For the next few days I am turning over my blog to a high school student!
Molly Bleything is a student at Oskaloosa High School here in Iowa. Her after-school robotics team, the Sock Monkeys, was one of three from the state to make it to the national FIRST Championships this week. Molly will be sharing her team’s experiences in St. Louis.
Here are a couple of videos chronicling the Sock Monkey’s early successes:
And here is a short article that Molly wrote a few days ago:
Hey guys! We are Team 4443: The Sock Monkeys. We are from Oskaloosa, Iowa and we are part of the robotics club at our high school. The other part of the club is Team 3608: The Ninjaneers. The Sock Monkeys team consists of sophomores (10th graders) and older. The Ninjaneers consist of freshman (9th graders) and younger. We do not have an official team sponsor. What makes our team unique is the different ideas, logic, and people that are on it and contribute to it. All of us see things differently, so the amount of opinions/ideas is massive! A big challenge that we had to overcome is our scoop design. At competitions, one of our tables in the pit has all of the scoop designs we’ve used throughout this season. The team has changed the design three or fours times since we made the first design out of cardboard. The continuous improvement is awesome and we are now done re-making it. It’s painted blue – like our shirts – and ready to go for competition.
We as a team have done several unique things. For starters, one of our present seniors and a 2013 high school graduate made a Rubik’s cube solver over the summer. And yes – it does actually solve the cube. We have also made a balancing “segway” robot. It balances and keeps itself upright by driving forward and backwards in tiny amounts. Often times during competitions, you can find the guys in the pits putting stuff on top of the NXT to show how much it can actually hold and stay upright. It brings a lot of attention and people often get a good laugh out of it! None of our team members have had any serious injuries during the robotics season. At least, none that have happened that involve robotics. At the end of the day, we are pretty regular nerds.
One story about our team this season…I have a great one! At the 2nd qualifier (for us, it was in Ottumwa IA), we were not supposed to continue on to state. After a lot of emails, a written letter, and the coach having a conversation with us, we were offered the opportunity to go and compete at state. All of us were really surprised and happy. To be honest, no one was expecting to get anything out of state, or to be one of the greats, but during alliance selections, we were picked.
All of us started clapping, cheering, and we were really excited. After what seemed like thousands of matches, we had won state by alliance! Afterwards, we got back and everything was crazy for a while. We had a lot of meetings, where a LOT of to-do lists were made and we set a lot of goals for ourselves. A big concern was money and how we were going to be able to pay for the trip to state. So, the Sock Monkeys hosted a bake sale during parent teacher conferences. The bake sale went over really well and with that money, and the money that was donated to us through free will donations and other various ways, we were finally ready to go.
Super Regionals arrived. The team had figured as a whole that we weren’t going to come back home with anything to brag about… but while we didn’t win any trophies, we came home with an invitation to the World Championship. Although all of us were really excited and happy, Super Regionals was a reality check for us. At Super Regionals we made it to the semi-finals and right before lunch break, we competed in a match. During the match, a rule was broken. The team that we played with and the third team in our finalist alliance stood in the question box. After lunch break and a twenty minute delay, we were granted a rematch. Sadly, we lost the rematch, but this time we lost fair and square. Super Regionals was a great experience for us.
We and another team had scored the highest at the event with a total of 389 points. We were six points away from beating the all-time world record! We (and another team) had also scored the highest in our division with a total of 353 points. We knew that we had done our best, fought for what was right, and enjoyed every second. We were prepared to go home that day. All of us had said good job to one another and to the other teams. Right before closing ceremonies started, they called out four team members to go down on the floor. Logan, Kazuki (both drivers), Collin (coach) and I ( ___) went to the floor.
Rebecca Whitaker was the one who made the announcement as to who was moving on and who wasn’t. She got up on the podium and started off by saying, “Twenty-five teams will be moving on today!” The crowd went wild and then Kazuki turned to us and whispered, “We have a chance.” The whole arena fell extremely quiet and, let me tell you, you could almost feel the intensity. I swear that you could’ve heard a pen drop. She had gotten to the twentieth team advancing and all of us were eager. I kept checking the stands to watch my teammates there. They were all so still. Then she said, “….team number 4443, The Sock Monkeys..” All of us screamed and went crazy! It was all absolutely amazing. Immediately afterwards, our teammates ran down the stairs and we all hugged and high-five’d one another.
We loaded up our gear and went home after that. We were greeted by family members, teachers, friends, reporters for the paper, and Mrs. Eveland. There was confetti, signs, laughs and lots of pictures. The picture above is the one that our local news system took. The dots all over us are pieces of confetti. Kazuki (our only senior this year) told a local news source that this was one of the best days of his life. Now, we are eight days away from the World Championship. Considering we weren’t even supposed to make it to state, I would say we are doing great! This is honestly one of my favorite stories to tell about this season and it gives me goose bumps writing it. I am so happy and so proud of all of us.
I hope that you will wish the team good fortune and will interact with Molly as she blogs here. You also can follow their Twitter account, @4443SockMonkeys. Go Sock Monkeys!
Evan Scherr is launching a new online series called The Thinking Out Loud Show. The guests for Episode 1.1 are Eric Sheninger, Joe Mazza, and myself. The topic is Leadership in Education. We’ll be talking about all types of leadership: administrators, students, teachers, and even parents!
Hope you’ll join us this Thursday at 8pm Eastern. See Evan’s Thinking Out Loud Show page for more info. Happy viewing!
UPDATE: Did you miss the show? The webinar archive is now available!
In the grand tradition of Sweden (@sweden), Ireland (@ireland), New Zealand (@peopleofnz), Malaysia (@twt_malaysia), Italy (@i_am_italy), Australia (@weareaustralia), Mexico (@curatorsmexico), Ukraine (@weareukraine), Pakistan (@iam_pakistan), and others, this week I am Prairie Lakes AEA (@plaea)!
Follow along for updates. I’ll also be using the #plaea hashtag. This week I’m…
and much, much more. Woo hoo!
Here are a few more links on ‘rotation curation.’ What fun could you have with this idea in your school or district?!
At 7pm Eastern on Monday, October 28, we launch the fourth and final Connected Educator Month book club. Contributors Joyce Valenza, Kevin Jarrett, Richard Byrne, Kristin Hokanson, and Stephanie Sandifer will join Chris Lehmann, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, and myself for a 1-hour online discussion of technology leadership issues. We will discuss topics from our book, What School Leaders Need to Know About Digital Technologies and Social Media, as well as anything else that we or our audience brings up. Please join us!
At 7pm Eastern on Monday, December 2, our book club will conclude with a second webinar. Joining Sheryl and I that evening will be Doug Johnson, Steve Dembo, Dean Shareski, David Jakes, and Pamela Livingston. Hope you’ll join us for that one too!
And, in between, we’ll be talking about the book in our online discussion space. Learn more about the book club and sign up to participate with us. See you online!
[It’s been a good month for our book. Not only did the U.S. Department of Education pick our book to be one of the four featured for Connected Educator Month, last week the Illinois Principals Association offered a copy to every attendee at its annual conference. Woo hoo!]
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is recognizing 25 schools across America as ‘21st Century Learning Exemplar Schools.’ Today we were informed that 2 Iowa high schools are on the list: Van Meter High School and North High School in Des Moines. Check out the case study of Van Meter. Kudos to both schools and their educators and students!
August 15 is the 7th anniversary of my blog. So, once again, I’m inviting everyone who’s interested to help me celebrate by participating in Leadership Day 2013!
Over the past 6 years, we’ve had over 400 Leadership Day posts. That’s awesome because, to paraphrase what I said six years ago,
many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators don’t know
- what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
- how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
- what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
- how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
- the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
- how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
- and so on…
Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.
So let’s help.
How to participate
Some prompts to spark your thinking
Here are the 405 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past six years (405!)
A badge for your blog or web site
I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.
It’s that time of year again… time to register for the 4th annual Iowa 1:1 Institute!
The last two years of the Institute have averaged 1,200+ attendees. There are multiple reasons why the Institute is so successful. It’s a grass roots conference at which peers talk to peers. The focus is on learning and teaching, not tools. Session emphasis is on hands-on work, discussion, and participant engagement. No ‘sit and get!’ Students are encouraged to present and there usually are multiple student-run sessions; those are always great. Whether you’re currently in a 1:1 setting – or are interested in moving that direction – or are simply passionate about robust, technology-infused learning, the Institute will be a phenomenal event for you.
This year’s Institute is on April 4 in Des Moines. We always have guests from other states so please join us. Register soon – the Institute fills up fast. Group discounts are available. Plus you can get free registration if you present!
I am delighted to announce EdCampIowa, Iowa’s first cross-state unconference! EdCampIowa West will be hosted by Prairie Lakes AEA at the Buena Vista University Forum in Storm Lake. EdCampIowa East will be hosted by Bettendorf High School. Both locations will run on Saturday, February 16, from 8:30am to 3:30pm. Our hashtag will be #EdCampIowa.
What’s an EdCamp, you say? EdCamps are unlike any other workshop or conference that you’ve probably attended. EdCamp sessions are created by the attendees in the morning. The rest of the day is spent in conversation around the topics identified by participants.
If this sounds strange to you, it’s likely because you’re used to a different model, one in which the agenda and sessions are determined ahead of time. The challenge of traditional workshops or conferences is that you didn’t get to pick the sessions, someone else did. As such, they may or may not meet your learning needs. At an EdCamp, participants, not planners, determine the sessions so they’re much more likely to be targeted, relevant, and timely. ‘Voting with your feet’ also is strongly encouraged, so you can (and should) quickly leave one session for another if it’s not meeting your learning needs. Since all EdCamp sessions are facilitated discussions that tap into the collective wisdom of attendees rather than ‘sit and get’ presentations directed by outside experts, EdCamps always turn out to be incredible, energizing days of conversation.
How do you know if you’re right for EdCampIowa? If these types of questions resonate with you, you’re a prime candidate:
We hope that you will join us on February 16 for an amazing day of discussion and learning. We promise that you will leave with many great ideas, excited to take action back home! Registration is FREE, lunch will be provided, and we’ll have Internet access for any electronic device that you bring along. Please encourage your students, staff, school board, parents, legislators, and community members to participate too. Everyone is welcome at an EdCamp!
More information is available at www.EdCampIowa.org. Sign up soon. Only 200 slots at each location!
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