Generations planting seeds

My earliest memories of me and my Dad were driving in an old Dodge Dark, listening to “hit the road Jack, don’t ya come back no more no more”. We went out to a garden plot where he would make a golden rod bow and arrow and he would garden.

When we lived in a house, we had a backyard garden, which I helped in when I had to. Other than the carrots that you could eat with still a bit of dirt on it and the peas right out of the pods, I did not like much of what came out of the garden. I did not inherit his green thumb.

Now that I will be coaching teachers on hydroponics, I guess I better get some wisdom from the experienced. Dad came into the school. It was not the way he left it! So much tech. Despite all the high tech, learning how to germinate seeds goes back a long time and perhaps the most complex machine in these little seeds. We set up 3 or 4 pods of different seeds just to see what happens.

Ideally, we would get good enough at this that we could have these along the hall and students could pick their lunch!! We will see.

It has been a week and a half. Some are well on their way.

First Coding with Brilliant Labs

There seems to be lots of demand for hydroponics kinds of things and a desire to help automate them. I have never really coded anything before. “But Mr Fogarty, your projects have lots of coding in them!” My response is,” I have students who learn to code.” My job is not to do the thing, but to create opportunities and make things happen. I should know lots of things, but not everything.

But now I am going to be the one people are looking to. I better start to learn!!

After a 12 hour day, another 12 hour day, a 14 hour day and a 12 hour day (what a start!), I might have something. I felt like I did in grad school. Let me try this one last thing and then I’ll go home. What about this one last thing… It is addictive!!!

I finally have a code to turn the lights on and off.

The big problem is that people forget the towers and the pumps run low and break. So I wanted to use a float switch as an automatic emergency shutoff. After almost 87 tries, I think I finally have it, thanks to help from Josh Keys, who did to me what I praise him for doing with students. Gives a little hint, asks questions, provides a bit of background every once in a while. Frustrating!! and what a sense of pride when you get it!!

Then he sends me a description of a state machine. I am tired and so I will put that learning off for another time. I feel like my sons felt when we build the shed. I needed to learn if the boys were trades kids or not. So we built a shed. At first I handed them a hand saw, then I brought out a skill saw. The next day we used a hand drill for hours, then we used an electric drill. Everyday was the same.. a bubble level and plumb line, then a laser. It was a great learning experience, but frustrating. While you are learning, it is about the process less about the product. Josh made me feel similarly. But I have a code that works. When I learn State machines, I am sure it will be better.

I’m switching to the Brilliant Side

Last week, I started a secondement from Anglophone East where I have been teaching Chemistry, Physics and Math for 25 years. I will be working for Brilliant Labs with a focus on NB high schools. The timing is fortunate because NB is embarking on high school renewal with lots of chaos. It feels like the start of the universe when everything is a mixture of choas and things have not yet started to solidify. I hope I can bring my international network to bear. I am excited to learn about the cool things that schools are already doing and curious to explore next steps. I think there is lot of potential with students being able to receive credits outside the school and the idea of mini-courses. Maybe now, kids can get credit for things like Current Generation.

Teaching in the Post COVID-19 Era published

Just announced the book launch for Teaching in the Post COVID-19 Era. Chris Ryan and I published a chapter that describes the Essentials-Extensions model and no -grades till the end assessment gave flexibility to students, even during the variety of pandemic learning situations.

DNArt gets coveted spot at Micro:Bit Live 21

Yesterday, DNArt students presented in the #1 coveted spot, directly following the opening Keynote, at the Micro:Bit’s foundation global event. 92 countries, over 80 presentations.

Students stayed afterschool until 8 pm working on their code and finally victory. Others felt empowered when they made changes and additions to my PowerPoint. The next day, their day off, they arrived early in the morning. Some had spent time at night creating an animated logo for our background. Once we got the technology figured out, the talk went off without a hitch. The student who was too quiet spoke loudly, the student who struggled with English practiced the pronunciation, the person who was too fast (me) was a better speed., the person who struggled with what to say on a slide was smooth and the person who is normally very nervous was not sick to their stomach!

Here is proof that students can do good work, work that is recognized around the world. We do not have to leave NB to do cool things and have an impact on the world.

Published by McGill

Chris Ryan and I with lots of help from Patrick Howard from UCCB, were published today in the McGill Journal of Education! Thank you to Patrick for his persistence!!

“What’s the Big Idea?” A Case Study of Whole-School Project -Based instruction in Secondary Education (Howard, P., Ryan, C., Fogarty, I. McGill Journal of Education Vol 55, N3,
Fall 2020, pg 619-640 ISBN 1916-0666)

The article recounts the progress started in the transdisciplinary Science 12 class with projects like the Xenotransplant Project that happened in one classroom, to our first attempt at a whole school project with the Saxby Gale, and finally with a more formal, structured project of “What Does It Mean to be Human?” Patrick and his team interviewed Chris and I, other teachers and students as well as video recorded debriefs to provide an academic lens and language to what we are trying to do.

This is the concluding paragraphs.

The research here demonstrates the experiential pedagogies such as whole school, project-based learning resulted in meaningful experiences for high school students. The descriptions of those experiences, and the outcome of employing a qualitative, phenomenological lens, revealed important structures of the students’ life worlds as they were immersed in a specific pedagogically approach. The Shift away from traditional, didactic, teacher-centered approaches revealed fundamental thematic structures that emerged for students. It is important to inquire into student-lived experience to provide for a fuller understanding and the lived meaning of pedagogical interventions. findings, such as those presented here, provide the possibility of a more informed, attentive, action-sensitive professional knowledge and practice in the development of educational experiences designed to influence the learning experiences of secondary students.

Presenting in Maharashtra India

Was way fun talking about Developing Global Competencies for the 4th Industrial Revolution in the Collaborative Classroom to over 500 teachers in India. I’m hoping we can do a deeper dive and get past a superficial introduction and get to some depth and detail. It is less about the latest tech fad and more about leveraging the tech to get the group dynamics and pedagogy that you need. The curriculum document tells me what to teach but the Global Competencies tell me how to teach.