Check out how YOU CAN be a Microsoft Innovative Educator!

As a teacher, I understand the power of being in a supportive and dynamic professional learning network. I’ve been a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert for five years now, and it’s honestly the most amazing group of educators I’ve ever had the pleasure to collaborate with!

Microsoft has a new series of videos that explain how YOU CAN do some amazing things, and I am proud to be the one who was asked to make the one about how “YOU CAN become a Microsoft Innovative Educator for FREE!” And after you’ve watched that, check out the ENTIRE playlist of things YOU CAN do with Microsoft!

Minecraft and Building Global Empathy

Gathered around a computer, five of my students were having a discussion about what to build in their Minecraft world.

“We should build a bridge because we need to build bridges of understanding with each other,” said one student.

“I want to build a wall around someone to show how some people cut themselves off from the world,” said another.

“Let’s do both of those, and then make people of all colors holding hands because we are all equal,” said the third.

Minecraft used to build empathy and understanding?

Many teachers are uncomfortable teaching something they don’t know frontwards and backwards, which is why teaching with Minecraft has gotten off to a slow start.

Teachers have long considered themselves the sage on the stage. But if we want students to stretch and exercise their communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills, we’ve got to become guides on the side – crafting questions and projects that are challenging but attainable and allowing them to use meaningful tools like Minecraft.

When Minecraft is used as a tool to demonstrate knowledge or share ideas, students are first motivated and engaged. But then, their creativity and critical-thinking skills kick in: How can I make this reflect my ideas? How can I share my solution visually? Next comes communication and collaboration, since they work together in these Minecraft worlds: What are the rules for what we do with another person’s work in our Minecraft World? If I show respect for others work, will they return the favor?

But more than just that, Minecraft allows students to share their ideas with the world, and for them to get a glimpse into the world of others.

My students have embraced global Project-Based Learning initiatives like Cultivate World Literacy (http://www.cultivateworldliteracy.com/), Human Differences (http://www.humandifferences.com/), and the Climate Action Project (http://www.climate-action.info/). Students present their findings from these projects in the digital format of their choice, which always includes Minecraft. Using such an engaging and exciting medium sets the stage for students to tackle big questions to become better global citizens and learn from each other.

We are part of a global Minecraft project called the Sustainability Shuffle in which we build a Minecraft village around one of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development goals(http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/). Our village was around Goal Four, a Quality Education, and the class conversations we had to determine what should and shouldn’t be included were fascinating and meaningful.

Using Minecraft, my students have created worlds that reflect how we need to take care of our water, crafted messages of strength to students in countries where sexual abuse is rampant, built walls to tear down and bridges between people to show the importance of building relationships, and designed creative ways to share their love of reading and desire to Cultivate World Literacy.

Teachers must allow their students to use incredible tools like Minecraft to find new ways to express their ideas and reflections with the world. And every student has a gift, a talent, a skill that the world needs – be must help them be fearless and share it with the world.

Empathy & Hacking at MUSD’s 2018 EdCon!

What an amazing EdCon at Manteca Unified School District! With almost 230 sessions, four keynotes and around 1100 educators, there was a lot of learning going on! Special thanks to those of you who filled up the first Hack the Classroom session so they had to open a second session! It was also wonderful to see so many of you at the Building Empathy Through Global Collaboration & Communication session! Hopefully, you all had some meaningful and memorable sessions that you will be able to take back into your classrooms to help your students believe and achieve! You all can always reach out to me if you have further questions or want to brainstorm some ideas – tdunbar@musd.net!

As promised, here are the links to my entire presentations for both Hack the Classroom AND Building Empathy Through Global Collaboration and Communication!

CLICK HERE for Hack the Classroom PowerPoint!

CLICK HERE for Building Empathy Through Global Collaboration and Communication PowerPoint!

BLC18: Making Connections & Learning Fearlessly

What an amazing, exhilarating and inspiring Building Learning Communities Conference! This 19th annual conference organized by November Learning (led by the incredible Alan November) brought together educators from around the world to talk about what the future of education must look like so we can give our students the best chance to succeed in their futures.

After attending and presenting at BLC for the past four years, I can attest to the excitement and enthusiasm it gives me for returning to my classroom to start a new school year. This year’s keynotes were especially exciting: lessons on the importance of social-emotional learning (and with inspiration to tackle it from Dr. Marc Brackett of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence), to the uplifting stories from Aaron Polansky and Joy Kirr, to the empowering examples from Ted Dintersmith’s “What School Could Be.”

Special thanks to the November Learning staff who did all the behind-the-scenes work to make everything look effortless so that all those of us in attendance had to do was show up on time and be ready to listen, contribute and learn.

And finally, my sincerest appreciation for those who attended one (or more, and there were some of you!) of my three sessions at #BLC18! As promised, I have attached links to the PDFs of my session PowerPoints below. If you would like to reach out and ask a question or just continue the conversation, please email me at tdunbar@musd.net or follow me on Twitter: @TammyDunbar.

What more could our students learn if we taught fearlessly?

LINKS:

Blue Tickets: Admission to Fearless Learning

Mirror Classrooms: Reflections on Global, Collaborative Learning

Building Blocks of Code: Minecraft & MakeCode.com

ISTE 2018 – Collaboration & Creativity in Action!

Where do you start when you get to ISTE?

Do you line up at all the amazing sessions you want to see? Do you spend a good portion of your time in the playgrounds, learning about STEM & Global Collaborations? Do you sit in on all the keynotes and on-stage sessions? And don’t forget about the enormous Expo Hall, chock full of vendors with terrific products, amazing ideas and exciting giveaways!

Even with the incredible array of things to see and do, I still find the best part of any ISTE is the people you meet and the connections you make.

At least a dozen people who looked very familiar came up to me and said, “I Skyped with you!” Another half dozen said they knew me from the movie Microsoft made about my Room Nine Kids and me. Total strangers started talking to me in sessions and at the booths, and when we learned we had similar passions, we quickly exchanged digits.

And then there is the IRL (in real life) meeting of all the wonderful people I’ve known in the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert network for years. It’s like my Facebook, Twitter and GroupMe accounts come to life as I see familiar faces and greet them like old friends – because digitally, they are.

What did I do at ISTE18? I presented at four sessions – Building Empathy Through Global Collaboration & Communication (with Skype in the Classroom), Hack the Classroom: Power Tips from Power Teachers (with Richard Snyder and Jeff Bradbury), Creating an Agile Classroom with Dave Lopez of Screen Beam and Andrea Tolley, and a session at the Microsoft Booth all about Forms! I loved attending the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert events, including our welcome reception and the incredible Hack the Classroom event at the Chicago Museum of Science & Industry (where I got to work the back channels backstage) and the Skype Master Trainer Dinner & Planning Session! But I also loved the sessions I sat in on, including Stephen Reid & Meenoo Rami’s MinecraftEDU session, MakeCode.com and Breakout with OneNote with both Maria Turner & Andrea Tolley! The keynote sessions were impressive, and the playgrounds gave me some hands on time to try out some new STEM ideas!

What am I taking home from ISTE18? A lot of cool t-shirts and gifties, ideas and inspiration for new ways to improve my teaching, and connections with friends – new and old – that will help me craft some great learning opportunities for my students!