Heather Wolpert-Gawron

The Internet Research Game & 3D Printing: No Whammies!

The Internet Research Game & 3D Printing: No Whammies!

By on October 25, 2016

So in an attempt to broaden the use of the 3D printers in my room, beyond that of my Maker-themed ELA class, I thought I’d leverage the curiosity for the devices as an incentive for my additional classes. That way, my  other ELA classes get to begin learning how to design while my Maker-ELA class gets to learn how to check for design quality and to manage the workflow of multiple outside “orders.” Let’s face it, all the kids seem to want to use the printers or design for them, so why not tap into that enthusiasm?

During the first quarter, my students had all created superheroes and written science-fiction origin stories. From there, they created leagues that will, in December, go on to pitch a solution for a global problem to a mock “United Nations” made up of other students. (This unit is featured in my PBL for ELA and History book found here.)

Anyway, this year, I figured they could design superhero league badges using Tinkercad and the 3D printers. But first, they had to earn it.

That’s where the Internet Research Game came in.

First, I announced what the stakes were. The excitement at the prospect of designing and printing badges is awesome.  See below.

(Note: Yes, I let them eat in class.  Yes, I let them sit wherever they want, and they can move during class.)

Then, I introduced them to search engines other than your standard, run-of-the-mill Google search. I showed them the following:

* Instagrok

* Kiddle

* Google Junior

We analyzed the differences between the engines and noted how one might use Instagrok for one kind of search and Google Junior for another.

Then, for the course of a week, I asked them to sit in their leagues and I asked them a suspenseful  question a day, each of increasing difficulty that had to be answered to win the league points towards printing privileges. I purposely designed the questions to have multiple clauses and phrases, and I never repeated the question if they missed something. That meant the students had to rely on each other and confer with each other to learn the part of the question that they may have missed. Of course, the main reason I did all of this was to also introduce these readers to books in a different way. Games lure them in; but the information they gain is what gets them to the library to see what all the fuss is about.

In case you should want to give this a shot, here are some of my questions and their answers:

What author is known as the 1st professional writer, is named for a Shakespearean character, was an orphan, married his 13-year-old cousin, and died a mysterious death? (Ans: Edgar Allen Poe)

What author’s mom was a famous woman’s right’s activist who died just two days after the baby’s birth, was once challenged to write the best horror story, married a man whose 1st wife was discovered dead in a lake, finished her most famous book at 19 but published it anonymously, and had 4 children, only 1 of whom survived? (Ans: Mary Shelly)

This author’s career began in England. Inspired by authors such as Edgar Allen Poe & JRR Tolkien, this author went on to win the 1991 World Fantasy Award for Best Short Story and his horror book that won the British Science Fiction Award, the Hugo, is considered by many to be too frightening for children. He has over 1.5 million followers on Twitter and his 2008 young adult paranormal horror novel won the Newbery Medal. What is the name of his children’s comic book that was adapted into an opera by the Scottish National Theater in 2006? (Ans: The Wolves in the Walls)

This author was a book designer and his works specialize in cyberpunk. He is a lover of math and cryptography who also writes under the name Stephen Bury. He is currently a futurist and comes from a family of engineers and scientists. His first breakthrough novel was published in 1992. What was the name of his novel published in 1995? (Ans: The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Girl’s Illustrated Primer)

Winner of the 2008 Red House Children’s Book Award, three books of his outstanding series each won senior Irish Book Awards in 2009, 2010, and 2013. One of the books in the series was voted Irish Book of the decade. In this paranormal thriller fantasy detective mystery series, there are 13 published books, only 4 of which are available in the U.S. Which is the “taken name” of the main female protagonist, a teenage girl, who learns the fine arts of butt-kicking and sorcery while solving crimes alongside her dapper, but dead, companion? (Ans: Valkyrie Cain)

Winner of the Carnegie Medal for the Library Association, this author’s first book in his award-winning trilogy was named one of the Top 10 Books from a panel and the public named the 1st book in the series the all-time “Carnegie of Carnegies” in 2007. Born in Norwich, England, this author also supported the 2014 Let Books Be Books campaign to stop children’s books being labeled for boys or for girls. In 2012, he curated 50 Grimms classic fairy tales for Penguin Classics. Who narrates the audio book for his award-winning trilogy? (Ans: Philip Pullman)

In the end, the kids had fun, learned something new about search engines, and also, hopefully, became curious about some new books and authors they didn’t know about before. Oh, yeah, and they designed some amazing Superhero League badges.

How are you luring kids into your content area?

Pannello blog

7 Steps to Help Students Succeed on Assessments

By on October 9, 2016

This year, I was given a class of LTELs (long-term English Language Learners) and recently exited SPED students with the goal of focusing my lesson implementation on engagement and more social-emotional learning. So we’re leading up to our first grade-level

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Gotta Catch ‘Em All: Using Pokemon Go in my 3D Printing/ELA Class

By on August 21, 2016

I’ve written before about the power of using pop culture in the classroom, and this fall will be no different in Room 1. Admittedly, I can’t say I’m a huge Pokemon fan. It’s one of the cartoons I limit in my

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Lessons to Share: 3D Printing and Design to Learn Reading & Writing

By on June 17, 2016

So I just finished my first week with my Make Writing class.  This class, as I’ve written about in the past, is intended to help those long-term EL students who have become disengaged with school and with learning.  These kids

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The Argh Wall! Celebrating Failure in the Classroom: A Lesson For Writing & Making

By on May 15, 2016

So, I’ve been writing lately about my new class that I’m developing for next year called Make Writing.  I’ve been writing curriculum for this class that leverages 3D printing in order to teach Literacy and Writing.  The class itself is

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Past, Present, Future: Assessments and Technology

By on April 2, 2016

“Grading, in kids’ brains, parents’ brains, administrators’ brains, and even teachers’ brains, is a final snapshot after which there is no beyond.  But if we can start thinking about assessments as a means to drive feedback, NOW you’re on to something.”


Alternative Strategies for Assessing Learning: Larry Ferlazzo Classroom Q & A Podcast

By on March 30, 2016

“Whether they’re doing a portfolio or a performance task, they still want to see How do I stack up?” I had a lot of fun being interviewed for Larry Ferlazzo’s podcast about alternatives to grading and traditional assessments.  The follow-up

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Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement

By on March 10, 2016

Hey, middle school and high school teachers and parents!  Can you do me a favor? I am polling thousands of kids nationwide on what engages them the most in how they learn.  This is based on a survey of 500

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Pencils to 3D-Printers: A New Kind of Language Arts Class

By on February 7, 2016

  “The printers have been ordered.  Fingers crossed.  Here we go…..” This was the email I received two weeks ago from my principal who is working with me to develop a whole new kind of Language Arts class.  The plan

The sexy Ultimaker 2

Eeny, Meeny, Mino, Moe: Which 3D Printer Should We Own?

By on January 27, 2016

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the start of my journey to create a Language Arts and ELD class that leveraged 3D printing as a means to initiate a more purposeful curriculum for reading and writing.  I will be

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5 Nonfiction Articles + Novels Series: Middle School Edition (Jan.)

By on January 20, 2016

Mutually Beneficial Animal Relationships (Photos) Written by: Huffington Post Staff Published On: The Huffington Post “The ostrich isn’t very good at smelling, while the zebra can smell pretty well. The zebra though, doesn’t have good eyesight, but the ostrich does.


Making, Writing, & Leaving My Wheelhouse: How This Relates to ELD Students (UPDATED)

By on January 10, 2016

I first began blogging to reflect on what I was learning during my summer with the Writing Project. After each day, I returned home, head spinning, needing to simply process. Finally, my husband said, “Why don’t you try starting one

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5 Non-Fiction Articles to Pair with High School Literature (December)

By on December 23, 2015

    1. Dumb Kids’ Class Written by: Mark Bowden Published on: The Atlantic “My bet is that when a comprehensive inventory is made of my generation, it will be found that not one person from a smart kids’ class

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5 Nonfiction + Novels Series: The Middle School Edition for Dec. 2015

By on December 22, 2015

My newest post is the first in a series  in which I’m collaborating with Talks with Teachers podcaster and blogger, Brian Sztabnik. Brian not only moderates the #aplitchat on Twitter but also writes the 5 Nonfiction + Novels series for

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Celebrating the Refugees Already in Our Classrooms: Memories and Advice From a Student

By on December 1, 2015

In June 2001, a family of four escaped from the slaughter of Nepal and made their way across the world to safety. They arrived, not in boats dragged up on shore, but in the arms of families who helped them

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The Invisible Strategies of Teaching: #whatpeopledontsee

By on November 23, 2015

hen you walk onto a middle school campus and even into the rooms themselves, it can look like chaos. After all, middle schoolers are wired to be active and wired to be loud. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t learning

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Who Was I In Middle School? A Reflection + Free Downloadable

By on November 10, 2015

t times, seeing the diversity in my own students, I’ve wondered who I was when I was in middle school and what really drove my tween’s brain.  So I created a Tip 10 list of memories to help me reflect

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Boy Talk at Recess: Pokemon, Light Sabers, and Things That Go Boom!

By on October 11, 2015

y most recent post for The Huffington Post just went live.  It chronicles my embarrassment when my 9-year-old son chose his classroom’s parent-led art session to voice his recent interest in bloody talk.  It also chronicles my son’s frustration at

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DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History

By on August 16, 2015

’m excited to announce that my new book, DIY Project Based Learning for ELA and History has arrived and is now available for purchase. The point of the book was to break down the process of PBL into day-by-day chunks


How to Host a Twitter Chat with your School Community

By on August 9, 2015

very year schools sit and brainstorm ways to communicate and engage its families. How will we reach out to parents? How will we gather information about their needs or give them a little insight in what we do as educators? A