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Tech Tuesday: Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Coding in the Classroom

Why learn to code?

The number of schools implementing coding programs into their teaching process may seem unusual to some. The decision to teach with coding programs is part of the STEAM education trend. We communicate through reading and writing. Similarly, the process of coding uses a language to communicate with computers. A section of written code tells the computer how a program should operate and respond. It can also be used to create customizable visuals and web designs.

The ability to code has become very influential in the computer science industry and could prove helpful to students wishing to enter this field. Coding presents far more opportunities than a career working with computers and software. Teaching students about code is important. Coding can be beneficial in understanding different languages and ways of communicating. As students work towards coding solutions, they will practice critical thinking among other key skills.

The Positives of Coding

A 2018 survey by Stackoverflow found that about 87% of developers agreed that they have taught themselves a new language, framework, or tool without taking a formal course. These developers like many others are self-taught and practice the ability to learn on their own.

Learning code can help students work more independently. They will be more equipped to solve problems on their own because many coding solutions are found through self education. In addition, when students works through problems on their own, they will be better able to handle future challenges in both their life and career. Teaching students the basics of coding at a young age can establish the framework necessary for adding to key skills they will learn throughout their education.

Coding in the Classroom

The Technology

There are various EdTech companies that have developed kid friendly coding programs to help teachers incorporate code into the classroom. The products vary from games, to robotics, to basic coding programs. If you are concerned about finding the right product for your school, there are plenty of product available tdo meet the needs of students among varying ages and interests.

Below are a few creative coding products that could be right for your school:

Bloxels

A product using coding concepts that allows students to build a game terrain by editing the layout in varying depths of details. Bloxels uses colored blocks to represent different types of elements found in a simple game layout. At the most basic level the students can design navigation through the game. At each increasing level of complexity, the student can edit a character’s physical appearance. Although the product is based around video games, it supports the core fundamentals of coding in which you create a layout, design and style for every element.

Ozobot

It’s a small robot that allows students to code the robot’s actions. The product is an interactive way for students to understand the capabilities of coding as they watch their code come to life. Students can learn to code the bot online with their coding program. They can also use preset color codes drawn on paper. The bot responds rapidly to color codes drawn into a track on a piece of paper. Students can use the code to control the direction, speed and maneuvers of the bot as it follows the drawn out commands. Through Ozobot, students are able to learn varying methods for constructing a code, while also understanding its core concepts. 

Tynker

A company creating code based programs and games for students at varying levels of their education. The programs range from Beginner to Intermediate to Advanced. To start, young students play games and learn the basic methodology by solving coding problems and sequencing events. At the intermediate level, students develop more complex code and explore games with greater challenges. Finally, the advanced level begins coding by using Javascript and Python to create games. Students working at the advanced level also begin to apply their knowledge by coding real world solutions and web pages.

By Megan

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Introducing STEAM: A New Learning Approach

Adult art artist

Introducing STEAM Title ImageWhat is STEAM?

Introducing STEAM! STEAM is derived from STEM, which is essentially a more specific curriculum of education in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. In order to understand STEAM, we first need to understand a little bit about STEM.

STEM was introduced in the early 2000s because it was noticed there was a decline in proficiency of the subjects in the STEM field. With the introduction of this new field, many more teachers are now being prepared and trained to teach these specific fields. STEM includes learning about the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics in completely scientific concepts.

This is where STEAM and STEM differ. STEAM, like STEM, teaches science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. However, STEAM differs in that STEAM includes the arts as well. Included in the teaching of the arts is drama, dance, music, media and visual arts, among others. While this curriculum also includes science, technology, engineering and mathematics, the teaching of STEAM is different in that it looks at the subjects in a more creative and inquiring type of way.

Introducing STEAM

Why is STEAM Important?

The humanities give us the context of our world. They teach us how to think critically. They are purposely unstructured, while the sciences are purposely structured. They teach us to persuade, they give us our language, which we use to convert our emotions to thought and action. And they need to be on equal footing with the sciences”.

– Eric Berridge

One of the main reasons why introducing STEAM is important relates to the fact that there is much emphasis on preparing students for the STEM field. While this is not bad, it also means that schools are pushing the scientific fields, and shifting the humanities to the side, which does not serve students well. As Eric Berridge said, the humanities (arts) need to be equal to the sciences. By pushing the STEM curriculum, we are unintentionally sending these students a message that the sciences are the best career path after school.

Teaching the arts allows for students to think in a more creative way, because of the fact that teaching with a STEAM curriculum allows for questions. It allows for students to think more freely and because the curriculum is not specifically scientific, there can be many different answers, and it opens the classroom for a more varied, in-depth discussion.

 

The takeaway: STEM is important, but only teaching a STEM curriculum is hindering the chances of students fully learning what they’re truly passionate about. By teaching STEAM, not only is the STEM curriculum included, but the inclusion of the (A)rts provides a less structured way to discuss topics, and it may just inspire students to participate more.

 

Teaching tip:

Makerspaces are one cool way to introduce STEAM curriculum in your classroom. Learn more about how to start a makerspace easily here.

By Taylor

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Tech Tuesday: Book Creator

Increase digital presence

What is it?

Book Creator is a way for students and teachers to express their creativity through the creation of books. The application can be used both on Google Chrome as well as on the iPad. Using Book Creator, students and teachers are able to include and combine text, images, audio, and video, giving them endless opportunities to create something memorable. One of the best parts about Book Creator is that there is no limit to who can use it. The age of students ranges from kindergarten to college, which shows that Book Creator is easy to use for any age group.

 

How it Works

The Book Creator process is simple. Once an account is created, users have free rein to choose what their book will be about. Some examples of books that have been or can be created include: “about me” books, poetry books, digital portfolios, interactive stories, or even a math or science lesson.

 

Once the book is finished, users have the opportunity to publish their book. The published book is then shared with both their classmates as well as others around the world. One class even published their books on the Apple iBookstore and six of the students’ books were featured in the top 150 downloads!

 

The Positives

Students can sometimes be reluctant to participate in class. Utilizing Book Creator in the classroom gives a voice to those students who are hesitant to speak up or participate in class discussions. The book creations from students also help to demonstrate their understanding of a lesson. Book Creator also offers an option for global collaboration, where classrooms from different parts of the world can work on a project simultaneously, without actually being in the same place.

 

What Teachers are Saying

This is authentic learning at its best. My students have a voice.”

–  Jane Ross, Digital Literacy Coach

 

“Book Creator has provided such a user-friendly platform. Students’ ability to create and share audio and visual content truly engages “student voice and choice” in math class!”

  • Cathy Yenca, Middle School Mathematics Teacher

Get Connected! Technology Every Teacher Should Know

It can be challenging to sift through the immense amount of tech resources that are available to teachers! Here are a few of our favorites, selected based on ease of implementation, usefulness, and student engagement.

Mindmeister

This is the website for those who have too many thoughts. Mindmeister is an online mind mapping tool that is perfect for brainstorming and organizing. The tool can also be used for note taking, as well.

Preparing a lesson for your class? Mindmeister offers both a function for brainstorming and planning – both essential for creating a lesson plan.

Create your first mind map here.

post it notes on a wall

 

Prezi

Created in 2009, Prezi has quickly become a leading presentation software for both the business and education sector. The design of Prezi has helped its rise in popularity. Unlike PowerPoint slides, Prezi offers an interactive way to present, complete with a zoomable canvas and premade templates.

There is no shortage to the type of presentations that can be created with Prezi. Topics range from analyses of books to a sales pitch in a business meeting. More importantly, because of the design of Prezi, they are much less boring to watch, therefore keeping an audience entertained and fully engaged.

The best part? It’s free. You can learn more or sign up to make your first Prezi here.

 

Kahoot

Like Prezi, Kahoot can be used in both the business and education sector. It is a primarily a mobile app, used to take quizzes of all types. Kahoot helps to keep everyone connected through a fun and interactive quiz format.

In the business world, Kahoot can be used to make any type of training or presentation more fun and engaging. Kahoot is used for team building exercises, making group trainings much more fun. In the education world, Kahoot can be used to either quiz students, or it can also be used as a study tool when there is a test.

Learn more about Kahoot here.

students are excited and looking at a computer screen

Penzu

Penzu is a site created for those people who love to write, but don’t like pen and paper. It’s an online journal and diary platform that can be used for anything from wedding planning to daily thoughts.

In the education sector, Penzu can be used as a tool for daily writing assignments or for spicing up homework. The awesome thing about Penzu is its accessibility. Anybody can write from anywhere, as the website also has a mobile app, allowing anyone to write from wherever they are, at their own convenience.

If you’re ready to start writing, click here.

 

 

Study Blue

Sponsored by Chegg, Study Blue is an online study library. Equipped with over 400 million notecards and study guides, students should have no problems studying for that upcoming test. Because of the app, students are able to study wherever they go. Study Blue also offers the option to create quizzes, giving students the opportunity to see what they already know.

Try it out here.

a person takes notes while looking at a computer

 

Knewton

No one learns the same way. Knewton knows that, so they’ve created a platform for every single type of learner. The company has provided 28 million adaptive learning courses since its founding in 2008.

The company integrated a new system known as Alta. Alta allows students to learn through completely personalized instruction and the program provides the student with an assessment of their mastery of the subject. Even better, the technology is easy-to-use and automatically provides feedback to the instructors.

You can learn more about Knewton here.

 

iClass CMS

iClass provides websites for schools that are completely interactive and adaptable. Our custom website and mobile app solutions are designed to meet the needs of a 21st-century school. Teachers have the ability to communicate with parents instantly and at no cost. Students are able to work remotely and access information via their smartphone or laptop. Learn more here.

 

By Taylor
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Tech Tuesday: Makerspaces

3d print of a dinosaur

What are they?

The popularity of the maker movement has created a large push for students to learn about the STEM field (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) in their early education. Schools among all levels of the education system are implementing an area for students to explore the STEM field. The areas are known as makerspaces, which include different forms of technology for students to develop their own idea. The space promotes creative ways of thinking as well as collaboration with their peers. The spaces can be located in one designated area or spread throughout the school as an integrated system.

a person draws with a sharpie on a blank page

 

The Technology

Makerspace technology will typically include computer stations, multimedia editing software, 3D printers, video game creation software, laser cutters and similar systems. While the technology in a makerspace is typically quite complex, it does not need to be. The space can include simple creative stations with basic building tools such as wood carving, sewing machines, and even legos. A makerspace will be successful as long as the technology, regardless of the complexity, allows students to think independently and transform their ideas into realities.

3d print of a dinosaur

 

The Response

Educators supporting the maker movement have seen the positive impact it has on their students in terms of personal and educational growth. Most resistance towards the movement is from skeptics believing it wastes money and distracts from education. However, when implemented effectively in a school’s education system, makerspaces will foster learning rather than inhibit it. Educator and blogger John Spencer has witnessed the successes of the maker movement and urged individuals to promote it in their own classroom. In “Why Every Classroom Should Be a Makerspace”, Spencer writes “these aren’t “soft skills.” Rather, they are vital for success in life. These are the critical skills they need for the creative economy. But it’s more than that. They are a deep part of the human experience. When kids embrace a maker mindset, they experience the sheer joy of creative work.”

paintbrushes in jars

 

The Benefits

Makerspaces are conducive to establishing a basic understanding of STEM in a student’s early education. It is with this basic understanding that they can build upon their knowledge of the field to discover new interests and potential career paths.

Additionally, makerspaces mentally prepare our students to creatively solve new problems and adjust to challenges in their own way. As problem solvers, students will gain a greater understanding of themselves and what makes them unique. Educators who implement some level of the maker movement in the classroom will see their students grow as an individual and team member. In the makerspace, students will gain valuable collaboration experience as they work with others and learn to embrace teamwork. The ability to work well with others is a life skill that can be utilized to help themselves and others achieve their goals.

a neon rubik's cube

 

How to start?

The definition of a makerspace is nearly limitless. There is no one correct way to create a makerspace. If you find yourself wanting to start a makerspace at your school, there are some ways you can start the movement within your own classroom. A makerspace does not require large amounts of funding, instead, you can start just by promoting a maker mentality. This can consist of small projects or activities in the classroom that encourage your students to think outside the box to solve problems. But if you are looking to seek funding to create a completed makerspace for your school, start small and build the program as your school witnesses how it is beneficial to the students. A makerspace used effectively will foster its own growth through the students that represent the success of the investment.

 

By Megan

How One Teacher Used Tech to Transform Student Learning

a child reads a book

The increased use of technology in the classroom has made some parents and educators nervous about the negative impact it might have on their students’ education. There is always the chance that these devices may distract students if they are not used properly. Recently, parents and educators alike are seeing the overwhelming benefits of using technology in the classroom.

 

 

A study done by Lieberman Research Worldwide called “Parent’s Attitudes Towards Education Technology” showed very positive feedback from parents regarding “technology for school”. The study found that 67% of parents agree with the statement “I don’t mind my child spending more screen time if he or she is learning” and 79% feel that technology “Allows my child to learn at his or her own pace”.

 

Technology in schools, such as personal devices, can be used to adapt the learning environment to better suit the educational needs of each unique child. For instance, a device can make a previously boring subject interesting to a student by changing their perspective on it.

 

 

An article written by teacher Bryan Rossi discusses the success his students found when reading with the help of technology. In one case, a student was lacking the reading skills common for students her own age. The student began reading on a device using a read-to-me feature provided by EPIC! It was not long before she became so confident in her ability to read that she wanted to read the book on her own in physical form. The device allowed the student to alter the way they were learning and succeed in a previously difficult area.

 

In another case, a group of Mr. Rossi’s students that once disliked reading was able to discover books that interested them using the EPIC! online catalog. The search for books through the traditional library became discouraging for them, but using technology simplified the process. The group managed to find a fun and exciting book collection that made reading interesting and unintimidating. Mr. Rossi’s students are prime examples of the positive impact that technology integration can have on education. Read more about their experience here. 

 

Students may find some forms of learning mundane, but the use of edtech presents a new and exciting perspective. In some cases, students may lack confidence and consequently interest in a subject area. Edtech can help these students find their independence and gain enough confidence to explore an area of learning. It goes beyond a simple task or lesson! Technology in the classroom will open up many doors for students to explore as they grow and discover themselves and their interests.

 by Megan

Introducing Our Partner: Educators of America

kid looks at a computer

iClass CMS has partnered with Educators of America to support their mission of connecting educators with technology to increase student achievement. 

 

Educators of America works with schools around the world – from New York to New Delhi – to provide teachers with technology and tools for success. In addition to supplying schools with the latest digital technology, Educators of America also hosts professional development and enrichment seminars for teachers. Classroom technology is constantly evolving, and it is important for teachers to stay up to date with the latest innovations.

 

kid looks at a computer

 

Edtech is a powerful resource for increasing student success. Studies show that the use of digital tools in the classroom increases student engagement, collaboration, and problem-solving. We are proud to support Educators of America in making a positive impact in schools in the US and around the world.

 

The USA seen from space at night

 

iClass provides attractive and easy-to-use websites to schools that increase enrollment, improve communication, and meet accessibility standards. Learn more about our partnership here.

STEM Workshop: An Introduction to CoderDojo Part 2

Kids with laptop

Welcome to the second part of our STEM Workshop blog on CoderDojo, a global network of free, volunteer-led, community-based programming clubs for young people.

In part one, we took a look at the history and setup of CoderDojo, in today’s entry we’re covering the various benefits this STEM Workshop offers schools and students.

Encourage, Teach and Prepare

The benefits of introducing a STEM Workshop such as CoderDojo to your school are manifold:

  • Change how students perceive STEM subjects
  • Naturally encourage an interest in technology
  • Naturally encourage creativity and independence
  • Provide the tools and resources required to excel in STEM subjects
  • Teach students invaluable technology skills
  • Provide students with a more varied career path
  • Help students prepare for a constantly evolving world
  • Suited to people with no prior experience in this area

CoderDojo clubs are supportive, fun and positive environments in which students can learn and master the basic skills of programming.

It is one of the most successful STEM innovations in the world thanks to its forward-thinking and inclusive approach, and one that continues to greatly aid young people interested in technology.

For more information about CoderDojo, or to find out how to start a Dojo in your school, please visit coderdojo.com.