Learner for Life

Buttons. Bring on the Buttons.

A knitting buddy mentioned buttons. Buttons on headbands, to be specific.

Yes, please!

She told me about a sweet little knitting store in town called, Itsy-Bitsy Yarn Store, I have yet to explore.

I guess I’ll just have to go for a little look-see tomorrow, qui?!

Yay!

 

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Coding for dummies. Or Mummies, rather.

I hear around me constantly – at work, in research papers, on Twitter and social media – that coding for children is the way of the future. But is it really? It certainly could be but I just didn’t know enough about the value coding has for our young people to know if the movement to raise young coders is about preparing a workforce, or offering a new opportunity for them to view and understanding the contemporary world they live in…maybe both, I suppose.

So the other week I purchased an Ozo bot for my 7-year-old son, Jack, as a Christmas gift. It was too good a deal not to pass on and it has a Groot skin on it, ta boot! He had a phenomenal Kindergarten teacher, Mr. Hyde, who has his MEd in Educational Technology and is a whiz at incorporating fun and meaningful tech learning opportunities for the little ones at his home school. It was through Mr. Hyde that Jack first learned about and played around with Ozobots. Jack fell in love. He was engaged and curious…Y’all know how much a love when kids are curious. He tried to explain everything he understood about how they worked to me, but having no coding experience I didn’t really know how to make sense of the details he was giving me. That was last year. We’ve seen them around town in a few places and he always notices them and starts into telling me how cool they are each time. We’ve even sat down to check out kids using them on YouTube. So, I ceased the opportunity when I saw one and didn’t have the boys underfoot keeping a watchful eye on me in the toy store.

Now I have this feeling like I have a responsibility to learn what I can so that we can play and learn together when he unboxes it Christmas morning.

Before I dig into how they work I wanted to first understand why coding for kids is a positive thing…or rather, if it is. Why would I want my 7-year-old to have access to another device?…and that said, we are mindful of exposure to tech vs. self-directed play and exploration. Do we want to introduce more gadgets?

I dug around the interweb and read everything I could. I watch a few videos and poked here and there. Brian Aspinall sees to have put together what I think is a comprehensive – but not unnecessarily a cumbersome list of WHY kids should code.

In Aspinall YouTube video titled 10 Reasons Kids should Lear to Code, he makes the case for just that.

He says coding teach kids to…

  1. Visualize abstract concepts. They learn to apply problem-solving strategies to abstract concepts, & math to real life situations.
  2. Understand the vaule of planning, which helps develop writing skills.
  3. Expand creativity through experimentation.
  4. Build confidence through the problem-solving process.
  5. Naturally, develop better focus and organization skills as they develop more complicated code.
  6.  Develop perseverence and resilience by working through the inevitable problem of debugging.
  7. Learn a new language which strengthens verbal and written skills.
  8. Become empowered to make a difference. They have an opportunity to spread postive messages through their coding.
  9. Develope a base knowledge of literacy in the digital age.
  10. Accel at any opportunity. With a high demand skill, the world is their oyster!

 

And check out this 11-year-old cool kid, Krish Merah, who gave a talk at TEDxKentState about his experience developing an app…using…you guessed it, code! He says as explains code as the language computers understand (there are different kinds codes), similarly to the languages we each speak and understand (…as are there many). He says coding is the 4th literacy. He talks about how to integrate coding into classroom curriculum. He’s sure it’ll spark interest and breath life into the ideas that are sitting in the back of students heads. A well spent 7 minutes.

Ok, so I think I understand the value of coding. Not as a marketplace skills necessity but as a way to foster confidence and self-growth through problem-solving, planning, and abstract thinking.

Now on to the HOW.

How do these zoomy little Ozobots scoot around with the basic coding inputs of kids? Well, it’s through very basic programming, as you simply train the robots to follow patterns on the surfaces that they roll over. Ozobot can identify lines, colors, and codes on both digital surfaces, such as an iPad, and physical surfaces, such as paper.

You can calibrate the robots to follow lines by holding down a power button. Then you can draw lines for the robot to follow in an app. You can create race tracks for multiple Ozobots to roll over. The boys are gonna go bananas over the racing function. Wait, does that mean I need to get Henry one too? Uh oh.

I think Idrank the Kool-Aid, y’all. I can see the beift of coding for kids.  I’m a convert.

I think this is the kind of video the boys and I will check out Xmas morning…

This cheerful little nut from KidToyTesters has a super engaging (especially if you’re under 15yrs old – you’ll see what I mean in the first few seconds if you click it ) intro video that gives a pretty comprehensive shakedown about what you can do with your newly unboxed Ozobot.

Stop Blaming Social Media. Stop blaming Students.

When we know better, we do better. Or that’s the goal anyway.

The same sentiment needs to apply to children (through to 25, when their amygdala is fully developed) who are forced to navigate who they are in contemporary culture. Except to them, it’s just culture. There is no comparison for them about what it used to be like. this is what they know. Access to people and information is immediate. EEE. MEEE. DEEE. OOOT. The world is in their skinny jeans pocket and the compulsion to check-in is real. As educators and parents, we can’t minimize or rationalize away their desire to engage with the platforms the world is using. All we can do it help guide them toward responsible use and informed choice.

They are going to send to picture, they are going to pin their location, they are going to talk to strangers (or not…they won’t know perhaps, will they!?) How can we help them make choices that help them persevere and maintain their dignity and that of the people they interact with.

Juan Enrique at TED2013 spoke about the permanency of our digital footprint in his 6-minute talk. He likens it to the obvious story we tell with our tattoos, for example. Our digital identity is our digital tattoo.

Maybe this is how we should be framing the concept of digital identity for our children and students, no? Are you proud to wear your digital tattoo?

 

Let’s Add a Twist to this Knitting Adventure.

iKnit’s Twisted Turban Pattern

The headbands that I’m loving so much are easy-peasy now but I still want to make a few more so I’m going to challenge my self to shake things up. I have found this sweet little Youtube channel iKnit by Christine. She has a pattern with a twist in the headband and I think I have skills to give this go this weekend. She calls her project the Twisted Turban. She has a 13-minute tutorial that will walk me through the process of casting off, switching over, yadda yadda, I don’t even know yet exactly what to expect! Yikes. It May take some practice….as in I’ll probably accidentally pull off of my open stitches off my needle (not the first time!) and begin again…but with more knowledge. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right!?

Friday night. We’ll get jammies on, cuddle in for family movie night and I’ll see if I can knit up a twisted headband delight!

 

Headbands fo dayz.

I’m not sure if you remember but I do….when I started this knitting adventure I timed how long it took me to do a row of about 40 stitches. It took about 7 minutes. Gah. I shudder to think. That yellow scarf was a labor of love but man did it take so much longer than it should have.

All the goods.

And now, just the other day in my Masters class I knocked out another headband…the red one…That’s three headbands, y’all!

My master plan is to gift one to each of the peeps in my life back in Ontario…along with some Yukon goodies, of course.

Note that the little red cuff was a request of my 7-year-old…for soccer…I’m not sure if he imagined it’ll act as a fashion accessory or a sweatband. Either way, his wish is my command. Voila.

Let’s It All over again. For fun this time!

So, I have a scarf, a holy scarf but a scarf none the less. Now that I’ve got one holy scarf under my belt I was all jazzed to get out and buy some more yarm and a new set of larger needles…just for fun…and try something new. So I did.

I found two kinds of yarn I like and I got some 8mm needles.

I got on the Interwebz and found something I thought I could give a go…this, down there…I was optimistic that I could try this and end up with something that resembled these.

 

…and then I got ta’ knittin’! And you guys….I made stuff…like, actual stuff…specifically two headbands. One was a little wide but thennnnn I knocked it outta the park with the next one. I love it! And it’s cozy ta boot!

Check it out…

 

 

Professional Knowledge

Hi friends,

I’ve been thinking of something recently…Professional Knowledge.

What an interesting thing…to take in the world around us in…in all it’s gloriousness and misgivings and then process it in a way that contributes meaningfully to our practice. I’m really looking forward to the journey ahead. Life is fan-flippin’-tastic, isn’t it?! Not just the path I can see laid out ahead of me but in all the trials and tribulations along the way that will color and shape my practice as an educator. There is so much excitement for me in the unknown. Leap. Work hard. Trust.