30 Minutes of Tynkering Goes a Long Way
“Tynker is an absolute success. As a member of the KySTE, the Kentucky Society for Technology in Education, I’m excited to have the opportunity to present my wonderful experience with Tynker at a statewide conference of educators in spring; teachers all across Kentucky need to know about Tynker.”
Jeanine Kearbey is a Media Specialist and Librarian at Craven Elementary School, KY where creating engaging tech curriculum has stepped to the forefront.
School: Craven Elementary School, KY
Using Tynker Since: August 2013
Number of Students on Tynker: 125
Number of projects created by students using Tynker: 1,550
I spent last summer thinking and planning for the school year. I wanted to do something important and useful and current with my students. Discovery of my goal and its inspiration both came from my son, a 6th grader with a penchant for technology; he follows conferences and keynote addresses about tech for children. He turned me on to the popular CodeDotOrg video and it hit me right then and there: programming for kids! That was what I needed to do with my students. A parent of one of my students, an IT consultant, sent me a number of informative links about how programming can be taught to young children.
Student and Teacher Oriented
I explored them all. I even had second-hand experience, by way of my daughter, with one of them – MIT’s Scratch. Scratch and a few of the others felt inadequate to me. Then I came across Tynker. It was obvious to me that it was built with both the teachers and their students in mind. I was more comfortable with its look; it was more user-friendly, came bundled with fantastic tutorials, had built-for-teachers features, and had a far more polished feel. I much preferred it to everything else.
“My students simply cannot stop Tynkering.”
The ease with which I set up about 125 kids, 50 from 3rd grade and 75 from 4th grade, was amazing. My students now come by section-grade once a week and spend 30 minutes Tynkering.
This isn’t the only time they Tynker, though. They’re constantly clamoring for more. I have 20 laptops and 15 macs set up for kids to use before school if they so choose, and they’re always full. On top of that, some of them login from home to work on their projects, too. My students simply cannot stop Tynkering!
Students as Teachers
Tynker has helped our students think better and more intelligently while being more engaged with technology. They don’t just passively use it anymore, they’re beginning to understand it and control it. Tynker challenges the students to dig at the how, why, and what-if of a problem, enabling them to figure things out on their own. The kids are thriving and loving it.
I initially assigned projects to the students so that they could all learn each basic concept. After a few months of that, they jumped into creating their own projects.
Some of the more vocal students have taken up the torch and act as my “student teachers.” They help me teach the class. It’s much more fun and engaging to learn interactively from each other than it is to sit through a teacher’s lecture. On most days, we end class with one student using the interactive whiteboard to demonstrate something cool that he or she learned to do on Tynker, like copying code blocks from one project to another or how to animate better. It’s a big hit, increasing classwide interest as well as accelerating learning for everyone.
Not to mention the fact that Tynker is teaching a core 21st century skill to the right age group: programming for kids.
“Look, I made this move!”
Tynker has tremendously helped some of our special needs students who have learning deficits. These students struggle to keep pace with the rest of their class and they always feel as if they’re falling behind. That isn’t so with Tynker. It enables them to excel, filling them with excitement and a deep sense of accomplishment. “Look, I made this move,” they say, ecstatic.
Students with behavior or attention issues are also enthralled with Tynker. When they’re interacting with its programming platform, they’re as well behaved as anyone else. Tynker engages all students in a way that nothing else within the school’s curriculum has.
“I’ve learned… on Tynker!”
I knew that Tynker was impacting the children, but its extent was unknown to me until very recently. One of our homeroom teachers has her students write one thing that they learned that day on a sticky note and then post it up outside her classroom. She asked me to swing by and see what her students had written. “I’ve learned… on Tynker!” was everywhere. Many of these students spend just 30 minutes with Tynker per week, but it’s been impacting them and our school in a far greater way than I’d ever imagined. Just the other day our principal, who is committed and supportive of technology education and 21st century learning, stopped me in the hallway, “So, what are learning on Tynker today?!”
Not only that, but the Superintendent of Instruction visited our school and observed my students on Tynker. He was deeply impressed and is now planning a way to spread Tynker to other schools and students.
We’re now going to invest in Tynker Premium, which will help us conduct a better and more structured curriculum for everyone involved.
We’re really committed to doing this in a big way moving forward. Actually, as we speak, I’m in the process of writing a grant application for Tynker Premium for the next school year.