Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A picture is worth a thousand words...

As a way to understand how my students view computer scientists, I asked them to draw a picture of a computer scientist or an image to represent computer science.  It was fascinating to see their perceptions and understandings come alive through a drawing.

I love how this student addressed misconceptions about what people think of when they think of computer scientists and then addressed those myths by including images of "tech women" and "tech man."

I love this drawing with the message that "anyone can do it!" and that computer scientists always have their "thinking cap" on.  Then there is the message that computer scientists are "always using their knowledge to think of new innovations." Last, but not least, computer scientists are today's superheroes!

Here's another representation with the message of iteration and perseverance.  "Computer scientists iterate until the achieve what they wanted to achieve!"

Sunday, January 10, 2016

There's an app (concept) for that!

Exciting news is that I just found out that my team was awarded Best in State in the Verizon App Challenge 2016 for 6th-8th grade.  I love this particular competition because it really provides the opportunity for my students to dream big and dream local at the same time.  Big in that they have the room to be creative with the app concept they propose and local in that they use their app-concept design to solve and address a local problem.  I am so inspired by all the entries found here - the students from all over are so incredibly creative, yet practical.  They are finding ways to solve real problems - an app that helps inform students about the various clubs on campus, one that will "protect our parks" and another that helps educate kids on managing money.  The ideas are as varied as the problems that exist.  No matter what the problem, though, it's clear that there's an innovative app-concept for that!

Here's a short video infomercial about my students' app called Happy Clean:

Sunday, January 3, 2016

One Word

With 2015 now behind me and already in 2016, I've had some time to reflect on my past 15 years of teaching.  The word that kept coming to me was the word 'urgent.'  There is an urgent need for me to continue to teach like I have never taught before.  An urgent need for me to continue to learn and develop professionally for my students who will be the next generation of innovators, inventors, problem-solvers.  Why this and why now?  Well, it all started with a parade, the Fiesta Bowl parade.  I was invited to be in the parade along with 9 other teachers.  As we were waving from on board our AZ historic vehicle, a red shiny fire engine, a parade volunteer shouted out to us while giving a thumbs-up - "Teachers have the most important job in America.  Go teachers!"  So, for all the teachers out there reading this - this is for you too!  Go you!

I was also given a gift in December - one that hearkens back to my very first class when my 4th grade students wrote me handwritten notes...

This time, it was a video featuring STEM in my classroom.  As I see and hear my students talking, the realization hits me again - the importance of my job and the urgency to provide them access to learning opportunities that will equip them with the mindset, understandings, and skills they need to create the future.