Godzilla Gazette, 9

Week of October 19, 2015


  • From Grace
  • The Reflective Practitioner
  • Weekly Team Planning Link
  • Weekly Events
  • For Your Information

From Grace

Aloha, everyone! Congratulations to everyone for making it through an incredibly challenging week, full of deadlines, meetings, and Octoberrama. Phew! I'd like to encourage everyone to plan to stay healthy and focused - eat nutritious foods, get rest, have fun, and, if needed, take a day for yourself - just remember to plan it out with your team first. :)

This week's Reflective Practitioner takes us back to the Maker Movement. When I met with J.E. and Ana from Maker Ready, one of the things that became clear is that no one in the Maker Movement has figured out the best way to make this philosophy work in the classroom setting as most Making has happened in after-school clubs and summer camps. This means that we are in the exciting and scary place of being true pioneers in this movement to connect our students with their creative, critical thinking, collaborative, and communicative sides - essential skills to success.

This week's Reflective Practitioner, gives several different perspectives on ways to incorporate Making in the classroom and why it's important. And, while the first few lines talk about middle school, don't let that scare you off. There is NO REASON to wait until middle school to help our students learn through designing and doing and EVERY REASON in the world to have them engage in authentic learning from preK on - something that I've seen embraced in all of the grade levels here - so simply insert your grade level where it says middle school. :)

Other Announcements:

  • There is no staff meeting again this week, as it is the fourth Thursday, and thus CAC Thursday. Please note that the following week, October 29th, each committee will have 2 minutes to report out their goals/projects for the year. If you have yet to meet as a committee, you need to make that happen so you can prepare for the meeting - either in person, in a google hangout, our a live meeting using a google doc. Choices are endless.... but do meet. Can't remember what you signed up for? See Grace.
  • PDAS - Kudos to those of you who have already signed up for your PDAS. If you have yet to do so, please sign up with Susan or with me. If I don't get a request for a specific day/time, I'll simply stop by sometime in the next month or so. Thanks!
  • November 11th Staff Development - If you're interested in presenting a 45 minute Mini-U session, let me know! :) I'm building out the schedule for the day and love it when we learn from each other.

Have a happy ninth week of school. Take some time to really enjoy the students in your class and to stretch your own imagination as we continue to grow in our own craft of creating innovative, rigorous, and relevant lessons for our kids. When we're engaged, our kids are too. It's a beautiful thing.

The Reflective Pracitioner

Maker Schools: Classroom Tinkers & Inventors


    “We must reimagine middle school science and math not as a way to prepare students for high school, but as a place where students are inventors, scientists, and mathematicians today.”

    So say Sylvia Martinez and Gary Stager in this exciting guest article about the Maker Movement and its implications for kids, schools and STEM studies. Martinez and Stager are the authors of a must-read book, Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. In this informative post, they encourage STEM educators, school leaders and teachers across the curriculum to transform our classrooms into centers of innovative thinking and experimenting. ~ Anne Jolly

Invent to Learn: Makers in the classroom

by Sylvia Libow Martinez & Gary S. Stager

Sylvia Libow Martinez

The last decade and more has been a dark period for many schools. Emphasis on high-stakes standardized testing, de-professionalizing teachers, and relying on data rather than teacher expertise has created classrooms that are increasingly devoid of play, rich materials, and the time to engage in meaningful projects.

What’s more, the national rhetoric about the importance of STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) has sadly, for many schools, not been reflected in a revitalization of science or math curriculum.

Fortunately, there’s a technological and creative revolution underway that may change everything – the Maker Movement.

Amazing new tools, materials, and skills turn us all into makers. Using technology to make, repair, or customize the things we need brings engineering, design, and computer science to the masses. Hundreds of thousands of adults and children are frequenting Maker Faires, hackerspaces, and DIY (Do-It-Yourself) websites. A growing library of literature inspires learners of all ages and experiences to seize control of their world.

Gary S. Stager

Online communities serve as the hub of a digital learning commons, allowing people to share not just ideas, but the actual programs and designs for what they’ve invented. This ease of sharing lowers the barriers to entry as newcomers can easily use someone else’s code and design as building blocks for their own creations.

Fortunately for educators, this maker movement overlaps with the natural inclinations of curious children and the power of learning by doing. It holds the keys to reanimating the best, but oft-forgotten learner-centered teaching practices. The magic of the middle years, where students can shift seamlessly between childhood play and preparation for serious academics are the perfect place for these engaging, transformative new tools and materials.

The Maker kids

The maker movement celebrates the talents of young people like Sylvia (aka Super-Awesome Sylvia) who has a web-broadcast program, Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show, where she sings, plays, and teaches her millions of viewers about electronics, Arduinos, and other fun projects.

Eighth grader Joey Hudy is a young maker and entrepreneur who surprised President Obama with a homemade marshmallow cannon at the White House Science Fair. Here’s the raw video footage, with the President providing some muscle power.

Raw Video: Marshmallow Launch at the White House Science Fair

Caine Munroy is a young man who made an entire game arcade entirely out of cardboard and tape. A neighbor fell in love with Caine’s ingenuity and asked his father if he could make a video about the arcade. Not long after, Caine’s Arcade lit up YouTube. Caine and his arcade have inspired millions of people around the world. He’s received invitations to visit other countries, a scholarship fund was created for his college education, and a foundation was created to nurture creativity in kids across the globe. Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa even gave Caine a cardboard key to the city! (See Caine’s TEDx appearance here.)

Of course these are extraordinary young people ­— but there are extraordinary young people in every city, every school, and every classroom who deserve the same opportunities to express themselves by inventing, creating, and making.

Art and invention

Awesome Sylvia Todd

Children’s seminal learning experiences come through direct experience with materials, especially in STEM subjects. Digital fabrication devices such as 3D printers and physical computing, including Arduino,MaKey MaKey and Raspberry Pi expand a child’s toy chest and toolbox with new ways to make things and new things to make. For the first time ever, childhood inventions may be printed, programmed, or animated with interactivity.

While school traditionally separates art and science, theory and practice, such divisions are artificial. The only reason we are even discussing STEAM (adding Arts to STEM) is that so many schools removed art from the curriculum. The real world just doesn’t work that way! Architects are artists. Craftsmen deal in aesthetics, tradition, and mathematical precision. Video game designers rely on computer science. Engineering and industrial design are inseparable.

Children naturally invest their own inventions with an esthetic component when given agency over their own creations. The maker community brings children, hobbyists, and professionals together in a glorious celebration of personal expression with a modern flare. There is no reason that schools cannot do the same.

The maker revolution

Three game-changers should be on every school’s radar:

Computer controlled fabrication devices – Over the past few years, devices that fabricate three-dimensional objects have become an affordable reality. These 3D printers can take a design file and output a physical object. Plastic filament is melted and deposited in intricate patterns that build layer by layer, much like a 2D printer prints lines of dots that, line by line, create a printed page. With 3D design and printing, the ability for students to design and create their own objects combines math, science, engineering, and craft.

Physical computing – New open source microcontrollers, sensors, and interfaces connect the physical world to the digital world in ways never before possible. Many schools are familiar with robotics, one aspect of physical computing, but a whole new world is opening up. Wearable computing — where circuits are made with conductive thread — makes textiles smart, flexible, and mobile. Plug and play devices that connect small microprocessors to the Internet, to each other, or to any number of sensors mean that low cost, easy-to-make computational devices can test, monitor, and explore the world.

Programming – There is a new call for programming in schools, from the Next Generation Science Standards to the White House. Programming is the key to controlling this new world of computational devices and the range of programming languages has never been greater. Today’s modern languages are designed for every purpose and every age.

One might try to marginalize robotics or 3D fabrication as having nothing to do with “real” science, dismissed as play, or as just a super-charged hobby. However, today’s new low-cost, flexible, creative, and powerful materials should be viewed as building blocks for today’s children and their STEM interests.

This is much more than just “hands-on” crafting – these tools bring electronics, programming, and computational mathematics together in meaningful, powerful ways. We must reimagine middle school science and math not as a way to prepare students for high school, but as a place where students are inventors, scientists, and mathematicians today.

Challenging “hard fun” through tinkering

The tools and ethos of the maker revolution offer insight and hope for middle schools. The breadth of options and the “can-do” attitude is exactly what students need, especially girls as this is the age they tend to opt out of science and math. But hands-on making is not just a good idea for girls; all students need challenge and “hard fun” that leads to big ideas and inspires them to dive deeper.

Making science interesting and fun is not pandering to young sensibilities; it honors the learning drive and spirit that is all too often crushed by endless worksheets and boring vocabulary drills. Making is a way of bringing engineering to young learners. Such concrete experiences provide a meaningful context for understanding abstract science and math concepts.

Making science interesting and fun is not pandering to young sensibilities; it honors the learning drive and spirit that is all too often crushed by endless worksheets and boring vocabulary drills. Making is a way of bringing engineering to young learners. Such concrete experiences provide a meaningful context for understanding abstract science and math concepts.

Tinkering is a powerful form of learning by doing, an ethos shared by the rapidly expanding maker community and many educators. Tinkering is the process of design, the way that real science and engineering is done. We owe it to our children to give them the tools and experiences that real scientists and engineers use, and the time is now to bring these tools and learning opportunities into real classrooms. There are multiple pathways to learning what we have always taught, and things to do that were unimaginable just a few years ago.

Start with the resources at hand

Even if educators don’t have access to expensive (but increasingly affordable) hardware, every classroom can become a makerspace where kids and teachers learn together through direct experience with an assortment of high- and low-tech materials. The potential range, breadth, power, complexity, and beauty of projects have never been greater thanks to the amazing new tools, materials, ingenuity, and playfulness found in today’s maker materials. Turning every classroom into a makerspace and every child into a maker is the path to creating truly personal learning for every student.

Additional resources

► Invent To Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Education in the Classroom – This website is the home of our groundbreaking book. It gives educators a practical guide to bringing 21st century tools, technology, and pedagogy to any classroom. We also include recommended books and hundreds of links to resources and professional development for making, tinkering, and engineering in the K-12 classroom.

► Video – Making in Education – Gary Stager’s interview with Steve Hargadon at the 2012 San Mateo Maker Faire.

► Constructing Modern Knowledge – a premier event for teacher professional learning with the tools and materials of the 21stcentury.

► Learning by Making: American kids should be building rockets and robots, not taking standardized tests, a Slate magazine article by Dale Dougherty.

► Make magazine – The bible of the Maker Movement, for adults and young people.

► Why I LOVE My 3D Printer (and you will too!) is a video of a passionate talk by 12-year-old Schuyler St. Leger.

► Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show is a video seriesproduced by Sylvia Todd, an 11-year-old maker, and her father. Her videos are youthful and vibrant examples of playful technology. The New York Times recently wrote a profile that will interest educators.


Sylvia Libow Martinez is President of Generation YES, a non-profit with a mission of empowering young people to improve their schools and communities with modern technology. Sylvia holds a B.S. in electrical engineering and a master’s degree in Education Technology and works in schools around the world to bring the power of authentic learning into classrooms, particularly in STEM subjects. In earlier careers, she was an aerospace engineer and senior scientist researching GPS navigational satellite systems.

Gary S. Stager is a leading expert and advocate for computer programming, robotics and learning-by-doing in classrooms and a pioneer in developing online learning systems. In addition to beinga popular blogger and keynote speaker, Gary is a journalist, teacher educator, consultant, professor and software developer, and founder of the Constructing Modern Knowledge summer institute for educators.

Weekly Team Planning Template Link

Weekly Events - Safe Schools and School Bus Driver Appreciation Week!

Monday, October 19, 2015 - C Day

  • 504 Training - 8:30 am - Baker Center - Robin
  • 2nd Grade Field Trip - 9:30 am - Bob Bullock Museum - Angela, Monica, Sicily
  • CST Meeting - 1:10 pm - Office - Claudia, Elise, Grace
  • HWC - 2:50 pm - Library - Susan and Teachers
  • After-school Classes - 3:00 pm - Various Locations
  • CAC Dinner - 5:30 pm - Lodge 12 - Interested CAC Members

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - A Day

  • 5th Grade Field Trip - 8:00 am - Ropes Course - Chad, Diana
  • Teach Team Meeting - 3:00 pm - Office - Lauren, Grace
  • HWC - 2:50 pm - Library - Susan and Teachers
  • After-school Classes - 3:00 pm - Various Locations

Wednesday, October 21, 2015 - B Day

  • Elementary Principal Meeting - 8:00 am - Delco Center - Grace
  • Operation School Bell Trip - 9:00 am - Robin
  • HWC - 2:50 pm - Library - Susan and Teachers
  • After-school Classes - 3:00 pm - Various Locations
  • Interviews - 3:00 pm - Office - Grace, Available Interview Committee Members

Thursday, October 22, 2015 - C Day

  • Picture Day! - As Scheduled - TBD - All Classes
  • ARD - 10:15 am - Office - Monica, Meghan, Margaret, Jodie, Grace
  • ARD - 1:10 pm - Learning Lab 1 - Stefanie, Janie, Grace
  • ARD - 2:00 pm - Learning Lab 1 - Vivien, Janie, Grace
  • After-school Classes - 3:00 pm - Various Locations
  • CAC Meeting - 3:15 pm - Library - All CAC Members

Friday, October 23, 2015 - A Day

  • Assembly - 7:45 am - Gym - 2nd Grade Presents - All
  • After-school Classes - 3:00 pm - Various Locations
  • 100th Celebration Planning Meeting - 3:00 pm - Library - All Interested

Saturday, October 24, 2015

  • Grounds Day - 8:00 am - Any Interested

For Your Information


  • If you need something, ask.
  • Make sure to utilize reading/writing workshop and small group instruction during core.
  • Remember to take attendance daily on TEAMS.
  • Arrive and pick up your class from special areas on time - respect each other's time.
  • Ensure 504, IEP, ELL, and Gifted Accommodations are being followed
  • Actively supervise your students - Spread out at recess to monitor each area.
  • Check our calendar for important events
  • Try something new and have fun!

Kudos: Do you know of something good? Share it with Grace to be included here or write it in the comments below!

  • To everyone for taking the time to have meaningful conversations with parents during conferences, especially to Chad and Diana McG, who have almost 30 conferences to hold each!
  • To Steve, Anne Marie, Jud, Robin, for delicious Monday morning omelettes and to everyone who brought in ingredients as well!
  • To Nicole for creating an opportunity for a wonderful Maker activity involving collaboration, problem solving, communication, and technology!
  • To the Kindergarten Team for being open to change and supportive of each student!
  • To Maria for guiding us through the Report Card Process!
  • To every teacher for completing our first reporting cycle! Yay!
  • To Robin and Elise for leading us in our No Place for Hate Assembly and to everyone for participating in the Peace Chain!
  • To all who helped out with set up, manning booths, cleaning up, or celebrating with the community during Octoberrama!

Upcoming Events:

  • Honor Roll Assembly - October 26th
  • SEL Superhero Character Dress Up Day - October 30th
  • Monster Orchestra Concert - October 30th
  • Maker Faire at Barnes and Noble - November 7th
  • 6th Grade Science MOY - November 10th
  • Staff Development - November 11th
  • Fire Drill - November 12th
  • 6th Grade Reading MOY - November 18th
  • CAC - November 19th
  • Fall Musical - November 19th
  • Thanksgiving Break - November 25th-27th

Website to Explore:

  • http://www.instructables.com/- From Teachthough.com: Instructables is place where anyone can explore, learn, and share different creations and projects. It is a community of makers who openly share their projects to promote innovation and creativity, as well as provide educators and students with a place to develop project ideas and share their own creations. Happy exploring!