Saturday, December 29, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 16

I was tied up with testing most of the week, but cancelled everything on Thursday to have classes come in for a Free Build Day before the break!

Here’s a sneak peek at some of our wonderful Winter Program

Or you can watch the whole show here:

We all had a fantastic time! Have a safe and relaxing break, Panthers!
See you next year!

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 15

So much testing! The students were testing – District Level Assessments for a different subject every day; I was testing – administering the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, however we did manage to squeeze in a day or two of coding and building!

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 14

This week we held our 5th annual campus-wide Hour of Code!

It was a complete success thanks to the support of my amazing team: Mr. Baham, Mr. Huerta, Ms. Karna, Mr. Keahey, Ms. Kindle, and Ms. Ryan – they stepped out of their various roles as Music, Art, Technology Applications, PE, and Drama specialists to join me as coding instructors for the day. 

The one person who truly makes our Hour of Code happen is our campus technologist, Mr. Contreras! He has managed all the logistics of collecting (and charging!) 100+ laptops, setting them up in the gym and library, and most impressively – getting everything back where it came from – for the past few years. I am so very grateful to this group for another great event!

We also held our campus Spelling Bee this week! To see more about this event, click HERE

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 13

A HUGE week of Green STEAM! We had a Kinder Green Hero Trash Bash, the recycling team started a new poster campaign, Monarch Heroes finished painting all their new beds for the habitat expansion and their 4th grade partners carried them out and placed them. 

These 4th grade partners got a work-out this week! They helped all eight groups of Monarch Heroes cycle through the lab to finish painting, making their milk-jug monarchs, and got the last set of reused cereal box wings completed. They also cut out the plastic bottle spirals and milk jug butterflies as the plastic was too sharp and difficult for the first grade to cut through. Finally, they punched holes and attached wires to all the butterflies for the garland.

There was also lots of work in, robot-retells with OZOBOTS, and everyone’s favorite - a Free Build Day.

What a fantastic week! 

Saturday, November 24, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 12

It was a big week for recognizing Piney Point student accomplishments! I was honored to attend the Mayor’s Proud Partner breakfast Tuesday to collect an award for our marvelous 1st grade Eco-Schools USA Monarch Heroes!

Ms. Leal, Ms. Thormodsgaard, Ms. Villanueva, Ms. Salas, 2017-18 Monarch Heroes Alex and Krisha, and 2018-19 Monarch Heroes Sherlyn, Penelope, and Fabian joined me at the Hilton Americas to receive a very well-deserved award recognizing the impact of our 1st graders efforts to educate their community, beautify and improve their campus, and advocate for wildlife.
In the STEAM lab we cycled through five classes of Monarch Heroes new garden bed painting and started working on a new recycled art project! Everything looks gorgeous and I cannot wait until our last three groups have their turn and we start the assembly portion of the projects.
Picture Day, a couple of field trips and the Universal Kinder and 5th grade testing led to a somewhat topsy-turvy schedule, but lots of great problem solving and collaboration went on just the same!

We closed out the week with the Marathon Kids 1st marathon finisher celebration. It was a beautiful day to be out on our track and enjoy a run!

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 11

Another fantastic week!

3rd-5th grade participated in the Bebras Critical Thinking Challenge during STEAM Lab, but K-2nd were hard at work building, problem solving in, and storytelling with BeeBots and OZOBOTS!
Friday was our annual Mini Reading Fair and the student work on display was fantastic!

In 1st grade Ms. Leal and Ms. Thormodsgaard’s classrooms transformed into puppet theater and they staged works inspired by students’ Name That Book favorites! Ms. Thormodsgaard’s class performed a version of Frank, the Seven-Legged Spider and Ms. Leal’s students presented The Princess and the Pea.
2nd grade presented Aesop TV. Students worked collaboratively to retell favorite fables orally and visually with their recycled material “TV” sets!
In 3rd grade Ms. Mallona and Mr. Briceno’s group presented their Water World play to acclaim and Ms. Massey hosted a poetry cafĂ© – visitors were treated to performances of verse favorites by several of Piney Point’s top UIL contenders!
4th grade did readings from their digital anthology “The Great Escape”. Visitors were thrilled to have a personal presentation from the author of each story!
5th grade presented their book commercials and “sold” favorite titles to their audience members!

As if this weren’t enough for one week, our UIL team competed at the HISD Elementary UIL Invitational Meet 2 at Welch Middle School on Saturday and brought home a load of medals for their outstanding performances! Great Job, Panthers!

Sunday, November 4, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 10

A great week for creative expression in the STEAM lab!

K-2 were all about Robo-retells this week! BeeBots and OZOBOTS were the zipping around student-made story maps for The Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and P. D. Eastman’s Are You My Mother? Students also put in some time on a little Pair Programming in their courses.

3rd - 5th grade had practice sessions for the Bebras Critical Thinking Challenge, so every day brought a new group to the lab except for Wednesday. For Halloween the STEAM Lab classes worked in Scratch creating spooky games and animations!

K-2 Name That Book Club is making rapid progress with their book list; lead readers finished their 17th book before everyone headed out for their Friday Book Buddy read-aloud.

Monarch Heroes have reached the ½ point towards their fall Monarch Money goal and will start painting their new garden beds next week.

Next week 3rd – 5th will be cycling through again, this time to participate in the actual Bebras Challenge! Good luck, Panthers!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 9

It was a big week for Arts Education at Piney Point!

The Alley Theatre brought their show Oskar and the Big Bully Battle to the whole school on Monday, Kinder and 1st grade attended a Musiqa performance at the Hobby Center and 4th grade had their second meeting with their Arts Partners from MET Dance.
In the STEAM Lab we started a new rotation that focuses on integrating literature. The primary students read the Greedy Triangle by Marilyn Burns and made their own BeeBot mats to practice retelling the story. The 3rd grade broke into groups based on their choice of story and created literal story maps for their Robo-retells! They used the OZOBOTS to retell stories from Chris Van Allsburg and Eric Carle.
Students continue to work towards their programming goals in; the 5th grade in particular made really outstanding progress this week!

Next week 3rd-5th grade will be working through the practice session for the Bebras Critical Thinking challenge!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 8

Another week of learning adventures in the Piney Point STEAM Lab!

This week we completed our first cycle through the STEAM Lab – all classes have now completed the introduction to the lab/ and initial activities.
This last set of classes included Ms. Bell’s Kindergarten, Ms. Pineda’s 1st grade, Ms. Keahey’s 2nd grade, Ms. Accavallo’s 3rd grade, Ms. Alanis’ 4th grade and Ms. Purvey’s 5th grade.
Classes set goals on their class Padlet, learned to use Classroom Q, and made great strides in problem solving with their Pair Programming strategies in This week saw our first campus-wide IIM fair where classes presented their research to each other. A lot of very remarkable class and individual work was shared, and students were justifiably proud of their hard work!

Monarch Heroes -

The year’s first cold snap coincided with a big influx of caterpillars emerging and Monarch Heroes were out in the gardens monitoring the situation. Lots of larvae had to be relocated from bare sticks inside until we could get more milkweed supplies! Ms. Thormodsgaard’s class taped this week’s Monarch Money PSA in the TV studio and all 1st grades presented topic related to their Monarch Hero project at the IIM Fair. This group received word that their hard work has been recognized and they have been named a Mayor’s Proud Partner!

Recycling Heroes – 

Mr. Arzola’s class filmed this week’s Recycling Reminder in the TV studio and all eight teams were out in force Thursday collecting and educating their peers about the importance of recycling!


Our UIL team had their first contest of the year 10/13! Read all about it HERE

Next week begins a whole new set of learning experiences focused on Language Arts integration!

Sunday, October 14, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 7

There was so much happening this week! 

Ms. Tran’s Kinder, Ms. Thormodsgaard’s 1st grade, and Ms. Thompson’s 2nd grade got acquainted with their course and learned how to navigate to the site, log in, and pair program. They will be coding superstars in no time!
Pre-K - 1st grade attended Houston Grand Opera’s Storybook Opera presentation by Ms. Sandra Campbell. Ms. Campbell won hundreds of new opera fans here at Piney Point last year with her wonderful Chrysanthemum Storybook Opera! We were thrilled to have her return and share Opera Cat!

1st grade started their Monarch Money announcements in the TV studio this week – so far they have collected 1/5th of their fall goal!

Also, our 2nd grade Recycling team started their public information campaign – broadcasting recycling reminder on the morning announcements and hanging their reused material posters in all the hallways!

1st and 2nd grade Name That Book club members had their first Book Buddy visits on Friday as well – each club member has a partner class that they will visit to read aloud their favorite story from the week’s reading!

Mr. Garza’s 3rd grade and Mr. Torres’ 4th grade got up to speed in almost immediately! They learned the new lab procedures, set goals on the class Padlet, and mastered the use of Classroom Q too! Both these groups had very special learning experiences this week as part of our campus Arts Integration initiatives:
3rd Grade to Houston Ballet Studio Series – Dance in Texas
4th grade Met Dance residency – a writing workshop exploring the history of America told through music and popular dance!
You can read about and see highlights from the experiences HERE

Ms. Limon’s class had a short week, but still got their new class set up, started work on a research project, and had our first Skype-a-Scientist session! They had a digital visit to the TAMU field lab in Galveston to talk with Ms. Janelle Goeke, a PhD candidate specializing in coastal ecology! They learned about what a life scientist actually does all day, challenges our coastal region is facing, and lots of fun facts about marine creatures!

3rd grade G/T - created personal Scratch accounts and began the process of uploading their Biome projects and 4th grade G/T completed their Bio Bottles. They are planning to display their mini interactive history museum next week.

Our UIL team is attending the first meet of the year at Pin Oak Middle School Saturday - Go Panthers!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 6

Another wonderful week in the Piney Point STEAM Lab!

The lab hosted:
Ms. Caro’s Kindergarten – who made amazing progress in their course! They quickly got the hang of Pair Programming and their excellent collaboration helped them solve a remarkable number of puzzles this week!
Ms. Pesce’s 1st grade learned to navigate to, sign into their course as partners, and work together using the Navigator/ Driver strategy.
Ms. Greenhouse’s 2nd grade learned how to sign into the universal password and access all their grade level resources through the PANTHERS page! They did a great job communicating and collaborating to solve problems!
Mr. Briceno’s 3rd, Ms. Martinez’s 4th, and Ms. Mulry’s 5th grade had a very good 1st week in STEAM Lab. Mr. Briceno’s class learned to use all the new organizational tools: the goal setting Padlet and the Classroom Q digital help function. 4th & 5th split their time between and their Genius Hour Bio Bottle projects.
Genius Hour:
3rd grade didn’t meet this week, but completed their Arts Partnership with Houston Ballet's Dance to Learn program.
4th & 5th grade  made a very strong start on the Bio Bottle projects!

Eco-School’s Green Heroes: 
Our Monarch Heroes launched the Monarch Money campaign this week to raise funds for new gardens! They also prepped their ambassador butterflies for their Journey North Symbolic Migration to Mexico.
2nd grade Recycling Team made their recycling pick-up rounds on Thursday, and artist teams from each class visited the lab to make their reused material recycling reminders for their hallways!

No Place For Hate:
 Our Student NPFH Coalition and especially the Erasing Hate sub-committee did a fantastic job hosting our 1st event! Congratulations team! See highlights HERE

Name That Book: Our K-2 club is in full swing! Readers from Ms. Brown, Ms. Leal, Ms. Thormodsgaard, and Ms. Ballentine’s classes have read their first books, practiced their read-aloud techniques, and have made an all-around fantastic start. 

Saturday, September 29, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 5

I missed the first couple of days this week, but these fantastic classes worked hard and caught up so quickly!

Visiting the lab this week:
Ms. Riffle’s Kinder: This group did a great job learning how to use the trackpad and navigate to their class! They got better and better at using the “Navigator/ Driver” strategy in their Pair Programming every day!
Ms. Flores’ 1st grade:  These Monarch Heroes made amazing progress in their coding class! In just 3 days they finished half of the challenges in Course B! Expect great things from these Future Programmers!
Mr. Arzola’s 2nd grade: These Recycling Heroes made all the pieces for the posters AND worked through a lot of their course! They learned how to make sure they are completely signed out of a program and their account before properly shutting down a computer.
Ms. Massey’s 3rd grade & Mr. Torres’ 4th grade make a lot of progress in their respective classes! They also learned to use the Padlet digital goal setting journal and the Classroom Q digital help feature.
Ms. Mulry’s 5th grade: will be back for STEAM Lab activities next week – this week they completed their 1st Genius Hour project.
Genius Hour: 4th grade completed their “Poetree” after learning about the traditions and conventions of Haiku. They worked with hard to compress their ongoing tree research into the strictly controlled format. Their wrote their best work onto leaves and combined them with fall colored wax-paper/ crayon melt to make a display! 5th grade selected a topic of personal interest and research it on BrainPOP and Britannica Online before creating an interactive display in Scratch connected with a Makey Makey. They did a fantastic job on these and invited Ms. Bailey & Mr. Cuevas to come see their products.
Eco-Schools: Our 2nd grade Recycling Team was smoothing out all the collection kinks and getting their system all worked out. Monarch Heroes distributed the Monarch Money jugs are getting ready to send their ambassador butterflies to Mexico! 4th grade started work on their tree research and will be getting the campus tree audit underway next week!

Sunday, September 23, 2018

STEAM lab 2018-19 week 4

Students did a great job in their first visit to the STEAM lab this week!

The lab hosted:
Ms. Almanza’s Kindergarten, who learned how to use the laptops and were introduced to
Ms. Montoya’s 1st grade, who finished their Monarch Hero wings and make great progress in their coding course
Ms. Lugo’s 2nd grade, who started Course C in and made posters for recycling! Our 2nd grade team sent classroom artists to make door reminders and start work on hallway posters made from reused materials. They kicked off schoolwide recycling this week!
Ms. Roesch’s 3rd grade, Mr. Torres’ 4th grade, and Ms. Guzman’s 5th grade almost immediately mastered all the new lab procedures and tools! They jumped straight into, and found that the class assignment hyperdoc, goal setting padlet, and Classroom Q gave them a lot more control over their own learning experience!
During G/T Genius hour:
 Ms. Massey’s class wrapped up their Scratch projects, and started work on their display objects – I can’t wait to see their interactive research projects! Ms. Grimaldo & Ms. Martinez’s 4th graders started work on their “Poetree”. They learned about Haiku and then wrote their own about trees on paper leaves. They ground up old crayons to make wax paper fall foliage to showcase their poems.
Looking forward to week 5!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 week 3

We had to cram 5 days of learning, making, collaborating, and problem solving into just four days again this week, but our Panthers were up to the challenge! 

This week the lab hosted:
Ms. Allende’s Kinder Green Heroes learned all about the problems they face keeping Piney Point green and started working on solutions. They learned to log in to their class with their partners and are already making their own algorithms!
Ms. Dipersio’s 1st grade Monarch Heroes had a very busy week! In STEAM Lab they made their class butterfly for the Journey North Symbolic Migration to Mexico, worked on their wings, AND got started in Course B! They learned to navigate to their class, sign in with a partner, and are already making amazing progress!
Ms. Mosquera’s 2nd grade Recycling Team completed their bin audit and got their classroom recycling assignments. They made posters for their hallways and got to work in Course C. They are old hands at, so they were ready for the new challenges! They love all the new puzzles and are pair programming like champions!
Ms. Guzman’s 3rd grade, Ms. White’s 4th grade, and Mr. Torres’ 5th grade made fantastic progress in, learned to use the new digital goal setting tool - Padlet, and the new digital help tool – Classroom Q, and the new digital Exit Ticket via Scratch and Makey-Makey! 4th grade even found time to paint with the Sphero robots!
Ms. Massey’s 3rd grade G/T class completed step two of their PBL Scratch Pals project – creating their sprite and writing up their research as a conversation! Next week they’ll complete the programming and learn to upload it to online Scratch, use the backpack tool, and import their work into a remixed collaborative project. I can’t wait to see their final products!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 2

A short, but wonderfully productive week!

This week the STEAM Lab hosted:
Ms. Hernandez’s Green Heroes, who started learning their song, discussed their job as Green Heroes, learned about algorithms, started their coding course.
Ms. Brown’s Monarch Heroes, who learned their theme song and started their work learning about the endangered Monarch butterfly and what they can do to help! They mastered navigating to their own coding class, logging in as a team, and learned about creating algorithms to solve problems.
Ms. Ballentine’s 2nd grade set up their new coding class accounts and learned about using loops in their algorithms.
All three groups had a fantastic time with Free Build Friday!
Ms. Mallona’s 3rd grade, Ms. Reilly’s 4th grade made the most of the short week, setting up and Scratch accounts. They did a great job communicating during the pair programming and turning the Scratch project into collaboration, rather than an individual project!
Mr. Cruz’s 5th grade completed several levels in their new course and did a great job transitioning to pair programming!
This week we had our first G/T Lab sessions! Ms. Massey’s 3rd grade group started work on a new project called Scratch Pals – it is going to be a kind of digital pen pals/ coding community where students can exchange projects and learn from each other! Ms. Grimaldo & Ms. Martinez’s classes are forming out No Place For Hate coalition and have made an amazing start on our kick-off event planning!
Next week is also a four-day week for students, so relax and enjoy your long weekend!

Saturday, September 1, 2018

STEAM Lab 2018-19 Week 1

What an outstanding start to the school year! Classes dove right into work, setting up their accounts and learning pair programming on day 1!

This week the STEAM lab hosted:
Ms. Colmenero’s Kindergarten – who did a great job learning so many new things! They learned their passwords, how to use the track pad on the laptops, how to navigate to their coding course, and how to create algorithms for a range of simple tasks.
Ms. Leal’s 1st grade and Ms. James’ 2nd grade, who were mostly Panther veterans and were ready for new challenges! They created algorithms to solve puzzles and also started using loops to simplify their code.
All three classes definitely earned Free Build Friday!
Ms. Noell’s 3rd grade, Ms. Lee’s 4th grade, and Ms. Purvey’s 5th grade, whoalso set up their new accounts. What’s new for these groups was the new Padlet goals and reflections process and uploading and sharing their Scratch projects to a studio.
These 3 grade levels loved seeing everyone’s projects during Friday’s digital Gallery Walk.

Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day!

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Welcome to the 2018-19 STEAM lab!

Welcome to 2018-19!
I am so eager to get to work in the STEAM lab and cannot wait to see the multitude of ways students will make the bare twigs of my lesson plans grow and develop into a lush and verdant classroom landscape of brilliant blooms and all kinds of exotic fruit!
Part of every summer is a quest for new materials/ ideas for the lab and this year I found El Dorado at the Scratch @ MIT conference and am bringing home marvelous treasure.
3-5 will be starting the year with Scratch de Ogiri. I attended this workshop that explored taking Ogiri, a traditional Japanese game in which you generate witty mini sketches, and using Scratch to create a projected animation to interact with viewers.
The workshops for the integration of various components with the new Scratch 3.0 were fantastic – I can’t wait to see the reaction when the kids learn they can program the Micro:bits in Scratch! They will fall in love with the Hummingbird robotics kits, and I will love how the wrapped wires and sturdy clips will save hours of trying to extract broken pins and wire bits with a pair of tweezers!
The Keynote speakers provided a much-needed infusion of new thinking on the concepts of creativity and making. I am inspired by them and my participation in the Scratch Ed Team’s summer professional development, Getting Unstuck.
I am really excited to tell them how much everyone who attended the workshop I put on with Mr. Quentin from Sinclair ES loved their projects. Attendees from all over the world were so impressed with our Panthers!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

17 - 18 Week 29

Another whirlwind week! Can you believe there are only 25 days left to this school year?

Scenes from our last campus-wide No Place For Hate activity HERE

Here's a look at the projects we took to the district-wide G/T Expo 4/25/18 at Delmar Stadium:
3rd Grade's class cookbook of healthy, kid-created recipes:
Little Chefs from Boyce Teacher on Vimeo.

2nd grade's project on the function and healthy maintenance of the heart:
Cast 1

Cast 2

Links to 1st grade's Monarch Hero poetry project:




Students created, problem solved, and explored with BeeBots, Moving Masterpieces, Green Heroes, Monarch Heroes, Scratch, OSMO, BrainPOP, art projects and We even snuck a Free Build Day in there!