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Educated By Design Blog

Filtering by Tag: communication

Coding Your Story

TheTechRabbi

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When we think of “coding” we tend to limit its abilities to name = raw_input ( 'An Image Of Complex Characters\n' ) when in reality its something more profound, something that relates more to how our students learn.

Coding, is about telling a story, and it is through this lens of storytelling that our students, starting in first grade this fall, will use coding to share the story of their learning.

After speaking at an educational technology conference in Austin, Texas, and spending five days collaborating with the some of the world’s most innovative educators at the Apple Distinguished Educator Institute in Miami, I heard first-hand from educators the world over who use coding in elementary grades to give students a new way to share their ideas and understanding. (Quick shot out to (Richard WellsDouglas Kiang, and Sam Patterson).

When integrating coding into our students learning, we want to focus on its essential process, as well as the skills that they can acquire, such as logic, critical thinking, and computational thinking. With this mindset, students will then see how coding can help them communicate ideas in Judaic Studies, Math, Science, History, and a multitude of their learning experiences. Using apps on the iPad like Scratch Jr. and Hopscotch, students will use block based coding to tell their own story, and how their learning in the classroom has made an impact.

Students are first introduced to coding by understanding why it is so important. When students understand that coding is behind many amazing apps and other digital experiences, then they begin to understand how coding can empower them to create these experiences themselves. This why, before how approach is one of the key ingredients in the success of any educational technology program. If a student in first grade can be encouraged to explore and create a disaster relief app, or a new way for children to share their life with their grandparents, then coding becomes more than just an experience, it becomes a tool for students to create new things that others can benefit from.

Stay tuned...

21st Century Competencies: Nothing And Everything To Do With Technology

TheTechRabbi

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 There is no denying that current technology trends in education are here to stay. Whether you choose Apple, Samsung, Google, or Amazon, the platforms, companies, and devices will come and go, but the learning outcomes they produce are everlasting. The user experience might be different, but the goals for their use are the same; We want our learners to be able to achieve 21st-Century Competencies. It is evident that these technology tools allow learners to gain these skills while achieving faster and higher quality products, through a more efficient and practical processes. This is why

21st Century Competencies have nothing and everything to do with technology.

 In fall of last year I began to research how to support learners' and educators' understanding of 21st-Century Competencies. I discovered many amazing resources, but felt that each one lacked one key component. Acquiring 21st-Century Competencies cannot be defined through the lens of the technology itself. It must be through the lens of what the technology allows us to create and the experience gained. 21st-Century Competencies are about social interaction that helps connect individuals in a way that achieves a more developed and meaningful outcome. This has absolutely nothing to do with technology as it is nothing but a connector between two or more people.

21st-Century Competencies allow for strong, independent learners that are highly functional in environments that require advanced skills in collaboration and human interaction, aka the real world.  

The challenge was to concretize this process in a way that could achieve measurable results including the hope that through developing a formalized process, learners and educators would be more open to failure. This means that even though we did not "solve" the problem this time, we still gained skills in organization, collaboration, communication, as well as a better understanding of the process of problem solving and critical thinking. This process also allows for a reflective and revisionist process where learners can continue to work on identifying strengths and weaknesses in the project and in themselves. This is because learning is not always about solving the problem, it is also about gaining a deeper understanding through experimentation and discovery, with the understanding that even failure can lead to a significant learning experience.

Together with my colleague, Samantha Pack, we set out to create a rubric that would support the development of 21st-Century Competencies with the following criteria in mind:

1. A clear definition of each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

2. Ability to measure proficiency in each of the 21st-Century Competencies.

3. A universal approach that will support the development of 21st-Century Competencies regardless of discipline.

4. Ability for learners to achieve skills through reflection and revision.

5. To ensure that the 21st century competencies work together with various pedagogical models.

In June during a PD Workshop with middle school faculty, I shared the rubric to get feedback for the final draft slated for launch in the fall. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The faculty described it as supportive but not restricting, giving students the ability to capture the essential idea of each skill, and assist them in becoming independent learners with the ability to assess their own performance. One faculty member said,

This rubric doesn't describe how to use technology, this rubric describes how to be human.

Ladies and Gentleman, we have arrived. This is the true purpose of technology. Its ability to help us build relationships, foster personal growth, and truly arrive at a better more connected global community.

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I will be sharing this rubric at my session "The Invisible iPad - Significant Learning Experiences Without Actually Losing Your iPad" at the EdTechTeacher Summit July 28th-30th at the Navy Pier in Chicago.

Why Elementary Students Should Learn How To Design

TheTechRabbi

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Image Courtesy of: dribbble.com/lobanovskiy

In middle school, incoming 6th graders are met with an overwhelming change in how they learn. One teacher multiples into six or seven, school becomes longer, and students are expected to become super organized and able to communicate on a whole new level.

"This is why elementary students must learn about Design." 

Students must understand why it's important to be aware and thoughtful when creating even the most menial documents. Design evokes emotion, and gives a person a connection to a visual object. Typography, layout design, color theory, are inseparable parts of everyday life. The letter types of street signs, the colors emitted from lightbulbs, everyday objects are carefully designed to give people a positive and enjoyable experience. We expect certain colors, and letter types around us, and it's only after they are altered that we become aware of how truly powerful their impact is on us.

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Student learn basic math and science because they are the foundation of understanding how the world works, yet not every student will become a mathematician or scientist. Similarly, learning design doesn't mean you must become a designer, but it will help you view the world differently. One of the biggest misconceptions is that design is just about making advertisements and posters.

"Design is about making conscience decisions that verbally or visually connect people and ideas."

We do this every day with our students, friends, and co-workers yet we still make powerpoint slides that look like this

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instead of like this Screen Shot 2013-07-31 at 10.52.39 PM

Source: @emilanddc

Flat Design

Flat design is a trending design style that utilizes geometric shapes, color, and smooth lined letter types. Below is the ever popular Facebook logo which was recently updated with those elements in mind. By dropping the blue highlight at the bottom, and utilizing positive and negative space with the "f", these small yet powerful adjustments have strengthened the logo's visual pop.

Challenging students to make good design choices enhances their critical thinking, problem solving, communication, decision making and organization skills. It teaches them how to simplify their ideas so they are clearly understood and internalized by the viewer. Design was not always this way. Below is an example of a logo that has experienced one hundred years of design as it abandons high contrast muddied imagery, and replaces it with simple, sharp, and powerful form.

Who can teach this?

While many teachers are already overwhelmed by meeting learning quotas, every teacher can themselves learn, and model proper design concepts that can be integrated into the many projects already planned for the year. Design can be taught as a class but in an elementary or middle school environment this would not be realistic or even productive. Like technology, design should be used to enhance current learning experiences or stimulate new ones, they should not be an end unto themselves.

"Students are not interested in learning when it isn't relevant to them, and design is no different."