Sunday, September 13, 2015

Computational Thinking: How does it fit?

I joined an online class called 'Computational Thinking for Educators", offered by Google this summer.  I am intrigued with the use of algorithms to make "work" easier.  In what ways (IWW) might facilitating computational thinking enhance learner engagement in 5th grade?  IWW might computational thinking assist learners in better understanding their world?  IWW might it enhance our work in the area of sustainability and design thinking?  Perhaps adding this "dimension" will better allow me to differentiate for my high ability learners as I have found current curricula to be lacking in substance designed to meet the needs of the intellectually gifted students.

Here is a cool tool that utilizes algorithms:  ngrams to use to track word or phrase usage over time and within different cultures.  My students are currently studying physical regions of Virginia.  Students ponder how human systems are impacted by location.  The word civilization comes to mind here.  Has the definition of civilization changed over time?  Would there be evidence in literature?  How might other cultures view the term civilization?  IWW might students develop an algorithm to track travel from region to region using different forms of transportation (aka Google Maps)?

This is where I will endeavor to begin using computational thinking with my students.  I must say this course has further solidified my recent theory:  the older I get, the less I know.   This course has added a new facet of learning for me.  Thanks PLN for introducing me to "Google school"!

Thursday, September 3, 2015


Why Do I Care So Much?
In my quest to flip open house I would not allow myself to worry about the technology pieces required to complete the job.  So, now that my plans have come to a screaming halt due to lack of access to the internet and a non-working SmartBoard, I am preparing plans B and C and wondering why I even considered the idea of flipping open house anyway?  Why do some folks jump right into integrating technology, or adopting a new curriculum, or taking on new initiatives?  Why do some folks not even open the curriculum update documents until later in the first quarter, if at all? 

I like to believe I am kid-friendly.  Not only do I have two kids of my own, but I was once a kid.  I disliked school with a passion.  One son feels that same about school as I did.  I seek to create the type of learning environment that honors all types of learners.  I don't want children to leave the room disliking school!  

This means I must respect the three key principles of good educational pedagogy: curriculum, classroom management, and instructional practices.  My philosophy also requires that I respect those that create the curriculum and provide access to training on instructional practices and classroom management.  I must respect what each child brings to my class.  I must try the things I am being asked to try, even if initial attempts fail. 

In my house, when new foods are presented we must all take 'no thank you" bites.  This means we must take a bite and if we don't like the bite then we say, "No thank you."  I care so much because I want to honor all who have gone before me.  I seek to honor those who have slaved over the new curriculums, those who have planned our welcome back to school activities, those who have built the very ramp that delivers children to my door!  I am willing to take the "no thank you" bite and at least try!

When a man assumes a public trust he should consider himself a public property. 
-Thomas Jefferson