I absolutely love all of the new robotics toys that have been coming out for elementary age learners. I have been using them for my summer maker camp, with my gifted education classes, and for my upcoming Saturday morning program. One of my gifted girls noted, “Where do all of these robots come from?” I laughed and told her, “It’s actually has become one of my passions. Collecting them has become a major hobby of mine.”
I usually use them for an hour per week with my two groups of gifted learners. I am an advocate of student-centric learning and giving them choices as to which instructional activities they would like to engage. For their robotics hour each week, I am giving them the following choices with their goal of using five of the robotics to complete five of the tasks provided.
For those who haven’t come across it before, it was borne out of the idea of Google’s 20% time. This is time that is set aside for employees as part of Google’s drive (get it? #pun) to innovate within its ranks. Famously, such ideas as Gmail have come from a 20% time project by one of Google’s employees. Genius Hour is meant to inspire and give children the opportunity to develop and build some of the most important skills in learning around the idea of collaboration, creativity and innovation, communication and critical thinking.
Are you on the fence on whether or not you should introduce a programming curriculum next school year? The easy answer is that you ABSOLUTELY should! But, for those who are not as easily convinced, we have put together a list of the top 10 reasons why we believe coding should be taught to every child.
The gap between the skills people learn and the skills people need is becoming more obvious, as traditional learning falls short of equipping students with the knowledge they need to thrive, according to the World Economic Forum report New Vision for Education: Fostering Social and Emotional Learning Through Technology.
Today's job candidates must be able to collaborate, communicate and solve problems – skills developed mainly through social and emotional learning (SEL). Combined with traditional skills, this social and emotional proficiency will equip students to succeed in the evolving digital economy.
As trends to do, these are changing almost yearly. Consider how quiet iPads in the classroom have been recently, whereas three years ago they were going to replace teachers and were (unsarcastically) compared to magic. While mobile devices like the iPad can indeed parallel a kind of magic in the learning process, it obviously has to ‘fit’ into a progressive supporting ecology of assessment, curriculum, and instruction.
With that in mind, we’ve created a list of 15 (the graphic plus 3 bonus items below) new ideas every teacher should try. Not all will fit or work–again, it depends on the ecology of the classroom, school, and so on. But each of these ideas below–some learning models, some concepts, and some technologies–can be transformational for students, and your teaching.
What defines something as an “innovation”? In education, what new ideas or shifts in thinking merit our attention and why? We take a closer look at what constitutes innovative practice in education…
Norton Gusky's insight:
In Pittsburgh there's a movement around "Remake Learning." In this post the group looks at what is educational innovation by focusing the need for redesigning learning environments, addressing complex problems, and tapping into student interests.
MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Google's annual developer conference doesn't officially kick off until Wednesday but about 120 of the company's youngest developers are already getting to preview one of its newest announcements.
Google is teaming up with MIT's Media Lab to create Scratch Blocks, an updated version of the kid-centric programming language. Available now as a developer preview, student participants at Google's I/O Youth event were able to get an early look at the new tools.
Simulation-based learning allows us to play in a highly immersive environment that reflects aspects of the real world. In virtual simulations, we can explore and create with much lower stakes than we would encounter in the real world. Questions of “What if?” flourish in a virtual simulation as we create and experience new possibilities with increasing realism. With smartphones making access to virtual reality easier and easier, virtual simulations can now become part of place-based learning in the classroom.
Design thinking is an approach to learning that includes considering real-world problems, research, analysis, conceiving original ideas, lots of experimentation, and sometimes building things by hand. The projects teach students how to make a stable product, use tools, think about the needs of another, solve challenges, overcome setbacks and stay motivated on a long-term problem. The projects also teach students to build on the ideas of others, vet sources, generate questions, deeply analyze topics, and think creatively and analytically. Many of those same qualities are goals of the Common Core State Standards. (What Does ‘Design Thinking’ Look Like in School?)
I use the following activities to introduce elementary students to the design thinking process. The ultimate goal is for the learners to work on their own, self-selected problems in which they will apply the design thinking.
Introducing the general design process to elementary student occurs through showing the following video about the engineering process:
The challenge for teachers is to build this understanding in our students. Our task is to enable their intelligence by helping them to understand the habits of mind and to then empower our students to make intelligent choices about the habits they deploy.
This is an edited excerpt from “How to Teach Computational Thinking,” first published by Stephen Wolfram on Sept. 7, 2016.
Pick any field “X,” from archaeology to zoology. There either is now a “computational X”, or there soon will be. Doctors, lawyers, teachers, farmers, whatever—the future of all these professions will be full of computational thinking. Whether it’s sensor-based medicine, computational contracts, education analytics or agriculture—success is going to rely on being able to do computational thinking well.
Computational thinking is going to be a defining feature of the future, and it’s an incredibly important thing to be teaching to kids today. But where does it fit into the standard educational curriculum? The answer, I think, is simple: everywhere!
A few years ago, I recall walking past the door of our school makerspace and noticing a crowd of kids surrounding a table. Inside a group of 5th and 6th graders were hovering around someone, listening intently to directions. As I inched closer I heard the quiet voice of a parent demonstrating how to do several hand stitches. The mom, a PTA regular and all-around super volunteer, was showing our students some basics in sewing. Both boys and girls watched as she shared tips and tricks. Soon the students dispersed and moved back to their workspaces around the room working on their pillows, shirts, purses, and other sewing projects.
The parent volunteered an hour each Tuesday around lunchtime to work with our students during our “open studio” time. She served as a facilitator and mentor to young makers in our elementary school for several years. The connection that she made with students helped to demonstrate the link between hands-on learning and its purpose in the real world, as well as the value that parents and community bring to the school setting. This type of active parent involvement is one effective way to begin building a network of creativity and innovation in your school
Even after teaching for a decade, Pamela Baack found herself battling the calendar as she tried to keep her students on track.She’s the first to admit it wasn’t easy to change the way she had been teaching for a decade.“We were always on someone else’s pace, not our kids’ pace,” says Baack, who teac
Norton Gusky's insight:
Example of where software makes personalization of learning skills possible. Where does the application of skills happen?
Decades ago, portfolio assessment meant finding room for bulging binders stuffed with paper. But digital technologies that make it far easier to collect, curate, share and store student work have dismantled the physical barriers that once made portfolio assessment daunting.
Norton Gusky's insight:
For years schools have tried to create digital portfolios. Here are some examples using tools like Google Docs.
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