What should we stop pretending is good in education? I was asked by +Alice Chen, who was asked this question by +Nancy Minicozzi when she wrote her "5 Things We Have to Stop Pretending." In their blog posts, they gave me things to think about. So, I'm writing a post to share things I think we pretend are good in education and I want to do what I can to help improve them. After publishing a post, I pass the challenge on to five other educators.
What are 5 things that I can help change to improve learning outcomes for students?
1. Coaching each student or staff member at their level not to a fictious middle level, #PBL, #differentiation, #noStaffLeftBehind
2. Reaching each student to become better digital citizens, #digitalCitizenship, #digcit, #global
3. Encouraging kids to find their passion and don't give up, #joyOfLearning
4. Making time for collaboration, #teamwork
5. Embracing the chaos where students find a new gear that they never even knew they had, #makerEd, #kidsCanCode
We can #MakeSchoolDifferent!
We enjoyed a tremendous amount of excitement yesterday and today using Kodable on the iPad and on the desktop computers (woo hoo!) to begin learning the basics of computer programming and all that awesome collaboration and logical thought processes that go along with it.
As a district we are full steam ahead! At our high school, the Geeks and Girls Only Coding Club, with support from inspiring teachers Aaron Braskin and Jane Lofton, are fanning out to host an Hour of Code in the labs on campus during lunch this week. How cool are they?! Also, at our middle school we have an amazing team of science teachers (I personally can vouch for some of the staff because my daughter has had the great opportunity to be in their class) that are hosting an Hour of Code in their classrooms this week. If you are ever wondering how you can personalize the Hour of Code experience to make it more meaningful, look no further than the brilliant idea from Creighton Dreshcer, who used Google Forms, CopyDown Add-On and formMule to generate an email with options to entice any student to give coding a try. Lastly, we are making great strides in our elementary school to share the joy of coding.
If you are thinking about trying to learn to code, try different applications. You might enjoy one more than another. Did I mention Kodable? Yes, super fun for kids of all ages. Over the past weekend I hosted an Hour of Code in the community where I live and people ages 8-60+ loved getting inspired using Kodable and Code.org.
Hour of Code is a great way to join in on the fun and help inspire kiddos to learn skills that translate across the curricullum as well as in real life. Learning to program can be easy at first but becomes progressively more challenging. Helping lead the students to success that they earn is a feeling that no money can buy. It's an epic win when you see a child complete a challenge (they are so proud of themselves and I share that with them when I'm in the classroom). So, I thought I would capture some great strategies for dealing with the times when kiddos might be stuck. They reach a road block. They want to give up. We need to help them become more resilient so here's some ideas that helped me over the past few years.
Yesterday, a class of amazing 3rd graders, super eager to learn to code, helped me brainstorm ideas for helping other students who might get stuck when they are coding. Here is what we came up with.
5 Strategies to Get Unstuck:
1. Test it in small pieces - Try entering only a few commands, run, add more, run, repeat until successful
2. Try, try again - Try different ideas, even going back a level and then forward
3. Shake it up or take a short break - helps you attack the challenge with fresh eyes and gets the wiggles out when you stand up and reach for the stars
4. Take a big deep breath and let it out like the North wind - relax, then attack.
5. Ask 3 before me - asking for help from a seat partner or another class expert (nice if you can identify some helpers ahead of time with coding experience. Most of the time, their moment in the sun when they help someone helps is a super proud moment for both kiddos.)
6. ? Can you add more? Please add them in the comments session
P.S. Does anyone know why Kodable is spelled with a K? Some curious 3rd grade coders want to know. They loved, loved, loved learning to code with Kodable - sequence, conditions and loops.
Here's a hot tip for techie and non-techie folks (may require having a techie friend) and fellows leading the Hour of Code event at your school. I learned today from our instructional technologist at our Manhattan Beach Middle School, Creighton Drescher, that using our district MBUSD Google Apps for Education Accounts (GAFE) he's stepping up the Hour to personalize the experience for kiddos in grades 6-8. He's crafting a survey (Google Forms) to query kids about how much coding experience they have. I'm not sure if he will be distributed the survey link using a shortened URL, I like goo.gl, or a QR code the teacher projects or a mass email. Then, based on the student responses, they receive Hour of Code links that better suit their experience or comfort level with computer programming. Sweet! Personalizing the Hour of Code is a huge win especially with a large campus of over 1000 kids. Way to go! If I get the links or more information (my bet is he's using AutoCrat add-on) I'll share it with Creighton's permission. :)
Just a thought, if you don't have email accounts, you could use a webpage with link options to personalize a students experience with the Hour of Code. Start with the survey and based on a students score or letter (share the score so they get feedback right away but not the spreadsheet which might side track some kids), tell them to go to the right link to match their level.
I've introduced coding to 5th graders and 2nd graders recently. Here's two solid tips. First, start with a quick game of Simon Says. Then follow it with Kodable iPad app and then Hopscotch, if time permits. The Simon Say's game helps you make coding real for the kids. Kids can make the connection easier to computers and code. You might even hear "Ahhhh" computers will do exactly what you tell them to do, just like Simon Says, step by step directions = code. Kids need to understand the basics, the foundation for all coding languages. That's where Kodable comes in and does an exceptionally fun job making the important points like sequence, conditions and loops, in a rather short period of time, too.
I recently read a fabulous top 25 list of things my principal at Pennekamp was thankful for and thought I would try sharing my top 5. Not that I am not grateful for more things to make a longer list, because I do feel extraordinarily blessed and grateful, but I am not keen on writing. I'm trying but it's still low, really low, on my list of things I love and make time to do. So, here goes:
1. Uber grateful for my family. They support me through thick and thin and I count on them, as they do me. My 9th grade daughter tries to keep me cool so I can avoid embarrassing old cliches. How amazing is that?
2. Super grateful for people I work with daily. They bring joy every day and inspire me to do better.
3. Life is good and continues to get better with an awesome #PLN. It's a growth mindset that is upfront and personal. I used to think searching in Google was the fastest way to getting the best answers when I started teaching in a classroom 5 years ago, but it's my second go to choice when I need help now. I make it my mission to meet smarter people and hang with them. Doesn't everyone? The events that made me grow professionally because I presented or participated in:
San Diego CUE, Gold Coast CUE, CODE.org Training, Parent Technology Night, Tech Forum, CUE Rock Star Manhattan Beach, Coder Dojo South Bay, EdCamp Home, Edcamp Murrieta, EdCamp 605, EdCamp Ventura County, Apple Distinguished School Special Training Event, Google in Education Summit Online, a few Twitter chats #CAedchat and #hourofcode, and a few Appy Hours.
4. Change is challenging and nothing screams epic more than helping spread the Hour of Code this year compared to last year. Between Disney's Frozen ice princesses and HourofPython.com, and Kodable and Hopscotch, I am #mindblown at what the next digital leaders will create.
5. Learning new or rediscovering old and exciting things. Anyone play with a 3d printer lately? Makerspaces are like going back 30+ years for me, into the basement, with tools and stuff to tinker, explore, make. Every adult should give making a try because it's like being a kid again. #makered
I had a fabulous, no, better than fabulous, fascinating time with ninety 3rd graders on Friday exploring space. We loved using the Star Walk app on the iPad to help us navigate space and learn about the constellations. I have always been enamored with space and fell in love with the Star Walk app about 4 years ago when I first got my iPad. This is one of the classes that is just not possible without iPads. It's an incredible learning experience. It never gets old for me, especially seeing an 8 year old react to seeing the real-time display of the sky in his hands. Sheer amazement. We searched for how many stars are in our zodiac constellation and shared any fascinating fact that we found interesting. The students created a Keynote slide that had a screenshot from Star Walk and a sentence or two describing their fascinating fact that they wanted to share.
Note to self: To improve this lesson, I need to figure out an easy, quick way to share with the class. I haven't managed that within the time constraints of the 30-minute class yet. Thoughts?
This is a WOW class for me and for the students. What's your WOW class where kiddos are engaged and you can see the sparkle in their eyes shine brighter than diamonds? Tweet your idea out to @jeannereed1 or add a comment below.
I'm bummed that I am not at CUE in person but very grateful for Twitter. I know a lot of people will share their learning by sending out Tweets. I look forward to reading blog posts and tweets from my MBUSD friends and Twitter friends. Follow #CUE14 if you want to experience CUE virtually. I am sure it will be epic this year with the cast of participants and presenters they have lined up.
Author: Jeanne Reed
Engineer turned educator, now educational technologist - sharing my passion and perspective on technology in education to improve student learning. Hope you enjoy!
Reflections by Jeanne Reed is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.