Thursday, December 17, 2015

Harmony Team Collects $2,253.82 for our Holiday Family!

Once again, our Harmony Team kiddos astounded us by collecting $2,253.82 for the family we adopted for the holidays. We were able to provide a wonderful holiday season for our family. The kids were amazing, collecting from friends, family and neighbors. Some kids even did fundraising events. We like to incorporate service into our team culture and this is our big service project for the year. We will also be doing some smaller service projects as the year progresses. Harmony Team is indeed "the little team that could".

This total is not unusual for Team Harmony. In the ten years that Team Harmony has been in existence, we have surpassed $1,500.00 every year. That is our longstanding goal. In the ten years that we have been collecting for Holiday Families, we have raised a total of $20,765.26. Incredible! How does this year's team rank against all of the other Harmony Teams in terms of Holiday Family collections? Below is a chart of all Harmony Team Holiday Family collections including the all-time rank in parentheses. Congratulations to all of the students and families that helped make this possible.

Holiday Family Collections by Year

2015 - 2253.82 (2)
2014 - 2068.68 (5)
2013 - 2243.53 (3)
2012 - 3228.82 (1)
2011 - 1847.03 (7)
2010 - 2197.16 (4)
2009 - 1686.35 (9)
2008 - 1733.24 (8)
2007 - 1996.40 (6)
2006 - 1510.23 (10)

Total - 20765.26

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Day of Code

For the past two weeks, we have been planning the Day of Code as an extensive iteration of the Hour of Code. Our entire seventh grade floor participated so about 350 kids were involved in coding and coding-related activities for much of the day. Running six 25-minute sessions, kids could choose from thirteen different offerings. Sessions ranged from Fun with a Sphero to Programming a Virtual Robot to Star Wars Coding to Minecraft. The choices were plenty and the kids could have a taste of anything that interested them. The day was set up to be a huge success.

After distributing schedules, the kids were off. My session was Tinkercad and 3D Printing. All year long, kids from other teams in seventh grade expressed interest in 3D printing. Many never had the chance to learn about the tools we use to 3D print. Today was their chance. Most of what I did was give a five minute introduction to Tinkercad and narrate the workflow of our particular 3D printer. It was easy to grasp. After my mini-lesson, kids were able to design on Tinkercad. They loved it. Some used templates, some designed freehand, and some used a combination of shapes that were provided in the program. When the period ended, many of the kids stayed on for another session so that they could design more. During each session, I had between 30-60 students crammed into my room. Many were in chairs but many were on tables, on the floor or anywhere they could find some open space. They came in large numbers and they came to learn.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Our Epic Fail

The kids came to school today knowing that we were going to participate in #stucamp, the first annual national student edcamp. Schools from Iowa, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Missouri were participating. We were going to use an app called Unhangout that leveraged the power of Google Hangouts with a breakout session model. It looked great.

I took a couple of days this week to prep the kids, show them how the app worked and show the #stucamp promo video about why education needs to change. Most of the kids were stoked to participate and some were thinking of sessions that they would lead. The #stucamp would run from 12:00-1:00pm CST. We were ready!

Noon struck and the #stucamp went live. The first 20 minutes were for introductions and proposing sessions. While a few of our kiddos took it upon themselves to be immature in the chat room, most of the kids were awesome! After the first 20 minutes, we were ready to launch our Hangouts and get into those sessions. As we hit the "connect" button......nothing. We could not connect because our filter at school did not allow video calls on the student Chromebooks. A half dozen kids immediately realized the problem. "We can't get on!" they cried.

Once we knew what the problem was, I said, "Okay, let's try to find a fix!" Many of the kids tried their phones, going off the school wifi and using their cell networks. Other kids thought that our school Google Cloud e-mail addresses might be the problem and tried to sign in under their private Gmail accounts. Both worked! As more kids transitioned over to their personal Gmail accounts and switched to their phones to bypass the filter, something happened. Suddenly, without warning, the system crashed. All of our kiddos started getting "504 Error" and "Gateway Time Out" messages. The program, for us, was dead. It was an epic fail.

While it was a disappointment that we could not fully participate in #stucamp, we were able to troubleshoot the problems we faced, up to a point. Many of the kids were intellectually agile in solving the problem. They asked, "Okay, how do I solve this? I'll try this." They tried, failed and tried again. That is the essence of learning. We did not learn what was intended today, but we did learn. If we see every situation as a problem-solving learning opportunity, the kids will too. We have to constantly reinforce that approach and show the kids that we all fail, but we all must try again. Picking ourselves up is one of life's great lessons.