Educator Spotlight: Jamie Ewing, 5th Grade Teacher

"Explore and engage, that is what these Kits are all about"

August 6, 2015

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Jamie Ewing
Prince George’s County, Maryland

 

What’s your current role and location?
I am a 5th grade teacher in Prince George’s County Public School District in Maryland.

 

How have you used littleBits in the past?  What’s worked best?
Last year I focused on integrating music, art and technology in my classroom. We used the littleBits Synth Kits to produce sound. My students were challenged to study the history and progression of an instrument. Then they were challenged to predict, prototype and produce their interpretation of the ‘next’ uninvented version of the instrument. Once students had a good understanding of the sounds that could be created with the littleBit Kits, they collaborated in teams to produce their unique sound machine circuit. Then using recycled materials they worked to create an ‘instrument’ that would manipulate the sound to create a newly invented version of a classic instrument. They recorded these sounds and then used a music software to have each team player to produce their own song for their collective album. Their album had to be based in local history. They produced CD cover art and also program animated music videos that included their historical events.

 

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How do you plan to use littleBits this school year?
I was so over the moon at what my students produced using the littleBits Kits, I purchased ALL the Kits. I can’t wait to integrate the space Kits into my classroom this year!

 

What kinds of skills do you think your students learn using littleBits?
Not only did they learn and understand circuits and systems (a 5th grade standard!) but they learned problem solving, critical thinking and team collaboration. They were also applying knowledge to a real-world problem of innovative thinking.

 

“They are crazy easy to use and there are endless possibilities”

 

What do your students enjoy most about littleBits?
The MOANS that erupted every time it was time to quiet was hilarious. They are crazy easy to use and there are endless possibilities once they get the basic understanding of what these circuits can do. I even had the 2nd graders in my after-school tech class using them. EVERYONE loves them and engages!

 

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What’s the coolest invention your students have created with littleBits?
Inventing instruments out of recycled materials and the Synth Kits still blows me away, this project way out-exceeded my expectations of what my students could create!

 

What advice would you give to people just starting out with littleBits?
This is one bit of technology that really required NO setup. Before my students can get started they need to go through and understand and identify each piece. I also provide a cost sheet so that they understand the replacement value of the Kit, this gives them ownership and responsibility. I also bought the work boards for them to build the circuits on. This helped with controlling the work and kept pieces intact! Best of all, they are fun and instantly engaging. I also explain my expectations of what the Kit needs to look like when it’s returned and each team always used the same Kit. This really helped with the maintenance piece. Explore and engage, that is what these Kits are all about!

 

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