On May 11th, 2017, our STEAM:Coding class had our Game Expo at Salesforce. It was awesome to have 20 Salesforce employees involved in being an audience, interacting with kids, and playing their games. It’s awesome having our kids being ask questions from Salesforce employees around inspiration, the process of creating their games, and how to play their game. At the same time, that was just the final product (the tip of the iceberg) and what we don’t see is the structure, scaffolds, and design that supports the iceberg or in this case student learning. The purpose of this blog is reflect on the journey in getting there and back.
This course was my Master Thesis baby and to see your curricular child grow into something powerful was a transformative experience for our young Jedi Innovators and I. I had the pleasure to experience the vast display of resilience and persistence that our young innovators demonstrated. Majority of the students worked diligently as they tested, repaired, tested, re-modified, asked questions, researched, and tested more in this never ending cycle of iteration class, after-school, during lunch, outside of school time via school loop or through my website, even through Zooming. There were some ideas that kids wanted to implemented that I’ve never done before and I was pushed to be part of that journey in finding out how to do it while facilitating their process of research. It was a humbling experience being a student along with them and to say that “I don’t know but let’s work together to find out how.”
CURIOSITY AND SELF-INITIATIVE
A significant number of students saw that my 2nd year coding students were learning syntax coding using the GameMaker Language. I’ve never taught my first year student how to do that, they looked on YouTube to check out tutorials on on how to execute a particular special effects and actions. This is curiosity and self initiative in action. What experiences empower students to manage and regulate their own learning? This is an on-going essential question for me. This made me think aboutopening up the option for any student to learn syntax coding in addition to drag and drop coding because they are capable of learning this age. Sometime we underestimate their ability. My goal is put power in our student’s hands so they are empowered build a physical manifestation of their story. I’ve got my work cut out for me during the summer to develop instruction around the GameMaker Language.
I also saw a transformation in a number of our young shy/quiet female innovators to take a risk in trying on different characters as they were pitching their game to the employees. They didn’t get their easily. Just like making their game, it was a process of practice, rehearsal, feedback, iteration, and more practice until they were comfortable with themselves in front of strangers.
An outcome of our class is exhibition which is defined as “to effectively communicate authentic ideas in an professional and engaging manner to a vast audience.” Our students are so use to hiding behind a screen and interacting with people on the screen in a live way, emoji way, or even textual fashion. Interacting with the people outside of our school in a professional manner is an essential skill for students to develop their own character and to learn how to code switch when the environment changes.
I brought our students to Balboa High School to rehearse their pitch to high school student not only to give them an opportunity to practice and get feedback but to expose them to the feeling of presenting in front of a stranger.
Why is this concept important? Here is an analogy . . . As a boxing coach/training, the best way to learn to fight in the ring is to design an experience that’s close enough to the real thing and expose the learners to that experience. . . and that’s sparring. It’s not easy to think about all the different facets of boxing within 2 minute for 3 round . . . let not alone thinking about getting punched in face in front a crowd. Not only do you have to manage your technique and strategy but you have to manage what is going on in your brain – the emotions and toggling between the fight and flight mode. They were challenged but with this opportunity they were inoculated with the feeling of being a public speaker. With that experience, naturally comes reflection of what can they can do better so that they can manage their emotions, command the space, develop a presenter’s character so that they can immerse the audience into their story. If reflection doesn’t come naturally to our learning, we have to facilitate a safe space for reflection. We have to be the mentor and students have to be mentors for each other.
All in all, I’m extremely proud of our young Jedi Innovators. I hope they continue their game development adventure in the future and I cannot wait to see how they will change the world with their ideas.