Scratch 3.0 Coming Soon…..

Update from ISTE18: Scratch 3.0 FAQ’s

A highlight of the Makerfaire this past May 2018 was this talk:

Meet Scratch at it’s inception from a users perspective: Making art with Scratch allows for collaboration. Remixing in Scratch is a powerful element. Scratch is an online community not just a coding program. Ipzy Studio offers other creators her artwork. She created tutorial for backgrounds. Never imagined kids would do tutorials. Scratch creators wanted to give kids a voice. It’s programming & coding with writing. Per creator Mitchel Resnick, just leaning to code is not enough. We need to develop kids to be creative thinkers. 4P’s:

projects
passions
peers
play

“You don’t develop your own voice if you solve a puzzle.” says Mitchel Resnick.  “Kids learn best when they can work on a wide range of projects. Not all kids learn doing the same project.”

Most learning happens in collaboration with others. Play is ratified toward engaging with the world. 200 million people interacted with Scratch last year. A 5th P: purpose. Creating projects that are important to them.

“Scratch is a really open place. “ says Jinho.

What’s next with Scratch 3.0?

Kids can create things connects to voice commands. & it will work with LEGO Wedo.

Scratch bit will take Scratch into the physical world. Integrating open API’s.

They wants kids to develop into critical thinkers. Not coders.

Projects in Scratch are covered by Creative Commons. Use anything you want but reference the creator. Scratch 3.0 will be HTML5/Javascript based.

No more Flash needed.

Students will be able to author on tablets beyond ScratchJr. Not ready for smartphones yet.

Keep on scratching.

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The Power of Partnerships: Part Four

Some of the most meaningful partnerships will take years to fully be realized. In my first year as the Chief Technology Officer in Dublin Unified, I had the opportunity to work alongside the Director of Facilities Kim McNeely. In our first introductory meeting, we immediately hit it off as we discovered that we were approaching our work in very much the same way: a focus on students.

In many districts Facilities departments do not always collaborate with Technology departments on capital projects. More often than not, they rely on outside consultants and contractors to establish infrastructure needs and oversee all elements of installation and configuration. In Dublin Unified for the past 3+ years, this has not been the case.

Within my first year, I was able to participate on a charrettes (brainstorming process) which brought together key stakeholders around the community + educators to set the needs list for a new school. In that same first year we opened an elementary school while simultaneously planning the opening of another school that would be follow within three years. Coming aboard towards the end of one finished project and at the very beginning of another was invaluable opportunity.

I was granted full access to all Facility department stuff to ensure that we could meet Facilities needs in a timely fashion. Cross department budgets were created and followed with procedures put into place guaranteeing no overlap of effort. Ongoing open communication and pathways insured that milestones on the project were met by the Technology department. By having a voice and a seat at the table, Technology department staff were far more engaged and invested as projects progressed.

In the fourth part of the series on partnerships, I believe this example has been the most successful on the topic. If leaders across departments can sit at the table together, learn how to infuse their practice with in one another’s departments, and streamline needs, students win.

Working on tasks toward a common goal are not to be confused with partnering.  In a partnership, key staff will set aside time to build relationships, compromise often, and if really bold, take on some of one another’s duties.  Similar to a marriage right?  In it together, not along side one another.  I encourage you to establish partnerships with all departments in your district to better serve the needs of our very important customers: students.

What’s Your Intention?

I have been a district administrator for more than 14 years. In four different districts, I have been a part of systems change efforts with a variety of teams and skill levels. Every district, just like every school site, has its own unique culture. From office staff, to kitchen staff, noon duty supervisors, bus drivers, teachers, administrators, parents, community, board members, and students, the list of stakeholders can go on and on.

And yet, I have found the most effective way to guide my daily work is to be very clear about my intentions. I try to keep it very simple “Is this good for kids?”

Any member of any one of the stakeholder groups may say it’s not that simple. I have found in the many years wearing many different hats as a leader that for me it works very well. My intentions as I work my way through daily operations in the many special and challenging moments that occur during a school year and summer that being very mindful about who I am serving guides all of my decisions easily.

I work in education for students. That means on any given day my focus might be any member of the stakeholders mentioned above. And if I serve them well, students needs are met. I am a firm believer in the interconnectedness of all of us and our intentions.

Parents may say they have to make tough decisions for the children. There are moments as a district administrator that I make tough decisions for students. Any of the stakeholder may not believe in the moment that that is what is best for students, and yet I do my very best to try to meet their needs with students in mind.

It’s not always perfect, it’s rarely tidy and yet I believe by keeping it that simple that I am making a difference in students educational journey.

If you happen to be one of the lucky individuals that gets to work in education, and I really do mean that, what your intention? I want to challenge you to contemplate and reflect on what adds value to your daily Compass as you walk serving students. When all of us are clear about our intentions to serve students, our schools are highly effective in doing just that. Students win.

Leaders- Step Aside

I am a strong proponent of empowering staff. There are many low-cost opportunities to do just that. Let me focus on staff meetings. Often as leaders, we believe we have to guide the experience in the conversation by presenting a robust agenda, interactive experiences, and opportunities for conversation. I often try to challenge myself to provide opportunities in that same light but actually led by department staff, rather than myself. Professional development is an area that I often will empower department staff to partner with unlikely teammates and prepare and share concepts, best practices, key information technology skills, and new areas of thinking.

Recently, to staff in my department led professional development for our department meeting on the topic of MakeyMakey/Scratch for the Special Ed population. In a 45 minute timeframe, they created and led teams through some very robust skills at a high-level using the design thinking model. They determined the teams, brought the supplies, prepped all of the elements of the training, and then guided and supported the team through the professional development.

At the end of the timeframe, teams shared with department their projects and entertained questions. This professional development could have been delivered in any variety of ways. I personally could have delivered all of the concepts and led the department with the exact same structure. For myself as a professional, it was far more meaningful to empower my staff and actually be a participant amongst my department professionals.

Leaders: my question to you, in every leadership position that you hold, is when do you Step Aside?

“It Starts In IT”

Recently, I was listening to a CheckThisOut podcast and the statement was made “It starts in IT.” In the year 2017 schools are still struggling with technology integration. The notion that was presented by Brian Briggs was that in order to implement technology fully in classrooms related to hardware selection/management, “It starts in IT.” If your IT department does not have a level of comfort innovating you will find yourself extremely limited with what can occur in classrooms today.  IT departments in schools too often get stuck with the toolset they know and the tools they feel confident managing.

When I leave my own district and I’m out with teachers I still often hear, “We cannot access that, we’re told we can’t use that, and it’s blocked.” In 2017, we are still held at bay by our IT departments too often. I have been an IT professional for well over 20 years, and hearing this is still heartbreaking and often true.

My recommendation is that classroom teachers + parents + students rally and challenge administration to challenge IT. If you have IT professionals that lack the skillset to innovate or the will to innovate, there are ways that you can train them and educate them around the new value that they can offer just by being risk takers.

What devices are used-what standards are followed with projection and doc cameras and laptops and Chromebooks.  What operating systems are supported still drive classroom instruction. For IT departments that want to better meet the needs of their classroom teachers, there are very inexpensive ways to innovate without putting the organization at risk for potential intrusive challenges. There is a happy medium that we can reach with classroom teachers in IT. The willingness on the part of the IT staff has to be to give up a little bit of power and control. If you are in a position where you manage the IT staff, you can easily make it part of their evaluation.

In classrooms, to support teachers that want to innovate, IT departments have to evolve and innovate themselves. Yes we have to follow laws. Yes we have to follow industry standards. Yes it is easier to manage only one type of hardware. Does that best meet the needs of our classroom teachers, I say no. I challenge IT leaders to stretch their own thinking around how to best support classroom teachers.  If IT leaders are not “in classrooms”, they cannot see what a hindrance they are to learning.  Invite them into your rooms. Encourage them to observe.  Share this blog post and ask they reach out.  #cueadmin is full of innovative IT Leaders.  @CETPA has certified CTO’s that take courses in EdTech.  There are avenues. There are support mechanisms.  Nudge them.

Attended @EBMakerFaire 2017

I have been attending the East Bay Mini MakerFaire at the Park Day School in Oakland California for the last 4-5 years. This was the first year I experienced the event flying solo. It is very different to attend an event like this with my kids versus by myself. And walking around, I found myself more often than not struck by the enthusiasm and excitement levels of the kids then I was by the Makers themselves.

As a Chief Technology Officer in a medium size school district in the Bay Area I have an opportunity every day to infuse the Maker movement spirit into classrooms in small ways. I crowdsource a lot of information and share it out with the hope that teachers administrators and students will find nuggets among the resources.

Even though we are a mere 45 minutes from where the Maker movement sprouted as a magazine and then blossomed into an annual conference, there are still so many parents and educators in the area who have never heard of it. I have taken it as an opportunity to share my love and commitment to the Maker movement.

After 17+ years as an educator, I absolutely know there is no silver bullet. There are many approaches to achieving the learning objectives teachers, schools, and districts have with their students. The shift though, is a societal shift & classrooms need to modernize in order to remain relevant. No longer can we ignore technology, the impact of students that are creating content in their spare time, and curating content around passion projects. What historically had been a hobby or after school activity, must become integrated in the school day. Parents now have choice around where their children attend school and that also must be a consideration for our classrooms today, not tomorrow.

The spirit of the Maker movement does not mean high technology in classrooms. The spirit of the maker movement is instilling a sense of curiosity and risk in everything people do as part of the Maker movement. One of the most compelling examples I heard today was a Maker telling a young student to not worry about what it would look like at the end, but rather focus on the tactile and texture of the materials exploring what could be built. In classrooms, in small ways every day, teachers can do just that. To make the movement truly a cultural shift in schools, we must integrate it beyond pockets of excellence.

When I began teaching Maker projects with classroom teachers a number of years ago, my focus was to give them lesson plans and tools that they could deliver immediately with a level of comfort and that same sense of curiosity and exploration. In the past year, my shift has moved more towards administrators and parents in an effort to educate them about the value of the spirit of the maker movement in classrooms. I am hopeful that this new angle will instill the same sense of creativity and curiosity in them that I have seen bubble up in many teachers.  Wish me luck……..