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The Goal of Education

Tonight’s #edchat topic on Twitter was: Can we agree on a common goal of education? My response: The goal of education is to provide the conditions for learning.  I think that it is a broad enough goal for everything else to fall into place.  I engaged in some discussion about how...

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Swift Playground: Apple’s free app that teaches kids to code!

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Apply, Create, Fun & Games, Inquiry, iPod, Maker Space, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video | Posted on 19-09-2016

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Swift Playground Learn to Code Apps on your iPad!

What it is: Swift Playground is an awesome new app from Apple that teaches kids how to code in Swift. This free app for iPads uses games to teach kids Apple’s coding language used to create apps. Students can drag and drop code, and easily edit the code to customize it. The code can be instantly run so students can test out their code and see if it works. Best of all, in those instances that the code they put together doesn’t work, Swift Playground has debugging tools and hints built-in to help students rectify any problems. Students can also code with Swift from scratch making the app endlessly adaptable to any skill level.

How to integrate Swift Playground into your classroom: Swift Playground requires no previous coding knowledge, making it the perfect tool for learning how to code. For those students who have experience with coding, Swift Playground is robust enough for even seasoned programmers to bring new ideas to life. Swift Playground begins with a series of challenges to help students master the basics, students use code to help characters navigate a 3D world. When the challenges have been mastered, students can build and manipulate their own code to dream up new creations. Use Swift Playground to get your students thinking logically and solving problems from new perspectives. The skills built as students learn to code are the same skills that will help students in other disciplines like math and science. I love the way Swift Playground starts out by giving students a fun environment of challenges to learn the basics of Swift, but also allows them the flexibility of drag and drop code, and allowing students to edit and write their own code. Swift Playground even features a special keyboard that includes the most common coding characters so that students don’t have to hunt through keyboards to find what they are looking for. As students advance in their skills, they can use code templates that allow customization with code. Beyond what most learning platforms allow, students will be able to adjust multi-touch interactions, the accelerometer, and the gyroscope. These features and abilities are such an awesome tie-in to conversations about complex math and physics! When students are finished with their creation, they can share it with others using Messages, Mail, or Airdrop. Students can even post videos of their creation for others to see! For those who are really soaring, Swift Playground code can be exported to Xcode (where the pros create apps).

Swift Playground-Learn to code on the iPad

Many classrooms don’t yet have time built into the day that is dedicated to coding. But perhaps once a week you use coding in math class as applied math, or use Swift Playground as part of a 20% time offering in your classroom. If those are unavailable, consider participating in Hour of Code.  Play with Swift Playground yourself and you’ll start recognizing tie-ins with other learning that your students are doing. When your students are proficient with coding in Swift Playground, they can start creating and reflecting on learning with the code they know.  Swift Playground is a fantastic resource to have available as part of your Maker Space! Maybe they create a new game to help them remember vocabulary, or math facts. Perhaps they build a world based on a historical event. Once those basics are mastered the application possibilities are endless!

Tips: Everyone can code! This isn’t a skill that only a few should possess. Even the youngest students can use Swift Playground, I’m talking kindergarten can use this app! If you are new to the concept of code, check out this crash course from Apple.

Hello Ruby: A whimsical way to learn about computers and programming

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Apply, Character Education, Create, inspiration, Knowledge (remember), Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Technology, TED Talk Tuesdays, Understand (describe, explain), video, Websites | Posted on 03-02-2016

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Hello Ruby is the world's most whimsical way to learn about computers, technology and programming.

 

What it is: Hello Ruby began as a whimsical children’s book by Linda Liuka meant to help kids learn about computers, technology, and programming. Hello Ruby has since escaped the pages of the book, and now Ruby continues all of her adventures in exercises, games, and apps. It is well suited for primary kids, but truly anyone (adults included!) can learn something from Ruby. The story of Ruby is beautiful, it begins with a unique, different girl who is surrounded by her unique and different friends-all with different abilities. Ruby loves learning new things, and hates giving up. She shares her opinions boldly, and is funny. Her secret superpower is being able to imagine impossible things. Her interests include maps, secret codes, and small talk (she should offer a class…I hate small talk!). Each of her friends is equally interesting and dynamic! Beyond the Hello Ruby book, the website is packed full of goodness. There are downloads for your students where they can print their own blank game boards to create unique games, an opportunity to help Ruby organize her wardrobe for dress code, practice building a universal remote control, a ‘what is a computer’ activity, and My First Computer where students can design their own computer!

Watch the TED talk above for the passion behind Hello Ruby!

How to integrate Hello Ruby into your classroom: The Hello Ruby site has a special educator page to get started with Hello Ruby in your classroom. You’ll find lesson plans, educator stories, and resources to help you get started with learning and teaching programming yourself. All necessary components are included on the Hello Ruby site! The lesson plans and ideas included are brilliant and go beyond most lesson plans you’ll find for programming. This is immersive programming that puts students in the middle of the action and has them discovering and acting as inquirers. Hello Ruby is a wonderfully whimsical way to teach students about computers and programming. If you are new to the world of programming, this is the place to start. The ground work for learning to code is all here. Hello Ruby introduces your students to programming but also beautifully engages them in logical thinking, problem solving, and critical thinking exercises. It is genuinely brilliant!

Beyond the introduction to technology and coding, I love the Ruby character and all of her friends. Each is unique and different, and that is celebrated! Hello Ruby celebrates identity and the uniqueness of everyone. Use it as part of your classroom character development. At Anastasis, we’ll use it as part of the Who We Are inquiry block and Detox week.

Tips: The Hello Ruby book comes in English, Finnish, and Swedish. Soon it will be available in Dutch, Hungarian, French, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, and Polish as well.

Thank you @leadanddesign for sending me Linda’s Ted Talk!

Apple joining Hour of Code and offering free workshops! #edtech

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Evaluate, inspiration, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Podcasts, Primary Elementary, professional development, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 04-12-2014

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Apple offers free hour long workshops to teach you how to code!

Today Apple announced that it will be joining code.org’s “Hour of Code” movement by hosting a free one-hour introduction to the basics of computer programming at Apple stores on December 11. During Computer Science Education week (December 8-14th) they will be hosting other workshops.

As a part of the Computer Science Education week, Apple will be hosting designers and engineers in select cities around the world. Pretty awesome! Contact your local Apple store to find out exact details of what your store has planned for the week.

Students at Anastasis Academy have started into an inquiry block about “How We Express Ourselves;” Hour of Code is coming perfectly timed as students can learn about how people express themselves through code.

Apple is also offering free resources for learning to code that you can get started with today. They’ve created a collection of helpful apps, books, podcasts, and iTunes U courses that will get your students coding in no time!

You (the teacher) don’t have to be an expert at coding to introduce your students to it. In fact, it is kind of fun if you are learning and discovering coding together…definitely a bonding experience! Truly, please don’t stay away from spending at least an hour during the Hour of Code just because you don’t feel like you know anything. Explore together and let your students get excited about coding and about teaching you something new as you go. The resources Apple has listed are a fantastic way to get started. Join the Hour of Code yourself for additional information and support here.

I love that coding can hit every level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. It obviously allows students the opportunity to create something digital, but it also causes them to apply concepts/skills/math, analyze and evaluate code and what it is used for, and can help build knowledge and understanding in code and in a variety of subjects that the code is related to. Pretty great when that happens!

Want to continue your own learning about learning? Join us for the 5-Sigma Edu Conference. There is even a session on coding in the curriculum! It is going to be awesome and as an added benefit, you get to see how classes at Anastasis Academy run. Can’t wait to meet you there!

Ozobot: game pieces with brains

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Create, Fun & Games, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), Websites | Posted on 14-10-2014

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What it is: “Oh my gosh! This is SO AWESOME!!” – Exclamation from a student upon playing with the Ozobot for the first time.

Last week, I got an Ozobot in the mail…I couldn’t wait to play! These little robots are game pieces with brains. They are about the size of a large bouncy ball and kids can interact with these little robots in a variety of ways. Right out of the box, the Ozobot is ready to use. After a quick calibration (which consists of holding down the power button and setting on a “dot” card) the Ozobot is ready to play and learn with. Ozobot reacts to color codes. The color codes have already been programmed which means that your students can use those codes to create their own games and challenges. Red, blue, green, and black markers can be used to create their own challenges, games, and courses for the Ozobot. In addition to your student’s imaginations, the Ozobot website has pre-made mazes and games that can be downloaded and printed out. The Ozobot can also interact with your iPad or Android devices, download the Ozobot app and you suddenly have a lot more ways to interact with the Ozobot!

How to integrate the Ozobot into your classroom for learning: The Ozobot is a great way to teach your students the basic building blocks of coding. While they won’t actually use code to make Ozobot move, the color codes teach students to think like a programmer. Students start to realize that they can make the Ozobot move and react based on their input of different colors. Before you give your students the OzoCode sheet (which can be downloaded from the Ozobot website), use the color card included with the Ozobot and ask your “scientists” to observe this strange new discovery. Students can play the part of scientist and record observations about what Ozobot does in reaction to the different colors and codes on the maze. Can they reproduce some of these behaviors on their own drawings for Ozobot? Next, give them the color code reference chart and let them experiment with the different color codes. IF they make a red and blue dot next to each other THEN what does Ozobot do? Help students think in terms of IF/THEN and not only will they get practice with the scientific method, they will also get some great building blocks for coding. Students can use the color codes to design their own mazes and challenges for the Ozobot, they can even create their own games! The Ozobot kit that I received is from the Competition Series and included two Ozobots and some Ozoskins (so that you can tell them apart). Students could create large self correcting math or vocabulary puzzles for Ozobot to solve. They can write down the question and try to “beat” Ozobot to the correct answer. Each student can create a problem and they can be used as a center game…Beat Ozobot. Ozobot can move, set timers, pause, exit and win, count down, walk backward, spin, zigzag, etc. While it travels to the correct answer on the sheet of paper based on the path drawn, students have to try to solve the problem first. A fun digital buddy to practice math, vocabulary, geography, etc. with!

 

Tips: Ozobot is also a pretty great dancer. It should definitely be included in any classroom dance party!

 

Sphero: the coolest robot around

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Evaluate, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 14-04-2014

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Sphero- coolest robot ever

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! 😉

Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include:

  • Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero.
  • Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding.
  • GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits.
  • Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions!
  • Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it.
  • Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends.
  • Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero.
  • Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more?
  • Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging.
  • Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive.
  • Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot.
  • DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room.
  • Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator.
  • Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone.
  • Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero.
  • orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot.
  • Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party.
  • Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better.
  • Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life.
  • Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors”
  • Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun.
  • Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction.
  • Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside.
  • Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations.
  • Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with.
  • Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever!
  • Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. 🙂
  • The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise.

The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing!

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.

 

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?

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?

Construct 2: A WYSIWYG editor for HTML5

Posted by admin | Posted in Create, History, Math, Middle/High School, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Teacher Resources, Technology, Websites | Posted on 04-09-2012

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What it is:  Construct 2 is a free program that makes it possible for ANYONE (kids too!) to make HTML5 games without any programming experience.  Construct 2 is available for free download for Windows XP, Vista and 7.  The approach to game creation is pretty intuitive.  It is easy enough for beginners but is robust enough to make some pretty impressive games.  This editor makes it possible for your students to take their ideas to production.  SO cool! Construct 2 also has physics elements that can be added to games that adds dimension and another aspect of learning in game design.

Construct 2 has a free version, as well as two tiers of paid versions.  The free version doesn’t allow students to create iOS native apps, Android native apps and has a few limitations in organization of a project.  Other than that, it is fully loaded and pretty impressive!

How to integrate Construct 2 into your curriculum: I don’t know about you, but our students are programming crazy!  The only problem: programming comes with a pretty steep learning curve and our kids want to make their ideas come to life now.  I’ve found that students respond well to these kind of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors.  The great thing about these type of editors: students get to see their ideas come to life and those that are interested in pushing the limits are motivated to learn more coding/programming language.  It is the best of all worlds!  The downfall of Construct 2: WINDOWS.  Yeah, no version for Apple yet.  I have no idea what that is like…my world is Apple.  BUT, I know many of you are in Windows environments (sorry) and many of our students still have Windows at home.  This post is for you!

Construct 2 can be used to create games and HTML5 apps.  This means your students can fully flesh out their learning with choose-their-own adventure stories, history explanations, science simulations/games, design thinking, etc.  Taking learning to “publish” this way is pretty amazing.  I can’t tell you how awesome it is to see students take what they have learned and create something new with it.  I highly recommend it!

Consider offering game construction as an option for students to show what they know.  You will be impressed!

Tips: There are some great tutorials on the Construct 2 website.  This is a great way for your students to engage in a little self-directed learning and exploration. 🙂

Looking for some ways to teach kids about coding?

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Construct 2 in your classroom!

Codecademy: Learn how to code

Posted by admin | Posted in Apply, Create, Interactive book, Middle/High School, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 05-01-2012

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What it is:  Codecademy makes learning to code a snap.  It is an interactive, fun way to learn coding one step at a time.  The site will prepare students to program websites, games and apps.  Learn independently or with friends, keeping track of their progress and comparing it with yours.  Students can track and share their progress to see how much they have learned and to stay motivated.  The platform could not be simpler to use and after just a few lessons…I’m starting to really understand and get the hang of programming.  I think that is pretty impressive considering that I have never had a lesson before now (not entirely true, a few years ago I went through the learn C in 24 hours course…I could follow along but didn’t really understand what I was doing.)!
How to integrate Codecademy into the classroom: With the popularity of apps, I have students who are just itching to learn how to program.  It is great to see boys and girls of all ages excited about learning how to code.  Codecademy is something that you can use to learn right along with your students.  You don’t have to be the expert because Codecademy guides everyone step-by-step through lessons and lets everyone move at a pace that is comfortable to them.  If your students can read, they can learn to code with Codecademy.  Today, a fourth grader at Anastasis started going through Codecademy lessons and quickly surpassed me.  His excitement was evident as he figured out variables in lines of code, how to set off an alert or command.  What I love about using Codecademy as a class or school is that students can work together, encourage and challenge each other.  When students hit certain lessons, they unlock new badges to display.
Codeacademy’s obvious use is to learn how to code.  For students who are passionate about gaming, websites, and programming this is a great sandbox to learn in.  Students get immediate feedback about the code they are writing.  Start a class club where students learn how to code together.  Use some time each week to learn to code with students, you could set the goal of learning to code together over the course of the year.
Codecademy is great for students who are reluctant to read but love technology.  This reading is for a purpose and students love it!  With Codecademy, getting an online education has never been so much fun!
Tips: Codecademy has created a new site called Code Year.  Make your New Year’s resolution to learn to code and sign up for Code Year.  Each week, you will get a new interactive lesson delivered to you via email.  By the end of the year you (or your students) will be lean, mean coding machines!  So cool!  I’m taking the challenge with several interested students and am looking forward to learning something new this year!

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Code Year in  your classroom!

Robot Obstacle Course

Posted by admin | Posted in Interactive Whiteboard, Math, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 17-06-2010

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Screen shot 2010-06-17 at 3.52.37 PM

What it is: Robot Obstacle Course is an excellent introduction into programming for young kids.  Students are presented with an obstacle course made up of colored blocks and keys.  Students must program the robot to jump over the obstacles and pick up the keys to complete the course.  Through the obstacle course, students are introduced to basic programming language and learn how to think like a programmer.  The obstacles get progressively more difficult and more variables are added.

Screen shot 2010-06-17 at 3.58.56 PM

How to integrate Robot Obstacle Course into the classroom: Robot Obstacle Course is a fun way for students to get an introduction to programming skills.  The Obstacle Course includes a lot of logical/mathematical thinking as they decide which variables to adjust to get the robot through the course.  For students younger than third grade, consider completing the courses as a class using a projector connected computer or interactive whiteboard.  Talk through each problem and ask students to offer possible solutions before you test out your robot.  For older students (third through fifth grade) the courses can be completed independently on classroom computers or in a computer lab setting.  As students test solutions, discuss why the solution works, or how the solution should be adjusted for the robot to preform successfully.

Tips: This game will put students observational skills to the test!  If you don’t have time for a full game, this is a great thinking activity for those few extra transition minutes in the classroom, project the activity on the board and if they are ready for the transition (for example lining up) they can come up to the board and test their solution on the way to the line.

Please leave a comment and share how you are using Robot Obstacle Course in your classroom.