The last week of March was my school’s SMART Hackathon. Everything about it was amazing! In a field full of creativity, think of this as a blank cavas. Just like the Notebook software it can be anything we want it to be. It was discussed how it would go, what would occur during each session and where the success would lie.
The biggest question when selling this to my colleagues and administration is “What is it?” In a nutshell, it’s the most open ended activity you can imagine. No rules. No right way. No wrong way. Your way. Everything that is being stated in the educational journals regarding the way we need to be teaching today comes to fruition during this event.
An excited class walks into the computer lab. Kelly Miksch and team, at my event included Jason Smith, ask the students what they are learning. She’ll make a list of it on the SMART Board and gets thnd shows them 1-2 of the LAB activities. A game is created in less than 5 minutes focusing on questioning techniques appe kids thinking about the content they are learning. Questions are asked the same way any classroom teache would guide inquisitive minds. Then they enter the world of Lesson Activity Builder (LAB) activities. From this she gets them excited about video games aropriate to the population she is working with. The students quickly see the repeated template format in each one and the energy soars. From here the children are chomping at the bit to get with their partners and create.
Listening to the conversations with the classmates, they select a topic (unless you predetermine it for them) and what they want to focus on. The students then create their first LAB activity using every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy and all the 4 C’s you can think of. 45 minutes later each group has at least 4 games, we couldn’t stop them if we tried, and then it’s time to share. Each pair rotates through the computer lab playing every game created by their classmates
It was success and there was such pride in every aspect of this. As with most lessons, there are unexpected outcomes that seem to blow us away. You see at the beginning, our Hackathon plan was to be with one class of 14 students. We later added a 3rd grade group who created their activities in 20 minutes, a teacher group where an apprehensive educator took over by assisting a colleague with a technology question and (our favorite moment) hearing a special education teacher yell out “That’s her IEP goal! This 10 year old child with an Autism diagnosis created a game, completed it successfully and it’s her goal. She has a hard time doing it in the classroom and on here she does it in record time!”
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