3rd Grade Tackle Cubelets Challenges

Jordan is our 3rd grade blogger for the week, and Keely is our photographer.

Today in GT we used robots called Cubelets.They were very cool robots.The way you use Cubelets is by connecting them together.  There are lots of different types of Cubelets like action or sensing. Another thing we talked about is PMI,CAF, growth mindsets,and systems thinking. CAF means consider all factors. PMI means plus minus and interesting.Growth mindset means to not let anything stop you from what you want to accomplish even if it seems to hard.

3rd Grade Gets Feedback for Their Projects

The third graders read some more of Billibonk and the Big Itch today, which gave us the idea that the students might need to see the cafeteria problems they have been working on – noise and messiness – from a different perspective.  We decided that they needed to spend some time in there observing lunch from the adult point of view.  With clipboards in hand, they took notes during the 5th grade lunch period and discussed how some of their observations resembled or differed from what they had thought from the student perspective.

We were also very fortunate to receive some video responses to the students’ questions from last week.  A principal in Michigan sent us some answers that gave us some insight about how his school’s cafeteria works.  The students were really gratified to find out that his school uses circle tables in the cafeteria, which was one of the suggestions they found during their research to cut down on noise.  He also gave the students ideas for incentives that might encourage our own students to work on their cafeteria behavior. They took a lot of notes, and realized we need to do a little math next week so we can compare the number of students that sit in our cafeteria at one time to how many are in his during a lunch period.

Next week, we will be Skyping with a principal in Minnesota to learn more about his school’s cafeteria. The students are finding it very helpful to get a variety of perspectives!

Near the end of the day, the students worked with Cubelets using Legos donated by a 4th grader and the new brick adapters donated by the Castleberries.  They also explored the new MaKey Makey purchased for our class by a 4th grade parent.

Third Grade Prepares Interview Questions

Due to STAAR testing on Tuesday, 3rd grade had a shortened GT period, but got quite a bit done.  They worked on questions to ask administrators at other schools about how they handle cafeteria behavior.  The questions were placed on something called Flipgrid, where they will hopefully get answers from administrators all over the world.  They are also planning to do a Skype interview with an administrator next week to get more ideas on how to limit noise and mess in the cafeteria as part of their Genius Hour/Systems Thinking projects.

The 3rd graders also got to try to new beta version of the Hopscotch app, which is an iPad app for programming.  Hopscotch is already available for free downloads, but the company is working on updating the app, and they want feedback from as many people as possible.  Considering the 3rd graders hadn’t used Hopscotch before, they did pretty well in the small amount of time they had!

We also want to thank the Castleberry family for their recent donation of some new Cubelets and Lego Adapters from our class wish list.  We hope to get started using them next week!

3rd Grade Works on More Cubelets Problem Solving and Genius Hour Research

I gave the third graders a challenge to make Cubelet robots that could race each other to a finish line.  This required a lot of problem solving on the part of the students.  They were good at making robots that moved, but had a hard time trying to get them to stay in a straight line.  I really liked how they used scientific thinking to work on their problem.  They would hypothesize a solution, change a variable, and test it.  One of the issues they thought was working against them was our tile floor, so they set up a racetrack bounded by books on a smooth table. Unfortunately, that didn’t help!  One robot finally made it to the end from start to finish with no interference in between.  It was a fun challenge!

In Billibonk and the Big Itch, the students heard about the idea of looking at where a problem is not occurring to try to figure out how it is different than where a problem is occurring.  They are going to apply this to their Genius Hour projects by doing research on cafeterias that don’t have noise or trash problems to see what our school might want to try to do differently.  We are hoping to Skype some administrators from other schools to learn more about their cafeteria rules and setup.

5th Grade Reflects on The Giver

Today’s blog post is brought to you by Aubrie.

In G.T. today we Did Genius Hour, and 3 or 4 of us will be ready to present within the next  2  weeks! The challenges are still as cruel as ever, and Genius Hour is still as fun as ever!

We watched a video by the founders of a college (actually, they are not the founders, but one of them helped develop the Scratch programming language), and they have the same idea as *Rackspace: everyone works together and is treated equally.

*(The field trip is on April 4th!)

Mrs. Eichholz created centers for us to do as well, including the Cubelets , Little Bits,  3Doodler, and an assortment of fun games!

Lastly, Mrs. Eichholz made questions for us to answer via Ipad about “The Giver”.

Come back next week!

3rd Grade Learns About the “5 Why’s That Make You Wise”

In our new book, Billibonk and the Big Itch, the main character learns that it is important to keep asking, “Why?” to get to the root of a problem. Often, we try to fix the symptom instead of the real problem, and we end up continuing to have trouble. This is part of the systems thinking that the students are going to apply to their Genius Hour projects.

Based on the survey that we did of the school a couple of weeks ago, the biggest problem that we have at our school is noise in the cafeteria. The two girls have decided to try to tackle that problem. By asking 5 “Why’s”, the determined that people are talking loudly because they want attention. It will be interesting to see what solution they come up with for this problem!

The boys are also working on a cafeteria problem – the trash that is often left on the floor. In an unusual twist, the boys diverged in their answers to the “Why” questions. One boy feels that the ultimate issue is that students don’t respect the adults in the room, and another one feels that they don’t respect themselves enough (they leave trash on the floor because they want to be first in line to get recognition for being the “best”). They are both going to work on separate solutions, but help each other. (Win/Win!)

We also did some Contrasting Facts math today, and had a bit of time for the Maker Studio. One student figured out a way to use light to make the Cubelets go faster or slower, and I’ve embedded the video beneath the pictures from today.

3rd Grade Designs a Drawing Robot


Today was a unique day in 3rd grade GT.  We had a short day due to the Early Dismissal schedule.  Also, half of our class was absent – so we only had two students!

We tried to make the most of our time.  Building on what the students had learned about Cubelets last week, they learned about a few more of the cubes – including the very important “inverse” cube.  After doing a few more challenges, they got to explore.  They came up with some very unique inventions!  My favorite was one that we attached a marker to, so we could make it draw.  I’ve embedded a video of the robot in action below.

We took some time to check the responses to our survey about problems around the school.  So far, it looks like most respondents feel like noise in the cafeteria is the biggest problem.  Since two people weren’t here, we decided to wait to make choices about which problems we will tackle.

Finally, we did another Contrasting Facts math problem -with great collaboration, and a solution discovered at the last minute!

4th Grade Uses Plickers, Plays Whatzit, and Explores Cubelets!

This blog post was written by Mahli:

Today in G.T we reviewed Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt. We used Plickers to make our own ABC questions, and answer other groups questions. Then before we finished with Tuck Everlasting we played the Whatzit game. The Whatzit game is where there is a tic tac toe board and someone moves a square from it and behind each square is a question. Later we did Google Doodlers Hangout which is where we  talk to a Google Doodler  about  his or her job. We learned that being a Doodler takes a lot of synergizing and putting 1st things 1st . Then for a challenge we drew imaginative doodles that we were assigned to. At the end of the day people who were in level 3 played and explored the world of Cubelets. Others who weren’t in level 3  looked for inspiration for our Google doodle “ If you could make something to make the world a better place what would it be?” Altogether today in G.T was super fun.

3rd Grade Starts a New Project

Third grade was busy today!  The students worked on another Contrasting Facts math puzzle that definitely stretched their thinking. They actually came up with a different solution than the book which also fit all of the clues.  So, either your brain and head stop growing at ages 40 and 45 or at ages 10 and 15, depending on the circumstances, I guess!

They also brainstormed ideas for a new project to help the school.  I thought that it would be good to apply what we have learned about Systems Thinking to trying to fix a problem at our school.  They came up with a list of possible problems, and I showed them how to create a survey in Google Forms. Next week, the students will compile the data from the survey, and figure out which problem (or problems) they would like to tackle.  We are going to use some of the lessons we learned from Billibonk and the Thorn Patch to work on this new challenge.

At the end of the day, the students got to go into our B.O.S.S. HQ, and I introduced Cubelets to them.  They thought of all kinds of neat ways to combine some of the cubes to make different types of robots, and seem very eager to invent more!  The great thing about Cubelets is that they fall right into our Systems Thinking discussions!

5th Grade Explores Cubelets

The PTA recently granted me an EXCEL grant to start outfitting our Maker Studio next door.  One of the items that will be available in the Studio is a set of Cubelets.  These magnetic cubes can be combined in an endless number of ways to create different types of robots.  The order arrived last night, so I asked the 5th graders to explore them today and give me some feedback.

Even though the set is large (20 Cubelets), we found that it is definitely ideal to have no more than 2 or 3 people using them at a time.  The extra battery Cubelet that I ordered has not arrived, yet, but that will make it easier for a couple more people to work the challenges at the same time.  The kids all agreed that they are awesome, though!

We also worked on Genius Hour today, and the students learned about some “Villains” to avoid (such as “Decoy Boy”, who tries to distract you from your task).  They were offered Genius Hour Challenges, too, which made the time a bit more exciting.  Some had to go the entire hour without talking, one had to switch partners for a day, and another had to use her non-dominant hand for today’s session.  And those were only Level 1 Challenges!  The cards go up to Level 5, so it will be interesting to see who is willing to try the harder ones!

Here are some photos from today: