Thursday, September 7, 2017

Introducing Programming to Elementary School Students

Earlier this week a reader emailed me with the following question:

How would you introduce / start coding with a Grade 2 and 3 class? Snap or Scratch?

My suggestion was to start with ScratchJr then move into Scratch. ScratchJr is available to use on iPads, on Android tablets, and on Chromebooks. ScratchJr uses the same drag and drop programming principles used in Scratch. On Scratch Jr students can program multimedia stories and games. Using ScratchJr is a great way for young students to learn the basic programming concepts that will allow them to later take advantage of all of the capabilities of Scratch.

Applications for Education
ScratchJr offers a series of nine progressively more challenging learning activities that you can do with your students. ScratchJr also provides a curriculum for using programming to reinforce literary and math standards.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Vocabulary Lists Could Help Your Students Conduct Better Searches

As I mentioned in a video posted earlier today, I have been doing some research about how students search. Specifically, they're search habits and how those habits influence outcome of their searches. It's quite fascinating even if much of what I'm reading is rather dry data crunching.

One of the research reports that I read this morning was Characterizing the Influence ofDomain Expertise on Web Search Behavior (link opens PDF) written by White, Dumais, and Teevan at Microsoft Research. They found that domain experts (domain referring to subject matter) conducted searches with more branchiness than non-experts.
Branchiness is defined as "the number of re-visits to previous pages in the session that were then followed by a forward motion to a previously unvisited page in the session."
Furthermore, the search sessions of domain experts consistently include more pages, more queries, and more overall time.

The findings of White, Dumais, and Teevan were consistent with findings of previous researchers on the topic including Ingrid Hsieh-Yee who is cited by White, Dumais, and Teevan. In 1993 Ingrid Hsieh-Yee found that students used more of their own search terms and less of external suggestions when researching topics for which they had prior expert knowledge.

What's this mean for teachers and students?
It would be unfair to expect students to be "experts" before conducting a web search. However, it might be worth having students develop a bit more prior knowledge of a topic before turning them loose to search the web for information about that topic. This might be done through reading materials provided by the teacher. It might also be done through mastering some vocabulary terms before embarking on a search. Increased prior knowledge could lead students to have more branchiness is their search habits.

Practical Ed Tech Live - Episode #17

Yesterday afternoon I recorded a new episode of Practical Ed Tech Live. This is my (usually) weekly live stream in which I answer questions that were sent to me during the previous week. I also answer questions that are submitted on the fly. I'll host another episode next Tuesday afternoon. Subscribe to my YouTube channel to be notified when my broadcast goes live. Yesterday's episode is embedded below.

The text of the questions that I answered can be read in this Google Doc

How to Make a Blogger Blog Private

Recently, I received an email from a reader who had seen my comparison of classroom blogging tools and wanted to know more about how to make a Blogger blog private. I recorded the following video to illustrate how to set a Blogger blog as private.

About once a week I'm asked what I use to record my screencast videos. On my Windows 10 computer and on my Mac I use Screencast-o-matic. On a Chromebook I usually use Nimbus Screenshot.

A Handy Google Scholar Search Refinement Tool

As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I'm working on book. I've been doing quite a bit of research for the book through Google Scholar. One of the things that I have been researching is studies on students' search behaviors. As this is topic that changes over time, I have been using the date refinement tool in Google Scholar. In the video embedded below I demonstrate and explain how to use the date refinement tool in Google Scholar.

My webinar Search Strategies Students Need to Know covers many search tools and methods.

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