Still going, hours of code later

We’re kicking 2016 off while reflecting on our learnings from 2015, an incredibly exciting year for Team Kano. We ended the year with great momentum from the thousands of creators, coders, and storytellers who participated in Pixel Hack for CSEdWeek and Hour of Code activities, sharing their Minecraft characters and 8-bit art with the world. (For those of you who have not yet participated in Pixel Hack – pixelhack.kano.me will remain open for all who want to code through video game art history!)

We had the pleasure of running live events in New York and New Jersey, kicking off partnerships with 3 inspiring schools in the region––Girls Prep (part of the Public Prep Network of single-sex schools in NYC), DREAM Charter School in Harlem, and Harrington Park School in Harrington Park, New Jersey. Over 3 days, 66 students, 7 teachers, principals, superintendents, and executives from those schools helped put together Kano computers, before diving in and creating art with code and exploring Kano’s version of Minecraft. While each event had its own unique flair, we thought we’d share some of the trends.

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Kids love debugging their own issues

Kano’s mission is to empower anyone, anywhere to make, learn, and play with technology. Our philosophy is to give kids the tools they need to really own their learning and creating.

Harrington Park School is a wonderful partner for Kano for this reason among many others––the teachers there really bring self-guided learning best practices to life. During the session, Dr. Adam Fried, the district’s innovative and supportive superintendent, a team of his teachers, and I spoke about learning from Sugata Mitra’s TED talks and his employment of “the method of the grandmother,” using encouragement to empower kids to overcome obstacles with perseverance (as a proud grandmother would). Of course great educators have a deep toolkit, and “the grandma method” is one of the tools they can pull from in the appropriate circumstances.

I witnessed a great example of the teacher empowering her student when a young learner had an issue with her keyboard. She raised her hand for help.

Student: “My keyboard doesn’t work.”

Teacher: “Why do you think that is?”

Student: “I don’t know.”

Teacher: “What could give us a clue?“

Student: “Well.. the light is blinking…”

Teacher: “Great observation. How can we find out what that means?”

Student: “The manual?” (Flips open manual, finds “keyboard,” in the index, and turns to the appropriate page) “Oh! The blinking light means that the keyboard needs to be repaired with the computer!”

The student then goes on to read how to repair the devices. She even turns to her classmate’s computer to google one of the terms she didn’t understand.

There’s no getting stuck––only creativity in looking for the best path forward. The new

generation is incredibly resourceful in finding information, and we aim to support them in the quest!

Getting students to talk about the technology they intuit is powerful

At DREAM Charter School, all of the kids raised their hands in the beginning of our 2 hour session when we asked them if they’d used computers, cell phones, tablets, and more. And like many of us would, almost all put their hands down when asked whether they’d had a look inside of those devices. Over the course of the session, we found authentic learning opportunities to explore different types of monitor inputs, computer memory, operating systems, and more. DREAM Charter School, like Harrington Park and Girls Prep, does an incredible job encouraging learners to question the world around them, and it’s been inspiring to work in an environment full of curiosity and wonder.

At the end of the session, Joe Luesse, the Director of Evaluation at DREAM Charter School, led a terrific recap. We were blown away by the kids’ questions and the combination of their newly acquired information and skills with their existing knowledge and intuition. The new generation has such a strong framework for navigating their digital world, and we’re excited to give them tools to maximize their powers.

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Our kids are engineers, artists, musicians, and more…today.

The young women of Girls Prep build webpages, write songs, and make video games. It’s clear that they are encouraged to use technology as a tool to explore their passions. The girls took every opportunity to share what they’d learned with their peers, to both teach and build on their creations.  

The girls interested in Minecraft gathered in a cluster to observe and emulate what they liked in their peers’ games; those who coded pictures showed one another the code behind their drawings and collaborated.  

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I learned from Tiffany Liston, COO of Public Prep, about the network’s approach to empowering its young women to be the next generation of female scientists, and the room was buzzing with not only activity but proactivity. These girls are empowered to solve all different types of problems with technology, and they believe in themselves as engineers, artists, and more, not only tomorrow––but today.

Each of the three schools––Girls Prep, DREAM Charter School, and Harrington Park––has its own unique philosophy, with shared themes around empowering young learners and integrating technology while fostering individual talent in the arts. We’re kicking off 2016 with wonderful creative energy from our inspiring CSEdWeek events, and I can’t wait to continue learning with our innovative new partners!

Joanna Bersin, Kano, Head of Education

Here at Kano, we inspire learners and educators to take a look inside, to change the rules and explore curiosities together. We’d love to share more on our global education programs and bring Kano to your classroom.  Email education@kano.me for more info!