One of the things that I used to tell my computer science students was that every program that they create was actually a story.
You tell the story to the computer and the computer retells parts (or all) of the story back to the user. I suppose in the kindest of ways, it was a way from deterring from programming as an academic affair from the very beginning.
As we witness programming languages evolve, it’s increasingly appropriate. Instead of writing programs like tax calculators, we now introduce programming by a more formal approach to story telling. We manipulate screen objects, set backgrounds, add interactions, etc. Programming languages like Hopscotch, Alice, Daisy the Dinosaur, Scratch, and Tynker make story telling the heart of programming. The logic is to introduce students to programming concepts in a fun, easy to manipulate environment. From there, the level of sophistication, and choice of languages develops a culture of programming.
With classrooms across the world moving to tablet based programming, it’s so good to see introductory programming languages embracing that environment. Frequent readers to this blog know that I’ve tried (played) with many of them. The combination of a familiar environment and a well crafted developmental environment is a formula for success.
This morning, into the mix, comes ScratchJr.
With ScratchJr, young children (ages 5-7) can program their own interactive stories and games. – ScratchJr website
If you’ve used the Scratch Programming language on a PC, the iPad implementation is a breeze. Download it, load it, give permission for it to use your microphone, and you’re ready to program.
Hit the ? to get an introduction to ScratchJr, learn about the environment, visit a few examples and you’re off to the races! If you’re a Scratch programmer, you’re so familiar with dragging, modifying, locking, embedding objects to get the job done. The same concepts apply here. There was such a flat learning curve for me. It’s like programming in Scratch – only easier!
Normally, there would be concerns about a program being “late for the party” but I suspect that won’t be a problem in the case of ScratchJr. There’s a huge collection of folks who have been using Scratch for years that I’m sure will become big advocates of the program. I can just imagine copies flying out of the app store.
Scratch has developed such a large online community of users. The same will happen with ScratchJr. There will be all kinds of ideas and support available once this happens. At present, you can follow the discussion on Twitter here.
You can download ScratchJr here.
Common Sense Media serves as a huge repository of resources that addresses many of the curricular needs.
Like any repository, teachers should use their professional judgement with respect to the resources to ensure that they meets the needs of their curriculum and their classroom. All of the things like bias, age-appropriateness, etc. need to go into the determination as to the appropriateness of the resource.
One are that many want to address but can find challenges in finding quality resources is the area of digital citizenship. Can you define what it means in your classroom; never mind a single definition that fits all grades!
To help the cause, their entire digital citizenship curriculum has been made available as iBooks and freely downloadable through the iTunes store.
If you’re looking for resources of this type, take the time to download and use your judgement as to the appropriateness for your students.
The resources are available for download here.
For me, it really started in earnest with a slow Bronco chase down a California freeway which was captured live and broadcast to the world. Since then, there’s such a proliferation of media sources, all trying to be first and exclusive with reporting. It was a natural spillover to the Internet where people share everything (and anything). It’s the anything that should be of concern.
For use in workshops about searching and authentication, I had compiled this list of “Sites that should make you go Hmmm“. It’s interesting to direct students to any of the sites and ask them to do research. (My favourite is the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus) It’s all in the sake of online literacy and recognizing that just because it’s on the Internet or Google-able doesn’t necessarily make it true. Insert a call for digital literacy and a good teacher-librarian here.
Now, we can’t send all media people back to Grade 5 but they can up the ante. They need to check out the Verification Handbook.
But, I would suggest that this resource is good for everyone.
It’s uniquely available – it’s 14 bucks through Lulu. But the authors have also made it freely available under a Creative Commons license from their site.
You can read it online, download it in PDF for a number of different formats.
Check it out – after a read, there should be fewer and fewer reasons for getting caught looking for an octopus in a tree.
Yesterday, I read this article from The Next Web “What type of sharer are you? Understanding your social media personality“. It was pretty deep; I never have really thought that deeply about it. Personally, I always thought that I was using social media to grow professionally by writing, reading and sharing, and learning from the wisdom of others.
Perhaps it was getting involved with computers so early in life but I’ve always had the healthy understanding that I can never stay on top of things. It brings a smile when I read the profiles of others who self-classify themselves as “experts”. They’re far more dedicated and educated than me.
I have a reading/learning routine and all that I need to do is spend a bit of time working at it daily. In the article, they make reference to a University of Winchester study that identifies 12 social personality types. (Along with an interesting infographic) I can see pieces of myself in most of the profiles!
I did read the article through a few times to really digest it. I did find it fascinating and could see the descriptors fitting many of the folks that I interact with online.
The article includes a link to a survey that lets you respond to a number of scenarios and then summarizes your social personality.
It was fun. I took it and totally agreed with the results. I took it again, got different results and totally agreed with the new results. As I wondered why, I took a step back from the survey and realized that I wasn’t consistent across the platforms that I use regularly. I use Twitter differently than I use Facebook which is different from how I use Google +. Is it sophisticated in the types of audience or can I just not get my act together?
I know the answer that I’d like to think best describes things. Regardless, it is interesting and I found the original article and survey pretty insightful. Give it a read and a try. The results will get you thinking.
You can’t have enough sources for Creative Commons or free images/pictures. To the list, I’d like to suggest that you add Pexels.
Their claim is that they host “Free high quality photos you can use everywhere”. All without attribution to the creator. This is a refreshing approach. After poking around, there are some very good images to use. I did my usual search for “house”.
All photos on Pexels are under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license. This means you can copy, modify, distribute and perform the photos. The pictures are free for personal and even for commercial use. All without asking for permission or setting a link to the source. So attribution is not required. All in all the photos are completely free to be used for any legal purpose.
For student purposes, I still think that the first choice should be pictures, images, drawings, screen captures, … that they’ve created themselves but there are times when that’s just not possible.
There isn’t a huge collection – they claim to add 30 every week. But, the ones that are there are really well done and I would suggest well worth the time to bookmark and search when you don’t have an image of your own to use.