Is it “technologies amplifies our ideas and changes the way we create”? Or is it the other way around or both in tandem?
Last week our district came together for Pro-D. Aptly named “District Day”, it’s a day dedicated to learning and exploring together – meeting and connecting with friends and colleagues from other schools. Certainly it’s a day of “connectedness” where the buzz of excitement is palpable, exploration and new ideas are plentiful and teachers sharing their passions are the norm. While I must admit that this is an exhausting day but one of the most extremely worthwhile days ever! I always come away rejuvenated and filled with possibilities. It’s a sparkly time.
What do the concepts of social emotional (perseverance, resilience, self regulation), curiosity, exploration and problem solving have in common? They are all intricately woven in the fabric of Applied Design, Skills and Technology. At the 6/7 level, we invited lead teachers on the Thursday to experience Coding Quest. At the K-5 level, ADST is meant to be included in the regular curriculum. Inspired by Ian Landy (principal in Shuswap district) who presented at the CUEBC conference, we put together a number of centers focused on developing the mindset skills in ADST. The twist? – incorporating the core competencies of Personal Awareness, Communication and Critical Thinking. Just to give you a flavour, some of the centers were:
- Elenco Snap Circuits (electronics from basics to multi-levels)
- Keva planks (understand the dynamics of physics and architectural design)
- littleBits (snap together parts to code)
- LittleCodr (unplugged activity of developing specific logic and communication)
- Makey Makey (create something to do something awesome)
- Sphero and Ollies (code robots to do what you want them to do)
- Coding apps on ipads (from simple to advanced – Crossy Roads, Lightbot, Cargobot, ScratchJr, GarageBand)
- Pixel Art (post-it notes create an image – bitmap style)
Why centers? We wanted multiple entry points to include something for everyone (a success story waiting to unfold). Each center is designed for active engagement in both the building/making aspect, as well as revealing self regulation, perseverance, resilience… (Personal Awareness Competency). Reflection during and afterwards is key to explicitly connect the maker mindset and language of the competencies (critical thinking, communication, personal awareness) in “I can…” statements.
* Click here for all the center instruction cards and information on setup.
Have you ever had “heart to heart” chats with students and you know they have a story to tell but got stuck on trying to get it out? Sometimes I feel that students don’t have the vocabulary or aren’t exposed to the vocabulary of emotions to be able to clearly tell their story. Recently, quite accidentally I fell upon the project, RULER (Recognizing, Understanding, Labeling, Expressing, Regulating Emotions) by Marc Brackett at Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. Here is an overview of the “Mood Meter” that they developed to help identify the various quadrants of moods and related vocabulary.
So I wondered as some of our classes are using this approach, what if we were able to gage an audience’s mood and create a real-time visual. We could use it to have conversations. This process might also work well with literature circles. I ended up using Google Forms to create the survey so it could be available for easy access on a class blog or website. Here are the results. Give it a try.
What I like about it is the list of terms to expand possible ways to share feelings. (Aren’t you tired of the same “I’m mad, sad, glad” routine.) By selecting the graphing mode you gain a visual representation of a whole group mood right away. I can imagine the rich discussions this would offer to a group.
I’d love to hear what you think about this. Please leave a comment.
If you would like your own copy, I’ve created an open folder, which you can make a copy (you need to have a google account first).
We just finished a districtwide Pro-D, where for the first time we squeezed 2000 people into one building. So parking was quite hairy and the deluge of rain didn’t help matters. Once inside, the atmosphere was positively electrifying (thanks to the facilitators and participants). Our opening started with North’s own marching Viking band, keynote Abe Fernández (Director of Collective Impact, the Children’s Aid Society and Co-director of South Bronx Rising Together) and then hundreds of workshops and ‘edcamp-ish’ conversations to choose. My team of three led four sessions – a crazy rewarding day of connected energy.
Here are some things I learned:
- Building community and togetherness is everything even though the only building that can handle the numbers is a very old one! Crossed our fingers as fuses blew…
- New experiences have to be connected to what you understand and then move from there
- Individuals make personal conscious decisions to learn new things. What is ultimately worth learning is usually difficult and messy. It takes courage to make the leap.
- Sometimes people will try something only because they know you will support them
- When you see something with a new lens, you can never go back
Pro-D, while meant as a learning experience, is really an event. How will you carry these sparks and these challenges to thinking into your classrooms or offices? That’s where the magic happens.
Around this time of year, the terms of celebration, reflection and sharing, become even more of a focus. It’s almost cyclical in nature. Beyond the “let’s have a party to showcase all the end products”, I wonder about the little things. Things like perseverance and tenacity and the courage to turn around and face the dragons of failure. I wonder how those are recognized and celebrated in such ways as to give them power. I wonder if we truly understand how much effort is needed for some of our students to acquire the smallest of steps. I wonder if the students believe it when we congratulate them on achieving those steps. I wonder how we take that spark, started with determination and sometimes “downright fear” and lift it up so they can share their success in ways that help others grow and gives dignity to the learner.
I doubt there is one answer. Many ideas come to mind, past and present. While these may be overt and probably fun, they may yet capture the essence of the journey. How do you grow and share the sparks?