Tag Archives: collaboration

Planning a @breakoutEDU game for 8th Algebra with @MattGusto & @aranalee! #mathchat #edchat

BreakoutEdu was developed by @JamesTSanders and involves an empty box  (or boxes) secured by a bunch of different locks (combination, letter, directional, and more). From there, teachers design “Escape the Room” type activities and students discover the various solutions to each lock. Many teachers have shared their BreakoutEdu games via their website: http://www.breakoutedu.com and a Facebook group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/breakoutedu.

Someone brought a BreakoutEdu kit to the NEIT conference at Mohonk in January, but I didn’t really experience a sample game until the Edcamp Organizers Summit in April. James Sanders, Founder of BreakoutEdu, was a keynote and I participated in one of his games. The overarching theme of the game was Communication, and we solved puzzles using Morse Code, hieroglyphics, Incan knots, and other means of conveying information.

I sent an email about BreakoutEdu to the faculty, and both Arana Shapiro (@aranalee) and Matt Guastavino (@MattGusto) responded immediately so we met and collaborated. Arana is one of the founders of The School at Columbia University and launched, collaborated, developed many awesome curricular projects with the faculty. She went on to found other schools including Quest to Learn, the famed game-based public 6-12 school in NYC. Matt is the 8th grade Algebra teacher at The School at Columbia University and enjoys prototyping and innovating. He was super excited to integrate Bootstrap into his curriculum so that his students learn Algebraic concepts while designing a video game – this has become a legacy project.

We had an initial meeting a couple of weeks ago where we established that it would be awesome for Matt’s 8th graders to design games for each other to showcase their learning in Algebra this year. We met again today and realized we should set up a quick game for Matt’s students in order to scaffold the idea of BreakoutEdu (before they are tasked with creating their own games). I wanted the “clues” to integrate as closely as possible with things they’d discussed and learned throughout the year. Arana knew we had to visualize a plan, so she located a large notepad and we started brainstorming…

Arana, an amazing instructional and game designer, suggested starting from the final result and working backwards. I knew I wanted students to end up spelling something out on the calculator (as I found this hilarious in middle school), and figured GOOGLE would be a harmless enough word signified by the upside-down number (379009). From there we figured there could be 6 groups, each would have an envelope inside with a number (either 3, 7, 9, 0, 0, or 9) and the following image which would hopefully inspire them to arrange all of the numbers into 379009 for GOOGLE.

So, to get to 3, 7, 9, 0, 0, 9, they have to correctly solve 6 different challenges. This is where we looked over Matt’s extensive list of topics covered throughout the year in Algebra and thought up possible problems – multiplying binomials, graphing functions, solving polynomial equations, graphing inequalities, calculating circumference/area/volume, and finding equations from plotted points.

To launch each problem, we decided to have 6 different groups solve a problem which incorporates a key number based on important events from their integrated curriculum:
1863 = Gettysburg Address
1883 = Atticus’ birth year from To Kill a Mockinbird
1936 = Berlin Summer Olympics (I was excited to find a perfect square for Matt!)
1945 = Little Boy and Fat Man bombs dropped on Japan
1968 = First Special Olympics
1998 = Lion King won a bunch of Tony Awards (this was their 8th grade musical)

We figured students could self-select into these six groups in order to collaborate on one of the problems. In order to gain access to the envelope with the problem, they need to open up a box with a three-digit combination, and the six envelopes will be in the box. In order open the box, they’ll scan a QR code which will take them to John Cage’s 4’33” — this also integrates with their year of study as some students explored John Cage and Music of Chance. Thus 433 could be the combination to the initial box.

Matt is prototyping this project on Tuesday, and Arana and I are psyched to see how it goes!

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Just visited the inaugural @littleBits retail store with @donbuckley! Here are photos:

The first littleBits store opened today, and I was so excited to visit the space with my former boss and mentor @donbuckley! It’s so well designed! This pop-up store’s location is 355 West Broadway in the SoHo district, and it will operate there for the next 7 months. The actual grand opening will be in mid-August. Read more about the opening here: http://www.psfk.com/2015/07/littlebits-store-retail-electronics.html 

Besides being able to buy pieces in the retail section, there are demo areas peppered with inspiring projects next to correlating paper recipe cards (with starter instructions on one side and a shopping list on the other) and an open lab area in the back where you can work with a littleBits ambassador in a lab coat to build something amazing. There’s a wonderful opportunity to either leave your creation behind or take it with you (and you pay for all the pieces). Either way, there’s a wired photo org area where you can document your masterpiece and share it with the wider littleBits community online.

Creative opportunities abound here! I’m hoping to organize teacher outings to come and play. @AyahBdeir, superstar founder of litteBits, was at the store today and chatted with me and Don for a while. I’ve been a fan of Ayah’s since her TED Fellow days, and it’s been amazing to watch her build her dream company. littleBits’s flourishing business, perpetually expanding product offerings, growing popularity, and spreading community are a joy to observe through their kicking Instagram account. Check it out here: Instagram.com/littleBits

littleBits Store info:
355 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
917-924-2302 ext 102
Hours: Mon-Fri 11am–7pm, Sat-Sun 10am–7pm

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Google Doc of “Tech Tuesdays” resources that I share with the parents

In January of 2013, I launched Tech Tuesdays for the parents at The School at Columbia University. In anticipation of our inaugural meeting, I shared the following via an email to faculty:

Grace helped me reserve one of the new Dining Rooms from 8:00-9:00am on Tuesday, February 5th to launch a monthly Tech Tuesday drop-in program for parents.
This will not be a time to bring in a home computer for tech support. Rather, I hope this drop-in time can help:
1. Establish common goals and a common language for talking about Technology
2. Answer questions about how to access The Gallery and The Tube and other school resources
3. Examine the Terms of Service and privacy settings of various websites
4. Show how to adjust parent permissions and check the history on web browsers
5. Address any questions parents may have
I’d love your help in promoting this as an opportunity to gather and build community! Also, if anyone wants to stop by to share a project or ask a question, that would be awesome too.

I had hoped to foster an unconference-esque environment without a set agenda, and I expected parents to show up and talk about things they wanted to talk about. While many parents attended the first session, the number of attendees each month petered out until one day, it was just me sitting by myself. I realized it would help if I did in fact have a chosen topic each month (while also asking parents to suggest future topics), and I reached out to the parents and Communications Department to help further advertise these gatherings. The first “new and improved” Tech Tuesdays was about Wearable Technologies and I recruited A.J. Jacobs to speak specifically about his experience with Google Glass. He wrote about his experiences here: Google Glass: What You’re Not Supposed to Do. I launched and shared the GoogleDoc of notes and resources at this meeting, and I’ve been adding to it ever since.

Since then, the monthly sessions have continued to evolve — I now know to always have a topic shared in advance, and I gather resources on the shared GoogleDoc so anyone can access this information at any time. I often ask colleagues to be special guests in order to share examples of their integrated technology projects in any given grade or discipline. I’m lucky to have had a lot of support from the administration, my colleagues, and from the parents. My goal is to foster a safe space where people learn, ask questions, share stories, offer advice, build a common vocabulary, and gather talking points to discuss at home with their children.

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Notes/slides from a conversation about digital citizenship and social media

Last night, I facilitated a conversation on teaching digital citizenship and social media use to middle schoolers. Around the table were teachers, librarians, media specialists, technologists, curriculum coordinators, and administrators from Friends Seminary.

Their specific questions were:
1. How can we help middle schoolers be safe, responsible netizens?
2. How would you define digital citizenship and how does that play a role in your school?
3. How does social media play a role in your school and what do you do to prepare kids to use it responsibly?
4. What are some activities that you have done with middle schoolers on digital citizenship?
5. What is your scope and sequence in your school on digital citizenship (and others that you may know)?
6. What tools do you use, such as ELGG, to help kids understand digital citizenship and social media?

Besides showing projects I’ve developed/supported using Google Sites, our internal media repositories (powered by Drupal), or our internal social network (powered by Elgg), I shared how I weave in reminders, anecdotes, news stories, and life lessons at every opportunity.

I shared these three recent relevant articles which I’d seen on Twitter:

And this post recommended by Don Buckley to be a good conversation starter:

I also shared my collection of mantras that I repeat endlessly in class:

  1. Everything you put online is public, permanent, traceable.
  2. Use our technology academically, respectfully, responsibly.
  3. Make wise choices.
  4. We are a community.
  5. There’s no such thing as privacy online. It’s public versus less public.
  6. The only thing worse than kids behaving badly are adults behaving badly.

Rather than proceed through the slide deck I’d prepared, I ended up ignoring most of it and just sharing examples from specific projects (most of which are documented on this site). I embedded the slides below if anyone is super curious…

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