Mr. Flick's Tech Badges: Take 2

#edtech #edchat As many of you know, last year I tried to flip my tech classroom for 4th and 5th graders and have them earn badges for the tech skills they needed to acquire while still in elementary school. I am pleased to report that it was a screaming success. With that said, there are still a number of things that need to be improved, and that is what I am now trying to do.

Student will use technology to help to improve literacy in Nicaragua.

My tech badge program is a mixture of the flipping model, PBL model, and Challenge Based Learning.

This summer I have been watching a lot of TED videos and they have really got me thinking. Thinking about how I can turn my students into little social innovators, students that care about the world around them and then try to do something about it.

So here is some of the info from the PBL planner that I am using to give you an idea...

Name of Project: Bethke Kids Helping Kids Program

Duration: all year long
Subject: Technology
Teacher: Mr. Flickinger
Grade Levels: 3rd, 4th, and 5th
Project Idea:  Students learn how to leverage technology to help change their world following the theme: "Using technology to make our world better."  In order to do this they have to gain certain tech skills (which will be tracked by earning badges) that will allow them to progress to different levels as they create projects that will be part of the Kids Helping Kids Technology Showcase and Dinner with the proceeds going to help a library program in Nicaragua. This will be a red-carpet event with awards to the top projects.
Driving Question: How can I use technology to make the world a better place, starting with me?
Stay tuned for more updates...


Biting the Educational Hand that Feeds You


#edtech #edchat #mlearning

Today I had the pleasure of listening to Travis Allen, the University Junior who has started his own non-profit to bring about the change that he wants to see in education. The company he started is called iSchool and the premise for what he wants is more mobile learning.

The talk that Travis gave us (about 50 people , a mixture of education and business leaders) was pretty much the same as his YouTube video. I really did enjoy what Travis had to say with one exception.

Any good story-teller knows that you need to start by explaining a problem, so at  the beginning of his talk Travis mentions how bad he feels the U.S. education system is and how unjustly treated he has been as a "digital native." He even goes as far as to list his complaints. I guess he does this for effect, and so that he can continue his story-telling by building up to a climax where he introduces how he and his followers are going to single-handedly change education, the very system that he called the "Titanic."

The exception I take is this; if he got such a horrible education, how does he explain himself. By this I mean, how is it that he is standing before us as a 20-something, successful business owner, and university junior? How did this happen in this horrible country with it's horrible educational system? His very existence speaks to the success of the U.S. educational system. Although it is true that we make horrible test-takers, as all the nay-sayers like to quote; "The U.S. placed 28th out of 30 industrialized nations in math, blah, blah, blah..." What we do make are amazing students who go on to do amazing things. Things that would never be allowed in other so-called better scoring countries.

I agree that there are problems and that we are losing jobs to other countries at an incredible rate. But there are some things that are not broken, let's not just make better test takers, let's make better people. People that go on to do amazing things in the greatest country in the world. While it is true that many of these other industrialized countries kick our butts in standardized tests -- we kick their butts in innovation. The majority of great ideas still come from this educationally-broken system of the good ol' US of A.

So my advice to you Travis is to change  your tune... a bit. Rather than saying what a horrible education you got, you should maybe sing the praises of the education that made you what you are today and then introduce what we can to do to make it even better. We are not the Titanic. For crying out loud, we just put a rover the size of Mini-Cooper on Mars using a frickin' "sky-crane!"

Frickin' sky-crane, Travis! Did you see the animation of this? Where the crud did they get that idea from?

What other country has done something like that?

So change your tune, because your present song might get you some sound-bytes and some followers. But if you want to really make the change that you desire, you need to build some bridges with us educators and not burn them.

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

P.S. What this...

What the heck is ISTE Quest 2012?

#edtech #iste12 #istequest12

Last week at TIE Colorado I tried a social media game as part of some research I am doing for this blog. I used Twitter as the platform but unfortunately we had changed over to using Edmodo for the conference and no one was really using Twitter. TIE Colorado was the testing ground and I did learn a lot from that dry run and the few people that participated. Now that ISTE 2012 is finally here I hope to find out even more about how teachers can use social media to have fun while they learn new tech skills with ISTE Quest 2012.

Here is what my Posterous website says it is...

This year's ISTE Quest is a social media game that is a mixture of The Amazing Race, a scavenger hunt, a flash mob and Improv Comedy.

With that said, join the quest and see just how much fun you can have with social media and learning.

ISTE Quest 2012

- Brad Flickinger, Tech Teacher, Bethke Elementary School

Adding an A to STEM

#edtech #edchat #elearning  -- Recently, I have been inundated with reports and articles calling for more Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) in our schools. I find these reports very interesting and to be honest, I agree with most of what I have been reading.

Self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. Red chalk....
Image via Wikipedia

I think we all can agree with the statistics that say America is in short supply of locally grown scientists and engineers. It seems that other industrialized countries are spitting them out of their universities at a rate that dwarfs ours. Many fear that this is going to cause a shift in the political power of the world which might cause the United States to lose the number 1 position.

So what are we to do?

That is exactly what my principal and myself talked about a few weeks ago -- and now we are coming up with ideas. We want to start offering more STEM projects in our school, even if we need to start a summer day-camp to accomplish this. The one issue we came up with has to do with art. You see, we want to add Art to STEM and make it STEAM instead.

Adding Art to STEM reminds me of people like Leonardo DaVinci, he was not only a great scientist, but also a great artist.

With just as many people saying that we have lost creativity from our schools and those worried about science, technology, engineering and math, we believe that by adding art into the mixture we can make STEM that much better.

Let's not just teach our student to be great with engineering, but also creative with engineering. Let's face it, many of the great advances with cool new tech gadgets is because they are so creative and cool and not just functional. Who can argue about the great creativity that goes into today's smartphones?

So rather than just making a country full of scientists and engineers, let's make DaVincies. Graduates that use both sides of their brains to solve the complex problems of tomorrow. Because that is what it is going to take to set them apart from their global counterparts.

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