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Chelsey Sharpe

Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace. -Confucius

Month

March 2017

Is Learning to Code Beneficial to Kids?

Last week, my ecmp355 class had a discussion on coding. Being in an education technology class, of course, coding needs to be discussed; however, why is it important for students to learn to code? I believe that our society relies heavily on technology and students need to learn to code in order to be prepared for the workforce. However, there are other reasons too, In a blog called “This is Why Kids Need to Learn to Code,” the author Doug Belshaw discusses and has very good points on why students need to learn code.  His three reasons are:

  1. Problem Solving- This is a very important skill for any person to have and while you are coding you are problem-solving. Figuring out why the program will not run the way you want it to run can be a frustrating thing but you learn to use logic to figure out the program.
  2. Digital Confidence – Yes, student know how to use Snapchat, Instagram, facebook and twitter and they love to play their games, but do they understand how the programs work? Learning code helps to build their confidence in running their own program. Many digital CEO’s have learned to code this programs and now making games for others to enjoy. The creator of Bubble Ball was a 14-year old that learned to use the machine language of Corona SDK and created a game that knocked Angry Birds off the top spot of gaming charts.
  3. Understanding the world around you – The argument here is that by learning to code you start to understand that the people that are coding are no smarter than you are. This allows students to gain confidence and they start to create their own digital identity through coding.

I decided that reading about coding was one thing but trying it out is another. I decided to work on the hour of code and go through the puzzles to learn how to code. I loved it! I’m not going to lie I may have been a nerd for about an hour.

Me learning to code. Screen shot of my work on Code.org

This was an easy puzzle but I just can not figure out my left turns from my right.

Me lost in a puzzle. Screen shot of Code.org

In this puzzle I could not figure out the turns. I like Code.org for the simple fact you progress at a slow rate and you can choose the difficulty. I also was able to solve these puzzles with a student I work with at the high school. For being a student that is on alternative programming, he was able to talk me through what I needed to do and not do. He also had a great time laughing at me when I made a mistake.  I think this speaks volumes for coding, student no matter their abilities are able to learn to code. I think it is fantastic and can not wait to have my students learn to code.

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Knitting… my new favourite past time

I have been reflecting on my learning project and I have come to the conclusion that knitting is my new hobby. I love sitting down on the couch after a long day, pulling out my latest knitting pattern and knitting up a storm. I have started to take on new stitches like the knit1, yarn over, knit1, which just basically just adding a stitch to your line. I have also learned to knit1 into the stitch below. That means that you stitch under the live stitch you are on. I will add the videos on how to do this below.

I’ll just keep on doing my thing and see what happens. I have also decided that my friends will all be getting dishcloths for Christmas this year. My question to you is, what pattern should I do? go on the link above and let me know what should be my next dishcloth pattern. I have also given up on the scarf I was making. It is now spring and knitting a scarf now seems pointless.

 

Purple- K1 into stitch below
Multicolour- K1, yarn over, K1

 

Writing in the 21st Century… Student Blogging

Having students blog about what they have learned is becoming popular in the classroom, this is because students are able to write like they are journaling. Kids like this activity because they writing their own thoughts, comment, and engage with the internet to learn more about their topic.

When I was reading on how to teach students how to blog, I found a great resource called 14 steps to meaningful student blogging. In this blog, Pernille Ripp discusses ways to have your students blog. I agree with the following steps:

The first step is to pick the appropriate platform to have your students blog on. There are many different platforms like WordPress (which I use), kidblog or Edublog. I like that WordPress and Edublog are free to sign up and have different styles that students can explore to make their blog their own. With Kidblog there is a fee associated with it. However, Kidblog is safe since only students enrolled in the class can leave comments. I feel that if you are just starting to use blogs in your classroom this is a safe way to go about it. I would rather use Edublog. Edublog is set up like WordPress, however as a teacher you can monitor what is being posted and the comments that are being left. Edublog allows the public to leave comments but if they are not appropriate, that can be deleted easily without your student knowing. Although I have yet to use blogging in a classroom, I fear the comments the most. This is because I do not have control of the feedback that is being given. But platforms like Edublogs acknowledge this fear and allow teachers to have the control that they need.

Step 2- is teaching kids how to blog. This makes sense, we cannot expect our students to feel comfortable writing on the internet. Pernille Ripp suggests doing a paper blog activity first. This activity is found on her blog.

Step 3- Talk about Safety. We cannot just send our student on the internet without teaching them about internet trolls, cyberbullying, how to be a digital citizen or anything else that you feel that needs to be covered before you let them loose per say. Students need to be prepared for what can happen and they need to know that you are the person to go to if there is a problem. No child should feel unsafe doing an activity in your classroom. Also, I would let parents know that you are running blogs in your classroom and maybe have an informational evening for parents to learn about blogging and how if helps children to read and write.

Step 4- teach students how to comment. This is an important skill to have in the 21st century. Giving feedback to other students that are positive and inquisitive is important. Also replying to comments in a constructive way is important. Students need to know to acknowledge their audience and ask questions of them, conversations happen on the internet this way.

Lastly, Step 5 – Start small – This is common sense, many have your student introduce themselves on a blog. For example, let them write an about page first. This allows your students get used to the language and how they should set up their blog.

I think that students will be excited and engaged to show what they have learned or what they want to write about on a blog. If you have students that need to have adaptations, you can make adaptations by allowing video blogs, However, remember media release forms need to be signed before your students can be featured on the internet. What do you think, will you allow your students to blog? How would you go about introducing your students to blogging?

Photo Credit: Canon EOS 50d, Pixabay

 

 

 

Powtoon, a new way to present

Over the last week, I have been investigating different educational technology tools that can be used in the classroom. I found that I like Powtoon the best for another form of media to present with. There are many different presentation platforms that teachers and student can use the internet, my usual presentation tools are Prezi, GoogleSlides, and Powerpoint but Powtoon is different in that the user can animate it.

Powtoon is an easy tool to use, There are templates to pick from or you can create your own story.  This tool looks like google slides and powerpoint when you are creating it but you can add and do so much more.

Screen shot of Powtoon work screen

The picture above shows the opening screen for the template classed awesomeness. On the left-hand side of the computer screen, there are the different slides. Along the bottom where the where are a slide that shows the seconds on the top and the animations along the bottom this helps for when you want to have pictures transition from spot to spot or when you want to add an animation in at a certain time. On the right-hand side is the different tools you can use to create the presentation. The different tools include layouts,  backgrounds, texts, characters, objects, specials, graphs, sound, and images. I like that in each different category there is several different images or animations that you can pick from. The downside is that most of the images and animations are only available if you subscribe to Powtoon.

Screen shot of Powtoon
Screen shot of Powtoon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Above shows how to move the character around the slide but pressing the AB button. You can also mirror the character. The baseball button allows for the user to select if they want the character animated and for how long. Lastly, the swap button can be used to switch our characters. From here you can drag the slide on the time bar to how long you want to transition the character. From here is the user can put in the text or other objects. Then all the user needs to do is export. You can pick many different media channels to export to. I put it on my youtube channel.

There are lots to learn in Powtoon, and I think it would be a great tool to differentiate presentations in the classroom. However, like all great technology tool, the teacher needs to play with it first before they introduce it into the classroom. Also, I would teach my students how to use it slowly before expecting a presentation to be completed on it. Due to the many different manipulations that the user can do. If you have students that are to shy to speak in front of the class there is an option to add sound. Which is great!

I rate this tool 3/5 seals because there is almost too much the user can do and it is a little tricky to learn to use. However, there is a useful tutorial to watch in order to learn about this ed. tech tool.

Here is my creation, well I started it anyway.

Is knitting becoming popular again?

So haven’t really posted anything new about my learning project in a long time. Not that I was super busy with midterm assignments being due, but because I have run into a lull. I have found a knitting community that shares patterns and ideas to help beginners. I have started and stopped and restarted projects. My next step will be to produce an instructional video that will help with learning to knit left handed. But I need someone to hold the camera for me. However, with all these set backs I have looked into whether or not knitting is becoming popular again.

I posed this question onto Google and found an article that states that knitting becomes more popular when the season changes and if celebrities are doing it.  This just makes sense, in winter many people spend more time at home and knitting is just easy to pick up.  I also have had discussions about knitting with many people and they say that they knit to relax. I am also finding this to be true. At night, when I’m ready to relax on the couch I pick up my knitting turn on a relaxing tv show and just knit. It is almost blissful.

My project that I am working on right now is a scarf. I have made a ton of mistakes but I am learning to let that go and just keep on going. I found the pattern for this scarf on Ravelry.

Let me know how I’m doing, or how should I get out of my knitting lull. Any productive suggestions will be considered.

 

Using Twitter in the Classroom

Education has embraced twitter as a professional learning website, but when a teacher brings social media into the classroom many questions and concerns are brought to his/her attention. April HoffmanAmy Klassen and I made a video on how a parent might feel when a teacher brings twitter into the classroom.

 

We have to remember that as teachers we are informed on the new and latest technology out there. Many parents may have concerns about using this technology (aka social media) in the classroom, considering most parents may not have used social media during their own classroom experiences. The best advice that I can give is to keep an open mind about the parent’s concerns. This may mean that you have to educate the parent alongside the student.

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