Thursday, October 13, 2016

CS First - Lesson Plans for Teaching Computer Science

CS First is an initiative from Google to promote computer science classes and clubs in schools. CS First features computer science lesson plans based on nine themes. Within each theme you will find up to ten hours of activities to conduct with your students. The themes in CS First are storytelling, friends, fashion & design, art, social media, sports, game design, music, and animation,

The activities in CS First are based on the Scratch programming interface. The lesson plans are intended for use with elementary school and middle school students.

The lesson plans on CS First are quite detailed. In fact, they might be too detailed at times as they even include instructions like telling students to sit down. Beyond the lesson plans CS First offers a thorough set of training materials for teachers who have not previously taught computer science and or previously used Scratch.

Applications for Education
CS First could be a good resource to help teachers get started in learning computer science with their students. CS First emphasizes creating computer science clubs. The materials in CS First will give your club plenty of things to do. However, once your students get the hang of Scratch, they'll probably want to break out of the prescribed steps of the CS First activities.

5 Ways Students Can Find Free Images

Google's recent introduction of the "Explore" tool in Google Slides retained the option for students to find images for their slides, but removed the option to filter the images according to usage rights. There are other ways to find free images to legally use in slides, videos, and other multimedia projects. In the following video I demonstrate five tools that students can use to find free images.

A Note for Email Subscribers

I publish new posts on Free Technology for Teachers nearly every day of the year. If you subscribe to this blog through email, you might have been missing some posts lately. My email service has recently had some issues with emails getting flagged as spam. If you've been wondering why you haven't seen emails from me lately, please check your spam folder. I'd also appreciate it if you could mark that email as "not spam" which should ensure that you don't miss any other updates from Free Technology for Teachers.

There are other ways to follow Free Technology for Teachers. You can follow the posts on Facebook, on Twitter, and through RSS readers like Feedly (watch a demonstration of Feedly in this video from my YouTube channel).

Four Social Studies Lessons You Can Update With Comics

Through the course of a school year I field a lot of questions that go something like this, “I need to use technology in my classroom, but I’m not sure where to start. Can you help me?” Integrating online tools into your classroom doesn’t have to mean throwing out everything you’ve done in the past. In fact, one of the best ways to do it is to take one of your “old, reliable” lessons and update it a bit with some easy-to-use online tools. Pixton is a good choice for an online tool that you can use to infuse some technology into your lessons.

Pixton is an online tool that your students can use to create comics, graphic novels, and storyboards. Even folks like me who don’t have any talent for drawing can create great comic stories on Pixton. That is because Pixton provides users with huge galleries of artwork to drag, drop, and manipulate into comics, storyboards, and graphic novels. Learn how to use Pixton by watching the short video found here.

Here are four common social studies lessons that you can update with Pixton.

1. Create short biographies of historical figures. Have students select a key moment from a person’s life. Then ask your students to illustrate that moment. For example, students studying John F. Kennedy could use Pixton to illustrate a conversation between JFK and Bobby Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Illustrate a timeline of an event or series of events. Pixton offers a free lesson plan designed around this concept. The lesson plan includes making timelines of the Lewis & Clark Expedition and of the War of 1812. Rather than simply writing summaries of key events, students create illustrations of the events. A suggested scoring rubric is included in the free lesson plan.

3. How might history have been different if the communication technology we have today was available 200, 300, or 500 years ago? Ask your students to think about that question then illustrate the outcome. Students can use some of the artwork available in Pixton to simulate text message and or email exchanges between historical characters like George Washington and Ben Franklin.

4. Diagram and explain branches of government. Pixton offers a free lesson plan in which students create storyboards about the powers and responsibilities of the President of the United States. Creating this storyboard is a good way for students to show what they know about all of the powers and responsibilities the President has.

You can find dozens of more lesson plans in Pixton’s lesson plan library. A tutorial on Pixton’s basic functions can be watched here.

Disclosure: Pixton is an advertiser on