Thursday, June 25, 2015

Day 180 - Bubble Man - Sarah Visocchi - Pine Glen Grade 4

Have you worked with bubbles today?  If you have washed your hands, brushed your teeth, and had breakfast (digestion), then you have worked with lots of bubbles according to the Bubble Man!  On Tuesday, we experienced an amazing show all about bubbles.  We learned some of the science behind bubbles, as well as received information about how to build our own bubble makers.  So get some bubble liquid and start making bubbles!

Can you make a snowman with bubbles?
Do you know how to blow a bubble around a dinosaur?  It's a whole new Jurassic World! Try it at home!
Ellie in a bubble!

Ellie even got to try!

Thank you so much to our Pine Glen PTO for enriching our students and teachers with such a fun program!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Day 178 - 103 Creates an Air Conditioner - Mrs. Lynch - Francis Wyman Grade 5

So, it is getting warm outside ...

Our answer to the problem; design our own ac with items we already have.


  • one large styrofoam cooler
  • two elbow dryer vents
  • one small but powerful fan
  • many jugs of frozen water
  • knife for cutting
  • mini vacuum for clean-up
The plan:
  1. line up the fan and dryer vents on the cover to see how they will all fit
  2. trace the items carefully and closely on the lid
  3. remove the items and prepare to cut
    *it is important to cut slowly and carefully
    *cut straight down
    *cut right into the inside of the traced line for the dryer vents
    *cut 1 to 2 cms into the circle of the traced outline for the fan -
    the fan doesn't fit into it but rather rests on top of the styrofoam lid
  4. vacuum away the small particle of styrofoam
  5. place your frozen bottles into the cooler
  6. press the dryer vents into the holes
  7. rest the fan facing down into the cooler
  8. start your engine

Monday, June 22, 2015

Day 177 - LightSail in Burlington Classrooms - Dennis Villano - Director of Technology Integration


Students and teachers in Burlington are using a new literacy accelerator called LightSail. The system has provided excellent opportunities for teacher intervention and support resulting in student academic growth. LightSail has been used extensively at Marshall Simonds Middle School in our 1:1 iPad learning program. The application has been praised by students and teachers.
LightSail provides a platform for completing independent reading with a full class of students all at different levels. Teacher have the ability to personalize the experience for every student. Teachers are able to see exactly where students are in guided reading groups and are able to pinpoint individual breakdowns of comprehension in the moment. LightSail provides students with the ability to ask the questions they may be embarrassed to ask during class as well as the use of scaffolds built in for the various levels of students in the class.
LightSail’s digital literacy solution takes the best practices of literacy instruction and combines them into one app. The results in Burlington have been overwhelming positive. Teachers report the enhancement of literacy gains and the ability to streamline instruction while personalizing individual student experiences with ease. Teachers have reported that LightSail allows for the personalization of materials for each student, allowing them to read the best books at their level. LightSail can also adapt students’ libraries as they grow and deliver instant, actionable data to teachers by embedding in-text assessments into books. Burlington teachers are using LightSail’s instant data progress dashboards to easily personalize instruction. School leaders and reading specialists can see daily data for every student and classroom if needed.
LightSail Progress Dashboard
Live Progress Results

Friday, June 19, 2015

Day 176 - The Maker Studio at BHS Help Desk - Jenn Scheffer - BPS Mobile Learning Coach

This past March, BHS Help Desk student Cat Hoyt connected with Laura Fleming and Diana Rendina on Digital Learning Dayand learned about their successful makerspace programs. Since then, the BHS Help Desk students have been busy designing a makerspace of their own. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the BHS Art Department, specifically art teacher Christina Chang and her talented students (both current and former), the student run Maker Studio at BHS is scheduled to launch in the fall of 2015. The Maker Studio will be an extension of the Help Desk program and will be led by Help Desk students Timmy Sullivan and Sid Srivastava. Timmy and Sid (we’re not sure if their official titles will be Chief Innovation Officers, Digital Learning Directors, or Maker Studio Managers) are beyond excited to develop this new and innovative learning space! Not surprisingly, they’ve already started to collaborate on their first (top secret) maker studio project. Seeing our space develop over the past few months has been truly inspiring and what the students have accomplished so far has exceeded my expectations.
Extreme Makeover: Help Desk Edition
The first phase in creating our makerspace was to select the right location. Because our makerspace is an extension of the Help Desk curriculum, and we want it to be accessible by all Burlington students and teachers, we decided to transform a library storage room adjacent to the Help Desk into a haven for creating, building, and exploring. I met with Christina several weeks ago and explained to her that we wanted to design an attractive, eye-catching space and she was instantly on board. Christina and her architecture students began brainstorming the color palette. Within two weeks, the room morphed from monotone, off white walls into a fun, modern, and vibrant space. The bright colors alone have already sparked curiosity among our students. The 3D Makerbot printer in the window as well as the pair of Google Glass have also generated some chatter among students as to what the new “room” is going to offer.
In terms of our studio’s branding, the space also features a custom logo designed by BHS alumni and graphic designerLauren Vigneau. Lauren collaborated with Christina’s students and taught them a lesson on logo design as well as how to market yourself as a designer. Lauren’s website Birchnine features her impressive portfolio of work, contact information, and resume. I had the pleasure of meeting and talking with Lauren about the studio and she is incredibly enthusiastic about partnering with me, Christina, and our students. The entire transformation process (which is not fully complete) was truly a collaborative effort and it offered our students authentic, real-world learning experiences. It also allowed me to meet and recruit a new Help Desk student. Donnie Boermeester, a gifted craftsman, plans to join the Help Desk next year and will continue to be a part of shaping the mission, purpose, and direction of the student run Maker Studio at BHS. I’m sure Donnie, Timmy, Sidd, and the rest of the 15-16 Help Desk staff will ensure the inaugural year of our Maker Studio is a huge success.
So, We’ve Got A Room…Now What? 
Now that the makeover of the space is nearly complete, the next phase is to determine what kinds of learning activities will take place in the Maker Studio. Although it isn’t a large space, it will accommodate several maker stations that the Help Desk students are currently brainstorming. We are considering the following maker themes:
1. 3D design and printing
2. Wearable tech (Google Glass)
3. Coding/app development
4. Multimedia creation (green screen & podcasting)
5. DIY stations
6. Deconstruction station (breaking, hacking, rebuilding)
We have an eclectic student body here at Burlington High School. I envision creating a space that appeals to a wide range of students. From aspiring coders to jewelry and fashion designers, to future engineers, my goal is to create a space where students of varying backgrounds can merge their talents and innovate. Sounds a bit like the real-world doesn’t it?! The most exciting aspect of our Maker Studio is that it will be a place for students to gather, make, build, and play, without the pressure of working for a grade. Students will have freedom and flexibility to learn what they want, at their own pace, and for the sake of learning, not because of a directive or mandate. Ultimately, our Maker Studio can help develop independent, self-motivated learners who will gain hands-on experience and skill sets rooted in E-STEAM.
Students Teaching and Leading Students
Staying true to the foundation of the Help Desk and allowing students to drive their own learning, the vision of the BHS Maker Stuido is to offer student led, E-STEAM-based workshops for the entire Burlington community; with the first “E” meaning entrepreneurship. My hope is that students will take their making and building to a level where their creations have value and sales potential. This could eventually lead to a makerspace that is financially self-sustaining.
Admittedly, I have no idea if the vision for our Maker Studio will become a reality. I am however optimistic that our student leaders, innovators, and creators will build a unique learning environment where our entire community has the opportunity to experiment and explore. I’m also fortunate to work in a district where the leadership allows for this type of curriculum experimentation to occur and values student driven, project-based learning.
And one more thing…in case you are wondering…the total cost of this transformation to date? Zero dollars!
Take a look at the slideshow below to see the work of our talented students!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Day 175 - Blizzard Bag Samples - Ben Lally - BHS English Dept. Head.

The first-year venture into trying out Blizzard Bags is behind us, and Mr. Lally wished to share the variety of projects that his students came up with for this assignment.
Several students recorded themselves reading Poetry Out Loud poems, and we’ve put together a SoundCloud channel – we figure these might be a good study guide for students in future years who wish to memorize these poems. Readers included Joe Bertolami, Stephen Blathras, MiKenna Mattson, Melanie Sunnerberg, Nick Whitney, Tiffany Wu, and Mr. Lally. Together, they’ve started the BHS English Department list with nearly 50 recordings.
Longfellow House Visits
Many students went to Cambridge to check out the home of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, easily the greatest American poet of the mid-19th century. No contest. Students created posters and slideshows showing some of the artifacts that they saw, including the location of the room that inspired the tragic poem, The Cross of Snow, and the desk where Longfellow penned most of his most famous poems. Samples are from posters by Kerry Curtin and Aadil Islam.
Louisa May Alcott House
Longfellow isn’t the only house in the area worth visiting. Marin Campbell went to go see Louisa May Alcott’s house, and saw the window desk where she wrote Little Womenand other novels.
Graphic Novels: A Primer
Will Rizza gave a presentation where he explained the differences between graphic novels, text novels, and comic books.
Graphic Novel Writing
Gariné Minassian tried her own hand at writing a graphic novel, as a complement to Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis, which Mr. Lally’s students were reading at the time. This piece incorporated some of the themes of self-discovery and cultural identity that are within Satrapi’s novel.
Short Story Writing
Two trios of sophomores tried their hand at writing a short story in the style of Ernest Hemingway. The results were excellent, as the students admirably adopted Hemingway’s sparse style and bleak worldview.
Fictional Styles – A Contrast
Kailee Heffler explained the main stylistic differences between Ernest Hemingway and Marjane Satrapi, the final two authors of Mr. Lally’s sophomore year.
Poetry Analysis
Some students opted to analyze a short packet of poems by significant poets not covered in the poetry unit from earlier in the year.
Although this first year had its bumps (the Hemingway museum’s hours made visits difficult, and students were coming up with new ideas right up to the final deadline), it seems as though a lot of students really got a chance to try something they might not otherwise do.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 174 - Geometry Scavenger Hunts - Mrs. Tate - MSMS Grade 6 Math

6A students did an extraordinary job on their Geometry Scavenger Hunts. Students chose to use either the Book Creator or Explain Everything app for their presentation. All projects included geometric terms, pictures, and definitions. Students also calculated volume and surface area of three dimensional objects around the school as well as the area of either squares, rectangles, parallelograms, or trapezoids. Here are some samples of student Geometry Scavenger Hunts.