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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Student Beta Testers

About two weeks ago a parent in my classroom contacted me to tell me he had invented a coding program and he asked if I would like to take a look.

I responded that it's typically best to try out any software with children to see how it really works, and would he like to come in and try it out with the students. I then contacted my administrator to gain permission.

Both the principal and parent agreed, and we decided to meet first so I could take a look at the software. I listened, watched, and noticed that the program was intuitive, student friendly, and efficient. I had a sense that students would love it.

Next, the parent came in, shared the program highlights, and then students got to work. For almost 90 minutes they were engaged learning to program. You could hardly hear a pin drop, and you could see that children were engaged. Many were also making connections to other programming languages and tools they had used recently.

I was grateful to the dad for sharing his story of invention, modeling an inventor's attitude and effort, and sharing his invention with the students. The students were grateful as well. In fact, the most tech-savvy students in the class were mesmerized by the presentation.

Upon a return visit to the classroom by the parent for some final individual efforts, a young student approached the parent and said that he had tried all the projects on the site and then they engaged for a while in conversation about programming. Another student soon after engaged the parent inventor in the same way. They felt a kinship to this parent inventor and computer scientist.

About a week later, the tech department personnel requested that a form be filled out for further beta testing approval and so now the parent will work with our tech department and perhaps with us again if approval is gained.

The chance to have your students meet inventors and innovators, try out new inventions, and explore technology at new and engaging levels is awesome--it allows students to have a first-row seat with regard to invention, innovation, and today's tools.

I hope more family members will share their interests and inventions with our students as this is one way to inspire our students in ways that matter. I also hope this parent will receive approval so that he can return to our class as his invention develops.