Thursday, March 17, 2016

4th Grade Nebraska Project with HyperDuino

For as long as I can remember, the O'Neill Elementary 4th Grade Nebraska Fair is an exciting opportunity for young learners to begin to develop critical research skills and is a must-see for all parents, grandparents, and community members.  My youngest son, Drew, is a 4th grader this year and we eagerly anticipated this memorable project in his academic career.

2016 O'Neill Elementary Nebraska Fair

In the fall I heard about a Roger Wagner product called the Hyperduino from Kelly Croy's Wired Educator podcast.  The concept is a combination of a Hyperstudio's multimedia creation software and an Arduino board.  With a "Makerspace" feel, this kit allows students to explore principles of STEM with still incorporating physical creation, construction, and design.  I immediately knew that Drew would love to incorporate circuits, LEDs, and sensors into whatever physical representation of his Nebraska history project he decided to build.  We ordered a kit and eagerly waited for the time of the year that the 4th grade classes began their research.

Drew decided that his topic would be the thing about Nebraska that he loves the most--- Nebraska football-- and quickly got his topic approved by his teachers.  The students completed their research questions, fact-finding, and report writing all at school, but parents were encouraged to help students with some sort of display to accompany their project for the Nebraska Fair. This is where the Hyperduino came into play.

The physical model could literally be anything-- the kit actually comes with a small cardboard volcano model and another example video features a solar system model board. (For more ideas, visit the HyperStudio and HyperDuino Central Facebook group.) We decided that a replica of Tom Osborne Field at Memorial Stadium would give us opportunity to connect LEDs and sensors to trigger different multimedia videos that Drew would create to enhance his project.  We used a bulletin board, but any kind of cardboard, foam, or display board would work just as well.  We knew that we would need to plan and decide:

  • - number of videos that would be activated by his project
  • - what the triggers would be for each
  • - how the LED lights would interact with the videos (when in the videos and where on the board)
  • - how far apart the Hyperduino connections would stretch to allow us to connect everything to the Hyperduino 

Drew and I worked through the example volcano project with little difficulty.  We quickly discovered that we didn't even need to learn Hyperstudio to link the media-- that it all could now be done with a free Chrome web app in the Chrome browser.  He decided to create 5 videos of his own and use one on the history of Husker football that he found on YouTube. The media that you connect to the Hyperduino can be any YouTube video or website URL which really opens your options for media creation.  Drew made three videos with the Explain Everything app and filmed his live tour of Memorial Stadium with the built-in camera and edited in the iMovie app. All videos were uploaded to my YouTube channel and I added them to a playlist, simply for ease of finding later on.

Next we built the physical model of the football field.  At the predetermined places Drew and his dad poked holes for the Hyperduino cables and attached LED lights and sensors to them.  The Hyperduino is fairly small and can be awkward to access once everything is hooked up, so I used Post-it notes to label each connection with the corresponding number code from the Hyperduino. This made the programming for the Chrome app much more efficient.

We also read about a motor that comes with the kit that you can program to turn.  Drew's dad helped him rig up a small hackysack-type football that would spin once we programmed a sensor to do so.

The final, and most important step, was to create the "Playlist" in the HyperDuino for Chrome app that would run the project when launched. While we still are not experts in this, this is how we did it:

1) Loaded the desired video in YouTube.
2) Clicked the + to add new media that is currently open in your browser.
3) Chose the timecode of the video that we wanted to play.
4) Clicked the blue drop-down arrow to set inputs and actions.

This is an example of the sensor connected to the A0 port that is set to Analog mode and will respond from 0 to 255, which means that if the sensor's light is blocked, that it will trigger the playing of the video.

In this second "line of code" the same video is used, but port 9 is set to Output -- High when arriving at timecode 00:13 (light turns ON) and Output -- Low when leaving timecode 00:35 (light turns off).
You can view our final Hyperduino for Chrome Playlist here.

Through trial and error we continued to program the Hyperduino app to interact with our media. The spirit of experimentation is so crucial here. We definitely had more failures along the way than successes, but now feel equipped to build a Hyperduino experience next time that is much improved from our first project. We did figure out how to start a video with a sensor and then make an LED light up at key moments in a video. We got the football to spin (although it did begin to be less dependable after hours of demonstrating to audiences) and added some final labels to the physical project board, just to make the demonstration more self-explanatory.  You can view Drew's final project with Hyperduino interactions here:

The Nebraska Fair at O'Neill Elementary was a resounding success and Drew's project was well received by all who visited it.  For me personally, it was a great time to experience something as a learner myself, and I cannot wait to pass along the knowledge I gained to the next person who would like to try a similar project.  And even more importantly, it was great to learn something new with my 4th grade son.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Writing Poetry with iPad

The following are some simple ideas for teaching poetry writing lessons with iPad apps.  All apps are free, unless otherwise noted.

Rhyming Poetry

Try the Rhymer's Block app to create a new piece of rhyming poetry. Use the Prime Rhyme app or the RhymeZone website as a reference to find rhyming possibilities. 

Acrostic Poems

Use the Acrostic Poems app or the online interactive from ReadWriteThink to create this simple introductory form of poetry.

Name Poems

Another great introduction to poetic forms is creating a name poem. Here is one online generator to quickly prompt this kind of poetry. Also consider trying this Name Poem app.

Found Poems

"Found Poems" are formed by finding words within prose and reassembling them in order to form a new poem. Students can use an app such as FridgePoems to practice reassembling random or suggested words. Then take a piece of prose (a famous speech or passage from an essay, for example) and create a found poem with the Word Mover app.

Point-of-View, Personification, or Persona Poems

Chatterpix app- Students write a poem in first-person point of view. They then take a photo of the “narrator” (it could be an inanimate object or a historical person or a photo of anything they find online).  In the Chatterpix app they draw on where the “mouth” is and then record themselves reading their poem, making the photo come to life and look like it is speaking.  Alternatively, they could use an app such as PhotoSpeak if their poem lasts longer than 30 seconds.

Oral Fluency Poetry Reading

GarageBand app- Students record an oral version of any poem they author, reading with expression of course!  Export the audio recordings with Share > Export Song to Disk and then collect all students’ poems in a playlist, Google Drive folder, or put on a website for others to listen to.

Illustrating Poetry

Use a drawing app like Doodlebuddy or Paper by 53 and have students create a Sketchnote of their poem.  Alternately, even simply illustrating an image to go along with their poem would have value.

Syllable Structure Poems

Use this teacher-created guide for iBooks to expose students to some poetry formats with set syllable structures (including haiku, senryu, tanka, and cinquain) and then use an app like Haiku Poem to create their own.

Concrete Poetry

Students create a concrete poem built out of the shape of their words.  A favorite app for this type of poetry creation is TypeDrawing, however it is a paid app.  Another option (also not free) is the app Path On.


Diamante Poems

Use the Diamante Poem app from ReadWriteThink to create this diamond-shaped, set structure poem.

Poetic Symbols

Use the Adobe Voice app and bring poetry to life with the images in the app's symbol library.  Add your poem with a voice over and you easily have a finished multimedia project.  Note: the student example below is not necessarily a poem, but gives you an idea of how simple to use the app is.

Poetry Video Remix

Create an iMovie from a published poetic work. The following example created by students is a interpretive remix of the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay."

Figurative Language

Find examples of figurative language in modern day song (like the example below, created by students with the Keynote app), in books, or other existing works.  Students can create a compilation of figurative language examples or simply author their own.

Additional iPad apps for exploring poetry with students:

What additional ideas for teaching poetry writing with iPad do you have? Please share in the comments below!