Monday, July 11, 2016

My Thoughts on Being a KISD Genius

What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word Genius? Most people probably think of someone super smart like Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. While that may be somewhat true, I don’t think you have to be the smartest person ever to be a genius. Being a Genius isn’t about knowing the answer every time. A genius isn’t afraid to ask for help and learn from their mistakes. Here at the Genius Bar, there are times when we students don’t know the answer and we may have to ask someone from technology or professional development for help. Teachers always joke, well if you’re a genius then you must know all the answers. While most times we might laugh and play along, the truth is we don’t always know the answer, but we are willing to ask and learn. Being a true Genius is an ongoing learning process, not an inherited trait. Like Dr. Seuss once said, “The more you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

In June, three of us Geniuses traveled to Denver and presented the Keller ISD Genius Bar at a conference with over 19,000 attendees.  Overall teachers were so excited to see a successful model of student lead technology help. For me it was fun to see the excitement on people’s faces when they heard our story. I didn’t realize how big of a deal the Genius Bar truly is. We had teachers from all across the U.S. and even Europe and Taiwan asking us how we did it and wanted information on how they could start one in their school district. Microsoft even sent some techs over to speak to us and get feedback from us, three teenagers, on how the Windows 10 roll-out was going in Keller ISD! I didn’t truly realize the impact us ten Genius Bar student workers had until after we presented at ISTE. As students we are now teaching those who taught us everything we know.

If you’ve never been to an ISTE convention, you’re missing out! There is a 500,000 square foot Exhibit Hall filled from door to door with vendors giving demonstrations, handing out freebies and trying to sell you “the next greatest thing.” It’s a little overwhelming when you first walk into the hall.  People are everywhere you look and exhibitors are trying to lure you into seeing what they have to offer. It’s definitely a technology lovers paradise. I saw so many incredible things while in Denver, but the thing that stood out to me the most was Coding. I can’t tell you how many vendors had coding activities for the classroom. We saw one vendor who had a robot, and you use markers to create a code for the robot to follow. For instance when the robot went over a red line, the robot would start going in reverse, when it hit the blue line, it would spin in a circle. Google had just announced a new coding project for classroom use and it worked similar to a puzzle, allowing students to put together codes. As a college student, I had to learn coding in one of my college classes. I loved seeing how much emphasis ISTE put on coding in the classroom. I know I wish I had learned some of it before I had to code an entire website for my final grade in a college course. Coding wasn’t the only emphasis. I also saw hands on learning activities that could be very useful in the classroom. Microsoft for instance had a table where I participated in a Salad Spinner race. I had to keep my salad spinner moving to create energy. Once I was finished they showed me a spreadsheet with energy I had created. After I walked away from the booth I thought, man when I was younger I would have much rather learned about energy that way instead of reading a text book. Another cool hands on learning experience was using the Google Cardboard. It was sort of like cardboard binoculars with an iPhone inside and headphones attached, and when I put the cardboard up to my eyes, I was suddenly on a field trip…to the moon. I even had a tour guide telling me all about the different craters, when it was explored and what the surface of the moon was like. Since teachers can’t actually take us on a field trip to the moon or the ocean, the cardboard is the next best way to teach us about it. I was in shock with how realistic it seemed given that I was looking through a piece of cardboard. Overall my experience at ISTE was unforgettable, I saw endless uses for technology in the classroom. After going to ISTE, I’m so jealous that I’m in college now and won’t get to use all of this incredible technology during school. ISTE was an experience like no other and I wish all of our teachers could go and see just what the potential for student learning could be. 

Taylor Shaw
CHS Class of 2015
Lead KISD Genius

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