Kimberly Mendoza » Ms. Mendoza's Biography

Ms. Mendoza's Biography

Greetings! This school year will be my 12th year teaching in CPS and I am beyond thrilled to be facilitating the design of Decatur's Makerspace program. As we begin our fifth year of programming of Makerspace, I commit each day to build a culture of creativity where each child feels empowered to persevere through the challenges they will encounter on a daily basis; as well as ensuring our students are developing the skills needed for 21st century job opportunities.
Throughout this course, students will be challenged with developing an idea for a project, designing and redesigning a prototype of their idea in order to see their project succeed.  Our goal will be to get comfortable with making mistakes in order to create something new and reach our project goals. Last year, 7th & 8th Grade students became leaders in learning how to our new 3D printer and 3D laser printer. Their leadership allowed 4th-8th grade to create 3D designs with the 3D printer and 5th-8th graders to use the 3D Glowforge laser printer. Students are so excited to use it in class this year!
A little about myself: I was born and raised on the southwest side of Chicago (Go Sox!) and I currently live on the northwest side with my husband, Chris and son Ezekiel. I received both my Bachelor's and Master’s degree from the University of Chicago. I love to run and spend as much time by Lake Michigan as possible. I ran my second Chicago Marathon in 2018 and I spent this summer training for a half-marathon. I'm sure the third marathon will be right around the corner. I love what I do and look forward to a wonderful and creative school year!


January in Makerspace

It's been a busy time in Makerspace in January! 4th graders have presented their coding obstacle courses, created coding programs using Codeverse's Kidscript program and are now moving onto block coding in Scratch. 6th Grade (Rm. 109) are nearly done building their robot chassis and will be soon testing out how many hazardrous waste blocks their robot an remove in 2 min. 6th Grade (Rm. 107) and 5th Grade have finished their video projects - showing younger students how to use Google Classroom and how to use iPads respectfully. K-2 classes have presented their Padlet presentations on making their index card tower and are starting their new units from Project Lead the Way. Be on the lookout in February for more details on their units!

Earn a free ticket to Six Flags! Read to Succeed Program

Read to Succeed is a free program that allows students in grade K-6 to earn tickets to Six Flags Great America just be reading six hours for fun. 
Follow the directions on the attached PDF to register your child today! Use Ms. Mendoza's code to register your child and track their reading online. You can track hours until Feburary. Tickets will become available in May. Thank you to Ms. Ostaszewka for recommending to register for this year's program! 

Makerspace Dec. 9-13

4th graders created an obstacle course and wrote a code to get a classmate from a start point to an end point around the room. One 4th grader, shown here, is being given directions to get from the rug to the pickup an iPad and back to his seat. Lookout for the 'bugs' in the code that students corrected towards the end of the course. Great job guys!

Makerspace: Dec. 2-6

We've been busy this week in Makerspace! K-2 are making great progress on communicating their reflections on their Index Card Tower using Padlet. Not only are they working on responding to reflection questions but also making sure to add details to strengthen their writing. Some students are even working on creating audio or video reflections as well. We're looking forward to be showing our final product soon! 3rd graders are finishing up with their presentations on Google Slides. 4th graders have begun their coding unit, inspired from our field trip to the Lyric Opera's collaboration with Codeverse - the world's first fully interactive coding studio for kids. To prepare to code with Kidscript -- Codeverse's language for coding -- 4th graders have begun to write out code for an obstacle course they will create within the class. 5th graders and 6th graders (Rm. 109) having been working hard on their "How To" videos showing K-2 how to use iPads and 3-5 how to use Google Classroom. 6th graders (Rm. 107) are completing their robot testbeds and testing out how 'inputs' and 'outputs' work by operating the robot brains with their controllers.
3rd graders in Makerspace present their Index Card Tower presentations. Students collaborated on their presentation using Google Slides to talk about the height of their tower and problems & solutions they encountered while building it. We'll continue our presentations this week in class. Can't wait to see them! 

Makerspace: Nov. 12-22

In talking circles, Decatur students discussed and recorded what they're thankful for at school, in themselves and at home. Check out their their gratitude on paper chains on our gratitude tree in our North Lobby. 3rd graders also had a talking circle in Makerspace about how to make sure work completed in a group is evenly divided amongst all team members. 4th graders presented their Index Card Tower presentations, while students in K-2 began posting their reflections on Padlet. 6th graders in Rm. 107 have kicked off their robotic units by assembling a testbed, to get familiar with how the controller and various inputs/outputs in the robot brain function. In Science, 4th graders created reed instruments out of straws to explore amplitude and pitch in Science.
On Nov. 5, 4th graders went on a field trip to view an opera called Earth to Kenzie at Senn High School. This opera was a part of Lyric Opera's Operas in the Neighborhood program that brings live performances (for grades 3-6) of youth-focused operas in neighborhood venues throughout the Chicago area. It was done in collaboration with Codeverse, an interactive coding studio providing a unique coding platform for kids ages 6-13 in Chicago. This field trip was a collaboration between Ms. Schmittle and Ms. Mendoza.Students will be continuing to discuss the opera and will be beginning a coding unit in Makerspace using the Codeverse platform. 
5th graders, seen here, are working on a script for their new project, where they will be creating "How To" videos for K-2 graders on how to use important features on their iPads. These will be very valuable as K-2 classes are continuing to review iPad expectations and learning about airdropping documents and saving Padlet as a bookmark to get to quicker. Students will be using Padlet to reflect on their Index Card Towers. 3rd & 4th grade classes will be presenting their final Index Card Tower presentations in the upcoming weeks.

Decatur Walkathon 2019

4th Graders had a great time at our 2019 Walkathon, held on October 16. There is still time to donate! Decatur's Walkathon goal for this year is $35,000. In addition to supporting collaboration and innovation at Decatur, the funds will support Decatur’s purchase and installation of a new turf area. Decatur will work with the Public Building Commission and CPS to finalize the design of a new turf area, but our goal based on preliminary estimates is $100,000.00. Please help our efforts by contributing to our Walkathon! If you have any questions, please email our WALKATHON chairs at [email protected]

Makerspace: Oct 7-11

This week, students have begun to develop presentations that they will be sharing with in class. Most groups in 3rd-6th grade are choosing to use Google Slides - allowing them to collaborate with all members in their groups. For students in K-2, we'll be reviewing iPad expectations and begin experimenting with presenting using a web-based program called Padlet: a digital pin board that allows students to post their responses (written, photos and even audio recordings) without logging in.

Makerspace: Sep 30 - Oct 4

As more and more classes have begun to build their towers, I am amazed at the level of determination students have - even after their designs have fallen apart! One group's tower fell apart with only *six* minutes left to go in the challenge. While it's difficult to have your work fall apart in when you've worked so hard, this team restarted immediately and ultimately had the highest tower in their class! It's also interesting to see which groups use another teams model once theirs falls apart. While some students have called this 'cheating', we know as engineers we often replicate others' ideas in order to make our own designs. After all, if no one had borrowed the Wright brothers' invention for building the world's first successful airplane, we wouldn't have the airplanes we have today!

Makerspace: Sep. 20-27

Students continue to strengthen their team-building skills by creating the highest tower they can using a maximum of 100 index cards and no more than 24 in. of tape. Students are surprised at first with how limited they are with their materials but soon realize that they often do not need to use all of the materials they are given. Students' perseverance has amazed me while they continue to rebuild even if their structure has fallen apart.

Makerspace - Sep 16-20

This week, students reviewed the Engineering Design Process in class. The process includes the following stages: Ask, Explore, Model, Evaluate and Explain. 6th graders began applying this process to a design challenge to build the largest freestanding tower using only 100 index cards, 24 in. of tape and 20 min to build. Students in grades K-5 will also get an opportunity to build the tower; length of time for the project will vary by grade level.

Makerspace Sept. 3-13

During these past two weeks of school, we focused on building our community in Makerspace and getting comfortable with brainstorming new ideas. Students had an opportunity to tinker with material including gems, cork, cups, rocks, pom poms and foam pieces. They chose to work independently, with a partner or their entire whole table. This activity also served as a refresher on how to work/treat materials, how to respect each other at our tables and cleaning procedures. The creativity with materials was quite impressive. Very few projects were ever truly alike. Students imagined pom poms representing different types of food and creating a sandwich, using the foam pieces as the bun. Others used gems as garden paths, mazes and even water drops in a cup. Even towers made of cups were varied, both in size, shape and decor. Some students stayed limited to table and others chose build from the ground up!