This was an interesting session, although maybe a bit tough early in the morning to solve a potential end-of-the-Earth scenario. It's basically an escape room for the classroom. We did it as a group of about 30 teachers, and it was fun to see how people acted. There were definitely a few serious people/leaders who were working hard. Then there were some of us, just catching up with old colleagues. All in all, it was a good time and we saved the world...with 20 minutes to spare.
The educational benefits are quite clear:
The website has everything set up nicely as well with free resources for the escape rooms.
Creative Drama in the Classroom
This session started with a bang...but ended with a fizzle. I think with her drama/acting/educational background, we expected a lot. Still there were some good ideas to be had:
Artifacts Inspire Inquiry
This session was truly inspiring, engaging from start to finish, and the presenter was extremely professional, prepared and personable.
The start is key. She asked us to talk about our childhood "artifact," something from our past that was memorable, important or endearing. The initial brief moment of anxiety shifted to something quite calming: sharing something personally relevant helped create an invisible bond within that group of strangers.
The key point that was stressed was that an artifact doesn't need to be something ancient; after all, your students probably haven't seen some of the things you grew up with, given the acceleration of technology advancements combined with the nature of our disposable and consumable society.
The main activity involved having poster paper, a group of people, and a photo of an artifact. We had to brainstorm as many ideas about what the item was. It was a fruitful discussion, with plenty of varying ideas. Then we received the actual physical object, and our preconceptions or ideas from that photo changed quite dramatically. So we came up with even more refined ideas about what our item was. We actually guessed correctly: a sewing kit!
Lisa Brahms and Peter Wardrip, University of Pittsburgh researchers, have recognized learning practices in making.
1) Inquire: openness and curiosity
2) Tinker: "purposeful play, risk-taking, testing" using a variety of tools, materials and processes
3) Seek and Share Resources: sharing knowledge and expertise
4) Hack and Repurpose: reuse and combine components in new ways
5) Express Intent: find one's passion and identity
6) Develop Fluency: gain confidence in one's ability through learning and practice
7) Simplify and Complexify: gain understanding of new ways to create meaningful things
Source: Free To Make, Dale Dougherty, 2016
Mitch Resnick, a director and professor at MIT Media Lab, highlights great reasons for children to code. He is also the creator of Scratch, a coding app designed to help kids use their creativity and imagination to create their own games and other types of applications.
In his 2012 TED Talk, Let's teach kids to code, Resnick talks about computer fluency. He argues that although young people may be "digital natives," they are only half fluent in digital literacy. In other words, they can "read" (text, browse, email, post, game), but most can't "write" (code, program).
In the earlier days of computer science, programming was left for high schoolers or university students. Nowadays, kindergartners can get an early start in coding. Already, kids using Scratch are able to make games, animated stories, virtual construction kits, and interactive artwork, just for starters. By the time this generation becomes adults, the types of programs and software created could be mind-boggling!
Resnick talked not only about learning to code, but, more importantly perhaps, the notion of coding to learn. He gave the example of a child using a variable to create his fish-eating game. For this coder, his understanding of a variable was much deeper because he was using it in a real-life situation. It wasn't just an abstract concept in a textbook, but a part of his computer game that he and others played.
Other benefits from coding to learn include the following: process of design; experimenting using trial-and-error; breaking larger ideas into manageable parts; collaborating; solving problems (errors, bugs); being persistent and persevering when hitting roadblocks. These are essential life-skills.
Resnick acknowledges that probably most students will not end up being coders, programmers or computer scientists, but as mentioned above, there are immense benefits in coding to learn. That's probably why ADST is now a part of our BC curriculum.
Here is a summary/highlights of the three workshops I attended today at the CUEBC Conference.
The big one in my mind was "Coding K-12" by Ian Landy. It was about coding, both specifically and generally, in a centres format.
The techie mindset includes being critical, creative, collaborative, and to compose and communicate.
The Centres approach has several features:
Tools (learn) vs. Toys (distract): ask students--is it a tool or a toy?; good check-n
Coding State of Mind (can happen anywhere!)
1:1ish - 1 station per student; scaleable
IT'S NOT EASY
Here is a brief summary/interpretation of my understanding of inquiry circles. For a more complete picture, please refer to the book, Inquiry Circles in Action (2009). Hopefully, I will be able to use a form of these circles in my classroom this year.
There are four models of inquiries: mini, curricular, literature circle, and open. It seems the open inquiry is seen as ideal. Also, there is a list of 27 lessons in comprehension, collaboration and inquiry that are used generically during these inquiry circles.
Here is a quick rundown of the lessons:
Of the four types, mini-inquiries is probably the way to start, as it can last from 15 minutes to about five hours. The model is still similar with the other three as well.
STAGE 1: IMMERSE
Source: Inquiry Circles in Action, Harvey & Daniels, 2009
This PRO-D at William F. Davidson Elementary was all tech-related, thanks to the new curriculum known as Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies. It was led by Zale Darnel, and staff from Apple.
The steps involved in applied design are the following: understand context (empathize); define; ideate; prototype; test; make; share. A distinction between coding and programming (for our purposes) is that coding is a higher-level and simpler language to program, such as Hopscotch, suitable for elementary students, while programming requires the use of more lower-level understanding of languages, like Java and C++.
We started with coding using iPads and BB-8 Sphero. Our goal was to work in teams and code the app to maneuver BB-8 along a predetermined route. It was a lot of fun and we took turns for each step. We found that it was difficult to be accurate and that the Sphero tended to spin and lose stability and direction at times. Still, after many attempts, we were able to reach our destination.
Next, we used Hopscotch to make a Frogger/Crossy Roads type app. The main difference now was that we didn't have a physical object to program, simply a virtual game. There is a slightly differently appeal I feel for students who are able to be totally immersed in the virtual game world, where some kids may enjoy the hands-on feel of a robot more. Still, both held similar challenges, and I think the key component was definitely testing. Trial and error seems to be norm, probably until you become more proficient at coding/programming. As with any language, spoken or otherwise, mastery of the grammar and vocabulary is critical, and with more practice and feedback, fluency is increased. Being able to persevere is another skill that would be beneficial to accomplish both of these tasks.
Finally, an even more hands-on activity was building a rocket propelled by air pressure. We all had a variety of materials and a basic starting point. After that, it was up to us how we wanted to design and build our rockets. The challenge was to build one that could travel the farthest distance. Using file folders, stiff cardboard, lots of tape and hot glue, I managed to design and build one that went 300 feet with about 90 lbs./square inch of air pressure. I didn't have the farthest (330 ft.), but I was still pleased with my rocket. I think the best part was working alongside others while still building individual rockets. Being able to prototype it and test it frequently was a bonus; although, it was difficult in the time period to really create a radically new prototype, but rather make incremental improvements and adjustments. I think at a certain point, you do need to bring more theory of flight and aerodynamics to make greater gains in improvement. Building and making is fun, but knowing why and how something works can be just as fun and a lot more useful in the long run.
All in all, a great day of hands-on experiential learning, and I look forward to implementing as much as possible in all the subject areas. That balance between theory and practice (knowledge and practical) is so important for our students.
Learning by thinking is thought to be the best of the common learning orientations (discovery and didactic). Personalized learning would come in the form of consultation and negotiation of packaged and personally developed courses. The required expectations would need to be met at a certain level, but it would be personally "tailored" to meet their strengths, needs and interests. Sense-making would be grounded in rigorous investigation, not just playful exploration. Students' primary responsibility is to reach their own conclusions based on careful and informed assessment of all the evidence and data. The teacher's role is that of a choreographer, orchestrating rich thinking activities and developing the environment that allows learners to thrive.
Source: Creating Thinking Classrooms, (Gini-Newman & Case, 2015)
Creative Kindergarten Learning Spiral (Mitchel Resnick, 2007)
(Source: Invent to Learn)
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.