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.