3 years…..of learning

Each year — something new.

This is my 3rd year of being the Elementary Technology Teacher — and each year — something has been the highlight of the year.

My first year — I think DOT week (based on Peter Reynold’s book “the Dot”) was a highlight — especially with the Virtual Reality App that made the DOT come alive. We went from a flat white paper to something that jumped off the page….and the kids saw possibilities.

My second year — had to be CODING. Though we used it my first year…..the second year was when I saw the impact, the enjoyment, and the learning. I honestly wish I saw students more than 1 time a week. Sometimes I wish I was with them 8 hours a day — we would never run out of things to learn. Students began to grasp the idea that they could control and manipulate technology rather than just click, click, click …. and the kids saw possibilities.

My third year — was totally unexpected. In April, the day before OpenHouse, I was told we were getting a 3d Printer the following day on Friday. By Monday — I was already designing curriculum and a week later — 4th & 5th were working with tinkercad. And each student ended up creating something unique….and printed it out — to take home. I had a father thank me yesterday — and then again today. He said “my daughter is holding something in her hand that someday she will look back and say “i was there at the beginning of this.””. Students went from hearing science, and hearing math, and hearing metrics, to having to put it into action … and the kids saw possibilities.

When I look at my 3 years — which have flown by way too fast —

I know I am resting on some past ideas (imovie trailers, skittle graphs, powerpoint gameshows, wordle picture clouds, etc.)…. But I also know that each year, I have stepped into an unknown possibility and my students have willingly followed (and sometimes lead) along.

I have no idea what will be new in 2016/17 — but I look forward to another new step forward…..and seeing possibilities.

I Can’t Play Baseball

I can’t play baseball

I like to watch baseball but I can’t play baseball.

There are many things that could go wrong.

  • The fear of failure
  • The fear of not being able to connect the bat to the ball
  • The fear of getting hit
  • The fear of not making it to the base on time (or tripping on the way)
  • The fear of being tagged out
  • The fear of not knowing whether to run or to wait
  • The fear of not catching the ball as it comes sailing through the air
  • The fear of not being good enough
  • The fear of letting the team down
    I could add more…….

There are so many things that I know I am not good at — that lead me to not play baseball.

And for those of you who are NOT afraid of baseball or are at least comfortable enough to not let it scare you — my fears, to you, might be irrational, silly, and you might even judge me.

I know what I probably need is a good coach….
but NOT a good coach who is going to try to convince me that those fears are unfounded
— instead I need a coach who helps me to deal with those fears and little by little, perhaps not conquer them…..but to encourage me to not let them keep me from playing the game at all.

And that’s a lot like tech.

You see, I am good at Tech
I enjoy tech and I’m not afraid of tech
….but to explain that to someone who is terrified of tech, I’m not going to win them over by telling them how simple it is.
I’m not going to win them over by proving to them their thoughts are wrong and/or irrational.
I’m not going to win them over by pushing my comfortableness against their uncomfortableness.

What will help is when I am willing to help them work with these fears in a way that works for them.
Not shaming them or comparing them or even pushing them….but realizing that their fear might be totally justified and might also be the wall that they see is WAY too hard to get around or over and even through.

My job is NOT to tell them to go “hit the ball out of the park” –
Sometimes, my job is to encourage them to be willing to even pick up the bat or the ball or even be willing to sit on the bench.

And then, we go from there.


The Anticipation of a Good Idea

This past week, in San Diego, several friends (from all over the US) journeyed to the NCEA conference.   Since it was just 1 hourish away, I suggested we have a dinner meetup — and ended up having dinner with 6 great educators.

I invited dragged  Donna — a 1st grade teacher & my bible study leader & my friend — along for the ride (for the company & conversation).

We had a Walton’s type of table, so I sat at the head of the table for the beginning of the meal and then moved to the end for the remainder of the meal so that I had a chance to chat with everyone.

And oh — what we shared.   Minecraft, Blogging, Coding, 3D printers, App ideas, Projects, Memories (from past conferences), Class Ideas, and some personal stories as well.   The conversation never stopped.

On the way home, as we were chatting — Donna mentioned about the excitement — the enthusiasm at the table — and I remembered again “That is WHY I love meeting up with educators WHENEVER possible.”

Whether it be on twitter or facebook or at a conference or an edcamp or a meal or a coffee cue or a Tweet Meet or ……………feel free to fill in the blank.

I always know — with almost 100% percent certainty — that there will be at least ONE good idea shared whenever I meet up with teachers – and because of this, I go.

There is a joy — an exuberance — and a sense of “I love being creative in my classroom” that happens at these events.   And sadly, it does not often happen on our own campuses.

The conversation last night never stopped — and the conversation overlapped in so many places that there was no way to listen to it all — but we all went away with new ideas, we all went away having been heard, we all went away ready to gear up for the last 9 weeks of school and END IT WELL!

It is always great to see friends — both new and old.
And it is always great to hear new, creative, teacher tested (almost always) ideas that can be used in our own classroom or shared with another teacher on campus.


A Whole New World

For a few years now, I had been petitioning to have a Minecraft club…but the admin (at that time was hesitant) and at that time, it wasn’t a battle I needed to fight — so I remained patient.

When admin changed, I decided to bring up the subject again — and admin said for me to write up a proposal and it would be considered — and I received a “go ahead” and started to make some plans.

At first, I had thought we would use the ipads and purchase the Minecraft PE app and we would all learn together.

But then, after attending a session at a local conference — my admin and I decided to pursue the Minecraft EDU environment.

It was decided to charge a fee for the club that would pay for the licensing, the server, and also start a fund for our robotics unit.    We would host the club on Tuesday for 15 students and Thursday for 15 students and sent out the registration forms.  And the clubs filled up quickly.  (this was in December)

Over Christmas break, I got lost in Minecraft and, thankfully, my IT got lost in it as well — so, I wasn’t wandering alone.  And I also joined the Google Group on Minecraft — (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/minecraft-teachers) and spend A  LOT of time at the Minecraft EDU wiki (http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Main_Page)

After wandering a bit through some of the “lands” of minecraft — I decided that the first week of the club, we would wander through the TUTORIAL world (Created by: Joel Levin, Matt Adams, Stephen Elford) which provided a teachers “guide” which I found very helpful:  http://services.minecraftedu.com/wiki/Tutorial_World

SIDENOTE:  I had printed out the Minecraft Mouse Guide, thinking perhaps one or two students might need it — but in fact, all the kids  needed it because NONE had every played minecraft on a computer.

And the first week of CLUB went great.   It took the students about 30 minutes to wander through the tutorial.  I was able to transport to students if they needed help — or transport them to other students.   Tuesday’s club was busy and loud — Thursday’s club was more quiet but still very busy.   We ended the day with an excitement of anticipation for the next week — which was good since I am still such a newbie at this.

For the second week of club, I went into the tutorial world again and created a scavenger hunt for the students at the lighthouse.   I placed RED BANNERS (for TUESDAY) and BLUE BANNERS (for THURSDAY) and then hid chests near the banners with different supplies.   1.fwOver 40 chests were hidden — so I got in some good practice of right mouse/left mouse clicking, adding inventory, saving games, creating caves, flying (still something that makes me dizzy) and more.

Tuesday’s Class LOVED this — and after the scavenger hunt (which took 25 minutes) they had free build time.   Thursday’s class is today — so we will see how it goes.

For Week 3 and 4 — students will be in the SNOWY WORLD which I am creating into settlements.   Each student will be given a plot of land with 2 chests — one will have generic items (which all groups will have) and 1 will have specific items which they can give or barter with.  I am looking forward to seeing how this works.  2.fw

And then week 5 — still working on details.   I was thinking of making a BREAKOUTMinecraftEDU experience — but still not sure exactly what that would entail.  Plus, though my learning curve is moving quick quickly — sometimes my goals are loftier than my skills.   I will probably talk with kids on week 4 for their suggestions.

I had no idea that this would be such fun — but also such learning —
there is construction, collaboration, lots of creativity.  I am seeing quiet students step into leadership roles and off task students suddenly 100% on task.   I am blessed that on Tuesday, my elementary principal is coming in to help and on Thursday, my superintendent is helping.

No idea what will happen next year with Microsoft acquiring Minecraft EDU (http://education.minecraft.net/announce011916/) — but that won’t affect us this year so I won’t worry much.

I would LOVE to hear what you are doing with Minecraft — especially Minecraft EDU — so  please share.

OR if you have some tips or tricks for me, that would be helpful as well.