Playing with Lightbot


I was unable to attend the 2015 ACSE Conference but thanks to the #ACSE15 hashtag and the Twitter messages from @pbeens, I was able to follow along.  It sounded like another great conference.  Hopefully, resources will be added to the website after the presenters get home and realize the powerful messages that they shared.

As I write this post, in another tab, I’m playing with one of the resources that was shared as an introduction to logic that leads to programming.  The program is called Lightbot and runs in a browser (Hour of Code version) and on iOS and Android devices for a modest fee.

The premise is very simple.  You start with minimal instructions and you use the instructions to navigate the Lightbot robot around the desktop and light up the blue tiles when you land on them.  As you increase in levels, you add more functionality to your robot.  This is going to be my Sunday addiction.

Of note, at the bottom, look for the link to additional resources.  And, a teaser about a new game on the way…

OTR Links 03/02/2015


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

An Editorial That Needs To Be Read


I’ll be clear right from the start.  I enjoy technology as much as the next guy.  It’s been a great facilitator for my own learning for my entire life.  It made for a significant part of my professional life.

I’m in the middle of teaching myself a new programming language right now.  The going is slow because I’m doing the tutorials on computer and it requires all of my focus and a devotion of time to pull it off.  As much as I’d like to be able to become fluent in it, I like to think that I’m human and enjoy doing just about anything else except study.

So, it was with concern that I read this story in the news this week.

Lacking a human French teacher, New Frontiers School Board turns to language software

The response from the school district is to be predicted.  No educational organization will admit to settling for second best for their students.  Unqualified in a particular subject area happens all the time with occasional teachers but that passes.  The lessons are prepared by a qualified teacher and the qualified occasional teacher will do their best teachng for that moment in time.  This isn’t a condemnation of the computer software either.  Rosetta Stone has a long record of providing language learning instruction.  It’s long been a choice for people planning to travel to other countries or language teachers to supplement the regular instruction in their classroom.

For me, it’s the notion that a teacher can be replaced by a piece of software.  

There’s more to learning a language than just walking in step through a curriculum.  Second language teachers that I know always build in an element of culture and conversation to impress upon students that their learning isn’t just a regurgitation of content.  All passionate teachers put their subject area in context to impress upon students its importance.

So, it was with a smile on my face that I read this editorial this morning from the same newspaper, the Montreal Gazette.  I would encourage you to read it.

Editorial: Students require a real French teacher

It’s an editorial that I wish I’d written.  Passionate, factual, and to the point.  There is a job posting on the New Frontiers School Board website for this position.  I hope that the news of this spreads and that there’s a replacement to be hired.  Perhaps a recent graduate who can’t find a job now?  Success in a temporary job can result in a permanent position.

In the meantime, the kids deserve to have a teacher in that classroom.

OTR Links 03/01/2015


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

Exploring and Wasting Time


For me, it started yesterday by checking my Facebook timeline.  A high school friend had posted this article “What Color Is This Goddamn Dress?”  (Choice of words theirs…)

I looked at it – yellow and white, what’s the deal – and then moved on to do other reading.  I flipped on the morning news as I’m reading my Twitter timeline and this thing had gotten out of hand.  The story was everywhere and, in fact, trending on Twitter.  I walked the dog and came home and the talk was still going.  This is weird.  The current wisdom was that those that saw the colours gold and white were wrong and that, in fact, the colours where black and blue.  Yeah, right.  I know what I saw.

I went back to the original Facebook post and, son of a gun, the dress did look black and blue now.  How could this be?  Then, It occurred to me.  The first look was on my Macintosh computer and I’m now looking at it in Ubuntu.  Same browser – Firefox.  This truly was strange.  Then, I remembered that each computer can be configured with a colour profile.  On Ubuntu, it looks like this.

On the Mac, I had gone into the advanced calibration when I had originally set it up and had a “warmer” setting.

Could this be the difference?  I played around with a bunch of settings which made for some slight changes.  OK, maybe there’s something in this.  After all, I wasn’t looking at the original dress.  I was looking at a digital picture that had had who knows how many loads and saves.

Well, as you know, things had exploded with all kinds of theories, people looking at the image together, bad words being said to others!  I remembered back when I got my first pair of glasses.  The eye doctor had this test with the big E in black and showed it on a red background and then a green background and the question was “which looked sharper?”.  I hated to admit it but black on red always looks sharper to me.  It didn’t matter how much flipping with the equipment that he did.

But the media continues to explode with stories, theories, and scientific explanations.  “This Might Explain Why That Dress Looks Blue And Black, And White And Gold“.  Interesting scientific theory.  My original view was done in the dark and my second visit was next to a patio window with the blinds open.  So many variables.  I then tried it on my iPad and could see both colours depending upon what angle I was looking at the screen.

The posts keep on coming.  There were two where you could see the white/gold colour in one and black/blue in the other.  Enough is enough.  As my science consultant friend often said “There’s got to be a workshop in there somewhere.”  I saved both images to my hard drive and opened them in The Gimp.

Side by side, I can clearly see two different colours.

But, if you look closely at the bottom, I’ve had to resize the yellow/gold one to get them to be about the same size.  So, the originals weren’t necessarily the original image.  Even for this side by side, I’ve introduced some error into the picture.  And, besides, they are now both on the same computer with the same colour settings and yet appear different (at least to me…)  One of them has already been doctored to make the point.

The colour picker will get to the bottom of this.

         

I should have gone into forensics. 

So, I could do a little editing on my own.  How about green?

As I was doing this, I was thinking of a couple of lesson activities.

  • In the Comm Tech classroom, could you take the two images and adjust the settings so that they look the same?  Or, if you took one, could you make it into the other?
  • In a digital literacy class, it’s a perfect example of how you can see the same thing in two different ways?  It’s a solid reminder to question everything you see online!
  • In the science classroom, there’s probably a whack of scientific principles at work.  I’m just not a science teacher.

As I wrap up this post, I realize that I had left the search for #TheDress open in another tab.  There are hundreds of messages that have come in since I started this post.

The online world loves a good argument.  I’ve been online long enough to remember the classic nerd arguments.  “Who’s the better captain?  Kirk or Picard?”

(I’m solidly in the Kirk camp…)

Anyway, enough exploring and wasting time.  There’s better things to do.

OTR Links 02/28/2015


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


It’s another Friday and an opportunity for me to celebrate some of the wonderful pieces shared by Ontario Educators recently.


3 Ways I’ve Used Google Apps to Help my School Run a Bit Smoother

As I mentioned in my post last week, the Google Apps community is great for sharing the good things that they’re doing with Google products.  In this example, Jason To talks about using the technology to streamline things at his school.

2015-02-26_1649

Jason calls the examples “modest” but I would think that anytime you put together something that makes even the most routine tasks easier is worth it.  I’m sure that his list will continue to grow.


 

Reading and Writing Google Style

Speaking of Google…I feel awkward using the Google voice search for things.  The only time I feel comfortable is when I’m alone.  When I’m with others, people pause to look and wonder what I’m doing talking into a box.  So much for privacy.  Read Aviva Dunsiger’s post to see how students in her class are making out with this and see some of their observations.

The world panicked when the talk was about about dropping cursive.  What’s next?  Keyboarding?

I realized that most of the iPads and our two ChromeBooks have a microphone option. I showed the students how to use this option. My one minute lesson was all it took!


Physical phenomena for quadratic relations

Brandon Grasley is looking for real, physical examples of quadratic functions…

One of his examples appears below…

I’m intrigued by one of the other examples that he’s given in this post and he’s looking for ideas.

Hey, how about some experimentation with Hot Wheels?  The only downside I can envision is hate notes from the Driver’s Education instructor.


Reporting from the heart!

I don’t think there are too many teachers that enjoy report card time.  It’s a very work intensive time and I know that so many just labour over them like they’re creating a work of art.  Afterwards though, it’s relaxation time and then the cynical question “Do they even read these?”  There are even suggestion in some camps to ban them completely and just do interviews with parents.  But this is education.  We love paper.

There’s this mentality that they’re just read and discarded – a moment in time, if you will.

Sue Bruyns’ post about report cards takes a different look at them.

I found it interesting as to how they remain permanent artifacts in her parents’ place.

It’s just too bad that they take so long to create.


iGeneration – 21st Century Education

Tom D’Amico is a Superintendent with OCSB who really gets it.  This is link is a wonderful example of another way to share your learning other than the traditional blog.  If you follow Tom on Twitter (@TDOttawa), you’ll find references to great resources, not to just one or two focussed things every now and again.  Tom appears to have an open mind and is collecting resources in three ScoopIt! areas.

This morning was a perfect example of why you need to get connected.  This time, it potentially saved money.

Tom had shared a link to News-O-Matic which I then reshared so that it would get bookmarked and perhaps be a resource for others.  I got a reply about a $20 price.  To that, the News-O-Matic Twitter account had a response.

It’s a great lead.  Thanks, Tom.


An interview with Doug Peterson

Last weekend, I had conducted one of my online interviews with Sylvia Duckworth.    She jumped in and did a nice response to my questions and showed the power of our Ontario network by giving credit to others.  As soon as she was done though, she asked to interview me.  What could I say?  Paybacks are a ….

So, I did my best to answer her questions.  It was actually fun to be on the receiving end for once.  I know that, when you’re asking the questions, you feel like a bit of a stalker at times trying to do your research and pose questions that you’ve always wanted to ask and to appeal to the readership.

In my interview, I was selfish and really wanted the scoop about how to do Sketchnotes.  Sylvia claims that it doesn’t exist so I guess Lisa Noble and I will have to wait until we corner Sylvia and get her to teach us!

In the meantime, enjoy this Sketchnote that Sylvia created from some of the other interviews that I had conducted.

 

My compliments to those who continue to share their learning so openly online.  Please visit the blog posts above and check out the entire Ontario Edublog collection here.