Hour of Code

“Any fool can write code that a computer can understand. Good programmers write code that humans can understand. ” By Martin Fowler

Did you know there will be 1,000,000 more computer science jobs than students by 2020 and that 9 out of 10 US schools don’t teach computer programming? This week (December 9-15) Computer Science Education and Code.org will host the Hour Of Code. The Hour of Code is an event organized to show that everyone can learn to code.  Here is a short video describing Hour of Code:

I believe that Computer Science courses will soon be in every school, as it is a language we should know for the 21st century. Teaching students to code from a young age (just like foreign languages) can help students have a better understanding of computer science. This video is an oldie but goodie that talks about why we should be teaching coding.

Do you want to teach your students to code but don’t know where to start? Or maybe you want to learn coding yourself? Check out all these resources:

Tynker (I have seen a few  3-5 grade teachers use this for coding clubs after-school) and Tynker’s Hour of Code Info

Codecademy.com (I have seen a few middle schools use this site for coding clubs after-school, this is how I taught myself to code)

Scratch  and Scratch’s Hour of Code Guide

Kodu and Kodu’s Hour of Code Info

Khan Academy: Computer Programming  and Khan’s Hour of Code Info

Activate! 

Code Monster

Gamestar Mechanic

Lego Digital Designer

My favorite coding App is Kodableyou can read about why here. They are always adding more and more resources to make this app very easy for teachers and parents to teach coding.

Using Kodable App in the Classroom

“I can’t live without my smartphone, but I really geek on coding. It’s not so much technology that I like, but puzzle solving.” Sylvia Day

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Last week I was lucky to meet the creators of KodableGrechen and Jon. Kodable is an amazing app that teaches programming to students K-2nd. It allows students to have an interactive learning experience using a gamification approach. That app will soon also have curriculum to help educators including lesson plans, vocabulary and activities. Jon and Grechen are also working on a web and android version which will be great for BYOT schools.

Kodable uses a scaffolding technique helping the students learn the positional arrows by dragging and dropping. Using key programing skills such as if – then statements the students steer a ‘fuzz’ character through a sequence of mazes. The students also earn coins and level up as incentives. Kodable connects with the Common Core curriculum. Here are just a few standards it meets: W.1.7, L.1.6, Math Mathematical Practices along with the many of the Anchor Standards.

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You can have multiple players allowing you to differentiate and lets the students work at their own pace. The level ‘Bugs Below’ is a fabulous feature letting the students learn to de-bug; acknowledging problem codes and using critical thinking skills to work out how to fix them. You can take it a step further in the classroom by having the students blog on HOW they solved the problem.

Meet the Fuzz Family

Other articles and blog posts about Kodable:

Kodable Teaches Kids To Code Before They Learn To Read

Kodable: the First Step in Coding

Kodable: Engage Their Minds

Kodable: Gets Kids Thinking About Logic and More 

Katching up with Kodable: Bugs Below! KidTech Summit, and STEM

Apps and Sites That Work on All Devices for BYOT

“Honestly, I think we should be delighted people still want to read, be it on a Kindle or a Nook or whatever the latest device is.” By J.K. Rowling

With more and more schools launching, ‘Bring Your Own Technology’ or ‘Bringing Your Own Device’ (BYOT/BYOD) I created a symbaloo of all apps and web tools that work on all devices to help educators get started. Even though I am a firm believe, it doesn’t matter what site/app the students use to show mastery of a concept, some educators need a starting place and many have loved this symbaloo so I, of course, want to pass it along.

Typically when you click on the symbaloo tile it will bring you to a website/app that is linked. This symbaloo is a little different because I can’t embed the symboloo because wordpress doesn’t allow iframe widgets, so I had to make it a screen shot with url link.

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If there are sites that work on all devices that you have learned about, I would love to add them to my symbaloo. Please share in the comment section as websites are making apps everyday.

If you would like to view my previous posts on BYOT see below:

Bring Your Own Devices Resources

5 Best Practices for BYOT in the Classroom

Getting Teachers and Parents Comfortable with BYOT

Rolling Out Our BYOT

BYOT and Balancing Equality 

BYOT Our First Month in Review

Using ThingLink in the Classroom

“An essential aspect of creativity is not being afraid to fail.” by Edwin Land

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Thinglink was introduced to me when I was at the NC Technology in Education Society (NCTIES) Conference during a presentation by Richard Byrne (@rmbryne). I thought it was a really great FREE web tool but was disappointed it didn’t also have an app. A few weeks ago, Thinglink launched their FREE app, which I love!

What is Thinglink? Thinglink makes pictures interactive with text, video, images and links. When you click on a Thinglink image, you’ll see symbols such as red video circles and dots where it is interactive. Thinglink has endless possibilities in education. My top 3 ways of using it in education are below:

1. Student Portfolios: Teachers can use a picture of a student and through-out the year, students can add images of their work or video to show mastery of content. By doing this each quarter the teachers, students and parents can see the progress over the year. Each corner of the picture could represent each quarter/semester.

2. Assessment, Projects and Presentation: Students can create Thinglinks to show their understanding for any Common Core or Essential Standard. Teachers can have a rubric setting the expectation for what they want in the Thinglink. For example you could require, two text boxes, a link and  a video. Or you can set the expectation that the student must show mastery of a standard, and the student has a little more freedom to determine what that looks like. Having the students creating Thinglinks lets them use all their 21st century skills of critical thinking, creating, communicating and collaborating (if they work with a partner).

Ex of Assessment: The student can draw out any topic, for example the water cycle or a math problem, using the free Skitch app. The student can save it to their camera roll and then create a Thinglink demonstrating their knowledge by adding recordings, text and links explaining their thinking.

Ex of a project: The students can make book reports by taking a picture of the book cover and embedding a movie trailer that they have created for the book. Or for non-fiction the student could find a picture of the person like Steve Jobs, and they can show their understanding of the book. Click here for my example, I chose to do a favorite quote and speech.

A fabulous teacher, Lisa Maples, embedded her class Thinglink into her wiki, as an end of year project. There are  links to various digital projects that the students have created. http://maples.cmswiki.wikispaces.net/Thinglink+2012-2013

3. Lesson Plans and Homework: Teachers can create Thinglinks to help differentiate lessons and homework. Using any image, the teacher can add the content they want the students to know. You can even spice up graphic organizers and info-graphics.

Ex of  a Lesson Plan: The teacher can take a picture of an ecosystem and add all the vocabulary words and/or videos that can help the students learn the topic.

Ex of Homework: This is a great way to flip the classroom. You can embed videos and practice problems on a  topic and have the students complete for homework. Click here for an example using comparing fractions.

Thinglinks are easy to create on both the website and in the app. First create an account at thinglink.com (it is free). If you want to create a Thinglink on the app, download it, and then sign in. Using the pictures in your camera roll, chose one and then tap anywhere on the picture. Here you add the content you want such as video or text, add a title and you are done. You can share it by emailing the link from the app but it also automatically syncs; when you log into your account through the website, you can share it many more ways. If you are creating a Thinglink on the website, click on create in the top right corner and chose an image that is on your computer or for a website (make sure it is a creative commons imagine) and add your content. That is it, I love free and simple!

Any of these Thinglinks can be made into a QR code as well. You can have these posted around the room as helping aids or to inform the students. Just copy the url and paste into any QR code creator such as qrstuff or follow my directions on my blog post about making  QR code in google drive.

I would love to hear how you have used Thinglink or want to use it in your classroom, please share in the comments or on this open Thinglink I created by clicking edit and adding your idea. (To make a Thinglink where anyone can add info, click on the edit tab and set your settings to anyone.) Another great way to have students collaborate in the classroom.

Follow me on Thinglink:  Edu_Thompson. Here are some more great Thinglinks done by other educators! Click on the links to view.

Flexible Learning Paths

Web Tools and Literacy

Let’s Teach Kids to Code

Using Bitsboard App for Assessment

“Every thought we think is creating our future.” by Louise L. Hay

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Bitsboard is a FREE App I learned about recently. It is a great app to use with any grade level, with any curriculum for informal assessments. This App is available for IOS devices and Androids. Once you download Bitsboard they give you some boards that are already created. You can also look through their catalog and download any Bitsboard you like. With Bitsboard you can learn almost anything from site words, to time, to foreign languages. Bitsboard has several assessments you can choose from which allows you to switch up the assessment but still concentrate on the same content. There are assessments such as flashcards, matching, spelling and true or false to name just a few.

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Two of my favorite features I like about Bitsboard is, one that you as the teacher can tell the student which assessment they need to work on or you can allow them to choose. Each assessment also progress monitors the content so you can track your students learning. My second favorite feature is that you can create your own boards or students can. It is easy to create a board, all you need to do is tap new board and decide on the content you want the assessment to be.

When I was working with some fourth grade students, they made their own Bitsboard on the topic Rocks and Minerals (4.P.2). Not only could the others students use it to learn but the students who made the board showed their mastery of their knowledge as well. I also worked with some students with disabilities using this app as well. We used it to teach the students emotions, social skills and vocabulary.

In the top right there is a gear that you can tap and it will allow you to follow a quick guide or a getting started manual.This is also where you can edit your boards and share them. I hope you enjoy Bitsboard in the classroom as much as I do and I would love to hear how you use it in the classroom as well.

Creating Games with the Tiny Tap App Based on Common Core

“Any teacher that can be replaced by a computer, deserves to be. ” By David Thornburg

Tiny Tap

Tiny Tap is an app that I came across when I was waiting to get my oil changed in my car. I was sitting next to this little girl who was in Kindergarten and she was playing on the app. I asked her to tell me about it and she was showing me all the games she could play on the app and then the game she created on the app herself. Of course I had to also test out this new app and see how I could apply it to the classroom curriculum.

Tiny Tap is s a free iPad app that allows you to create simple games based on pictures that you take, find or ones you draw. The app is very user friendly, even a Kindergarten could make a game. 🙂 It is easy for teachers to use for differentiated instruction because students can play a game that is based on their needs. Within 10 mins I made a game that connected with the Math Common Core standard K.CC.7.

Here are the steps on how to create a game:

1. Click on create a game and add the title of your game.

2. Tap on the add photo and either upload pictures, take new pictures, find picture on the web or draw a picture based on your Common Core curriculum standard you want to address.

3. To create your question press the record button and start talking.

4. When you have finished recording, select the portion of your picture that is your answer by circling it.

5. Click on done and it will appear on your shelf.

If you want to go back and edit any of the games you created, you can at any time, by clicking on the edit button in the top right corner.  There is also a TinyTap Market where you can see what other people have created, some are free and some are paid. You can also edit others games once it is downloaded into your shelf.

The best part is students who have shown mastery can make games for students that still need to practice certain curriculum skills. This allows students to use their 21st century skills by allowing them to critically think, communicate and create.

I hope you enjoy this app as much as I have!

Tips and Resources for a Paperless Classroom

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” By Paul J. Meyer

paperless-greenYou can go paperless, or at least reduce the use of paper in your classroom many different ways. It is easier if you are a school that has Bring Your Own Technology/Device (BYOT or BYOD) implemented but not impossible to do without devices. Below are a few tips/ideas to help you get started along with some other Paperless resources.

1. Decide on a workflow. Have students submit assignments and homework via online. Use sites such as Gaggle, Edmodo, Moodle  etc

2. Use web tools for productivity! Have student’s….

– create ebooks using flipsnack or scribble press

– present material using PowerPoint, Slide Rocket or Prezi

– keep a digital portfolio via Evernote, WikiSpaces or Mahara

– collaborate in real time using Google Docs, Zoho Documents or Mur.ly

– represent their knowledge (informal or formal assessment) through Todays Meet, Edu Glogster, Show Me or Poll Everywhere

3. Have your students blog instead of writing stories, reading responses or essays.

4. Use individual whiteboards to work out problems or brainstorm.

5. Use a doc camera or interactive whiteboard instead of showing examples on paper

6. Have more class discussions and debates!

7. Have students collaborate using 1 piece of paper verse 4. It also allows them to practice 21st century skills of collaboration, communication and critical thinking.

8. Keep a grade book online or by using a spreadsheet

9. Create eNewsletters, use email or vodcast to share out what is happening in your classroom.

10. Use a wiki or website to display hotlists, webquests and resources so students are active in their learning instead of passive.

This year in my personal life I have been trying to go paperless as well, to practice what I preach. Some of the things I have started changing is having all my bills as online payments, grocery lists are now in my Evernote or Notes App and I am having stores email me my receipts.

Paperless Resources

Paperless Coalition

Prezi- The Paperless Classroom

Paperless Classroom Blog

Paperless Classroom Website

5 Applications to Help go Paperless

Please share any tips or resources you have for making your classroom or personal life paperless!

Applying 21st Century Skills with Common Core and Trading Cards

“Critical thinking is thinking about your thinking while you’re thinking in order to make your thinking better.”  by Richard Paul

My new favorite FREE tool for the classroom, for grades 3-12, is Trading Cards; which is an iOS App and also web based  by ReadWriteThink. This tool is user-friendly  and allows students to practice 21st century skills with integration of Common Core Curriculum. The Trading Card tool gives students a choice to demonstrate their literacy knowledge by creating a trading card about a real or fictional character.

When you use this tool in the classroom, the learners apply all their 21st century skills. The students  have to….

– critically think about the information they need to write in each section. The sections have guiding questions to help the students if they need it.

– communicate the information in 120 characters or less per section.

– create the card adding a picture of the character they are describing.

– collaborate if you have the students work together.

The tool is user friendly and the creator can chose different backgrounds/designs and can also organize the cards by putting them in different collections. My favorite feature is that you can also share the cards multiple ways. One way is you can download them to your camera roll and then upload them to Edmodo or Gaggle accounts and have class discussions about the cards. Having students create cards based on characters in their books help them think about perspective in a creative way. This is also a great way for students to reflect on a biography they have read to synthesize the information.  There are a lot of lesson plans already created for grades 3-12, check them out here.

Here is the one I created on Steve Jobs on my iPad, then saved it to my camera roll.

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If you have used ReadWriteThink- Trading Cards in the classroom I would love to know how; please share in the comment section.

Tools for Using Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

“I know only one thing about technologies that awaits in the future: We will find ways to tell our stories with them.” By Jason Ohler

Digital Storytelling is an important 21st century skill we need to be teaching in our classrooms. What is digital storytelling? According to Leslie Rule from Digital Storytelling Association, “Digital Storytelling is the modern expression of the ancient art of storytelling. Digital stories derive their power by weaving images, music, narrative and voice together, thereby giving deep dimension and vivid color to characters, situations, experiences, and insights.”

Digital Storytelling can happen in any subject area and can be done using multiple technology resources. It is a great way to have students use all 4C’s for 21st century learning because the students are communication, critically thinking, collaborating (if done with partners) and creating. The most important piece about teaching Digital Storytelling for students is making sure the students are focused on the content, not the technology. To help with this, I suggest using the writing process of brainstorm, drafting etc. You can also use story maps, scripts and storyboards to guide this process as well. Below are FREE (I like free being a teacher) Apps and Web 2.0 tools I use in the classroom for Digital Storytelling.

Apps you can use for Digital Storytelling:

ScribblePress: Four of my favorite things about this free App is that it is user-friendly, has templates you can choose from for the younger students but you can also create from scratch for older students and you can use the art work given to you, draw in your own or use real pictures. The students can publish to iBooks too!

Voicethread: I like this App because it is also web-based too! Students can create digital stories but then others can comment on it as well bring in global learning.

Zooburst: I have been using Zooburst this year because a student introduced it too me. You can make 3-D pop-up books and they now have an app!! Yea!

PuppetPals: PuppetPals lets students create their own animated stories. It is very user-friendly. It is free but only lets you have a few backgrounds and characters but  for $2.99 you can get all of the. You can save the videos to your camera roll and then upload them to different places such as You Tube.

Sock Puppets: This apps is similar to PuppetPals but the characters as socks puppets. It is user-friendly as well and you can save to You Tube.

ShowMe: Is an interactive whiteboard that many teachers use but students can create stories with it too. The app records the drawing process along with audio to create videos that you can use for digital storytelling with authentic student drawings!

iMovie:  Students can create their own movie story and even make a movie trailer for their story!

Toontastic: Great app that students can use based on a story plot/map. Students record voiceovers telling their story.

Web 2.0 Sites you can use for Digital Storytelling: You can use these sites many different ways but one way is for students to create their own digital stories!

Powtoon

Kerpoof

Go Animate

Sliderocket

ToonDoo

Zooburst

Vociethread

Another easy way you can incorporate Digital Storytelling without web 2.0 tools or an App is by having students create paper slides. All you need is a recording device and paper! The students can draw out their story and then tell it while taping themselves with an iPad, flip camera etc.

To Read More About Digital Storytelling Check Out These Resources:

Digital Storytelling in the Classroom: New Media Pathways to Literacy, Learning, and Creativity. By Jason Ohler

How to Use Digital Storytelling in Your Classroom By Jennifer New

Storytelling – It’s News

I would love to hear what others do in their classrooms or what you use for Digital Storytelling! Please share in the comments.

Evaluating Apps for the Classroom

“We need to use technology to actively engage students and do different things, not just do the same things differently.” David Andrade

With iPads becoming more popular in the classroom, I wanted to share the app evaluation and submission form I created for my school and now district. It is based on Harry Walker’s app rubric and with his permission I adapted it to fit our schools needs. This rubric will be used when the technology team at our school looks at the apps teachers have submitted for approval for their iPads.  When I shared my idea with a colleague, Emily Casaboone @millielikesthis, she had a fantastic idea to go paperless by creating the submission forms using Google Docs. This also keeps them all in one place when you go to review them.

Our technology team consists of one teacher from each grade level, the technology teacher, a faciliator and administration. Our technology committee plans to meet five times a year; August (when school starts for those of us in the south) and then at the end of each quarter to review submissions.

Having an app evaluation process is becoming cricial  in schools because you want to make sure the apps are promoting higher order thinking and not rote skills. You can’t judge an app based on it’s ratings in iTunes because they could be using the app for a different purpose and not for the classroom. In an article I read, Diane Darrow (@dianedarrow ) said it best, “Creating an app evaluation system that empowers teachers to delineate their own criteria puts curriculum design back into their hands.” We have to remember that just like technology is a tool in the classroom, so are the apps we use.

App Eval Rubric and Submission Form

For more resources on iPads in Education visit my wiki page on iPads in the classroom resources