Thursday, November 28, 2013

Joyful Gratitude

There are so many reasons and ways to be thankful today and every day. Yesterday I received a surprise email which created joy tears and chicken skin. With small changes, the ripples carry.

At the beginning of the year a second grade teacher on campus volunteered to bring her kids once a week to a creative computing session that we ran together. (OK – well that I 'ran' but both of us tinkered and played together with the kids.) This session was in addition to the weekly allotted computer time they already receive. (This extra session was even during their traditional reading block!)

Because of various affects to the schedule due to holidays and other small/big changes creating ripples around campus, our extra creative computing session lost its momentum.

Yesterday I received the email below with an image of a proud student holding the monitor.

Today we had a turkey drawing contest!  Using our programming software Turtle Art, who could come up with a program to design a turkey? And the winner is Kainoa Smith.

This second grade teacher found her own joy in playing and creating in TurtleArt and now the computers in her homeroom are being used to program! The ripples are carrying!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Experimenting with QR, Avatars, and Scratch...

in preparation for Monday's last work session prior to Junior Robotics showdown Saturday, November 9!

My Avatar

Scratch Wildfire Video Game –

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Part II: Follow up => Reward and competition vs. cooperation

There was no class the week after I promised the reward. (Students had the day off; teachers had Institute day — I was at #SOTF13.) Two days ago I realized I needed to follow through with my promise of reward. Do I bake cookies the night before, buy lollipops at Paul's Place on my lunch break, or get stickers? I realized ten minutes before the gang was coming that I didn't have time for these options (I had even written it front and center on the board to remind myself). So I quickly found a Google image that would suffice as a mini-medalion, and printed seven of them on one piece of card stock. I had a plan.

As they entered, she said right away, "Don't you have something for us today? Don't you have something because we made the three circles?" I smiled. I called the names of the seven students one by one, gave them each a high five as they formed a line standing and facing the others. They were happy and proud. I asked the group why they thought they were up there. Most recalled the challenge. I made sure to compliment the ones not up there on the important things I saw them experimenting with as well in TurtleArt. We did a review of the Arc bloc and got back to work. 

My favorite part of this story is told in the following images:

Her's — A wrinkled mess by end of class,
sweaty and faded from hand holding
One of the other six's — Something legible to share with
others at home

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Introduction to a Reward: Competition vs. Cooperation

I just re-watched Tom Shadyac's documentary I Am. I remember introducing a reward to my last grade one class of the day yesterday, Friday before Fall break. I bribed.
"I will give a reward to anyone who can make at least three different sized circles." 
 We were using TurtleArt and we had done some hand motions to determine the difference between 180° and 360°, and we had modeled the abstract concept of large and small radii. At the end of the 40 minutes about eight kids out of about twenty had their names on the board under reward. I recall one child, a bit unsure, claiming she just couldn't do it. This child often catches my attention. She is determined and whines out loud wanting me close by, but not in an annoying way because she doesn't give up. She was the first to figure it out. Then she coached her neighbor and his name went up on the reward list too. A child mid-way across the room complained that so and so next to him was copying his work. For a brief second I saw what was at play. It had never crossed her mind. I reminded that coaching isn't cheating so long as the coach doesn't touch the other person's computer. His neighbor's name was soon on the reward board too. As for the others, they were investigating plenty of other things of course.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer, Summer, Summer ... Computer Science Boot Camps Galore

I am on a MOOC adventure. In the Spring I took my first Massive Open Online Course through MIT called Learning Creative Learning. Because of connections made in that amazing group of collaborators, I found my way to my second MOOC: Creative Computing Online Workshop. Now I am engaging in CS4H Android App Inventor Online Workshop. Here is a link to the basic apps created in week two.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Beginning to process the #DeeperLearning conference:

Two words as emotional reflection:

1. Incipience 

(although years of labor poured in already as Chris Unger's G+post shares, as well as Larry and Rob  oh yeah and Dewey ;) , remind us)

2. Persistence 

Brief summary:

Lots of amazing people working on amazing projects; still SAD that public feels so much on the periphery.  YES charters, YES private, YES independent schools - it is hard enough to get this going and flowing in your environments AND I am a voice to remind us that our majority are at the public in their precinct bc they don't have the money or didn't make the lottery.  

So how to include and invite and persevere in bringing the public along and bridging with the independents? If we change our approach to changing mindset just slightly, we grow from teachers running low in survival mentality to understanding the invite to begin to view Project Based Learning or DeeperLearning or Personalized/Self Directed Learning (whichever label you want to use) not as 'one more burden or thing to add to the plate', but we see holographically that it IS the plate.  And seeing with this new perspective simultaneoulsy resurfaces the passion which brought us to the profession long before the system took its toll. 

To systemically apply this growth mindset several thoughtful steps need to be implemented for duration, and here are just a few quick thoughts that come to mind:

1. Self define if you are more an evaluator or synthesizer on Bloom's chart.
2. When planning groups, pay attention to the balance of synthesizers and evaluators in each group.  In my opinion, the synthesizers will jump in with the instruction, and the evaluators will be great backwards mappers, easily bridging data for accountability and assessing.
3. SUPPORT continuously - RESPECT us, ourselves, and our profession.  Survival mentality is hard to escape and easy to fall back on when things get hard - AND being a teacher is HARD work. This is why lasting change is a process that takes time.
4. Be weary of generic watered down professional development.  So often we look to outside gurus for the answers and best advice.  Growth sets in when the individual and/or group grasps that they ARE the answer and lead the helm.
5. Create spaces to invite and encourage all teachers that want to be on cutting edge of the topic they teach, AND ensure they receive TOP training from TOP professionals.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January 6, 2013: "Big Box" Church reflection

"We can have joy in our troubles, because we know that these troubles produce patience.  And patience produces character, and character produces hope." Romans 5:3-4

I visited Saddleback Church for the first time today.  My youngest daughter and I had the pleasure of meeting Pastor Rick after the service.  What an amazing experience.  I'm excited to participate in the six week 2013 kick off, "What on Earth am I here for?" Cheers to Saddleback's "facilitation of the emergence of self-organizing dynamic networks of love and action." Deepak Chopra

Notes from Jan. 6 Pastor Rick Warren @ Saddleback Church

Moses' 4 Life-Shaping Choices: Hebrews 11:23-27

1. Refuse to be defined by others
2. Short term pain for long term gain
3. Follow what God values, not what the world values
4. Live in Faith not Fear