Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Hour of Code is Coming!

Last year my computer science students participated in the Hour of Code. This year, I am taking the plunge and organizing my entire school.

I won't bore you with statistics--how many schools don't have programming courses, the percentage of boys to girls in computer science classes... I just think that coding is an amazing activity for all students. It promotes thinking, reasoning, problem solving. It can be a hobby or a career! The shortage of progammers in he US is already significant. In the future, this shortage is expected to grow exponentially.

For the Code activities in my school I'll be using iPad apps like Kodable, Daisy the Dino and Scratch, Jr, with the younger kids. The free web tools Scratch and CodeAvengers will be used with the older students. All of these are FREE and excellent apps for learning coding strategies.

If you are interested in participating with your class or school, more info can be found at Hour of Code or Code.org. The work has been done for you and it is really easy to implement. Even if you don't have any computers or tablets, there are unplugged activities that students can do at http://csedweek.org/learn. All students should be introduced to programming.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


A colleague asked me for advice recently. He had asked students to make videos for a project and those videos were now scattered among personal devices. "How can I have students turn these in to me efficiently?" This is a question many teachers have when trying to incorporate more technology-based projects. These were not high school students, so creating their own video-hosting sites wasn't really an option. My first thought was DROPitTOme.

I have used DROPitTOme for a couple of years now. To begin, you must have a Dropbox account. Even if you use something else for cloud storage, in my opinion, creating a Dropbox account just for this is worth it.

Then register for DROPitTOme and link the accounts. DROPitTOme allows for uploads of up to 75 MB. Students simply go to a URL for your DROPitTOme account, type in a password that you've given them, and upload their assignments. (I have put this link on my teacher webpage for easy access.)

Files are collected in a DROPitTOme folder in your Dropbox, so they are easy to find and grouped together. In my personal experience, DROPitTOme has also worked fine from phones and tablets.

Both Dropbox and DROPitTOme are excellent tools for productivity in the classroom!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Guest Blogger at Sophia!

I was thrilled to recently to be a guest blogger at Sophia. Sophia offers learning opportunities for students and teachers. They have several professional development units, such as their Flipped Classroom certification, that teach practical skills to teachers.

Sophia has a wealth of resources for teachers and is definitely worth your time to check out. My blog post entitled, QR Codes in the Foreign Language Classroom, can be found here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Avatar Images

No, I am not talking about the movie...we can save that for a different day. You may have noticed that my profile photo has changed recently. I replaced my traditional photo with an avatar that I created using this Avatar Generator.

Avatars have several uses in the world of education. What student wouldn't want a self-created image of superstar quality for his or her profile photo? They are definitely an engagement tool. If your students are young or safety and security is a concern, avatars conceal one's real appearance. Sometimes we just don't want a real photo floating around in cyberspace and an Avatar is a great way to avoid that.

Even for me, a technology teacher with a fairly strong online presence, I don't necessarily want personal images popping up when someone searches for me.

Here is a great list of free student-appropriate avatar creators from @MrEDUHowto.

Blogging 102

Last year I wrote a post called Blogging 101, in which I recalled how I got started with blogging. I still struggle sometimes, coming up with ideas or just taking the time to translate my classroom experiences to my blog. Over all though, blogging has helped me with my teaching and is very reflective. I have even had peers, students (and occasionally me!) refer to my blog for tools or ideas.

Recently I had one of those "YES!" moments when I got something to work the way I wanted. I discovered AddToAny and its code for adding sharing buttons to any blog. I had struggled in the past with this feature and today I was able to get things the way I had always envisioned them! I know some of you experienced bloggers are chuckling right now.

I consider myself fairly techie but sometimes the nuts and bolts (like HTML code) get the best of me. I rely on help from others to do the best I can. This experience reminded me of how helpful educators are and, in my opinion, especially those who work in educational technology. My PLN is always ready to share ideas and offer aid. Thank you!