Showing posts with label MaKey MaKey. Show all posts
Showing posts with label MaKey MaKey. Show all posts

Friday, December 13, 2019

Using Makey Makey to Creative Assistive Technology - Webinar Recording

Yesterday afternoon Art Spencer gave an engaging presentation about some interesting Makey Makey projects that he's done with elementary school and middle school students. In the presentation Art does a great job of explaining what Makey Makey is and how his students have used it to create assistive technology devices for other students who have special needs. Watch Art's presentation here.

On a related note, Amazon has Makey Makey Invention Kits on sale right now at 29% off the regular price.

Friday, August 28, 2015

5 Things I Learned While Re-reading Invent to Learn

While book publishers send me many books to read throughout the year, very few ever get mentioned on this blog because I am not in the business of writing book reviews. That said, when I do find a book that I think many of you will enjoy, I'll share it.

When Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager published Invent to Learn a couple of years I quickly read it on my Android tablet through the Kindle app. Then in March of this year I had a chance to talk with Gary for a while at a conference that we were both invited to in Sydney. While there I bought a paperback copy of Invent to Learn. I have now read it two more times and filled it with notes in the margins of the pages (scribbling notes is the best part about having a physical copy of a book). In no particular order, here are five highlights from the notes I've taken while reading Invent to Learn.

1. Avoid the "keychain syndrome" when developing projects.
Martinez and Stager cite Paulo Blikstein for developing this term to describe what happens when students learn to use fabrication tools like 3D printers. The point of the project shouldn't be to learn how to use the equipment (though that is needed) but to use the equipment to create things of meaning to them.

2. Skip the preload.
Stager and Martinez remind us to avoid the temptation to take "just a minute" to explain how a program or tool works. That "just a minute" can quickly turn into 25 minutes of "how to" instruction that students don't need because they are more than willing to push buttons, flip switches, click menus, and generally explore without a fear of not knowing what will happen. I've been guilty of this in my practice and I'm trying to cut down my preload time as much as possible.

3. Collaboration comes in different forms. 
Collaboration doesn't have to mean two or more students working together for the duration of a project. It could be as simple as observing and asking questions of a peer or group of peers.

4. Good project prompts are short and sweet. 
Skip the long-winded "by the end of this project you will have done..." and give students prompts that are clear and concise. The prompt should also give students the flexibility to satisfy the prompt in the way that they see best. I've employed this strategy for years. My experience has been that students who are used to being told, "here's the rubric, here's what you need to get a good grade" will freak out and flounder for a while until they realize that they have the power to respond to the prompt in a manner of their own choosing.

5. Instruction is useful, not everything has to be "discovered" by students.
There is a temptation to make every learning experience about students "discovering" information. Sometimes direct instruction is needed and is just as useful as students discovering on their own. Stager and Martinez give this example,
There is no reason to discover the date of Thanksgiving when you can ask someone. Instruction is useful for learning things that would take an instant or when little benefit would be gained by investigating it yourself
Beyond the philosophical items that I've featured above, Invent to Learn is full of fantastic resources for anyone interested in using the concepts of the Maker Movement, 3D printing, and programming in their classrooms.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Learning to Program With MaKey MaKey in Elementary School

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This is a guest post from Julie Smith.

Computer programming has become the new "literacy" that many teachers and school districts are implementing to help students exercise critical thinking and problem solving skills. Students of all ages gravitate towards creating and implementing programs--large and small--that they create digitally. Our technology department recently purchased two MaKey MaKeys for every elementary ITRT to use when collaborating with teachers on special projects that involve computer programming.

What is a MaKey MaKey?

Basically, it is a small invention kit made for ALL ages. The kit comes with a small MaKey MaKey board, wires, alligator clips and a USB cable. You can take everyday objects and turn them into a touch pad that interacts with a computer program. Objects attached to the MaKey MaKey (fruit, Play-Doh, tin foil, copper tape) become "buttons" that replace a basic keyboard or mouse. Operate a computer game with play dough, fruit or even a glass of water!

When I first saw these contraptions my initial reaction was how in the world would we incorporate these devices with our demanding academic curriculum? The last couple of months my instructional technology team and I have had a ball coming up with strong academic tie-ins for using MaKey MaKeys and programming with our elementary students. I was astonished how easily and naturally programming and incorporating MaKey MaKeys have been, even for first graders! Just the other day I was working with first graders who were learning about the four cardinal directions. We had them create interactive compass roses by programming a sprite in Scratch to move north, south, east or west depending on the arrow key they pressed. Some students were even able to add voice recordings to their script!

To test their program, they hooked up a MaKey MaKey to their computer and attached their alligator clips to BANANAS. They called out a cardinal direction to each other and their partner had to tap the correct banana to make their sprite move in the proper direction. This simple activity stirred up such curiosity about how the MaKey MaKey circuit worked that the students wanted to extend their learning by testing out what other objects would activate their sprite.

Another MaKey MaKey lesson we did was with a 2nd grade class. The teacher said her students were struggling with counting US coins. Therefore, we hooked up the MaKey MaKey to a penny, nickel, dime and quarter and programmed Scratch to calculate the coin totals each time a coin was touched.

I hear that even high school students get quite excited over these devices. After all, I have seen most adults get giddy the first time they test out a MaKey MaKey. The engagement these invention kits bring to the classroom is extraordinary. I'm looking forward to discovering new ways to incorporate these kits into the K-5 curriculum!

A MaKey MaKey first experience (I LOVE the curiosity at the very end):

First Experience from Julie on Vimeo.

Programming and MaKey MaKey in action:

MaKey MaKey from Julie on Vimeo.

Julie Smith is an elementary Instructional Technology Coach for Henrico County Public Schools in Henrico, Virginia. She works with teachers and students in PreK-5th grade. Julie is the author of the blog, The Techie Teacher . You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.