Friday, March 27, 2015

MYthical creatures.

My unicorn guest observing our robotics.
What is MY deal?  I am so glad that you asked.  I am a Teacher of the Gifted, with a job description that is indescribable.  This is year sixteen for me, and no two years were the same.  For the last seven years, I have been the "Secondary Teacher of the Gifted" after holding the position of K - 8 TOG, and K - 12 TOG.  This year, I work with grades 8 - 12, and -- wait for it -- first graders.

As I've mentioned before, my first graders are learning coding using Dash and Dot, and then drawing conclusions from the code challenges to Common Core Standards for first graders.  (Did you know that coding teaches sequencing skills that are used in Language Arts?  How about the concepts of estimation, addition, subtraction, and --- don't tell anybody, because it's not a first grade skill, but they already know what it's called -- MULTIPLICATION!)  

There is a giant difference between first graders and kids in senior high, obviously.  What may not be obvious to many people is that the first graders have a significant advantage over high school students in one key learning area:  creative imagination.

Look, Mom!  I'm a Dragon!

While working with first graders today, we had a serious series of problems to be resolved.  The Essential Question:  How can coding help people to understand math skills?  There were masking tape paths taped on the rug, and the kids were challenged to write the code to stay within the path to the end.  There were two paths, and two students, and the competition was fierce.  Trial and error was practiced, repeatedly, as the "units" determined by the program were estimated and translated into approximate distances.  The students shared successes and tips with each other, even though they were in competition, which was so sweet to see!  Periodically, they'd report their findings in their notebooks, and then get back to the task at hand, with little prompting from me at all.

Suddenly, one student asked me if I was aware that there was an invisible unicorn in the room.

Honestly, I wasn't, but I've heard some really cool stories about Galactica, and had hoped to meet her.  I held my hand out for a good long time, inviting her to lick my palm, or tickle my fingers, but I'm told she's pretty shy.  Apparently she knows a fair amount about computer programming, and helped with the problem-solving today.

When I arrived home this evening, the FAT envelope was on the counter, congratulating me on my new status as a Drexel Dragon.  I am more than slightly amused that I will be working on a certification -- maybe a masters -- in Creativity and Innovation come September, while working at school with the most creative minds in my district who are all primary school students.  These kids are keepers of pure joy, who recognize the very magical, but very silent, skills of unicorns that adults aren't patient enough to see.  

Dragons and Unicorns are not mythical in my world.  In fact, I'm claiming them as MYthical, instead.  Today I'm a dragon.  With a lot of hard work, an open mind, and primary school friends, I hope to see that unicorn for myself in short order.