A New Ambassador Intent on Bringing 21st Century Teaching Tools to the Front
Lisa Fox, the Technology Integration Specialist at Forestdale School in Massachusetts, is an instructor on a mission. Raised in Massachusetts, the University of Maryland graduate is shaping her method of instruction around today’s tools.
A new Bloxels Ambassador, Lisa worked primarily with children from Kindergarten to Second Grade on STEM skills and now works with educators to help them implement different STEM tools into their classrooms. She introduced Bloxels to her class a little over a year ago and saw her students hooked by the idea of creating their own games. “It was a new tool, I found it on a 'Best Ed Tech Tools’ list,” Lisa said, “and it had a physical element that really helped the younger kids have something tangible to grab on to.”
Dedicated to learning her tools herself, Lisa took the time to familiarize herself with Bloxels on her own time. “It only took me a day to get a good understanding of what Bloxels could do.” Lisa said. “I thought, if it’s something I can learn how to use in a day then it is definitely something that my kids can pick up.” That ease of access was key for Lisa, who got her 600 students familiar and comfortable with the app within three weeks.
Since introducing it to her classes, Lisa has taken it upon her self to advocate for the use of Bloxels, and similar tools, in STEM classrooms both with her peers and at conferences. We met her at MassCue where she was giving a talk about the transformation of Bloxels Builder into Bloxels EDU and the benefits of using a creative tool like Bloxels EDU in a classroom. “It is really a great transformation from the original Bloxels Builder. It has been simplified, there are fewer distractions. It was easy to get distracted before and those distractions have been cleaned up. It has been made so compatible for what teachers need.”
So what motivated you to teach?
Really I love learning myself. I am in the process of getting my doctorate in Education Leadership with a focus in STEM. I just think that learning needs to move into the 21st century with these kids. There are so many tools out there and so many of them are good. It’s just a matter of getting them in front of these students so they can learn with them.
What would you say your biggest roadblock is?
Definitely the mindset surrounding games and education. So many people see games as just a recreational tool. And with the news recently being so focused on, “he learned from, or he was desensitized by games.” There is a lot in the news about violence in games, no to mention the amount of screen time kids have. It’s really just a struggle of convincing the more traditional teachers and parents that there is a real learning potential with these tools. It’s not just games.
Have you had any luck in that endeavor?
I would say yes. It’s hard to say with the more technologically traditional parents, mostly because they don’t really talk to me. But I have had teachers see what I do and then ask me to run their labs and things like that. I sometimes have to remind people that STEM isn’t just Math and Science, its also Technology and Engineering.
Are you an ambassador (or similar) with any other tools?
Yeah, so I am a Certified Trainer with Brainpop, a Certified Teacher with Project Lead the Way, and a Second Level Google Certified Educator.
What is your favorite part about being involved with programs like this?
Definitely the opportunity to collaborate with other educators. I love being able to bounce ideas off of other people in the field of education and talk best practices.
To bring the conversation back a bit, do you have plans to keep talking at conferences and events like that?
I do plan to keep doing it, but I don’t have anything planned right now. Some of my colleagues had mentioned ISTE but my school may not have the funding for that. In the meantime I am looking to set up some sessions with educators in my area. Just a way to work closely with more teachers on incorporating these 21st century tools into their classrooms.
Ok, last couple questions: What is the most memorable moment you have had using Bloxels in your classes?
Honestly, it’s the student engagement. Watching these kids jump right into the blocks and then learn their way around the app is special. The pick it up so fast, many times without any prompting.
Yeah kids are so quick at picking up technology, and they are only getting faster.
They really are. It will be interesting to see how that develops in the coming years.
Last Question, one just for fun: What is your favorite block in Bloxels?
Definitely the Green Block. The one that you walk around on in the game? It can be anything. Kids can turn it into iron or grass or rocks or space dust. It just speaks to Bloxels EDU’s open format, allowing kids to create their own worlds. It is a blank slate that you can turn into anything.
We want to thank Lisa Fox for taking time out of her day to talk to us. We certainly had a blast and we can’t wait to see what she does with Bloxels EDU in her classroom and with her peers. Be sure to follow Mrs. Fox’s blog Teachable Moments and follow her on Instagram @techablemoments.