December Guest Blogger Ann Pimentel Inspires
Our guest blogger for December is a special blogger to me, because my twin sister – Ann Pimentel – talks about the innovation, inspiration and love of learning through robotics. She has written over $30,000 worth of grants for the Langley schools she has worked in as a Resource and Learning Assistance teacher. So grab a coffee and enjoy reading about this amazing educator, and an amazing twin sister too!
Name: Ann PImentel
School District: Langley
Degree and Institution: MA from King’s College University of London, England; B.Ed from Trinity Western University and PDP from SFU
Current Role: Resource and Learning Assistance Teacher
Any hyperlinks we should know about: www.mrspimentel.wordpress.com and www.notesfromaspecialneedsteacher.wordpress.com
Any Social Media outlets you are part of:
Twitter handle is Mrs_A_Pimentel
Check her latest YouTube video on her Ignite presentation down in Science World.
What is your training in?
I studied Geography, Physical Education and Education for my undergraduate studies then during my Masters in England I specialised in Special Education with a Masters in Urban Education. I have taught for 16 years and I have worked with special needs students for about 12 years of that time. During those 12 years I have focused my professional development on programs and supports for the marginalised. Recently, I was trained as ‘Train the Trainer’ for the implementation of coding into BC School in collaboration with the BC Tech Strategy
How did you get into learning about Robots?
As a Special Needs teacher, I have been in pursuit of programs that support and advocate for the marginalised. About 4 years ago, there was an opportunity to apply for a grant from SET-BC (Special Education Technology – British Columbia). I decided to apply for Raspberry Pi (a small computer board) to teach coding to children since individuals with Autism has a high rate of technology employment when they step into the workforce. These little Raspberry Pi inspired me to delve into building a Raspberry Pi Robot called Tiddlybot on Kickstarter and the rest in history.
Can you tell me about Raspberry Pi?
The Raspberry Pi is a small computer board. The Pi has a variety of programs on it from Scratch to Python as well it allows you to download software onto it. It is compact, cheap and affordable which makes learning coding more accessible. Here’s a great video about the Raspberry Pi:
What makes you excited about using Robots in your teaching?
Everyone can be included! It is a wonderful tool for inclusion and Universal Design for Learning in the classroom. No matter what ability or capability of a student every child can engage, learn and participate. It facilitates inclusive curiosity within a classroom culture.
Tell me about the grants?
The Inspire Project has been honoured to receive a variety of grants from various organizations. We are grateful for everyone who has supported our dream and vision in bringing inclusive curiosity through coding and robots into classrooms.
The following organizations have been our cheerleaders:
Innovation Partnership (Ministry of Education)
CST Inspired Learning Minds
Network of Inquire and Innovation
DASH: Healthy Schools Network
Why did you apply for these grants?
I believe it takes a village to support children, especially children with Special Needs. These grants are from credible organizations that want to ease change and nurture our future generations. I believe that partnering with these grant-giving organizations have not only resourced our school and community, it has opened wonderful opportunities to collaborate and learn about the amazing things happening in the lives of Canadian children.
I support a diverse group of children with a variety of needs and challenges. This group ranges from children with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome to Gifted to Autism. Yet to tell you the truth, the kids I work with, have such a patience with me! They work with me to challenge me to see things in a different light, to feel life deeply, to make mistakes and say ‘sorry’, that it’s okay to not ‘curb’ one’s excitement and to take time to slow down. The children, I work with are truly the best teachers in my life!
Robots are important to them because it’s the connection to others that is facilitated. I believe that codeable robots allow an equal playing field for all students. No matter what their ability or capability every child can be curious. These robots are allowing students to participate and engage with others. It is wonderful to see children working together collaboratively and problem solving together. We have seen the critical thinking as an important skill that children should develop.
Tell me about your staff members?
Our staff at James Kennedy have been wonderful in stepping into the Inspire Project initiatives. It is intimidating to learn something new like coding! We have been able to give workshops to every class in our school to teach coding and to learn how to code robots. I believe I have a brave staff that are willing to take on a new challenge to learn coding and that can just start by having a conversation.
Tell me about your websites?
I have two blogs. My first blog: www.notesofaspecialneedsteacher.wordpress.com started 7 years ago to provide a resource to the world for various ideas, programs, news and encouragements around special needs. My second blog: www.mrspimentel.wordpress.com launched officially 4 years ago to assist in communicating with SET-BC (our granting body), our journeys through the Raspberry Pi. I decided to continue to blog on this website as we continue to receive more granting money which now has become a resource for others to check out our adventures and struggles as well journey through the beautiful world of inclusive curiosity through coding and codeable robots!
What Professional Development have you done and why is this important?
I have done a variety of Professional Development through my 16 years of teaching. The training through workshops and conference have been a valuable resource to my ‘tool belt’. What I also enjoy about these opportunities is to meet the various colleagues who inquire and are passionate about learning about similar topics.
What Professional Development have you taught?
I have taught a range of Professional Development throughout my career. I had opportunities to teach workshops in England and in British Columbia. I have been given the great priviledge to facilitate an Innovation Partnership Conference to speak at a BCCASE (BC Special Education Administration) to Langley’s Curriculum Days. I have spoken on a range of topics from Dyspraxia to SOLO6 software program for children with Learning Disabilities to codeable robots.
Tell me how you think Robots will impact our kids future?
Robots will usher to more opportunities for collaboration in the classroom. These little instruments will teach coding without having to stare at a screen for hours. It provides opportunities to inspire the future generations to develop problem solving and critical thinking. The 21st Century needs the future generation to know the basics of coding since provide a fundamental skillset that the workforce needs.
Tell us about the INSPIRE project.
The 21st Century classroom is an exciting place for inclusion, innovation and inquiry. The Inspire Project’s vision is to facilitate ‘Inclusive Curiosity’ by engaging with robots and learning the basics about coding as educational tools which compliments the new BC Curriculum. We want to encourage conversations in our community and beyond how we all can become curious innovators and not just consumers of technology.
The Inspire Project aims to promote ‘Inclusive Curiosity through Technology’. The Inspire Project based at James Kennedy Elementary School has been honoured with funding from the CST Inspired Project, Innovation Network and Network of Inquiry and Innovation. This year we aim to resource our local community of Walnut Grove with free K-7 workshops (aka Walnut Code). In addition, we will host Inspire Showcases, Robot-Sitting opportunities, Coding Club and many more inspired activities.
Why is it important to students and to schools?
For future generations to develop a curious minds, problem solving skills, critical thinking and collaborative thinking. Schools are wonderful places to facilitate our future generations to be world changers and innovators.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us?
Together let’s step into ‘Inclusive Curiosity’ and change the world!