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.