Friday, December 9, 2016

Hour of Code 2016

Despite winter storm Alivia in Grand Forks, we had an Hour of Code event at Schroeder Middle School. For several weeks prior to December 8, Mrs. Chandler and I had been working with her 8th grade students to employ a teach the teacher methodology with middle school students. So all classes at Schroeder were taught by students. The day was awesome and went off without a hitch!

Dr. Joel Schleicher talked to the students prior to sending them off to class and he talked about the importance of coding and the possibilities that coding could offer them.

Exposing students to coding, spheros, Ozobots, Makey Makey's, and Dash and Dot's was a learning experience for everyone and the coolest thing is that we have no idea where this exposure will take out students!

Here is our schedule:

What I have learned from BreakoutEDU

In October, the North Dakota Association of Technology Leaders (NDATL) gathered in Minot, ND for the Fall Face2Face Conference.  For the past few years, I have had the pleasure of being the president of this great group of ND educators!  Lucky me.  The great people in my home state have lived through and tolerated all of my funky ideas for conferences. I have learned a lot along the way--that is a topic for another time.  Today, I am writing all about BreakoutEDU.

So, back to October.  At NDATL, I played a game that I wrote for BreakoutEDU, that I call Bond, Ron Bond. I wrote this game to honor my 6th grade choir teacher from Columbia Falls, Montana. Mr. Bond, as I called him when I was 11, was and remains the best educator I know. He is full of life, he is passionate about music, he makes the best of every day, and he has high expectations for himself and those around him. That being said, he wasn't an "easy" teacher. You needed to live up to his expectations--he had criteria and he didn't accept excuses. In 1997 when I lost my father to a heart attack, I decided to let Mr. Bond know how important he was to me.  So, I sat down and wrote a letter to him.  He wrote back and we have been in touch ever since that time. Mr. Bond is an avid hiker and most summers when we traveled to Columbia Falls, we would drive to Whitefish and hike the Danny On trail, or drive somewhere into Glacier National Park and check out a new trail there. Sometimes we just went out for breakfast or lunch.  Through the course of these years, he has met everyone in my family. My husband, my children, my nieces, and my sister. All of my friends know about him.  He is included in the big news of our family--weddings, new dogs, dance recitals and new musical instruments and lessons. Why?  Because after all of these years he became my friend and not just my teacher.  He role modeled the best kind of instruction.  Love and passion for his curricular area and people. If I get lucky enough to follow in his footsteps I will be grateful.

Bond, Ron Bond is the game I wrote in his honor.  I combined his love of Glacier National Park, hiking, fishing and the great outdoors into a great geography challenge.  Writing this game was a challenge; but I had a great time figuring out clues and linking them together. Writing the breakout forced me to research; just like I ask students to do. I also figured out a way to include a video of Ron Bond in my game--which was awesome! In Minot, it was great fun watching my colleagues figure out clues, dig into national park information, look at Amtrak schedules, think about latitude and longitude and figure out locks.

Every chance I get, I take pictures and capture Bond, Ron Bond moments. I can hardly wait to share all of my game experiences with Mr. Bond and tell him about all of the learning that is occurring. He would love to hear that people are learning all about the national parks; but he won't be happy that people aren't breaking out on a regular basis.

BreakoutEDU causes excitement and generates a different way of thinking, cooperation, and collaboration. BreakoutEDU allows students to operate with a different skill set and sometimes the kiddos that get all A's struggle harder with this concept because they have to think outside of the "box."  Ultimately I have learned that conventional learning isn't the best way to learn and that one of the reasons I admired Ron Bond the most is that he wasn't conventional. He was, however, passionate about student learning and seeing students do well. BreakoutEDU allows students a little bit of that same experience.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Innovations in Learning with George Couros

George encouraged us to try new things today and think about transformational thinking.  Storify is new to me and I posted some using this new tool!

Check it out!  It was easy, fun, and a great way to process and reflect on some of the big ideas of the day.

Tomorrow, the GFPS staff will begin their morning with George in the RRHS Performance Hall!  I hear that there is even going to be carpool karaoke to get things started!!

Innovations in Learning is going to be a terrific day!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Creating for a Cause - Ecocade Event!

Creating for a Cause

On April 20, our Ecocade Event went live!  Our students were thrilled to be hosting their games at a public event and thrilled that their peers were coming to play their games.  All of the hard work and creativity in the past few months payed off.

The following week, on April 28, the Ecocade students delivered a check to our local YMCA and the Parkinson's Wellness Program for $500.  Mrs. Roxy Jones and Mrs. Anne Compton came to Schroeder Middle School and spoke to the Ecocade students about Parkinson's Disease.  These ladies openly discussed Parkinson's and compared Parkinson's to a snowflake because everyone who has this disease has different experiences.  The uniqueness of this disease is one of the many reasons that Parkinson's is so very hard to treat and cure. 

Overall, the Ecocade Club members felt really good about their accomplishments and they felt really good about creating for a cause.

We will do this again next year--for sure!! 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

The War For Literacy, Session 3

I have had a great time today, meeting and working with the youth of Grand Forks.  We are fortunate to live in a community that embraces education and promotes a variety of activities for our youth. Margaret Mead once said “Children must be taught how to think, not what to think.”  The War For Literacy supports this notion and Chris Crutcher did a terrific job connecting with our students and encouraging them to write about what they know and the human condition.  A huge round of applause needs to go to all of the War For Literacy organizers.  You need to do this again!!

Teaching blogging/vlogging is interesting to me.  I didn't focus on the writing process; rather I focused on where to place your writing and how to get it there.  Hopefully the vehicle of blogging allows students to find their voice and yell when they need to.

To encourage the writing process, students chose a prepared prompt out of an envelope.  My prompt for this session is "what were you doing when you last lost track of the time?"

I last lost track of time a second ago.  It is amazing how quickly that can happen.  Blogging can do that to you.

War For Literacy

Today, I have the privilege of being at Red River High School and teaching at the War For Literacy.  I am in my second session of blogging/vlogging and I have a lovely class of six beautiful writers.

We all set up blogs using blogger and now we are all answering a question from the magic envelope.  My question is "what did your life teach you yesterday?"

What a great question.

What did my life teach me yesterday?  First of all, it reminded me to be thankful for my family, my health, and my friends.

What did my life teach me yesterday? Life reminded me yesterday that there are many things that are bigger than me and it reminded me that life works in strange ways.  You never know who you are going to meet and you don't know what their life story is.

What did my life teach me yesterday? Fried eggs on top of a sandwich are awesome!

What did my life teach me yesterday? That being surrounded by loved ones is the best feeling of all.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Cardboard Arcade Club

John Portman once said "Buildings should serve people, not the other way around."  With this thought in mind, we have been building cardboard arcade games at Schroeder.  The games are going to be used at the school dance and all of the proceeds from the arcade games are going to be donated to the Parkinson's Foundation.  The cardboard arcade club has been a perfect combination of service learning, hard work, cardboard, and duct tape.

Our deadline is April 20.  We won't have quite as many games as Caine's; but the Schroeder student's have been working diligently and creatively.

The goal of the cardboard arcade club was to make games out of totally recycled materials and the students have done a terrific job.  They have used miles of cardboard, coke cans, bubble wrap, and frozen orange juice lids.

This coming week, we will work on the finishing touches of game prep.  We also need to determine some logistical details and of course, how much tickets will be to play these awesome games!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Makey Makey and Creativity

Makey Makey at Kelly

This year, one of my goals has been to learn more about coding.  Setting that goal for myself seemed to be pretty harmless and another "official" act that I would put down on paper somewhere and then forget about.  This goal, however, has proved to be something of an inspiration.  This goal has sparked me to move past my own fears and get out there and try new things. 

In November, I had the chance to learn from some amazing Denapalooza friends in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Carla often spoke about how amazing the DenSI was; but I had no idea.  I have now officially drunk the koolaid--or in NC, I think you visit the Dean Dome.  At any rate, I had a marvelous time with Carla, Wanda, Sean, Julie and Rodney.  Ya'll touched my heart and inspired my teaching.

So, I am finally going to begin posting some of the fabulous and inspirational students that I have had a chance to work with.

Tomorrow, we start building our Ecocades!!  What's an Ecocade, you ask??  Just you wait and see.