Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Things are taking off

So this is a bit of word play to lead into a post about “piloting” a few technology initiatives in our board.
Whenever I write an email to the system, I always think no one will respond:) However it is amazing to see that many dedicated teachers will a) step up to earn something new, b) be willing to learn alongside their students, c) let me join them and get in on the action, d) give their time in tech clubs, and more. Here is a summary of what’s flying this spring.
We had one Grade 7-12 school go ahead last fall and thanks to them the momentum has spread to 5 schools. All the new schools are K-8, and students participating are from grade 6-8. They are attending Hackergal learning sessions on their recesses and getting ready for the national Hackathon on May 2. Last week, I ran into two teachers and a parent, all from different schools, all talking about how enthusiastic the girls are, and expressing gratitude for the opportunity.
App Inventor
Wow! This was all new for me. Back in December I reached out to one of our CS teachers for a suggestion for a Grade 8 student who wanted to build a very specific app idea for Science Fair. Flash forward four months: the student learned AI, Anne learned AI, we did some de-bugging together. Right before the student took Gold at the regional fair and earned a spot at Canada Wide. I absolutely love this platform and believe it fills a "missing link" between Scratch and high school CS courses. Challenging and engaging - a winning combination!
Coding and Computational Thinking and Pedagogical Documentation in K
We are part way through a series of seven workshops for our K teams of teachers and ECEs. I am so thrilled to be able to introduce these concepts, and to see how natural it is for educators to make the connections between BeeBot activities, unplugged coding, and the K program goals.
Minecraft Education Edition
We have had some hiccups with this one, mostly firewall related. I have been a facilitator at one school, and beyond the enthusiasm for participating, I have observed a significant improvement in what we would have simply called behaviour in the past. Now I can frame this in terms of global competencies. There is no doubt in my mind that the increasing levels of respect have been prompted by building cooperatively in Minecraft. There have been great examples of collaboration, communication, creativity and more. In four weeks our group has doubled in size by earning the right to attend, and participants have significantly reduced conflict by working together.
Makey Makey
Everyone loves Makey Makey and our pilot classes are no exception. For me the main excitement comes from the growing awareness, that has evolved naturally, of a makerspace mindset. This is new to our board and not yet broadly promoted. I was so excited to be in a class where students had gone home unprompted over a weekend and built a joystick, surprising their teacher with a request to test it on a Makey Makey. She hid her surprise well, and just told them to give it a try. They were rockstars to their peers when it worked perfectly, and were able to give me a great explanation of their structure.
The same two teachers who volunteered for Makey Makey and invited me into their classes are going to move forward with our new Micro:Bits later this spring.
Coding Quest Arcade
Not a pilot – but an expansion. We have few more schools on board this year and our big celebration is approaching fast. We also piloted Coding Trek with our primary classes this year, and the students were whizzes at learning Scratch Jr. (See previous post).

No comments: