No Extra Credit If You Nuke!

WIth our K-4 1:1 roll out on deck for August 2016, HSE21 Shorts has devoted much of this school year to sharing HSE21 snapshots from elementary classrooms. Today, though, we’d like to highlight HSE21 in action at HSE High School. Read on!


Mr. Follis, AP Social Studies teacher at HSE High School, exemplified HSE21 before there ever was an HSE21. Mr. Follis is a natural communicator whose classes are student-centered, engaging, and relevant. He has found ways to create learning opportunities for his students that combine depth of content (AP exams are this month!) and meaningful experiences connecting the past to issues in our world today. His recent Cold War simulation is a perfect example.

IMG_3707Mr. Follis ran HSE’s Cold War as an in-school field trip for his AP European History classes.  Students represented the East (the Warsaw Pact), the West (NATO) or the United Nations.  All day, teams were confronted with real problems which they could choose to solve diplomatically or… Throughout the game, wars broke out, territories changed hands, and treaties were signed.  Newscasts, propaganda campaigns and the Olympic Games heightened excitement throughout the day. Nineteen-fifties technology meant no computers – files and books were the only sources of information available! Communication? Only through ambassadors, the red phone and one’s defcon status. (I had to Google ‘defcon‘.)

IMG_3711Of course, no Cold War simulation would be complete without spies and the threat of nuclear war. KGB and CIA leaders recruited spies, who could steal launch codes, locations of bases, troop numbers, and game stats.  Spies could be caught and tried…or flipped to become double agents. Each side had the potential to ‘nuke’ the other (Translation: force the other side to take the unit test); but nuclear war has consequences for all – a retaliatory strike could lead to mutually assured destruction! A ‘box’ (with electronics, sound effects, a red button, and two launch keys) made by HSE engineering students  sat ready throughout the day, an ominous reminder of what could be.

In ten years, these AP European History alums might not remember how to spell Romania. What they will still remember (really, what they will still deeply understand), though, is far more important. Why is it difficult for nations with conflicting values and visions to work together? What potential solutions exist, and what are their costs? What does that mean for us today?

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“The simulation was a smash.  The paranoia at times got the kids so worked up they were literally yelling – they were actually fatigued at the end of the day by the whole experience.  The whole game came down to a dice roll and it was possibly the most exciting moment of my teaching career.  No one asked for “the case”; the students realized the benefits of working together.”      – Jamie Follis

Those HSE21 Shoes!

IMG_1721In traditional classrooms, character trait study likely consisted of a teacher lesson (read: lecture) to explain the term ‘character trait’, followed by individual seat work. Students would sit quietly at their desks, read a story alone, and then write a paragraph about the story’s characters and their traits. Students’ written work would be graded and sent home in a folder. The end.

Take a peek into HSE21 classrooms, though, and what you’ll see is completely different! HSE21 means that character study – indeed all academic content – is presented in active, student-centered ways that lead to deeper learning. What does does HSE21 look like in the classroom? Consider this recent HSE21 example of character trait study:

At Thorpe Creek Elementary, third grade teacher Mrs. Muegge introduced character traits to her students through  an HSE21 lens. Following her interactive mini-lesson, Muegge asked student pairs to choose books for their own character studies. Partners considered the characters in their stories and, with Muegge’s guidance and help, decided on traits that best exemplified each. Students then created, shared, and discussed presentations and what they’d learned. Here’s a final product, created and shared by Aariyah and Gabrielle:

While staying true to the academic standards, HSE21 teaching and learning turns the traditional quiet classroom into a vibrant learning lab.

  • Student Choice – Which book would you like to use for this project?
  • Collaboration – Let’s work with partners to analyze the characters; we can learn from each other!
  • Engagement and Creativity – Design a presentation to teach us what you learned!
  • Extension of Learning – We’ll post our presentations and share our learning with each other and those beyond our classroom walls!

In which type of classroom would you rather learn?


Club Sphero: “The Learning Is Disguised Within the Fun!”

Screen Shot 2015-04-04 at 9.14.01 PMMany thanks to Fall Creek Intermediate science teacher Brad Lowell for sharing the evolution of Club Sphero. What a perfect example of using today’s digital tools to extend and deepen learning! 

How did Club Sphero get started?

The club started almost on accident.  I saw the Sphero for the first time at a birthday party for a friend’s wife.  Listening to a teacher in Carmel talk about how they used them only started my wheels spinning.  After showing my students the online video clips for Sphero, many said they already had them but didn’t really IMG_2604play with them much.  I had them bring their Spheros in one morning before school and saw how much excitement they generated and the club just took off from there.  My co-sponsor, Josh Tegrotenhuis [also a science teacher at FCI] had his kids bring theirs.  Two weeks into our informal club, we had over 30 kids showing.  We started off with a few old putting holes playing putt-putt golf with various obstacles, played some ‘World Cup’ Sphero soccer, coded bowling, and are now playing ‘Final Four’ basketball.  The kids keep coming and they keep challenging Josh and I as teachers to come up with new fun ways of using the Spheros.  The learning is really disguised within. the fun.  We’ve coupled the club with 3d printing and it has taken us to a whole new level of design and learning.

IMG_2604What skills, abilities, and interests are the students developing?

Cooperation, coding, science, math, engineering, and technology.

What do you think has made the club so successful? 

The club is very interactive and students get to use their devices.  I think the kids really like learning outside the classroom and beyond the textbook.  Keeping the learning game-oriented makes it fun and competitive for them.

Power Rankings and More!

On Day 36, HSE21 Shorts introduced you to FHS English teacher Kyle Goodwin, who encourages his students to investigate their passions through a project known as Genius Hour. HSE21 Shorts just returned to one of Mr. Goodwin’s classes to check in on the students–to see how their individual projects were shaping up. What we found was no less than stunning! Here is just one example of what can happen when students are enabled to learn through the disciplined pursuit of their individual interests and passions:

IMG_2781Matthew loves sports. When Mr. Goodwin let students select a project topic, something sports-related was Matthew’s natural choice. He ultimately decided to build a blog that would aggregate rankings of major sports teams into one site. Within the space of one semester, this blog, PowerRankingsAndMore, has become a go-to place for sports fans. Matthew explored various site-building platforms, created a domain, designed, and launched!

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Visit Matthew’s site:!

Matthew admits that to build and now maintain the site has been lots of work–both during Genius Hour blocks at school and in his own time. But the experience has been rewarding. Matthew now has web design skills, experience in writing for web publication, and an understanding of time management and workflow…not to mention the plethora of up-to-date sports knowledge this amazing sophomore holds! Recently, a local ESPN radio station even featured Matthew’s blog – interviewing him in a live radio spot.

PowerRankingsAndMore is an example of HSE21 tenets in action: personalized, passion- and inquiry-driven learning, in which students master content area standards in ways that are relevant and engaging. Love sports? Visit!

#HourOfCode #Encore!

HSE21 Shorts couldn’t resist sharing this student-produced Hour Of Code recap that came in today! Thanks to directors Logan, Justin, Ian, and Micah (of Sand Creek Intermediate School) for a helping us to understand the Hour of Code from a sixth-grader’s perspective. Enjoy!


Coding = Future = Fun

As we close on the 2014 Hour of Code week in HSE Schools, take a look at this two-minute wrap-up highlighting the impact of the experience in just one school! Thanks to fourth grade teacher Courtney Gibson for creating and sharing this recap. Click on any of the images below to be directed to the video.

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As part of our week-long focus on the Hour of Code, HSE21 Shorts decide to ask our youngest learners and their teachers to weigh in on the big event. Elementary teachers report that the resources suggested by have been both educational and entertaining. Through fun activities/apps like Kodable and Daisy the Dinosaur, even students as young as kindergarteners have been exposed to the basics of coding. Here’s what a few of these youngest students had to say about their coding experiences:

image[1] “Mom, can I do this Kodable app for my (bedtime) story tonight? It makes me think just like I do when I am reading.”

“I did it myself!” 

“This learning is really fun!”

“Do we really have to stop?”

image“I like  challenge!”

“I made him dance a jig”

Yes! Yes! Yeesss! I did it!”

“I have a huge silver dragon!”

“This makes me think!”

“I can make this guy do this!  Look, I want to show you! (pause while he shows me) SEE?!”


Oh I just growed huge!  Daisy just grew huge! It was AWESOME!”


“This is so cool – it’s like playing!”

Third and fourth graders, also, seem to love taking part in the Hour of Code. From their comments below, it’s easy to see that these students are making connections–that in coding the movements of a game character, they are actually programming, and that programming is fun!

“I really liked how it challenged you and was still fun at the same time.  I would for sure do it in my free time.  It is cool that we have the capability from these apps to be able to program on our own.”

picstitch“Some kids don’t like school and don’t like to work, but with the Hour of Code, you can still learn and have fun!”

 “The Hour of Code was fun because you could make the characters do whatever you wanted.”

 “It was really fun because you got to see a lot of different funny things the characters can do.” 

 “It’s addicting because when you play a new game you like it a lot and then you don’t want to stop.”

 “It was fun because you can program a game to do what you want it to do.”

 “It’s so awesome because I kept on making Daisy big and small and make her break dance.”

 “I liked Scratch, Jr. because you can make your own person whatever color you want to.”

It was awesome because you never want to stop coding.  When I first starting playing Foos I just wanted to keep playing more levels.  When I got stuck I just asked a friend to help me.”

What insight–even fourth graders have recognized the potential impact of coding to engage students who don’t necessarily love school! At this rate, HSE21 Shorts wouldn’t be surprised if, in a few short years, computer programming classes in our high schools are full to overflowing!

Coding in the Real World

sce1Students at Sand Creek Elementary participated in Hour of Code during their library time with Mrs. Collier, SCE’s media specialist. After the students understood the meaning of ‘coding’ and had gotten a chance to practice, it was time to make it real, and third-grade teacher Lorena Forbes, had just the connection that was needed!

sce2Mrs. Forbes brought her husband, Randy Forbes, to school for the day! Mr. Forbes is a software engineer with Salesforce, and is experienced in all types of coding. Mr. Forbes traveled to several classes to give students some background on what computer programmers do in the real world. The biggest surprise for students was that Mr. Forbes’ job isn’t all about gaming! Mr. Forbes also worked with some students to finish an Hour of Code in the computer lab.

sce3Through taking part in fun coding activities and through hearing about the amazing things grown-up programers do, SCE students are now hooked on coding!

-Submitted by Laura Collier, SCE Media Specialist

Hour of Code…Hour of COOL!

We continue our week-long focus on the many ways that HSE schools and classrooms have implemented the Hour of Code! Thanks to Lori Silbert for today’s post.

lre1At Lantern Road Elementary, students prepared for coding before Hour of Code officially kicked-off. The site offered lesson plans to get us thinking about programming techniques. We thought about the “small pieces of the puzzle” that would lead to creating the “big picture.” Together we gave “human robots” commands to move forward, move backward, ‘pick up cup’ and ‘put down cup’ in order to build a pattern of paper cups on a table. Students took turns being the robots and writing the code using left, right, up and down arrows. Now students were ready to program on-line!

lre2All K-4 LRE students are participating in Hour of Code this week. They have written codes to help Anna and Elsa skate across the frozen ice by using commands like move forward and turn right 90 degrees! Using the site, they created creatures and programmed them to maneuver along paths to find peppermint drops and lollipops. A poor little puppy lost his family and the students wrote the code to help him find them again – forward, turn left, jump, turn right, forward!!! Often, students have needed to figure out a pattern and have their characters repeat actions. We even decorated the national holiday tree in Washington DC at www.holidays.madewithcode/project/lights#.

lre3Hour of Code has provided each LRE student with sixty minutes of engaged learning that will take them down new paths of their own!! Our 21st century students need core subjects; learning and innovation skills; information, media and technology skills; and life and career skills. This week we are blending all of these important areas in many cool activities!

-Submitted by Lori Silbert, LRE Media Specialist