HOUR OF CODE

November 16th, 2014

I have been in the classroom since 1979 — and in an educational technology classroom since 1992 — and though I have always had a very creative, fun, learning, active classroom — yet, I have NEVER seen the joy and engagement as I have since I have brought CODING into the lab.

About a year ago, my friend Vicky S shared with me about coding — and I decided to give it a try by using the APP kodable.  (https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kodable/id577673067?mt=8)

I introduced it briefly to my students and then watched them learn — I was also blessed to capture this moment of joy when one of the students was using the app:
nipads

Fast forward to this year, and I decided to investigate more about HOUR OF CODE (http://code.org/learn) and created an account and signed my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classes up.

Each week during November and the first week of December — our 3rd, 4th, & 5th graders will be a part of HOUR OF CODE and 6th grade will join up in December.

For the 1st week — I showed the HOUR OF CODE welcome video and then introduced them to the first 3 lessons in the 20 lessons of Hour Of Code…..and then stepped back and watched them.   There was an excitement, an engagement and such learning happening.

For the 2nd week — I showed the PAIRED PROGRAMMING video from Hour of Code and then we worked on the LIGHT BOT lessons.  Again — they were so involved and working in teams was NOT a issue at all.

pp

For the 3rd week — we will be learning SCRATCH and for the 4th week we will use KODABLE again.   I might even extend it to a Week 5 and let them choose whatever coding program they wish to use — but smiles, still deciding that.

We also have created an HOUR OF FAME window where I am posting pictures of students who have completed the HOUR OF CODE (on their own time – not in the computer lab)
wofand a bulletin board that changes each week as the arrow of direction is added:

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Since we started coding in November — I have shared to several people about the excitement and joy happening in the lab — something I have NEVER seen before….and though it is not with every single student — I can honestly say it is over 90%.

Because of coding — my students are learning:
Problem solving, cause and effect, if then then this, math skills, teamwork, independent work, being inquisitive, being triumphant, failing and learning

I have also stepped back and learned a great deal about my students -
Some are truly competitive and need recognition, some of my students need step by step directions and get confused if a step is missed, some of my quiet students are VERY VERY strong thinkers.

I and my students are also learning that SUCCESS does not always come easily or the first time — but you step back, learn from your mistakes and try again.

Hour of Code does not officially begin until December 8, 2014 — http://code.org/learn — but you can join any time and you can host it anytime.   The site has created an exceptional portal for learning, resources, and a variety of coding opportunities.  Plus, there are also some great apps you can download to your devices — and many are free.

You might already have your lesson plans set in stone for the week of Dec 8th — but I would urge you to step back and put those lessons off for a week — and try HOUR OF CODE — I believe with my entire heart that YOU and YOUR students will be glad that you did!

Jen

ABOUT JEN:
I am an educator who LOVES bringing creative opportunities each day to my students.   Currently, I am working with a wonderful group of Kindergarten through 6th grade students at a Private Christian School in California.   Since 1999, I have been hosting online projects for elementary classrooms at ProjectsByJen.com.   I have won several awards for my projects – but those mean nothing compared to the smiles from students and the thanks from parents & teachers! I enjoy traveling to conferences and edcamps and sharing ways to bring JOY and CREATIVITY back into your classroom. Follow me on Twitter @JenWagner.   Have a wonderful day!

Hiding Your Cape

October 12th, 2014

This past week was homecoming week on our campus and with that brings “dress up day”.  One day was movie characters and several staff members dressed up like super heroes.   After morning devotions, I noticed one teacher (who had a jacket on) ask another teacher to help her show her cape and together they pulled the cape out from behind the jacket.

Then this morning, as reading through tweets before heading to church, I noticed an avatar that consisted of a fact shot with a red cape proudly flowing behind.

And that — is what is prompting this post….

Because I think I hide my cape way too much — and wonder if you do the same thing.

Just this past week, I hid my cape when —

  1. In a meeting, where I should have boldly spoken up about the vision of tech on our campus, I remained silent.
  2. When people twittered or posted about the O.R.E.O. project, I did not retweet their tweets.
  3.  I declined a speaking engagement because right now I am terrified of flying.   (sad but true)

I have gotten a very nice reputation on twitter, at conferences, etc of not self-promoting.

But ….. am I concealing my super power just to be modest?

I don’t want to be perceived “ever” as an in-your-face promoting kind of person — but I also think many times I stay quiet when I need to speak up.

To be honest, I am in awe of those who know how to market themselves.   Who get noticed for every single little thing they do — who’s names are dropped so frequently — who are recognized not only by their online community but also their own campus for being a leader.

Yet, to be honest — I am the one who continually hides my cape.

And, to be honest — I don’t think I am the only one who continually hides their cape.

And what is holding us back —
is it pride?
is it fear?

is it ………………………………?   feel free to fill in the blank.

What keeps us (me) from sharing what WE do know?  For being proud of our accomplishments?  For sharing out our classrooms and what our remarkable students are creating?   For saying “I am making a difference in education and here is how”!!

I am struggling with this right now……………….
I know there is a balance — but at this moment, I am not seeing how.

Thank you for listening.

Jen

 

To All The Others….

September 26th, 2014

Unless you are new to my blog — you have no doubt that I am NOT a big fan of awards — especially awards that are often given for popularity and notoriety  ……. and many many who are just as hard-working, yet again, go unnoticed.

This weekend will be yet another awards ceremony and people are beginning to tweet about it …. and I wondered, why does this bug me so?   I was reading this blog post — which sums up well, the thoughts I have been having, have had, and ever so often dwell on — http://www.eduleadership.org/an-open-letter-to-the-bammy-awards/ – (written a year ago but still relevant.)

So — as many are preparing to receive awards, smooze together,
and pat each other on the back
…… this blog post is for all the others……

Thank you — for your hard work this past year — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep up the hard work.
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who needs what you are doing has noticed
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for writing your blog post — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please keep up your writing!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your blog post remembers it, perhaps did not comment, but you had an impact
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for sharing what you did on twitter — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep sharing thoughts on twitter.
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your twitter thought told someone else
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for sharing that resource (on a google doc, or website, or facebook, etc) — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep sharing your ideas!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone who read your resource, used your resource
and they are thankful.

Thank you — for getting up each morning and doing your job — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep doing your best.
Though, you might feel invisible — to your students or to your staff — you are INVALUABLE!!!
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for making a child or a staff member feel important and necessary — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, keep noticing those around you!
Though, you might feel invisible — you just made someone else’s day
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for showing up at conferences and edcamps and joining the conversation — that perhaps has gone unnoticed or even overlooked or even perhaps been credited to someone else.
Please, continue to be a part of the conversation!
Though, you might feel invisible — someone heard what you shared
and they are thankful!

Thank you — for not giving up — even though you might have gone unnoticed!
Please, don’t give up – but continue to GET UP and make a difference.
Though, you might feel invisible — YOU ARE NOT INVISIBLE —
and WE ARE THANKFUL for what you do!

Just my thoughts today
Jen

 

You can lead a teacher to Twitter, but you can’t make them tweet

September 23rd, 2014

I have been on twitter now since 2007 — seems like forever, yet really only 7 years — not very long in an average lifetime.

It has been a rollarcoaster of learning — both from others and also learning a lot about myself.

I am a better teacher because of twitter — I can say that without hesitation.
My world has broadened considerably — I can say that without hesitation.
I have said some tweets that have been extremely helpful to others — I can say that without hesitation.
I have said some of the most stupidest things in my life – I can say that that without hesitation.
I have burned some bridges (perhaps, some I should not have) — I can say that without hesitation.
I have made some life-long friends — I can say that without hesitation.

Twitter has been good and bad — but mostly so very good……..

Because of this, for me — I cannot see how a teacher — an educator — would NOT wish to be on twitter.  Yet, so many I know are still on the “I don’t “get it” page.”

~~I have the same 24 hour plan — just like you — BUT NOW, I feel I live a 36 hour day because of the resources I find on twitter….that I never would have found on my own.
~~I am an exhausted teacher — just like you — BUT NOW, I know that I am not alone, because I read tweets of encouragement…..that get me through to the next day.
~~I am a Christian teacher — in a private school — just like some of you — BUT NOW, I have found many teachers who work in the same arena with me, and we can share “private school” experiences and be understood.
~~I am an elementary teacher — just like some of you — BUT NOW, I don’t work in a little bubble called “my campus….because I can come to the world of educating ideas by logging into twitter.

Yet, I don’t seem to be able to convince others how valuable a tool this is.   How helpful a tool.

Not to gush — and never to forget that there are pros and cons.

But what an opportunity that is just waiting – available to anyone who wishes to take part.  (either with an account or without if you search with hashtags or user names).

Yet, many remain unaffected, disinterested, and even resistant.

And so, I have to remember — twitter is a personal thing….and until one “gets it” — it really truly does not make sense.

Today’s thoughts
Jen