Month: November 2017

Hour of Code 2017


December 4-10, 2017 is Computer Science Education Week world-wide. Of course, we celebrate it here in Ontario and ECOO wants to be a part of it.

There are so many ways to think of Computer Science Education Week. Probably the biggest known event is the Hour of Code. Devised to be the launch of something special for students, it’s a wonderful opportunity for teachers and students to co-learn something new. After all, who doesn’t want to be in charge of their computing devices? For students who are already studying Computer Science, it’s a terrific opportunity to research further studies at university with an eye towards landing a job in the field that is so promising. Or, take a break from your regular programming routine and participate in one of the many tutorials available in a completely different environment. Computer Science teachers proudly announce that they teach problem solving – here’s a chance to demonstrate it.

The above is a message I wrote and posted to the ECOO website.  You can read the entire post by clicking here.

Next week marks the exciting Hour of Code event.  It was created a few years ago as a way to motivate students in a computer science activity designed to inspire them to consider further activities and studies in the area.  It still is.

I’ve been collecting resources and articles to support the concept for a few years now.  If you’re interested, here they are – the date is a hint that the topics may be a bit dated or even have been taken down or moved.  Such is the way of the internet.

So it should come as no surprise that I’ve got a new one on the go.

While I don’t go back to the older collections and make sure that all the links are still alive (although most seem to be), I did poke around and there are some really interesting things to look at.  I am also impressed with how sophisticated things have become.

So, what to do for 2017?  If you’ve already done coding with classes, you have your own resources.  But there’s always those first-timers and starting points have never been as good.

If there ever was an activity that’s unique, inspiring, and has the appeal for all, it’s the Create your own Google logo activity.  I mean, who doesn’t enjoy a good Google Doodle?

Screenshot 2017-11-29 at 16.33.58

Looking for more?

Definitely the Mother Lode of resources and ideas can be found in the Hour of Code Activities page from Code.org.  I’m so impressed with the huge collection and variety of activities available for use both online and off.

Pick an activity from the list for your class and just be sad that you can’t do them all!

I’m pleased to note that the Ontario Ministry of Education has shared a number of ideas with Directors of Education.  That note as well as a deeper understanding of what it’s all about can be found at #ECOOcodes.

Things are nicely falling into place to ensure a successful Hour of Code 2017.  I hope that you and your students take the time to enjoy the event and learn together.

Oh, and please blog about it and share.  The more we do, the smarter our online community becomes.

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OTR Links 11/30/2017


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Dynamite


OK, guess what I did yesterday?

Yes, I did walk the dog but also did some computer stuff.

This computer has been around for a while.  When I bought it, it was running Windows 7 and was good.  However, I was bitten by all the hype of Windows 10, I upgraded in place and liked it.

For a while anyway.

Then, like every Windows computer that I’ve ever owned and worked on, it became slower and slower and slower.  In fact, it got to the point where it was so slow that I was tempted to recycle it.  But, I didn’t.  Instead, I created a second partition on the hard drive and installed Ubuntu.  Then, I got rid of Ubuntu and installed Linux Mint.

In effect, I had two operating systems on this computer – Windows 10 and Linux Mint.  Windows was slow and painful.  Mint was fast and so enjoyable.  Without it, I might have just limped along with Windows, but I switched.  Everything was there.  Every now and again, I would boot into Windows just so that it could update and hopefully do something that would fix things.  It never did.

So, yesterday, I decided to “Dynamite” it.  Or, at least the Windows 10 equivalent – Resetting the PC.

There were two options and I opted for the seemingly easiest way – delete all the applications and settings but keep my files.  It seemed to go well.  As with Windows installations, it rebooted a couple of times and I learned that I needed to be within keyboard distance since Grub starts first and gives the option to boot into Mint or Windows, the default being Mint.  I had to override the default.  Not a biggy, and a couple of hours later, I had a refreshed version of Windows.

I decided that I would take the high road and not go whole hog and install a million applications like I had before.  After all, I’m probably the one who shot myself in the foot.

Then it starts

The very first website that I go to wouldn’t work because it required Google Chrome.  OK, I’ll indulge and install one program.  After all, you can’t have too many browsers.  I’ll probably get around to installing Firefox and Opera too.  Yeah, it’s starting.

I forced myself to work in the default Microsoft environment for the most part.  And, for the most part, I was pretty happy with the way things went.  The hard drive light keeps flashing but it’s not something new – I only have 4GB of memory so there might be a bunch of swapping happening.  However, the computer itself isn’t running hot with the fan blasting.  That’s a good thing.

I was going to conclude this blog post on a happy note.  I still hope that I can but, and I suspect it’s going to be a big but, I started the computer to see this message.

I’ll admit to being surprised.  Windows was good enough to preserve my files for me during the reset; I would have thought that it would have remembered that I had activated it when the big push to upgrade came along.  I guess it didn’t.

So, I guess my big project for today is to figure out how to get Windows to recognize that it is a legitimate version.  I shouldn’t have to go into the store, as suggested, and purchase another key.

I know that Mint is smiling noting the proximity of the message to the Recycle Bin.  I hope that it doesn’t come down to that.  I love this computer and it even came engraved with my name on it.

OTR Links 11/29/2017


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Doing Canada proud


When my Grade 9 students found out that I was a Minnesota Vikings football fan, I was really challenged to explain why.  You see, being in the shadow of the Detroit Lions, anything other than a love for Honolulu Blue and silver required an justification.

My answer was pretty simple; I was a fan of the Vikings going back to when Bud Grant was the head coach.  He brought many of the things that he had the Winnipeg Blue Bombers do.

Winnipeg what?  Sigh.

It led into a nice discussion about the comparison of the Canadian Football League and the National Football League.  It was tough for them to believe that there was all that much difference even though our school team played under Canadian rules and had a field that was the right dimensions!

I guess they kind of went along with me when I explained that the Canadian game was more wide open with the wider field, three downs, twelve players, etc.  Either that or they just gave in to a teacher with the hope of good marks.  It isn’t a completely different game; there are many players who come from US universities to play.

If there was any doubt the Grey Cup on this past Sunday could be used as a perfect example.  And, it was so Canadian.  From the snow to the game to the entertainment to the dog sled, to the Governor-General … This was all about us.  Even in the middle of a snow storm, you had to throw the ball, although catching it could be a challenge at times.  I can’t recall when I enjoyed a game more.

And I’ve seen a lot of them.

I can remember back when both the CBC and CTV broadcast the game.  It wasn’t a case of a single broadcaster like it is now.  It truly came across as Canada’s game.  It is a shame that it isn’t on either of the major over the air networks.  Thankfully, I do have TSN and so enjoyed it.

It’s a shame too that so many of the major headlines are about Shania Twain’s half-time performance.  Granted, she was spectacular but there also was a pretty good football game on either side.  We were treated to the longest pass and longest turnover in CFL history.  And, the 105/150 on the brim of the Argonauts’ hats is pretty unique.  I always wonder what happens to the red ones that would have been given to the Stampeders had they won.

The announcers indicated that there are discussions again about moving the season forward to avoid the challenge of weather towards the end of November.  I’d sure hate to see that happen; just dealing with the elements reinforces that this Canadian game is, well, Canadian.

OTR Links 11/28/2017


Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Clicking publish


Where do you get all these amazing ideas?

This was the start of a comment from Vicky Loras to my blog post of yesterday.  There’s a lot of value in that comment for me.

  • Yay!, someone is actually reading this blog
  • Yay!, someone took the time to comment
  • Yay!, someone found the idea amazing

Writing wasn’t always something that I did.  In fact, going through elementary and secondary school, I either loved it or hated it depending upon the mood I was in and the activity that we were supposed to be doing.

In fact, in Grade 13, it was a failsafe for me.  I only needed six credits so I took three Mathematics and three Sciences and threw in English just in case I wasn’t successful in any of the others.  I didn’t mind the reading part of English courses; it was the actual sitting down and forcing myself to write.  For some reason, I had no problem reading in stops and starts but writing was all about getting started and finishing in the same session.

At university and beyond, I avoided writing as much as I could.

It was only later, as a program consultant, that I had a conversation with a good friend who I noticed wrote everything.  He was constantly writing.  It was just for himself but, unlike me, he never dropped the ball on things.  I think I did because there was so much to remember.  I remember a conversation over lunch where he explained his theory about writing everything down.  Obviously, the biggest payoff was not forgetting things but he felt he slept better because he didn’t have to worry about forgetting things.  I took his advice and have been notetaking and writing ever since.

Today it largely culminates in blog posts here.  I’ve committed my early mornings to writing and scheduling a post until the sun rises and I have to do more important things, like walking the dog.  Documenting things has just become a way of life.

I don’t do it for the comments but I’ll be honest in that there’s always a rush when someone comments.  Whether it’s something like Vicky’s comment or a mention in Stephen Downes’ daily or a mention in a major news source calling me a “snooty blogger”.

Speaking of snooty, a Canadian blogger named Doug Peterson was discussing the quandary he experienced on Thursday night  when faced with the choice of watching the Cubs – Dodgers game, the Canadian Prime Minister debate, or the U.S. vice presidential debate.

You get to know preferences too.  It’s about half an hour until the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.  I know Ron Millar hates it when I talk about Formula 1 racing.  I also know that Paul McGuire likes being in my TWIOE posts but I do have to spread the love around.  I really get pumped when I find a blog that I’d never seen before.

But, holy cow, people actually read this stuff.  There’s something humbling to think of all the blogs that people could read but actually come and spend time on mine.

I like that it’s become part of my routine.  I enjoy the connections that I’ve made and I like thinking about new things to write about.  Maybe I should have been a daily newspaper editorialist.  A great compliment was being invited to be part of the “Media” at a Microsoft Partners in Learning Global Forum by friend Alfred Thompson.

There are minefields too.  Heaven help me if I make a typing error and my editors at large are there to correct me.  Or, if I fail to schedule a post properly and I get a private message from a friend telling me that I screwed up somewhere!   (and you’re usually right, Aviva)

But back to the ideas?  To answer Vicky’s question, I think it’s because of the advice from my friend.  Write everything down so you don’t forget it.  So, if I’m walking, driving,  or reading and there’s something that catches my attention for a moment, I make a note to remember it.  These days not on paper but by talking to my watch.

Having done that in advance, when I sit down to write, I’m not starting from scratch.  In fact, the mind is an amazing thing.  It must be formulating things in the background because most of the posts just seem to write themselves.  I just have to let my fingers loose.

Blogging has become the latest release for this hobby.  I’m not on a mission to change the world or even one mind.  What was a serious task in school has now become just an enjoyable thing to do.  I think that’s probably why I’m such a fan of student blogging with their own goals rather than something laid on.

There’s just something really satisfying when you finish proofreading and click Publish.