Saturday, March 9, 2019

Tynker Offers a Good Way to Introduce Students to Programming

Tynker is a service that provides activities to help students developing coding skills. I first tried Tynker years ago and have watched it grow from a simple app to a full-blown coding curriculum for elementary and middle school use. The Tynker coding environment makes learning to code fun and immediately accessible to students in elementary school and middle school. Of course, older kids can use it too.

Getting Started With Tynker in Your Classroom
Register as a teacher at Tynker.com to start using it in your classroom. Registration is easy because you can sign-up by using your Microsoft account, by using your Google account, by using Clever, or by entering your email address and picking a password. One of the benefits of registering with your Google or Clever account is that you can instantly import a roster from those services into your Tynker account. Otherwise, you can manually a roster and accounts for your students to use on Tynker. Either way, Tynker provides a convenient PDF of your students’ username and passwords.

Once you have set-up your account, you can begin assigning courses and lessons to your students. Tynker provides three free courses to pick from (nine additional courses are available in a premium account).Within your Tynker account you can track your students’ progress through each lesson.

Tynker provides detailed teaching guides for each course. The guides include suggested time frames, questions to ask students, standards alignment, and screenshots of what students will see when they’re trying to complete an activity in Tynker. And if you need more support, Tynker has an extensive help center, a community forum, and on-demand professional development webinars that you can access at any time.

What Tynker Looks Like to Students
At its core Tynker gives students a block-based programming interface. Students drag and drop code blocks into place to create a program. The introductory lessons have kids making animations while more advanced lessons have students programming music videos and games. And when students are ready for the hardest challenges they can use Tynker on their own to create Minecraft mods, to control connected robots, build web apps, and create mobile games for use on Android and iOS.

Want to learn more about how you can introduce programming and coding in your classroom? Register for the Practical Ed Tech Summer Camp

The Spanish-American War Animated

This post is a long overdue shout-out to MrBettsClass. Mr. Betts produces engaging animated history videos for students. In contrast to the deep-dives that Tom Richey does for AP history students, the videos on MrBettsClass are more general overviews of topics in U.S. History. Take a look at the recent Spanish-American War animated video from MrBettsClass to get a good idea of what the channel is all about.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Get a Copy of My Jeopardy Gameboard Google Slides Template

In a workshop that I led last week I introduced the concept of linking slides together within a set of Google Slides. That concept can be used to have students create a choose-your-own-adventure story or you can use to create a Jeopardy-style gameboard. I made a Jeopardy-style gameboard using Google Slides that you can use as a template for own review game. You can get the template here. And watch the following video for my explanation on how to modify the template.



297 Google Tools Tutorial Videos

About four years ago I started to put forth a concerted effort to publish more tutorial videos on my YouTube channel. In that time I have created nearly 1000 tutorials. 297 of those tutorials are about various products available to G Suite for Education users.

You can find all 297 of my Google tools tutorial videos in this playlist. In the playlist you will find videos about things like using Word Art in Google Slides, how to create canned responses in Gmail, and how to use data validation in Google Forms.


How to Use Jamboard Without Owning a Jamboard

In Wednesday's Practical Ed Tech Live episode I suggested having students use Google's Jamboard to collaboratively create drawings. A couple people have emailed me to ask how that is done if you don't own one of Google's physical interactive whiteboards called Jamboards. The answer is that you can simply go to jamboard.google.com in your web browser, sign into your Google account, and start drawing. You can also do the same with the Jamboard Android app and the Jamboard iOS app. Watch my video to see how you can use Jamboard online without owning a physical Jamboard.


Applications for Education
A few student uses for Jamboard include creating mind maps, making flowcharts, and making simple cartoon stories. If they're using Jamboard to make mind maps or flowcharts, don't forget that students can use the text and image tools.