Thursday, February 2, 2017

Google Custom Search - Create Your Own!

We hear from so many teachers about projects they're working on in class and 'what are the best search engines for kids to find accurate information?'

One great resource is actually building your own Custom Search Engine within Google. When you build your own Custom Search Engine, teachers can choose which sites go into the search engine, and then your students will only get search results from those specified websites. Pretty cool!

Here's how it works!

1. Open up Google Custom Search Engine
2. Decide which websites you want to include in your Custom Search Engine and add them to 'Sites to Search'
3. Give your Custom Search Engine a name (ie: CA Mission Report, Local History Project, etc)
4. Click the 'Create' button and you now have a Custom Search Engine that will allow your students to only get search results from your designated websites.
5. You can share a link with your class, or you can even embed the search engine onto your website!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Hour of Code Is Over, What's Next!

Last week in MDUSD was so amazing to see al the schools, classes and students engaged in Hour of Code! With that being said, just because the 'official' Hour of Code is over, your kids can still be coding in class throughout the day!

- Coding on iPads or Chromebooks in class during stations is a great way to keep the work going.

- Set up a coding bingo card for your class and have students code different programs, apps and coding modules to fill in the card.

- Sphero are such a natural next step for Hour of Code and coding in general. Blue tape on the ground is the easiest way to build a Sphero track and have kids code. Create different levels of difficulty and make sure they always code with a buddy, Sphero is much more fun with a buddy!

Khan Academy has been around for years and their coding lessons are really awesome! All the tutorial videos are on YouTube and it's a great way for kids to self pace their learning in school or at home!

GoldieBlox is a great follow-up to Hour of Code on the iPad. GoldieBlox is a STEM based game that has kids code in a story format. GoldieBlox add different complexity and levels to code, so much fun!

Osmo is amazing for so many reasons and we really love their Coding game. The coding kit is $49 and really gives the younger kids awesome hands-on experience with putting code together, check it out!

Codeacademy is amazing for those kids who are ready to jump up the next level with coding. Codeacademy is free, it's designed with different levels so kids can progress through the modules and they have many testimonials from adults who've made career changes into programming from the skills they've learned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Hour of Code #hourofcode

It's coming - it's coming - it's coming!

While many schools and classrooms aren't waiting for the Hour of Code to start coding with their students, the 'official' week is December 5-11th!

Check out the 'teach' tab on their website and choose which level you teach. We recommend you have students create an account using their so they can track their progress and code at home if they want!

Let's have ALL kids in MDUSD participate this year in the Hour of Code.

There are some really great videos on their YouTube channel which you can access here, and also see a few of them below as a fun way to kick off Hour of Code!


Monday, October 17, 2016

An Olympian Came to Visit

Last week we had the amazing opportunity to have Steve Mesler (Olympic Gold Medalist in the Bobsled) visit our district and a couple of our schools. Steve is the co-founder and CEO of Classroom Champions and spoke with a few classes about hard work, determination and also let everyone hold his actual Gold Medal, so cool!

Hopefully there's more to come with Classroom Champions down the road, being inspired by an Olympian is very special indeed!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Every School Needs a Lego Wall

Lego's are so much more than 'just' lego's. Kids love building, they love creating, playing, and there is so much we can do with them in our schools. Every school needs a lego wall - below are some ideas and great resources to get started.

You can purchase the green Lego Baseplates on Amazon from many different vendors, or ask your parent community if they have any to donate.

Below is a fun time-lapse video from Diana Rendina and check out her awesome blog post about building a lego wall!

Lego also has a great link with tons of Making ideas on their website!

Sun Terrace Elementary has an EPIC Lego Wall in their STEM/Maker lab. The amazing Karly Moura has also put together task cards to go along with their lego wall that kids can complete in their lab which are posted below.

Kids in action building!

Lego task cards by Karly Moura!

Marble maze in action.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


Coding is everywhere - in pretty much every part of our lives and an extremely vital skill our kids should be learning. In a series of posts, we're going to highlight coding initiatives that are already happening in our MDUSD schools.

Sequoia Middle school is using Scratch coding as part of their 6th grade rotation and ALL 6th graders are coding! We published this video below last week and wanted to share again!

The teachers are also using some great DK Workbooks as a guide as they learn and create with Scratch.

Stay tuned for our next coding class that will be lead by Linda Schuler, Principal at Bancroft Elementary - super excited for this to kick off!

Not sure about coding - not sure what it is - Hour of Code has a great video to watch below.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Let's Make - All the Time!

Makerspaces are an excellent way to get kids tinkering, building, collaborating, communicating and really just getting their hands dirty with learning. 

Just last week we were visiting Foothill Middle School and the amazing Makerspace that Sue Kunich has created.

Below are some photos and short descriptions of the Makespace that Sue has put together. If you go to Edutopia and search 'Makerspace' you'll find a plethora of articles that will help to get you started. A Makerspace doesn't have to look just one way, you can start super small and build from there!

We'd also recommend checking out Laura Fleming's website for TONS of ideas, she is amazing and has been 'making' for years!

Upon walking into the space at Foothill Middle, there was a student writing code in Scratch and he was able to completely explain what he was coding and why - so awesome!

"I'm the TA (Teachers Assistant) and I'm just writing some code for a few minutes!"

Keep on coding!

As my eyes started to scan the space I noticed 'it' right away. The Sphero track was labeled, and the course was set up. Coding and robotics are so important for our kids to learn and Sphero is in our opinion one of the best ways to teach and learn both concepts!

Lots of Google Cardboard for the VR station in the Makerspace!

Every school has cardboard and LOTS of it! Love this Cardboard City and can't wait to see what kids create throughout the year. 

The Newspaper Tower Challenge looks really awesome, just think spaghetti towers but using newspaper instead. Design thinking, engineering, creativity, collaboration and so much more! And the price is right for this Makerspace station.

The Marble Machine is such a great idea for a Makerspace. Kids are given some materials and have to build so the marble is supported and propelled down the board, which is hanging on the wall! I can't wait to go back and visit to see it in action, so cool!

A LEGO wall is standard for any Makerspace, buckets and buckets of LEGOs to play with and build! Ask your parent community if they have legos around the house that are no longer used, it's a super quick way to get donations.

So many great questions for kids to think about and discuss with the Wind Tunnel. Can you explain weight, thrust, drag, lift and anything else?

If you haven't created in Tinkercad and printed on a 3D printer you are SO missing out. We'd recommend having kids play and design in Tinkercad first, then have them export their creations to print in 3D.

iPhone cases, chess pieces, landmarks they're studying in social studies - what else?!

Mrs. Kunich made this little structure for the cardboard city, love that teachers are getting their hands dirty and creating with kids!