Tagged: #edtech

I Love Explanation

I love it when the author (a person who writes something) of an article explains what they mean. I have been reading for well over 55 years. One of the things that I have observed from those who attempt to explain ideas, concepts, practices, and procedures is that they assume everyone knows the vocabulary they are using. There is always a starting point for the beginner to be initiated. Let’s remember that whether we are involved in professional development for teachers or helping students there will always be a need to let them know what we mean when we say something.

Sometimes the simplest explanations are the most beneficial. Having entered the world of GitHub I am attempting to learn the purpose, process, procedures, and vocabulary. I am sure that everyone in the world of coding knows the context and meaning of the word “Repository” except for this newbie. So it is always a great joy when someone does not assume that I know the jargon but includes snippets of explanation that help me along the journey.

It is now with great confidence that I know that a Repository is a Folder. Thanks LifeHacker

local code repository (just a folder containing code for your project) LifeHacker

Let’s See How This Goes

Well… here goes something. Let’s see how it works. The challenge to my students is to use the new Google Sites interface to create a Fundamental of Computer Science Portfolio to show off some of the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript that they have written for this course. This is an introductory course that bridges the transition from lower grade visual block coding to writing real code in a real text editor. Check out the Challenge Site.

Teaching Kids to Code

Just thinking out loud. Digital platforms give the mind an opportunity to explore, comprehend, and produce.

My take away from the Breakfast Television interview with Stefan Mischook on Teaching Kids to Code.

Coding is writing written directions to tell a computer what to do.

Two benefits to learning to code.

First, jobs. Coding is a skill set for a future career. Second, Brain skills. Even if a student does not pursue a career in coding, they will benefit by developing organizational skills, problem solving skills, collaboration (working with others), and developing a digital awareness.

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Re-thinking The Process

For the past couple of weeks I have tried something new with 6th graders and the LMS I am assessing for our District. Each student is on one computer, they log into the assignment on the LMS, go to the day’s lesson, and then follow the directions for that day. The assignment consists of reading a brief set of directions, watching three brief videos on the topic assigned, writing a six sentence paragraph explaining the topic on a Google Doc and then uploading their work back to the LMS.

As a part of formative assessment I will ask the class to explain to me in “kid words” what the topic means. For example, one of this weeks topics was coding. The simple concept that they should have been able to explain is that “code is a set of instructions that tells a computer what to do”. When asked what code is, no one could explain. Some students did not respond and had absolutely no clue and the Pre-AP students began to read from their paragraph statements from the videos that they had transcribed verbatim. Yet no one seemed to comprehend the topic, understand the topic, synthesize the topic, and explain the topic.

This caused me to re-evaluate and re-think the process of what was going on. Things like…

  1. What am I doing wrong?
  2. How can I better present the material?
  3. Did I choose the correct material?
  4. Etc.

One aspect of improvement that came to mind was a set of guiding questions that would stimulate thinking and guide the students through the videos. What to be alert for, what to take note of, and what to consider including in their summaries. If I want to have students comprehend, understand, synthesize, and explain, then I will need to provide them with the correct stimuli to do that.

One other thing that I noticed is the videos themselves. Not all videos are created equal. Just having students watch a video on a subject or topic does not necessarily mean that they will retrieve the material that they need. I quickly noticed the need for repetition and reinforcement. If the take a way is that “code is a set of instructions that tell a computer what to do”, then the material used must state, define, refine, and reinforce the concept. Not many videos do that. Simply choosing an online video will not get the job done. Many videos may be great for introducing a student to a topic, yet they do not lend themselves to comprehension, understanding, synthesizing, and explanation.

Some quick take aways as we move students to online learning.

  1. Information is abundant, but the analytical ability to comprehend, understand, synthesize, and explain needs guidance.
  2. Outcomes rely heavily on the inputs that are designed.
  3. Online alone is not an acceptable replacement for a directed pedagogy.
  4. In a “click and move on” culture, learners of all ages (pre-K through adult) do not take the time to read (even brief sections) of instruction. They are looking for something visual to move them on to the entertainment.

Doodle the Google

Never underestimate the value of the Google Doodle and never assume that everyone knows about it.

The 155th Anniversary of the Pony Express sets the stage for an Interactive Google Doodle. It also provides the opportunity for kids to play the app and ask questions. Questions like “Why are those guys on horses”? Questions that have me responding, “I am glad you asked”.

A Google Doodle is a special, temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepage that is intended to celebrate holidays, events, achievements and people.

Food For Thought. Have your students explore a Google Doodle and then write a six sentence paragraph, or a six slide presentation, or an info-graphic, or any other digital composition about the Doodle of the day topic.

More Food For Thought – Tell another teacher about it and they will think you are a genius.

     Pony Express