That’s nifty


I have to give a shout out to Alfred Thompson and his blog post from earlier this month.  He was sharing his thoughts about how to create problems for solution in the Computer Science classroom.

If you follow some of the simple stuff online, you might think that the goal is to get a robot to draw a square or something.  It’s an OK place to start but the study of Computer Science goes much deeper.

If you use a textbook in Computer Science (if you can find one that meshes nicely with your program, that is…), you’ll find that the problems offered don’t go that deeply into the discipline.  Consequently, Computer Science teachers are constantly looking for interesting and challenging problems to assign for student solution.  In many ways, it can be the ultimate in personalization as you search for things to match not only the curriculum you’re covering but that are engaging for students.  You know when you’ve hit a good one when students spend so much time coming up with elegant solutions and then are willing to discuss with you how they did it.

Alfred’s post was “Designing Projects for Programming Students“.  Embedded in the post was a link to the SIGCSE collection of “Nifty Assignments“.

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Now, this won’t be your first selection for students starting to cut their teeth in Computer Science.  These are problems that are pretty meaty.  Even if they don’t lend themselves to creating a program, they’re a good start for some interesting work with Computational Thinking.

Here’s an nifty problem to start with – rated middle school and up.

For the Ontario ICS courses, you just might inspiration for using the problems “off the rack” or with modification for your needs.  The collection goes back to 1999 so there’s a great deal of inspiration there.  Have at it.

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OTR Links 09/23/2017


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

This Week in Ontario Edublogs


Another week comes to an end and offers an opportunity for me to share some of the great reading that I encountered this past while from Ontario Edubloggers.


Journey to El Salvador for Teacher Candidates

I guess I’m going to have to file this post from Paul McGuire under “Fake News”.

It’s too bad.  I had all kinds of notes about my own practice teaching experiences, social justice, added value to the curriculum, the relative low costs of the program, and so much more.

I made a point of making sure that it was on the radio show This Week in Ontario Edublogs so that Stephen Hurley and I could talk about it.  Just into our discussion, we got a Twitter message from Paul that the program had been scrapped.

Bummer.  We had so much time allotted to talk about it!

The post is still a good read and example of great planning and learning possibilities.  I’m disappointed that it didn’t come to fruition.


UNDERSTANDING COPYRIGHT

I had a new follower this week from Brock so I checked out her blog which Meg Schned has posted to Weebly.  There was a section dealing with TECHKNOWTEACH which sounded intriguing so I checked it out.

The section is a collection of posts about topics – I don’t know if it’s a class assignment or not – but I found them interesting from someone who will soon enter the profession.  One of the posts dealt with Understanding Copyright.  All right!  How many faculties deal with this, and in particular, Creative Commons?

With technology right at our fingertips, in the form of laptops, cellphones and tablets, accessing information and resources is easier than ever before, however there are rules in place that allow us to take advantage of this properly.

I liked her thoughts and carrying this into her profession will do her well.  I did look at the entire Weebly site and didn’t see a spot where she’s identified her own level of copyright.  I think that, in addition to respecting others copyright and permission that everyone should let others know how they expect their content to be used.


Kindness – It Starts with Us

Lisa Cranston’s recent post shows a great deal of wisdom and perhaps a reminder for everyone about the importance of being kind.

In the post, she shares many personal experiences but one really resonated with me.

We’re all taught to be aware of the student who sits in the cafeteria alon eating lunch with no friends or interactions.  Lisa describes a personal experience as a supply teacher being alone in the staff room.  Should there be any difference?

With reorganization day in everyone’s future, along with the daily flow of occasional teachers, new students, and teacher candidates, this is a powerful reminder that it never hurts to be kind.

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My #5BestEd decisions

Lisa Noble tagged me in the announcement of this post in response to a challenge issued by Jonathan So.  The challenge was to identify five moments that made an impact on your teaching.

Lisa follows up with her five and it’s great to see that family remains part of the discussion.  She said I was in the post somewhere, but quickly frankly, I couldn’t find it.  I had clicked the embedded video and had it playing while I was reading the content.  My big mistake was not watching the video…

Anyway, it’s a nice collection and there were two acronyms in her five decisions that stood out to me.

  • AIM
  • PLP

It’s a nice summary and I can see just in my interactions with her online, how they have helped frame her to be the educator that she is today.

I would encourage you to click through and see all five.


Sarah’s Back-To-School Story

How many times this late August have your heard from teachers who have that back to school nightmare with no lesson plans, or being late, or not wearing clothes in front of your class….?

Sarah Lalonde shares a back to school story of her own.  She doesn’t have her own classroom yet and so instead reminisced about going back to school as a student.

It’s somehow comforting to know that it’s not just teachers who are nervous but so are the students.  That may appear to be obvious but I thought that a teacher candidate identifying as a student was something special.

It brought back things that I hadn’t thought of in years.

  • clothes – what to wear
  • bus route – will it be different
  • teachers – will they be different
  • how to set up your locker to make it yours

It inspired great memories for me.  Give it a read and see if it doesn’t do the same for you.


Breakout EDU for the Win!

The concept of Breakout EDU is very popular right now.

What really impresses me is when educators go beyond the box and come up with original and new ways of designing their own challenges.  Earlier, I had been impressed with how Cal Armstrong had used OneNote to create a challenge.

In this post, Jennifer Casa-Todd describes how she sets up a Breakout session as orientation to her library.

Introduce students to the services and resources I offer in the Library by allowing them to DISCOVER these through fun, interactive challenges. So I hid puzzles in books, created posters with hidden clues and got them to answer questions on a Google Form which revealed their word-combination when they submitted the form. It was a really nice mix of traditional and digital Breakout components. I am not going to lie, I was super nervous. You see, unlike a classroom teacher, I have no real rapport with these students coming into the Library. I don’t know their names or their learning needs.

It sounds like a winning combination.  Check out her entire post to get all the details.

Is there room in your classroom for an activity like this?


Caretaker of the Dish with One Spoon Wampum Belt

Kristi Keery Bishop shares an interesting story about administrators’ orientation.

At our system Administrator’s meeting, we were welcomed and educated by the board’s Indigenous Education team. We were then each offered a Dish with One Spoon wampum belt to be used in our schools. This wasn’t our typical “go get in line to take these new resources for your school” kind of giveaway but a ceremony; we had to thoughtfully and publicly acknowledge our willingness to accept the responsibility of using the wampum for school education and community building but also to accept it as a treaty of friendship.

My first thought was a remembrance of so many meetings that I attended and we “got stuff”.  Sometimes a little overview to go along with it or a handout, but a ceremony?

To me, this adds addition value to the resource and makes everyone think just a little harder about the message from the meeting and how it will be used when returned to the school.

Take some time to read the post.  When was the last time that you had an educational moment that was as meaningful as this one?


Please take a moment and read the entire posts and enjoy their thoughts.  While you’re at it, make sure that you follow these folks on Twitter.

If you’re an Ontario Education blogger and aren’t in my collectionplease consider adding your URL.  There’s a form available at this site for just this purpose.

Every Wednesday morning at 9:15 on voicEd Radio, Stephen Hurley and I talk about some of the great posts that appear from Ontario Edubloggers.  The shows are also archived and you can revisit them here.

 

OTR Links 09/22/2017


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

Keyboarding


There are times when it’s tough to be a teacher.  It’s even worse when you were a former Business Education Director and your friends know about it.  My friend, in this case is a public librarian.  On a recent visit, she showed me something that really frustrated her.

In the computer nook, there was a secondary school student who was trying his best to enter an essay into the computer.  He was using the technique fondly known as “hunting and pecking” and it was painfully slow.

Then comes the inevitable comment – “This is what happens when we take a valuable life skill like typing out of the curriculum.”  In my best diplomatic voice, I explained that we had dropped the word “typing” in favour of “keyboarding” a long time ago.  I received one of those librarian stares because she knew I was splitting hairs.  I knew what she was getting at and resisted the urge to ask her to look at the students cursive writing while she was on a roll.

But it is tough.

While the keyboarding aspect to curriculum is gone for most students, the elements of education that actually require the skill (like keyboarding an essay) remain in the curriculum.  The result is the hunter and pecker that eventually gets the job done.  I’d be willing to bet that things would have been faster if the student was able to text the essay.  But then, there’s the time it takes and the inevitable suggesting spelling making inappropriate suggestions.

This is the 21st century though.  Voice recognition has never been better, right?  Could you imagine how “good” it would be in a class of 30 with everyone dictating an essay to their device all at the same time.  Well, there’s always the library.  Keep it under the shush level and you’ll be good.  I’m told the shushing doesn’t come from the librarian anymore; just from the other patrons who look for the library as a place of quiet.

Surely, you must have a suggestion for a computer program to help out with learning to keyboard.  I pulled out my phone to my set of bookmarks and offered up 10fastfingers.com.  It’s an interesting challenge.

Students, certainly at the secondary school level, don’t want to start at the basics.

a;sldkfjghfjdksla;

For the most part, they know where the keys are.  They just need practice accessing them.  I read a report once that indicated that hunters and peckers can work themselves up to a speed of 20 words a minute without too much of a hassle but then reach that ceiling where only a good technique lets them break through.

I hadn’t tested myself for a while so I sat down and tried a test.

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Hey, 57 wpm isn’t bad.  I even got a badge for my efforts.

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I had to leave so I really don’t know how this particular story ends.

But, I’d be interested in your thoughts, kind reader, about keyboarding.

  • Does it have a place in today’s classroom?
  • What are the challenges students face without the skill?

Maybe, I should have saved this post for a Sunday for my “whatever happened to” series.

Your thoughts?

OTR Links 09/21/2017


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

Upping your game


In yesterday’s post, I left you with a question…

Screenshot 2017-09-19 at 16.50.06

A good question would be – how can I up my game?

Well, here’s one online learning way.

Courtesy of Google, check out the Digital Citizenship and Safety Course.

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Divided into the six sections you see above, it’s a real start or refresher for any educator using the internet with their students.  The format of this MOOC gives you a concise over view of each of the lessons, why you would want to teach the concepts, and then the lesson itself.

Each lesson includes a YouTube video explaining the concepts and a transcript of the video, in a Google document, so that you can save it to your Google Drive account for later use.

To test your understanding, each of the units concludes with a quiz so that you can self test yourself on the concepts of the unit.  Some of the answers can be a bit tricky but worth working through.  Each of the units come with an estimated time for learning.

Not surprisingly, the teacher course dovetails nicely on Google’s Be Internet Awesome student resource.  You’ll recall that I blogged about it here back in June.

Then comes the good teacher stuff.  If you’re successful in your quest to work through the six units and pass the quizzes, you’re entitled to a badge (everyone likes badges, right?) and a series of lesson plans ready for use in the classroom.  If you use the ISTE standards, the lessons are correlated to them.