Friday, December 12, 2014

Together, Positive, In Chaos

It's been an amazing adventure: GiverCraft. We read The Giver by Lois Lowry; we joined the GiverCraft MineCraftEDU community. We built a community based on evidence from the story, then were thrown into chaos as the memories returned when Jonas, the Receiver, left, leaving the memories to be found around our GiverCraft community. We built the memories and shared them in snapshots of GiverCraft and in words that expressed our interpretations of the story: What if the memories returned to everyone?
Everything we did, we brought back in discussions to the text -- what would Jonas have done? the Giver? What would the other characters do? Why do you think so? How has the community changed? But we learned more than "find the central idea" and "use evidence from the story."
As we worked through our memories in the new chaos, the students were concerned that some of the players did not follow the agreement we had all signed, to play nicely and not interfere with others' work. Yes, we were thrown into chaos, but we asked the person to stop. We asked again. Each time, he said, "No." Twice he provided food, but most often, he interfered.  It was a difficult discussion for my students, many of whom know that life is not always easy and structured perfectly; that struggles and difficulties can happen daily by events beyond their control-- they are independent-minded and are expected to solve their own problems, and they are family-oriented and are expected to help each other. And here, in their game, where they had agreed to certain constraints, here were people who did not follow the norms to which our students agreed and followed. They had the power to help each other, but not to stop the problem. They were indeed in a "new world" from which they could learn about life.
"What do you think?" I asked.
"We think there should be rules."
"There should be rules for people who just do anything anytime even in others' places and stuff."
"The should go to 'grievers,' or be kicked out for the day."
"We can't stop him; there needs to be rules."
And they wrote about it:
We are like the Giver because they had rules just like us. There are rules so people don't go in to other peoples things. Also because if we didn't have rules people would do whatever they wanted.
If you find a house don't go in it because we need a law to not to break stuff.
There was some people who was throwing potions at my friend's horses and they ran away but we got them back and they were throwing invisibility harming; we should have a rule for no bad potions.
If I had to make a law about the new world it would be that you wouldn't be able to break block unless you were ask to break that block for the player and the consequence would be that you would be kicked from the games for two days.
I'm going to make a fence around my property and I'm going to make signs that say "please stay out or please don't destroy", please and thanks too. We have laws In the real world; they don't go on to other people's property without permission-- that you can, you can't hurt anybody but since we have nobody to tell us what to do people can do what ever they want. But In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn't have laws.
We have laws in the real world because if we didn't have the laws we wouldn't be learning in our schools right now. We have rules in Givercraft and we follow those rules because if we don't we wont be doing the project about the Giver. Also if we didn't have laws people would be able to do what ever they want to do and steal stuff, hurt people,and say mean words to everybody.
The students understood why we have rules and leaders, and they found ways to solve their problems in positive ways. This is learning beyond the stuff of standards; its learning in life.
One other school group was recognized for revolting against the elders [which would be unheard of in our real-world community -- elders are respected and cared for]. The players apparently wanted more freedom and captured the elders. I understand that sometimes rules interfere. But I also heard the voice of those during the chaos -- that in their efforts to survive, their work was hampered not just by the new memories, storms, and dark of night, but also by players intent on adding to the chaos. The students tried to have a meeting to consider their choices; they put up signs to protect their stuff, and they talked to the person. They felt powerless, and struggled with their desire to maintain their agreement and their frustration with not being able to form a community better than sameness: free, but with an agreement -- free to build with their memories, with the freedom to work through the memories, and without someone interfering. They did not want sameness, but they wanted freedom to work together.
So today was the last day to build memories, even with our intruder. And they felt good about their decisions to find positive ways to work together -- to collaborate -- around the extra chaos. That's an important lesson as well.
And today was the day we were honored with an interview in Google HangOut with the author, Lois Lowry. One student already reflected on the experience:
Scene 2 final day
Today we watched the interview with Lois Lowry. There was a lot of people there. The person [Lois Lowry] said that she based the books on her father. The father is forgetful because he forgot that his oldest daughter had die when she was 28 years old. A lot of the kids had to tell how they finished the memory and what they did to finish the memory.
The students heard the author's process, a "What if...." and imagining a character for the answer. They heard how the community of sameness developed:
[paraphrased from author] My family was in the military. We’d have a wall around the base and community and everything was orderly with lots of rules. Every evening a bugle would play. We’d have to stop what we were doing and stand at attention to watch the flag lower. It was filled with rules, no crime, but not like real life and that’s what I was thinking when I created the Giver.
They learned that many kids write to Lois Lowry about the book. “There could be love,” is a quote from the Giver and a tattoo on a boy’s arm; the boy sent her a book to be autographed with a return envelope.
They heard how to build memories, especially "a wedding memory," which helped them in their last play at GiverCraft.
We learned so much, thanks to GiverCraft and Lois Lowry and her book and interview. We learned how authors get ideas, we learned that sameness is "mean and boring," but that chaos is frustrating because "In the real world, people can do whatever they want If we didn't have laws." And we felt good about ourselves for choosing to work together in positive ways, as we had agreed. Because we learned from The Giver, "There could be love."

Thank you, Lois Lowry and GiverCraft.

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

#hourofcode Everyone Wins

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See yesterday's post for more information on "Hour of Code." 

Today students in grades five, six, seven, and eight completed our Hour Of Code. There could have been tech trouble. We had a back-up plan. There was some confusion. We know how to collaborate to solve the problems. Because we are persistent; we don’t give up. We have a mindset of “I can.”

Hadi Partovi is the founder of Hour of Code. One of the obstacles to improving education is mindset. Learning computer science needs a new mindset: we can, and we did! Watch this CBS interview in an Hour of Code Classroom to see what Hadi Partovi says:
 It's a mindset that Computer Science is hard.

But we did it. Every student was a winner, a successful coder to make that Angry Bird get that pig. Every student was a reader too -- reading the puzzle and debugging directions. Every student was collaborator -- offering assistance to each other so we could all succeed.

And every student said, "This is fun," not "This is hard." They are ready for more, and many responded with, "I'm doing this at home."

So think about it. There’s so much noise in the eduverse about transforming education so students are “college and career ready.” The students need to be prepared for their future — and that means an understanding of the workings of the devices and apps they use daily: computer science — code. Just one thing could do it: allow our students to be makers in the world; coders of the future -- as part of their literacy class.

Why? I watched today as everyone read. Everyone.  On their own. Wanting to read. And afterwards, they wrote about their experience. No complaints. MIT's Mitchel Resnik says
In the process of learning to code, people learn many other things. They are not just learning to code, they are coding to learn. In addition to learning mathematical and computational ideas (such as variables and conditionals), they are also learning strategies for solving problems, designing projects, and communicating ideas. These skills useful not just for computer scientists but for everyone, regardless of age, background, interests, or occupation.
Our kids wrote about their learning, and here are some of their reflections- their first thoughts about coding and coding to learn:
Coding is like solving a puzzle because it always has a new layout and as you advance it becomes more challenging, like if you move from a 500 piece puzzle to a 1000 piece.
Behind every click or swipe or touch on my phone is code.
I learned that code is very easy once you understand it, it exercises parts of your mind in a fun way, it opens up a new and faster way for finding answers.
Vocabulary words to know for coding: Repeat; The computer will repeat the command until you reach your destination.
 I liked how it challenged my way of thinking
 I learned coding is like playing a game because you have to use signals to turn left,right, and move forward.
Coding is like using commands to move forward or turn left or right because the codes are about commands
Coding is like…math because it takes time to get the problem done.
Behind every click or swipe or touch is…a code.
I learned that…coding is hard because you don't know what the code will be until you try.
Coding is like a puzzle because you have to figure out the code to pass the level and it does involve thinking.
Behind every click or swipe or touch on our devices is just commanding the game and controlling the device.
 You have to be precise.
I like that we get to understand coding and get to learn about computer science and you can use it in the future. 
Coding is like reading a book because the codes mean a different word.
I liked the way the web site challenges your brain.
I learned that coding looks complicated but it is not hard.
And, they want to continue at home --- reading directions and writing code.

So yes-- today, we took our first step in our middle school. We have a mindset of curiosity. We were anxious, and expectant. We were unsure, and hopeful. We were confused, but open. We. Were. Ready. We — a class together, and a learning community ready to understand the code behind the devices we use every day: computers, smart phones, tablets, apps, Facebook! And the code behind the things that help us in our lives: planetary rovers, medical devices, monitors, etc.

So what are you waiting for?  Try it: Hour of Code Part One You'll be a winner too!

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Hour of Code! We're joining!

Hour of Code at Nespelem School

Students in grades five, six, seven, and eight will learn a bit of code this Wednesday as we join millions of other students in "Hour of Code" for Computer Science Education Week. We're going to see the code behind "Angry Birds" as we write the code to make that angry bird move using logic and as few steps as possible. We'll learn repeat times, repeat until, and repeat else commands. Don't know these? Then take some time to do your own Angry Birds Hour of Code. Every one should have access to learn code, and everyone should know something about the bits behind the things we do every day -- Facebook, Cell Phones, Browse the Internet. So...

We're part of the Hour of Code! Are you on the map? Sign up now.

This is a school related site so please respect others and comment appropriately. Please contact Ms Edwards if you have any questions or need to report any inappropriate activity. Thank you. Reflect Curiosity and Wonder... Go boldly and scatter seeds of kindness...