A little over a year ago I was in Los Angeles with a group of educators that have and will forever impact me as an educator. I was selected as a Google Innovator for the #LAX18 cohort and I never imagined what an impact this #Edventure would have on me. Fast forward to this last Summer, the culmination of my project and goals. So what did I accomplish? Well, here is a recap and a mini-how to guide for anyone looking to bring more computer science to their community, but first we have to go back... way back.
I was a senior in high school and I got accepted to UC Irvine as a Civil Engineering major. I chose engineering because I truly enjoyed physics with Mr. Toigo. See, my exposure to different careers had been limited, most of my academic successes I attribute to my teachers, they played a huge part in my life but that is for another post. Nevertheless physics was great and engineering seemed right up my alley. I got to UC Irvine and my first class ever was python. I struggled... yes there was productive struggle but my peers were flying!
"How do you know this already," said the silly boy.
"Easy, I had this class in high school," replied the coding whiz.
Fast forward to my teaching career. This local boy came back to teach at his alma mater to become a local teacher. I love my community and it is very important for me to give back to the community that raised me. When I came back to the valley I realized that we still did not have an established computer science pathway. Finally, last year when presented with the question for my Google application, what problem do you want to fall in love with?
How can I bring computer science to my community?
The Innovator Experience
Geeky Game Nights
The idea was pretty straight forward, expose as many families as possible to computer science in a fun and low risk scenario. We eventually settled on bring Geeky Game Nights to four locations, the public library, two schools within my district, and a local community center. But what was Geeky Game Nights? Well I went with what I know and created a station rotation model for exposing families to different aspect of CS, technology, and games.
I was looking to get families to talk to their children about computer science in a structured fashion. We provide food for families, promote the event, provide the materials or leverage materials that already exist at the location.
WIth everything said and done, I felt proud of these nights but it did not feel like the reach was wide or deep enough. It was progress though and I am very grateful that this school year we will have eight game nights at multiple locations in my community.
Amazon Future Engineers
This was not part of my project but happened serendipitously at the time of Geeky Game Nights. I applied for Amazon Future Engineers on behalf of our school district. I am happy to report that our school district is currently offereing AP Computer Science courses at all all of our high schools. This is one accomplishment that makes me super proud. Our students, my community, has gained access to speak the language of the future. My children that attend Palm Springs USD will have access that was not afforded to me and for that I am forever grateful.
Creator Camp and Final Thoughts
The last part of this happy story is Creator Camp. I was fortunate enough to take the concept of Geeky Game Nights and turn it into a camp for 2nd graders. Again we used station rotations where we explored Coding on the Microbits and Dash Robots, 3D printing, and Design thinking, Presentation for Day One is below:
If any educator out there needs a place to start or wants any details on what I just wrote about please reach out. Thank you for reading and learning with me.
This last Monday I was lucky enough to moderate #TOSAchat and my idea was meant to be simple. What are some of the tools and tipcs that #TOSAchat loves. The categories are as follows:
The following wakelets are sorted by each catgory. I loved that everyone was sharing and throwing out their best ideas. Below is the fruit of all that labor. Enjoy the knowledge of our peers and have a great day.
With so many Google tools out there how do I keep up with the latest. Use @GoogleForEdu for a constant flow of information.
Fall CUE was amazing again. Here is a small reflection on what I got out of it and a little about our presentations.
I am honored to be a Raspberry Pi Certified Educator. This is my attempt at reflecting on my learning and putting down my thoughts. Special thanks to a great cohort and all the wonderful connections that were made. #Picademy
Have you gone to an escape room? I have and it was wonderfully exciting and engaging. How can we harness that and bring it to the classroom? BreakOut Edu offers a way to bring some of that inquiry based learning into your classroom. https://www.breakoutedu.com/
The hashtag above has had the largest impact on my profession this year. As a tech TOSA, coach, instructional technology whatchamacallit, we do not get a playbook. Now, I am not complaining I am setting up the need to find a manual somewhere and some direction, #TOSAchat has been that. The group of people that run this chat are spectacular. Every Monday at 8pm I get a renewed sense inpiration and I definitely need that.
I also get humbled every Monday. I read what other Tech TOSAs are working towards and I feel the need to improve. It helps me reflect on my own practice and I love that it challenges me.
Smartest Person in the Room
The collective efforts and insights of the group are valuable. Below are some examples of my latest interactions.
I am grateful for the opportunity to connect with the wonderful educators of TOSAchat. Come be a #LocoLearner with us on Mondays from 8pm - 9pm.
It is done! We finally released our Cyber Champion Game for our students at Palm Springs Unified. First, I want to be clear, I have a great team. My fellow Tech TOSAs and Director are great to work with and this has been a team effort through and through. Thank you.
We built ChromeWarrior through a partnership with Alpen Spruce (Alludo Learning), they are also an amazing part of our team. The idea was simple, gamify our professional development. What came about was a unique learning experience for us all. We built the game and now there are about 40 districts who have began implementing their own version of gamified PD from Alludo Learning. I will not go into the impact gaming can have on education because there have been a ton of articles written on this topic. Essentially, I want to #GamifyEverything.
Why Not Gamify Digital Citizenship?
Naturally, after the success of gamifying our professional development, we wanted to get this game in front of our students. We set out to do just that and Cyber Champions was born. We created a game that focuses on creating conscientious cyber citizens but why is this necessary?
Our students and now my own children live in a time where their digital presence is tied to their identity and is increasingly becoming their only identity. We want to use the internet for all its good and avoid as many pitfalls as possible. Our children deserve to live in their new world with the right tool set to navigate safely and freely. Mainly they deserve the freedom. It is easy to just lock everything down and block students from everything but why not try something that benefits them in the long run. The real world does not block websites, it rewards those that can take advantage of such technology. Cyber Champions hopes to start preparing students for their digital lives.
The Levels and Badges
Call To Action
This part of the game is simple. Take a screenshot of something positive, fill out a survey, or make someone's day. All games should start off easy before we get to the good stuff.
Think About It
We wanted students to reflect on what they were learning. This section of the game is about shedding some light on some of the topics and have students contemplate why things are happening the way that they are and what they can do to help. These kiddos have had some amazing insight.
Any good game forces the user to create something. Culminating tasks exist to showcase what students are learning and publish good work. Take a look below as to what our students have started to make.