Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Coding Captivates Bellevue Teachers

After having so much success and excitement with the Hour of Code, Bellevue Public Schools provided a follow up training for those teachers interested in learning more and moving their students beyond the Hour of Code. The training was provided by code.org and led by Dr. Kent Steen. After completion of the training, teachers received the Code Studio curriculum for free, which is geared for elementary students grades K-5.

Participants enjoyed the variety of activities in this fast-paced session.  “The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged” activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester, ” according to the code.org website.   

Computer science related jobs continue to grow at an accelerated pace yet courses and curriculum remain sparse across the United States. According to the website www.code.org, there are 3,680 open computing jobs in Nebraska and only 557 computer science graduates, while only 36 schools teach computer science.  An exposure to coding concepts at an early age help foster a love of computer science and will help improve these numbers. Empowering teachers with the tools to confidently lead students down this path are the first steps to coding kids.  “There's a big difference between knowing how to use technology and knowing how to create technology,” said Steen.  With these tools teachers will be able to encourage and support the creation of technology.

Steen kicked off the high energy training with a combination of movement, music, collaboration, problem solving, humor, and even juggling! Teachers were actively engaged in their learning all day.  In addition, teachers completed 15 of their own code puzzles online and practiced teaching a lesson to other attendees in a concept called Teacher-Learner-Observer (T-L-0). In cooperative groups, teachers developed a lesson and taught their peers. It was exciting to see the different ways there were to teach the same lesson. For example, in a lesson on graph paper programming, we had activities ranging from dancing to using a graphing whiteboard. Teachers saw how easy coding tied to their curriculum. “Teaching looping in coding is like teaching repeated addition and multiplication,” said Lisa Keene, 4th grade teacher.  

Steen referred to the Computational Thinking Practices that include the 3 C’s and 2 P’s:  Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, Persistence, and Problem Solving. These skills are also found in the ISTE NETS-T standards too. Teachers were quick to see the correlation to these computational practices as they
worked through the activities led by Dr. Steen. “I Love the collaboration piece of using computer science with students,” said Susan Schildhauer, media specialist.  “Coding is a real world skill.”

This interactive and upbeat training left teachers with multiple ideas for implementing coding into their classroom ranging from after school clubs to summer school classes.  “I am thinking of doing a semester of code with my 4th grade students,” said Garrett Sims. Another idea was to expand on coding in the summer.  “I also thought about coding as a summer school course,” said Lisa Keene, 4th grade teacher at Leonard Lawrence.

Enjoy this video that captures the day in images and words.

Are you coding with your students?  Drop us a comment and share your favorite coding stories with us.  

Thursday, January 8, 2015

What's Your Word?

It’s 2015 and time to rejuvenate attitudes, outlooks, and energies.  We have written posts in the past about taking care of yourself as an educator or tips and tricks for staying relevant in the new year.  We kicked off this year by showcasing a video by Jon Gordon (@JonGordon11) as part of a recent training with our iPad Academy members.  The concept involves deciphering your personal obstacles and dreams, then settling on one word that will help you move forward.  

It is difficult to live up to a list of goals throughout the year, but our hope is that one word will help teachers reach their goals within their classrooms.  New Year’s resolutions are made and often times broken within a few months. According to CBS News, research shows that 88% of Americans fail to follow through with their goals because they take on too much. So why not try a one word focus for the year? Instead of making things so complex, keep it simple says Dan Britton and Jimmy Page, Authors of “One Word That Will Change Your Life.”

Recently, at our iPad Academy collaboration, we had our teachers ponder their word, share it, and then write their one word on a clothespin.  They clipped their pins on the wire frame, which created a wreath similar to the one we used earlier in the year.  The words included anything from inspired to collaborate, to overcome, trust, believe, and innovate.  Forty three words as unique as the 43 educators in the room.  

We plan on using the wreath throughout the year as a reminder to our group of their words.   It will be fun to reflect throughout the year to see if our words are still the focus of what we do. Jenny’s word is faith, Ann’s is together, and Jeanette’s is balance.

These words are meant to be shared!  Next month, we will be following up with our teachers on a creative project using the words. We hope to create an alphabet book of one words, make creative projects in Canva, blog about the words, and send one word happy-grams to our teachers. We will also be sharing the words with the world via Twitter.  We have posted our words boldly where they can be seen every day as a reminder of the one word that will transcend all we do this year.  

As John F. Kennedy stated, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

What’s your word?  If you have one, please share it and leave us a comment.  We love hearing from you!

Written by, Ann Feldmann, Jeanette Carlson & Jenny Krzystowczyk
@annfeldmann1, @mrsjcarlson,  & @jennykbps

Shout out to Laura Kroll (@mandery) for sharing the CBS clip and one word inspiration.  

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Bellevue Kids are Coding!

This year The Hour of Code had the goal of reaching 100 million participants.  The Hour of Code took place from December 8-14 during Computer Science Week. It was sponsored by people such as Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. People across the world were encouraged to complete one hour of code. While the goal wasn’t quite met, they did reach approximately 80,000,000 people, and 4,300,000,000 lines of code were written by students.  That is an amazing accomplishment for something that sounds very difficult.  Here in Bellevue we had students six to 18 participating in the Hour of Code.   

The truth is coding isn’t all that hard.  With websites like www.code.org http://scratch.mit.edu/  and apps like Tynker, Kodable, Lightbot, and Cargo-bot anyone can do it.  All our students had to do was give coding a try for one hour.  Skills like critical problem solving and patterning are taught through coding and all of the activities are individualized through the sites and apps.  Kids were challenged and successful in creating programs and video games through coding!  

Here are some of the amazing quotes overheard during coding:
  • “There are jobs where you do this?” -Lauren, high school student
  • “This is hard, but I really like it!” -Madison, third grade student
  • “This is fun and it makes my brain really move!” - Brady, third grade student
  • “Look at this, look what I did! I unlocked the rainbow! - Preston, first grade student
  • "I could feel the power of thinking in my classroom during Hour of Code! The kiddos lit up the classroom with their excitement in every line they created!" - Megan Cinfel, 1st grade teacher
  • “This is the greatest thing I’ve ever done.” - Darin, 2nd grade student
  • "Our students live in a technology driven world. When my students participated in the hour of code not only were they 100% engaged and excited,  they were creating and problem solving. Every student felt empowered with each success along the way." - Monica Evon, 4th Grade Teacher
  • “ I started to learn how to code on a Commodore 64 that plugged into a tiny 10" TV when I was in 4th grade. It was awesome to watch my own 4th graders begin their Introduction to Coding during the Hour of Code. It brought back a lot of memories for me. I also told the class about a 15 year old kid named Michael who learned about coding when he was their age. Michael is just starting high school but already has 5 Apps available in the App Store. So we downloaded one called "Color Deception". The students had a blast with the App and I think some of them started to realize that you don't have to be an adult to code.” - Garrett Sims, 4th grade teacher
  • "Coding = Problem Solving  I like how students work together or alone to solve a problem. They think its fun and a challenge. I also like how they experienced success very quickly and how determined they were to solve the puzzle and get it right. No one gave up!" - Terrie Brown, 2nd grade teacher.

There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there.  According to Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers, the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. Coding is a necessary skill for careers of the future.  The Hour of Code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.”

Want to know more or encourage your students to learn coding?  
For students who wish to continue coding all year long, there are a lot of resources on code.org for beyond the hour of code. Both the high schools offer coding courses and students in elementary and middle school can participate in after school robotics clubs to continue to hone their skills.   

Want to fuel the coding passion in teachers?

According to the code.org site, “Code.org has developed an elementary school curriculum that allows even the youngest students to explore the limitless world of computing- at no cost for schools. The courses blend online, self-guided and self-paced tutorials with “unplugged”activities that require no computer at all. Each course consists of about 20 lessons that may be implemented as one unit or over the course of a semester. Even kindergarten-aged pre-readers can participate.  To find a workshop near you, click here.

We are thrilled that Ken Steen, a code.org trainer, will be offering the Coding for Teachers in-service mentioned above on January 10th from 10:00-4:00 at Lewis and Clark Middle School. This is a tremendous learning opportunity for our K-5 teachers and the workshop filled shortly after registration opened.  Teachers will receive training and curriculum materials to use with their students so they can code all year long.  

We were truly inspired by the determination and problem solving skills the students in Bellevue Public Schools displayed while participating in the hour of code. We hope you will follow in their footsteps and give and hour of code a try.

Written by: 
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/09/24/the-cities-with-the-most-computer-science-jobs-2/>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDw1ii7aKwg&feature=youtu.be>.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Look Back to Move Forward: 10 Things You Don't Want to Leave Behind

2014 turned out to be a great tech year!  There were new iOS devices and operating systems. We were able to work across devices and laptops seamlessly.  The sharing of information, photos, and documents became easier and easier as the year went on thanks to Apple.  For our teachers, there seemed to be an endless supply of new learning opportunities to stay on top of effective teaching practices using technology.  Many people jumped on the opportunity to use The Hour of Code to get students involved in basic coding skills.  Genius Hour or 20% Time took off as a way to engage kids in their own passion for learning and online design tools like Canva made online publishing beautiful for anyone!  

Here are a list of 10 things we think you should take into 2015.  This list has the staying power to sustain your love of integrating technology in the classroom for months to come.  

  1. #HourofCode: Did you know 48 million people signed up to participate in the hour of code this year?  There are not enough Americans to fill all the coding jobs out there?  According to a Forbes, The Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that jobs for what it calls “computer and information research scientists” will increase by 19% between 2010 and 2020, a healthy rate. For software developers the forecast is even better, with a projected growth rate of 30%. coding is necessary skill for careers of the future.  The hour of code and the abundant resources available makes it easy for every student in the United States to give coding a try. Becoming a computer scientist is one of the hot careers for the next 10 years.  Check out code.org for tutorials and more coding opportunities for students beyond the Hour of Code. As President Obama said, “Don’t just consume things, create things.
  2. Genius Hour or 20% time:  What is genius hour? According to http://www.geniushour.com/, “Genius hour is a movement that allows students to explore their own passions and encourages creativity in the classroom.  It provides students a choice in what they learn during a set period of time during school.  It’s not easy to determine where the idea was originally created, but there are at least two events that have impacted genius hour.”  Teachers are finding as they implement genius hour, there is a shift in classroom energy. Students are fueled with drive and curiosity is rekindled.  This engagement leads to new ideas, inventions, and new levels of learning. A hot new book is Pure Genius: Building a Culture of Innovation and Taking 20% Time to the Next Level by Don Wettrick.  “One of the benefits to a passion-based project is that students learn to love learning,” Wettrick said on page 31 in his book.
  3. Connected Educators:  One of the ways to be inspired is to learn from other educators. Bob Dillion (@ideaguy42 ), keynote speaker at the Fall NETA conference in Kearney, NE, challenged us to find five people who do our job better than we do and learn from them. What better place than Twitter, Google +, or Facebook to learn from others. The website http://connectededucators.org/ is a great resource to help you get connected. Here are 12 great ways to get connected.
  4. Canva: Canva,  www.canva.com is a free online design platform.  Canva lets you create banners, posters, postcards and more for online publishing.  Students can use Canva to create images to post to kidblog.org or their own websites.  It can be used as an alternative to posters or collages.  It is also a great tool for infographics.  Most designs are free and those that are not free are only $1.00.  
  5. #tlap:  Teach Like A Pirate has taken off since last summer and hasn’t slowed down a bit!  We have used Dave Burgess’ (@burgessdave)  book for online book studies, in-person trainings, and all around inspiration for shifting attitudes about teaching and filling teachers with the enthusiasm they once had for our profession.  The hashtag #tlap has a huge following on Twitter and is worth a few minutes a day for inspiration and fresh ideas.
  6. Google Classroom:  Google Classroom is a great way to manage your classroom with or without a 1 to 1 set-up. Teachers can use Classroom to send assignments to students, make announcements, and grade student work all from your computer. This is a one stop shop for students and teachers to connect. We are seeing many clubs and organizations using Google Classroom also. Student council, sport teams, NHS organizations, and clubs have found great uses for Google Classroom.
  7. Google+ Hangouts:  Google+ Hangouts provide a variety of opportunities for teachers and students alike. Imagine connecting with another classroom in a different state, or country, for that matter and having your students participate in an activity where they ask descriptive questions to figure out where the other class is locate. This is a Mystery Hangout. Each student is assigned a role, including mappers, questioners, and videographers. It is a great collaborate activity that all ages and disciplines can benefit from. You can also use Hangouts to connect with experts and bring them into your classroom. How about connecting with a zoo and talking about habitats or an astronaut and talking about space exploration, or connect with a musician and play music together. As a teacher, you can use Hangouts to connect with other educators and discuss ideas and best practices. The options are truly endless. Find great people in the Google Plus Connected Classrooms community.
  8. Global Projects:  Global projects take the shape of many different learning activities.  One that we love is the global readaloud.  This was started by an 7th grade English educator, Pernille Ripp,  who wanted to connect students across the world through literature.  Tapping into the Google Connected Classrooms Community is another great way for educators to connect with others and create your own activity. For example, Spanish classrooms in Bellevue connected with a Spanish class in Alabama for a conversation activity.  Students enjoyed using their  conversational Spanish with a purpose and had fun meeting new friends too.  Project Based Learning (PBL)  is another way to facilitate global projects as PBL lends itself to utilizing connections throughout the world to make their projects happen.  Check out the Flat Connections Global Classroom Project and sign up for a 2015 global learning experience for your students. Students of all ages can participate.
  9. EdtechTeam iOS NE Summit: Definitely look for this in 2015!!!  This one is so hot, it sizzles! For the first time ever,  Bellevue Public Schools will be hosting the Nebraska  iOS Summit this summer, July 29-30 at Bellevue West High School!  This will be an amazing event for educators. This event will focus on the use of technology to support teaching and learning. The session will be intended for an audience of teachers, school leaders, and IT managers (with varying technology skills) from schools in the region. The content will focus on iPads, iOS and educational apps used to leverage learning in the classroom.  Not only will there be high caliber national presenters, there will also be amazing local presenters too! Registration is open and you and your friends can register here at:  http://ne.iossummits.com/

10.  #Edcamps: Edcamps are still all the rage and gaining momentum across the country.  As long as people attend and share content, edcamps will continue to be a popular venture for committed, innovative educators.  Edcamps are basically non-conference conferences where there is no schedule, no keynote speakers, and NO COST!   Edcamps are free for educators, but does accept donations to help keep it afloat.  Check out an edcamp near you!  If you are in the midwest, you won’t want to miss #EdcampOmaha which is coming March 21, 2015.  

Written by:
Jeanette Carlson @mrsjcarlson
Ann Feldmann @annfeldmann1
Jenny Krzystowczyk @jennykbps

Works Cited
"The Cities With The Most Computer Science Jobs." Forbes. Forbes Magazine. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2013/09/24/the-cities-with-the-most-computer-science-jobs-2/>.
"President Obama Kicks off the Hour of Code 2014." YouTube. YouTube. Web. 11 Dec. 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JDw1ii7aKwg&feature=youtu.be>.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Five Ways to Grow Your Mind as a Teacher Leader

Educational leaders give lip service to a concept called growth mindset.  It is brought up in PD sessions and teacher assessments.  There is even a hashtag #growthmindset that is on Twitter.  

Growth is defined as, the process of developing.  Mindset is defined as the established set of attitudes.  So growth mindset must mean to develop your attitudes, right?  

How can leaders facilitate a growth mindset from a set of teachers within a district? First, our leaders must examine their own set of attitudes and take responsibility for their own growth.  Growing attitudes takes time and conscious work.  It doesn’t happen overnight and certain behaviors can help facilitate growth among educators. Consider these five steps that leaders can embrace when moving people to different attitudes about learning in the classroom.

1.) Model a growth mindset
As a leader, try new tools, read relevant books, and engage in critical conversations about growth.  Talk about what you are reading, share new skills you are learning, or tweet out content you find valuable to your own learning.  If you aren’t learning something new, how can you expect others that you mentor to do the same?

2.) Support risk-taking
If an educator comes to you with an idea, be a good listener.  Too often fear guides decisions.  The what if’s and worries get in the way.  Instead, attempt to  provide whatever support the teacher needs to make their ideas come to fruition.  Who knows?  You might learn something new in the process.

3.) Focus on passion in the classroom and not the tests.  
It is a true statement that tests receive the most attention within the classroom despite the grade level.  Let’s move away from testing as an end all and go with passion for learning instead.  After all, if students don’t love learning, what is the point of school?  Passion is where its at and genius hour is one great way to kick off some passionate learning in the classroom.  Conversations needs to shift from, “What does your data look like?”  to “What are your students loving to learn about right now?”

4.) Provide opportunities for growth.  
Seek out learning opportunities for teachers that might spark their passion for learning.  Be open to ideas for conferences, twitter chats, and collaboration.  Provide interesting and engaging literature for teachers like Teach Like a Pirate by, Dave Burgess or The Relevant Educator, by Steven Anderson and Tom Whitby.

5.) Allow teachers to take responsibility for their own learning.
Instead of providing professional development that is a sit and get model, provide more engaging and transformative PD in the form of collaborative spaces, big ideas, and teacher leaders.  Professional development can and should be differentiated. We love using Google communities, Twitter, and Google docs for collaborative work spaces.  

The gift of time is also critical for effective professional development.  Learning can take the form of many different avenues and leaders should be open to all of them.  

I love this post from Steve Anderson about creativity and a crisis in leadership.  He states that “we all need to ensure kids have opportunities to learn, reflect, grow and follow their passions, through learning.”  I believe educators have the same need and I believe educational leaders have the responsibility to support, model, and facilitate this need.  Maybe then our lip service to a growth mindset can come to fruition.  

image from teachawake.com

Written by,
Jennifer Krzystowczyk

Monday, November 24, 2014

Core Apps for the #ipadacademy

It's More Than An App

When rolling out iPads in education, often the first question we get is what are your favorite apps?  We chuckle a little, because we know that iPads in the classroom are more than apps.  And while we do use a criteria for choosing apps, we think bigger than just apps.  Bringing iPads in the classroom is just one small piece of the pie.  There is so much more to consider.   

More than an app is needed to be successful, the question becomes what do you want students to accomplish.  When the focus is on student learning, the conversation shifts from apps to how to craft a student centered learning environment.  The iPad is just a tool, a very powerful one, that if used correctly can unleash learning opportunities teachers and students have only dreamed of.  Training, coaching, and on-going opportunities to grow provides teachers a framework on best practices for teaching and learning in a digital classroom.  Instead of using the iPad as a tool to substitute what is currently done in the classroom, teachers instead learn how to shift from a teacher centered classroom to a learner centered classroom.

In Bellevue Public Schools, we use Google Apps for Ed for our student work flow.  Students have access to e-mail, Google Drive, and YouTube.  These buckets become essential tools as students begin to create work and need to share/store/submit their work from their iPads to their teachers and parents.  We favor app that export to Google Drive or YouTube, allow for creativity, are easy to share, work across all grade levels, and increase collaboration.

We’ve been at this now for three years and have learned a lot.  We shy away from in-app purchases and apps that are used in only one part of the curriculum.  We provide continuous training and support to our iPad teachers through monthly collaboration days, in class coaching and co-teaching models, and bring parents in for iPad sharing sessions. We’ve discovered that we really only need about two iPad screens of apps and only three paid apps.   

Here is a link to our favorite core apps.

Written by