Hour of Code Calls to BHS

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Mrs. Chang’s Web Design class participating in the Hour of Code at BHS

Hour of Code, a global movement reaching tens of millions of students, has arrived at Burlington Public Schools. Students of all ages, elementary to high school, have been exposed to the art of coding through a variety of coding tutorials distributed by BHS Help Desk. Several teacher at BHS have brought their classes down to Help Desk throughout the week in attempt to introduce their students to a field that they feel is worth exploring. And rightly so!

Having introduced the worldwide coding initiative to only two classes, I have already come across several students who have had a change of heart with regards to coding after this experience. Many are surprised to find that a great deal of the programs and games that they are familiar with are founded upon such intricate coding. Others have realized their passion for the field after zooming through one tutorial after another and finding that coding is something that they find enjoyable!

One of two classes that came down during the week was Mrs. Chang’s Web Design class, which wasn’t too shocked to find that a large majority of their class work was code based. Naturally, they seemed to enjoy the Hour of Code experience and several students were adamant about the idea that this might be a viable career choice for themselves further down the road. I myself was able to try my hand at a couple of tutorials such as LightBot and Bitsbox. Personally speaking, I felt that these tutorials were appropriately interactive and portrayed coding in a positive light. That said, it’s seems accurate to say that the Hour Code at BHS and all of Burlington Public Schools in general was a tremendous success!

 

12/1 ILE Update

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This week marks the third week of the HeplDesk Digital development process! So far, Manas (my partner) and I have laid out the storyboard for the IOS application on template called AppPress, which allows us to see the storyboard in action before the coding of the application is complete. Now, you may be asking: why can’t we justApp press use this template to make the application and avoid the coding process? Well, as much as we’d love to, it’s not that simple. Storyboard templates just as AppPress do not allow developers to extrapolate their work from the online template. But rest assured, we are exploring all of our options. In the meantime, we are currently in the process of getting our names onto BHS’s app-developer’s license. With any luck, our names will be listed come BHS’s next license update. That said, we are still working on the coding (Swift) and are still relying on couple of online tutorials for guidance. But as of now, I am happy to report that things are going well and, more or less, as planned. Any ideas/suggestions are much appreciated so feel free to comment on this post or shoot us an email at mandmdevteam@gmail.com. Otherwise, stay tuned for more updates!

Multimedia at MassCUE

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If I was told at the beginning of this week that I’d be attending two state/region wide technology conferences on behalf of BHS in a matter of 6 days, I wouldn’t have believed it. Still recovering from an amazing experience at Edscape, I was blown away by all of the technology showcased at MassCUE. Here at Burlington, we feel that we are in the know on all of the educational technology out there. But as a matter of fact, there is a whole world of educational technology that BHS is yet to be exposed to. At MassCUE, I learned about several innovative technologies tailored to education, some of which were in use at BHS and some of which were still foreign to our 1.1 environment. Companies such as Canvas, IDEO, and ThinkGate have significant technologies to offer to every advanced educational environment out there, and it’s only a matter of time until BHS expands even further into the realm of the educational technology. But in the meantime, I think it’s safe to say that we have enough technology at BHS to maintain a more than efficient learning environment for the student body.

Escape to Edscape: Student Reflection

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As a student in a building crowded with technology specialists and educational instructors, you could definitely say that I was taken right out of my comfort zone by the Edscape Conference 2014. Never before had I seen such an assembly of experts from all over the country, each spreading their own message and collaborating simultaneously. And so what I had originally thought to be just another technology seminar, ended up being an eye-opening experience to say the least.

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Manas Purohit (left) and Michael Seleman (right) interviewing Josh Stumpenhorst (far right) during Edscape 2014.

The conference kicked off with a presentation from keynote speaker, Josh Stumpenhorst, renowned educational instructor and IL Educator of the Year in 2012. During his presentation, he mentioned a couple of key points regarding the role of educators in student growth. According to Stumpenhorst, “If you’re teaching now the same way you were teaching 10 years ago, you’re probably doing something wrong”. There’s no question that the world is constantly changing; whether for better or for worse is debatable. But what’s not debatable is that the learning methods of this generation should not be limited to those of the previous generation. But what is the role of the educator in this ever-evolving system? The answer is simple, but it’s easier said than done. Stumpenhorst, for one, feels “It’s our responsibility as educators to tap into student passion and allow them to be innovative within and without the classroom”. As children, we were insatiably curious, eager to learn about anything and everything that crossed our path. But as we developed within classroom, that curiosity was suppressed, and took a back seat to mastering the curriculum presented to us. So what we need now is to rekindle this curiosity in students in any way possible. In Lincoln Junior High (Naperville, IL), Stumpenhorst has implemented “innovation days”, during which students are given an entire school day to work on a project in their field of choice. What better way to give students the opportunity to explore passions outside of the established curriculum. That being said, we at BHS are not lacking in outlets for student innovation either. Our branch of TED Ed, for example, encourages students to pursue innovative ideas and share them with the world.

But If I’m being honest, the highlight of the conference was meeting, Sandra Paul, Director of Technology at Sayreville Public Schools. As soon as we were introduced, I could tell that Ms. Paul was genuinely interested in what my classmates and I were doing at BHS Help Desk. Talking to her, I realized that what we do as Help Desk students is bigger than the Burlington community. Since Help Desk has taken off at BHS, word has spread about the benefits of a student-run help desk within any technologically advanced school. But that aside, I think it’s safe to say that Mrs. Paul encouraged me to pursue my passions outside of the classroom. Her appreciation for what my classmate, Manas Purohit, and I hope to accomplish in the realm of technology is truly inspiring. I’m not going to lie; heading into Edscape, “networking” wasn’t exactly something that appealed to me. But now I see the value of being connected to others of the same interest in a world where opportunity is almost omnipresent. And to think, that’s just one of many key take-aways from today’s experience.

All in all, attending the Edscape Conference was an experience to remember. What my classmates and I have learned here simply can’t be taught inside the classroom, but is undoubtedly just as important. So thanks to Mrs Scheffer and BHS as a whole for giving me the opportunity to grow and explore beyond the confines of my comfort zone here at Edscape.

P.S. I was one of three BHS students presenting at the conference! If you missed our session, take a look at the presentation linked here.