Sunday, August 27, 2017

Building a Culture of Computer Science & STEAM Learning

On August 26, 2017, representatives of the 4 divisions of Casady School met together with several staff for a Saturday retreat to reflect on ways to build a school culture supportive of computer science, STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning, Maker Education and digital literacy. The eleven participants included Josh Bottomly, Eric Ebert, Jason Reich, Michaela Freeland, Sandy Craft, Glen Emerson, Aric Sappington, Shannon Semet, Heather Vick, Steve Gooch, and Wes Fryer. This was a BRAINSTORMING and team-building retreat which provided opportunities to share ideas and suggest strategies. The ideas shared here do NOT (at this point) represent new decisions, courses, or policies at our school. With the goal of "making the invisible more visible" and sharing our thinking for feedback with our own school constituents as well as the wider educational community, we're sharing some of the ideas which were discussed at our retreat in this post. If you have feedback, please share a comment here or get in touch with one of our retreat participants!

In the afternoon of our retreat, participants summarized and discussed key takeaways relating to computer science, STEM/STEAM education, and Maker Education and organized these ideas within five different categories. Participants then partnered up and summarized these five categories of ideas in a fifteen minute audio podcast, which is available both on YouTube and on our "Casady Voices" podcast channel.

These are the five categories of recommendations and ideas, shared both textually and as word clouds.

More Students Involved in Computer Science & STEM

  1. Design Thinking and Design Flow
  2. Follow Through (listen to and act on suggested student ideas from design thinking activities)
  3. Incentivize CS + X courses for students (offer multi-disciplinary credit: for graduation, with colleges, and free up time for CS courses)
  4. Make It Lab / MakerSpace Lab: Provide a place for creation
  5. Utilize / online programming curriculum
  6. Offer an "Engineering Design Innovation" Course
  7. Encourage personalized learning / DIY projects, like Raspberry Pi computer building

More Girls Involved in Computer Science & STEM

  1. Wearables
  2. Art and Design
  3. Minecraft and Programming
  4. Student Ignite Talks
  5. Animation
  6. Collaboration / Group Projects
  7. Role Models
  8. Help Make the World a Better Place
  9. Pets and People
  10. GUI (Graphical User Interface) Design and Coding for existing programs

Communicate and Amplify

  1. Student Ignite Talks
  2. Sharing Across Divisions
  3. Career Days
  4. Student's artifacts: podcasts, screencasts, digital portfolios, Seesaw

Growth and Learning

  1. Provide PLC (personal learning network) time during the week for faculty professional development
  2. Host a November "Google Camp OKC" Saturday Conference for Casady faculty and area educators
  3. Host a Mid-June "STEM Seeds" Camp / Professional Development Institute for Casady faculty and area educators
  4. Middle Division Students Share Ignite Talks with Lower and Upper Division Students
  5. Faculty STEM / STEAM Local Field Trips (OU Innovations Lab, Rose State Fab Lab, etc)
  6. Faculty and Staff Team Attendance at Conferences: Shift-In-EDU, Stanford Design School, Harvard Project Zero
  7. Faculty sharing Presentations (Ignite) about Summer Conferences / Professional Development

Whole School Computer Science Skills Scaffolding

  1. Computer Aided Design (CAD): Fusion360 (UD), TinkerCAD (MD), TinkerCAD and Robots (LD), Shapes and Position (PD)
  2. Graphic Design and Digital Media: iMovie, Adobe Dreamweaver (UD), Inkscape, Lucid Press, Google Sites, Wix and Weebly (MD), Animation, Podcasts, Google Docs, MS Office (LD), Printmaking (PD)
  3. Programming / Coding: Python, Java (UD), Javascript, Lua, Labview, Google Sheets (MD), Scratch,, Typing (LD), Cubetto, Algo Syntax (PD)
  4. Digital Citizenship: Wellness initiative (UD), speakers, incorporated into civics (MD), Seesaw, Passport, Speakers (LD)

In the morning session, we had an approximately one hour, interactive conversation with Eve Juarez, who is the chair of the Computer Science department at Ursuline Academy in Dallas. According to their website, Ursuline is:
an independent Catholic college preparatory school for young women in grades 9-12. Educating students for 143 years, the Academy is the oldest continuously operating school in Dallas.
This is a sketchnote and narrated sketchnote Wes Fryer created during and after the videoconference with Eve, summarizing some of his key takeaways.

This retreat provided good opportunities for members of our faculty and staff to network, connect, and vision together possibilities for computer science and STEM/STEAM learning at our school!

Technical notes:

  1. The audio podcast at the end of our retreat was recorded on an iPhone with the free app Opinion. (In-app purchase of $3 required for recordings longer than 10 minutes)
  2. The audio podcast was converted to a video using the free iOS app "Voice Record "Pro".
  3. WordClouds were created with the free iPad app Word Clouds by
  4. The sketchnote was created using ProCreate for iPad ($6) on an iPad Pro with an Apple Pencil.
  5. The narrated sketchnote was created using an exported video from ProCreate and iMovie for iPad.
  6. More information about creating radio shows / podcasts, sketchnotes, and narrated sketchnotes is available on

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Students Design and Build Wind-Powered Cell Phone Charging Turbine

This year in Greg Zamarripa's AP Physics C class at Casady School, five students opted to create an engineering project in lieu of a final examination. Vinay Chandresekaran, Caitlyn Greene, Jack Ryan, Calvin Tolbert, and Philip Whitmarsh built a wind generator that charges a cell phone. The blades spin magnets wrapped in copper coils. With increasing-decreasing magnetic field strengths and pole flips, induced current continually changes direction creating alternating current. The students found a way to match the current and voltage produced in our electrical outlets and to charge a juice pack. The USB charger / juice pack then charges a connected cell phones via a USB charger.

In this short video, Calvin and Jack demonstrate and describe their project. They also reflect on some of the lessons learned from this challenging engineering project which required extensive math as well as physics knowledge to successfully complete.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Coding a Drone's Flight Path with Tynker

4th grade students in Mrs. Heather Vick's Computer Class at Casady School in Oklahoma City have been learning to code this year using a variety of websites and apps. These include:

  • (the sponsor website of "The Hour of Code")
  • Scratch (a block-based programming language free from MIT)
  • Tynker (a block-based coding language similar to Scratch, but for the iPad)
Among other things, Tynker supports Bluetooth connections to the Parrot Mambo Drone, which permits students to write block-based coding scripts that control the flight path of a drone. Today in our Lower Division Chapel service, 4th graders gave a short presentation about how they've been learning to code this year in Computer Class and are able to control the flight of the Parrot Mambo with Tynker. This 68 second video shows two of the students' Tynker-controlled drone flights from today's presentation.

Many thanks to the Verma family for donating the Parrot Mambo drone to the Lower Division so students can learn about some of the exciting ways coding can be used to control objects in the physical world! Kudos to Mrs. Vick (@vickhviolin) for bringing these exciting coding and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning opportunities to our students!

If your students or students you know in the Oklahoma City area are interested in learning more about coding, here are some upcoming summer opportunities to learn more from teachers in our Casady community. All of these classes, camps and workshops are open to the public as well as students currently enrolled at Casady School. Please help us spread the word about these upcoming opportunities to learn more about coding!
  1. 9th through 12th graders can take "Web Development (for credit)" this summer from June 13 - 30, 2017. Registration is available online. This course will be taught by Dr. Jason Reich.
  2. 9th through 12th graders can take "Programming Principles (for credit)" this summer from July 3 - 21, 2017.  Registration is available online. This course will be taught by Dr. Jason Reich.
  3. 5th through 8th graders can take "Minecraft Turtle Camp" this summer from July 10 to 13, 2017. Registration is available online. This course will be taught by Dr. Glen Emerson. (@emerson_glen)
  4. 3rd through 6th graders can participate in a "Scratch Day in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 13th. Registration is available online. This workshop will be led by Dr. Wesley Fryer (@wfryer)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Google Form Survey in Chapel for Comparative French Sociology Study

Hannah Jordan, a high school junior at Casady School in Oklahoma City,  has been named as one of five students in central Oklahoma to participate in the Franco-American Fellows Program. Hannah and other selected students will travel to France to study specific topics this year during Spring Break. Hannah has started her research project on the topic, "A Socioeconomic Comparison of Single Parenting Between France and the United States," and used a Google Form as a survey for her classmates at Casady earlier this month. Last week, Hannah and her Casady French teacher, Sheila Kruse, participated in a 15 minute interview about the Franco-American Fellows Program, the value of international exchange programs, and the backstory behind this unique research project. Check out the audio interview on YouTube or on our Casady Voices podcast channel on Opinion or on YouTube.

Read more about Hannah's upcoming trip on the Casady Community Service Learning blog.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chromebook-powered Learning in High School Biology and Environmental Science

Janine Perry teaches high school Biology and Environmental Science at Casady School in Oklahoma City. This year, Mrs. Perry has utilized a cart of Chromebook laptops to expand the menu of ways students can deepen and demonstrate their understanding of concepts studied in class. In this sixteen minute audio interview, she explains how her students this year used Google Drawing documents to create virtual posters of “bio and geo chemical nutrient cycles.” These included cycles involving sulfur, nitrogen, carbon and oxygen, and phosphorous.

In addition in the interview, Mrs. Perry explained how beneficial Google Classroom has been for her students as well as for her as a teacher, providing reminders about assignments as well as opportunities to provide timely, typed feedback on student work. Senior students have told her they appreciate having all their course materials and resources available digitally in a single location, through Google Classroom. In the interview, Mrs. Perry also describes how she uses both Kahoot and Quizlet Live to engage students in lively, focused review sessions about course vocabulary as well as concepts. She finds Quizlet Live particularly useful, since it empowers her to easily regroup students in the course of a review session in class. She also discusses how she is helping students create digitally interactive science journals using the online platform SeeSaw, and gaining deeper insights into student mastery of course concepts. Students in Mrs. Perry’s class have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to learn through virtual labs in class using the Explore Learning Gizmos website, as well as the virtual simulation website 3rd World Farmer. Please take a few minutes and listen to this outstanding interview with Janine Perry, either on the Opinion website or on YouTube.

Two other websites Mrs. Perry uses extensively for her biology and environmental science classes, but were not mentioned specifically in the interview, include The Howard Hughes Medical Institute “Biointeractive” website and resources, as well as Anneberg Learner’s website Mrs. Perry particularly likes the “click and learn” lessons on the HHMI site, and uses these for a lesson on trophic cascades. has a good carbon interactive lab that she uses with environmental science students.

Students at Casady School are richly blessed by the opportunity to learn with and from amazing educators like Janine Perry! It is inspiring and exciting to learn more about the innovative and engaging ways she is helping our students learn more deeply and meaningfully about biology and environmental science!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

iPad in the Elementary Art Classroom

Megan Thompson (@seeingnewshapes) teaches art at Casady School in Oklahoma City to 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th graders. For the past year, Megan has been using an iPad to enhance and augment student learning. By using the iPad "AirPlaying" to an Apple TV connected television, encouraging students to record audio reflections about their artwork, and documenting the process of creating art projects, Mrs. Thompson is finding the iPad to be a transformative addition to her classroom toolkit as a teacher. Learn more about what is happening in Mrs. Thompson's art classroom by listening to this 20 minute audio interview either on the Opinion website or on YouTube. This YouTube version was created by app-smashing the recording from the Opinion app with the iOS App Voice Record Pro.

You can also follow Mrs. Thompson on Twitter @seeingnewshapes.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Learning Programming with Lego Robotics

8th graders at Casady School in Oklahoma City have the opportunity to take an elective course with Dr. Glen Emerson (@emerson_glen) called, ¨Programming the EV3 Robot.¨ The official course description explains how students learn to use Lego Mindstorms Robots to develop their computational thinking (programming skills) by collaboratively figuring out how to solve different challenges:
This course covers some of the programming necessary to successfully navigate the EV3 Lego robot in real world conditions using rotation, touch, light, and ultrasonic sensors. Using the EV3 graphical programming environment available from Lego, students write programs that enabled the robot to follow a line, follow a wall, and stop a certain distance from a wall. After this introduction, students are divided into groups and asked to work together to accomplish specific missions, such as having their robot pick up a loop and return to the home base autonomously. Each group continually tests and corrects their robotic design and programs as necessary.
Last week, on January 19, 2017, Casady 8th graders Colton and Brigitte took a few minutes to demonstrate and explain how they use the Lego Mindstorms block-based programming environment to control their robots and navigate an ever-changing course of challenges created for them by Dr. Emerson. Check out this short, three minute video to see and hear Colton and Brigitte explaining their classroom learning using programming and robotics.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Flipping Algebra with Rob Huber

Rob Huber teaches 8th grade Algebra at Casady School in Oklahoma City, and has been experimenting with a variety of strategies to "flip" classroom learning the past two years. In this podcast interview, he talks about his journey and how he is using the iPad app Explain Everything to create short tutorial videos for students to watch at home, so they can work on more challenging problems together in class.

This interview was recorded by Wes Fryer (@wfryer) on an iPhone using the Opinion App. Listen to this 34 minute audio interview on the Opinion website or on YouTube. This YouTube version was created by app-smashing the recording from the Opinion app with the iOS App Voice Record Pro.

Podcast Interview Shownotes:

  1. Rob Huber's classroom YouTube channel
  2. PlayPosIt
  3. EdPuzzle
  4. Casady School (@casadyschoolOKC)