when building circuits, we are given a battery pack, a light emitting diode (LED), a motor, and two buzzers (similar to the picture we receive in a geometric proof). Along with the given materials we have to make sense of circuits using with background knowledge or basic facts: conductive dough lets electricity pass through it, insulating dough does not allow electricity to pass through it, electricity is directional-the current runs from positive to negative, the LED, motor, & buzzers are directional- they have a positive side (the longer leg on the LED) and negative side (shorter leg on LED), and a circuit has to be closed (a continuous loop). From here, we have to have to use what we know to create logical steps that help us reach our conclusion or what we are trying to prove.

As I was building my first simple circuit, I realized that if I did something wrong, like put my LED in backwards (so the positive and negative leg were flipped), the LED would not light up because the circuit was not closed. Likewise, we can use unnecessary information in mathematical proofs that direct us away from our conclusion. Building a circuit is a procedural, logical process much like geometric proofs. Thus, for my activity, as an introduction to proofs I would have my students play with circuits and write a two-column proof for each of their steps towards creating a more complex circuit using the motor, several LEDS, and both buzzers.  This activity seems more practical than the game I created last week and it fits better into my curriculum.

Connection to Learning Theories:

The guiding principles explored in my lesson plan [above] are driven by Diene’s Theory of Mathematics Learning, Choice Theory (Glasser), and constructivist principles. This framework allows learners to take learning from a noun to a verb. It compels learners to think critically within a metacognitive framework that requires them to formulate the problem and reflect on their thinking. Further, by blending progressive pedagogy with modern tools and resources, such as Squishy Circuits, my learners will achieve the skills they need to become innovative, original thinkers.

Writing geometric proofs is about connecting the dots. We have a starting point and an end goal, yet we somehow have to logically fill in the middle so that it gets us to the end (Ryan, 2008, p.49). It’s kind of like giving a friend directions to your house. The coolest thing about proofs is that there isn’t one correct way to reach the destination. You can have them take the back road shortcut, the city streets, or the scenic route. However, regardless of the route you give your friend, if you leave out a step or are too vague, you risk them getting lost. If you think about it, it would be nearly impossible to give someone directions to your house if you have never driven there yourself. You have to experience and understand what you are trying to communicate before you can write it in a logical organized manner. So, you have to play and experiment, make note of your observations, then order your findings logically, filling in the gaps as you go. The squishy circuit activity allows students to do just that. The lesson allows for students to experience different ways of building circuits, make conjectures and observations about how circuits behave, and then go back and write their findings in such a way that not only shows why their process is true, but also allows others to see why their process is true.

This process, in accordance with my squishy circuits lesson plan, is supported by several learning theories. In terms of learning math, Dienes’ Constructivity Principle simply states that ‘construction should always precede analysis’” (Dienes, 1969, p.32). Likewise, in the lesson with squishy circuits, learners are given “play time” to experience and observe before they begin to analyze and deduce. This process allows students to see the “big picture” in a way that fits their unique needs and abilities. Similarly, Dienes’ Theory for learning mathematics states: “When children experience a concept in more than one embodiment, they are more likely to conceive the mathematical generalization independent of the material” (Dienes & Golding, 1971, p.47, 56.). By allowing students to play with something tangible, like squishy circuits, they will be able to form an informal process for writing proofs that is unique to their personal needs. That is, the learners will gain an understanding of how to construct a proof before they actually get a formal definition of what a proof is.

In lieu of learning the learning process, Dienes’ Constructivity Principle (1969) closely aligns with Piaget’s work in that they both imply learning requires embodied experimentation, play time, group work, individual reflection, teacher as facilitator, and student responsibility/ownership. Learning is not a spectator sport. In order to gain conceptual understanding learners must experience diverse learning and make connections between old and new. By using the constructivist approach as a foundational framework in my planning, I was able to ensure that my squishy circuits lesson gave each learner the opportunity to explore and create his or her own understanding through differentiated instruction at a level that makes the content meaningful (Piaget, 1971). For example, as creative problem solvers they will make qualitative and quantitative observations as they build the circuits. Then, they will organize their observations to make sense of their findings through tables, graphs, or other visual representations, which equates to the activity where they write steps with explanation. Finally, they will make connections within their findings and to their previous knowledge by reflecting on the experience (Polya, 1957). In essence, their learning will build on what they already know and will establish new or more extensive relationships within their mental frameworks. Consequently, as learners begin to write mathematical proofs, they will make connections to their squishy circuits proof writing process and use that experience as a foundation that they can build from. This problem solving process is not only relevant to material in the mathematics classroom, it also relates to problem solving skills needed in real life situations and is highly associated with critical thinking skills.

Further, this theory suggests that if the student is given the opportunity to interact with others and question new ideas, they will move from the known to unknown. I personally experienced this during my playtime last week. I really started making progress and understanding circuits when I had my roommate and her boyfriend there to discuss ideas and complications with me. For this reason, my squishy circuits lesson allows the learners to play with the circuits and collaborate in cooperative learning groups, which will help them build of each other’s experiences. Perhaps they will make mistakes within this process, but by accommodating what they thought to be true with what they have found to be true, they are learning from their mistakes and experiences. Moreover, during the creative problem solving process (circuit making) I will act as the facilitator. I will be passive and the learners will be active. By implementing carefully designed partner activities and periods of reflection throughout my lesson, I will be able to create a classroom climate, a “math lab” if you will, that supports experimentation, discovery, and play, while providing learners with choice, which leads me to my final point (Reyes & Post, 1973).

Lastly, this learning model suggests that learners need to have choice in the process. In the squishy circuits lesson, learners will have choice to construct and play with circuits as they please, choice to write their process as it makes sense to them, and choice to create a “masterpiece” that interests them to present to their classmates. In turn, students will feel empowered and will be intrinsically motivated, which aligns with Glassner’s Choice Theory (Corey, 2012, p.402). When learners have a say in what and how they learn, they take control of their learning and achieve a sense of ownership. They will become the teacher when they explain their final product to the class. Their demonstration will show how they consolidated several concepts throughout their playtime and will convey their new understanding of the material.

By using these theories as a foundation for my lesson, I am confident I will be able to appropriately respond to the diverse, intellectual needs of the student body as well as the needs of individual learners who are culturally, socially, and economically different, too. The most rewarding thing that a lesson like this has to offer is seeing the creativity learners bring to mathematics. Processing information, making connections, reflecting, and learning through constructivism are qualities of creative problem-solving mathematicians and innovative learners and defines the educational ideology of the 21stcentury.

References

Corey, G. (2012). Theory and practice of group counseling. (8th ed.) [Print]. Belmont, CA : Brooks/Cole

Dienes, Z. (1969). Building up mathematics. (rev.ed.) [Print]. London: Hutchinson Educational.

Dienes, Z., & Golding, E. (1971). Approach to modern mathematics. [Print]. New York: Herder and Herder.

Piaget, J. (1971). The psychology of intelligence. [Print].  Boston: Routledge and Kegan.

Polya, M. (1957). How to solve it. (2nd Ed.). New York: Doubleday.

Reys, R. & Post, T. (1973). The mathematics laboratory: Theory to practice. [Print]. Boston: Prindle, Weber, and Schmidt.

Ryan, M. (2008). Geometry for dummies (ed. 2). [Print]. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Publishing, Inc.

The Squishy Circuits Lesson Plan may be distributed, unmodified, under the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives License 3.0. All other rights reserved.

Thrift Shopping…There’s a first time for everything

This week we we’re given the task to visit a local thrift shop and find items we could potentially repurpose so they interact with our Maker Kit and fit into our classroom curriculum (or serve some purpose in our classroom).

Before I headed to the local Thrift Shop, I decided to play and experiment with my Maker Kit so I had a better idea of what types of objects would interact well with my particular kit. I purchased the Squishy Circuits Maker Kit. I decided on this kit because the price point matches what my school could potentially afford in case the kit turns out to be something I want in my classroom. I also chose it because I don’t know much about circuits and after exploring my other options Squishy Circuits seemed like the most straightforward kit for a newbie like myself. I liked the Makey Makey Kit, too but I wasn’t sure how I could use it my classroom. I saw more potential for Squishy Circuits to be implemented into my math curriculum. Before I could start my playtime, I had to make the conducting dough and insulating dough. The instructions & materials for the dough are given inside the box. There are also video tutorials or step by step tutorials with photos on the Squishy Circuits website, but I had no problem following the instructions using the box. After that I tuned into the video page on the Squishy Circuits webpage and began creating the circuits. I started by creating a circuit with just one light and then worked my way to adding lights, the motor, and one buzzer. The video also helped me understand how electrical currents work and what the purpose for each dough was.  I played for about two hours until I felt comfortable and then headed off to the thrift store with ideas in mind.

IMG_3193

With the “maker movement” fresh in my mind from last week, I headed local Thrift Store, literally. However, the inside of the store was chaotic…there wasn’t organization and a lot of the materials were past their repurposing days, so I headed two stores down to Goodwill, which had plenty of good options. I was hoping to do something with graphing, gaming, or matching so I was looking for metal objects–such as a cheese grater, noodle strainer, cooling rack—or a board game. I didn’t find any game boards I felt I could work with but I did find plenty of metal objects. I was hoping I could use the metal like I used the conducting dough, which I later found out worked to my disadvantage. I found a cooling wrack, cheese grater, metal triangle, and a broken locker stand. I opted for the broken locker stand at the low, low price of $2.49.

IMG_3209

IMG_3199

At home I spent the next 7.5 hours trying to come up with something useful to make. You can watch some of my videos and check out some pictures below.  I tried to make a Connect Four-type game where the learners would use their colors opposed to the traditional red and black game pieces. The wire grid on the locker stand would be the game board and the option to add a light would be based on math questions (perhaps using the buzzers) not on turns, like the original game is set up. However, with only five LEDs for each color, I realized this would not work. However, I could always buy LEDs if it were something I wanted to pursue. I also tried to make a matching vocabulary game. I used a plastic sleeve over the grid so I could change out the questions and answers. I had it set up where the questions were listed 7 down the left and answers were listed 7 down the right.  I thought the wires on the rack would help me connect the correct answers, but instead the wires used the battery, dimmed the lights and made all of the answers work opposed to just the correct one. I thought about using dough instead of wires to connect answers but there would be a ton of overlapping and crisscrossing and the conducting dough would eventually touch another piece of conducting dough on another path, even if it started out separated by insulating dough. Next I made an adding fractions game. One square had the question and its match had the answer. The player would use the wand to touch the question and the answer, if the squares were a match they would light up the same color and the player would remove the lights. Just like the traditional game, the player with the most LED pairs would win. This idea worked well, but I felt like I didn’t need the locker stand I bought… it wasn’t a necessary piece. I just slide a game board over the metal and put the conducting dough underneath. The metal grid could easily be removed and it wouldn’t make a difference. My final idea came after brainstorming with my roommate and her boyfriend. The power of communication was AMAZING. At this point I was frustrated, so it was nice to have them help me reorganize my ideas. Now I understand why the Maker Faire is so great. Not only do individuals get to share their inventions, they get to collaborate and brainstorm new ideas with one another. I came up with a game and used the repurposed locker stand as a game board.  My roommate’s boyfriend was nice enough to rip the stand off of the grid part for me so I could lay the “game board” down flat. I’m still not positive that the metal grid (repurposed locker stand) is a huge component, but it is part of the game so I went with it.  Thankfully I had the game Cranium so I repurposed the dice and implemented it into my game, too.Check out the How to Guide below.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/77028904@N05/10657120664/

Wanna hear the most annoying sound ever?

IMG_3188

Playing around with using the motor as a spinner, the sushi roll circuit, and how to attach the buzzers so the lights work and the buzzers make a noise:

IMG_3200

HOW TO:

My creation using Squishy Circuits is a game called Race to the Top. The game uses the embodied nature of learning mathematics while connecting technology and creativity (Punya, 2012, p.15). The goal is for two players to complete math tasks, based on the luck of the roll, and the first person to buzz in with the correct answer gets to put their color LED light in their tower. The first player to the top wins.

Stuff You Need:

  • Squishy Circuits Maker Kit (comes with kit except dough)
    • Conduction Dough & Insulating Dough (here are cooking directions & ingredients)
    • Two different colored sets of five LED lights
    • Two buzzers
    • Battery pack (need four AA batteries for battery pack)
    • A repurposed locker stand or grid with large squares (shown in image at beginning of post)
    • Construction paper, scissors, and markers for Game Board

IMG_3203

  • Four Different Colored Game cards (you can create the categories and cards as you wish) http://www.flickr.com/photos/pixies/11688117/
  • Cranium game dice http://www.flickr.com/photos/ashleyv/80722209/ 

How to Set the game UP:

Using the conducting dough, you need to make two “u” shaped paths as shown below. It is important that one “u” is connected to the positive cord on the battery pack and the other is connected to the negative cord on the battery pack, or one is connected to the red cord and the other to the black cord.

IMG_3208

IMG_3202

Next you need to attach the two buzzers from the kit- one for each “u” shaped path. I placed mine on opposite sides, but it doesn’t really matter where you place them as long as you connect the red wire from the buzzer to the “u” shaped path that is connected to the red wire off of the battery pack.

You will leave the black cords unconnected. When they buzz in their answer they will touch the “u” shaped path that is connected to the black wire. This will complete the circuit and make the buzzer make the noise.

IMG_3205

**it is important to make the “u” paths close enough (but not touching) so the LED lights can have one leg in the negative “u” path and one in the positive “u” path so they light up when they are placed in the tower.

Once the circuit is set up you can place the repurposed locker stand or grid with squares on top of the circuit. Then place the game board on top of the metal grid so that the five squares show through the holes. You will want to cut the section out of the construction paper to fit the grid you use for the game.

**before placing the grid and game board down test out your buzzer and LED lights.

IMG_3203

IMG_3204

IMG_3205

The game is ready to go. Now you just need to create your four-color categories for cards. I would choose vocabulary, constructions, computation (ex: what is the slope of the line perpendicular to the give line), and critical thinking (multi-step problem), but that matches my geometry curriculum.

Game Play:

The youngest play will roll the dice first. Then they will draw the matching color card and read it aloud so both players can attempt the task. Whatever player finishes the task first connect the black cord from their buzzer to the circuit. If they have the answer correct they get to add their color LED light to the bottom square in their tower. It should stay lit up. The first player to fill their tower wins.

In the event of a tie, each player will read his or her answer aloud. If both are correct the player who is up to roll next will roll the dice and the players will complete that task for double LED squares, like the card game WAR.

In the event that neither player can complete the task or they both get the answer wrong, no one will gain a square in the tower and the game will continue on normally.

Troubleshooting:

If a buzzer doesn’t work you will need to check out your “u” shaped circuits and each red/black cord connection. The paths may be too thin for the current or you may need to moisten the dough. Sometimes the cords can become loose as the play dough stretches during gameplay. Just re-roll the dough and reinsert the cord. As LED lights are added to towers it is normal for the lights to dim because the current is giving power to more things (buzzers, additional LED lights). This is visible in the video above. Watch when I use the buzzer, the light dims. You may also want to check your batteries if all your paths and cords seem to be attached and laid out correctly. Worst case scenario, one of your buzzers doesn’t work. One of mine didn’t; however, you could play with one buzzer.

If you have trouble with circuits use this site here for support: http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/videos2.htm There are several how to videos that will walk you through the ins and outs of building circuits.

You may also use this gaming approach to educate players on how to create the circuits before this game is played:  http://learn2teach.pbworks.com/w/page/40939766/Power%20to%20all%20the%20People

Now You’re Ready to Play:

You’ve just used Squishy Circuits to create a game board using buzzers and lights. The game play is practical and fun. It requires learners to complete different math tasks as they race against their partner. In terms of the process, putting together the circuits for the game requires learners to follow logical steps, which is much like a geometric proof. If they do not complete a step correctly, they will not have a working circuit. From the set up of the game board to actually playing the game, Race to the Top supports critical thinking for geometry classes.

Resources

Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking technology & creativity in the 21st century: Crayons are the future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.

Squishy circuits video page. (n.d.). In Squishy Circuits. [Website].Retrieved October 29, 2013 from http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/videos2.htm