Ricoh Theta 360 Camera Test Shot!

posted Sep 21, 2016, 5:02 PM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL   [ updated Sep 21, 2016, 5:14 PM ]

Reading! Theta test photo. #room141 #theta360 - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA


posted Aug 27, 2016, 11:44 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL


If this is your first time on our classroom webpage, welcome!

360° Camera Grant

posted Aug 25, 2016, 5:33 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL   [ updated Aug 27, 2016, 11:44 AM ]

Hi Friends, 

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed, so I've created a classroom project request through DonorsChoose.org, an award-winning charity. 
Donations of any size will help my students. Right now, any contribution you make to my project will be doubled by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Your donation will brighten my students' school year, and you'll get heartfelt thank yous from my class and photos of your gift in action. 
Here's my classroom request: 
360° Virtual Video Vanguards! 
To have your donation matched dollar for dollar, just make a contribution on that project page - donations will be doubled automatically, but only while funding lasts. 
If you know anyone who is passionate about education, please pass this along. My students and I greatly appreciate your support. 

Mr. W

Hacked Bow Tie!

posted Jul 13, 2016, 11:19 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL   [ updated Jul 13, 2016, 11:28 AM ]

Earlier this year I learned about the X Team at Google - a group of visionary innovators who take moonshot ideas and make them reality. Reflecting on this concept of a team-within-a-team working on special projects, I wondered how I could apply the concept within our classroom. I wondered about pitching an idea to my students - an idea seemingly beyond our capacity.

In room 141, we keep it classy with bowties. I had an idea: what if we built a bow tie with embedded LED lights, run on Arduino? I pulled aside a handful of students and pitched the idea - not exactly a world-changing moonshot,but they would have to build it from scratch, learning everything along the way. It was a classroom moonshot.

They were eager to give it a try. I explained to them that they would need to design the tie, learn Arduino coding, and wire it - all skills I would not be much help with. I think the difficulty of the idea was what was so appealing to them.

As I describe their process, keep in mind I did not help along the way. I offered ideas (and money to buy parts) but the prototyping process was all theirs. I had ideas I could share that may have helped make their process more efficient, but that could rob them of the chance to fail and learn from a mistakes decisions that didn't work.

They set straight to work - deciding to first 3D print the tie. They discovered an 
existing model on thingiverse.com and printed it. From there, they measured how to fit in the LED neopixel rings they intended to embed in the design. Using these measurements and some sketching, they redesigned the bow tie on tinkercad. They printed a prototype with holes - but soon realized the holes would not allow for wiring, nor was it designed to actually be worn. They re-designed it again, this time with a front and back side, holes for wires, a recessed cavity for the Arduino Gemma & battery, and a way to attach it to a ribbon for wearing. One specific learned skill was in circle measurement. It isn't exactly a 5th grade mathematical standard to learn about diameter and radius, but of course these concepts were crucial in defining the circle on their model. (See above photo for prototype ovals)

Next came learning to wire and code the Arduino. This was (and still is) the most challenging part of the project. The great thing is, there are plenty of videos and written tutorials about all this online. The students only had about 25 minutes every day to work on this, so there were lots of stops and starts. I had to do the soldering for them, because I didn't want to do that part in the classroom. Eventually we got it wired correctly. The debugging of the code took forever, but they stuck with it and finally got some lights going! 

I think the highly difficult challenge was motivating. I think the opportunity to work in a small group little direction was engaging. I think the fact that different groups were working on different things is something I'd like to pursue even more in the future - perhaps even establishing our own "Classroom X Team."

Oaklawn Under Snow

posted Jan 31, 2016, 6:23 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL

Untitled Post

posted Dec 12, 2015, 7:15 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL   [ updated May 3, 2016, 1:38 PM ]


posted Oct 22, 2015, 12:18 PM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL

Welcome to the Room 141 Class Web Page! We are often updating this space with new things happening. Recently, we all read Goosebumps books. We found enough Goosebumps books in our Oaklawn Library for everyone to have a different title! Apparently R.L. Stine has written over 150 different titles. We then retold our story from the point of view of the monster or "bad guy" of the story. After that, we made paper monsters to go with the story - and some of us went to see the new movie together! Good times!


posted Oct 7, 2015, 7:06 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL

Room 141 has acquired a radio-controlled quadcopter for use in science and math. We've introduced an "Epic Math Challenge" for a first project using the Quadcopter. We'll use it more later this year! Here is a test photo that was taken with the on-board camera: 


posted Oct 1, 2015, 12:27 PM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL

Tuesday this week the 5th graders started keyboarding. They're working hard to be honest with themselves and MAKE themselves practice correctly! Sometimes it is tempting to use the wrong fingers if it feels faster - but it only sets you back in the long run. Correct keying takes practice and ultimately makes you faster if you have proper technique. 

Teacher Desk 2.0

posted Sep 25, 2015, 11:00 AM by MATTHEW WIGDAHL   [ updated Jan 9, 2016, 11:20 AM ]

This summer I designed an upgrade to the standard issue Teacher Desk. I call it: Teacher Desk 2.0tm.
The standard teacher desk is about 36" tall, suitable for sitting behind and observing students with one set of eyes while correcting spelling tests with the other. Its surface is very expansive - making it the perfect choice for piling things. It has multiple drawers - often used for paper files, extra staples, random trinkets, vitamin C drops, and pads of paper passes for various locations. 

I think the standard issue teacher desk (hereinafter referred to as the SITD - a useful acronym if you think about it) served us well for many decades. But it's time is nearing an end. Enter Teacher Desk 2.0tm.

TD2 is, first and foremost, a standing station. Standing is a healthier choice - and allows the teacher to immediately spring to action when duty calls! The top of TD2 is much smaller than SITD. Wide enough only to hold one laptop and one pile of 8.5x11 papers, it has a generous depth to allow coffee mugs, water bottles, apples, and other important paraphernalia. 
Teacher Desk 2.0 surface
Inside TD2 there are shelves for extra storage (or possibly an espresso machine when we upgrade to TD3.0). The entire unit is on sturdy casters - allowing it to freely move about the room, should the instructional strategy require a change of scenery. Built of solid Oak, TD2 can withstand the hard daily use that a teacher will throw at it.

TD2 is tethered to the wall to run several technological peripherals - yet can run independently on a battery backup. The teacher laptop sits perfectly atop, connected to power and HDMI cables via a discreet hole near the corner. From there, images and video can be pushed to the interactive white board or the on-board LED screen built into the cabinet of TD2.
TD2 aims to be a paper-free operation. to that end, a portable scanner is included for scans of the daily paper deluge. All notes, schedules, receipts, and candybar wrappers are scanned directly to the cloud for easy access and searchable storage.
Will TD2.0 change the way I teach? Definitely. Will it improve student learning? I believe it will. Is there room for improvement? Always. Stop by room 141 for a tour sometime!

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