My last post was August, 2013. Much has happened since then which you may or may not be interested in. I had another kid, rediscovered Cross-Fit and knitting (not together), left my job teaching 8th grade math and rebranded myself as a technology coach. I stopped blogging when I stopped teaching. Or stopped classroom teaching. For the past two years I have been a Teacher on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology. Somehow, without the daily creativity of lesson planning, I haven’t found anything to say here. But I have learned a lot and hopefully writing about it can both help me think about things more deeply and get me connected again to the blogging community.
For the past few years I have been shocked at how difficult it has been to convince teachers to use technology in their math classes. Khan Academy, maybe, but suggesting that teachers use software that promotes deeper thinking and reasoning has been met with resistance. Often it’s because English teachers grab the Chromebooks for unreasonable amounts of time, but often, even after professional development, I find that math teachers aren’t comfortable teaching with tools that they haven’t mastered. Teachers love tinkering with Desmos or GeoGebra, but fear they don’t have the time to use these tools on a regular basis. But, I’m not in the classroom anymore and I have to respect the pace (albeit slow) that coaching and PD move at to produce change.
This rebranding gives me a lot of time to tinker myself and I am hoping to rebrand this blog into my discoveries of elegant and engaging ways to use technology in a math classroom. I’m also eager to reconnect with you…whomever you are…and have you help connect me to other instructional technology bloggers as at the moment I know none.
This year I began what I am sure is a long journey to simultaneously learn how to program while teaching programming to kids. I have played around with Code Monkey, Tynker and Scratch and at some point will share the advantages and disadvantages of each. But I’m really excited to share a recent Scratch discovery.
I was introduced to Scratch by Tina at the Park City Math Institute in the summer of 2011. I mark the passing of time by how old my kids were and the only reason I remember it was 2011 is that my son who is now finishing kindergarten was 2 that summer. Tina and I were working on a project around using various software to teach geometry concepts and she had heard of Scratch but hadn’t yet tried it out with kids. She went deep with it while I just played around with it for a brief time. But like many things in teaching, Scratch found me again just recently.
If you don’t know Scratch, you should check it out. It’s free and is block programming at its best. It also can be used to program real things, like Makey Makey, but again, that’s for another post. What I’m really excited about right now is this online course to learn Scratch taught through MuddX which is Harvey Mudd’s MOOCS platform.
When things are totally new to me (like programming), I prefer to learn them in a systematic way. My husband, an engineer, will tinker and tinker until he has figured out something new. Me? I need some structure to my learning. Consequently, I am in love with this course. I can’t wait to share it with teachers in my district and THEN, have kids learning from it. Some kids are happy to tinker to learn programming, but many stand back and are silent and hands off while the tinkerers tinker. This course is great for kids. I think kids as young as 4th grade can use it. I’m curious to hear feedback or thoughts on using it in a classroom.