Thing 17: Coding

I was lucky enough to attend a high school (mid ’80s) that offered classes in basic programming and I also took several computer programming classes while in college. I knew that writing code used logic but I did not realize how those same concepts are used every day and how helpful they would be to my young elementary aged students.

I watched the two videos and what jumped out at me right away was how young many of the men and women are that created websites that millions of people use every day. For my first task, I decided to try out Animate Your Name. I had so much fun completing this task that I told my 16 year old son about it. Although I can’t post what I created, it is really cool and anyone reading this that has not tried it yet, should go immediately before reading any further.

Next, I checked out Mozilla Thimble where I created this easily following the directions:

Keep Calm

Next up — Apps. On my iPad, I downloaded Kodable and Hopscotch. I decided to start with Kodable because it seemed the simplest and it really was simple. I can see using this with my UPK and Kindergarten students to get them to understand sequence. As the game progressed, it slowly got harder by adding additional colors. The app also included a curriculum and other resources for teachers. Because of its simplicity, I think even the lowest achieving child would have some success using this app.

Screen Shot of Kodable
Screen Shot of Kodable

 

Next, I tried Hopscotch. The first thing I had to do was choose an object — I chose a cupcake. On the next screen, there are a series of blocks that are the options for the chosen object. As you add options, you can press play to see the object move in the way you have programmed it. I added a second object and move options. It kind of reminded me of playing with legos. You build upon each layer until you have a finished product. For my project, I added a monkey that moved down the screen and the cupcake shrunk every time it was clicked until it hit the screen edge and then it grew by 50% (see screenshots below). Considering this app is free, there are a lot of possibilities and I doubt my students would ever get bored. Although I was just having fun, one of the uploaded examples used code to create a picture of the Sydney Opera House — Amazing!!!!

 

Screenshot of some of the code
Screenshot of some Hopscotch code
What it looks like after the cupcake hits the edge
What the screen looks like after pressing play and tapping on the cupcake multiple times

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by Megawoman using the Hopscotch App
by Megawoman using the Hopscotch App

Since I work in what is considered a “Focus” school, I think it is imperative that I do everything I can to help these students become successful not only on a state test but in the classroom or on the job. If I can help my students learn how to program, then I think they are one step closer to being successful contributors to society as a whole which is part of my mission as a school librarian. Tomorrow, I will be requesting these apps be added to my iPads and will request that the Tech Dept. consider adding the full version of Kodable, if not this year then next year.

Advertisements

Thing 16: Google Apps for Education

I had a difficult time coming up with my own topic for this blog post and finally decided to dive further into Google Apps for Education. This is the second year that my district is using gmail but it is the first year that my students (all of them even my UPK) were given their own email account. A few of us had been advocating for email accounts for our students in grades 3-6 because it would give us greater access to so many of the different online websites that require an email address to register. But alas, the Tech Dept. did not fully trust the  teachers’ ability to provide adequate training on accountability so the student accounts are restricted to receiving emails only from someone with the school district extension. This sort of defeats the purpose but it is better than nothing. In addition, students cannot change their password to something they might actually remember which causes delays in getting logged in.

I decided to use Google Presentation instead of Microsoft PowerPoint because it allowed students to work in groups on the same project. After several mishaps with students not understanding that all group members were working on the same project at the same time, the students enjoyed having all group members participate. All was going well until we tried to upload pictures that had been taken by the students; the pictures were too large. Every picture we tried to upload was too big! The solution: the students had to download the Google Presentation into PowerPoint. This defeated the whole purpose.

What I learned:

1. Google Apps are easy to use if students already know their log in information.

2. Use really small pictures and hope that they are small enough.

3. There is a short learning curve for students who have never used a website that allows synchronous usage.

4. I loved that the students could share the file with me and I could check it when there was time.

5. Students work really well together when given a chance.

 

This video provides 32 ways that Google Apps in the classroom:

 

I would love to hear how others have used Google Apps and if they had more success with it than I did.