Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hack the Classroom: September 2016

I was very fortunate to be invited to present at Microsoft's first Hack the Classroom event in January 2016.  It was an inspiring event that involved thousands of educators from around the globe, so I was really excited to register as an online attendee for this fall's event!  With a line-up of passionate presenters sharing today, Hack the Classroom again inspired me.  I'm excited to see what another year will bring in our connected classroom!

John Kao of Edgemakers shared about his passion for innovation in education.  According to their website, "EdgeMakers offers an interdisciplinary practice-based and purpose driven, challenge- and project-based learning system currently delivered to students in grades 5-8, high school, and institutions of higher learning in The United States, Brazil, Colombia and India. It consists of five core courses..."

What is innovation?

Kao asserts that innovation is "developing capabilities to achieve a desired future" which means we need to narrow the gap between what students are learning in school and what they will need to be successful in their futures. 

What if the world's young people learned how to be innovators and entrepreneurs?
At Edgemakers, they ""assert that the idealism and passion of the young are one of the most underutilized resources on the planet."

I strongly agree with Kao's belief that young people can make a contribution to the world and solving our problems.  As an educator, I think an important role of education is to foster the development of citizenship skills.  I make an effort in my own classroom to let students tackle real world problems that they have identified as important and encourage them to take on projects that help others.  Some such projects have included teaching others to code, purchasing school supplies for a partner school in Africa, volunteering at an animal rescue, promoting sustainability with reusable bag use and reducing our classroom trash.  

Lauren Pittman is using the OneNote learning tools to help her students with special needs become more successful readers.  I am definitely going to be investigating these tools further after watching this powerful video featuring her classroom!

Dyane Smokoroski is a Microsoft Expert Educator and Skype Master Teacher.  She believes that teachers are in the business of inspiring students.  She uses Skype to play Mystery Skype, connect with experts and take her students on virtual field trips.  She even took us on a brief Skype virtual field trip to the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences! 

Dyane also allows students from all over the world to showcase their creativity through her Awesome Squiggles collaborative art project.  Registration is closed for this year, but I'm looking forward to "unofficially" trying the project with students and sharing it through social media!

Patricia Romero is using Minecraft to engage her learners at the American Institute of Monterrey .   She shared her tips for using Minecraft in the classroom:
  • don't be afraid
  • start small
  • get organized
  • plan ahead
  • empower students
  • set rules
  • build a team
  • share work
  • grow your program

The 2016 Skype-a-thon is coming up on November 29th and 30th.  Sign up to connect your classroom!

Check out the Hack the Classroom Sway and sign up to watch the recorded webinar on the Hack the Classroom event website. 

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Our Pattern Pictures

Our current grade 1 math learning is focused on patterns.  The patterning goals for grade 1 students are:
  • describe a pattern
  • extend a pattern that is already started
  • create a pattern
  • translate a pattern (ie: green, yellow, green, yellow, green, yellow could be translated to ABABAB)
An important part of learning in our classroom is connecting with others.  Over the course of our school year, our class will connect with other classrooms, experts, authors and others that can help us learn.  This week, we connected with a partner classroom, the Oak Lake Community School Kindergarten class, via video call.  The grade 1s were able to explain what they know about patterns and they helped teach the Kindergartens about patterns.  I was pleased to hear my grade 1s explaining that "patterns repeat over and over" and the grade ones capably started patterns for the Kindergartens to extend.  Our challenge after the call was to go on a "pattern hunt" to find and photograph patterns.  Below is the Sway presentation we created with the photographs from both classes.  We also included photos from our earlier work in creating patterns.  Students were excited to share this presentation with their families during the school open house!