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Heifer International: Game for Change

What it is: Heifer International works with communities to end hunger, poverty, and care for the earth.  Heifer International does not give hand-outs, they offer hand ups.  Transforming lives of hunger and poverty, into sustained lives of hope.  Using gifts of livestock and training, Heifer International helps families improve nutrition and generate sustainable income.  I have written about a program that Heifer International has before, called Read to Feed.  I highly recommend that you take a look at the Read to Feed program if you haven’t seen it before.  Heifer International has partnered with BeaconFire and ForgeFX to create an interactive 3D game that teaches students about hunger and poverty in a virtual world.  Through Heifer International: Game for Change, students will learn about real world conditions of poverty and how communities can create sustainable solutions.  Through game play, students will learn about sustainable options for help.  In the game, students take on the role of a 12 year old Nepalese girl in a village that struggles with poverty and hunger.  There are four tasks/missions that students must complete in the current (beta) version of the game.  Each task offers an activity that teaches a core principle.  One example is a task where students learn about deforestation that makes it more difficult to collect firewood used to cook dinner.  The lessons in the game mirror real-life happenings in Nepal with Heifer International’s partners.  The game is currently in Beta version and the creators are asking for suggestions here.   How to integrate Heifer International: Game for Change into the classroom: Heifer International: Game for Change is an excellent way to offer your students global education, awareness, and encourage them to action.  Students will learn important lessons about issues like poverty and environmental degradation in a real, hands on, manner.  Start out with a geography lesson, encouraging students to find Nepal on a map or globe.  Use Google Earth or Scribble Maps to put a place marker on Nepal and a place marker where they live.  Talk with students about issues of poverty and hunger, exploring the Heifer International site for students where they can watch videos, do experiments, and play games.  Next, allow your students to step into the story by taking the role of a Nepalese girl living in an impoverished village.  Students should work to complete all 4 tasks in the game and keep a journal (online or off) of their thoughts as they complete the game.  Was it hard to find food, wood, water?  There are a lot of lessons packed in here, from geography and social studies, to reading and following directions and character education. As an extension activity, students could create VoiceThreads or Animoto videos about Heifer International.  Tie in the Read to Feed program so that your students can get hands on with Heifer International.  Use their completed VoiceThreads or Animoto videos as “advertisements” for the Read to Feed program. If your students are anything like mine, they will have definite opinions about the game.  Why not take advantage of that, and have them offer suggestions and praise that can be used by the creators?  Have students craft their ideas and send them here. Tips: If you haven’t signed up for the Read to Feed program, it is an outstanding program.  It includes free DVD, leaders guide, poster, storybook (Beatrice’s Goat), brochures, bookmarks, student rewards, and standard based curriculum.  Get your students excited about reading and involved in their global community, it is never too early to get your students thinking about others! Please leave a comment and share how you are using Heifer International: Game for Change in your classroom.

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Hour of Code: 30 ways to get your students (k-12) coding! #hourofcode

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Art, collaboration, Create, Download, Fun & Games, Interactive Whiteboard, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 09-12-2013

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What it is: This week is Hour of Code week! From December 9- December 15, Code.org is hosting an event to introduce students everywhere to computer sciences.  The event is super flexible, you can plan your hour anywhere it fits in your schedule this week.  Code.org has MORE than enough resources, videos, activities to get you going, but these days there are all kinds of great resources to help you bring programming and the Hour of Code into your classroom.  The best part is, there is no previous coding experience required, really!

I can’t tell you how rewarding and exciting it is to learn something alongside your students.  It is such a neat thing for your students to see you as a learner (without all of the answers) and discover learning together.  This is rewarding in ways you may not have experienced before.

How lead your student (school) in the Hour of Code Week: First: sign up for the Hour of Code week at Code.org.  This leads you to fantastic tutorials for the learner.

  • Check out the tutorials and pick one for your class. Tutorials are available in a variety of languages!
  • I like to go through the tutorial once on my own so that I have some background information before diving right in with students.
  • Test tutorials on the devices students will use during the Hour of Code (there is nothing worse than planning everything only to learn you don’t have the correct plugin!)

Next decide if your students will be going through the tutorial on their own, in partners, or as a class.  This probably depends on what devices you have available for your students.  Don’t let a lack of devices keep you from participating!  Students can work together on classroom computers (maybe as a center where groups visit the computer together for an hour. A new group can visit the center each day of the week.) If you don’t have reliable classroom computers, or the ability for students to work independently in a one to one setting, think about working as a whole class using an interactive whiteboard or projector-connected computer.  If you suffer from low bandwidth (the worst!) you can even opt to download the tutorials so that you are watching them locally.

Have fun learning together! It is okay to say, “I don’t know.” As I said above, it is truly such a cool experience to learn with your students.

Hour of Code-30 ways to engage your students!

Although Code.org is hosting the Hour of Code, you aren’t limited to the resources you find there.  Below I’ve listed some of our favorite places to learn about coding at Anastasis Academy:

  1. Codecademy (this was where Team Anastasis started our first year during Crave classes. I learned right along with them! I can’t tell you the number of times I said, “I don’t know, let’s see if anyone on Twitter can help.” GREAT experience! The kids loved the game nature of learning to code and the immediate gratification of moving to the next level.)
  2. Codecademy: Hour of Code this is available as an app on the iPhone (can also be downloaded for iPad at the phone resolution)
  3. Squad is a free collaborative code editor.  With Squad, students can access the code they are writing anywhere there is an Internet connection. This means that students can chat and edit files together no matter where they are.
  4. Tynker– This is one that I wrote about just the other day…cannot wait to use it!
  5. Romo– This is a robot that helps teaches the basics of programming. I adore this little robot. It is adorable and fairly affordable if you already have an iPhone/iPod that you are willing to let kids use.
  6. Bootstrap– This is an awesome resource for middle and high school students.  It teaches students algebraic and geometric concepts through computer programming.  Different from other resources, this one begins with the math in mind and shows students practical application of what they are learning in algebra/geometry as you go.  Very cool!
  7. Scratch– from MIT, this is a great place to start…a long time winner for sure!
  8. Stencyl- is game creation software with a visual interface that lets students publish their creations for any platform.
  9. Game Salad– similar to Stencyl, this free download lets students create games visually and publish their creation on multiple platforms.
  10. Hackety Hack!– with this download kids can learn the basics of Ruby on Rails programming language.
  11. Code Monster- great beginner interface for kids to learn the basics of programming through a step-by-step online guide.
  12. Hopscotch– Coding for kids in a visual programming language. Hopscotch is an app for the iPad and FREE!
  13. Move the Turtle- Another app for the iPad that teaches programming visually. This one is $2.99
  14. Treehouse- Free app for the iPad that teaches programming and design from 1000 videos, practice modules, etc.
  15. Cato’s Hike Lite– This is a programming and logic odyessy for kids. This is a great place for kids to learn the basics. The lite version linked here is free, the full version is $4.99
  16. CProgramming- an iPad guide to programming in C. This app features a conversational style with visual explanations and is probably best for older student. The hosts sing badly, tell cheesy jokes, and include ridiculous pop culture references.  All of this adds up to a fun way to learn. $5.99
  17. Codea– an iPad app that fills in the gaps of your lack of programming knowledge with visual interface. $9.99
  18. KineScript Lite– visual programming for kids to learn to code and share it with others. A great starting point! Free!  Full version is $1.99
  19. Dynamic Art Lite– Another iPad based graphical programming option for kids. This one lets students create amazing animation and artwork with a drag/drop set of blocks. Free! Full version is $2.99
  20. Kodable is a free iPad game that offers a kid-friendly introduction to programming concepts and problem solving. (The pro version is on SUPER SALE for the Hour of Code week- 90% off!)
  21. Java Tutorial: Learn Java quickly with this iPad app from Udemy for older students. Free
  22. Light-bot Hour of Code- A free iPad app that introduces kids that have absolutely NO experience programming but can immediately use programming logic in this fun game.
  23. Daisy Dinosaur- a fantastic and free basics of programming app that features an adorable dinosaur named Daisy. The visual interface is great and teaches students the basics of objects, sequencing, loops, and events by solving the app’s challenges. (This is a favorite!)
  24. Bot Bat– a free iPad app that lets students design their own robot tank to do battle, they use visual programming to tell the bot what to do.
  25. Codi Animation- an iPad app where students can create animation for their own iOS app. $.99
  26. Chip Bots- a free iPad app that lets students design and program their own robot using chip-based programming environments.
  27. Circuit Coder– an iPad game and simulator for building digital circuits $1.99
  28. Lego Mindstorms Fix the Factory– I don’t know about you, but our youngest students are LEGO crazy. They would be all over this free iPad app that teaches the basics of programming language.
  29. TouchLogo is an ipad game that introduces programming to young children (even preschoolers could use this one!) $2.
  30. Last but certainly not least, Code.org. A fantastic site for all things code and lots of goodies just for educators!


iLearn Technology- Romotive robot

Tips: There are lots of videos and printouts for the Hour of Code that you can use to inspire some excitement about this fun day! You will even find links for letters to send home, to your administration, even the government!

What are you doing for your Hour of Code?  What fun things do you have planned?

Comments (2)

It’s great thing that you are included Ruby On Rail. And Ruby is the leading language among all the other programming languages today. And through Ruby On Rails Outsourcing you can build rich and dynamic web applications.

I was surprised at not seeing Alice.org a free program from Carnegie Mellon.

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