Category Archives: making

Making and Learning

Instead of thinking about teaching on Tuesday, I spent my day thinking about learning.  On the plane Tuesday morning I sat next to a young family who had vacationed in San Diego to go to Legoland with their two young boys…and got stuck Monday night because of the domino effect of the weather in the midwest and east coast.  For being pretty tired, the boys were great.  The littlest guy (maybe 3 or 4) was playing a game on his DS system.  Whenever he got “stuck,” he would hand the game system up to his older brother (who was maybe 5) in the seat in front of him and ask for help.  Brother would play the troublesome spot and then hand the game back and little guy would go on with his play.  After his brother tired of helping, mom would help…and coach as she did so.

At the same time I was reading Invent to Learn, a book about the maker movement and the value of engaging learners in meaningful activity to maximize learning.  It begins with the theory behind making as learning…including information about Piaget, Montessori, Dewey, Vygotsky, the Reggio Emilia system, and folks at MIT, including Seymore Papert.  The book emphasizes what they call the constructionist (rather than the constructivist) theory of learning.  Their argument is that through the concrete construction of meaningful projects, learners gain rich, layered skills that serve them in school and beyond.  They also emphasize the value of play.

I landed in Oakland and made it on time for my 9:00 meeting at the National Writing Project offices in Berkeley with a small group of like-minded educators interested in the maker movement, interested in the intersections of literacy and science and STEM-related learning, interested in meaningful learning, both in and out of schools, for young people in their community. We gathered to consider ways schools and writing projects might collaborate with other organizations to further these goals.

I wrote about my experience in Boston with paper circuitry here, and today we met with Jen Dick and David Cook to continue to build our relationship and thinking about the ways writing and circuitry enhance each other and might support student learning in and out of schools.  We began by talking about our own experiences with paper circuitry and the benefits and barriers to bringing it to our own contexts.  Lou had managed to secure some LED stickers from Jie in Boston and returned to his high school class in Northern California where he introduced his students to the paper circuitry project.  He described the success and excitement his students experienced and what he learned from both his students and his own children who also tried out the process.

We took our circuitry learning a step further and programmed mini controllers to make our LED lights blink on and off at intervals we selected.

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We also learned about some other exciting new developments on the horizon for merging the science of circuits, technology with programming, and writing.  I still find myself thinking mostly about what students learn when they make a plan and then need to troubleshoot and iterate to get it to work the way they intend.  Systems thinking is a powerful tool that we employ throughout our lives across subject matter and circumstances.

Jie, the designer of the LED stickers, also Skyped with us after we worked with the circuits and we all thought together about how these stickers impact the experience of working with the circuits..and with the the experience of the creating of writing and imagery with the lights.  I appreciate Jie’s attention to the aesthetic experience of composing writing and art and how it is enhanced or impeded by the circuits rather than putting the circuits themselves at the front of the project.  By considering the work as a whole…light and drawing and writing…she reminds us that it is the integration of these elements that create the meaningful result.

The morning ended with the group thinking about how we might put these LED stickers to use back in our classrooms and at our writing project sites.  There was much more to the day…but that will have to be another post.

And I am left thinking about learning.  Those little boys on the plane, the book I was reading, my experience programming to create a blinking light all remind me that the best of learning is meaningful, active and interactive, and collaborative.  Even though I understand the basics of circuitry, sitting next to Peter and examining his working circuit informed my thinking…and since I ran out of time before completing my mini project, I will finish it on my own, at home. I’m confident that I know how to make it work and if I do run into a problem, Peter and my others colleagues are just a tweet or email away.  If you want to see Peter’s finished mini project, see his Vine here.

I can’t wait to share my experiences with my students and with my colleagues.  I look forward to exploring all the ways that writing can enhance and expand this circuitry work along with how the circuitry and lights can add another dimension to the writing.

Making and Learning into the New Year!

2013 has been a year of making for me.  It’s not that I haven’t made things in the past…but this last year I have been making things with the focus less about the product and more about what I learn through the making process.  And throughout my making, I’m also thinking about my students and how they might approach a similar make…and what they might learn from the process.

Photography has been a focus of my making this year.  I’ve gone from taking pictures to crafting photos and creating images…and I love the way that the focus on photography and continually working to improve my craft influences the way I view the world and think about learning and making.

So tonight, on New Year’s Eve, I am enjoying a quiet evening at home with my husband, youngest son, and daughter-in-law.  The fire is roaring in the fireplace, the house is filled with delicious smells, and we’re catching up on stories of all the time we spend away from one another since they live in another city.

And…with my son’s help, I made my first stop motion video!

We started with a basic concept based on fireworks on New Year’s (after he showed me a few examples by making some quick stop motion videos in front of me using found items in the living room).  Using a combination of drawing and paper cut outs, we prepared our materials before starting to film.

Together we created our video shooting frame after frame as we built up the motion, carefully moving elements for each shot.  Our goal was not a fancy professional level video–but instead something that my students would be able to do on their iPads.  We shot the entire video on my phone using the imotion HD app.

Since we had shot the video with a white paper background, we searched for ways to invert the colors and make the background black to give the video an evening sky quality.  We looked for apps to use to create the effect, but finally gave up and used After Effects on my son’s computer.  (My students wouldn’t have this ability–but I may also find out about some other apps before then!)

Finally, I loaded the video to Youtube, edited it to loop (since it was only 4 seconds long) and added some New Year’s music from the Youtube library…and voila!

I know I will need to spend some more time trying out stop motion for myself and experimenting with the possibilities.  But already, I know enough to be able to get my students started! Our only problem in the classroom is figuring out how to fit in all the learning and making we want to be doing!  There is simply not enough time in the school day…or in the school year for all the learning we want to be doing!

Happy New Year to all of you!  What did you make and learn on this last day of 2013?  What plans for making and learning do you have for 2014?  If you have any advice for making stop motion videos with students, I’d love to hear it!

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P.S.  If you are interested in trying out a photo-a-day challenge and need some prompts to get you started, check out the photo-a-day prompts we are using in January by clicking here.

Making Time for Making

We’ve been doing a lot of making in our classroom this past week and a half.  Snowflakes, poinsettias, Hopscotch projects…  It’s not that we don’t make at other times, but it seems that we have really gotten in the flow of making lately.

I love it when we can give ourselves and our students the time to plan, design, improve, and finalize a project.  Our snowflakes were just such a project.  Math and science, reading and writing, along with problem solving and some systems thinking all came together to create animal shaped snowflakes that will be accompanied by original snowflake poems later this week.

I wrote about the start of the project here and the value of tenacity and iteration for students.  Our students had at least four opportunities to create their snowflake designs–with time to study their own and others’ attempts in between.  And yesterday, all of our students successfully created an animal-shaped snowflake of their own design.  (We did not provide templates, although we did help the few students who needed some additional scaffolding.)

Here are a few examples…and remember these students are 6, 7, and 8 years old!

If you look closely you will notice a moose, a giraffe, a squirrel, and a lizard in these four designs.

Students also created winter scenes using computer programming yesterday.  You can read about it here.  And then today, in addition to writing about snowflakes, we began assembling the poinsettias we are making from the paper we painted on Monday.

They still need their finishing touches…but already are beautiful!  And students have learned a lot about poinsettias and a bit about their history.  (The Ecke family, locals from our area, established themselves as primary producers of poinsettias around  the world!)

But what I love best about this making is the productivity and collaboration from our students.  They love making…and once they get past the fear of failure, are willing to take risks and try new ideas to improve their products.  And we see evidence of students taking these ideas home and trying them out there.

One of our students came in this morning with a huge snowflake…a good three feet across…that she made at home.  She had talked her mom into a trip to Michaels to get the big paper that she designed (a butterfly), cut and decorated…and then brought to school so we could see what she had done.

I know there are people who might call these activities “fluff” and complain that this isn’t real learning.  For those people, I wish they could see the energy and enthusiasm, the collaboration and problem solving…and all the reading, writing, math, science and history that are learned in the process of the making.

Have you made time for making lately?

Hour of Code

Coding, programming…words that are used to describe the process of “speaking” a machine language.  This week classrooms and schools all over are participating in the Hour of Code, an attempt to get 10 million students to try computer science for an hour during Computer Science Education Week.

If you read this blog you already know that we have been working on computer programming using the Hopscotch app for a while now.  (See here, here, and here)  So in honor of the Hour of Code, we decided to pose a Winter Scene Design Challenge for our students.

Today was the day.  Students were asked to create a scene using Hopscotch that depicts some aspect of winter.  As you might expect, students thought snow, snowmen, Christmas trees, and more.  They were super excited…with my speech students arranging to get out of speech (something they love!) so they could be part of the challenge.

And there were many highlights today–lots of successes, lots of students genuinely collaborating with one another and supporting each other without teacher direction.  But my favorite moment was Esther.  Esther is an 84 year old grandmother who lives in Australia and visits her daughter in our town each year in the winter.  I taught her grandson and granddaughter many years ago (they are both college students now) and Esther has continued to come to our classroom several days a week when she is in town to help out and hang out.

As Esther began to watch the students at work on their winter scenes, I asked her if she would like to try it too.  I handed her my iPad and asked Sophie if she would show Ms. Esther how Hopscotch (and the iPad) worked.

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Esther was delighted!  And so was Sophie.  It is wonderful for my students to see the embodiment of lifelong learning…and Esther is just that!

An article I read recently points out the advantages of learning to code:  problem solving, (digital) confidence, and understanding the world.  And I see those advantages when my students work to program.  They also learn about systems…and working through the many variables to figure out why their plan isn’t working as they imagined.  They become persistent and learn the value of iteration.  Each mistake becomes another opportunity for learning rather than a sign of failure.

Here are a few examples of students’ winter scenes:

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A first grader who figured out how to use o’s as text features for eyes and nose on his snowman.

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A second grader’s winter tree.

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A third grader’s winter scene.

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A peppermint candy created by a third grader.

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And a holiday greeting card, Hopscotch style!

You can see that students are gaining confidence and expertise with this programming tool. Most of these projects were completed in less than 30 minutes and they represent only a fraction of the programming that was happening in the classroom today.  Some of our students are still struggling while others can’t wait to go home and try some more programming on their own time.

Next week we plan to have student-led tutorials where students will teach and learn from each other in small groups.

How was your Hour of Code?  What did students learn and create?

Opportunities to Iterate

My teaching partner and I have been working with our students on coding this year (see here and here and here).  We’ve figured out how to make coding a regular part of our week…and our students are having success with planning, creating, and debugging.  We’re planning a “winter scene” challenge for next week to celebrate the Hour of Code…more about that next week.

Related to this coding effort is our goal of helping students to cultivate “grit” and to see mistakes as learning opportunities.  (See It’s the Little Things for more on grit.)

So this week in addition to our digital work as programmers, we have given students a design challenge…making snowflakes.

These southern CA kids have limited experience with snow (as do I), but learning about snowflakes is fascinating.  We started by reading Snowflake Bentley about Wilson Bentley–a man obsessed with photographing snowflakes using a camera attached to a microscope (back before the technology was very developed).  He showed a tremendous amount of tenacity and grit in his efforts…and finally published his book of snowflake photos when he was 66 years old.

We knew that creating hexagonal snowflakes (by cutting paper) would be challenging for our students, but we decided that this purposeful opportunity to iterate…study mistakes and learn from them for their next attempt, would be a perfect platform for helping to build grit and tenacity.

And then to add to the challenge, inspired by Zoo Flakes ABC, our students are creating hexagonal snowflakes in the shape of animals.  Yesterday they learned to fold and began drawing their animal to cut.  Today they tried out their design by cutting out their animal. There were many failures–unconnected pieces that looked nothing like animals or snowflakes, whiny “this is hard” comments, and requests for help cutting (we deferred, reminding  them it was a perfect opportunity for practice).  There were some semi-successes with 6 intact “arms” of something like an animal shape.  And there was lots of concentration and studying of the results.

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We studied our successes and failures…and then looked at some more “expert” attempts online.  We considered ways to improve even those attempts that were “successful” (in the sense that a snowflake-like shape resulted).  And students are ready to try again tomorrow.

But best of all there were no tears and everyone gave it a try today.  Our students were focused on their design and their cutting…and desperately want their snowflakes to work out.

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We’re excited about this project…and all that our students will gain from these iterative efforts.  I’ll let you know more as we progress through this project!

What do you do to help your students study their mistakes and try again?

Picture Perfect

Today was one of those picture perfect November days…if you like sunshine and mild temperatures.  And it was a perfect day to play around with taking pictures.

You’ve probably noticed that I love the beach…and so when my son and daughter-in-law wanted to take their dog–a chihuahua named Elli–to the beach, I was eager to go with them.

After a bit of research to find which nearby beaches allow dogs…on leashes…we headed off with Elli and her leash.  This was Elli’s first beach outing, and she loved it!

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And I was also on the lookout for other interesting photo opportunities as we walked and Elli explored.  I love this scatter of shoes on the shore while the family dipped their toes in the (cold) ocean.

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I wonder where the paragliders (the ones with motors) take off from.  This guy was cruising the beach from high overhead…but I doubt that he came from the glider port in La Jolla.  It seems more likely that he took off from the beach.

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And I decided to play around with some apps too.  I just got a new app that lets you adjust the depth of field.  That seems to mean that you can focus on a particular place/item and the other areas get blurry.  It also has some filters that create interesting effects.  Here is little girl who was working at balancing on this surfboard in the shallows.

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Sketch also creates some interesting effects…and works better on some pictures than others.  I like how crisp and visible the signs on the lifeguard tower are when it become a sketch.

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For this piece of kelp I played around with the HDR effect in PicsArt.  It seems to make the image crisp and brings out the graininess of the sand.

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Even spending the majority of my life in this city, I am continually awed by its beauty.  I’ve been hearing the news stories about the storms and snow and ice in the midwest and the east and feeling a bit guilty about our beautiful, warm and sunny days this week.  It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow for Thanksgiving, but who can really complain about low to mid 60’s on Thanksgiving?

Wherever you are, I hope you have the opportunity to enjoy your place for its own beauty…and if you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you are surrounded by those you love as you appreciate all that the day brings.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Systems Thinking

In addition to learning about circuits in the Hacking Your Notebook session, that I described here, at the NWP Annual Meeting in Boston, I also had the opportunity to participate in a three-hour workshop about e-textiles where we made puppets.  This session also involved the basics of circuitry and using a small battery to light up LEDs.

But Melissa and Kylie framed their session in the theory of systems thinking, which has continued to occupy my mind and thoughts ever since I left the session.  They talked about the ways we often simplify explanations in our society by turning to a binary cause and effect model.  Here’s an example of the cause and effect model: if we elect a new president, then the economy will turn around.  Actually, there are many other factors that impact the end result…and in fact, who is president may not even be the most important factor.

Our educational system (and our government) seems to spend a lot of time in the simple cause and effect model, rather than helping our students think more deeply about systems and the ways there are multiple factors, interconnections, and possibilities at work in the outcomes we see.  So the making of puppets in this workshop was about more than learning how circuits work or developing language and writing related to the puppet, it was also a way to think about systems and the problem solving and iteration that it takes to understand and make changes to the overall system.

So…with systems in mind, we proceeded to explore circuits with a watch battery, LED lights, and wired alligator clips.  Because of my work with circuits the day before, this part was super easy!  And then they asked us to explore how a switch would work.  It didn’t take much to figure out how to touch the switches to each to open and close the circuit, lighting the LED, and then separating them to turn off the light.

Our goal was to make a puppet that had a light (or two) that would light when you turn on the switch (or make a connection that closes the circuit and turns on the light).  We had two pieces of felt cut out in a puppet pattern, a battery holder, a LED light, and two switches (small pieces of conductive material) along with a host of buttons, ribbons, fabric, yarn, and other materials to use to decorate the puppet.

We began by making a plan.  Tracing our puppet on paper, we drew a diagram of where we would sew our battery holder, LED light(s), and switches, labeling the +/- poles and drawing in the stitches we would sew in with conductive thread.  Having our model in front of us to plan was a perfect step.  We could test and physically trace how the connections should flow as we drew the diagram.

Like in yesterday’s post, there were trickier plans I could have tried, but I opted for a simple plan that I knew I could complete in the time allotted.  And then I got to work.

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As people worked through their plans and settled into sewing their circuit the room hushed and you could see the intensity of engagement.

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For some the sewing was the hardest part, for others it was working through the circuitry, and for others it was totally about creating the puppet character they had in mind.  Here’s my end result…his heart lights up when his hands touch.

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There are definitely some things I would do differently the next time I make a puppet.  I learned after I had sewn my circuit in that putting the hands together covered the light…you can see a glow, but it isn’t the effect I had in my head.  Other people were working on pirates and butterflies, some with eyes that lit, some with noses that lit.

And my takeaway has much more to do with systems thinking than it has to do with circuits. I find that I have a better grasp of how to explain some of the approaches I use in my classroom.  Like why design is so important to student learning, why mistakes are valuable to learning…if you take the time to work through what you did and figure out a better outcome, and why students need space to create their own plans and work through the spaces where things are not working the way they intend.

It also has me thinking about other learning opportunities.  I learned to sew as a child, and making clothes and other project definitely involves some systems thinking.  You have to think fabric, including weight, texture, stretch…  Even using a pattern, you have to think about how to lay out the pattern to make best use of the fabric, work with the grain, match the design if the fabric has one…

I’m worried when we make things in the classroom too “neat” that we are working harder and learning more than our students.  That’s one of the things I love best (and hate the most) about teaching writing.  When it’s at its best, it’s messy.  I can have an overall plan in mind for the outcome, but my students benefit from getting “just right” instruction along the way.  And not all my students need the same instruction…and some benefit from learning by watching and listening to their classmates.

After all, the classroom is another system.  When you tweak one aspect, there are many working parts that are impacted.  As an educator it’s important to problem solve and iterate.  It is impossible to make a year-long (or even week-long) plan that won’t change if you are really paying attention to the needs of your students.  We can help break things down for our students, but they also need to figure out how to examine the pieces of a system for themselves in order to understand how the parts interact with the whole.  After all, our students today will be the leaders of tomorrow!

What do you do in the classroom to help your students understand and work through the complexities of systems?

Lighting a Spark

In my last blog post (here) I touched on that idea of work and play and the way that they are often interconnected in the way I experience my life and work.  And as I am thinking through some of my conference experiences, I see the blurriness…and maybe even more than that, the overlap of work and play.

When one of my colleagues asked me about what sessions I intended to attend at the conference, I told her that I was planning to make my selections based on what sounded interesting and fun rather than what I “should” do for the good of my writing project site or someone else’s expectations.  I was already pre-registered on Friday for a session about Scratch, the platform designed for teaching computer programming to kids, and a session on e-textiles involving puppet making and circuitry.

When I arrived at the welcome event for the National Writing Project Annual Meeting on Wednesday, I was drawn to a table near the door loaded with little notebooks…that upon closer examination had copper foil, watch batteries and LED lights.  Chatting with David, I learned about Jie’s graduate work and interest in the intersections between art, writing, and engineering.  Right away I knew that Jie’s session was one that I would prioritize!

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After two other sessions where I presented, a stimulating and thought-provoking plenary panel (more on that later), and a networking lunch, I headed off to the session with Jen, David, and Jie called Hacking the Notebook.

You could feel the energy surging in the room as we were handed notebooks, copper tape, a battery, and LED lights.  We listened to Jie share some of her work and thinking behind the idea of “lighting up” notebooks and stories and doodles…of combining science, technology, engineering and math with literacy and art (that STEM to STEAM connection).  She showed us an amazing work of art she created of dandelions that you could blow on to light up the puffs of white fluff.  (I encourage you to take the time to view this vimeo)

And then she walked us through the template she had created to teach about circuitry in these little notebooks that are a combination of background theory, documentation of Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards, instructional diagrams, sandbox for experimentation, engineering notebook…and more!

Our first task was to follow specific instructions and a diagram to lay down the copper tape, attach the LEDs, and then attach the battery to make the lights light up.  We followed a very specific diagram while learning (or being reminded) about the basics of circuitry.  That part was pretty easy…we just had to make sure that the pluses and minuses were facing in the right direction, that foil touched the electronics and didn’t touch places that would make a short.  And when we were successful, turning the page resulting in the light shining through the page and illuminating a lightbulb that we were then invited to draw and write around.

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And that’s when the task took us to the next level of thinking.  Taking what we had just learned about circuitry, we turned the page and were to create our own light up design with copper and bulbs.  We had a number of lights…so were encouraged to move beyond our simple experimentation of the previous page.  Jie encouraged us to notice how the copper tape could curve and how pieces could combine to create whatever we could imagine.  And…we had to remember how to make the lights go on.  I tried to get a bit tricky, adding two lights in a series…carefully lining up the poles to ensure it would work.  And it didn’t!  What was wrong?  Was it a connection (or lack of connection), an overlap that redirected the current, too much demand by the lights to allow a single battery to power them?

Problem solving and iteration became essential as I traced and retraced my circuits.  I consulted with my tablemates and observed their works-in-progress.  And I enlisted the help of Eunice, a graduate student helping out in the session.  With Eunice’s help I figured out that the serial circuit was likely requiring more power that my battery had to offer (my first light in the series would light, but the second stubbornly refused to light, even after making adaptations).  She suggested I try a parallel circuit design instead, explaining how if the lights were side by side they would require less energy to light.

And after more iteration and problem solving, I got both lights to light up!

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But what I wasn’t able to accomplish in that short, 90-minute session was both the science and a creative story-driven project.  I knew that for me, I wanted to focus on figuring out how to make my lights work and consider the possibilities before working on the story.  I struggle with the “creativity on demand” mode…but do have some more copper tape and lights…and my battery, so I plan to go home and do some more exploration on the creative, art and language-based, side of my project to combine with my knowledge of circuitry.

But my experience was not everyone’s experience.  Some people knew exactly where their stories and drawings would begin…and followed them as they experimented with their copper and lights.  And some people were so flummoxed by the science that progress was slow and frustrating.

In talking with Jie later that evening at the social event she said that she had learned a lot by working with us.  Writing project teacher leaders do a lot of meta-narrative thinking and talking, examining their own processes and experiences in service of the work they do with students and teachers.

And I did ask her how that dandelion art works since I couldn’t figure out how blowing would make lights go on!  She said the lights were connected to sound sensors and the blowing caused the sensors to hear the breath, like wind, and cause the lights to illuminate!

I can’t wait to get home and lay out my supplies and think and work through a piece of writing and art that will light up.  And I can’t wait to share this work with others as I consider how I might do this with students…my own and/or others that we might work with through the writing project.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

If you’re interested, here is page that lists the supplies and where you can get them.  I’d love to know what you create and discover when you play with circuits and lights in your notebook!

Planning for Coding

You might remember that I’ve been exploring computer programming (or coding) with my young students.  You can go back here and here to see our early attempts.  The basic idea is clear…you write code to make your electronic device do something.  At first, ANY something was fun.  And then we all learned to make a specific something (square and triangle).

Today we asked students to make a plan for their code and then carry it out.  They drew a quick sketch (we reminded them to keep it simple and to use what they already knew about squares and triangles to get started) in their notebook and then move to Hopscotch on the iPad to carry it out.

I showed them how I had gone home and figured out how to write my very simple name with straight lines and angles similar to those we had used to make our squares and triangles.

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What I’ve learned is that not all students take to coding equally…and that doesn’t surprise me.  Some students find it hard…and they are at a loss of how to proceed.  I encourage them to study what they have done before, but they need more of the one to one support of having someone sit and talk them through their choices.  Others are quite persistent.  This first grade boy worked and worked to draw this house.  He struggled with the final side, and while it’s not quite straight…he was proud of his accomplishment!

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Lots of girls liked my idea of drawing letters or writing their own name.  This second grade girl figured out how to make several characters come together to make an “E” to represent her name.

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And others risked creating something more complex.  This third grader managed to create a picture along with some words of a story.  I got him to take this screen shot for me, but after that he was still adjusting his code and working to make it look just the way he wanted.

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I love the way that programming allows students to work at their own edge…and teach each other as they figure out something new.  We ran short of time today, but I know that I want to give students time to share how they made their designs with each other (and me).

Using Hopscotch makes me realize just how much more I need to know about angles and rotation in order to get past the basics of squares and triangles!  I just figured out how to make a circle as I was waiting for a dinner meeting tonight!

Have you tried Hopscotch or another basic programming tool?  What do you suggest as next steps for my students?

Reflections: a Photoessay

I’m fascinated with reflection. Both the mental version and the physical version. Reflections appear in many surfaces…mirrors, metals, through shade and shadows…and in my favorite medium, water.

I love the idea of the way water captures the way reflection works with learning. Reflecting is a way of reinforcing and internalizing your learning. Taking time to think about why the learning matters and making connections to other experiences enriches learning.

Reflection is not the literal mirror image of seeing exactly what you experienced. Instead, reflection is the processing of experience. Like with peering into water, everything around you impacts the learning. The wind, the current, the life within the water…even the angle you take when you take a look.

I also love to play with reflection in my photographs. Sometimes I intentionally look for ways to capture reflection, but more often than not, I notice the reflection after taking the photo.

Here are a few of my favorites…

I love to capture birds on the beach.

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And the surprise of the cliffs reflected when I was trying to capture these birds.

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This fisherman has such a feeling of timelessness and captures the quiet and solitary beauty of individual focus.

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And I’m not limited to the beach. I love the ways the redwoods are captured in this stream. (I also love the colors of the fall leaves floating in the water!)

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And even at the zoo there are opportunities for reflection!

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These photos remind me that taking time for reflection matters. There is beauty and meaning in looking back to look forward. I’m reminded to pay attention to the angles, to consider the environment, and to be aware of the life within…in my photography and in my life.

How do you make time for reflection? Do you create opportunities for your students to reflect?