Sunday, October 1, 2017

Scratch and Makey Makey: Ideas for getting hands-on with computer science in YOUR classroom!

At the end of last school year, my colleague and I had an idea. What if we took our love of Makey Makey added the amazing coding skills our kids have been honing in Scratch and put them together to enhance a math concept they were learning in the classroom?

If you are you looking for ways to get started with Scratch and Makey Makey? Check out this earlier post.

Sherry Brauer, a brilliant third-grade teacher, and I had been working together teaching her students programming with Scratch and they are rocking it. We took this opportunity to take a math concept they were learning, equivalent fractions, had the students write a program in Scratch to show what they know then added Makey Makey to make it a hands-on interactive physical model.

To begin the project Sherry had the students create physical models with fraction strips to show equivalent fractions. They had been studying fractions for awhile in math so this was the perfect link to computer science. A great hands-on lesson for modeling equivalent fractions and a fun way to connect to Makey Makey.

Link to original project students used to remix

After their models were made students remixed this Scratch project, which is simply an image of the same fraction bars (minus the whole), with a sprite (the object that performs the action in a program). They added all of the programming blocks to create their own project showing equivalent fractions and they were given the chance to decide how best to do this. Most chose to program their sprite to move to the specific location on the fraction bar then used the "say __ for 2 seconds" block to identify the fraction and an equivalent.

We were smack dab in the middle of this project when this post was written so the students were still working on it and added more to their programs along with instructions so that others can use their programs with Makey Makey too. Below is an example of one student's work in progress program.

Link to student's project.
Use the up arrow to control the sprite and space to reset.

Finally, we used Makey Makey to make our physical fraction models our touchpad to run our programs. We used copper tape (here is the Amazon link) on our fraction bars to create our circuits. We have 10 MakeyMakey kits at Sun Terrace and they are well worth the investment! Check out this STEM pack available for you to get your own!

The best part of a project like this is how engaged the students were with the math concept. We heard TONS of math vocabulary being used while they were building their programs and their circuits. The students that struggled with the concept originally were asking for an extra mini-lesson on fractions so that they were sure to get their program to work the way they wanted it to. When students had a mistake in their mathematical thinking it was not seen as a failure by them but simply a bug in their program they needed to fix.

So what else can you do with Scratch and MakeyMakey?

Now here is the fun part! Let your imagination run wild with the possibilities. Below are just a few ideas you could try!

  • Interactive Map.  Have students create a map of your state or the USA and use MakeyMakey and Scratch to have the sprite explain facts as they touch each place on the map.
  • Books Talk! Students illustrate a cover of a book and use Scratch and MakeyMakey to make the character come to life with a book preview.
  • Solar systems come alive. Make a model of the solar system using PlayDoh, as users touch each planet a talking sprite explains a bit about that planet.
  • All About (fill in the blank) talking poster. Using Scratch sound blocks have students record themselves explaining what they incorporated into their poster and what it tells about the character or person or even themselves.
  • Writing takes on a life of its own. After writing a story have students program their sprites to act it out in Scratch. Students can illustrate a cover or a comic book style version of their story to make it an interactive tale!

There are TONS of resources out there for you and your students to try, we are just barely scratching (get it ;) the surface and the possibilities are truly endless. The Makey Makey Labz website is chock FULL of great projects for you and your students. Check out the link below and be sure to follow them on Twitter to stay up to date with any new resources and deals.

Another incredible resource is a new book by Colleen and Aaron Graves. 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius promises to be FILLED with projects showing readers step-by-step how to make awesome new inventions with Makey Makey. You can order it on Amazon today!

So that's how we are combining computer programming with making at Sun Terrace Elementary and we are just beginning to dive into all of the ways we can get students exploring, discovering, thinking and creating with Scratch and Makey Makey. This year we are taking it even deeper following the 3-5 Computer Science curriculum from San Francisco Unified (see links below). What have you tried? Have tips, ideas, resources to share? Please add them to the comments below!

Are you looking for ways to get started with Scratch and Makey Makey? Check out this earlier post. Also, check out the INCREDIBLE work they are doing in San Francisco Unified combining Scratch and Makey Makey in their 3-5 Computer Science curriculum. Huge shout-out to Owen Perry, Bryan Twarek, Bill Marsland and the entire #CSinSF team for SO generously sharing their curriculum with us and constantly inspiring us to bring Computer Science to all students!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Meet the All NEW Flipgrid! 10+ Must Try Ideas for Using These Updates With Your Class

The edtech world has caught a serious case of #FlipgridFever 🔥 On August 10th Flipgrid Founder Charlie Miller announced that more than 100,000 educators and more than 5,000,000 students use Flipgrid across 141 countries (watch the live stream of the launch event). In addition, a new Flipgrid video was shared every .48 seconds of every minute of every day since Jan 1 of 2017. Today more than 1.2 billion seconds of video have been shared by students and educators on Flipgrid, representing more than 38 years of student voice.

Flipgrid knows what kids and teachers love and they have added some awesome features to take the best parts of other apps like Instagram and Snapchat and added them in a safe environment (you can control all of these options in the admin console) while keeping all of the fun! There is a sleeker and even MORE user friendly admin side. Check it out for yourself! The admin console has gotten a major makeover. In true Flipgrid form emojis have been added for extra fun and engagement. You are going to FLIP out over these updates and what’s even more incredible is that ALL of these features are available to the FREE Flipgrid One account users!

I know you have been kept in suspense long enough so I won’t make you wait any longer. So let me introduce you to the all NEW Flipgrid! Check out these incredible updates and ideas for using them in your classroom!

1. Who doesn’t love stickers? Students (and adults) will love the new ability to express themselves by adding a stickers to their selfie. Have your students use stickers to  label their videos into genres or even express mood with emoji stickers.

2. What!!! You can DRAW on your selfie too? In addition to adding stickers kids can also draw on their snapped selfie to add a little creativity to give a sneak peek into what their video might be about.

3. Videos can now have titles added which not only gives the viewer an idea of what the video is about but also gives students the opportunity to use their creative writing skills to come up with a good title that will hook the viewer in and get them watching their video! You can also add hashtags to videos to make them searchable.

4. Camera flip! You can now flip your camera around while recording. Think of all the possibilities for students to show their work or art or model or ??? while they are explaining and sharing their thinking.

5. OK get ready for this one. Are you ready??? Are you sure, because this is HUGE. FILE LINKS! Nope, you aren’t dreaming. Students can now now add files links to your videos which give students the opportunity to share their thoughts about a project. Incredibly engaging digital portfolios. CHECK!

6. Supercharged stimulation! You thought it was amazing before to be able to add your own video file or YouTube video? Well check THIS out! You can still upload or record your own video but now you can add Vimeo (and YouTube), upload and image, add a GIF or even and emoji to engage your students. Use an emoji to teach concepts like mood and tone. Check out Edutopia’s article Using Emojis to Teach Critical Reading Skills for more ideas.

7. Holy HyperDocs integration! Prompts can pack an even bigger punch with the ability to attach any file, document or website in your topic. Attach a HyperDoc and allow students to reflect at different parts of a lesson or unit. Check out Flipgrid and HyperDocs! Amplifying student voice in purposeful lesson design for more ideas.

8. You asked for it and they delivered, BIG TIME. Flipgrid now give ALL users (even Flipgrid One accounts) the option to provide PERSONALIZED FEEDBACK for your students. Right from the teacher admin you can click next to your students videos and provide written feedback and even give them a score on a performance and ideas rubric.ALL Flipgrid educators can now provide feedback to their students. Flipgrid Classroom users can even upload their own custom scoring rubric!

9. Click on your Dashboard to see your total engagement time across all of your grids and Flipgrid will give you an Engagement Fun Fact to go with it. Have a flipgrid account you only use with your class? Share this with your student to put their response time into context. You might just sneak a little extra learning in too 😉  A little fun fact of my own, you can even Tweet it right from your dashboard!
10. Student privacy is important and so is family communication and that’s why can now generate a private link to share a video with your students’ families or even the community without linking back to the topic and grid it was recorded in. Create a hidden topic and use the new feature to generate a private link to share with your parents to communicate with families while ensuring that other students and parents can’t access the videos from your grid.

11. Now you can do more than just like a video you can react to it! Add these emoji reactions for more fun. You can use them for voting or assign a meaning to each so that students can give each other feedback on their videos in a fun and easy way. Teachers can off the 5 reactions and just keep the likes or turn them on for added engagement.

The BEST thing about the all NEW Flipgrid is that along with all of these amazing new updates they have kept all of the wonderful features you have come to know and love. Students can still respond using ANY device, sharing topics and grids is as simple as a code or link and teachers have full control with moderating features. These are just some of the incredible updates. Visit or to see all of the ways Flipgrid has made their already amazing product even more incredible. And we thought Flipgrid couldn’t get any better!

Ready to get started? If you already have a Flipgrid account your new updates will be there as soon as you log on! Don’t have a Flipgrid account yet? Go to to sign up for your free account. You can use promo code KARLYMOURA to upgrade to Flipgrid Classroom until September 30th.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Flipgrid and HyperDocs: Amplifying student voice in purposeful digital lesson design.

This is a collaborative post written with the incredible Sean Fahey, an amazing 6th grade teacher in Indiana. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his blog at  

If you follow either one of us on Twitter, you will quickly find out that we have many things in common. Two of those being our passion for Flipgrid and HyperDocs. We are have created many HyperDocs collaboratively and share them with our PLN on Twitter. We are also both Flipgrid Ambassadors and love sharing this amazing tool with other educators. We believe that powerful digital lesson design infused with the power of amplifying student voice is truly a game changer in the classroom.
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Whoa. Stop the music. You don’t know about Flipgrid or HyperDocs? Well, then you have our permission to stop reading and explore any and all of the resources below.

OK now that we are all on the same page with the WHAT, let’s talk about WHY HyperDocs and WHY Flipgrid? And HOW we can use them together to amplify student voice in purposeful digital lesson design?In an episode of the Cult of Pedagogy podcast, Jennifer Gonzalez interviewed Lisa Highfill, Kelly Hilton, and Sarah Landis the creators of HyperDocs.

HIGHFILL: ...You know when a new web tool comes along, you’re all excited? Like everyone’s excited right now about Flipgrid and whatnot.
HIGHFILL: But then I want to ask them, what are you going to do with it? How are you going to build the pedagogy around that cool tool?
HIGHFILL: And where in the lesson flow would it fit in your HyperDocs? So it’s really saying, “I love flashy new tools. Now let’s think about how you can effectively use them in the classroom, and then link it into your HyperDoc that way."
Lisa makes a great point. How many times have you got caught up in all the hoopla over a new edtech tool or update? Flipgrid is THE hot new edtech tool educators are excited to use. However, as Lisa asks, “What are you going to do with it? How are you going to build the pedagogy around that cool tool?”

We need to make sure that we slow down and think about why are we including the technology we have chosen for our lessons. We shouldn’t just toss in a Flipgrid or any other edtech tool we might like just because we need or want to use technology.  Karly’s friend Nick Zefeldt, advises that when implementing educational technology we need to make sure and ask “Is it meaningful and is it manageable?”


Well, we say “Yes!” to Flipgrid being both when used correctly and we want to give some ideas how you can effectively use Flipgrid in the classroom, and then link it into your HyperDoc lessons. The reason being that great HyperDocs are created and taught with purposeful lesson design and pedagogy and Flipgrid being so versatile by allowing for video feedback and increased student voice within your digital lesson design.

While HyperDocs can take many forms (slides, maps, drawing, forms etc), we will be referring to the sections from the basic HyperDoc template for our examples. The basic HyperDoc template has seven parts that students go through as you complete the lesson. This template was created by Sarah Landis to help others get started and gives an excellent description of each part.

There are tons of ways you can incorporate Flipgrid into your HyperDocs, here are just a few ideas for getting started. Note: You can go to “file” then “make a copy” of any of these templates or examples to use with your own class.

Use Flipgrid to engage students at the beginning of a lesson by including a video, image, quote, or another inspirational hook in your topic for students to respond to.

  • Idea 💡  KWL chart gets a video REMIX. Have student respond to a topic sharing what they know. Then have them reply to themselves and classmates sharing what they want to know. After the lesson or unit have students come back to their own video and respond to themselves with what they have learned. Woo! A FlipGrid KWL


Students explore a topic through a collection of resources (articles, videos, infographics, text excerpts, etc.) in the HyperDoc.

  • Idea 💡 Bring in experts and take your students beyond the four walls of your classroom! Flipgrid hosts an amazing opportunity with their Flipgrid Explorer Series. They have done two so far and more are planned! Use the expert videos in the Explorer series for your students to learn about new and exciting animals, places and careers. HyperDocs are a perfect accompaniment to this series as you create your digital lessons around these topics and extend the learning in your own classroom.
  • Idea 💡 So Flipgrid’s explore series doesn’t fit into your curriculum? Then create your own! Teachers can do this by creating a ‘virtual field trip’. Go to a place (we’re thinking state parks, historical sites, museums, etc)  that is of value to your lessons and record short videos of the sites to bring the content to your classroom.  Add the videos to a Flipgrid for your students to explore and respond to. Even better collaborate with other teachers across your district, state or even in other countries to create an explorer series for many different classes to connect through.

Apply and Share:

Create an assignment for students to apply what they learn by using web tools to create, collaborate, and/or connect beyond the classroom.  Then collect student work to provide feedback, and/or include a section for students to share work with an authentic audience.

  • Idea 💡 Have students use storytelling web tools to apply their learning. Then appsmash with Flipgrid and get them to share with the class and beyond! Students show what they know using video or digital storytelling in a different app then upload to Flipgrid to share.
  • Idea 💡 You don’t need to appsmash. Students can simply connect with other students across the school, state, country or world! Before, during and/or after a unit have students connect with each other to share what they learned.

Give students an opportunity for digital reflection on their learning journey using Flipgrid to guide students through their learning progression and set new goals.
  • Idea 💡 Have students reflect back on the lesson or unit and share what they have learned. This is a powerful way for students to be thoughtful about their learning process.

This quote from Matt Miller reminds us that we must be intentional in our teaching and integration of technology no matter what tools we decide to use in our lessons. “The bottom line is that pedagogy must drive technology. The mindset that fuels digital learning is good teaching trumps good tools.”

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