When I was just a kid, my dad placed a yellow Post-it note on the refrigerator door, it read, "The Universe Rewards Action." I am not at all sure where my dad got those words of wisdom, and I am not sure the words made all that much sense to the 10 year old version of me. Looking back, I now see that this little yellow square piece of paper stuck to my refrigerator was a Post-it note prophecy. Every success I have celebrated, every badge earned, every scar that lead to a great story around a campfire or cocktail lounge, and certainly every bit of deeply held belief: each came from some leap of faith beginning, not with understanding, but with a simple action.
I wish I were writing this blog post 13 months from now, when I would surely be able to more articulately describe my eventual learning that was born on the day Brian Briggs came to my school. Who has time to wait to see what the future me learned from this experiment. The current me knows this: something great will come from this first step.
Brian Briggs is a Director of Innovation and Other Creative Amazingness (or some such incredible title), here in Northern California. I am super lucky to call him my friend, and have had the opportunity to watch him wow the crowds at many a CUE conference. The Briggs show always has first timers learning to roll robots across the floor with creative coding and the Tickle App. It is not unusual to catch a room full of full-grown educators cheering and screaming in unison while they compete for one of Briggs' 3D Printed prizes. Brian always has teachers flying drones, coding on iPads and thinking creatively in 60 minute ed-tech slam sessions all across the map.
On day I asked Brian if he would ever be able to swing by one of my schools and turn our crowd on to the possibilities of programing with primary kids, and, Briggs said he was game! He pulled into the lot on a Thursday afternoon with a trunk full of toys and took my top 10 tech minded teachers for a buckle-your-seatbelt-wild-ride. As a side note: these were no ordinary teachers - they are Super Stars. No joke, if you can dream it up, and it sounds good for kids, they'll do it. This team rocks 1:1 Chromebooks from 2nd - 8th grade, the likes of which I would put up against any Google-tastic team!
The entire team of ed-tech All-Stars dove right in: Coding Spider Drones to flip before landing, teaching Spheros to run a masking-tape maze designed on the floor and coaching Bee-Bots to solve simple equations on a chart. Each member of the team giggled, learned and turned-on to the idea of coding with kids. If we were this engaged, the kids were going to love these tools! At the end of an hour gig with Briggs, the team was fired up, minds were blown and they were dreaming up ways to bring these tech-tools to life with students.
The Brian Briggs sighting was only a couple weeks ago. Since then we scraped together some end of the year money that had fallen between the sofa cushions of the annual school budget and we ordered our own trunk of toys. The devices haven't even arrived yet but already I have seen 3rd Graders rocking Hour of Code in anticipation of the arrival; 2nd Graders tickling the Tickle App on iPads making whales fly across the screen and middle school teachers prepping lesson plans to include Drones before the end of the year!
I am not sure what we are going to learn from this little experiment. I don't know that we will evolve into a full fledge STEAM focused Code Academy because we noodled with a couple robots...but I don't know that we won't. When it comes to learning, there is really never a last step, so, the most important one is the first. The universe rewards action. We decided to explore something new and I'll check back in to let you know where it leads.