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On Blogging

This is a cross-post of a blog I wrote on the Edubloggers Alliance social network site.  If you are a blogging educator we would love to have you join and contribute to the community.  Cross post from your blog, write original content, ask blogging questions, and meet other educators who are blogging for themselves or with students. Hope to see you all there!  If you aren’t blogging yet but have been thinking about it, join us and get the support of other edubloggers. Blog posting is hard. No, not the actual act of posting, but the revealing of yourself to the world. It isn’t like writing for a magazine or writing a novel (those have their own challenges), because that kind of writing goes pas multiple eyes, editors, and a process to perfect it. Blogging is different. My eyes are the only ones that have read it until I hit “publish”. The perfectionist in me reads, and re-reads, and runs it through a grammar and spell check and then reads it again. There is always a moment of hesitation before you commit to clicking the publish button because in the back of your mind, you know you probably missed something. You try to convince yourself that it is no big deal…that people don’t really read your posts anyway. At best, they probably just skim. And so, you take the leap and hit publish, knowing that you can always come back and edit any problems. Of course, that is only after thousands of eyes have scrutinized it and judged you. You are, after all, a teacher. You aren’t supposed to make mistakes. The process is repeated day after day and pretty soon you aren’t worried about that post because there is another. The posts get pushed farther and farther down the page until pretty soon they are a distant, archived memory. That is, until someone brings an error to your attention. Maybe it is a typo, maybe a homograph used in the wrong context, maybe the error is grammatical. It doesn’t really matter, the reaction is the same…utter embarrassment. What kind of teacher are you anyway? Shouldn’t you have caught that? People are going to question your teaching capabilities, they are going to think you are an idiot for making such an obvious mistake (at least that is how my inner dialogue goes). Now, if you are like me, your immediate reaction goes something like this: Oh sure, they can find my one, itty bitty, minuscule mistake in this post. Who are they? Did they write 3 blog posts today? Did they read AND comment on 57 blog posts of fellow educators? Did they categorize thousands of websites so that they could intelligently write supplement guides for four weeks of reading curriculum? Did they answer 63 emails today? Did they make phone calls all day looking for funding for a new iPad program (that oh-by-the-way, I wrote!)? Did they finish reading one book and start another? Did they do 3 loads of laundry and pick up shoes that their spouse has left sprinkled all over the house? Did they interact all day on Twitter, Facebook, and instant message? Did they walk the dog? Did they cook dinner and clean up afterward? Then who are they to point out my one LITTLE mistake?! All things considered they should be impressed it was only one mistake. Harrumph! That, of course, is my initial reaction. I hate being reminded that I am not perfect. I hate being reminded that I make mistakes, that I am human. My second reaction (after a few deep get-a-grip breaths) is one of thankfulness. Thank goodness someone told me about my obvious mistake so that I can fix it and don’t continue to embarrass myself in front of colleagues! Blog posting is good for teachers. It keeps us humble, reminds us of how scary it can be to “speak” in front of the class. It reminds us of what it feels like not to have all the right answers. How it feels to get your work back with red marks all over it, exposing your faults. Blog. Blog because it is reflective. Blog because we need you to share what you know with us. Blog because it is good to remember how it feels to be judged by others. Blog because you have an unique view on the world and by sharing it, we all have another piece of this puzzle that is life. Just do me one favor, when you notice a mistake on my blog don’t tell me. Ignorance is bliss and I am perfectly happy to go on believing that I am perfect. Okay, so that isn’t true. Tell me so that I can fix it, learn from it, and still claim to be practically perfect in every way (like Mary Poppins). Beginning/Ending SoundsScarecrow Joe beginning sounds flipchart/game and ending sounds flipchart/game. Students drag words and their pictures to the matching beginning or ending. Pictures return to original location if incorrect. Students receive immediate feedback. Grade Level: kindergarten/firstPrice: $.99

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Tynker: Computer programming for kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, History, Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, web tools, Websites | Posted on 22-11-2013

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iLearn Technology Tynker: programming for kidsiLearn Technology Tynker: programming for kids

What it is: Tynker is about the coolest way for kids to learn how to computer program- absolutely NO prior programming experience is needed!  Tynker leads kids through design thinking through interactive courses where kids can learn how to program at their own pace.

Anyone can teach kids how to program (no really!) because with Tynker, you don’t need any prior knowledge or understanding.  Tynker provides teachers with tools, curriculum and project ideas that will have your kids programming in no time!  The Tynker curriculum pack starts with 6 lessons.  Each one is appropriate for a 45 minute work period. Through the teacher dashboard, you can assign lessons to your students.  A built-in tutor provides step-by-step instructions that guides students toward creating a working project.  The teacher dashboard also helps you track student progress as they learn and master concepts.  No data entry is required, students login and the teacher dashboard auto-magically populates.

When students have completed projects, they can publish them to the class showcase and be shared with family and friends through email, Google+, Twitter or Facebook.

Happily, Tynker works entirely in your web browser.  There is nothing to install or setup.  It is good to go right away!  Equally happily, Tynker is FREE for your school!  Woot!

How to integrate Tynker into your classroom: Not only will students learn the basics of programming with Tynker, they can use it to demonstrate their learning through their creations.  Students can compose stories and comics that retell a story, historical event, recent field trip, fiction or non-fiction.  Using the physics features, students can learn some basics about physics and cause the games they create to be more realistic.  They can also demonstrate understanding of physics principles through their creations.

Students can use Tynker to create their own apps to show off their understanding of new math/science/social studies vocabulary, math or science concepts, retell stories, character sketches, games, animations and more. In addition to being able to create stories, games, and  slideshow- students can also program original music and create computer art.

Don’t think you have time in your curriculum?  Take a look around Tynker and think about natural ways you could use it to enhance your curriculum.  Instead of asking your students to create a book report, have them program a retell using Tynker.  This will take some additional background knowledge (they will need to go through a Tynker tutorial or two) BUT the outcome is well worth it.  You will have asked your students to learn something new semi-independently, beefed up logical/mathematical thinking skills through programming, and invited students to think critically about what they read to tell the story to others through a program.  Worth the additional 45 min!  Students could demonstrate a math concept, show the steps in a science experiment, retell an event in history, and even compose their own music through program.  When you start thinking like a maker as you play with Tynker, you will realize there are infinite opportunities for including Tynker in your curriculum.  If you are still convinced that you can’t find the time in your heavily scheduled (sometimes scripted-sad) day, why not start a before or after school program, summer camp, lunch club, etc.?

At Anastasis, we have Crave classes every Wednesday.  These classes are offered by our teachers every 5 weeks.  Teachers choose an area of learning that they crave and create a class based on that (we have everything from programming, to cooking, to forensic science, hockey history, junk orchestra, iPad rock band, to chess and da Vinci art).  Students get a list of classes at the beginning of a new block, and get to choose a class that they crave.  The result is a wonderful mixed age (k-8) class of passions colliding.  The kids LOVE Wednesdays for this awesome hour of our day.  I’m excited to offer a Tynker class for our next block of classes (along with playing with our new Romo robot!), I think this is going to be a popular class!

iLearn Technology- Romotive robot

Tips: If your school uses Google apps for education like we do, your students can log in with their Google information.

What do you think of Tynker?  How do you plan to use it in your classroom?

Comments (9)

[…] iLearn Technology […]

I think Tynker is great. I am thinking of trying it with a 1st and 2nd grade class, any comments on appropriateness are appreciated.

[…] iLearn Technology posted a blog about a resource called Tynker, that teaches students the basics of computer programming. This is similar to Scratch, which we also learned about earlier in the year. Tynker, is an easy tool that doesn’t require your students to have any prior knowledge about programming. It starts students off with six, 45 minute lessons that will have students programming in no time! They provide teachers and kids with the necessary tools and curriculum to teach them the basics. It also has a teacher dashboard that allows you to track student’s progress while they go through the lessons. Tynker can also be used to enhance the classroom because the kids can create apps or make stories for English or creations that retell historical events. Another great resource to have for the classroom! […]

I tried it, but in school it is way to slow for the students. Everything is slowed down which makes it basically unplayable for the site. I tried it on different days also, with no luck. The week of Hour of Code was the worst, but it didn’t get better for me after that either.

Bummer! I haven’t experienced that with Tynker. Sorry that you are, it is a great resource when it is working!

I love your Crave class concept. I’ve always thought that there needed to be more variety in what we teach and what we all can learn. Way to be inspirational!

My school doesn’t have the bandwidth to support the tutorials. Someone mentioned downloading them. Can anyone help me with how to do this?

Thank you Vicki!

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