Saturday, July 19, 2014

CodeMonkey - A Fun Programming Environment for Kids

Earlier this week in my post about seven free Edmodo apps to try this summer I mentioned CodeMonkey. CodeMonkey is worth mentioning again because it is available as a stand-alone website for students and teachers that do not use Edmodo.

CodeMonkey is a fun game through which students learn some basic programming skills. In the game students have to help a monkey get his bananas. The game presents students with a series of thirty progressively more difficult challenges in which they have to help a monkey reach his bananas. Students help the monkey get his bananas by correctly programming the movements of the monkey. CodeMonkey provides little tutorials for to help students through the challenges.

See CodeMonkey in action in the video below.

Applications for Education
Playing CodeMonkey alone isn't going to turn students into programmers, but it could definitely inspire them to explore other programming options.

The Week In Review - The Most Popular Posts

Good morning from sunny Maine where earlier this week I wrapped-up the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp. A big thank you to everyone that made the trek to Maine. An especially big thank you to those that endured delayed and canceled flights to get here. As I do with every workshop that I run, this week I learned new things that will make the next one better. I'm already considering offering beginner and advanced versions of the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp next year.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Storyboard That Releases New Teacher Guides
2. National Geographic Offers Free Online Courses for Teachers
3. 6 Uses for Evernote in the Classroom
4. 7 Free Edmodo Apps to Try This Summer
5. Check Out the Education Templates in Stormboard - A New Collaborative Planning Tool
6. Three Ideas for Using Plickers In the Classroom - Results of My First Trial
7. Padlet Adds a New Layout Option

Would you like to have me speak at your school or conference? Click here to learn about my keynote and workshop offerings. 

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
IXL offers a huge assortment of mathematics lesson activities.
Typing Club offers free typing lessons for students.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
MasteryConnect provides a network for teachers to share and discover Common Core assessments. is a provider of free educational games for K-5.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County offers graduate programs for teachers.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.
EdTechTeacher is offers professional development workshops in Boston, Chicago, and Atlanta.
StoryBoard That is a great tool for creating comics and more.

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Now Your Students Can Join Your Wikispaces Wikis Through Class Codes

Wikispaces has released a new feature that I think will be a hit with a lot of teachers. You can now have your students join a wiki by entering a Wikispaces "join code." You can create a join code by clicking on "members" in the admin view of your wiki. After clicking "members" you can select "create join code."

Give your students the join code for a wiki and they can use it to join your wiki without the need for you to approve memberships. To be clear, students will still need to have Wikispaces accounts in order to participate in your wiki.

The join codes that you create for your Wikispaces wikis are valid for one week. After one week you will have to generate a new code. You can also disable codes early if all of your students join before the week is up.

Click here for a complete set of directions, with screenshots, for creating Wikispaces join codes.
Image credit: Wikispaces

Flashcard Monkey - Cartoons for SAT Vocabulary Words

Flashcard Monkey is a fun little site on which students can review SAT vocabulary words. The flashcards feature simple cartoons that illustrate the meaning of the words on the flashcards. Flashcard Monkey currently offers cartoons for 507 SAT words.

Applications for Education
Flashcard Monkey is a nice little review tool for students preparing for the SAT. The model of Flashcard Monkey could easily be applied to any other set of vocabulary words. Your students could make their own cartoons to depict the meaning of the vocabulary words they're trying to learn.

B-Roll, Photo Collages, and Writing and Math Prompts

A stray cat in my neighborhood.
I named him Geoffrey. 
One of the strategies that I frequently recommend to teachers as a way to help students avoid any copyright issues in their work is to use media from a classroom b-roll gallery. You can build this gallery by having students contribute pictures to a shared Google Drive, Box, or Dropbox folder. Students can add pictures from their mobile devices or contribute public domain images that they have found online.

Besides being a good place to find images to use in multimedia projects, having a b-roll gallery of images could be a good source of writing prompts. Students who struggle to get started on a descriptive writing assignment could benefit from looking through a gallery of interesting images. For example, the picture in this post inspired me to create a very short story about a lost cat.

Students who struggle to get started on a descriptive writing assignment could benefit from first creating a photo collage about the event or concept that they need to write about. In thinking about the images that they select, they're also thinking about what they will say about each image. PicCollage and PicMonkey are two good options for creating photo collages.

Earlier this year I wrote about the Math Photo A Day project. That project is over, but you could create your own Math Photo A Day project in your school. The project asks students to take photographs of things representing various topics and concepts in elementary school level mathematics. For example, a challenge that you could give to students is to take pictures of objects that have specific shapes in them. This could be a homework assignment that students do with their parents or you could make it a classroom assignment.

Another approach to the Math Photo A Day project is to take pictures of examples of bad math in the real world. Use those photos as the prompt for simple mathematics lessons. Read more about this idea in Fun With Bad Math In Pictures.