STEAM Celebration Reflection

STEAM Celebration Reflection

In May our school did our first ever STEAM Celebration. If you aren’t familiar with STEAM, it stands fro science, technology, engineering, art, and math. It was a full day of anything cool I could think of, focusing largely on things that we did in the makerspace during the year. Students arrived a 9 AM and got a bag with a snack, map, and a few goodies like pencils. Students didn’t have to have an adult to attend, but an adult got them an extra entry in the door prize contest at the end of the day.

Here is our basic floor plan (we used almost the whole bottom floor of our school):

STEAM Floor PlanWhat worked:

  • RollerCoastersKids who came had a blast! We had about 30-40 families, so around 85-100 people. Several kids came up to me the next day just to thank me.
  • Best quote of the day was a dad telling me he “had no idea the world was this big” and that we had “opened his eyes to the future his son could have.” WOW!
  • I work with amazing people, and this just reminded me how awesome they are. Everyone jumped right in and helped.
  • I had everything organized in bags. That made passing it out easy. I should have had more done the night before though. Leaving myself 1.5 hours that am wasn’t quite enough time to put out all the fires.
  • Budget was about $500 and that came out of my student activity fund. I spent some out of my own pocket, but some things we can repeat so I won’t need to buy next year. Now that I know what we need, I’ll start working on donations earlier.
  • Most popular room by far was the Shrinky Dinks…who would have guessed?
  • We gave kids who attended a free jeans day and they loved that.
  • UTA’s FabLab came for the day as did our public library’s robotics program. They were a huge hit.
  • The maker mentality was alive and well. Collaboration abounded and kids were creating awesomeness all over!

What needs a few changes:


  • I think I collected boxes for about 3 months. I had too many big boxes, but the weird stuff was a hit. Next time I need more weird shaped cardboard packaging. Check out this awesome creation one of our students made on the left.
  • Need to have more floaters next time. We had to medical emergencies, so two teachers couldn’t show up and then we had one emergency that day so a teacher had to leave. That wouldn’t have been an issue if I’d just had a few more adults.
  • I loved the May date, but my admin would like to move earlier in the year. I’m worried we still won’t have a maker culture yet if we do this too early, so we are trying to find the perfect timing for next year.
  • Needed someone just to take photos.
  • I did PR like CRAZY…I thought. But some people weren’t showing the video as asked. Next year I plan on showing videos at lunch too and adding a walking marquee. you can see some videos here (one I can’t show because it has students):

What went wrong and needs changed/go away:

  • The gaming room only had about 5 kids. I was SHOCKED because this is a huge draw in the makerspace, but kids were so busy making (insert choir of angelic voices here) that they didn’t want to game!
  • The zombie room had a sub (teacher got hurt the morning of) so I had a gracious volunteer who stepped in. Unfortunately we were half way though the day before I realized she was missing some of her stuff. That room wasn’t a huge hit either, so we will probably leave off next year.
  • Would like more kids. Next year I think we might open up to other schools that feed into us. I’m still fleshing this out with my principal.
  • QR Code scavenger hunt had zero participation.

Can’t wait to see what next year brings!

Library Activity: Biography Research

Research….I know what you are thinking. Been there done that! This time we took Black History Month projects and added a little pizazz.

Step 1: Book Research (yes, we still think this is valuable)-done in the library (one day)

Step 2: Database Research-done in the library (one day)

Step 3: Write a first person narrative with facts the student learned while researching. The great thing about switching this to first person is that it makes plagiarism so much harder. -done in the classroom

Step 4: Use the app Chatterpix to record the narratives like the student actually was that person (Chatterpix allows you to slice a picture where a mouth should be and add the student’s voice).  It was AMAZING how creative the kids were! This was done in the library and we only allowed one day, but some students had to come back a seond day. Next time, we will allow two days for step 4. We would like to splice the clips into imovie so that they show in one continuous film. Chatterpix limits you to 30 seconds so we ended up doing several.

Book Review: Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

salt and stoneBook Review: Salt and Stone by Victoria Scott

Part two picks up with the remaining two portions of the race. Tella is desperate to find the cure for her brother, but now her friendships and relationships from the first leg of the race are causing some complications on top of the challenges in the ocean and the mountains. Includes new characters and also some favorites from the first book.

Just as well written as book one; full of great adventures and tough decisions. My only gripe is that there is a lot of revisiting what happened in book one. People who had a gap between the first two books might appreciate, but it was a little too much for someone who had just read book one. The actual story itself is masterfully done, so not a big deal at all!


On life:

That’s the thing about life: When you’re dealt a crappy situation, you think to yourself, At least it can’t get any worse than this.

And then life slaps you upside the head for being naïve.

On love:

I blush, remembering the kiss he laid on my forehead last night. Guy wouldn’t ever read sonnets to me or suggest we take a picnic at Crane Beach, but he does other things, better things. He makes me feel beautiful with cropped hair and dirt smudged across my skin. He stands close when I’m afraid, and leaves me be when I can stand on my own. He believes I’m strong, even if it took some time for him to respect that. And he allows me to lead when I know he could do a better job himself.

Guy is strong, courageous, unbreakable.

Just beautiful sentences:

“There’s something behind his eyes that I can’t quite reach. A mystery I want to unfold in my hands like an origami flower.”

“My soul shatters into a million fragments that will never piece together the same way again.”

Recommended Grades: 8 and up (F word but used in context of a tough scene)
Genre: Action Adventure
Overall Opinion:  Recommended
Source: Book

Book Promotion: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Don't JudgeTwo years ago we did the whole Blind Date with a Book Contest. Last year we missed out because I was in Russia, and this year, I’ll be going to TCEA for the first time, so I wouldn’t be there right before Valentine’s Day. Instead I decided to do a spin on that called Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover. It is basically the same thing because I wrapped up all the books and then put them out with only 2-3 word hints at the book. Students check out a book and then do a short book review if they wanted to be entered into a drawing for a gift card.

So far I’ve wrapped enough books to fill a book truck front and back (so four long) twice. I still don’t even think I’ll have enough books to finish out this week because I told those that were interested they could have a second book this week. I might regret that decision, but the kids are excited, and even a few teachers are checking out books.

The funniest part was that I wouldn’t let them check them out for a whole day while I started putting the display out. They were literally begging to check them out when the official contest began. Love seeing such excitement about books.

PS…some really do have horrible covers, and we are rating the cover as a part of the book review they submit, so actually I guess we are judging a book after all!

Library Activity: Speedbooking

Last week was one of my favorite weeks because we did Speedbooking. It is really the only time of the year that I do a stand alone library activity. That said, it directly connects to literacy appreciation, and students all leave excited about books, so I don’t feel like it is wasted time. This is the time of year when my 8th graders get bored with reading. Time to light a little fire under them.

Basically, the students rotate between seven different stations where they “meet” a book a different way at each table.

  • Audiobook
  • Lone Star Reading List
  • Author Website
  • Book Format
  • Choose Your Own Adventure Books
  • Digital Book Talk
  • Read A Like Lists

As a side note, I pull enough books for every class (whew) so that kids can check out books that period if they want to rather than waiting until the day is over.  Circulation is always much higher after this activity. The big winner of the week though was the choose your own adventure books. I think part of it was they loved hearing the “old folks” talk about how cool they were and how to fix things when you accidentally chose the wrong ending. AKA made a choice that got you killed.


Makerspace Activity: Old School Collages

I’m going to try this year to be better about blogging about some of the things we’ve been doing in the makerspace or my school library. No promises, but I’ll try!

Make a Collage Day: Old School Style


So, the whole idea for this theme came from the fact that I had this embosser laying around and kids kept asking me what it was, so I decided to use up some of the magazines that were taking over the tub and kill two birds with one stone.

Set Up:

  • One table with scrapbook paper and an explanation about how we were making a paper version of Instagram. 🙂
  • One table with magazines, glue, scissors, markers, etc.
  • One table with embossing supplies and stamps.

What Worked:

  • Kids jumped right in and got started. The boys were just as excited about this as the girls.
  • Lids on the embossing powder…if they put them back on…which didn’t always happen. AND it wasn’t always their fault.

What Needed a Little Adjustment:

  • Apparently, some of my kids had never made a collage before…not quite sure how that happened, but some didn’t even know how to cut apart a magazine. Next time I might have both digital and non-digital option.
  • Most of my kids had never used an embosser. It was a colossal mess, but it was a fun mess. Next time I will need to have an extra set of hands or more embossers.
  • Some of my students had never used a stamp pad before, they had only seen self-stamping stamps. I went through two stamp pads (they literally shredded them) before I figured out what the issue was.

Overall Reflection

  • Kids had a blast, but we needed a little more time to finish (really a two day project) and I need more supplies before I try again. Thinking about doing something decorative before the end of the year as a thank you to their teachers maybe.