Sunday, March 23, 2014

A new season, a new set of problems

Finally Spring has arrived! Along with the new season came new obstacles for me with regards to my project. These past two weeks have been pretty busy for me, I was finally able to get in contact with the director of cirriculum and sent him this email: 

Dear Mr. Johnson,

I am currently working on a project where I am learning programming/coding. It has come to my attention that the Grosse Pointe Public School System does not have any programming classes (with the exception of the high schools). I wanted to discuss the possibility of integrating programming into the curriculum at the middle and elementary schools. It could start off only being a small amount of time, say 20-30 minutes per week or have one designated day per week that it is taught. With the GPPSS being one of the best in the state of Michigan, it makes sense that the students that live in the district be prepared for college and ahead of the game. In order to do this, I firmly  believe that programming is a skill everyone should know. It is a skill that everyone will need to have within the next 15 years.

Integrating programming into the curriculum would be very easy. It would only take 30 minutes every Friday where the students will play various coding games. These are not only fun, but very beneficial because they will be learning how to program in the process. They are also very easy games that take little to no instruction.  There are different games for all different age levels, the more basic ones being for younger children. Code.org is an organization that with my help can help us to organize all of the lessons for the class and will handle almost everything.. If we were to integrate coding into the curriculum it would make the GPPSS ahead of all of the schools in Michigan and increase our rating. I would love to meet with you and discuss if this would be possible and even present it to the Board of Curriculum.

He responded asking if I had a teacher who was in support of it and that I may want to begin a club to build up interest. I feel like if I were to start a club for programming, it would have to be at the elementary school level because my school already has a class for it and wouldn't benefit from it. Yet, if I were to start a club in the elementary schools, who is going to send their child after school to learn programming? I don't feel like there will be a huge amount of interest even though this is something that all kids should learn. I think that I might just have to go straight to the school board sometime this month/next month and present this to them instead. Once the parents at the meeting realize that this will prepare their child better for college and give them a whole new skill set, I think this will gain a lot of support from parents. And we all know that once parents get involved, anything is possible. I am thinking of just reading the email to the board and seeing if I am able to get anyone to support it. 

I also did a little bit of coding last week, except because I don't have time to do it everyday, it's hard to keep having to stop and then start again because I forget a lot of the previous lessons. I am still learning HTML and CSS and it is slowly getting harder and harder because there are so many tags and commands that it's hard to keep track of. In terms of my project, I am definitely going to stick with what I discussed in my blog a couple of weeks ago, it is something I feel really strongly about and I think it brings up a good point. 

Happy Spring! 




Sunday, March 9, 2014

Keeping on keeping on

This week was crazy because my gymnastics team made it to the state finals which were yesterday and Friday. Glad to say that we placed 4th in the state! Aside from that, I sent the email to Mr. Provenzano to see if the email is OK to go and am now just awaiting a response. I was also able to do a little bit more programming, continuing on with HTML and CSS. Once I receive a response from the board of curriculum I am hoping to attend a meeting or meet with the director to discuss possibilities. Although I realize that adding programming to the curriculum will take up to a year or two  and this will be by the time that 20 time is over, I am still going to continue on with it because it is something I feel strongly about and I really believe it will benefit the community.

With regards to my presentation, I am still sticking with the idea that I thought of before and wrote about a couple weeks earlier. I want my presentation to focus on how I do not think schools are preparing us well enough for college. We have all of the classes in the world to choose from but none of them really teach us the things we need to know. Aside from the standard math, social studies, English, and science, there is nothing that really shows you how to survive and prosper in the real world. I think that schools should dedicate most of high school to specializing, students should be able to take classes that interest them and not just classes that they are required to take. There should classes on law, medicine, graphic designing, marketing/advertising, engineering and entrepreneurship. By having these classes, students will be better prepared for college and they will be learning about something they're interested in. By trying to integrate programming into the curriculum, I have learned how much this could benefit kids. They would have a skill that not many have and they would be able to use it when they are in college and beyond. It will help them get into college and help prepare them for it.

Also, just a warning that I will only be blogging every other week starting today!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Mid-year Update

Mr. Provenzano asked us all to answer a couple questions this week for an update on 20 time:

1.What have you liked least/most about 20 time?

I have really enjoyed being able to learn new things and do whatever I want to for this project. It has given me the chance to do something I never would have thought about doing. It has also made me want to do more in my community and in my school, I don't just want to be an 'average student' and with 20 time I'm not. I love not learning what is in the curriculum and being able to learn how to program in my English class. Some of the downfalls to 20 Time is how much out of school time it takes in order to make it worthwhile. Obviously 20 Time is a huge task and it is going to require time outside of school, but nowadays most high schoolers don't have that kind of time. Even though we are allowed every Friday in class to work on our projects it doesn't really help because I am  usually blogging or we are watching a TedX video, thus leaving all of the work to be done outside of school and on the weekends. To be honest, it is very hard trying to find the time to work on my project. Between school, homework, clubs, Tower, and sports I have very little free time. 

2.What would you have done differently with your project?
There are a couple of things that I would have done differently with this project. Number one I wouldn't have waited so long to finally pick an idea. My idea evolved so much from my first blog post and even though I have found a project that I am happy with I feel like I could be a lot farther ahead if I had sped up the deciding process in the fall. Also looking back, I probably would have picked a less time consuming project. Programming is a giant task especially when you are teaching yourself and it requires a lot of dedication. I do not regret my decision but at the same time I wish I had the time to really be invested in it.