Week 6 Reflection

I enjoyed the discussion on this weeks topic about whether we should teach codding to all students.  I enjoyed reading how Sara Lucas rephrased the reasons that codding is so important.  I do think the fact that their are some many programming jobs available is under reported.  The information she provided that there will be one million jobs in coding that will go unfilled in 2020 is astounding.  That alone should spur some increased attention to coding.

While it wasn’t unanimous, it does seem like most of our class agreed that coding is important and should be taught and promoted in school, but it shouldn’t be mandates for everyone. I didn’t think about Sara K’s reason against programming that teachers might not have the ability to teach this adequately right now.  It would be kind of stupid to mandate something that teachers can’t do.  As Sara Lucas stated, “So yes coding is good but not everyone in the world needs to be a computer programmer. There are plenty of other jobs.”  Tricia Turley put this very succinctly when she stated,  “I do not yet think it has a place as a requirement for graduation, but for students who are interested, I think it is a great option for a high school elective.”

As a technology teacher for over 12 years (I move on to administration over 9 years ago!) it is so easy to jump on the next band wagon.  I think it is always best to wade into technology with caution.  This weeks fad becomes next week garbage dump of technology.  Before we commit time, money and our current curriculum, we need to make sure we will actually meet  our learning objectives.

Advertisements
By waclawskid

Week Six: What Are the Compelling Arguments Both For and Against Computer Coding in Schools?

There are arguments against coding in schools?  This was my initial reaction to this weeks essential question?  Why would anyone have a problem with students learning a valuable skill?  That is beyond me. So it was with some relief that I read the article “Should We Really Try to Teach Everyone to Code?” by Gottfried Sehringer. His questions were more about what is the benefit to teaching coding and is there a better way to get results than arbitrarily teach everyone to code. Gottfried suggests the we, “Teach them how technology works, so they can understand the realm of possibility and then envision game-changing innovations.” (Sehringer., 2016)  He thinks coming up with game changing ideas is more important than learning to code.  He thinks creating apps or programming should be so easy that it becomes a drag and drop activity so no one really needs to code.

Jeff Atwood takes this even farther in his article, “Learning Coding is Over Rated.” He sees coding as a low level skill that takes students back in time instead of forward.  To him, it is like learning how to repair a car.  It is a good skill to have, but not going to be useful for most people in their lives.  As he states, “One of the great achievements of modern computing is that we no longer need to be programmers to create, build and get things done with the amazing supercomputers that everyone carries around in their pockets.”  What I think he means is that having everyone learn to code is a lot of hype that really won’t give students a step up..

Unfortunately, I must agree with Jeff and Gottfried that everyone doesn’t need to learn to code and this shouldn’t be treated like a new core subject.  I do think it is useful and some students would benefit by learning how to code.  So the questions becomes, what are the reason we should teach students to code?

In Mark  Engelberg’s article, “3 Reasons Coding Should Be a Core Subject” he state the following reasons that coding is important:

  1. Programming is a skill that has value across disciplines
  2. Programming is a great way to teach problem solving and higher level thinking skills
  3. Careers in programming are abundant and pay well

Mark even has some good responses to excuses as to why we shouldn’t code.  They include:

  1. Coding doesn’t need to be taught as a stand alone subject. It can be integrated into science and math.
  2. Coding is no longer expensive.  There are lots of free or cheap resources on the web that can help teach coding.
  3. You can use offline puzzles and logic games to help teach coding.

To wrap up, coding is an important skill that some students will benefit from and there is no major reason not to teach coding to most students besides competing for time with other subjects.  Unfortunately, I didn’t read any compelling reason that we should teach coding to every student.

References 

Atwood, J.  Learning to code is overrated: An accomplished programmer would rather his kids learn to read and reason. Daily News. Retreived on 6-21-16 at 2:15 pm.  Found at http://www.nydailynews.com/opinion/jeff-atwood-learning-code-overrated-article-1.2374772.

Engelberg, M. 3 reasons coding should be a core subject.  Retrieved on 6-21-16 at 2:27.  Found at http://gettingsmart.com/2015/09/3-reasons-coding-should-be-a-core-subject/.

Sehringer, G. Should we really try to teach everyone to code? Mendix. Retrieved on 6-21-16 at 2:05.  Found at http://www.wired.com/insights/2015/02/should-we-really-try-to-teach-everyone-to-code/ .

By waclawskid

Week 5 Reflection

I learned and agree with Melissa Griffin that there is sometimes too much data for teachers to deal with and that we need to find a way to process this deluge of data.  I concur with Kayla Pietila’s post where she mentions that security is essential. I appreciated the approached Brian Mason is taking with monitoring MakerSpaces.  I like that his IOT device would track attendance, purpose of use and keep track of materials used.  I hadn’t considered any of those ideas before I read them in their blogs.

I like both Tricia Turleys’s “Wiggle Monitor” and Sara Lucas’ classroom “Music Chooser.”  Both of these devices made me think of simple biofeedback devices that people can use to change their breathing, blood pressure, etc.  This made me think that we could use these types of devices on a classroom level to help with classroom management and to help students be able to focus more on their work.  We could use feedback from monitor to pick music, change the classroom temperature and lighting to pump kids up for active movement or calm them down in order to focus on seat work.

This week’s discussion also made me have a better understanding of all the devices that are already connected to the internet.  I loved Gerald’s Graphic that categorized many of the IOT’s that are out there right now.  It is awesome to think about everything from smart fridges to Fitbits.  I think it would be even more amazing if we could find a way to connect all these devices and get reporting from one site.  I believe this is the next step that needs to happen to really make IOT’s explode especially at the school level.

 

By waclawskid

Week Five: Design an Object That Could Be Classified as Belonging to “The Internet of Things” and Describe How It Could Contribute to Your Classroom.

I have to admit that I am not the most creative person in world so I am going to come up with the Educational Textbook Tablet.  Most of the technology is already available for this device.  The major innovation is how it connects and tracts every aspect of a students education.  Students will use this textbook tablet for all homework, text reading, drawing, online work and more.  Since everything is done on the Educational Textbook Tablet and it is connected to the internet so teachers can track how much time and what pages students are reading their text, what programs they are on and what websites they visit.  It will also track what resources they use to study and what processes and problem solving strategies students use with their math and other subjects.  It will be instantly be able to track what mistakes students are making in math or grammar and be able to automatically come up with a tutorial to help them.  It will highlight areas that student can improve in their writing, math and other subjects and send this information to teachers so they can use it to plan lesson for the next day.

Here is a short list of what it can do:

  • Have all textbooks available on the device in an interactive format that tracks students every move
  • Allows students to do all homework on the tablets
    • All math work will need to be done on the tablet while showing work
      • Math homework is instantly checked and data is sent to teachers
    • All writing is instantly checked for plagiarism, grammar ans sentence structure and the data sent to teachers.
  • The following data will be tracked and sent to teachers
    • Time using the device
    • What programs were used
    • What websites were accessed
    • What pages of the text students were reading or studying
    • It will automatically correct homework and give feedback to students
    • What time of day certain activities where done

The great thing about this device and the data is that administration can access this data and see how students and classes are progressing.  We can track time on task, student engagement and student growth.  This information can be used in discussions with teachers on how to improve their practices and help increase student achievement.

Of course confidentiality with this data is important.  To keep confidentiality all data will be encrypted before it is sent and will not be able to be accessed on the individual tablets.  This means if students accidentally leave their tablet logged in unattended, someone can’t access this data.    Only specific devices with specific MAC Addresses can run the decryption software. While this isn’t fool proof, people would have to physically steal your computer to access the data.

Here is a good video about the Internet of Things by Dr. John Barrett at TEDxCIT.  

References 

Learning@Cisco. The internet of everything: fueling educational innovation. Retrieved on 6-13-16 at 7:47 pm.  Found at http://globalstemalliance.org/media/filer_public/b9/c6/b9c609e0-deb9-479a-bc19-94770297fd3a/14cs4580-iot_whitepaper-charts-r2.pdf.

Samsung business voice: internet of things 101: inside the latest trend in higher education. Retrieved on 6-13-16 at 7:28 pm.  Found at http://www.forbes.com/video/4066055740001/.

The Guardian. What is the internet of things? Retrieved on 6-13-16 at 7:50 pm.  Found at https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/may/06/what-is-the-internet-of-things-google.

The Internet of Things: Dr. John Barrett at TEDxCIT.  Retrieved on 6-17-16 at 10:00 pm.  Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaTIt1C5R-M.

By waclawskid

Week 4 Reflection

I found looking at Makerspaces to be very useful.  I hadn’t really thought of their usefulness in a school setting.  I am always trying to find way to promote problem solving, high order thinking and for students to apply what they learn.  I feel that is where students get the most value for their learning.  When a student takes a leadership role and tries to find a solution to an environmental problem or to help with an issue like homelessness in their community I know that student will be successful in almost any situation.  Specific subject oriented material can be acquired, but how to apply it in real life is what takes education to the next level.

That is why I really like the idea of Makerspaces.  This is a place that our students can go to explore and apply their learning.  By add vague prompts like “How could we make our school more handicapped accessible?” or “How could we solve an environmental issue in the community?” could create some awesome learning and maybe some great solutions.  This is something that I definitely want to try at Homer High.

I think the most interesting thing I learned from this lesson is how personal quotes do effect readers opinions.  I was really surprised by the response to to quote from my son that I added to my post.  It definitely made my point that Makerspaces had to have some direction and not just a place to goof off, but that wasn’t meant to be the main theme of my post.  That seemed to be the thing that everyone focused on.

I do admit that I have a natural bias to do a cost benefit analysis before I do anything.  I also look to what the worst thing could happen so I can plan for it.  The reality is am a yes principal.  If a teacher can give me a good reason why they want to try something and they can plan for the worst case scenario, I let them do it and try to come up with some money if we have it.  I just don’t like to be surprised.

By waclawskid

What is the Pedagogy Behind a Maker Space? What Are the Benefits of This Pedagogy to Students?

“I enjoy it.  I think that would be fun.  I would probably make the most stupid design and print it on the 3D printer.”  This is what my 16 year old son said about Makerspaces.  This seems to be the general attitude and perception towards maker spaces.  They seem like a lot of fun, but most people don’t really know what to do with them.  I admit that I would enjoy messing around in a Makerspace.

Of course, a well designed Makerspace has a purpose that it is working towards.  In the article “7 things you should know about Makerspaces” the author talks about a huge 50,000 square foot facility in Millwalkee with state of the art electronic equipment, computer stations, 3D printers and powerful design software whose purpose is to come up with ways to improve the community.  As long as you are willing to work towards this purpose, it is free.

The first part of the focus for this week’s learning is “What is the pedagogy behind a Makerspace?”   I think there are two parts to this answer.  First, Makerspaces remind me of a Montessori school where student find their way through their own education.  In a Makersapce, you are in charge of what you want to be doing (within broad frameworks)  and how you are going to go about doing it. This allows students to question, experiment and and go a fast or slow as their ability and imagination will take them.

The second strong pedagogy that Makerspaces use is hand-on learning.  You are actually making things, experimenting and trying new things.  We all know that well designed hands-on learning can be very effective.

The second focus for this weeks learning is “What are the benefits for students?  Most schools can’t afford all the equipment that most Makerspaces have so they start small.  In one example from Eric Sheninger’s article “A Principal’s Reflections: Impact of a Makerspace,” he gives an example of a librarian who had a small room filled with computers and computer parts.  Student would take them apart and put them back together.  One group decided to build their own computer and created a website to share the experience.

On of the most powerful befits of Makerspaces for students is the ability to be creative, take control of their own learning and provides them a powerful experience.  While we might not be able to provide 3D printers and computer stations with expensive software on them, but we can start small and see where it will lead.

References 

Waclawski, D. (2015) Informal Interview on 6-8-16 at 10:26 pm.

EDUCAUSE. (2013). 7 things you should know about: makerspaces. Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm.  Found at https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli7095.pdf

Sheninger, E.  A principal’s reflections: impact of a makerspace.  Retrieved on 6-8-2016 at 10:11 pm.  Found at http://esheninger.blogspot.com/2014/12/impact-of-makerspace.html.

 

By waclawskid

Week 3 Reflection

I really enjoyed the discussion about MOOC’s, Flipped Classrooms and Genius Hours. I found the idea of Genius Hour to be gemius.  This gives students and teachers the opportunity to go outside themselves, push their limits and see what happens.  This is a philosophical shift that has to potential to change traditional schools in a profound way.  This would put in place a system for students to be problem solvers and apply what they have learned.  This is the higher level thinking that we want students to be doing every day.

This is similar to the Caring for the Kenai program in KPBSD.  This is a program where students need to come up with a good idea, solutions to a problem or an invention that will help protect the environment in the Kenai Peninsula.  It is kind of like a real life science fair, but kids come up with some great ideas and they implement them in their community.  The Genius Hour puts in place a system for students to do this in all areas of their learning and community.  I love this idea.

I also like the Flipped Classroom because this is something traditional school can do right now and be successful at.  This is a good concept that I would love to pilot at our school.

I am not sold on MOOC’s.  The resources are great, but this issue with this concept is that the resources need to be managed well. A teacher needs to find good resources when they need them.  If they can find what they need quickly and it is of high quality, this concept may take off. If not, it will be just another good resource if you  have enough time to find what you need.

By waclawskid

Week Three: Which emerging pedagogy appeals most to you, and might be most useful for your classroom and students? Why?

I am choosing to to discuss the Flipped Classroom for my week 3 discussion since I have several teachers who are looking into implementing this in some fashion. A  simple definition of a flipped classroom is described in the article “The Teacher’s Guide To Flipped Classrooms.”  A Flipped class is where students basically get all instruction via reading or video online at home and them apply it through discussion, lab or practice in the classroom.  In this same article they list potential benefits of this emerging pedagogy as:

  1. Keeps students more engaged
  2. Provides students with more personalized attention
  3. Students can work at their own pace

This article goes on to discuss specific results from Clintondale High School in Detroit.  When they implemented the Flipped Classroom they got the following results:

  1. Increased retention of material
  2. 50% ewer students were failing math and English classes
  3. Fewer students were dropping out
  4. 50% fewer discipline issues per semester

The two main parts of a flipped classroom are the flipped structure you choose and the online tools you use.  The structures and tool are explained below with the information taken from  the article,  “The Teacher’s Guide To Flipped Classrooms.”

Structures

  1. Backward Classroom – Student watch lectures via online video at home ad homework to be prepared for the next days application, labs or practice
  2. Fake Flipped Classroom – Same as above, but students can watch material in the classroom if they don’t have access to materials at home.
  3. Evolved Classroom – This is were students get so goo with this concept, they take over the learning and don’t need to video instruction any more and the instructor becomes more of a facilitator.

The basic tool needed for a flipped classroom is the video.  This is the instruction, but Jackie Gersteinin her article, The Flipped Classroom Model: A Full Picture, says not to get to excited about the video.  While there are lots of professional videos out there, but this model was not designed by them and there is a lot more to a Flipped Classroom than the video.  Jackie Gersteini then goes on to explain that the biggest draw back to the flipped model is that teachers don’t know what to do with all this extra time.  (This explanation could be a multi-page paper by itself so I won’t go into detail here, but I have included a video on the Flipped Classroom from Jackie below.)

I believe the flipped classroom may be the most useful pedagogy for my school. With declining enrollment, competition for online and alternative schools and parent and students need for control the Flipped Classroom could be a good compromise.  Students get some control, but students are still in a classroom.  The flipped classroom could be what traditional schools need to be competitive with online, open learning, etc.

At my school we are losing staff so one of my teacher is being creative and is designing a hybrid flipped classroom in the hopes of keeping class sizes smaller.  Most of the instruction will happen outside of class in an online format and students will come in to school to complete labs and tests.  Students will be in the classroom 2 days a week, but can chose from 3 different times.  There are still a lot of details to hammer out, but this will be an exciting and interesting experiment.   It will definitely be giving many student more flexibility than they are used to.  It will be interesting to see who will benefit from this the most.

Here is a good video on the Flipped classroom that was referenced in Jackie Gersteinin’s article.

Resources

Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. (2011). The flipped classroom model: a full picture. Retrieved on 6-1-16 at 6:35.  Found at https://usergeneratededucation.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/the-flipped-classroom-model-a-full-picture/
Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. (2012) An illustration of flipped classroom: the full picture. Retrieved on 6-1-16 at 6:45.  Found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXcCBuU3ytU
The teacher’s guide to flipped classrooms. Edudemic.  Retrieved on 5-30-16 at 2:05.  Found at http://www.edudemic.com/guides/flipped-classrooms-guide/
By waclawskid