Hour of Code – Day 3

Have you ever bet on the wrong horse?

That was what went through my mind as I was looking for an activity for the Hour of Code to play around with today.  In a university, a long time ago, I took a statistics class.  Some of us in the class had calculators but, for the most part, people didn’t.

Consequently, our professor spent some time talking about calculators and what we really need to do in order to be successful in the course.  She was adamant that we should get an RPN calculator rather than an algebraic calculator.  I took her advice and bought one.  Since then, I’ve always had one or an RPN calculator on my phone.  I’ll say one thing about RPN; you learn about stacks and order of operations like nowhere else.

While my calculator served me well, it turns out that the algebraic calculator really took off.  A popular choice is the Texas Instruments TI-84 which actually is a whole series of calculators.  For the Hour of Code, the TI-84 is the tool in the Poor or No Internet category.

If you and your students have a TI-84, you’re all set.  If not, you might want to do a search; there are plenty of online alternatives.  In fact, you may have so much fun with the activities, you may want to rush out and buy your own.

Does anyone remember when a calculator added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided only?  (Hint, your computer may have one installed)

But, I’m off track.  From the Texas Instruments website, there are three entry points to get started.  I went into the TI-84 section and the learning is great if you’re ready to do some coding on your calculator.


Consistent with many programming languages, you’re ready to do some coding.


The activities are intriguing.

Confession time – I started with the first activity, and once I realized how intuitive this would be, I jumped right ahead to the Graphics section.  My old HP calculator didn’t do graphics.

By the time, I looked up, I had spent way more than an hour on this.  While I can imagine everyone having fun with this, I’m thinking secondary school students who have this calculator in their knapsack would eat this up nicely!

Learning about voice

This should definitely be in the running for Exhibit A when you get into the argument that the computer adds more to the learning environment than just a textbook.

The topic is science and how does your body generate sounds.

Now, back in the day, I remember how I learned about this.  There was this picture in the textbook and we were given handouts and were told to label the various parts.

That was pretty much it.

What if you could simulate things?  Well, you can with the Pink Trombone.

Screenshot 2017-06-11 at 08.42.09

This is so cool.

Grab your mouse or you finger and explore the various parts of your inner mouth.  Well, maybe not your mouth but a really good simulation.

Having a PLN

In case you missed it, Sylvia Duckworth released another of her wonderful Sketchnotes last week.

This time, it deals with reasons why you should have a PLN.

It’s well worth sharing for those who aren’t connected well with other educators or organizations.  I strongly agree with all of the 10 points in the Sketchnote.

Once you do have that “PLN”, whether you call the P Personal or Professional, it’s equally important that you work it.

As we tell our students, just because it’s on the internet doesn’t necessarily make it true.  You need to be a discerning user when you connect; like any topic you can find any opinion whether they be good or they be bad.

It’s also important to give back.  The whole concept of networking and professional growth works best when you have many powerful voices in your network – including yours.

Next time you hear someone say “I’m connected” or “I gots a PLN”, stop for a moment and ask them what it means to them.  Could you help them make it even better?

For yourself, you’ll be that much richer.  And, fully knowing of the risk and dangers of omission …

And, I could go on forever but you can see those who I’ve put into Twitter Lists.

Paper.li creates newsletters of the best of these that I devour daily as part of my learning.

I have added this Sketchnote to my Sylvia collection on Flipboard.