Category Archives: Schooling

Too Legit to Quit

Pic of the Kraken

Is the Kraken real? Is it?!

In our latest computer class we went over how to determine the legitimacy of websites. Thanks to The Mozilla Learning Network, we had a fun lesson for class about whether the Kraken was real or not. Check out their Web Literacy section for more lessons.

A few things we can look for when determining if a site is legit or not:

  1. Questionable sites usually have a questionable URL, for example, boo4578.com probably is less reputable than a site with a person’s name/recognizable company name.
  2. A site with medical information with drug ads is less likely to be credible than a medical journal with the same information and no ads.
  3. Cross reference. Look up sites on other sites. Check them out on popular sites such as Twitter. People talk about the good and bad of sites.

Quick side note:  Because people search often for song lyrics and cheat codes for games, sites with song lyrics and game cheat codes often are scam sites. So, be careful.

Here are the slides to the class lesson. Have fun!

3 Practical Tech Tips to Teach Kids

Internet Search

Internet Search in google of "star wars" -yoda

 

We can show kids how to get better search results when using a search engine such as Google. If they want to know more on Star Wars without any info on Yoda, they can! And for fun, have your kids type “Do a barrel roll” into Google.

 

Shortcuts

Shortcuts Copy, paste

Showing them how to do shortcuts such as cut, copy, & paste is a must. We tend to forget kids don’t really know how to do them and just how practical they are in their everyday lives.

 

Email

To: Email@gmail.com

Subject: Pep Talks


Hello. Here are two links for you to look at and decide which one looks better.

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwlhUcSGqg
  2. Kid President Pep Talk

Have a nice day,

Holly

gmail compose options


 

When our kids have an email account, we must show them some email etiquette. Such as, how to layout an email and how to use clean links so their email looks nicer. Point out how #2 looks so much better than #1 in the example above.

Why are simple tech tips important anyways?

It’s important to teach simple and useful tips to our kids because they will easily relate to them, feel empowered with their new knowledge and want to learn more. Which is what we want to achieve. We want to hopefully give them a thirst for more so they keep desiring to learn more and continue to add more to their tech repertoire.

Sometimes the hardest part is just getting kids to the point of wanting to learn more complex coding concepts. But if we show them how empowering tech can be in their lives in these useful ways, we will help create kids who may want to dig deeper and go farther.

 

Image: hipsterpig.com

Learning Computer Science Is Just Like All other Subjects

LEGO mini figs from Back to the Future movie and a laptop with a DeLorean sticker

Recently President Obama made an announcement that he was pledging 4 Billion dollars to Computer Science education for kids.

As a Computer Science teacher, I am happy to see the spotlight put on this subject.

However, with all the new attention it can quickly stir up an urgent feeling in parents and educators to get started ASAP. We don’t need to feel rushed to figure it ALL out today people!

I see computer science/coding like any other subject matter. We start at the basics, just like we do when learning math. We teach addition & subtraction and then build on that as we go along, year by year. It’s exactly the same with computer science.

There are many awesome resources out there to use when getting started. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel and make up new curriculum.

Here are 2 sites to Start With:

1)  Brain Pop

It has a whole section on topics related to computers. They are very entertaining, short videos that kids will love. A robot and boy teach the subjects. It is a tool many teachers use in their classroom because it really is the best. There is also Brain Pop JR for younger kids.

I sometimes build classes around a topic from Brian Pop videos.

Here is a screen shot of some subjects it covers:

Brain Pop Computer Science Subjects

2)  Scratch by MIT

Sign up for a free account and have the kids go through the short 12 step tutorial to get familiar with the program, then let them run loose.

I put together a few quick Scratch lesson on Enboard if you need some projects. Some projects include Pong, A Witch/Key game, and B-Ball game.

When you start the search for the perfect curriculum for computer science, you will find a lot out there, which will feel overwhelming. But just start with one site you like and build a few lessons with that.

5 Core Tips When Teaching A Kids Coding Class

HTML tags making a box

1) Give the kids a voice right away in class.

Have them say their name & their favorite game they like to play. You can give them each a piece of candy after each of their intros (or throw balloons at them). It shows them this is a fun class and it’s really about them. AND they don’t care about us. That shouldn’t be a shocker. So, no long intro about yourself & the past 10 years of your life.

2) Go over the details of the program you are using.

Go over all the tools, workspace, features, buttons, etc before they start using it. This way when they start to use it, they won’t feel as intimidated. It’s like when we learn a new card game. If we know a few instructions or rules to the game then we feel less lost as we play for the 1st time.

Code.org workspace for Hour of Code

 

3) Go over one concept per slide.

Having too many ideas and stuff on class slides will lose them. Things will stick better with the kids if you have one idea per slide.

 

4) Show a clear visual of harder concepts like variables and give an example.

Having a small understanding of a new concept empowers the kids and makes them feel more connected to what they are doing.

Coding word: Variable shown as a picture

 

5) Talk to the kids not down to them.

Kids are people and when you talk to them with respect they will level up but you have to 1st.

I share more ideas on my site, so poke around a little. I also made a board with other kid coding resources.

 

photo 1: Mozilla
photo 2: Code.org
photo 3: Scratch Workbook

The Hour of Code is Back!

LEGO Darth Vader on a motorcycle chasing LEGO Luke with R2D2

I am stoked the Hour of Code is back December 7th – 13th. It is an opportunity for students (or anyone!) to try computer science for one hour.

This year Code.org added a Star Wars and Minecraft puzzle to their repertoire. I have tried them both and they are great. I was even stumped a few times! But I kept iterating until I got the solution. Which is kinda the point. It’s great to stretch our brains and push through the challenge till we get the solution.

So check out code.org for the Hour of Code and try a few puzzles.

May the force be with you.

photo: desktopwallpapers4.me

Take Your Time, Don’t Rush Through the Basics with Kids

2 kids on the sand at a beach

You have to crawl before you can walk. We’ve all heard that before. Why? It’s an important step for kids in their developmental process.

Same applies when kids are learning a brand new idea or concept, especially when it comes to coding concepts.

Recently I taught a class that went over the very basic structure of a website. It was so watered down, BUT the kids understood it so well that they asked very insightful questions throughout my presentation. I was stoked!

I know it is tempting to rush through the beginning steps though. But it is vital to camp out a little longer on the basics so a strong foundation is set. Then, as we add on more complex concepts, it will be less of a struggle for the kiddos.

In fact, dare I say, that they will enjoy creating even more since they have a firm grasp on the basics!

photo: unsplash

How Sharing Passions, Coding, and Treehouse Changed a Life

treehouse coding site showing on a laptop with coffee cup

“It’s amazing how crossing paths with you has totally changed my son’s trajectory in life.”

In January I met a gal, Mary, while staying at a local Bed and Breakfast. I love B&B’s because you basically are forced to have breakfast with the other guests. But I love that! Meeting new people and hearing their stories is the best!

Mary and I got to gabbing and I, of course, told her about one of my passions: Coding! That evening I saw her son, Joseph, who was a senior in high school, and I told him about coding and about one of my favorite coding sites, Treehouse.

He sounded pretty interested so I told him I would send him a couple other sites and tips about the world of coding.

About a week after meeting Mary she emailed me and said, “Joseph is LOVING Treehouse.  I’ve never seen him followup on suggestions like that with so much enthusiasm so I can’t thank you enough!!  Joseph is on Treehouse everyday.”

Last week I got another message from Mary saying  Joseph started college last week and that he was going into coding!  She thanked me again for the introduction to Treehouse as it was life changing for her son.

I am extremely humbled to have played a small role in Joseph’s life. The web development community will greatly benefit from this go-getter.

So get out there and share what you know. Share what you love. You just never know whose life you can enrich!

photo: unsplash

20 Things about the Web

20 Things about Web Browsers E Book

This E book by Google Chrome Team is so cute and clever. They do a great job at explaining parts of the Internet/Web Browsers. Which we often think are too mysterious to understand.

Click on the image above and learn a few things about how that computer you use connects to the web.

image: www.20thingsilearned.com

It’s All Greek to Me!

duolingo

When I hear others speak another language, I am amazed. I always think, it’s all greek to me.

I feel like it’s too late in the game for me to learn or that it would be too hard.

Well, I would be wrong. Enter Duolingo.

It’s a FREE language learning tool. And it’s fun too! Kids and adults will enjoy the gamification aspect of it. I tried it with my son and we quickly found out that is was easy, fun and started to become addicting.

So, sign up, give it a try and let me know what you think!

image: Duolingo

I am not affiliated with the site.

Computer Science is for Everyone

Learning some Computer Science is beneficial to everyone.

Understanding how computers work, are built, how they compute information, how computers connect to the Internet is important.

Almost everyone has a smart phone or uses a computer. So, learning how and why they work is helpful to connect the dots.

Take a few minutes to watch this insightful short video.