Friday, November 18, 2016

At Pond Cove, we like to try new educational technologies. Last year we introduced Minecraft in education and 3D printing and design. This year we are continuing to grow and learn with those tools and we are excited to introduce Virtual Reality!
So far second-grade students have visited several national parks as well as the locations of the US symbols. We have plans to use Virtual Reality (VR) with third-grade students when they start their unit on Ancient Egypt. Also in the works is technology integration in Health, where students in fourth and third grade will explore the brain and the skeletal systems through VR and the free app Google Expeditions. At this time we have six Google Cardboard headsets. We have recently put out a letter to the community asking for old phone donations to grow our VR program at Pond Cove and throughout the district. As for apps, so far we are using Google Street view, Google Expeditions, and Google Arts and Culture. These are all free apps and do not require a headset to view.

IMG_1144.JPG IMG_1083.JPG

The Pond Cove eTeam is currently working on Google Cardboard storage and charging solutions. The team plans to also create tutorial videos on how to use the VR headsets and apps.


As always, we appreciate your feedback. Do you know about an app or VR program that would be great for our students? Please comment below. Stay tuned for more updates and blog posts.

Friday, September 23, 2016

21st Century Communication

Welcome to the 2016-2017 school year!

We have many exciting things happening at Pond Cove this year! The first was our annual Parent Night in the Pond Cove Cafetorium on September 20th, from 6:30-7:30. Below you will find the Google Presentation for the evening as well as a link to the video of the entire presentation. Many thanks to Jack Duffy for filming the evening! We covered the following topics during our night:

  1. The new Cape Elizabeth website
  2. Teacher Blogs
  3. Twitter in Education
  4. Media Permissions Forms
There were several good questions on the evening. One of them concerned iOS updates and keeping things current and secure. After conferring with the other members of the tech team here is the answer to that question:

"Our iPads are iPad 2's. These are 4 and 5-year-old machines which cannot update to the latest iOS. We have updated all iPads to 9.3.5 and will continue to automatically update all apps. At this time we do not have a plan for iPad replacement, but we are working on a solution as part of the tech plan."

If there are any other questions or concerns please do not hesitate to email me

Google Presentation

Parent Night Video

Friday, June 10, 2016

Full STEAM Ahead

STEAM in Pond Cove:
On June 1st, 2016, the Cape Elizabeth Cape-E-Team put on a STEAM appreciation night, called “If I Built A Library” night. This night celebrated STEAM, and the CEEF for giving the Cape Elizabeth Pond Cove Elementary School a $40,000 grant to build a brand new library and maker space. This night was perfect for our new integration with STEAM and was for kindergarten and first grade students.
We had many different activities that incorporated each letter of STEAM. For the “S”, “Science”, we had a station to help your mind start cranking. Try and hold a book up with one piece of paper and tape. For the “T”, “Technology”, each grade used an application on the iPad’s to create their very own book called “If I Built a Library”. The “E” for “Engineering” was a lego building station where students designed their own library out of Legos. The “A” for “Arts” brought out student creativity and allowed them to draw and color the library of their dreams. And lastly, “M”, for “Mathematics”, students used scales to weigh books.
All of these tasks integrated the concepts from STEAM into fun and learning tasks for these younger students. This night was a great experience for all, and we look forward to more similar evenings.

What is STEAM?

The “S” in STEAM stands for “Science”, “T” is for “Technology”, “E” is for “Engineering”, “A” is for “Art”, and “M” is for “Math”.

STEAM is a philosophy that teaches kids real world skills through project based learning. This is explained by simple anatomy. The left side of our brain is where our critical thinking takes place. This is why STEM was originally created, so that students could focus on the logic side of their brain. However, people realized that the right side of the brain, the part that fosters our creativity, was equally important. Why use half a brain when you could use all of it? With that being said, soon the “A” for “Arts” was added to create the new acronym, STEAM. STEAM educators are critical in our world today. They are teaching our kids how to use both sides of their brains, which is the most innovative way to teach the new generation.

Why is STEAM Important?

STEAM is important for all students to learn because we all want to be successful, and we want our kids to be successful. This program allows students to get jobs in the fields that are most needed throughout the United States right now, and it allows students to work on innovating the future generations.
We don’t have enough people who can fill job requirements for technology and scientific jobs. Most college majors aren’t a part of STEAM, and the number of graduates in the STEAM fields are only growing by .8%. This job market is at the top of the list for expansion, and will have grown by 14% from 2010 to 2020. STEM helps enable our workforce with more technicians, and A(Arts) makes it fun for the students to learn STEM. Also, it benefits gender roles and ethnic gaps because it focuses on the STEAM requirements and not on the minorities that are present in our society. No one is a minority through this program because everyone is viewed as an equal.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Project Based Learning

What is Project Based Learning (PBL)?
Project Based Learning or PBL for short, is a learning process that has been proven to be an effective and enjoyable way to understand new information. PBL is when students research a topic for an extended period of time and cover these basics: This allows the kids to take responsibility for their own education, and find what works best for them through these certain aspects of the Project Based Learning process.  
•Students need to accomplish the following, in order to be on track with PBL•
  • “Key Knowledge, Understanding, and Success Skills - The project is focused on student learning goals, including standards-based content and skills such as critical thinking/problem solving, collaboration, and self-management.
  • Challenging Problem or Question - The project is framed by a meaningful problem to solve or a question to answer, at the appropriate level of challenge.
  • Sustained Inquiry - Students engage in a rigorous, extended process of asking questions, finding resources, and applying information.
  • Authenticity - The project features real-world context, tasks and tools, quality standards, or impact – or speaks to students’ personal concerns, interests, and issues in their lives.
  • Student Voice & Choice - Students make some decisions about the project, including how they work and what they create.
  • Reflection - Students and teachers reflect on learning, the effectiveness of their inquiry and project activities, the quality of student work, obstacles and how to overcome them.
  • Critique & Revision - Students give, receive, and use feedback to improve their process and products.
  • Public Product - Students make their project work public by explaining, displaying and/or presenting it to people beyond the classroom.” (Source:
Research has found these ways to be the most effective because it keeps the students more involved in the learning process than traditional methods. This means that students stay more engaged, it connects students with real world situations; and provides the teachers with a more enjoyable and rewarding teaching process. More information can be found at BIE.Org.
What is Buck Institute for Education (BIE)?
BIE is an institute that believes that education is more than just new information being thrown at you. They believe that this knowledge needs to have something done to it, rather than just in one ear and out the other. Their goal is to help the teachers around the world better prepare themselves to teach their classrooms through this idea of PBL. BIE allows the teachers to have a more hands-on learning system and allows the kids to get immersed in their learning.
For more information about the BIE program, scan the QR code below, or go to the following website to better understand the BIE’s mission statement.
    or      BIE's 25th Anniversary Video
What is PBL here at Pond Cove Elementary School?
Here at Pond Cove, we started a project called “Green Homes (PBL)”. It is our very first PBL in Pond Cove. This project was created to help kids understand the fundamentals of building and architecture at a young age. We used the new PBL system of learning and the four C’s: communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity to accomplish our goals. We also made sure to tie all of the PBL lessons to standards from the Common Core and NextGen.
The kids started this project with sorting a collection of 40 different kinds of houses into whatever categories they found fitting. This helped the kids understand how to distinguish homes from one another. We soon transitioned into the understanding of why houses look the way the look, and why they function the way they function. We compared sizes in houses ranging from a 20,000 square foot mansion to a 120 square foot home. This taught kids the difference between want and need based homes. (Understanding, Key Knowledge, and Successful Skills; & Authenticity).
Next, the kids dove into their own design process. They started with the Bubble Sketching Process, and slowly advanced to developing what they wanted in their own houses through research. As the kids would work, many different obstacles would be thrown their way. Just like a real architect would get new last minute requests by the owner of the home, the kids got requests thrown in as they worked. This kept the kids working on task and staying productive in order to get the job done on time. (Sustained Inquiry, Authenticity & Students Voice and Choice)
Throughout the design process, many different professionals came in to talk to the kids about certain aspects of their homes they may not know about. For example, Mr. Curran, a local architect so kindly came in to talk to the kids about the design process and blueprints. Revision Energy also came in to talk to the kids about possible solar panels they may want on top their homes, in order to make them eco-friendly. Finally, the Code Enforcement Officer from Cape Elizabeth came in to talk to our students about building code in Cape. (Challenging Problem and Questions, & Authenticity)
The students soon transferred their 2D designs onto the 3D scheme of things and began to design their ideas through the ArcKit’s. This gave them a 3D visual of how their homes would look. The tool SketchUp allows the ArcKit’s to be viewed in 3D on the computer. The physical pieces we have in the ArcKit’s are available in the digital warehouse on the computers. So the students are building with the same pieces they have been using. (Critique and Revision)

After this whole process, we would throw even more challenges at them, and we told them to do the whole thing again, only this time with a partner. This ensured that they knew what they were doing, and allowed them to practice it one more time. After all of this was completed, the students got to choose one of the rooms that they designed to move into 3D SketchUp and get 3D printed. Finally, the students will give their very own public presentations on the whole project. (Public Product & Reflection)
Tessa - Mr. Charltrays lackey aka Cape HS Senior

Monday, February 1, 2016

MineCraft in Education? Absolutely!

The blog spotlight app for the month of February is not necessarily an app but is the widely popular program MineCraft. Pond Cove Elementary school has recently purchased MineCraft EDU, the educational version of MineCraft. We are happy to join Falmouth Elementary, Waynflete schools, and others, as a southern Maine school beginning to utilize this tool.

To learn more about MineCraft EDU follow the link below:

At this time, we are piloting the program with a small group of 3rd graders who are recreating ancient Egypt. The 3rd graders choose a topic based on the class curriculum of Ancient Egypt, created and answered the guiding questions for their research, and researched the topic during class time. Instead of a poster or art project, the students choose to display their work in MineCraft EDU. Later this week students will be using QuickTime to create movie recordings showcasing their work, relaying their research, and explaining the process they used to recreate each topic. My blog will be updated once videos are complete.

Throughout the process of piloting this app, we have been in contact with a very helpful group of 4th and 5th-grade students from Waynflete in Portland. They have been using MineCraft in school for a couple of years now and were able to give us lots of advice about using it and sharing it as an educational tool. For more information about how they are using MineCraft EDU please visit their blog below.

As always if you have any questions or comments please use the comment feature of the blog or email me