Grab Hold and Let’s Go!

Boy, I love to learn.  I always have and I always will.  That is why I can grab a new software package or web application and quickly learn the basics.  I usually can stay far enough ahead of the teachers and students I work with that I feel like I can help them.  I can be in control of where we are going and what we learn.  I usually have the answers or can find them pretty quickly.  Today I learned something … it doesn’t always work this way.  I also learned I don’t have to have all the answers in order to help people learn.  Quite humbling… but very satisfying. 

A fellow teacher and I have embarked on teaching a group of students programming skills using Scratch and Alice.  The last few weeks, I have stayed far enough ahead of the group that I could show them the basics and we could create a few sample projects.  Today I decided it would be fun to try and create an Olympic Event.  (see previous post for Olympic thoughts)  I painstakely drew skis on one of the sprites.  I created a small ski hill for my skier to zoom down the hill. 

Learn more about this project

 I then decided to look and see on the Scratch website to see if anyone else had the idea.  Yes!  There was a whole gallery of projects doing much more complicated programming and much better drawn sprites. Who knows how young those kids are that did that!  One of the things I love about Scratch is that you can download other folks projects and remix them. I like to download them and look at the programing.   

Hmm…. how did he make the hockey guys score in the goals?  I didn’t have a clue or time to figure it out.  I downloaded a few of the projects and ran to the classroom to work with my Scratch group.  As I explained our Olympic project idea the students came up with their own ideas.  I was proudly showing off my skier and looked around the room — the students had already created lugers, snowboarders, and slalom skiers that looked much better than my guy!  I shared a few of the projects on-line and they started cranking out ideas.  How do I make my skier follow my mouse?  How can I make my snowboarder stay upright?  How can my luger stay on the course? 

I realized I needed to step out of their way, grab ahold of their sleds and let them clear the path for their own learning.   It’s a great lesson I taught myself today. 

Here are some resoures I am using for (trying to teach) Scratch:

Getting Started and Resources with Scratch –

Olympic Gallery –

Article about Scratch Lab Rules –

Ready for A Project? Ready for a Connection?

A Picture created during the Journey North Whooping Crane Project

A Picture created during the Journey North Whooping Crane Project

Real-time learning is all about having students make connections.  Once these connections are made – they cement learning in place.  On-line projects help students make the connections to the real world.  I am so pleased that many of the classrooms at BWF are starting to try and make connections.  A classroom just finished following the whooping cranes migrate on Journey North.  The cranes flew over Alabama so the students were able to make some real connections.  Franklin County, Alabama became very familiar with the students as not just a place in the Alabama History book but as a place the whooping cranes ended up for a very long time.  I don’t think these students are ever going to forget about this study.  

Last year two classes at BWF  followed the Mystery Class project (again a Journey North project).  What a great surprise for all of us when it turned out that one of the mystery classes was my niece’s class in Homer, Alaska.  That really emphasized how connected the world is!  We were able to Skype with her and find out some differences between Alaska and Alabama.  This is a fabulous project and I encourage anyone and everyone to take it on!

I have found some great projects that are starting soon.   Why don’t you check these out and join in: 

Groundhog Day Project – Chart the weather for February and compare with classes all over the US and Canada.

Mystery Class – Journey North’s project charting sunrise and sunset data to help locate mystery places.

Everyone Counts – a Jenuine Tech project about the 2010 Cenus

Life ‘Round Here – a digital storytelling project


Here’s a website I used to teach this idea of Collaborative, Global Projects this summer at our technology conference.

The Eyes Have It!

Saturday I took my 4 year old to the Y to swim.  We hadn’t been swimming in a long time so I wasn’t sure how well he would do.  He had swim lessons this summer for the first time and I was wondering how much he remembered.   I started off climbing cautiously down the ladder, getting used to the temperature of the water, and being careful not to get my hair wet just yet.  Caleb, on the other hand, said, “Mommy, that is not the way I want to do it!  Can I just jump in and you catch me?” Looking into his trusting eyes, he knew I would be there for him.  I could see so much excitement, a little fear, but a spirit that I want to cultivate in him.  It is OK to do things that are scary.  What we can learn from our children…don’t be afraid … just jump in and rely on your friends to catch you. 

Last week in our faculty meeting, we discussed what kind of learners we are.  The overwhelming majority of our staff are visual or kinestic learners.  I think this is so true for our students. We need to remember that when planning the best way to help students in the classroom. 

Here is a link I have found recently for Web tools for learning styles: 

 100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner

I wanted to share a new tool someone emailed out today – Glogster -What a great way to visual remember and make connections. As with any new resource check out it’s appropriateness for your students.

I love this – Check out this link to a Reading Practice Glogster


 On a another note – I actually got a real comment from a teacher in Georgia about our “Beyond Powerpoint” Project.  She encouraged me to look at the Inspired Classroom Model.  Here is the link to a wiki about it.  I am definitely going to become a commenter.  I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy getting useful comments to my blog. Maybe New Year resolution #1.  Thanks my new friend for helping me want to jump in!