Archives For Programming

What is Computational Thinking (CT)?

Mitch Resnick and Jeanette M. Wing are the two main people who best describe Computational Thinking (CT).

Mitch Resnick, Director of the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab and creator of Scratch published this paper with Karen Brennan in 2012.  Computational thinking has three main parts: Concepts, Practices, and Perspectives.

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-10-50-42-am

  • Concepts are the actual computer science ideas.
  • Practices are the ways of thinking and problem solving.
  • Perspectives are beliefs about oneself and having a mindset that is open to being a computer scientist and/or thinking like a computer scientist.

Jeanette M. Wing, head of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, explains Computational Thinking in a 2006 article

Here are Wing’s everyday examples of people using computational thinking:

When your daughter goes to school in the morning, she puts in her backpack the things she needs for the day; that’s prefetching and caching.

When your son loses his mittens, you suggest he retrace his steps; that’s back- tracking.

At what point do you stop renting skis and buy yourself a pair?; that’s online algorithms.

How do Completely Automated Public Turing Test(s) to Tell Computers and Humans Apart, or CAPTCHAs, authenticate humans?; that’s exploiting the difficulty of solving hard AI problems to foil computing agents.

Prefetching and caching, back-tracking, algorithms, and solving AI problems are all computer science concepts. All this takes place in your daily life.

Wing suggests that computational thinking is not just about programming computers but thinking like a computer scientist. A computer scientist is a creative human problem solver that thinks with computers, not a boring human who tries to think like a computer, says Wing.

Who is Teaching Computational Thinking?

As coding and computational thinking have been written into curricula around the world, we are seeing people working to understand what it means.  Here is a collection of sites and projects of people making sense of CT.

Coding and CT in the United Kingdom

Computing At School Barefoot (aka CAS Barefoot) is an project in England designed to support primary school teachers to understand and teach computational thinking. Here is how they define and explain CT.

What does it look like in UK schools?

Marc is a teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator in the UK has been integrating coding into his early years curriculum for several years. Here are some examples of the activities he has been doing:

Unplugged Activities February 2, 2015

Programming Apps for Early Years July 13, 2013

He also has a book Enabling Environments: A Computing Curriculum Beginning in Early Years

And, here is a blog post if you are looking for apps for teaching coding from a teacher in the UK.

Coding and CT in the United States

33 states allow students to count computer science courses toward high school graduation.

Code.Org

Google is conducting research in the area of computer science education in the US.

Google has also put together a course on Computational Thinking for Educators.

ISTE has compiled many resources to support educators and parents in understanding CT.

Coding and CT in British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia has recently launched a new curriculum that explicitly includes coding and computational thinking. Coding and CT are found within the new Applied Design, Skills and Technologies (ADST) curriculum, last updated June 27, 2016.

Here are K-3 Coding Resources compiled by Karen Lirenman.

Questions I have about Coding and Computational Thinking:

  1. Is it a requirement to teach coding in order to teach Computational Thinking?
  2. In Ontario, should we be teaching computational thinking and coding even if it is not in the curriculum?
  3. If we decide to teach coding and CT in Ontario, do we have to cut back on something else? If so, what are we cutting back on?
  4. Many subjects have habits of mind that we are trying to develop in students. In math we want to develop powerful math thinkers, in social studies we want critical thinkers, in language we want to be able to express ideas in sensitive and culturally responsive ways. How does focusing on CT help or hinder these existing habits of mind and ways of thinking that we are already trying to emphasize the in the existing curriculum?
  5. Computational thinking and algorithmic thinking are all about logic and being highly systematic. Dr. Donna Kotsopoulos has asked whether this is counter to what we have been saying about divergent and creative thinking relating to 21st Century skills. Does computational thinking run in opposition to 21st Century learning ideals? In what ways does computational thinking compliment or detract from the 6Cs: character, citizenship, communication, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity?
  6. How often do we lead coding activities that teach coding concepts like sequencing and debugging but do not go deeper into thinking and beliefs?  How do we go beyond the pure computer science concepts and into deep thinking?

You should run a Google CS First Coding Club for kids. It’s easier than you think.  Here’s what I learned from running a club at Stoney Creek Public School.

First, listen to what my students had to say about the club:

What is Google CS First?

CS stands for Computer Science. Google CS First is a computer science club that is run through Google with everything you need. Google has created a portal that you and students will log into that keeps everything organized and holds all the content. There are 9 different themes like storytelling, animation, fashion and sports. Each club takes about 10 hours. Students will code using Scratch.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-06-52-pm

Here is a video to welcome you to Google CS First. Click on the image below:

welcome-cs-first-video

How to get started?

Go to Google CS First and sign in or click on “Start a Club Now.”  Click on the “Start a New Club” button and follow the prompts. It takes 5 minutes and you will:

  • Pick a theme
  • Create a schedule
  • Order materials (US only) or print materials
  • Bonus: Find a Guru which is someone who will help you during the sessions. I was lucky to get a parent from my community who is a developer for IBM.

Promote your club by putting up posters that are provided once you have picked your theme. Consider having an information meeting where you can show the slides below. Be sure to personalize and edit the slides before the meeting. Click on the image to see the Google Slides:

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-18-49-pm

Tip: Be sure to think carefully about the schedule. Do not just put in random dates.  This is because the activities are linked to the dates. When students login, they will get the activity assigned for that date. So if your first club meets on Monday, December 12th and if you correctly entered December 12th in the schedule then students will login and get the Day 1 activities. If you get these wrong, kids will be looking at the wrong activities.

What does a typical club meeting look like?

My club ran for 8 weeks on Tuesdays and Thursdays after school for 20 students in grades 4-8. We met from 3:30-4:45pm. Students came to the library and logged into a Chromebook or desktop computer with the Google CS First username and password provided by the club (these are generated automatically and can be reused if kids join another club).  Once all the coders had arrived, here is what the day looked like:

  1. Showcase Selector: Two activities get randomly selected at the end of the last club meeting. We start each time with looking at two students’ Scratch projects.
  2. Self-Paced Learning: Students then work at their own pace watching videos and working in Scratch.  The leader and guru (the adults running the club) circulate to help students.
  3. Wrap Up Video: We would end the club by collectively watching the Wrap Up video. Every day has a video that recaps the key computer science concepts and relates those concepts to the real world and real people’s jobs.  We would watch these as a group, though you could have kids watch on their own too.
  4. Showcase Selector: The last task is to do the Showcase Selector to pick two projects to kick off the next club meeting.

3 Tips for Running a Successful Coding Club:

1) Manage Student Expectations

Many students came to club expectations that they would learn how to make an app or become hackers. One of my club members was on HackerTyper.com instead of working through the activities.20538425773_0524d1514f_o It is important to set reasonable expectations so students aren’t disappointed that they aren’t taking over the Internet by the end of the first club meeting. Explain the goals and what computer science concepts will be taught up front.

2) Get a Guru or it’s all you!

Get a Guru! Having another adult there was so helpful. Having another adult with a background in computer science was tremendous. The students were able to get a lot more out of the club because Mr. Rozon was able to explain what they were doing and why it was important.

If you can’t get someone to help who has experience in coding, make sure to do all the activities ahead of time.

3) Emphasize Collaboration

One thing I did not like about the Google CS First Coding club was that it felt a lot like I was supervising some sort of call centre. I looked out over a library full of students all wearing headsets and plugged into computers. It was quiet and students largely worked alone. Next time, I want to emphasize more collaboration and team work.  I want to force everyone to stop every 10 minutes and talk to the person next to them. I want to have more time to share more projects and get students to give each other feedback.

How to give feedback on Scratch projects?

Helping students improve their code can be tricky.  They can make their projects more complex by using more sprites and fewer more powerful blocks, but even this advice doesn’t always work.

Check out Dr. Scratch. This is a website that analyzes projects.  You enter in the URL associated with the Scratch project and paste it into Dr. Scratch.  Dr. Scratch provides feedback on the program, like this:

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-39-11-pm

**Updated January 4 2017 with information about artsy.net and seeing more Miro art.**

This blog post includes a 5 minute video, a lesson plan and examples of student that show integration of visual art curriculum and Computational Thinking in my grade 3 classroom.

Thank you to Bea Leiderman, Carolyn Skibba, Douglas Kian and my experience at the Apple Institute in Berlin for this idea.  Using Keynote and Kandinsky is Bea’s idea. It’s brilliant. Bea, Carolyn and I went to the Bauhaus Archive in Berlin where we saw Kandinsky’s work. We also had in depth workshops on Keynote. The combination of these experiences at the Apple Institute in Berlin lead to this idea and a project. Bea, Douglas and I are currently working on a project where we are investigating how these ideas of art, coding, and Computational Thinking might fit together. This is the early stage of this team project.

This video gives an overview of the lesson and a chance to peak inside my grade 3 classroom:

Visual Arts Expectations

These are the expectations from the Ontario Arts Curriculum that apply to this lesson:

Elements of Design:

• line: variety of line (e.g., thick, thin, dotted)

• shape and form: composite shapes; symmetrical and asymmetrical shapes and forms in both the human-made environment and the natural world

Principles of Design:

• variety: slight variations on a major theme; strong contrasts (e.g., use of different lines, shapes, values, and colours to create interest)

Creating and Presenting:

D1.1 create two- and three-dimensional works of art that express personal feelings and ideas inspired by the environment or that have the community as their subject

D1.2 demonstrate an understanding of compo – sition, using principles of design to create narrative art works or art works on a theme or topic

D1.4 use a variety of materials, tools, and techniques to respond to design challenges

Reflecting Responding and Analysing:

D2.2 explain how elements and principles of design are used to communicate meaning or understanding in their own and others’ art work

Exploring Forms and Cultural Contexts:

D3.2 demonstrate an awareness of a variety of works of art and artistic traditions from diverse communities, times, and places

Computational Thinking Goals

Karen Brennan and Mitch Resnick published a paper in 2012 describing a framework for teaching and assessing Computational Thinking (CT). I learned about this paper from a presentation by Julie Mueller at a CT event for teachers in August 2016.  Based on this framework, these are the CT goals of this lesson:

Coding Concepts (actual computer science concepts): Sequencing and Debugging.

Practices (thinking habits): Being incremental and iterative, testing and debugging, reusing and remixing.

Perspective (beliefs about self): Using technology to express oneself.

Materials:

ios10-960x960_swift-playgrounds-icon_us-enscreen-shot-2016-12-04-at-11-51-01-amimovieseesaw

Source: Wassily Kandinsky [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

the-smile-of-the-flamboyant-wings

Source: The Smile of the Flamboyant Wings, 1953 by Joan Miro

For more information on Joan Miro, check out this artsy.net site here. Thank you Louise L. for letting me know about this site.The page I have linked “provides visitors with Miró’s bio, over 400 of his works, exclusive articles, and up-to-date Miró exhibition listings. The page also includes related artists and categories, allowing viewers to discover art beyond our Miró page.”  The rest of artsy.net is very much worth looking at also.

Teacher Prior Knowledge/Experience:

Student Prior Knowledge/Experience:

  • Time to play with Keynote

Lesson Part 1:

Bell-work and Minds On:

As students enter the classroom, give them the option of taking either a Miro or Kandinsky colouring sheet. While the students settle and the teacher takes attendance, students colour the colouring sheets anyway they like.

Introducing the Project and Meeting Miro and Kandinsky:

Introduce the project by showing an example. This was created by Bea:

Next, show examples of Kandinsky and Miro works. Ideally show the same art work as the colouring pages and several more.

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-12-41-25-pm

Explain how the art is abstract. Show how the example has movement that happens with just a single click.

Go over the success criteria:

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-11-47-07-am

Teach Art Concepts:

Have students compare their colouring pages to the actual artists’ works. Notice the main differences. Miro uses curved lines and primary colours whereas Kandinsky uses many different colours but has more geometric shapes and straight lines.

Teach Coding Concepts:

Introduce the coding concepts of sequence and debugging.

Working On It:

Now it’s up to students to create their own Kandinsky or Miro style art, or a mixture of both.  You should model how to find shapes, lines, and how to add animation. There are two ways to animate and they are shown in the screenshots below.

First, tap on the More button (…) and then select “Transitions and Builds.”
img_0485

Or, tap on the object you want to animate and tap on “Animate.”

img_0484

Warning: Many students will figure out how to add the animations but won’t be able to link them together.   I skip telling them this step so they are confronted with having to problem solve and debug.  Once they have a need for this information, I show them how, though many figured it out on their own.  The screenshot below shows how to link the animation. To sequence the animation tap on the object, then tap Animate, then tap the heading to get the options you see in the screenshot.  Notice that you have to change “Start Build” from “On Tap” to “With Previous Build” or “After Previous Build.”img_0486

Once students have completed their projects ask them to share the Keynote files with you.  You could do this by using Airdrop or having them save the Keynote file to Google Drive.

This is the end of the first part of the lesson. Now you will need some time to convert those Keynote files on your Mac to mP4. This part was time consuming.  I wish I could export keynote files to iMovie on iPad. But, at this point you can only send a copy As Keynote, PDF, or PowerPoint.

Teacher’s Homework Prior to Part 2:

This part is not fun.

  1. Open each file in Keynote on a Mac and export the file as a Quicktime. (File>Export To>QuickTime…)
  2. Then, open each file in iMovie and export as MP4.
  3. Share these files with students. I used Google Drive.

Lesson Part 2:

Bell-work and Housekeeping:

Give students instructions to retrieve the MP4 file you created with the Keynote files.  Ask students to open the file in iMovie. Review the success criteria.

Teach Art Concepts ~ Reflection:

Students use iMovie to create a voice over audio recording explaining why Miro or Kandinsky would like their art work.  Review the key elements and principles of design for each artist. Give students time to do their reflection and upload videos to Seesaw.

Teach Coding Concepts:

When students are finished uploading their art reflection, have students use Apple Swift Playgrounds Learn to Code 1 to reinforce coding concepts. Have students work on the Command puzzles.

Examples of Student Work:

Here are examples of the animations prior to students adding reflections.

Here are examples including the reflection:

What is Swift Playgrounds?

Swift Playgrounds is a free app that runs on iPad, as long as that iPad is running iOS 10 or later. It’s such a large and powerful programming app that it needs the power of an iPad to run. This is why you can’t get it on a Chromebook and why it is not web-based.

ios10-960x960_swift-playgrounds-icon_us-en

 

swift-playgrounds

What makes Swift Playgrounds special?

  1. It will help your students bridge the gap from block based coding to real programming.  Working with block based programming tools like Blockly and Scratch is a great way to get started, but how do kids learn to write actual lines of code? Swift Playgrounds is designed to solve that problem. Users can tap on lines of code and drop them into the project or use a keyboard to actually type out commands.
  2. Swift Playgrounds is a modern programming language designed to be simple and intuitive yet powerful. You can develop an app completely on iPad using Swift Playground except for the final step of preparing the app for the app store using XCode.
  3. Swift Playgrounds works on both an iPad and Mac. With Swift Playgrounds, you can start a project on iPad and transition to using a Mac.

How to get Started

In Swift Playgrounds you can develop your own Playgrounds from a template (I found this too hard for me at this stage) or you can interact with pre-made Playbooks. Start by downloading Learn to Code 1, 2 and 3.  Each one is a series of puzzles that you need to solve using lines of Swift code. The objective is to get Byte or one of the other avatars to move through a 3D world to collect gems, toggle switches and more.

fullsizerender-3

You and your students will learn:

“the fundamentals of Swift, the programming language used to create apps for Apple products.”

Fun fact: I’m working through Learn to Code 1 and I have completed all the puzzles for the following computer science concepts: Commands, Functions, and For Loops. Next up: Conditional Code.

Here is a screen shot of my next puzzle:
img_0480

Are there lessons and resources?

Puzzles are grouped by computer science (CS) concepts such as Commands, Logical Operators and Conditionals. At the beginning of each set of puzzles there is a mini lesson explaining to the user the CS concept. In addition, there are free Teacher Guides and an iTunes Course that include complete lessons, videos and Keynote slides to help teachers guide students through learning computer science concepts in Swift Playgrounds.  The Teacher Guides also include all the solutions to the puzzles. 

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-4-59-14-pm

 

The Learn to Code 3 Teacher Guide has just been released too:

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-7-05-27-pm

Hour of Code

Try downloading the Hour of Code activity which is a few puzzles from Learn to Code 1:fullsizerender-2

 

There is also a Facilitator’s Guide for the Hour of Code:

hour-of-code-swift-playgrounds

What do students say?

I ran a Swift Playgrounds coding club for 8 weeks and here is what some of my students had to say about learning with Swift Playgrounds:

What else can you do in Swift Playgrounds?

If you know about Tickle then you already know that you can use other apps to program robots and smart-toys.  Just like Tickle, Swift Playgrounds can be used to interact and program robots. Wonder Workshop, the makers of Dash, have created a Playbook that works with Dash called Dashbook. Read about and download the Playbook here. Below is a screen shot of what the Dashbook looks like:

img_0479

This is one of the activities I will be doing this week with my class to celebrate Computer Science week which is December 5-9 2016.

Going even Deeper with Swift

If you want to go even deeper, I recommend following Brian Foutty and subscribing to his  iTunesU course on Swift.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-5-55-18-pm

 

Or check out Paul Hamilton‘s YouTube Playlist with ideas and challenges to go further with Swift Playgrounds.

Computer Science Education Week is December 5th-9th. Classrooms across Ontario, throughout Canada and around the world will be diving into Hour of Code activities. As we do this, I would like to ask a couple of questions:

1) Should students learn to code? 

2) Should teachers teach coding?

3) Is coding in the curriculum?

1) Should students learn to code?

What would your students say if asked?  Members of my coding club share their thoughts in the video below (their answers may surprise you):

2) Should teachers teach coding?

Yes: We should use coding as a teaching tool if we think that it is the most powerful and efficient tool to teach a concept.  John Hattie says that almost every single intervention and tool in education can be found to be effective. He encourages us to “Ask not what works, but what works best.” Listen to John Hattie’s keynote from the Education On Air event held on Friday, December 2nd 2016 (watch from 19:23-19:50) to hear these very words and other related ideas:

No: We should not be using coding as a teaching tool if there are other more effective ways to teach the curriculum expectations.

Yes: We should teach coding because it is an opportunity to develop computational thinking. Computational thinking is modern problem solving.  George Polya’s four step problem solving method was introduced in 1945. Remember these four steps:

  • Understand the Problem
  • Make a Plan
  • Carry out the Plan
  • Look Back

This method for problem solving has been effective for teaching math for a long time, but will it be an effective model of problem solving for the future? The problem solving skills and habits of mind listed below are more fruitful for the current world we live in and the types of problems our students may face now and in the future:

computational-thinking

 

Yes: By 2020, there will be over 200,000 unfilled jobs in Information Technology says ICTC.  50% of those jobs will be indirectly or directly related to app development.  If one of the roles of education is to prepare our students for employment, then we should be giving all students opportunities to learn to code since students are likely to get work where they are either coding or working with a developer/programmer.  It is up to us to ensure that all students, including ones in my video above, to understand that learning to code is relevant to their lives.

3) Is Coding in the curriculum?

The short factual answer is no.

If you look more creatively at the curriculum the answer might be yes.

If you search the Ontario curriculum documents or the Achieving Excellent document, you will not find any explicit mention of coding or computational thinking.

untitled-drawing-1

The only place I found anything close was a reference to computational strategies, which is not the same as computational thinking.

However, teachers can use coding as a tool to teach the curriculum, just like you might use a chocolate sundae making activity to engage students and teach about procedural writing or you would use a ruler when working on measurement.

According to people like Dr. Julie Mueller, coding and computational thinking is “hiding in plain sight” in the curriculum. This is a perspective that was presented by Dr. Mueller and her research collaborator at a session in August 2016. The same thinking and problem solving that is foundational to science, math, inquiry in social studies is also foundational to computational thinking. Also, some have found that there are many expectations in many documents, such a math, that can be explicitly taught with and through coding.  See for example Integrating  Coding into the Elementary Curriculum by Lisa Floyd, secondary school teacher.

And, while coding is not in the curriculum, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne has written an open letter to the minister of Education Mitzie Hunter encouraging educators to dip a toe, ever so gently, into computer coding:

kathleen-wynne quote about coding

Constructing Modern Knowledge CMK14

Constructing Modern Knowledge (CMK) provided a summer stopping point at the intersection of learning and maker culture right in the heart of constructivism.The crowd was pretty special: whimsical, intelligent, techy, artsy, and hip in the way that people who reject hip are hip (read: geeks).  It was a group of way finders who seemed to be happy being at the outer edge of the world of education and meeting up to make a community and create some nifty projects in a 4 day period. CMK was a 4 day event held in Manch-Vegas (Manchester, New Hampshire) July 8-11 2014.  It’s taken this long for me to let this blog post free.  I have great respect for Gary Stager and his collaborators. I am also unsettled about the place of make, invention and programming at school. I want it to work, but it continues to make me uneasy.  Join me in revisiting this event and indulge me by reading my thoughts about programming, constructivism and constructionism. Thank you.  If you make it through this post, check back later this week for another on CMK14 keynote speaker Pete Nelson, Treehouse Master.

Who? Papert et al

It was perfectly clear that Seymour Papert is the patriarchal figure of CMK.  Gary Stager made frequent mention of Papert and Logo with fond affection, great loyalty and zeal.  Papert is the intellectual father and even his descendants were honoured faculty at the event.  Artemis Papert was there with her family Brian Silverman and daughter.  Authors of the authoritative book on Logo, Learning with Logo Dan and Molly Lynn Watt, also point to the lineage of this gathering.  They are elders of the community that shape the narrative by way of oral and written history.  They are also sharp minds ready to assist with the more recent incarnations of programming languages for students such as Mitch Resnick and MIT’s Scratch.   During Stager’s opening address he made so many references, both direct and indirect to Papert that I wish I had started a tally. IMG_1327

Where’s Papert? Who gets credit and who doesn’t.

Stager is not only honouring the intellectual past of programming in education, he seemed to be fighting for recognition for Papert and Papert’s contribution. He indicated several times that Papert has been systematically erased from the story of programming in education.  I was not able to get to the bottom of this sentiment expressed by Stager, but my sense is that perhaps it isn’t only Papert that has been underemphasized but also Stager and Martinez.  The two have authored a super successful book Invent to Learn and have a long history of contributing to educational circles.  They are riding a wave of enthusiasm for maker culture, hands on learning, and STEM/STEAM education.  If the maker movement is a passing fad, Gary and Sylvia will be championing constructivism and constructionism and the hard fun of invention with and through programming long after the last LED stops blinking.  After all, they and their merry folk have been around before Make was spelled with an uppercase M and followed by the familiar TM.

Constructivism Constructionism Double Take

The event is called Constructing Modern Knowledge and I am wondering why I was at all surprised by the heavy constructivist approach.  The theoretical underpinnings are from the constructivist tradition and the play and materials people.  Piaget, Patri, Montessori and Reggio Emilia are big influencers.  This is apparent from the talk and the library collection.  Michael Hyde, my friend and fellow attendee points out to me that constructivism starts to look, feel and sound a lot like constructionism. Indeed it was Papert who hand-crafted his own educational theory with the notion of constructionism. When touring the projects there was a lot of building and making and crafting and construction.  Edith Ackerman, one of the guest speakers, even suggested in her talk that perhaps “the maker movement takes hands-on too literally.”  Is a constructionist approach too literal? Is it possible that taking constructivism too literally leads to constructionism?

I love the giant robot hands.

I love the giant robot hands that one team built. IMG_1359 They were huge, glorious, well crafted.  They even worked like real hands with stringy tendons and fingers.  They were marvelous.  They are proof that making is marvelous.  But is construction enough to achieve the objectives of constructivism and play?  Would adding an arduino and some programming make it even better or would it simply be animating an inanimate object? It’s so marvelous, the picture doesn’t even begin to show the magic. But, is this constructivism or constructionism? Is one better than another? Does it matter which?

Mind your Ps and Cs (Hot words of the 21st century)

I think if we are moving our pedagogy and our curriculum towards incorporating all the illustrious C words of 21st century learning as well as the P words, than both constructivism and constructionism will have a place.  Where play, passion, peers, projects and process (The 4Ps behind Scratch) are the mega goals and values of the classroom or school then bring on the cardboard, 3D printers, scanners, arduinos and whatever-else-you’ve-got.  Edith Ackerman supports the notion of making, but also encourages us to consider making-do as in reclaiming an age of domestic arts where fixing, repairing, improving and repurposing are as valued as inventing something out of nothing. I feel in my heart that there is value here, but I also feel a trap.  Edith Ackerman is interested in the relationship between the mind, the hand and the tool.  She says that it is not about success or failure but rather the ability to determine the next step.  She also calls on us to stay with these innovations long enough to see if we were seduced by a quick thrill or whether something greater and more important emerges from the intersection of the tools and the way they are appropriated by people and communities.  CMK is an epic win because it is this kind of intersection.  One with a pulse and a heart.  Like Michael, Greg and their team’s creation (pictured below).  It can be beautiful and meaningful all at once.  But, it is confusing.  It’s closer to art than to the school I know, but I am pretty sure that’s a good thing.

Heartbeat Wall from CMK 2014 on Vimeo.

 I feel it.

IMG_1298

“I do not remember the school ever staying with a beautiful idea long enough to have it become part of children’s lives.”

-Angelo Patri