Friday, November 3, 2017

Hour of Code is coming...

Fill in the blank… “_________ trains you to think critically about things; it trains you on problem-solving; it forces you to express yourself logically.”  If you're anything like me, you immediately thought about the subject(s) you teach or a lesson that you recently finished or maybe one that you are passionate about.

Coding is how Apple CEO Tim Cook "filled in the blank" in an interview this week.  He goes on to further suggest that coding will be as useful as any other second language.  I know…hidden agenda by a tech giant.  Apple is making it's iPhone X available for sale.  But is it about that?  Or is this another example of forward-thinking?   Look at the picture below.  An Apple TV.  From....wait for it...1994!  The modern-day Apple TV didn't go mainstream until 2007.  (See the video) 

Apple TV/Video System circa. 1994

To be clear, this has nothing to do with Apple.  Or the Apple TV.  Or a PC or a Chromebook, or any piece of technology hardware.  So why are Mr. Cook and the seemingly infinite number of others (Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Sal Khan, Mark Zuckerberg, Eric Schmidt, Reid Hoffman, Meg Whitman, Steve Case, etc. , etc.) talking about teaching kids to code?  It has everything to do with preparing our kids for a world that is being created before our eyes...and we often don't even realize it.  You might be as surprised as I was when that Apple TV box appeared in the tech department's offices.  I had no idea that existed in 1994.  Let alone that the District owned at least one.  When I was getting ready to graduate from high school that year, the Apple TV was not what was being touted all over the media.  This was...

OJ Simpson White Ford Bornco
OJ Simpson in a White Ford Bronco (1994)
We have to realize that we have an opportunity " prepare all students to reach their greatest potential...".  A mission? Sure.  A responsibility?  Yes.  AND we GET to prepare students for THEIR future.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY.  Whether we teach math or social studies or Spanish or physical education or ANY other subject, our first priority is to teach students for their future.  Not OUR current reality.  

Consider finding a way to step outside your normal practice to incorporate coding into your classes in December.  It doesn't matter what you teach, what your comfort level with technology is, or that content must be covered.  Teaching critical thinking and problem-solving and logic application transcends all of our subjects.  It is applicable to EVERY SINGLE STUDENT.  And always will be.

The "Hour of Code" takes place each year during Computer Science Education Week in December (this year December 4-10).  Check out these resources...I have no doubt there is something for everyone.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Allowing the Community to Speak Up to effect change

Every team, at some point, draws a line in the sand. Some even draw that line in concrete. It represents a point at which they've had enough of the current or past and are moving forward. That's tough. For so many, the comfort zone is just that, comfortable. Do the same thing, year in and year out, because that's what they know. To change requires a physical and intellectual investment of time and resources. It also requires knowledge. Teams have to know what they want to accomplish and how those around them feel about where the organization is and where they want to go.

In the fall of 2016, at the Red Lion Area School District we used the Speak Up survey by Project Tomorrow to empower the students, parents, & community to have a voice and impact the direction of the District.  The survey results clearly indicated a need and desire to move to a District-wide blended learning environment.

You see, 81% of our community said they wanted something other than a "traditional classroom", yet 79% of our teachers provided this type of environment. Is there a disconnect? And what about our students...? was clear to our team that something needed to change?

What if we did nothing to change the way that we meet the needs of our students?

Without the use of the Speak Up survey, we wouldn't have seen our needs so clearly. We've now embarked on a journey of Digital Conversion in the Red Lion Area School District that will ensure that students will have access to the tools and classroom environments.

At times this has been a challenging process. We have made a few messes, and refocused our efforts. We are truly excited about the the next several months of growth...

Come learn more about our journey and the future by joining me from 9:00 - 9:45 am on June 28 at ISTE 2017 during the Leadership Playground.