Another school year has come and gone like the wind. With that comes downtime . . . well sort of. It’s taken me quite a bit of time to get back to blogging as I needed to find that reflective. I think I am at that place.

A Year in Review

California Global Education Project (CGEP@Sonoma)

The CGEP Participant at a farm

My involvement with the CGEP Project @ Sonoma State University has been a supportive resource in helping me develop the STEAM:Gaia class. While I was in the process of applying the design thinking process in designing a learning experiences that will hit on some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), I’ve also connected with many wonderful colleagues from the North Bay around the Santa Rosa and Sonoma Area. It’s nice to get out the Bay Area bubble and listen to perspectives of what sustainability looks like up North. I took back the designs I made and attached a narrative to that design so that becoming a Guardian of Gaia is a role that our learners will play in becoming sustain-ably minded.

Gamifying the Jedi Innovator’s Hub

STEAM:Gaia Adventure on teamaringo.org

Prior the school year, I’ve been working on revamping the design of the Jedi Innovator’s Hub at www.teamaringo.org, so that it has a variety engagement strategies. A lens that I focused on is how do I gamify my learning management system so that students are immersed in the learning experiences. This year I piloted the following design principles:

Every learning experience is organized using the language of adventure.

The quests and missions allow me to organized the instructional design and provided a change in language so that the language is focused on the adventure and not on “school” as school has taken on other meanings for our kids.

A timer was present so that students know how much time there is in completing a quest.

The timer has some mixed reviews. Though the timer was there for the purpose of providing our learners as a way to manage their time, many student lacked ways to manage their time wisely. Something that I will be working on is providing structures such as chunking weekly tasks or mission into thematic quests so that our learners are able to manage their time. Though there is a paradox between time and the amount of learning as all of our students learn at different speeds. Something that I will be working on is making certain tasks mandatory and if students want to move further there are optional tasks where students can receive experience points on (once this option is successfully implemented)

A progress bar was present so that students can monitor what tasks they have completed.

This implementation has been successful as my learns and I used this feature a number of ways. Students who need to keep check of their progress, naturally check it on their own on their account. They practice responsibility by asking whether or not I will be checking work. For students who don’t check it frequently, I am able to show them their progress personally on a weekly basis which is a way for me to develop a rapport with my students. The color coded cues for each mission was useful as it gave our students feedback on what missions requirements they met and not met. If they didn’t meet the requirement, they are able to redo the assignment before our cut off date.

Piloting the Computer Science Supplementary Program

Another adventure I decided to pursue is revisiting a prior journey that I didn’t feel successful on when I was a freshmen in college. I decided to help out in pilot the Computer Science Supplementary Program which required me to take classes in computer science. The experience provided me a foundation in computer science content and practice where I got to learn programming structures, learn python, and learn how to design and engineer software. What I felt was missing from this experience was implement good teaching pedagogy as I felt I was being lectured at for most of the time. I didn’t feel that it was experiential and this style of delivery definitely catered to certain people and not others. By the end of CSC 110, almost of the class wasn’t there for the final and it made me question how the class was designed and made me reflect on why I didn’t do well the first time around. The course didn’t cater to my learning needs. Transitioning into the software engineering class, I initially was excited in the design project but when 2 hours of the time was on lecturing on content that didn’t really help meet my needs, I started to drift off and do my own thing and pretend I was listening. I was working with a partner who was starting her journey in game development. My goal was to grow in my coding skills which happened but a lot of my time was supporting my partner in catching up in her coding skills and figuring out how to use source control which was another learning journey. Did I get something out of the program? Yes I did. Can the program be implemented and delivered in a way that will engage us all? DEFINITELY. Stepping back — IT’S A PILOT .– so they are figuring their stuff out on their end. I got one more class to go and I’m done.

The Innovation Grant and World Savvy

A Group Presenting Their Physical Prototype
Tower of Eden

In addition to working with the CGEP Program, they gave me an opportunity to work with World Savvy to immerse our STEAM and Science Program in the Sustainable Development Goal. After receiving funding from the Innovation Grant, the Science and STEAM Classes collaborated in immersing out students in a project based learning experience where they had to develop a solution to a dilemma as it pertains to a sustainability goal.

As a result, 125 students presented at Mills College in Berkeley, CA and about 200 student presented throughout the day on site on May 23rd. It was a power experience for our learners as they all went through a process to develop a solution, produced a high quality work, and exhibited their work to an authentic audience.

Cardboard Arcades

The Cardboard Arcade session was a successful project based learning experience. Launching this project, students showed a mix of responses as some student who were in my coding class wanted to start on their digital games and student who weren’t in last year’s coding class didn’t know what was going on yet. The change to this year was structuring group work so that everyone had a defined role and kept each other accountable to their role. Students met at the beginning of every week, stated their goal, listed their tasks, and delegate those tasks. As a result, accountability to each other was strong. I also provided different ways in which student expressed their knowledge on game design. Groups made a Google Slide which specified their design and made a video instructional manual so that others know how to play their game.

National Boards

In one year, I’ve collect data, evidence, and supported my case on how I am an accomplished teacher. After writing this up, I can say that I’ve definitely evolved in the past 13 years of teaching in terms of how I talk and act on education, equity, and research based teaching practices. It’s been 4 years of waiting for the right time to do it and I finally did it. Hopefully I did well and supported my case with strong evidence, analysis, and reflection.

Trailblazer @ Salesforce

In addition to World Savvy, I’ve had my STEAM:Gaia students participate in the Salesforce Trailblazer which had very similar outcomes to that of World Savvy. Students used the design thinking process to produce a solution to sustainability issues as they integrate a mini processing board called a micro-bit. A sustainability goal that the STEAM:Gaia class focused on was Responsible Consumption and Production. Though I had a class that needed extra guidance and structures, they’ve successfully made it to the end where they presented their upcycled products to Salesforce employees. Though the learning experience was valuable, I had some reservations on the implementation of this processes. My goal for our students was to have fun with the process of innovating solutions, share what they have done, and how they have done it. This process was initially designed to be intrinsically motivating but when rewards, prizes, and money comes into play to reward the best pitch, according Daniel Pink in his book Drive, it devalues the experience, makes it more competitive, makes our kids focus on the extrinsic rewards rather than the learning process, and have them perform a complex task at a limited level of expectations. This is where we have a stark difference in values and beliefs between education and business. At this developmental age, our kids don’t need to experience competition with others, they need to experience working each other, sharing ideas, competing with themselves to push their work, providing each other feedback even at the ending stage, and reflection. The emphasis of this experience should be the learning experience and process and not who the winner is. The emphasis should be on developing sustain-ably minded citizens. The end goal should be celebration of the work.

2019 CUE Teacher of the Year

This year was a year of recognition. It was heartfelt. I am very thankful for those who recognized the work and recognized the sacrifice needed to make sure the work is modeled for educators.

Revamping STEAM:Coding

This year, I toss away my last STEAM:Coding Curriculum as 2017-18 students expressed a need for learning the GameMaker Language. So I went back to the drawing board to figure out what the summative assessment will look like. Though it was a high level goal, I felt that my students could take it on. The learning goal is for our students to make a role playing game using the GameMaker Language. The video above shows a work in progress of the role playing game. It was complex but the complexity was needed so that student see how to use the programming structure to help answer the questions they have. Looking at where they ended up at, I was highly impreseds with their work at they were able do to as they applied what they’ve learned in their World Savvy Project.

In Reflection:

A lot of great things were going on to improve the STEAM Program and improve myself as a practitioner. Though my work ethics were strong, there is always something that I need to work on to make myself a better educator.

Action Research Question:

How do I design a learning experience where students are intrinsically immersed in their learning journey?

I decided to focus on this Action Research Question as school in general is focus on the extrinsic rewards such as grades, prizes, credit, which limits the level of performance for our kids according a variety of performance based research. When you design an experience where student experience “flow” or immersiveness, then we’ve design learning where students have voice and choice in their process of learning, where they are able to take creative risks, where their skillset matches their level challenge, and where the learning is meaningful and relevant to the student. This will result in the highest level of engagement which is empowerment.

Personal Goals

A lot of wonderful things happened last year that I almost forgot myself in the process. I felt like I was taking on too much and I was saying YES to too many things. I need to go back to the drawing board and put priority into things that feed my soul from being at the gym, taking longer walks with my dogs, being with family, get back into creating and writing, and tending my garden. What I need to do is put effort and say YES to a couple opportunities that make me grow in the area of teacher leadership whether it be through facilitation, mentoring, coaching, or being a critical friend. Hopefully there are opportunities where I get to practice those skills on site.

Equity Goals

An equity goal that I want to work on is knowing where every child is at in their learning journey and to improve the instructional resources so they are accessible and effective in help our learner reach the learning goals. A lot of resources and strategy got revamp this year, I needed this year to collect data on the resource’s and strategies effectiveness to reach our English Language Learners, our students of color, and students with special needs. Another equity goal is to push for courageous conversation and discourse 2 as the culture of our staff conversation is sometime highly focus on what we see, the symptoms, rather than being critical on ourselves as we battle our own implicit bias and have courage to question whether or not our current work is hindering our ability to develop a trusting relationship with our students as a means of pushing our student to higher level of learning.

Leadership Goals

I’m back at mentoring new teacher’s at the Exploratorium. Something that I want to focus on is developing an environment where I am able facilitate activities where our new teachers are safe to take risks and be vulnerable to talk about their teaching practices so that they are able to listen to feedback, think critically about their practice, and grow as new teachers. Another question would be how would I take these skills back to our school so that our teachers are able to improve their project based learning experiences that they will be designing.

Those are my goal for the upcoming year. I’m excited for the year to come but it’s summer and I need to turn off my brain for a little bit.

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