Tag Archives: learning

The CMK Series – Part 3

CMK_Wordle

To conclude my CMK Series, I wanted to reflect on some of the amazing people and ideas that were a part of the Institute.

There was no shortage of impressive and inspiring speakers at #CMK13. The list included people from a variety of fields, who brought unique perspectives to making and learning. For example, Eleanor Duckworth, an inspiration for all educators and particularly those of us passionate about early childhood education, paired up with Deborah Meier and together they shared their views on discovery learning, wonderful ideas, and democracy in education.

Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen

In stark contrast to their dialogue on education, we heard from jazz musicians Jimmy Heath and Emmet Cohen, who spoke of mentorship, improv, and creating something unique that connects with people and speaks to them. At the MIT Media Lab we heard innovative and even mind blowing ideas about what can be done when you invite an entire city to create something together using music and technology from Tod Machover and we were treated to thoughtful and amusing commentary by Dr. Marvin Minsky.

And yet, as diverse as all of the these and the other speakers were at #CMK13, I found that they were all united by three things: storytelling, passion, and courage.

Each person had engaging, personal stories to tell of working on their projects and what they learned from those experiences. Listening to these stories, you could hear the passion in their voices and understand, at least a little bit, why their project was so meaningful and important, even if you had never done anything similar before.

Duckworth spoke of making colored tubes and experimenting with science; Meier spoke of the courage they needed to persevere when Harvard didn’t want to give credit for their course; Heath shared tales of playing in Philadelphia, learning from talented peers and Cohen shared the power of just working together with a mentor like Heath. We were regaled with stories about Machover visiting Toronto and working with thousands of different people to create and capture sounds and in hearing these stories you could begin to understand how the power of their work spread.

As a listener, I wanted to jump right into those projects and I wanted to go out and start researching and learning more about them to see how I might be able to do something similar or recreate them in a completely new way. Their stories were inspirational and empowering and most important, they shared passion and passed on courage to all of us as listeners.

These same concepts – storytelling, passion, courage – united the CMK participants. If we didn’t already, we all now have our own stories to tell from #CMK13 and I think we were all drawn to the Institute by our passion – for making, tinkering, and learning. That passion is what will continue to inspire us to share our stories with friends and colleagues both virtually and in-person so that we might be able to encourage others to dive into this “maker movement” they’ve heard about and bring it to their students too.

Finally, like the speakers we heard, I think everyone at #CMK13 has a good dose of courage that they pull on when they hit funding or ideological roadblocks, when they’re stuck on a project or feeling isolated and even getting pushback against integrating making into the classroom or curriculum. This courage is what will help bring making into professional development and into our classrooms! Are you ready to start? Let’s get Making!

 

Helping Others Hack Learning (and Coding)

Last week (#TeachTheWeb week 4), I had an opportunity to build a new Thimble project outlining my goals for teaching coding in kindergarten. Some of you might be surprised to hear kindergarten at the end of that sentence. I’ve heard some people say it’s way too young for kids to have to learn something like coding and I’ve heard others say that there’s no way such young children can grasp the concepts.

Code in K

My response is that, like everything else in early childhood, the key comes back to developmentally appropriate practice, which involves respecting the child’s interests and curiosities as well as her or his individual abilities and limits. Luckily, more and more resources are being developed that are developmentally appropriate for young children. For many years, Scratch has been a go-to resource for educators working with young children who wanted to be makers and creators of technology (and art, stories, music, and more!). Unfortunately, Scratch is specifically built for children age eight an older, although much younger students have used it (check out these examples).

While Scratch Jr. is in the works, other developers have been working hard to create games and tools to scaffold children’s learning of computer programming logic and problem solving, the true foundation of coding (see the resources embedded here). The DevTech group is even working on a coding language that can be constructed with physical, wooden blocks and read by a camera. Once students are exposed to these (potentially literal) building blocks, they can begin to work off of that foundation and create their own programs and games.

Tangible Coding Blocks using CHER-P.
Image credit: DevTech TangibleK

I built my Thimble project to help raise awareness about the fact that resources do currently exist for young children to learn the logic of programming and the basics concepts (e.g., what is a function, how to make an object/sprite move). I also wanted to share the tools I’ve found to support this learning so that others could use them as well and my hope was to then connect with other people who are doing similar work.

Over the summer, I plan to spend more time creating plans, finding resources, and talking with others interested in introducing coding to young children. Being part of Teach the Web has also inspired me to try and create more Thimble resources and maybe even an entire Hackable Kit that others can build off of and remix to work with different ages and groups. I realized that if I want my students (and colleagues) to be creating and remixing the web, I need to be modeling that work by constantly interacting and exploring hacker tools, coding the web myself, and sharing my work openly with a larger community. 

Why it’s Awesome to Be Hacked … in #TeachTheWeb

The second week of the Teach the Web MOOC focused on remixing. I was excited about this topic because it’s an area I’ve just begun to explore and engage with on the web. It’s interesting how infused remixing is into our daily work as children (e.g., re-making someone’s Lego creation or making  variations of a local building as a fort) or even adults (e.g., remixing a marketing approach to work for your brand) and yet how foreign it can feel when addressed head-on as the focus of an activity or lesson.

When I first thought about what type of project I would remix, I thought it would probably have to be a Popcorn video because the Thimble projects were all personal profiles/bios and they couldn’t really be changed – right?

Then, I joined the the weekly Twitter chat, which began with a focus on remixing. Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) asked a great question, “Can (should) we remix anything?” A number of participants discussed the nuances between remixing something with permission and remixing as a form of collaboration versus remixing as appropriation (with and without permission). When someone remixes your work that you’ve asked not to be changed using a Creative Commons license or when someone hacks in and makes changes for their own enjoyment at your loss, remix become a much less friendly word.

In contrast, @dogtrax took a direct request from me about wanting to be remixed and in true #TeachTheWeb spirit, created something awesome and inspiring. He even sent out a tweet and G+ message encouraging other MOOC participants to remix and hack my Thimble introduction. He created the page below using Mozilla’s X-Ray Goggles from the Hackasaurus Toolkit.

thimble-hack-1

And then Doug Waters remixed that remix!

thimble-hack-2

So of course, now inspired, I had to hack a Thimble page of my own! I chose someone from our #MiniMaker G+ Study Group. Here’s my update to Karen Young’s Thimble Intro:

karen_thimble_hack

After being hacked myself, I had a better understanding of the process and how creative I could be in doing it using someone else’s profile. I had a chance to consider how remixing could help me get to know a person better and how it can be an entry point for using a new tool. Similar to my experience remixing a project in Scratch for the #MediaLabCourse I learned more about the X-Ray Googles and what they’re capable of as well as more about Thimble, by remixing. I’m excited to try Popcorn for my next remixing project and to continue thinking about hacking as we move into week 3 of #TeachTheWeb and discussions of the Open Web.

I’m Helping to #TeachTheWeb – Join Me!

Yesterday, I dove into a new MOOC called Teach the Web started by Mozilla and created by a Webmaker Mentor Community of people around the world who are determined and passionate about helping people be empowered to “CREATE the web, rather than just consume it.”

They have a great intro video (that WordPress won’t let me embed) here:

mozilla video

I love the course motto: “Let’s teach the world the web. Together.”

That openness and community aspects are a key part of what drew me to this course, especially after realizing how value the support and relationships were to my learning and involvement in #etmooc.

With summer around the corner, I also like that the MOOC is not too long (9 weeks) and is explicit about the idea that people can participate as they’re able and join at anytime. I’m also excited because the topics align well with work I’m doing right now around examining the Maker Movement, makerspaces, learning to code, learning through doing/making, and integrating that work into education and life as a whole. As Mozilla says, one goal is that by the end of the MOOC, you will be empowered and interested to #teachtheweb #4life! 

To jumpstart my involvement with the MOOC, I participated in the live events yesterday, including a Live Stream conversation and a Twitter chat. I’m excited that Twitter chats will be a part of the experience because I think they’re a great way to get to know participants better and spark conversations/ideas that can be continued later in other spaces and ways. I also created a new Thimble project as my introduction. The project proved to be a great opportunity to practice more coding (I struggled a while to get the bullets look the way I wanted!) and apply some skills I’ve already learned.

my thimble profile

One of the things I’m most excited about are the Study Groups and the new Google+ community we started with people interested in discussing and learning more about how empower young learners (K-2nd Grade) to teach the web and engage in making. These MiniMakers are the future of the web and I think it’s important for them to have opportunities to engage in creative, open, and meaningful projects that let them create technology.

minimaker google plus logo

Are you working with young learners and interested in helping them become makers, coders, and creative learners? Join our group! After #etmooc, I can attest to the fact that being part of a community (and the shared inquiry, brainstorming, creation, and support that result from joining) is the best part of a connectivist MOOC.