Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Code Week at RGS

If you remember over the summer we had about 50 people come to the high school to play around with Scratch (a visual programming language built for beginners). http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/232165/

We wanted to follow up with more events during the year. On Saturday December 14th we invited students to Richmond Grade School to play with Scratch again, this time as part of code week. http://csedweek.org/

Turn out was smaller, but still fun. http://scratch.mit.edu/studios/301143/

We plan to repeat the activities again at least twice more before summer. I hope you will join us.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Visiting Schools

It is sometimes difficult to be a technology integration person. Some folks see you as a technician and only ask questions about the technology, some see you as the person who knows that one perfect app or website that might make teaching a subject easier.

Those two assumptions are true (to a certain extent), but they do not define me or my job. Integration of technology is not about the technology, its about facilitating relationships.

There is a relationship between myself and the teachers.
There is a relationship between the teacher and the students.
There is a relationship between the students and the content.
There is a relationship between the students and other students.
There is a relationship between the teachers  and the content.
Finally, there is a relationship between the teachers and teachers. 
(Idea taken from Shawn McKusker)

Technology’s part in all of that is to facilitate the relationship, to enhance the relationship. For example, 20 years ago I worked at a summer camp and started dating a woman from England. At the end of the summer she moved home and we started writing letters (many of which I still have). But we haven’t talked in 18 years. Today my son is in a book chat with a boy in Japan, he plays Minecraft with another in Australia, and he video chats with his cousins in Germany. Technology has made it possible for him to build these relationships.

My job is to help teachers find way to enhance these relationships.

I started in kindergarten. Kids love to use the smartboard in those classes, but today they were sitting quietly and listening.

Later they read off of a card before lining up. Some folks might want me to show her a way to do this with a tablet, but I don’t think there is a better way.

I moved to first grade where the teacher spent about two hours the night before creating a picture movie of her students so that parents could see their children in class while waiting for their conferences. I think she was more excited than the kids.

Later I moved to 4th grade to find children making connections between Earth Science and minecraft. They built a cool board game that included minecraft skins and rocks. I learned that obsidian is an igneous rock (It’s a rock in minecraft and my son keeps asking about it because he has never seen it before)

I moved up to high school where Mr. Ghilani who has freshmen most of the day and is comfortable in the one to one environment, had students using glogster to create virtual posters.

Finally, I visited Mademoiselle Gibbons. She uses a lot of technology in her classroom. Today as students entered they opened their new Chromebooks and finished some “bellwork” before the class started. Each student does all of his or her bell work for the year on one google Document and Mademoiselle Gibbons can comment when she feels it is necessary.

I had a few suggestions for some of these teachers, but mostly I just wanted to celebrate what they do. In the end it isn’t about what I tell them to do, its about how comfortable they feel trying to forge these new bonds.