Monday, January 29, 2018

Code for Life - Coding Challenges and Lesson Plans

Code for Life is a free program that I learned about while attending the BETT Show last week. Code for Life has a programming interface based on Blockly. Anyone who has used Blockly or Scratch will immediately recognize the similarities when they launch Code for Life's programming interface.

Code for Life contains more than 100 challenges that students can complete through Code for Life's Rapid Router program. Each challenge is preceded by some simple directions for students to follow. Students can save their progress in Rapid Router by creating a free account on Code for Life.

Applications for Education
Code for Life offers an extensive collection of free lesson plans for teachers. The lesson plans are aligned to the UK Computing Curriculum. That doesn't mean that you can't adapt the lesson plans to meet the standards for your school district, state, or province.

Create Your Own Google Expeditions

To coincide with the BETT Show Google announced a new beta program that will enable schools to create their own Google Expeditions. The latest iteration of the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will provide schools with all of the equipment required to capture 360 images and to create their own immersive Google Expeditions. The announcement didn't say this, but I will guess that the Google Expeditions Pioneer Program will provide some type of professional development or training. The application to become a part of the new Google Expeditions Pioneer Program is now open. Click here to apply.

Other ways to create your own virtual reality imagery and tours:
In the Practical Ed Tech Tip of the Week I featured a free program called Patches that enables anyone to build virtual reality tours. Patches provides tons of animations, objects, and scenes that you can customize. The program also supports importing your own images and animations.

Google's Cardboard Camera App will let you create narrated panoramic images to view in virtual reality headsets. Watch my following video to learn how to use Google's Cardboard Camera App.

You can get the Cardboard Camera app for Android here and the iPhone version here.

A Free Teleprompter

Thanks to Beth Holland this weekend I learned about a free teleprompter service called CuePrompter. CuePrompter displays your written script in a clear, large, scrolling format in your web browser. It's perfect for use when recording yourself or someone else on camera.

To use CuePrompter just go to the site then start entering your script into the "quick start" text box. After you have entered your script you can select the size of the prompter display, the size of the text, and the display color scheme. Click "start prompter" when you're ready to start using your script in the CuePrompter display. You can adjust the speed at which your script scrolls down the screen. If you need to stop and rewind, you can do that in the script display too.

Applications for Education
I immediately thought of my friend Joe Cummings after I tried CuePrompter. Joe is a middle school teacher who does some great video projects with his students. Many of the videos feature students on camera. A tool like CuePrompter could help students get their lines right on the first try or at least with fewer tries.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Slides, Mount Rushmore, and Tours - The Week in Review

Good evening from terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport where I'm waiting for a flight home after attending the BETT Show in London. It was a whirlwind trip to catch up with some friends and colleagues based in Europe while also seeing some of the new offerings of some of the ed tech industry. I am fortunate to have these opportunities to travel, but I'm always happy to be returning home to my kids who miss me (Skype just isn't the same as being there). Before I board my flight home, I have this week's run-down of the most visited posts of the week.

Here are this week's most popular posts:
1. Ten Overlooked Google Slides Features
2. Geometry at Mount Rushmore - A Math Lesson
3. Ten Overlooked Google Docs Features
4. Story Cubes - Templates to Help Students Plan Stories
5. How to Add Voice Comments to Google Docs
6. Important News About Adobe Spark
7. GE Teach Tour Builder - Create Google Earth Tours for the Web

Only One Day Left!
Tomorrow is the last day to join the Practical Ed Tech courses Teaching History With Technology or G Suite for Teachers at the discounted rate of just $75. In both courses you'll get at least ten instructional videos (20-45 minutes each), lesson outlines, and suggested classroom activities. Use the code "construction" to receive the discounted price.

Book Me for Your Conference
I’ve given keynotes at conferences from Australia to Alaska for groups of all sizes from 50 to 2,000+. My keynotes focus on providing teachers and school administrators with practical ways to use technology to create better learning experiences for all students. I like to shine the light on others and so I often share examples of great work done by others as well as my own. Click here to book me today.

Please visit the official advertisers that help keep this blog going.
Practical Ed Tech is the brand through which I offer PD webinars.
Storyboard That is my go-to tool for creating storyboards.
MySimpleShow offers a great way to create animated videos for free.
University of Maryland Baltimore County offers a great program on instructional design.
Discovery Education & Wilkes University offer online courses for earning Master's degrees in Instructional Media.
PrepFactory offers a great place for students to prepare for SAT and ACT tests.
Boise State University offers a 100% online program in educational technology.

Gamifying Writing Instruction

Last night at TeachMeet BETT Simon Johnson gave a great little talk about 21 Things Every Teacher Should Try. He didn't cover all 21 things in the talk (he only had seven minutes to talk), but one of the things that he did talk about was game-based learning. The example that he gave was gamifiying writing instruction.

In Simon's example of gamifying writing instruction he shared a grid in which students were given points based on the type and complexity of the words that they used in their writing. For example, students might earn five points for correctly using an adverb. Or they could earn could earn points for correctly using words from a vocabulary list.

Generally, I tend to think about "gamification" as a kind of a gimmick. That said, I can see it being beneficial to some students in the right context. For students who have a generally negative view of school and have become accustomed to grading practices that detract points for not doing something, a gamification of writing could feel better. Rather than seeing that they didn't use "x" number of vocabulary words correctly they could see it as "I scored 500 points" for using "x" number of words correctly.

Popular Posts