On December 14, there was a Board of Education meeting at JP Case Middle School in Flemington, NJ. This was not your ordinary meeting but the first of many where #FRSD students and teachers will be showcasing the innovation happening in our district.
First up was @joeagabiti2013‘s design class from JP Case. A little more than month ago, I had the opportunity to visit Mr. Agabiti’s class and watched happening what the Board of Education and many members of our community witnessed Monday night; student agency and innovation. Recognizing where we often are in education and where we want to be impels us to shine the light on what is working for students. This is why the students in his class were such a wonderful way to kick off our December meeting.
As I witnessed that day in his classroom, the #FRSD community too saw students showcasing the designs they created to change the world. Two students designed and programmed robots to play music and rescue broken robots in a Mars simulation.
Two other students designed and programmed robots to work and operate like the Ozobot robots, sensing lines and moving along those lines in order to not fall off the board where it was moving.
Two other students were showing the coding of the Sphero they created which made the Sphero able to navigate through a maze changing colors as it went through the different colored sections of the maze.
Also, in the Sphero exhibition was perhaps the most creative use of a Sphero I have seen. Students programmed the Sphero to paint a picture on a canvas. You can see this in action here.
Two other students took legos and created a three dimensional depiction of the periodic table. The purpose being to allow students to use legos to depict compounds such as water.
Two other students created an interactive Snowboard game that allowed our Superintendent to ride the snowboard using Makey Makey.
Two other students created a Dance Dance Revolution game that allowed our Superintendent to dance also using Makey Makey.
Lastly, one student, who was truly changing the world for his fellow students shared with me his design which was created to help a family member who is autistic and his fellow students who also have autism.
This design created together reinforced key design principles and allowed the students to create a working toy.
What amazed me the most was not just the passion and desire to create but to share and teach the adults there. Adults were the “students” at this meeting and when you think about what we want learning to be and compare it with what it is at times in education, you realize that creating the space for students to own their learning and sharing it with others needs to happen more in our profession. These students weren’t learning to code on its own, but rather, they were learning to code because they needed coding knowledge and skill to create designs. It happened because they were driven by purpose that meant something to them; designs that changed the world. They weren’t worried about grades, making mistakes, or failing. To finish the evening, a gift was presented to each Board of Education member by our amazing students; a 3D printed name tag to use at their future meetings.
In an era of education that often feels overly focused on state-imposed standards, high-stakes testing, and other questionable mandates, Monday night was an example for all of us of what learning can look like in our schools. You can see more of what goes on in Mr. Agabiti’s design class from JP Case by visiting his classroom YouTube page here and following him on Twitter.