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You Gotta Keep 'em Pixelated

Pixelation seems to be en vogue with the iGeneration, no doubt due in part to the MineCraft CRAZE that missed few of the middle-schoolers that I now teach.

Capitalizing on the pixelation fascination and the abundance of time and energy that my study hall students have as we roll into the holidays, we decided to create some post-it pixelart!

Here's How We Did It!

(in about 60 minutes!)

1.  Download Sandbox Coloring App

What is the Sandbox App?  The FREE Sandbox Coloring App (a craze in and of itself that is making its way through the school).  This app has images that are numbered to allow the user to tap a color and then tap the corresponding numbered space and apply that color to the space.  It's essentially a pixelated color by number app.  

The sandbox app is a PERFECT road map for post-it note mosaics!

2.  Search for a Potential Image 

Next I tried to find an image with a LIMITED variety of colors.  I knew I'd be shopping for post-its.  I didn't want to put myself in a position to buy a crazy variety of colors so this image below worked for me; FOUR colors.  Perfect!!!

3.  Shop for Post-It Colors (or CUT OUT colors in 3x3 squares with paper)

Here are the colors I purchased for my mosaic:
  • 2 packages of A World of Color:  Marakeesh  (The RED is color #2 in the mosaic) 
  • 1 package of A World of Color:  Miami (There are two PINKS colors #1 and #3 in the mosaic. 
  • 1 package of White Post-Its (For #4 and the blank spaces)

4.  Plan Your Space

I'd like to say that I spent a substantial amount of time planning and measuring to calculate the required space, but truth be told....I didn't. 😲 

Using the image in the sandbox app, I counted the number of squares across the HEIGHT and WIDTH of the picture and counted by 3 inch squares across my available space to determine if I'd have enough room.

5.  Recruit Help!!

I then assigned students numbers (1 - 4) and gave them the corresponding post-it color.  The students and I worked together to place and line up the post-its using the Sandbox Grid as our guide.

We worked in a pretty efficient turn-taking fashion until the students were confident enough to take over on their own.

6.  Stand back....waaaaay back...and admire!

Deck the halls with 5 pads of post-its

Other GREAT Post-It Mosaic making tools/templates:

Finding Flipgrid FANTASTIC!

Today was my inaugural launch of Flipgrid.  Having heard wonderful reviews on the platform, I made it my mission to give it a try, and the results were flipping great!
If you haven't seen/heard of Flipgrid, its billing claims that it is 'social learning for everyone' Essentially,  Flipgrid allows users to engage in video dialogue about a Topic.  For this dialogue, educators can establish 'Grids' that contain Topics for discussion.  For a Topic, you can record and upload video stimuli, embed videos, upload a high-resolution image for students to discuss, or add a little fun with GIPHY and Emoji. You can also feature an attached file or any website as the stimulus in your Topics.

Students log in by simply entering an access code and are then granted access to the grid (and Topics).  The power in Flipgrid resides in the response strategies.  Students are allowed 1 minute and 30 seconds to respond/discuss a topic that is provided and are encourage to provide feedback to each other about the topics.  Flipgrid houses ALL of the video responses for a topic together, and shares a thumbnail 'selfie' that students create to show that there are responses for a Topic.  As students explore, they can watch other video responses and give feedback to one another.

Flipgrid is free to educators and the free account has a great number of useful features, including:
  • Unlimited student response videos (15-sec or 90-sec)
  • Security, privacy + moderation settings
  • Simple individual student feedback
  • Private video sharing with families
  • Custom Integrations (Microsoft Teams, Canvas) + embed anywhere
  • Free iPhone, iPad, Android apps
For a fee of $65 a year, educators get access to Unlimited student response videos (15-sec up to 5-min)
  • Unlimited student video replies-to-responses
  • Customizable feedback + assessment rubrics
  • Advanced Grid management + data exports
  • Topic launch + freeze scheduling
  • Exclusive webinars 
  • More than 50 Classroom features
Lesson Example

PreHistoric Cartoon Analysis

Setting the Stage
Students were given 10 cartoons representing pre-historic times and were asked to analyze the cartoons to determine whether they believed the cartoon to be representative of  Paleolithic times or Neolithic times.  As part of their analysis, they had to provide THREE pieces of evidence to support their claim.  Students were also asked to identify any errors in the illustration that conflict with historical facts.

As students evaluated each cartoon, they were required to record a notesheet of their facts.

See detailed example of project here -----> Cartoon Analysis

The Flipgrid Experience
After the analysis was complete, students were provided access to a FlipGrid with individual topics that contained a link to each cartoon.  Within the FlipGrid, students had to choose 3 cartoons and provide a video response of their analysis of those cartoons.

Student Reaction
I launched FlipGrid with a small amount of trepidation; not sure if students would appreciate the platform and concerned that they'd be too shy to record.  Happily, I was wrong!  Students jumped eagerly into the process.  Within minutes, I'd explained the directions, provided the grid code and they were recording on iPads.

As you can see, students were ESPECIALLY fond of the 'selfie' option....

of course, I flipping hope you're 

And we'll have FUN FUN FUN...

FUN in the classroom is ESSENTIAL. Especially in the Middle School. It keeps you stimulated as an educator and it keeps the students engaged. But there's more to it than that. There is BRAIN BASED RESEARCH to support that fun is MORE than just ok in the classroom, it stimulates learning!

The Neuroscience Behind FUN!

When students experience joy in the classroom, it is scientifically proven that their minds are MORE OPEN TO LEARNING! The endorphins that are produced as a result of positive experiences allow them to be more receptive to learning. In addition, those endorphins are addictive. The body remembers the positive and safe feelings that are associated with the environment and will produce those endorphins each time the student is in the environment. This means that you'll have created a situation where the student's physiology will be biochemically altered to perceive your classroom as a safe place for risk-taking that is necessary for learning.

Fun and engagement comes in many ways. There are tech integration strategies like: gamification augmented reality, virtual reality and scavenger hunts, and non-tech options like: Escape Rooms (Breakout EDU), costumes, skits, joke telling and more. There are so many other ways!! Even the little things can engage and ignite interest in your students. So here's ONE way you can incite a room full of giggles....FAKE student names.

Fake Names

When beginning a lesson that requires note taking, I often start that lesson by modeling the heading on a student paper:
Rather than dry, droll note taking, that ONE little element of levity can capture student interest and provide a small smattering of giggles. It seems simple, but it's fun, and as we now know, it helps set the stage for learning!

Here are some of my FAVORITES!!

Avery Goodyear
Rita Book
Moe Mentum
Neera Nuff
Dewey Hafta
Obie Quiet
Constance Ubervision
Igor Beaver
Les Ismore
Doris Shutt
Moe D'Lawn
Russell Papus
Laura Deboom
Amal Shookup
Linus Scrimmage
Isabelle Ringing
Paige Turner
Arty Ficial
Ed U. Cation

 Sign up to have the list sent directly to YOU!!

Special thanks to Amy Hysick New York State's 2017 Teacher of the Year for sharing with me the science behind fun!  See her AWESOME Discovery Education article here!

and of course, thanks for

For more on the neuroscience of learning, try:

Research-Based Strategies to Ignite Student Learning: Insights from a Neurologist and Classroom Teacher


Teaching with the Brain in Mind, Revised 2nd Edition