Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology

Hello Everyone,

The article I read was Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology written by Sheena Vaidyanathan from Los Altos School District in California.  The article focused on a digital design program offered to students and how well they are benefiting from the program.

A key factor Sheena made in her article is that students need to compete in the global workforce in this day and time by being educated in STEM left-brain subjects (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). At the same time creativity and innovation skills need to be developed which are right brain activities.  Sheena went on to explain for the last two years every fourth through sixth grade student in the district has participated in a twelve week  digital design computer program.  The focus is on creativity through technology.

The digital art class is a huge success and students realize they can make mistakes and feel comfortable doing so because they know the "undo" button does what it is suppose to do.  The students can breathe easy because mistakes can be made and they have access to an endless supply of paper, paint and other miscellaneous materials embedded in the computer program.  Many times the students would mimic the teacher's image then realize they can create their own.  Their fear of failure is erased and "encourages experimentation and leads to innovation" (27).           

Digital designs foundation incorporates math, science, and engineering.  It is a combination of art and technology.  Many students identify with the graphics and the relationship to math.  It is virtually stimulating for the creative brain putting several subjects together simultaneously.  The digital design program is beneficial financially because all the programs used are free.  Also, the development of the curriculum is available under a "Creative Commons attribution license" (27), at no cost to the school for the curriculum.  These two factors alone make it more appealing to everyone involved.

The feedback from students and parents is very positive which brings attention to this program and makes the digital design program appealing to many educators.  I can see how the program would benefit many students and reach out to students to compete in the global workforce for the students future.  I think the article gave insight to digital learning and the positive attributes that come from taking a class focused on creativity and innovation.  The Sketch program was mentioned which was ironic since our class recently finished projects from the site.
Here is a sample lesson of a digital design curriculum:

Imaginary Creatures/Using
Art concepts: using lines to create
shapes, eyes, and other details
Technology concepts: editing paths,
grouping objects, exporting files
Math concepts: editing a line by
modifying points or nodes

Thanks for reading,

Vaidyanathan, Sheena.(March/April 2012).Fostering Creativity and Innovation through Technology.Learning and Leading with Technology, 39.Retrieved from


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Common Core Initiatives - Advantage and Road Block

Hello Readers,
Listening to the video on common core state standards for the elementary level students was eye-opening to what is going on in our educational environment.  Forty states are conforming to the basic standards across the board with math and language arts.  This means the majority of the United States are having one set of common core requirements focusing on college career readiness as early as kindergarden.  The learning is different from the past in that it challenges students thinking to go beyond what is expected.  I think tapping into students abilities at an early age can only increase the knowledge children can achieve. 

The standards are expecting mastery in addition and subtraction during K-2nd grade and multiplication and division during 3rd-5th.  I believe this is a wonderful concept because I work with high school students and a good majority of them struggle with simple math fact.  It is sad to see some of these students deficient in their multiplication facts among other mathmatical practices and they are close to graduating.  Somewhere these students got lost and if we can start students earlier and maintain a higher level of learning the more productive we can be as educators and they can be as students.

The states do not have to start over with new common core standards they need to expand on what is being learned now since these initiatives are happening already. The only draw back I can see is funding. But, that is with everything else. The video discussed technology being used for extended learning and not all the school districts will have monies available to them. I believe academics should be funded as a primary concern for our younger generation to advance them in their future.

If you are interested, connect to this site for middle school common core standards:

Thanks for reading,


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Monday, March 5, 2012

Bringing Computational Thinking to K-12

Do you belive that learning should tap into computational thinking for students today?
Why/Why not?

Hello Class, 
Today, learning is far from getting out a text book and a teacher lecturing all day.  The learning has taken on new levels and I believe tapping into computational thinking is a process on the rise.  Research shows California’s educational system has significantly lower scores academically than that of other states.  I believe computational learning will help develop critical thinking and problem solving to tap into the creative minds of students.
 The article, Bringing computational thinking to K-12: What is Involved and What is the role of the computer Science Education Community? By Valerie and Chris Stephenson, illustrates factors necessary for exposure to K-12 computational thinking.  These factors are developing significant resources, systemic change, and teacher engagement.  Students need to be introduced to computing early and be able to work algorithmic problem solving and computational methods.  An important role is for the computer science education community is to mesh the the application methods and tools together.  Also, with this, educational policies and procedures need to be changed.
Another factor of importance is the definitions and descriptive language that computer science involves.  Computer science involves mechanics, design principles, and practices.  Barr and Chris Stephenson state, “the study of computers and algorithmic processes including their principles, their hardware and software design, their applications and their impact on society”.
I think a profound statement indicates that students not only become tool users but tool builders as well.  Student will use concepts and learn the process of information and analyze data to create solutions through critical thinking and problem solving.  This is the way the educational system  is heading and I think it’s a good source to help with critical thinking.  We are all solving issues and problems everyday, what better way than to increase strategies to solve these problems through computational thinking. 
The new way of learning will be evident in computational thinking in the classroom, not only as an individual, but as a group.  This brings active problem solving where engaging in solving problems with the tools supplied and trial and error.  Computational learning is on the rise and will be in the classroom sooner than later.


Barr, Valerie, & Stephenson, Chris (2011). Computational thinking to K-12: What is involved and what is the role of the computer science education community. ACM Inroads, Vol. 2(1), 48-54.