Makeys, Coding, Arduinos OH MY!

I was recently invited to participate in the North Union High School J-Term experience as a guest (really, I was just the AEA lady that brought some fun tech toys to play with:-).  What an absolute wonderful place to be during these freezing, dark days of January!  During these past 2 weeks, the halls were abuzz with work, students were engaged in passion projects and office referrals are almost non-existent.

The stop-“regular”-school-for-two-weeks-and-do-something-innovative experiences are catching. Some schools opt to have the experience as a May-Term, some have transitioned to incorporating 2 experiences/year and some schools have yet to be enlightened. The rigorous learning that is happening at NU during J-Term is Project-Based Learning (PBL). Driving questions are explored which lead to innovative teaching & learning, thus creating a personalized learning experience for all students involved.  I have attempted my first Storify below to capture just a glimpse of some of the magic.

 

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AAs (Not the Batteries)

We know that Christmas is the battery season (late on Christmas Eve night: “Honey, I swear we had more AAs!”) but I’d like to share another AA Christmas adventure (non-battery related) – student Authenticity and Agency.  Here is a recent personal experience that has proved to me, once again, to keep fighting the good fight with effective technology integration:

My niece got an iPad for Christmas, I was lucky enough to be close by when she first started exploring it’s capabilities. The old me, circa 2013/14, would have, after some research, installed some highly rated and recommended educational game apps for her and let her go solo. The new me, my world having been recently rocked and my eyes opened to possibility, went another route. The camera.

In less than 30 seconds, she (and my daughter, collaboratively – we nixed plugging them both into 2 separate devices) started creating stories and narratives from basic objects around the house via the camera and a simple app (Chatterpix Kids in this case). Immediately we could hear giggling and wonderful 7-year-old conversation (“Let’s try this angle. No, the light is better here” etc.) Within minutes, I witnessed their proud smiles after they presented their masterpieces to their audience, our family. What a sight.

If you are implementing technology (or any student work) in your classroom or at home, think of this story and ask yourself:

  • Is the student work reflective of their interests or passions?
  • Do my students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?

If you can resoundingly say “YES!”, awesome – keep going – you’re on the right track. If your answer isn’t an assured “Yes”, awesome – you asked yourself the hard question – you’re still on a right track. Your track to #makeitbetter.

The questions are pulled from trudacot – a discussion protocol intended to help facilitate educator conversations about deeper learning, student agency, and technology integration – Thank you Scott McLeod and Julie Graber!

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