Why I Love What I Do and Where I Do It

Modern learning is more about creating the environment for learning now that information is abundant and learners can learn without us. I think of it more like solving a puzzle as we are somewhere between school 1.0 and school 2.0. Two years ago I came up with the idea for STEAM by Design Seminar and wondered how it would work out. I had some nonnegotiable things like no grades or homework. That made this a seminar (not a class since classes have grades and homework), which has turned out to be just what I and our students needed. I have made a good living being a teacher and digital learning coordinator. In fact Durham Academy just did a profile of me which tells my story pretty well. I did a poor job of describing when I moved out of the house at 13 as I did come back each Sunday night to go to school, but spent the weekends on the farm of Eldon Crapp. Read it here. I am lucky that DA has allowed me to try almost anything I thought was worth trying. Granted, I study things and believe I should learn it first before I suggest the school jumps in. That was mostly true with STEAM by Design with the exception of no grades or homework part. As I continue to learn and adjust the seminar, I am grateful to receive the positive feedback like the article, the cards from students, notes from parents, and the affirmations from people I have learned with over the years.

Here are a few of the affirmations in the last week or so:

From a student: note tells it all.

From a parent: Just wanted to send you the latest from the people who inherited Zach (He was in STEAM by D last year). I am glad he found the US teachers of Beck and Starling as well.

From a company:https://www.makersempire.com

We are very excited to let you know that Cal’s entry in our February competition has been selected as the WINNER.  We were impressed by Cal’s original design that showed creativity and fit for purpose design.
This student’s entry was chosen from over 1000 designs that were entered in our ‘Help Theo the Dog’ competition. A cool Makers Empire prize pack will be on it’s way to Cal soon and their design will be featured in the gallery in the Maker’s Empire App.
We are also pleased to announce that entries from the following students were selected as runner-up in the February competition:
Lauren from Wilderness School in South Australia
Natalie from Verona Area School District
Chloe from Woodcroft College in South Australia
We have an exciting new competition called Feeling Dice, challenging students to design an emotions monitor.
We hope you are enjoying your 3D designing and printing at Durham Academy and we look forward to seeing more great designs.
Kind regards,
The Makers Empire Team

https://dash.makersempire.com/designs/cal-baker-theo-s-stick-contraption#

Last but not least from Will and Bruce at Modern Learners: Read The Artistry of Teaching and listen to Changing Educational Norms That No Longer Serve Us .

I think the Seymour Sarason quote Will shares … gets to the heart of what I hope to achieve with STEAM by Design.

“There is one goal [of education] that, if not achieved, makes the achievement of all other goals very unlikely. That goal is to create those conditions that make students want to learn; not have to learn but want to learn more about self, others, and the world. The overarching purpose of schooling and its governance is to support that goal, i.e., to create and sustain contexts of productive learning supportive of the natural curiosity and wonder with which children start schooling.”

 

 

 

Magnetic Marble Run Update

While it took some time to get the STEAM by Design students fully committed, we have lift off or rather marble off. My thanks to John Umekubo @jumekubo  at St. Matthew’s Parish School for the inspiration with his marble run project http://www.creatorsstudio.org/special-projects/magnetic-marble-run-wall There have been many iterations by the students to get theirs working and as you can see many interpretations on designs. I gave the student the following information and directions. Your name must be on it, and these are the measurements you need. Marble, 18 mm, Magnet is 15mm x 3mm and Tinkercad hole measurement diagram.

I did not discuss mass, plane, or gravity. While I wanted them to prototype with cardboard, this aspect is a weak point with our students as most want to get it done like on a checklist. I will keep working on this aspect since we have no grades to motivate this type of hurried learning. Today the students were pretty excited to see how it could work and I have to say, it is pretty awesome. I love how students will play on it during the day.

Adjusting Plans to Maximize Learning

The STEAM by Design Seminar credo of Fail Fast is in full display with the adjustments to Micro:bits from Circuits Playgrounds. I had hoped that the Code.org CS Discoveries course would allow us to get into electronics deeper then we did. I think it was because the interface was hard to understand especially without any previous coding experience. That is one reason why we did CodeMonkey first in C when we switched. After talking with Leigh Northrup from Cannon School about my struggles with Arduino, he echoed the same frustration and said he was abandoning Arduino in the middle school setting. Perhaps, if I knew more about the Arduino IDE we could do it from that instead of the Code.org course. Instead, he was going with Micro:bits. I had heard of them so I purchased some kits for us. I am going to use a course called Making with Micro:bit by Douglas Kiang & Mary R. Kiang to lead us into creating and programming the Micro:bit.

We will use Microsoft’s Make Code site which requires no user accounts.

Micro:bits with Makecode https://makecode.microbit.org/

Learning to flow adjust is not easy, but I am working on doing it faster instead of sticking with something for too long.

Quoting Kevin Brookhouser: “Failure is an option, Failure to Deliver is Not.” While this would seem to apply to the work students do, I think it applies to all who are learning.

On Tour with Tour Builder

I love it when a teacher asks me something they would like to do with their students to help connect what they have been studying or reading to the larger world. Julie, Patti, Mike, and Melissa wanted to make maps so we looked into G Suite’s My Maps and Google’s Tour Builder. With the help of these explorers we have embarked on our journey comparing and creating our story maps. We had decided on My Maps as it appeared to be a more friendly and feature rich environment and was available in our G Suite. After working with a class, Julie and I wondered if Google Tour Builder would work better since there is more sharing options as we want the maps to be viewable on their blogs. My Maps will not work as our students are not allowed to share outside of our G Suite domain. Tour Builder allows for sharing with a link which we can put on their blog. With this in mind, we will work with the afternoon class in Tour Builder. I enjoy ideating as we work through the learning goals and the technology. I just got a message from Patti saying, “I’m in for Tour Builder.”! This is an example of the tour I built in Tour Builder. Since I have not read the books or stories, it is not an accurate example of what our students will create.

The only caveat is that we must create on a desktop computer and then share to iPads to view as the creation is not supported on mobile, “yet.”

We used these resources to get started.

Tour Builder by Eric Curts http://www.controlaltachieve.com/2017/10/tour-builder.html

Overview of the differences by Ann Witherspoon. http://www.poweredwithtechnology.com/2016/04/storytelling-with-google-tour-builder.html

The long running Google Lit Trips is a good place to see past examples. http://www.googlelittrips.org/

Richard Byrne has great resources on how to use Tour Builder and My Maps as well. http://www.freetech4teachers.com/2017/10/google-tour-builder.html#.Wh2RybQ-fUI

 

The Power of Off

Another day, another story about distractions caused by devices. Why do none of these articles and studies discuss the power of the off button? I wrote about my culpability in a post as I own that I have distraction on my hands.

How Smartphones Hijack Our Minds – Nicolas Carr who also wrote the book The Shallows which told us what the internet is doing to our minds. I do not completely buy his argument although I get the point. I imagine there were articles about how the printing press was damaging to the eyes or memory of the humans when it was introduced. Check out Marshal McLuhan’s The Gutenberg Galaxy, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change by Elizabeth L. Eisenstein, or The Rand Corporation’s article on the Information Age, Looking Backward to Look Forward Try this do a Google search for distractions and learning distractions and you will find a plethora (About 31,400,000 in 0.64 seconds, according to Google’s humble brag) of information about the damage being done.

Do a Google search for mobile devices and learning  and you will find an abundance, (About 111,000,000 results 0.71 seconds, again a humble brag) according to Google’s humble brag) of information about how the same devices can be used to increase the learning with adaptions and conscious use. That is about 79,600,00 more although to be honest I did not read them all to make sure if they were pro or con.

I get it and agree, but until there is no longer an off button on the devices, we are still the overlord of the devices we put in our lives. I for one do not want to go back to the day when digital learning happened when you went to the computer lab. For fun, I did a Google search for how to turn off my iPhone? I did not see this number coming (About 16,900,000 results (0.55 seconds)). If there are that many resources on how to turn off an iPhone we might need an intervention.

The Moment it Happens

I was nervous as the first day of coding Code.org CS Discoveries and Adafruit’s Circuit Playgrounds had not gone as smooth as I had wanted. I was not sure how to make the second day go better. I spent about four hours going through the tutorials like I was a student hoping to figure out how to move the class from “what are we supposed to do” phase to the “I can do this”. And then it happened. One student exclaimed, “We’re coding” and they were off helping each other while I helped other students. I felt more empowered as WE were learning and troubleshooting together. The energy in the STEAM lab was “electric”!

Heck, I even tweeted it out.

Culture Eats Everything


Image from: https://www.torbenrick.eu/blog/culture/organisational-culture-eats-strategy-for-breakfast-lunch-and-dinner/

I have been reading and listening to Will Richardson for many years.  I have a copy of his 2006 edition Blogs, Wikis, and Podcasts which shaped my use of these tools.  I was lucky enough to meet Will when he spoke at our school a few years ago. I consider him to be a first level mentor.  He has been at the idea of rethinking education for a long time. He is now working with Bruce Dixon at Modern Learners where they do a podcast. I loved this episode as it resonated with me. Will coined the term “change in a vacuum” to highlight how schools work at small projects hoping to influence change and impact the culture of the school. As the image shows, the best laid strategy is eaten by culture every day. I know this to be true as I have helped feed it over the years. Granted, some of my lone nut ideas deserved to be eaten as they were poorly thought out or just nuts. Many of my ideas, like portfolios, blogging, collaborative and creative projects, teaching kids to learn how to use their voice and their face, etc .. were just too far out of the norms of the school’s culture. This is not a judgement about the school’s culture, as I am part of the very culture. I am eternally grateful that I get to try out many of my ideas over the years.

The podcast  Will and Bruce did on Culture of Change #24 resonated with me especially the term that Will threw out.  Will and Bruce discuss the article on Fast Company about how Satya Nadella’s was able to bring change to Microsoft.

This is a great quote from the Fast Company article: “He has inspired the company’s 124,000 employees to embrace what he calls “learn-it-all” curiosity (as opposed to what he describes as Microsoft’s historical know-it-all bent) that in turn has inspired developers and customers—and investors—to engage with the company in new, more modern ways”.

It is well worth a listen and in fact, I suggest you subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. If you do not subscribe to podcasts, why not?

Confessions of a Dismayed Apple Fan

I need to come clean about my love of Apple products as I feel both extreme pleasure and a sense of responsibility for what we, as a society, have allowed to happen. I played a part in this since I have visited the Apple Campus to learn how to bring devices to our school. I attended the MacWorld Expo in January 2007 when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone. These were glorious times with so much promise for the future. We would be able to move computer use from a destination room to being available when needed. Why then did we end up where we are today? Web filters, apps to monitor usage and destinations, apps to turn off other apps, and the list grows each day. We are on the cusp of great advances with machine learning allowing us to talk to our devices to get answers to on the spot questions. Information is no longer scarce and yet many classes and schools act as if it is.  Our schools should be different with all of the devices we have added to them. For the most part we have underutilized the power of the devices but instead worked hard at restricting what they could bring to our learning. I am a participant in this movement and want to own my share of responsibility, but not more than my share.

I gave a talk to the sixth grade yesterday about making wise choices with the devices we give them. I write a book that is on all of the devices to support what I think is important for our learning community. I start with the usual acceptable use and what to do and what not to do. I dislike this part of my role but do it as I must to get to the next part of my role. That is to be a role model for how to balance the devices in our lives. Granted, today I turn 61 so I am long past the age of my students, but I think I remain relevant. The students are amazed that I do not own one of the smartphones that I saw introduced in 2007. I do not like talking on the phone and frankly think the costs of the device and the contracts for service are too high. I have a burner phone for those I love to contact me if needed. My school supplies me with all sorts of devices so I have everything that I need. I live on a farm so I now have 3.5Mbps DSL which is fast enough to do most things but not all things. I have watched as my children and grandchildren have been overtaken by the devices they bring to the farm when they visit. The woods on the farm does not call them like it used to when we looked for the fairy village as the iPad or TV has more draw. So with this in mind I wanted to shake up my presentation to the students which is why I asked these questions and shared these resources. Maybe you will find them useful.

Question: How many of you have an Instagram account?

Response: That is amazing since none of you are 13. I do know that you are all capable of lying to get what you want since everyone has to be 13 to use the good stuff on the internet. I discuss a bit about COPPA.

Advice: If the first thing you have to do to get something you want is to lie, you probably should reconsider if you really want it more then your integrity.

This allows us to discuss how humans will do many things to get what they want and lying is sometimes the least problematic action.

I then shared these resources so they could understand why they “wanted” and were willing to lie to get it as I think this is important information so they do not internalize that they are bad people.

FOMO https://www.wired.com/2017/08/fomo

I did not know this existed. Behavior Design Course http://captology.stanford.edu/projects/behaviordesign.html and Behavior Model Triggers http://www.behaviormodel.org/triggers.html
I love Tristan’s TED talk and showed the first 17 minutes.
I also like the work done by Time Well Spent.
I left them with the chance to “Be Internet Awesome” by Google Education https://beinternetawesome.withgoogle.com/
Update 9/18/17 Adjusted the title as an is not an a and a is not an an issue. I also think the title could have been, “In The Battle for Your Attention, I Was a Foot Soldier”

7 Camps in 4 Weeks

Carly Dragon Egg

I am finishing up a rewarding month of offering camps on 3D Design and Printing along with a bunch of different Computer Coding camps. I have been helped by Donovan Polk and Hutch Castelao who have helped our campers create and learn new skills. This was the first time I offered a 3D Design and Printing camp and I am happy to say I thought it went really well. The image above is of Cal cleaning up their Dragon Egg that they designed and printed. This was the small version as we wanted to make sure it would work before we printed the larger version. I am impressed by how the 109 campers worked hard each day to learn to program. We used mostly free resources like Tinkercad, CS-First, Blockly, Code.org, and one paid service that we also use at school called CodeMonkey. I was very happy that the campers also enjoyed the format of most of the services we used as it allowed them to move at their pace instead of waiting for directions. Learning has come so far since I started doing camps years ago with respect to the resources that are now available. I can remember having Gala Taylor writing step-by-step tutorials for Scratch in the early days. The camps I do now are really more of a blended, personalized, or whatever name du jour you want to use. They are also much less effort than they were in the past since we can use these services instead of having to create everything on our own. This shift is also reflected in the way my STEAM by Design Seminar is conducted. Where else does this shift show up in schools, camps, and other informal learning? Oh, one other benefit, all are web-based and available anywhere the campers have an internet connection. For more information, see the Summer Coding Camps site we used for our camps.

Come Learn With Me In June

I would love for you to come and learn with me this summer as I will be one of the speakers for the 1st AppsEvents Google for Education Raleigh North Carolina Summit to be held at Cardinal Gibbons High School on June 14 & 15, 2017. This high intensity two day event focuses on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google Tools to promote student learning in K-12 and higher education. The program features Google Certified Teachers, Google Apps for Education Certified Trainers, practicing administrators and solution providers and you can find the schedule here. Register now to send teachers, administrators, tech directors/tech support staff, and anyone who is interested in finding out more about leveraging Google tools to support student learning.

I will be doing two sessions: G Suite Loves iOS – Experience the Love Between Them and Get Your Story On with Toontastic 3D App. Both sessions will be fun and move you from your starting point forward with tips and tricks for how to incorporate these great tools into the learning of your school and students.

If you can not come but would like to work with me, check me out in the Google for Education Trainer Directory and send me a request.