21st Century Poster Board

“What if you could illuminate your ideas? Or hack your poster board project?” That’s just what the students in Ms. Spence’s language arts class did for their Scaredy Cat Project this fall.

Each year, sixth graders create a “Scaredy Cat’s Guide to a Spooky Neighborhood.” Their posters include a map with illustrations and five descriptive paragraphs. Within the writing, they must use vocabulary words they have studied and also identify various parts of grammar covered in English class during the fall, including abstract nouns, action verbs and linking verbs. Combining grammar and writing is a proven way to reinforce grammatical concepts and to improve writing skills.

This year, the project reached new levels of creativity with the addition of electrical circuits. During class, students learned about simple circuits, conductivity, and current flow, then created circuits on their poster board using simple materials like copper tape, surface mount LED lights and batteries. This allowed them to light up their ideas and add emphasis to the scary places on their maps.

As we know, integrating science, design, communication and art has become an important 21st century skill. Assignments like these ask students to think critically and creatively.


by Aaron Hovel – Originally published on our Pike Perspectives Blog

“Kids spend far more time interacting with media than they do at school or with their parents. The average 8 to 18 year old spends 7 ½ hours a day online, watching TV and movies, playing games, and listening to music. Kids no longer make a distinction between the “real” world and the “digital” one. It’s all one and the same to them.” (Common Sense Media)

Pike has always worked hard to teach students to be responsible citizens. Pike’s mission statement clearly states, “A Pike education is a journey that prepares students to be independent learners and responsible citizens.” Since students these days don’t make a distinction between digital life and non-digital life, it is important that we help teach them to be “responsible digital citizens.” To that end, Pike is reevaluating its digital citizenship curriculum. Digital citizenship includes staying safe online, privacy & security, communication, digital footprint, information literacy and copyright. All three divisions at Pike will be using Common Sense Media’s digital citizenship curriculum as a guide for more directly addressing these topics in the classroom.

So how can parents get involved? We know it is hard to keep up with each new online fad and communication tool. As soon as we think we have a handle on a new app or social network site the younger generation has moved on to the next one.  Common Sense Media is a valuable resource that can help parents navigate the media environment. They have a parent blog called Making Sense – Parenting, media, and everything in between that includes expert advice on media and raising responsible digital citizens. Going to see a movie?  Check the movie reviews on Common Sense Media’s site for appropriate age level and professionally written movie reviews. Often the reviews include information about particularly sensitive material and ideas on how to talk with your child about the movie. Common Sense Media also has app and game reviews with similar information. Looking for math apps or creativity apps? Commons Sense media has a list of recommended apps on a variety of topics which can be filtered by age. Finally, Common Sense Media has a great video with digital citizenship advice for parents. It includes things like “model good behavior,” “share your values,” and “establish limits.” These resources coupled with talking to your child will help them navigate the digital world wisely.

Pike is committed to helping students thrive in this digital world and we need your help to ensure that they use this powerful tool in a safe, responsible and respectful way.

Why App Smash?

App Smashing* is a hot topic in the Ed Tech world right now, and was recently covered in a blog post on iPad4schools.org by New Zealand educator Richard Wells.

To Summarize . . .

What is App Smashing?
Chances are you have already App Smashed and you didn’t realize that it had such a cool name.  App Smashing is when you use multiple apps to create and enhance a project.  When content is created in one app, enhanced in a different app and possibly further improved by additional apps for a shared final project apps have been smashed.

Why App Smash?
The challenge of App Smashing adds a layer of creative problem solving to projects, and by using multiple apps there are no limitations or restrictions to how students can demonstrate their understanding of a topic.

For more information make sure you read this Why App Smash? blog post, with examples and a video from “The App Smashing Chronicles.”

Have you App Smashed with your students?  Let us know the details in the comments.  Are you interested in getting started with an App Smash project this spring or make a plan for the fall?  Let the Tech Department know and we are happy to help.

* Fun Fact: The term App Smash was coined by Greg Kulowiec from EdTech Teacher, who was at Pike to conduct a few training sessions last spring and fall.