Saturday, June 20, 2015

From the Man in the Taupe Blazer

Fascinating article I just read that I wanted to share...
What is code?  by Paul Ford  Read HERE

Love these quotes:

"Code has been my life, and it has been your life, too. It is time to understand how it all works."

"The code is the art."

"Every day is Arbor Day in Codeville."

The whole article reminded me of one of my third grade students.  A few years ago, when she first started coding, she was struck by the realization that if she understood how computers think, she can show them how she thinks.  

Monday, June 8, 2015

Making a Difference, the Amplify way

Since the Nepal disaster, I was seeking for ways to bring this into my classroom and when I came across the Amplify Challenge, I had found it.  The Refugee Education Challenge calls for us to tackle the following issue found here:
How might we improve learning and expand education opportunities for refugees around the world?

I thought this would be a powerful way for my students to connect on a visceral level with the events occurring not only in Nepal, but in warzones and other disaster-hit zones.  For them to see that not every child has access to a free, high-quality education is eye-opening and for them to see an opportunity to contribute their ideas even more so.  This was a novel experience for them to apply the concept of human-centered design to a real-world issue.  The first step?  Researching and brainstorming solutions to one of five challenges facing refugee education:
1.  Supporting teaching and learning
2.  Vocational training and entrepreneurship
3.  Informal knowledge exchange
4.  Overcoming trauma
5.  Transforming school environments

We watched the video on the site and discussed the challenges refugees face.  From the need to provide emotional support to providing a safe place for the children, they got a glimpse into the far-reaching impact of this challenge.

I added a link to a Today's Meet where my students could share ideas.  They then worked in groups to brainstorm answers to the questions.  I love this Brainstorm in a Box template found here.

When asked what excites them about this challenge:
"This idea excites us because it allows us to create many opportunities for refugees to regain their previous life."
"This idea excites me because of how amazing we have it and how we can help other people. "
"That we can help other people."

Their ideas ranged from providing online classes, to helping them travel out of danger zones on zeppelins...oh, and to have a school-on-wheels where teachers could visit and teach in remote areas on an as-needed basis.

In reflecting on this whole experience, I was reminded of how often I have heard the term "global village." This type of experience really sheds some new light on what this means.  It's amazing to me that my students can now participate in a global effort to share their ideas to possibly make a difference in the lives of refugees halfway around the world.  After all, that's what a village does - supports one another in times of need and works together to improve life for all.