Labolú, the out-of-school activity center for kids that Ana Martí and I set up two years ago, was mentioned in the summer issue of the Spanish magazine “Educación 3.0“. This magazine sets and example for all those teachers who want to innovate in their classrooms. We were mentioned twice in the article “Invasión de robots“.
As a teacher of kids I’m used to dealing with elementary pupils, but last summer I experienced something completely new: teaching teachers. Ana Martí and I carried out a Course at UPV-Campus Gandia about how to set up robotics in the classroom. Helping other teachers run robotics activities by themselves was really exciting.
UPV-Campus Gandia run an event by the name of “Creativity Day” a few months ago. It took place for three Saturdays in Oliva, Gandia and Tavernes de la Valldigna during April and May, 2015.
It was aimed to encourage elementary and secondary pupils towards innovating and creative attitudes. Both Ana Martí and I carried out introductory activities about robotics and developing videogames.
It goes without saying that both activities are a trend nowadays. That’s the reason why more than one-hundred kids signed up for the activities. We ended up really tired after teaching such amount of people, but it was a gorgeous and rewarding experience!
“Project Based Learning” is a methodology where pupils have to carry out a long-term project with several milestones. This project must be something motivating and challenging. Assessment takes place during the whole process. Each milestone is assessed and the final result isn’t as important as the very process.
My pupils at Colegio Esclavas S.C.J.(5th Grade of Elementary School) have finished their first project. It was a “stop-motion” short film. They had to design a complete project from scratch: plot, script, drawing characters, backgrounds and creating the movement.
Nowadays many schools seem to be in a rush in order to going digital or starting innovative projects. Even though I’ve been working as a computer technician for years and I’m a lover of technology, I strongly believe that when we are working with children we all must slow down and think over what we want to do.
Every change we want to carry out in a school must involve planning long-range goals with pupils and training teachers in the beginning.
Some schools got a big break swapping paper-based books for digital ones on tablets, but is that the right way? It’s a matter of fact that pupils are more motivated in front of a tablet because of the fact that there are digital natives but I think that implementing tablets in the classroom should involve a methodological change. Otherwise, we’re just changing a cheap paper-based book for an expensive digital one.
I must recognize that I’m a lover of sci-fi books. However, I always feel embarrassed when I get to a bookstore and I ask for the sci-fi department. Society doesn’t view favourably a man in his thirties reading such genre yet. It seems to be adressed to teens or, even worse, people think that you suffer from a Peter Pan Syndrome.
Nothing at all. Even though this genre is quite young (William Wilson first used the “science fiction” term in 1851 and Hugo Gernsback popularized it in the late Twenties), it isn’t just about spaceships, aliens and robots. Sci-fi authors don’t have to stick to a real world, feeling free to talk about significant topics such as philosophy, religious beliefs or humankind destination without the constraints of the classic genres.
Furthermore, some novels are so differents that they don’t look like belonging to the same genre. It ensures that there is one novel for everyone, no matter what your interests are.
What advice can I give you if you want to get to this amazing genre? Well, it depends on your tastes. Most of Nebula Awards are fascinating (now, I’m trying to read them all). I can get you started with some of them: Neuromancer (William Gibson, 1984), Dune (Frank Herbert, 1965), 2001: A Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke, 1968).
Anyway, no matter what you choose. Sci-fi is an endless genre that will help you open your mind as well as make you see things differently.
I attended a meeting last April on the subject of new tools for teachers provided by Microsoft. At first it didn’t sound all that interesting to me but I must recognize that most schools use Microsoft’s tools daily so I stayed there to see what was brewing.
The guy who gave the speech started asking: “according to the last research of (put here the name of a famous university I can’t remember), do you know what is one out of the three most demanded skills in a job interview in the world? Microsoft Word!”. Obviously, that guy continued offering “free” versions of their Office 365 for education and encouraging us to teach pupils how to use this “essential” tool for their future careers.
Bearing in mind that he was bound to be right about that demanded skill, I completely disagree with his idea of what teachers should teach. I strongly believe that teachers should stick to the idea of teaching abilities, not tools. I mean, pupils should learn what all word processors share so that changing from a specific tool to another be as easy as pie.
When I have to resort to an ICT tool in the classroom, I try to look into several softwares from different companies or, even better, open source tools. Indeed, I show pupils that there is a wide variety of programs and that they’d better take a look at as many of them as they can. If they just learn how to use one out of them, they’ll get engaged to a single company which can go broke or discontinue the product.