FABClassroom Spotlight: Arrowwood Elementary

From the library to the classroom, Arrowwood Elementary is a FABschool. Earlier this year the neighborhood school in Douglas County, CO added Fab@School Maker Studio, a digital design and fabrication program, to its STEAM curriculum. Recently, Dana Palmer shared a bit about how students are using the tool and the plans for the future.

As a STEM/STEAM teacher can you share a bit about the importance of introducing STEAM concepts in elementary school?

I was the "tech lab teacher" for the first 8 years of my career - straight tech lab activities devoid of creativity did not help students develop a deeper understanding of concepts. I found students cutting and pasting information from the internet directly into PowerPoint and calling it "technology integration.” They were unable to explain concepts in their own words; they were unable to relate concepts to their lives or other applications. With the hands-on creative approach of STEAM that I use, students are highly engaged and have a much deeper understanding of concepts.


How are the students at Arrowwood Elementary School using Fab@School Maker Studio?

We are at the starting stages - our older students are creating manipulatives for younger students. We reworked an old lesson that used straws and pipe cleaners to make 3D prisms with Fab@School Maker Studio prisms created by students.

For our older students, they are learning to be creative and do for others-creating something another student will use to learn has been really exciting for them, and the younger students are receiving top quality manipulatives made by school mates.

What has been the “aha” moment?

When I looked at last year’s "prisms" compared to this year’s it is evident that they are accurate- having accurate prisms allowed students to better understand planes, vertices, etc...

They got the "correct" answer quicker and were able to understand the correlation between sides, vertices, etc..


What is next?

Looking to create a fabrication center in our library - great software - easy to get started with and reasonable equipment prices will make this a reality much quicker than I thought possible.

Is your classroom a FabClassroom? We would love to feature your school! To be featured in an upcoming post, send an email to info@fablevisionlearning.com. You can also tweet your photos with the hashtag #FabMakerStudio! For more posts featuring Fab@School Maker Studio, click here.

Peek Inside the Mind of Peter H. Reynolds with his Latest Book Happy Dreamer!

The following post was written by New York Times bestselling author/illustrator and FableVision founder, Peter H. Reynolds. His new book Happy Dreamer will be released on March 28, 2017. You can pre-order the book through the Blue Bunny bookstore, here. 

My book, Happy Dreamer was originally called Amazing, Delightful, Happy Dreamer. And yes, the initials do spell: ADHD.
The first spark of the book ideas were inspired while attending a learning difference conference at Harvard University where successful CEOs shared their challenging learning journeys in school, making it clear that their achievements were made because of their brains, not in spite of them. It was pointed out by the panel host that this group had all described attributes of ADHD as children. Those attributes sounded very familiar to me.
I thought for a moment, "I wish ADHD sounded like something you'd WANT to have!"

I took a pencil and wrote...


I went home and wrote a poem by the same name and that poem ultimately became this book.
I wrote Happy Dreamer for kids (and grown up kids) like me. This really is my story. A peek inside my mind to share how my brain works in its own wild and wonderful way.
It wasn't always easy having a brain like mine though. While I was never officially diagnosed with ADHD (it was a term that would not be used widely until a decade after I was in elementary school) I do believe that as a child I had experienced many of its symptoms.
I wanted to send out a hopeful message that kids who are diagnosed with ADD or ADHD that they have a gift, not a label. That their minds are very special. That they are "delightful dreamers." Their brains are capable of being flexible, generous, nimble, and inventive. Their kind of thinking is to be understood, nurtured, accommodated and CELEBRATED!
Growing up, I was dreamer. A day dreamer. Night dreamer. I had a super-charged imagination which kept my brain very, very busy. SO many ideas which was probably the impetus for me grabbing a pencil and starting to capture these thoughts and images on paper with words and art. Outside of school, it really wasn't a problem. I grew up in a big family. Seven people roaming the house doing chores, hobbies, but at night we would gather together at the dinner table to share stories. It was a busy, noisy house and I loved it that way. All the energy and buzz. In school, however, it was a different story. I found it a bit of a shock to stay put in one chair for most of the day. Learning to focus on the lessons were sometimes a big challenge for me. I was not encouraged to capture any of my racing thoughts on paper. I was in fact, discouraged from doing it.
"All eyes up front."
"Mr. Reynolds, do not draw in my class. You can do that after school."
"This is math class. Not art class. Put that away."
I was an agreeable, friendly kid eager to please, so I did my best to comply and control my buzzy-brain. It was not always easy. Every so often, I found a teacher or an activity that tapped into that special brain of mine and WHOAH! Like my 7th grade math teacher who asked me if I could teach math by using art, story and animation. It was magic. I was in my element. It was an AMAZING feeling. Happy. Delighted. My Dreamer brain was engaged—and I was ME.
I hope this book speaks to you, your family and friends. May it reassure you that good things are ahead for all us dreamers.
And in fact, I do believe that if we are to solve some of the planet's biggest problems—we can't keep trying the same solutions. We must invite inventive, flexible minds to the table. World problem solving aside—if this book encourages my readers to simply be happy with themselves, then I'll sleep—and dream— better at night.


In the Boston area? Join us for Happy Dreamer book release party at the Blue Bunny Books & Toys, on Saturday, April 1, 11-1 p.m, located at 577 High St, Dedham, MA 02026. For more information, click here.

For inspiration on how to bring Happy Dreamer into your classroom, check out the Happy Dreamer Classroom Kit.

Fab Lab Tulsa Pilots Early Elementary School Program Featuring Fab@School Maker Studio

The following blog post was written by the team at Fab Lab Tulsa about their Digital Fabrication pilot with early elementary school students. 

At Fab Lab Tulsa, we’re used to working with digital design and fabrication tools. In fact, we consider ourselves to be experts at it, with over five years of experience teaching youth programs that target 5th through 9th graders. We’ve had some experience with younger students but we’ve wanted to find some way to get early learners engaged in the design process. After a ton of research we were able to locate the Fab@School Maker Studio platformer. We were super excited to pilot Fab@School Maker Studio to see if it could be used to expand our existing programs to students in the 1st to 3rd grades.

In November 2016, we spent two weeks teaching 72 young students in the afterschool program at Kendall-Whittier Elementary School. In keeping with our existing education program philosophy, the curriculum included digital fabrication using Fab@School Maker Studio and Silhouette Portrait paper cutters. We focused on teaching elements of the design process as defined in the Next Generation Science Standards, and we encouraged students to apply the skills they learned in a project-based assignment. Our objective was to evaluate both the software and cutters, as well as test the feasibility and value of introducing digital fabrication concepts and skills at an earlier age.

Each student received approximately 4 hours of instruction over multiple sessions. The 1st grade students focused on 2D design. They were introduced to the topic of design and shapes by reading and discussing the book “The Wing of a Flea” by Ed Emberley. This led to instruction on how to design basic 2D shapes and combine those shapes into more complex structures. Students used the cutters to create their physical model.

The older students began with the 2D design but quickly moved to designing 3D shapes. They were able to use the cutter to render their 3D design and then glue it when necessary. Some older students tried their hand at more advance design concepts like pop-ups, a design principle that’s tough but easier to handle when using the friendly interface of Fab@School Maker Studio.

In short, we were very happy and excited about the results of the pilot. While there is still considerable room for improvement in the lesson plans and teacher instruction, designing with the Maker Studio software was a simple and straightforward concept to learn for all three grade levels. In addition, the cutters proved faster and more efficient than was expected.

In short, we were very happy and excited about the results of the pilot. While there is still considerable room for improvement in the lesson plans and teacher instruction, designing with the Maker Studio software was a simple and straightforward concept to learn for all three grade levels. In addition, the cutters proved faster and more efficient than was expected.

Best of all, student engagement was very high and we observed a high level of student interest and growing self-confidence. We’re excited about the implications this base of knowledge will have in future grades, when we ask them to use more complex CNC equipment for larger projects.

From Snow Forts to Bees, First Graders Design with Fab@School Maker Studio

Meet Karen Wolff's first grade class at the Boyden School in Walpole, Ma. This post first appeared on Mrs. Wolff's blog, The Wolff Den

What a fun week we had building a snow fort! The idea started by exploring with Fab@School Maker Studio software on our Chromebooks.  We experimented with different shapes and connected them. From there, we learned how to make 3-D solids. We were going to create a snow village with our solids, but instead decided to build a snow fort!  We started by creating cubes with the Fab@School Maker Studio, but found that they were too small to build with. We even tried gluing magnets in the cubes to make they stick together, but in the end decided on choosing another solid – rectangular prisms. We went back to the Chromebooks and figured out how to create them and then built our snow fort!

We also created snowflakes to use with the Bee-Bots.

Speaking of bees, we read a story about Honey Bees this week. We learned about the long “u” sound and the two sounds “y” can make at the end of a word. For example, in the word “sunny,” the “y” sound like an “e," but in the word, “fly,” the “y” sounds like an “i.” We also talked about the life cycle of honey bees. We diagramed the bee life cycle using Kid Pix and learned about the anatomy of a bee by creating them with the Fab@School Maker Studio.

In math, we are working with fact families. We learned that all fact families have  three numbers. We can make two addition sentences and two subtraction sentences with the same three numbers.

In social studies we’ve been learning about oceans and continents. We know there are different kinds of land, like plains and mountains and different types of water, like rivers and lakes. We also talked about natural resources like water and wood.

Young engineers at CU Science Discovery light up the holidays with Fab@School Maker Studio

We are so excited to hear how our creative classroom tools are being used. Stacey Forsyth, Ph.D., Director, CU Science Discovery, recently shared a bit about some young engineers who used Fab@School Maker Studio to design pop-up cards.

Over the holiday break, some creative young designers spent two days at CU Science Discovery in Boulder, Colorado, designing electrifying holiday cards.

First, the students used FableVision Learning’s Fab@School Maker Studio to design cards that could be cut and folded in specific ways.

Then by sending the designs to a Silhouette Cameo, a digital craft cutter, they were able to cut and perforate their designs.

After a few introductory activities to explore the basics of circuits, designers used copper tape and LEDs to light up their cards! For some tips on creating paper circuits, check out this tutorial from our friends at Spark Fun


After designing, cutting, folding, and lighting the lights, students had a chance to add on any final touches using an assortment of colorful craft materials.


Their finished products were simply illuminating!


FableVision Celebrates Universal Children's Day at Bridgewater State University

In a packed auditorium, Paul and Peter H. Reynolds inspired roughly 200 third-graders from Brockton’s Huntington School to make their mark during Bridgewater State University Universal Children’s Day celebration on Nov. 18, 2016. 

Following Peter and Paul's presentation and reading of "The Dot," the FableVision Learning crew joined students on the lawn to create a giant dot.

To round out the creative celebration, the team stuck a pose for the Universal Children's Day mannequin challenge. 

FableVision Learning's Vice President, Andrea Calvin, also joined the college's Universal Children’s Day celebration for a hands-on storytelling workshop featuring Get Published!

Learn more about Universal Children's Day here

Wrightsboro Elementary Students Make Their Mark with Dot Song!

Decked in dot-covered artist aprons and French berets, the paintbrush wielding students of Wrightsboro Elementary wowed the crowd at the 27th Annual Best Foot Forward showcase in New Hanover County with their rendition of Emily Arrow’s “The Dot Song” inspired by Peter H. Reynolds’ book The Dot. A multi-age group of nearly 40 students sang, danced, and acted out the story of The Dot while creating a dot of their own live on stage, which was revealed at the end of the performance. Lead by their music teacher, Shannon Flowers, their art teacher, Bron Guthrie, and teacher leader, Brandi Laney, the piece was a huge success and one of the most memorable performances of the night. Congratulations to the teachers and students of Wrightsboro Elementary for making their mark!

Want to bring Emily Arrow’s Creativity Road Show to your school? Click here.

All photography provided by Erin Whittle Photography.

FableVision Learning Teacher Spotlight: Maryann Molishus

Maryann Molishus

Maryann Molishus is not just any fifth-grade teacher, she is an advocate for hands-on, experiential learning and a champion for the importance of a positive classroom experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Many students learn to dislike these subjects in elementary school; Maryann is inspiring her students at Goodnoe Elementary School in Newtown, Pennsylvania to love them using Fab@School Maker Studio.

Maryann rallied a few colleagues and three amazing fifth-grade students to apply for a grant from their district’s Council Rock Education Fund to develop a makerspace-type program. With the grant in hand and the support of their principal they were able to get started.

“Our principal gave the OK to purchase a class set of accounts for Fab@School Maker Studio, and it is the perfect fit for elementary students,” she shared. “The last piece, the creativity and collaboration needed to design interesting products, comes from our fantastic students! Our intent is to spend at least this school year learning how the grant materials can best be used by our school population and then put together a program we can share with all our elementary schools.”

Maryann, a FabAwesome FableVision Learning Ambassador, was kind enough to share her and her students’ experiences using Fab@School in their classroom. Read on!

How did you hear about FableVision Learning and then become an ambassador?

In 2004 it seemed that wherever I went I was crossing paths with Peter and Paul Reynolds and the folks at FableVision. In quick succession I heard Peter speak during a virtual author visit with hundreds of students across Pennsylvania, then at a live meet-up in Philadelphia at what was then NECC (now the ISTE Conference), and we had a mutual connection to the Pennsylvania Keystone Technology Integrators Program that had just begun. Soon after I volunteered to be part of Paul Reynolds’s graduate research project, The North Star Virtual Community. I began using The North Star Classroom Program in my classroom and we even did a performance of The North Star Musical Journey with one of my second grade classes. It was some time later that I connected with the amazing Terry Shay and the ambassador program and began participating in fun events such as International Dot Day.

Tell us a bit about your classroom and what the students are working on.

Creating and collaborating! 

I am currently teaching fifth graders at Goodnoe Elementary School in Newtown, Pennsylvania. It’s my fifth year in fifth grade, after teaching second grade at the same school for eleven years. Additionally, I moderate a grades 5-6 STEM Club once a week during recess and lunch. The 5-6 STEM Club students are working on a variety of projects and are learning new skills such as computer programming and digital fabrication. Currently, our fifth graders are working on an interdisciplinary project. They are combining math, engineering, art, and some very much needed collaborative skills to create a “solid sculpture” that will be displayed on our hallway bulletin board.


How are you using Fab@School Maker Studio into your classroom?

There are a couple of ways we are using Fab@School Maker Studio. First, my homeroom is working on their  “solid sculptures.” Small groups have been given the challenge of collaborating to create an interesting sculpture that includes a cone, cube, two rectangular prisms, a cylinder, a square pyramid, and one other solid shape. The total volume of each sculpture needs to be between 60-250 cubic inches. The colors, patterns, and configuration of shapes is their creative choice. The small groups are working hard to learn how to use Fab@School, how to calculate volume, and how to design the various shapes.  We began the project by assigning student trainers that took on the role of ‘team leader’, introducing their group members to the new program and guiding them on how to use it. Team leaders are also responsible for keeping the group organized, maintaining the design notes, and making sure everyone in the group is participating.

Students are also using Fab@School in our new “STEM Special”.  This STEM Special has been put in place in lieu of our weekly computer lab block.  Students work on independent digital projects, some of which involve electronics and cardboard, and many that include designs students are creating using Fab@School.

Finally, we also offer a weekly STEM Club to all students in a more informal setting. The students are just beginning to learn Fab@School and are so excited to start planning their projects!

What are some of the challenges/lessons you are tackling with Maker Studio?

One of our primary challenges at the moment is setting up our hardware to work as effectively and efficiently as possible. As the class begins to learn and use Fab@School Maker Studio, we are working out how to get the printing and cutting process to work optimally using our current district hardware. We are learning what works best and what our major hurdles are so we can sort those out with our administration and tech support. We want to make the best choices in our setup so we can hopefully share the program with all of our students.

Can you share one wonderful aha teaching moment you’ve had this week?  

Yes, a wonderful aha moment occurred when I first introduced Fab@School to my class and they began their Solid Sculpture project. The small groups busily assigned jobs, got some training on the program, and began researching volume formulas they would need for their solid shapes. After a little over an hour, time was up. As I instructed the students to clean up their materials, one student called out, “What, time’s up? We didn’t even do any math today!” After spending an hour focused on geometry and measurement, it was quite surprising that the students didn’t realize that they were, in fact, doing math. I took the opportunity to explain once again just what they were doing and its connection to our math program. Project-based learning is a great way to learn as it allows students to become fully invested in their work, so much so that they forget they are even doing “school work.” I can honestly say that the students are actively and happily engaged in mathematical conversations at a fifth grade level and more!

Fab@School Team Joins Global Early Childhood Fab Lab Partnership

To help tackle the disruption in the STEM education/career pipeline, FableVision and The Reynolds Center have spent the past five years collaborating with University of Virginia’s successful Fab@School Initiative to bring meaningful STEM teaching and learning to many younger learners and their teachers. 

This past January, after years of development, testing and research led by Dr. Glen Bull and Dr. Peggy Healy Stearns, the FableVision/Reynolds Center teams released Fab@School Maker Studio digital design and fabrication software, which is the keystone tool in the Fab@School initiative. Made possible in large measure by the generosity of the Cisco Foundation, Fab@School Maker Studio is an easy-to-use web-based digital design and fabrication tool, which invites students in grades 3-8 to experience STEM and STEAM learning in a more engaging, personally meaningful way.  

Maker Studio offers a unique onramp to creating with cross-curricular activities from simple to sophisticated and support for a variety of materials and a range of tools from scissors to inexpensive 2D cutters to 3D printers and laser cutters – all with a single tool. Beginning with paper, cardstock, and cardboard, Maker Studio provides an accessible, low-cost way to imagine, design, invent, and fabricate 2D designs, pop-ups, and 3D projects like geometric constructions and working machines.  Maker Studio is part of the national Fab@School research initiative and committed to championing equity & access to quality maker education.

Last year, our Fab@School team was also tapped to join the global Early Childhood Fab Lab Partnership, led by the Teaching Institute for Excellence in STEM (TIES) and MIT Fab Foundation to bring the Fab Lab learning experience to early learners (PreK to Grade 2).  Other Early Childhood Fab Lab partners include the Bay Area Discovery Museum, the Center for Childhood CreativityVirginia Tech’s Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology. To support the Early Childhood Fab Lab mission, with generous support from the Noyce Foundation, the FableVision/Reynolds Center teams are now working to create an early education version (PreK-2) of the recently-developed Fab@School Maker Studio software for both formal and informal spaces.  

Constructing Modern Knowledge 2016

The following is a guest blog post by Gary S. Stager, Ph.D., director and founder of Constructing Modern Knowledge

Constructing Modern Knowledge, the premiere professional learning-by-doing event for educators, is proud to announce that Carla Rinaldi, President of Reggio Children will be a guest speaker at the 9th summer institute, on July 12-15, 2016 in Manchester, New Hampshire.

Constructing Modern Knowledge, now in its 9th year, is a minds-on institute for educators committed to creativity, collaboration and computing. Participants have the opportunity to engage in intensive computer-rich project development with peers and a world-class faculty. Inspirational guest speakers and social events round out a fantastic event.

Rather than spend days listening to a series of speakers, CMK 2016 is about action. Attendees work on personally meaningful projects and interact with educational experts concerned with maximizing the potential of each learner.

While our outstanding faculty is comprised of educational pioneers, bestselling authors and inventors of innovative educational technologies, the real power of Constructing Modern Knowledge emerges from the collaborative project development of participants. Each day’s program consists of a discussion of powerful ideas, mini on-demand tutorials, immersive learning adventures designed to challenge one’s thinking, substantial time for project work, and a reflection period. Each year, participants dazzle each other with new ideas, materials, and innovative project development. The learning environment is filled with stimulating “objects to think with,” including a library, art supplies, tools & materials for tinkering.

Animation, robotics, engineering, film-making, music composition, 3D printing, programming, wearable computing, Arduino, storytelling, and photography are all part of the CMK 2016 mix.

Professor Carla Rinaldi is one of the world's most profound thinkers on teaching and learning. She presides over the municipal preschools of Reggio Emilia, Italy - often referred to as the best schools in the world - as well as their global outreach efforts. Ms. Rinaldi worked side-by-side with Loris Malaguzzi, the founder of the Reggio Emilia Approach, from 1970 until his death in 1994 in the municipal infant toddler and preschool system of Reggio Emilia, as its first pedagogical coordinator. Experts like Jerome Bruner and Howard Gardner travel to Italy to learn from her. Constructing Modern Knowledge is a rare opportunity for educators to learn with Professor Rinaldi in the United States.

Other guest speakers include Paul DiMeo, lovable carpenter on TV's Extreme Home Makeover and Building Wild, and our annual reception at the MIT Media Lab will be hosted by Dr. Mitchel Resnick, creator of Scratch and Director of the MIT Media Lab's Future of Learning Group.

CMK sold-out last year. Register at constructingmodernknowledge.com Team discounts are available.

A PDF of the institute brochure may be downloaded here.

New to the Reading List

Education Outrage by Roger Schank

Roger Schank is outraged.

He has had it with the stupid, lazy, greedy, cynical, and uninformed forces setting outrageous education policy, wrecking childhood, and preparing students for a world that will never exist. His keen intellect, courage, and razor-sharp wit cuts away several layers of conventional wisdom; causing readers to confront their own prejudices and school-distorted notions of learning. No sacred cow is off limit – even some species you never considered. The short essays in this book will make you mad, sad, argue with your friends, and take action. Most of all, Education Outrage is funny as hell.

Dr. Roger Schank is an expert learner and expert on learning. His professional accomplishments could fill several lifetimes. Schank is a distinguished university professor, mathematician, linguist, computer scientist, artificial intelligence pioneer, entrepreneur, TV host, software developer, author, parent, grandparent, and softball player.

Education Outrage is a curated anthology of essays from his popular blog with a foreword by Gary S. Stager.

The Invent To Learn Guide to Fun by Josh Burker

The Invent To Learn Guide to Fun leads teachers, parents, and kids of all ages through a series of projects designed for maximum learning and fun! Thirteen projects explore innovative software and hardware, up-cycled material, and your imagination! Combine simple electronics with LEGO bricks, 3D printing with clay tiles, computers with cardboard, and more.



Super-Awesome Sylvia’s Project Book Super-Simple Arduino

Super-Awesome Sylvia is a kid who loves making, tinkering, and art. Her online video series, Super-Awesome Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show, has millions of views. In this super fun book, Sylvia teaches kids to understand Arduino microcontroller programming by inventing an adjustable strobe and two digital musical instruments you can play! Along the way, they will learn a lot about electronics, coding, science, and engineering. Even Steve Wozniak loves her book!