Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coding for Kids?

Hour of Code - it's been on my mind the past few weeks.  What is Hour of Code, you might ask?  Well, directly from their website:
Launched in 2013,® is a non-profit dedicated to expanding participation in computer science by making it available in more schools, and increasing participation by women and underrepresented students of color. Our vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer science. We believe computer science and computer programming should be part of the core curriculum in education, alongside other science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses, such as biology, physics, chemistry and algebra.

 So, why has the idea of kids coding taken up so many of my thoughts lately?  Well, an interesting fact about me - when I started college, I was a computer engineering major.  I liked computers, I took a programming class in high school and I thought it would be rewarding (read:  money making) profession.  That major lasted approximately 1.5 semesters when I decided I could not be a CprE major or work in the field.  I was interested in technology still and jumped at a chance to take an programming/engineering course for preservice teachers.  Taking that one course, Toying with Technology, pushed my thinking on teaching coding to kids and the importance of embedding it within our classrooms.

Many argue that coding is the language of the future and this article from Edsurge mirrors my beliefs on coding:
We are teaching them to code, however, not so much as an end in itself but because our world has morphed: so many of the things we once did with elements such as fire and iron, or tools such as pencil and paper, are now wrought in code. We are teaching coding to help our kids craft their future.
Should all kids participate in Hour of Code?  I think we, as educators and role models should give them that experience.  Coding can (and should) be so much more than repeat commands and ;s.  Teaching kids to code is giving them the opportunity to problem solve, work through real world math problems, and think critically.  Programmers often work in teams to solve problems and create complex, creative solutions.  

Do I think that all kids will grow up to be programmers?  No.  But, it's important that we know how and why the technology that is so intricately woven into our everyday lives works and what it is based on.  It's also a growing field. cites that there are 3 times more programming jobs being created than there are programmers graduating.  Plus, those skills that coding can teach to kids - collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity - I think we all need a little more work on that.

So, won't you join in on an Hour of Code next week?  Look at for more resources or you could also download the apps KodableHopscotch or CargoBotTynker or Dasiy the Dinosaur.  Come back and share your certificate of completion next week!  I bet you'll enjoy it!

Monday, November 24, 2014


Forgive me internet, for I have sinned.  It's been over a year since my last blog post.  And I've let another blog die in the blogosphere.

Over the past year, I've been reflecting on the need I have to reflect more...or at all.  The problem with thinking about things like this is that you actually need to put things into action.  In October, we had the ITEC conference, then I joined a rockin' great group of educators on voxer, and then a series of very random, very serendipitous events occurred and a non-blogger launched a blogging challenge for the instructional leadership team within their school district.  So, what gives?  Why did I purposefully challenge myself to do something I'm scared of doing?  I want to...and I need to be more reflective.  I want to be more purposeful.  I have gained so much from the internets that I want to potentially give something back to someone.  I want to start conversations.  I want to participate in conversations.  I want to learn.  I want to share.  I want to become better.

So, with that, I give you my first (late!) post for the #sepreflects.  Help hold me accountable during the rest of November and December to post once a week and share with whoever takes their time to read.  Push me to grow. 

Monday, September 30, 2013


First, let's acknowledge that I'm a terrible blogger.  In fact, I just deleted the one draft that I had written to this blog.  However, this past weekend was edcampDSM and that, combined with the internal need to do something different and push myself to grow as an educator, along with lots of other little instances, have amounted to me wanting to hold myself accountable to reflecting about my learning journey.

This past weekend, we hosted our first edcampDSM.  Something that I hope becomes an annual event.  After months of planning, it is finally over. In the days and weeks leading up to #edcampDSM, I worried and stressed about whether or not it would be a true #edcamp (we'll talk about that later).  I reportedly would even talk about sessions in my sleep.  I stressed about whether or not people would show up.  I even stressed about whether or not there would be enough food.

As an inaugural #edcamp, I think the participants hit it out of the park.  Seriously, I don't think you can have a good edcamp without a fantastic group of people attending.  I'd venture to say that 70% of the people at edcampDSM were newbies to the edcamp model and rocked the idea of participant driven conversations.  Seriously, rocked it.  They embraced the 'Rule of Two Feet' and spent time connecting and collaborating.  Sessions were filled and there were plenty of doughnuts, coffee and cookies left for us to donate to the kids of Crestview Elementary (ok, we dumped the coffee).

As an organizer, I had a much different experience at #edcampDSM than I've had at other edcamps I've attended.  Usually, I go to an edcamp for selfish reasons, I want/need to engage in my own professional development, I want/need to connect with people from my PLN and I want/need to push my thinking.  I'm not sure if this is the 'right' mentality but, I definitely haven't gone to an edcamp with the desire to impress anyone with what I've done it's always been about my own learning.  As an organizer, I so so so wanted everyone to have a great experience, to learn and love edcamps as much as I do, to believe that there are other like minded educators.  Guess what, I still walked out of #edcampDSM learning a few things:

  • I'm a better educator when I engage in conversations that help me grow.  Whether listening to others defend a stance in Rocks and Sucks or talking with other job alike people, I need to continue to pursue opportunities for me explore, push and learn.
  • A PLN is invaluable, whether it's someone you see on a regular basis or someone you can learn with online.  I'll be honest, there are times when being the only person in your position in the district is a lonely job but, edcamp reaffirms for me that there are so many similar people out there, even if we're spread across districts, cities and states. 
  • There's a huge value in being positive.  It's so so easy to get negative about something but, you're more likely to meaningfully connect with someone else when you approach a situation with less negativity.
  • Learning is social.  It occurs in conversations, formally and informally.  I need to spend more time connecting. 
I'm certain my brain hasn't fully made sense of #edcampDSM yet...hopefully I can continue to wrestle with it here.

P.S.  In case you haven't seen these posts yet, my PLN is awesome.  I feel extremely lucky to have been able to connect with them in person this weekend.  Thanks for making me a better educator, folks.  Please check out posts from some of them like Mande, Brent, DevinFran and Brian for more #edcampDSM reflections.  Also, some stats from the day can be found here.

P.P.S.  Who wants to learn with me at #edcampKC?!