H/T to all the gracious members of my PLN who share resources every day!
Code for Life
I had not seen Code for Life until Richard Byrne wrote about it in his blog. Although it does seem that we have a plethora of coding resources to choose from, I liked both the simplicity of the drag drop interface as well as the curriculum alignment for the teachers.
I'd been hearing about this since last spring and finally took the time to check it out. Since I don't teach in a traditional classroom, I sometimes don't spend the time to check out some tools that I would otherwise find indispensable. This is a quick and easy way to let students know what the expectations are, to help teach, and has a pretty extensive, easy to use tool bar. Even if you love your current tool set, check out all that this classroomscreen has to offer. Lori Gracey over at TCEA wrote up a great post about this tool today. Check it out here.
I had hoped that the 3rd grade would be able to try some of these, but with the NGSS transition, perhaps not. If you are working on anything to do with space- check out these really cool STEM challenges from VivifyStem. I hope to be able to take some of these ideas and use them for STEAM challenges as well.
Black History Month
There are some excellent resources online for Black History Month. One of my favorite new resources is the hyperdoc shared by Randi Merritt. ReadWorks has featured Reading Passages for the month. PBS has an excellent collection-Black America Since MLK- And Still We Rise. Our local station is hosting a special screening of More Than a Month- Sighted Eyes/Feeling Heart on Thursday 2/1 at 1pm ET
Storyboardthat offers a collection of storyboard ideas for students to learn from or use to start their own creations. We also have 2 tabs on our HES symbaloo for Black History month. The 2 tabs are pinned to the beginning of the navigation tabs for the month.
Last, but certainly not least- Adobe Spark
When I read about the changes in Adobe Spark for students under 13 last week, it really made my day. Adobe Spark is a beautiful, easy to use tool, but the TOS was limited. Teachers essentially had to create one account and then have all of the students log in and use it. Now, beginning in April- students under 13 will be able to use Adobe Spark. You can read the whole announcement here. Many different bloggers wrote more about this, but perhaps you'll enjoy Monica Burns' post here
A quick post just to welcome everyone back to school after what I hope was a wonderful, fun-filled, relaxing break from the routine.
As promised, I spent a few weeks this summer going to conferences, workshops and an edcamp. In future posts, or perhaps as an afternoon workshop I would love to spend time with those interested talking about Hyperdocs, BreakoutEdu or some of the real hands-on coding for younger students that I learned more about and worked with this summer.
I did end up taking the Hyperdocs bootcamp course. The book is worthwhile ( I bought the paperback copy and I can loan it to you), the Facebook group is relatively active, the twitter group is worth following and the website is something I reference pretty continually. The course itself... not so much. I learned a lot from the Google Hangouts, from doing the assignments, but the instructors did not give feedback to the learners. They had reasons for this- that they could not evaluate how we would use these docs in the classroom, etc... but it was kind of like working in void. For those of you who don't know what hyperdocs are.... I wrote about them in the Spring, but essentially they are like the old webquests but on steroids- waay more engaging, more collaborative, more connected, and you can organize your lessons, your units, etc for both yourself and your students. Oh- and one plus for me was in the course of doing one of the assignments I chose to use Plotagon. It was fun to use, is free and is kind of a replacement for xtranormal.
Computational Thinking ( coding stuff)
I also attended the Scratch conference at MIT as well as a day each of ScratchJr and of Kibo Robotics over at Tufts. One of the themes of the Scratch conference was inclusiveness. When we hear that coding is the new literacy, that all students should learn to code, etc,, regardless of how you feel about those statements- who are we including/excluding? Do girls get to try these activities? How about students of color? How about students with disabilities or students who live in poverty? Some really interesting conversations. I even saw a poster session by a woman who is designing a version of Scratch (which is visual, drag and drop programming ) for the blind! Lots of really smart people, probably the most international conference I ever attend, and they are all thinking about, talking about how to help students and teachers connect computational thinking, creativity, and design in really interesting ways.
The 2 days over at Tufts were on computational thinking with real hands on programming. The Kibo robot- thank you Helping Hearts- has a low entry level and a very high ceiling. It is programming a wooden robot, using wooden blocks with bar codes- but includes loops, conditionals, etc. and you can use the stage to make really cool characters.
And of course #edcampCT
I love going to edcamps. Where else do you get to design and choose your own PD, walk out of a session that isn't meeting your needs and have great conversations with amazing educators? I attended edcampCT over at the Ethel Walker School in August. It is one of my favorite edcamps- beautiful facilities, excellent food, and of course a diverse mix of educators- from preschool and elementary through high school and college- librarians, classroom teachers, administrators... It is just plain fun and I learn a lot. I'm not a real big fan of augmented or virtual reality- so I attended a session on it- just to make myself think differently. I still don't like it personally, but am now convinced that I need to work on learning more about it and seeing if it is a good fit for some teachers/learners.
I said this was going to be a quick post- I lied. Google made lots of changes over the summer- some may be useful and I will go over those next time.
Coding is an essential 21st century skill... Yes? No? Yeah but....?
This is Computer Science Education Week. Literally millions of students and their teachers around the world are celebrating with an hour of code. Read more about it over at the Tech Integration Blog