Sunday, November 29, 2015

Global Skype-a-Thon: Promoting Education without Borders

Join the Global Skype-a-Thon on December 3 and 4, 2015.  

Have you used Skype in the Classroom?  There are so many wonderful opportunities to get involved and bring amazing learning opportunities to your students.  A few weeks ago I participated in the #RedefineLearn event at the Microsoft campus in Redmond.  One of my key takeaways was how amazing the Skype in the Classroom program is.  The Skype-a-thon is a great way to get you started with using Skype with your students.  Getting started is easy and the resources available through Microsoft make it easy to get involved.

I encourage you to sign up now.  The easiest ways to get involved:

Mystery Skype connects you with another class somewhere in the world.  Both teams ask yes/no questions in an attempt to figure out where the other class is from.

Guest Speakers are available and willing to meet with your class. You can also sign up to be a guest speaker.  The Skype in the Classroom program has a wide array of speakers on many different topics.  From my experience, experts are very willing to take some time to visit your class, so if there is someone specific you would like as a visitor, I strongly encourage you to reach out directly.  Twitter is a great starting point to make the connection.

Virtual Field Trips are a way to bring your students anywhere in the world from the comfort of your classroom.  At the #redefinelearn event we met with someone from the Museum of Science in Raleigh who shared 'the unhuggables' with us.

How I've been connecting globally:

I have been using Skype and Google Hangout to connect my students with game developers.  I find it incredibly valuable to provide students with access to industry professionals who can share ideas, tips, and even guide my students to follow their passion through our interactions.  Some of the experts we met with so far include:

Caro Williams Pierce (@therealcaro).  Caro is a doctoral student who created a game for her dissertation using Little Big Planet 3.  I have students working with LBP3 so it was great to get a first hand account as well as a walkthrough of the game including how it was developed. 
Rahul Banerjee, the creator of met with our class four weeks in a row.  It started with a guided tutorial to show my students how to use the 'no-code' game development environment. Rahul met with two of my classes each week and as we progressed it was evident that the input from my students was as valuable to Rahul as his instruction was to them. My students provided feedback, asked questions, and contributed ideas to features that are now in the program. Rahul was even kind enough to meet with one student from a different class who really wanted to meet him.  When they met, the first words out of my student's mouth were, "I can't believe I'm really getting to meet you!".  They were able to meet one on one on several occasions.  Rahul is pretty awesome and my students love when he visits!
John Day, one of the developers who worked on Disney Infinity met with us to discuss his career as a game designer and specifically ideas about working with Disney Infinity, one of the tools my students use to create games.  
Mike Watanabee, creative director (and voice of Tim!) from Brainpop (@brainpop) was kind enough to meet us from his home in Hawaii. In order to do so, he had to get up at 4am. The kids were super excited to meet with him and talk about brainpop, the process of developing the videos, and of course roared when he addressed us as Tim :)  
We've had other visitors and I plan to continue develop these connections and allow my students to communicate directly with the experts. In fact, I have a commitments from some very exciting people in the game development industry.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

#20PercentTuesday Week 7 Reflection

The excitement around #20PercentTuesday continues to grow.  I am thrilled to watch the proejcts evolve and watch the students enter the class every Tuesday eager to get right to work.

There are so many projects happening and they cover a wide variety of tools, technologies, and innovative ideas. I truly believe this is the way to encourage students to discover a passion for learning and areas they may not have known they were interested in.  If I can provide that opportunity for my students, I feel I have done good by them!

Below are some images of what you would see happening if you walked around my room on any given #20PercentTuesday (or lunch period for that matter)

Creating a racing game in Disney Infinity

Demonstrating the Go-Dough game controller in Action

Student created @snapguide #minecraft tutorial

Learning to use MIT App Inventor from a YouTube tutorial: "Watch it...Build it"

Installing Unreal Engine!  Almost time to start building a Virtual World to explore with the Oculus Rift!

Sketch of house that will be built in Sketch Up and Explored with the Oculus Rift!

Programming the "brain" of a character in Project Spark

Creating a Text based Adventure using Twine

Getting started with SketchUp

Programming Command Blocks in Minecraft

There was much more happening, but this gives a nice idea of the kinds of projects students have been working on this week. 

Here are a few student reflections from the week:

1. My partner and I are working with the Oculus Rift

2. So far we have learned the basics of what SketchUp and Unity and how they work, we are still looking at vdeos of how to and good ways to make a basic house 
3. The progress we have made is, we made on a piece of paper the house and items and downloaded sketchup but we still are watching and looking at videos to get a good hold of what we are going to do

4.Next steps: Hopefully starting the basics of the house then advancing to the hard details of the house.
5. Honestly I feel the nerves and excitement thinking about the day we get to play it and thats my real aha moment just seeing that day

1. The tool that I am working with is twine to create a text based adventure. 
2. So far, I have learned to code a text based adventure and do it fast. I have also learned how to organize and create a text based adventure game. 
3. My progress so far is I created the outline or brainstorm in popplet. I have also began programming my actual game in twine. Yesterday in class, I continued programming and making my game. I am about halfway done with making my game. 
4. Moving Foward, I plan on just finishing my original game. I will then ask for feedback and make corrections to the game accordingly. Once my game is revised and finished, I will publish it for the class to play. 
5. One aha moment that I have had was when I realized I had to become fast at coding each individual part in my story. Another aha moment I had was when I realized that I needed to learn how to save and upload my story to google drive so that I could do additional work at home.

At this point, students are at different phases of their projects. It is awesome to see them taking ownership of their learning.  I am constantly reminded of how kids learn in informal learning spaces (youtube, tutorials, wikis, peers, etc.). The 20%Time Passion Project model is one of the best ways to nurture authentic student learning.  Stay tuned for more reflections and student blog posts.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

#20PercentTuesday: Week 5 reflections

During week 5 my class was on their own for #20PercentTuesday as I was at #iNACOL presenting on Building Bridges in the EdTech Ecosystem representing #EdTechBridge and Teacher voice along with Katrina Stevens (@katranistevens1) and Kara Chesal (@KCintheNYC).  The conference was great but I was eager to see how my kids did as they moved forward on their Passion Projects.


Since I was absent it occurred to me that I should create a way for students to reflect weekly as a means of documenting their learning and also focusing their efforts as time management for long term projects (especially for middle school students) can be very challenging.

I created a quest in 3dGameLab (now Rezzly) that repeats each week for these reflections.  I am asking students to either share their thoughts in a simple quest submission or as a blog post.  I would love for students to start blogging about this experience but don't want to require that right now as I want to respect their work flow.  I did offer extra XP for blog posts however :)

As a guide for their reflection, I offered the following ideas (they don't have to stick to these but it provides a guide as they start their weekly reflections:

  1. What product / tool are you working with?
  2. Share what you have learned so far through the experience.
  3. What progres have you made so far?
  4. What is your plan for moving forward (next steps and big plan)?
  5. interesting a ha moments you have had through the experience of taking ownership of your learning.
You've heard enough from me.  Here are a selection of student responses: #stuvoice FTW!

I am working with the raspberry pi, and so far throughout my experience I've learned about syntax and coding in python, and how to turn it on. So far we have turned on the computer and have begun working with circuits. Our next steps will be using the circuits to connect and turn on an LED light through the raspberry pi. My first and only aha moment so far was when I was able to turn on the pi through moving the plug from one outlet to another. ~ yes - first rule of tech support... check all connections!

Raspberry Pi
I have learned how to use scratch and python to perform tasks.
I have completed my watch it build and have started to plan my original robot.
I will finish my plan by this week, and then continue.
When I finally built my tower using minecraft pi, that took me 1 hour, I felt really happy.

I am working with Project Spark. I have leaned how to program enemies and characters and also how to place objects down. We have placed many enemies down and built an arena. Our next plan is to build a tower for the main character to climb. Our biggest aha moment was when we learned how to program enemies! 
We are working with project spark on the xbox one. I have learned that coding is important because every little detail is important to the game. Chris and I have been able to create a world with an enemy that tries to kill us. Our next step is creating castles for the setting. I have realized that this could potentially become a popular game if we do it correctly.
I am working with project spark.  I have learned how to use the tools and add characters and enemies to fight.  Also i learned how to pick up a bow and shoot at enemies.  So far Max and I have created a forest and are beginning to make enemies to fight against.  Moving forward we are planning on creating levels and more enemies to have to fight as we go on.  Also we would like to go on with our story line.  So far an Aha moment that i had was when Max and i did not know why the enemies were not fighting back but it was because they had not been programmed yet.
Well for starters i am working with Project Spark. I have learned how to program my characters to do unique things all from scratch. John and I have made very good progress in our own game. We are still planning the storyline a bit but we are starting to program things now. Our plan moving forward is to complete our game or at least a prototype. One aha moment that i have had so far is programing an enemy from scartch and how many coding things you need to put into him.

The tool that i am working with is Disney Infinity, during this experience i have learned a lot like how to make a race track and how to build a pyramid and much other things. We have almost finished the outer part of the pyramid and we are going to make a interior, we have also built a couple small racetracks. Like i said we plan on making a complicated interior with a tomb to be decorative. We at first had no idea how to delete stuff and place stuff down correctly but now we have figured that out.
Bloggin' With Ryan-----Disney Infinity!Today I would like to talk about one of my favorite times of the week; 20% Tuesday! 20% time is a time in class that we have to try different things, such as using the Makey Makey, Rasberry Pi, Project Spark, etc. The one I chose to use is Disney Infinity. For those of you that don't know about the Infinity, it is basically a Disney game where you have the ability to create almost whatever you want, or you can follow a story. Start by simply placing one of the many heroes onto the base and watch the hero appear on the screen. I decided to make a motorcycle race track with unique obstacles and cool scenery. So far during this experience I have learned a ton about the frustration and concentration it takes to make a large build like this. If you are not focused it will drastically slow you down, and when you don't have enough time to do what you want, it can get frustrating. So far I have made the outline, and now I am starting to add in obstacles and different types of terrain such as loops, things blocking the way, and more. The next thing I plan to do is add in a section where you must get off your bike and run through a maze. Along the way you will encounter many challenges that I have not decided on yet. Most important of all, fun will be scattered throughout the whole map. One interesting experience I have encountered so far is realizing that just because it is on a track doesn't mean it has to be just a race... As you can tell by my big plan I have already deeply thought about this. I know that this is going to be a long journey, but in the end it will be totally worth it.

The product that i am working with is the Text Based Adventure, and the tool i am using is Twinery. I have learned that the computer takes everything literally and thast you have to be very careful what you program because it might interperet it differently than what what you want because it takes everything literally. The progres i have made so far is that i have completed my story and have made it visable to the public. My plan for moving forward is that i might start with the Oculus rift and create my own personilized room of the civil war explaining what it was like to live back then. Some aha moments i have had with twine is that you can tell it to do something and then when you play it it can show up with something differne tot make the story telling more realistic. Also i experienced that you have to name your boxes different or else it will think that everything is connected to that boss, when really you want to connect it to a different one. If you don't do this then the game won't work

Thomas and I are working with the Oculus Rift. So far we have learned how to use the Oculus and how start out our house to make our game with youtube videos. So far we have designed the game that you can play in the house and the sketch of the house on paper. We are next planning to start making the house in SketchUp! What has been most intresting is playing the Oculus and seeing how the Virtual Reality is, it was really cool and fun to see and experience. It was also pretty intresting to see how people make these awesome houses, when I was watching their videos on youtube. It was really crazy to see that you can make a house and be able to go in it, on a computer!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

#20PercentTuesday: Week 4 reflections

I wake up on Tuesdays pretty excited to see what's in store for the day.  I believe my students are also looking forward to #20PercentTuesday.  The past few weeks have been great, but it was clear that it took a little time to get into a groove.  I think we may be past that!  The kids are starting to come in ready to work on their projects.  The routine now starts with me taking attendance and asking the kids to share with me what they plan to work on.  I ask them to be specific. The answer is not just 'my 20% time project' or 'Project Spark', but rather a specific goal for their progress for the day. My intent is to help them start the period with some degree of focus.  For middle school students, taking a minute to think about what they plan to focus on is a good thing. Come to think of it, for a 46 year old teacher, taking some time at checkpoints in my day to think about what I want to focus on is a good thing.

The buzz around the room is exhilarating. I shared some tweets with the #20PercentTuesday hashtag and my wife came back with a couple of great tweets...

I think we all need some 20% Time in our lives!  The truth behind the idea is to let passion drive the learning.  Isn't that what truly inspires creativity and joy in learning?

The kids were very excited.  It was fun to walk around and see what they were doing and provide some degree of support. Quite honestly it was more about celebrating learning as I wandered around checking out what they were doing and talking with the students about their projects.

Most kids were working on the "Watch it... Build it" activity at this point.  The first task is for students to find videos or print tutorials to learn from as they get started working with the technology or tool they chose. One of our quests in 3dGameLab asks students to reflect on why they chose the particular tutorial they did.  Here are some of their responses... 
I would like to do the oculus rift and create a cool room that I can use as virtual reality. I want to use the oculus because I love virtual reality because I have seen many videos of it and I really want to experience it too. 
I chose this activity because virtual reality has become so much more popular thanks to the oculus rift. It would be very cool to experience using this because everybody has told me about it and I have seen videos of gameplay on the oculus rift and the rooms/games people create are just astonishing. I would love to create my own unique room because that would be really cool to think to yourself that you created your own virtual reality room.
I'm going to try to create quests for my game. I will use project spark to create simple quests that give small rewards when completed. I chose this activity because I will recreate a Legend of Zelda game. All Zelda games have small quests. Interacting with the players unlock quests and moves the story forward. The more quests I make, the more the story and the game structure will be similar to a Legend of Zelda game. 
The project I chose to recreate through 'watch it build it' was programming python to say me name and age in rasberry pi. I found it really cool to try and do this. I have always been interested in progamming, so this was something I could that was awesome.
I am planning to make a house that we can walk through with the oculus. I am watching videos about SketchUp and Unity to learn more about the programs to continue my mission of making a house. I chose this activity because I know im going to love it and I think it is so cool to do this too.
How to play minecraft on the oculus rift
Because playing minecraft while being inside of minecraft like its real life is the coolest thing ever
I can't think of a better way to wrap up this blog post than by sharing some pictures and video from our day.

Learning Project Spark from an online tutorial

Getting ready to apply new knowledge in Project Spark
Creating a game world in Disney Infinity
Creating a game controller with the MakeyMakey and Playdough
Working with Redstone in Minecraft
Testing the game controller with the MakeyMakey and Playdough
More Redstone in Minecraft
Further crafting the game controller design
Almost done!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

#20PercentTuesday: Week 3 Reflections

Today marked week 3 of our 20% time / genius hour project.  The learning space was a buzz during my three 8th grade game design and development elective courses.  Kids are settling into the idea but it is still new to them so class starts with a bit of confusion until everyone is actively engaged in their project. I see this diminishing already and anticipate that over the next few weeks kids will come right in and get started without knowing whether or not I am even there :)

It's very interesting to truly put the learning in the students hands.  There is an inclination for students to want (dare I say expect) a lot of attention when they don't know exactly what to do.  The true humor (after the fact) comes in watching them fumble because they cannot figure out how to turn on the TV or set up the right input on the TV to connect to the device they are working with.  It literally took a pair of students 20 minutes (and a few hints from me although I was VERY stingy in giving assistance) to get the raspberry pi connected and showing up on one of the TVs in the room. Ultimately a third student came to their aid.  It was little things like the TV input, needing to take the HDMI cable out of the Xbox360 to use it with the pi, but the best was the fact that they tried to plug the mini usb into the Ethernet port in the raspberry pi and wondered why it wasn't powering up. This is one of those moments when you really want to help them but need to let go and embrace the learning that is taking place through the process.  After all, if these kids got a raspberry pi in the mail they would be sure to figure out how to get it hooked up at home without my assistance.

Some of the happenings around the room included students making progress with their watch it build it projects.  To get oriented to the chosen technology or tool, students were tasked with finding a tutorial (video or print) to guide them to use the tool to recreate something.  There were kids programming in project spark to get dragons to fight back if attacked by their player.  That was pretty cool to see!  Other kids were building worlds and racetracks in Disney Infinity.  Several teams using the raspberry pi (once they got it connected to the TV) were programming in python and celebrating the fruits of their labor.  Anyone who programs can attest to the fact that it is pretty gratifying to see "Hello, World" displayed on a screen when you were responsible for typing and executing the code.  Other students were working with MIT App Inventor, makeymakey, XCode, Twine, and a variety of other tools.

I'd like to close today's post with some responses to a reflection question posed to the kids.  When students were choosing the tool they would like to use, they were asked to respond to the question:

What do you think about the idea of extending your learning on your own in order to truly take learning into your own hands?

Most of the responses were great.  I will share some now and continue to sprinkle them in here and there through the year...

Extending learning on my own is important. It teaches students to be resourceful and test and look for solutions on their own. Taking learning into my own hands means that there are no guidelines I must follow, and it gives me lots of creative options to pursue as I learn on my own. There are lots of possibilities for learning when it is directed only by the creator's mind, and two people who both have similar ideas in the beginning may have different creative directions and different final products.
The idea of extending our learning on our own is exciting because then we can work at our own pace and not be held back or left behind.  
It is an interesting challenge. It requires you to be motivated. You will also need to be more creative than just following instructions.  
I think that doing so will help us learn responsibility and it will let us take things that truely interest us and will motivate us to continue working and give it our best effort.

I'll stop there for now.  I hope you are enjoying following along on our journey. I am a huge proponent of choice / passion based learning and see this project as a great opportunity to empower students in the process

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

#20PercentTuesday: Week 2 Reflections

It's Tuesday!  That means #20PercentTuesday in my Game Design and Development classes :)  It's interesting. I've done 20% Time in the past and it has generally been successful but this year there seems to be more of a buzz.  Perhaps I pitched it better last week when I introduced the idea.  Perhaps the catchy title "20PercentTuesday" is helping the cause.

Last week was mostly about students considering what topic or tool interested them.  They explored a blog post about the Empowering Learners in the Maker Age Donor's Choose grant I wrote a while back. Students could choose one of the cool technologies available thanks to the grant or pursue something outside of the products offered.  During class and the week that followed students completed a quest in 3dgamelab called: Play. Make. Learn: Empowering Learners in the Maker Age and submitting the quest involved responding to a few questions:
  • Which product appeals to you most?
  • What do you think you will consider creating using the tool chosen?
  • What do you think about the idea of extending your learning on your own in order to truly take learning into your own hands?
I especially love the third question as it really requires that students reflect upon the process they are about to embark upon.  

Below are a number of responses I received .  Interested in more responses?  Here's a link to a google doc where I am compiling student reflections.  Kids are so insightful!  

Extending learning on my own is important. It teaches students to be resourceful and test and look for solutions on their own. Taking learning into my own hands means that there are no guidelines I must follow, and it gives me lots of creative options to pursue as I learn on my own. There are lots of possibilities for learning when it is directed only by the creator's mind, and two people who both have similar ideas in the beginning may have different creative directions and different final products.
The idea of extending our learning on our own is exciting because then we can work at our own pace and not be heldback or left behind.  
You can learn from experience. It's a thing. I learn better from experience, then from a person lecturing me for forty minutes. I really like the idea... and we might become famous from making an awesome game (hint, hint, me!) You can remember the same learning experience better doing it myself, because it's dug in my mind, and I won't forget it because it's an experience, not a lesson ~summernaru  

The rest of the responses are excellent as well.  I may bring more into the blog in the future, but please feel free to peruse them at your leisure.

I started each class period today with attendance and had students respond with the topic or tool they have selected for the project.  It was very interesting to see a shift where each class seemed to have a different personality evidenced by the choices.  In two of my 8th grade sections the majority chose Project Spark, Disney Infinity, with a few choosing to work with the raspberry pi.  This led to creating a schedule where students will each get a different day to work on their project to ensure that everyone had an opportunity to work with the product they chose.  In the second section of the course.  Interestingly, my period 6 group had very different ideas.  That group had students interested in working with MIT App Inventor, Twine and other tools to create text based adventures, the Oculus Rift, and MakeyMakey with a few people deferring to Project Spark and Disney Infinity.

After talking about the project they would work on students began to research tutorials to help them with the next step of learning the particular product or technology.  This got exciting as students found things like a mod to link the oculus rift to minecraft, ways to use google sketch up and Unity to create an area to explore in Virtual Reality, in addition to many different projects involving the wide variety of other tools.

Some students had already completed this step and started working directly with the technology.  It was exciting to see students get up and running with the raspberry pi and coding in python within minutes.  Likewise, students started to dig in to Project Spark and Disney Infinity with much enthusiasm.

This all sounds great and trust me, it is.  However, I should share a little more to paint the complete picture.  We are only in week 2.  There is still a bit of confusion and this is not an approach to learning students are accustomed to in school.  It can be messy and appear disorganized.  You quickly see how some students are incredibly independent and self driven and others require a lot more attention.  This will be part of the process and while it left my head spinning at times I believe it is an important growing pain to endure. I have a policy where students with questions must put their name on the board. They may want help immediately but I am only one person and prefer to give my undivided attention to each student as I am working with them.  This is not ideal for some students that want the answer and want it now.  Forgive me for saying so, but TOO BAD.  It's a great learning experience in what to do while waiting.  And waiting idly is never the answer.  My course is quest based.  Students waiting for help can continue to try to solve the problem (my preference) or can continue working on another quest until I can assist them. Again, part of the process.  I called this a growing pain because early in the project it certainly is.  I am willing to bet that in a few weeks students will walk in and get right to work and when they have a question they will put their name on the board and wait a little more patiently.  This is all part of the learning process.  My goal is that kids leave this experience with increased confidence that they truly can guide their own learning based on their interest.  The responses received by students indicate that they absolutely appreciate the idea.  Now we all just have to get used to it and make magic happen!

Thanks for joining us on this journey.  More to be revealed.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015


I received an email from Valvoline with the subject, "Tuesdays just got 20% better!".  Somehow that stuck with me.   I had every intention of going to get a 20% off oil change today but that didn't actually happen.  However, today "20%Tuesday" was born!

Over the past few years I have provided students with the opportunity to engage in 20% time to pursue passion projects.  In fact, I had two Donor's Choose grants funded to support the project.  The project highlighted in the grants was called 'Empowering Learners in the Maker Age" and the items purchased included an Xbox One, Playstation 4 with Little Big Planet 3, Disney infinity, a number of MakeyMakeys, raspberry pi, the Ouya gaming console, and resources to support the use of some of these items. To make matters even better, our PTO was gracious enough to fund a wishlist grant for 3 large LCD TVs for presentation and game development.  My vision is to create a studio inspired learning space that feels more like a tech startup than a classroom.  My goal is to provide a variety of resources for my students to provide great choice and inspire them to drive the learning based on interest and passion.

We hadn't officially started the 20% time idea yet this year and the email from Valvoline made me realize that I couldn't wait any longer.  20%Tuesday would start today!

I spent some time introducing the idea.  I shared how google popularized the idea of 20% time, but credit really should go to 3M.  Who knew the Post-it note was the product of an early company's understanding the value of giving employees the opportunity to explore innovative ideas.

In 1974, 3M scientist Art Fry came up with a clever invention. He thought if he could apply an adhesive (dreamed up by colleague Spencer Silver several years earlier) to the back of a piece of paper, he could create the perfect bookmark, one that kept place in his church hymnal. He called it the Post-It Note. Read more about 3M and 20% time. 
The conversation with my students continued to discuss some of google's products and how 20% time is part of their work culture.  We talked about google glass, google cardboard, gmail, google expeditions and more.

I shared some examples of projects students have completed in the past.  You can find many of them on our class youtube channel.

As I explained the project eyes started to light up.  Questions started to come at me.  Can I create an MMORPG? Can I use the raspberry pi? If I make an app can I sell it and make money? Can I create a visual novel? The questions kept coming.  The answer was essentially the same.  Yes, accompanied by the caveat that I did not claim to know how or where to start.

So, how will the 20% time project work?  My class is quest based and there is a quest line based on the Empowering Learners theme.  Students will start by reading a blog post about the donor's choose grants and the idea behind the project.  They then consider what they would like to pursue for their passion project.  Students respond to the first quest with a general idea regarding what they would like to work with and how they feel about the learning being put in the students' hands.  I am big on reflection and want the kids to consider why (or even if) they see this as a valuable proposition.

Next, student are tasked with a 'watch it build it' quest where they search for resources (tutorials, etc.) that teach how to use the product, tool, or technique they have chosen.  They share the tutorial that they plan to recreate and this provides them with an opportunity to seek out and start the learning on their own.

After completing the watch it build it activity, students decide on an original project they want to complete and write a design plan to share their vision.  Then it's time to create their original project.  It's pretty awesome to see kids follow their interest when it comes to learning.  Recently, I have become increasingly excited about the idea of passion driven learning and leveraging how kids really learn and allowing their interest to drive the process.  I hope you share in my enthusiasm.