Friday, December 12, 2014

Christie Community Coding

This week our students have gone through a variety of coding activities in their classrooms and in the learning commons. The ultimate highlight of the week has been watching student discovery.

One of my favorite events from the week was the videoconferencing with real life coding specialists.  The students got to see real people whose occupations center around their use of coding. We heard from people that create video games, websites, and library media pages. Students had time to ask questions and were exposed to a plethora of new vocabulary. Though I must admit, the one question ALL kids wanted to ask was if the people had worked on creating Minecraft. Unfortunately, we didn't have that hook up... maybe next year? These people all volunteered their time and the response was amazing! I heard a second grader commenting that the job sounded like " much fun. I want that job when I grow up!" One 4th grader said that coding sounds like her "dream job."

On Wednesday, we decided it would be a good idea to rotate EVERY class in the school through coding rotations in the Learning Commons and Math Lab. One was an unplugged Lego activity with a partner and the other was coding a holiday tree on the computer. Getting to every class in one day sounded like a great plan... in hindsight we probably should have spread this out over 2 days. We taught a total of 38 classes, 2 stations for each class. That ended up being 24 different,  15 minute lessons for each of us. We scheduled a 20 minute lunch break mid- day but otherwise didn't come up for air from 8:00-2:40.  The amazing thing was that each and every group that came in was fully engaged. We had zero behavior problems the entire day. Kids were not asking to leave to go to the bathroom and when told to switch or that time was up, the response was always a loud groan of disapproval. There were multiple times that I caught kids fully engaged & doing the potty dance. We had to instruct students to take a bathroom breaks to avoid an accidents. We may have been worn out, but the student engagement was priceless!

The students were given a tic-tac-toe board on Monday full of coding activities. Many students have already completed three activities and are currently working on a blackout. The kids are having so much fun coding that parents are asking for lists of websites and apps for them to use at home. Teachers were also provided with unplugged activities to share with their class. The students have played games that teach them about giving clear directions much like we give to a computer when we code.  Some classes have these activities displayed around their rooms. When asked, the students go into long explanations about the activities and what they learned.

Thursday was full of collaboration as we connected via videoconferencing with other schools around Plano! The students discussed their coding experiences from the week and asked further questions. The kids couldn't believe, "That's really a different class at a different school?!?!"

Here we are, at the end of the week... and at 1:30 today we have invited the entire community to join us at Christie Elementary for our Hour of Code event. We are hoping that we will use all of our available devices because of the large number of parents and community members that will be in a our school coding together. Our teachers will be tweeting about their students coding progress using #CubsCode.

We have already come a long way in bridging the gap between our current educational system and the rest of the world. Technology is here. We have now embraced it!

I cannot wait to see where we go with our students next semester and next year!

Friday, December 5, 2014

Coaching Training

Let me start by announcing that my project on DonorsChoose has been fully funded by State Farm! The order will be placed after the holidays and delivered to my kiddos by February.  I can't wait to see my kids wobble while we learn!

Today I am attending the second coaching session by Mark Welborn. Below are some of my take aways from the training. I am looking forward to the upcoming semester and next couple of years when we implement coaching startegies.

-Coaching is not a dictatorship role, it's a partnership role.

-Partnership is a process and a moment.

-Learning is a process, not a product. Leaning involves change. Learning is not something "done" to others.

-Pieces of the coaching model: coaching standards and process, training in coaching adults, targeted areas of emphisis, detailed strategy benchmarks


-Reflection is worth attention. Reflection is critical to improve practice.

-Praxis: "practice" to change practice you need the opportnity to go through the practice and get feedback.

-People learn best in the midst of doing.

-Reciprocity: Instructional coaches should expect to get as much as they give.

-You can't have a YES until Ts are comfortable enough to say NO.

-You may not see it because you aren't there when it is implemented, but you make a difference.

-Choice and Voice gets teacher buy-in. Praxis and Reflection gives Ts ownership.

-The best way to learn is by doing with a coach, not on paper. Proof in the picture:

-The key is transference. Checklists help accomplish this.

-We are not about other people's failure. We are about other people's success.

-SMART goals: Specific, Measureble, Agreed upon, Realistic, Time-based

-Resources:  checklists, activities, resources

-ONLY speak about what the agreed upon goal was, do not address other issues observed unless it is in regards to students safety.