Thursday, May 22, 2014

Do You Know Your Students?
Yesterday, I had to opportunity visit a Jennifer Leigh's @jen_leigh1 lunchtime coding club for 3rd graders in a elementary school in my district. The students were so excited to share their learning with me. They wanted to take me step by step through the creation process. They shared what programming languages they liked best and why. They talked about how they used other student's work to build their games off of. They knew to give the students they borrowed their work, credit. The coders talked about how they wanted to learn more about Scratch so that they could make more interesting games. They were reflecting on their work and the process of learning to code freely and authentically.

The Code Club was a hive of activity. Students working together, helping each other, going to Khan Academy to get more skills, creating new games based on their favorites.  They even knew which student was "huge on Scratch" because he had created lots of games that other Scratch lovers liked to play. I loved seeing students so excited about learning in school. Persevering through trial and error to create programs.

This has been a busy week for student creations for me.

Over the weekend, we hosted a sleepover, and O and Dylan, my nephew and my son created a video with a side by side screen perspective so that the viewers could "get the full experience". Both boys are 10. They used my computer to screencast their Minecraft Mini-Game, using Quicktime, then, used iMovie to edit the movie into a side by side view with audio, transitions, and titles. They even learned how to create a thumbnail for the video, using to "Make it look professional".  We even had a discussion about copyright of images and their digital footprint in an authentic, teachable moment kinda way.

These boys used tools that they had little to no experience using to create a well edited video with just my guidance. They persevered through the tech to create the finished product that they had in their mind's eye. They used Google Search to figure out what to do. They problem solved together. They were excited to create the video and could not get it on Youtube fast enough so that O's subscribers could revel in the creation! They must have checked their views 10 times throughout the next two days to read comments and see their view numbers. (If you view their video, feel free to comment on their will make their day!)

Why is any of this important?

These students are all 10 years old or younger. They are all creating digital content for audiences that are larger than their classrooms. They are all craving feedback from their audience. They are all creating in digital tools that they need to learn to create their projects. They are all persevering and embracing failure because their are working on their passions. Do these students have this opportunity outside of their Code Club or their homes?

If students are excited about creating at home, could we as educators not leverage their passion to "trick"  them learn content in the classroom?
Simply getting to know our students would help us learn about their skills. Do you know what your students are passionate about outside of school? Do you let them bring their passions into the classroom? Do you allow creation in your room?

Packets are not engaging. Worksheets don't allow feedback from an audience. Answering teacher generated questions does not help students learn.

Let them use their mad skills to create. Let them have choice. And they will happily learn.

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