Thursday, January 21, 2016

#hourofcode in Pioneer’s High School Library

#hourofcode in Pioneer’s High School Library This rail-thin, young man, Eric, was in the library and it seemed like he did not have that much to do. His jeans were well worn, and his hat had some kind of tractor on it. The name of the tractor escapes me but after my question the student was engaged. This young man pulled out his cell phone and turned the flashlight function on. “That’s not what I asked,” I said. “Can you make a flashlight?” I asked again, pointing to the Cubelets blocks lying askew on the library table. Eric sat down, his right leg bouncing with nervous energy, and went to work. Although there are very little directions on how to use Cubelets, Eric had the flashlight figured out within 15 seconds. He was then asked a different question, which built on previously learned knowledge and continued to challenge him. I asked him if he could build a lighthouse.

Stephanie Hogan, the high school librarian at Pioneer Senior High School, invited me into her learning space to work with students. At Pioneer they have an explicit class called Problem-Solving. This class is for students who are interested in design and engineering and they were the first and only formal class to come to the library to work on the Cubelets. These students were given progressively harder challenges. They divided up into two groups at times. Sometimes the groups merged to find a solution, but the interaction between these students was congenial, risk-taking (for high schoolers) and expressive.

My "Maker in Resident" time in Pioneer's library happened the week of Dec. 7-12. This week is the Hour of Code week, which coincided with the Computer Science and Technology consortium’s Computer Education Week. To this day, just about 200 million students have experienced the “hour of code” according to When started the hour of code week three years ago, only 1 in 10 schools taught some kind of computer programming or coding. Now that number is 1 in 4. The rest of the day in the library, either random students had heard the word that something “fun” was happening in the library, or students were just coming down to socialize. The students who heard that something fun was happening approached me hesitantly but after they were challenged they dug right in. Other students who came down to socialize were curious as they watched me or fellow students “play” with the Cubelets blocks. Sometimes, I’d just ask a random student a question. Some of them would bite and some would not.

All different types of learners were involved. There was a circumstance when a special education student had the right answer and not until I pointed at the student or said “you are not listening to all of your colleagues” was this student’s correct solutions listened to and acted upon. This is a sad reality that no one really wants to see but if students are not put into these position there never is a “teachable moment.”

Even though I had a student skip class, use his teacher’s hall pass and come down to the library, all in all the day was extremely successful. Stephanie should be commended for all her work. She applied for a grant at her local Walmart and she won. With the money she ordered a class set of Cubelets, because she feels that libraries are not just for storing information but are also, places where information is created, invented, published and learned. On this day, students invented and learned in a collaborative and hands-on way.

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