Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Global Cardboard Challenge 2016

This was our 2nd year participating in the Global Cardboard Challenge. We gathered our grade 2 and 6 students together to watch Caine's Arcade and to provoke discussion and inquiry. Once again Caine's powerful video really inspired our children to create, thinking outside the box using recycled materials and cardboard.

The premise behind the global challenge is "that it gives children an opportunity to collaborate, learn, and build the things they imagine through a simple process called Creative Play. The Challenge lets children explore their interests and passions; teaches critical thinking, resourcefulness, perseverance, teamwork and other 21st century skills; and brings communities together to foster and celebrate child creativity!" (Imagination Foundation)

Students brainstormed ideas and then ideas were grouped together around the natural themes that developed. Groups then had to make a plan using Google drawings to design their idea. Students were grouped as best as we could with at least one grade 6 student in a group. Some groups were solely grade 6 and some were solely grade 2. We noticed that this year, our grade 6 and 2 students naturally created their own groups as opposed to last year where the groupings were more teacher directed.

This year we decided to do the challenge in the gymnasium as opposed to our learning space because we wanted to have the maximum amount of space to create. So on the day of our cardboard challenge event, our gym was covered in cardboard. Our thoughts on the day: students were engaged for more than an hour in their design by going back and making changes to their plans/designs. Students really wanted to try out each other's creations and recognized how many ideas were represented.

Check out the link for a recap of our day BER Cardboard Challenge Day

As we unbury ourselves from the amount of cardboard we look back we fully recognize the amount of work that goes into a hosting a day like this. From gathering the required amount of cardboard, to storing the cardboard, moving it from classrooms to the gym, and the final deconstruction and recycling of materials.

Ideally these creations would be able to be celebrated and shared with a local audience (the school) but due to space issues (the gym converts to a daycare) we had no choice but to dismantle and recycle. This presented a new challenge, especially to the grade 2 students that could not bring them on the bus due to policy, students had a hard time saying goodbye to their creations. We created a movie for students to watch of all of their creations as a way to celebrate and admire all of their creations.

Even with the challenges we experienced, we see the day so valuable and will definitely be hosting our 3rd annual challenge next year. It's possible because of the collaboration and support we have as a team of 3. The opportunity for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, communication and to share our work globally outweighs the drawbacks of hosting such an event.

We thank all those who have read our blog and have shared comments with us. Keep them gives us reason to write!

A. Eaton, P. Roche, A. Porcari

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


We had our first funded planning day and our goal was to create curriculum links and activities to go with our robots. It was a little overwhelming to play with all our robots all at once so we decided to begin by focusing our attention on one robot -DASH it was!

Through pins, tweets and blogs we began to explore different tasks and ideas that would connect Dash to our curriculum. We quickly found ourselves
excited about how much was already out there. From fashionista to snow plows- DASH can become anything!

We worked through the ideas and re-created task cards with open ended challenges that would engage and allow students to meet the challenge in a variety of ways. Our morning quickly flew by as we created our bank of rich tasks.

We switched gears in the afternoon and collaborated and consulted with Dr. Jennifer Flynn (Board Consultant-Student Success). Jennifer had already been developing curriculum links in math, science and language for makerspaces. We discussed some of the global competencies that students would naturally develop through the makerspace movement- collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication, and critical thinking,  Our enthusiasm and excitement grew now that we were able to generate ideas as collaborative partners. Together we shared the resources we have developed so far and discussed next steps.  Once we have finished refining these tools, we will happily share these here.

We also outlined our plan to begin creating a shared mindset around deep learning and the makerspace movement. Our next step is to have release days for our french partners to come into our classroom, with our students, and experience how the robots work. As a follow up, our partners would create french task cards related to french and social studies.

A. Eaton, P. Roche, A. Porcari

Sunday, October 2, 2016


As we take on the innovator’s mindset, our lens on many activities has changed.

To get our Grade 2s started on making and creating this year, we introduced some low-tech lego challenges. The challenge cards had a variety of tasks (e.g. Can you make a flower? Can you make a lego man that flies?). Task cards were put in a bag and partners drew cards out randomly to complete. Student engagement was really high. Part way through the block, one set of partners had written three of their own challenge cards to add to the bag.

Even though some groups got the same challenge, no two groups created the same thing to meet a challenge card. What hooks me on these types of activities is how much you can learn about a student. Watching students create and work through problems (“Our tree kept falling over. The top was too heavy. We had to make the bottom stronger. It took a lot of tries!”) gives great insight into their creative thinking and their grit. Some students have good collaboration skills. Others need coaching on how to work with a partner. We definitely saw the global competencies in action.

One of the things that you strive for most as a teacher is for students to be excited about learning and positive about coming to school. Students entering the classroom the next morning asked, “Are we doing lego challenges again?”

Building on the enthusiasm of the Lego challenges, the grade 2s got together with the grade 6s in our Learning Commons to meet some robotic friends. Our newly organized Tech carts with Dot and Dash, Sphero, cubelets, and makey makey (Lego robots too) had been explored by the grade 6s . Now, the grade 6s were excited to introduce them to the grade 2s.

Natural curiosity was at the fore and the excitement was palpable in the room. Sphero kept hiding in corners and Dash was eliciting a lot of giggles as he/she spun about and spoke robot gibberish!  

One grade 2 student demonstrated perseverance and focus as he
worked diligently to build an mBot with his (patient) grade 6 partner.

The makey makey teams had some challenges and learned that plasticine was not as good a conductor as playdoh. Not all the technology worked right away and some frustration was obvious, but trial and error, perseverance and grit led to new learning. This experience let us see the strengths of many of our students through a new set of challenges early in the school year.

We have started this leading and learning journey as three teachers with our students and as George Couros says, “Innovation is not about the stuff, it is a way of thinking.”  We’re in this together!

A. Eaton and T. Roche