Being a Part of Classroom 2.0 Learning

It was a pretty big thrill for me to be invited, along with my peer teacher Kevin Hodgson, to present a session on Hour of Code at one of the Classroom 2.0 Live programs on Saturday morning/afternoon. Special thanks go to my wonderful friend Maureen Tumenas for thinking of us as a team.

Hour of Code is coming up this week so it seemed an apt time to fire everyone up for the learning adventure.

While I am a veteran of the Blackboard Collaborate webinar platform, it is still a big deal for me to present to others in the education field. Having Kevin to lead the way in our planning and preparation made the job a lot easier and he helped to fuel my energy and enthusiasm for the session. It was an important piece in my own development as an educator, a piece that I usually shy away from.

Classroom 2.0The co-hosts Peggy George, Lorie Moffat, and Tammy Moore are incredibly organized and proficient in keeping this weekly series pumping out fresh new teaching and learning program ideas. Once the session enters the archive, you can access the recording here. The YouTube link to the recording is here.

I’d say the session went pretty well. There were some wonderful contributions made by participants in the chat window and also using the whiteboard and mic.  I have to give a nod to the experts in computer science education, including tech integrations specialists, for really getting a handle on how to deliver the goods across multiple grade levels. I like the way things are going in my kindergarten classroom now and  I look forward to continued learning with an even wider group of educators.

Thanks  Classroom  2.0!    You  rock!

#HourOfCode 2014


Are you ready to rock the world? You can do that by getting a little bit of coding time into your school day. There are tons of excellent resources to harvest and the future is in desperate need of computer science majors, especially females!.

I attended a Code.org training in Worcester this weekend and found a wealth of information to add to my repertoire.  Our exit ticket was thinking of a plan to share our learning with other educators. That’s why I am sharing this post on my reflection blog and encouraging folks to join in the fun.

  • I don’t have the equipment: sign up for the equipment whenever you see an opening. Don’t feel obligated to stay within the Dec. 8-14 schedule – really! Don’t forgot there are unplugged activities that activate the same thinking.
  • We don’t have the bandwidth: at times of heavy use, you may run into trouble but by and large it works.
  • I just don’t feel confident that I can troubleshoot tech issues: the cool thing is you have the experts sitting right in front of you. The students have an abundance of experience and want to help. Be honest about your concerns and enlist student support early on.
  • The batteries drain so fast: they sure do, so you may have to rotate equipment in and out as well as find a way to stay plugged in at work stations.
  • I don’t want to do this alone: then enlist a peer to collaborate. Students often do these activities together and learn even more.

10,000,000 students are expected to participate this year!

Did you know that many activities are unplugged?  Yes indeed!

That means that when all the equipment is reserved by other teachers, you can still include some code thinking, without the use of technology. Below you’ll find the link to sign up for this international project. No pressure, do what you can, when you can. While the hour of code officially takes place December 8-14, you can tackle the challenges whenever. You can even print up certificates for your students at the end.

This is where you sign up for Hour of Code.

Here are some elementary courses to consider. Click right on the images of the courses to open the sites.

Course 1 is designed for early readers probably K-1.

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Course 2 is designed for students who can read, probably grades 2-5.

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 Course 3 is a follow-up to Course 2 and probably best used in grades 4-5.

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Here’s a Symbaloo webmix I have been working on with a number of different code related games.

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Connected Educator Month 2014 #CEM

Getting up earlier now and then allows me some time to dig into the material I am connected with daily via email, Twitter, and RSS. Today, I spotted a post on one of my favorite blogs The Edublogger, inviting everyone to expand their PLNs.

While I can say with confidence my PLN feels pretty healthy, I know that there are an infinite number of possibilities for my own learning and that can and does happen via new connections. The reason my PLN feels so healthy is due in great measure to the exercises and challenges I have pursued via The Edublogger and other groups.I look forward to the weekly challenges and will continue to explore the #CEM website for new thinking, teaching, and learning ideas.

Some of the other places I am connecting through during Connected Educator Month are:

I have already written about the ConnectedCourses challenge, next I will invite my PLN to join the Hour of Code movement.

 

Wellness

This is an example of a post that did not pass muster for my classroom blog and therefore has been posted on this reflections blog. Sometimes the message is delivered too passionately and families may be offended. I can accept that and appreciate having this space to let it all go!

A big piece of a child’s life calls upon them to practice good habits for wellness. Most of this learning and practice goes on back at home. I was raised in more simple and meager times. Our foundation included healthy food on a daily basis, no dessert except for special occasions, and plenty of exercise. We did not have between meal snacks.

Our parents made sure we were outside of the house playing with friends. This didn’t mean going into a friend’s house because their parents kicked them outdoors as well. As a result, we walked miles and miles every day, not including the 2 mile hike to school and back, which really did feel like it was all uphill both ways.

Now our children lead more passive lives. The kids are not playing outside with neighborhood friends from sun-up to sundown. We protect our children with pads and helmets, and sports are coached and supervised by caring adults.  The initiative by the children themselves can get lost here. Will children learn lessons without the close and caring support of an adult? Will they try things out as a feat of daring and learn from it rather than simply worry about whether Mom and Dad will get mad? That takes confidence.

I am trying to instill a personal sense of ownership for wellness but this all too often means I am “interfering” in the actual process. I am directing the child to do the exercises and run the laps. Sure the leader for the day gets to pick the activities but I am issuing the expectations.

You pack the lunch or the child buys the lunch. Do you know what your child is eating from the foods provided? If you have included a sweet dessert, it is probably eaten first. Most of the healthier foods are thrown in the trash. I can’t simply tell the kids to eat the most nutritious things in their lunchbox and save the sweets for later. That is just too high an expectation.

Our cafeteria has few sweet treats now. There are tons of starches in the lunches but the staff are following the national standards for lunch programs. That also means the child must have a veggie or fruit on their tray even though they never eat it, just dump it. It’s the law.

The government is really concerned about the wellness of children. They created this website but it’s easy to miss. Let’s Move!

The primary focus seems to be obesity as that has reached epidemic proportions. Parents in the upper grades can be furious when they get the report from the nurse that their child’s BMI is too high. The BMI number and diagnosis of a problem can be hard to swallow. So is the fact that the child is not able to meet fitness goals because they lack strength, coordination, and stamina. The latter is not reported to parents. If they saw a decline in wellness via a drop in those scores, I’m sure parents would initiate a better family exercise program.

As an educator of the whole child, I take my responsibility very seriously. I will teach the children the facts and we will practice wellness during my watch. All of this can be undone if it is not supported at home as well. There are no real shortcuts to wellness. We need to practice healthy habits all day every day so that the occasional dessert or video game become what they are supposed to be, a treat and not an expectation.

Trust and Network Fluency – #CCourses

The task put forth this week in the #ConnectedCourses MOOC is the following:

In the quantum learning space where interest is a key driver, how do we employ the same dynamics in our teaching? Or, how do we leverage the power of open? How do we maintain trust and a sense of security in open networks? How do we build our networks? What is social capital? How do we enable at-large learners to engage in our courses? Where should we teach our classes?”

I just finished reading a post by Kevin on his blog where he reflects on his own experience with this topic, When Trust Gets Breached, Repairs May Be Impossible. He points out pretty clearly through example, just how people can feel violated when the trust breaks down online.

We are often reminded in more modern times that our information is rarely private no matter what we do to limit its circulation. Alessandro Acquisti  reveals just how extreme the invasion can be in this TED video, “A Creepy Talk.”

Keeping trust in the front of my mind, I am reflecting on how to create a truly closed and safe environment for the sharing of learning by very young children. Not only do I want them to dive right into the good stuff, I need to make sure they are not exposed to content that is unacceptable. That is one piece of the trust conversation that parents will expect.

Another piece is the need for a “safe” environment that includes making mistakes and moving on to try again.

How many times have we seen comments left on people’s blog posts that take them to task for something in a destructive tone. No one wants to be exposed to undue criticism or even ridicule. Fortunately, we work in education, where by and large the readers are respectful of our efforts and can add to a conversation without rancor.

Can our students find the same safety in their online learning experience? That speaks to the “social capital” mentioned in this week’s quote. It will be my job to establish clear expectations and even moderate comments, if necessary, to protect the innocent.

The #CCourses MOOC continues with “Trust and Network Fluency.”