Wednesday, October 18, 2017

New Features of Google Slides


The Google team recently released many new updates in Google Slides.  I found all of them to be very helpful.  Here is a brief summary of the updates:

1.  Keep Notepad is integrated in Google Slides, similar to Google Docs, it will open Google Keep in the right margin and allow you to add your notes to the slide deck.





2.  Link Slides will allow you automatically update information that is copied from one presentation into another.  

3.  Insert Diagrams is a great feature that will allow you to insert hierarchy charts, timelines, process, relationships, and cycle diagrams directly into the slide deck.  The user can change the content of the information very easily.



4.  View Options allow you to view the slide deck either in a grid view or flimstrip view.  This option can be found at the bottom left corner of the slide deck.




5.  Skip Slide will allow you to hide a slide when presenting it to an audience.  It will still remain in  your slide deck, but will not be shown to the audience.




6.  Add-ons will allow you to enhance your slide deck with many new add-ons such as Pear Deck, Adobe Stock, Shuttershock,  




Here is a screen cast that showcases these updates.  You can also click on the link to view it on YouTube.



To read more information about these updates, please visit the Google for Education Blog.  




Saturday, September 30, 2017

Week 3 - A Computer Science Reflection




Week 3 of #CS4WDMS was a week of making connections.  I am using the accelerated course in code.org, in which the students completed The Maze lesson, which consisted of 20 puzzles, and The Artist lesson, which consisted of 10 puzzles.  

In The Maze, the object for each puzzle was to navigate the bird or zombie to the pig or sunflower. As each puzzle was completed, the next one was more challenging.  Additionally, there were more difficult command blocks available as the students progressed through the puzzles.  A challenge for the students was to complete the program using the recommended amount of command blocks.  If the students used more than the recommended amount of command blocks, code.org did not mark the puzzle as completed.   When I introduced the interface to the students, I pointed out all of the areas of the editor, including this information.  I found they were conscious of the number of blocks needed to complete the puzzle. 

Also, in The Artist, , the object for each puzzle was to use the block commands to trace over the specific shape(s) shown in the output section of the editor.  In this lesson, pixels and degrees of an angle were the unit of measure being used.  As the students progressed through the lesson, the shape(s) shown in the output section were more challenging than the previous puzzle.  Overall, I found this lesson to be more challenging than The Maze.    

Many of the students worked independently until they reached puzzle 5. As they were troubleshooting, I decided to have them make connections with the command blocks and the JavaScript code.   

I displayed the answer key for puzzle 5 on the board, which was written in JavaScript.  Then, I explained each line of code. We compared the JavaScript to the command blocks so they can make connections and see the differences between the two.  We discussed commands, loops, variables, initializing and incrementing variables, units of measure, and syntax.  I also explained that computers do not understand block commands, they understand source code like JavaScript.  At this point, students were able to use JavaScript and critical thinking skills to create the correct block base code in the editor for puzzle 5.  



After that, I displayed the JavaScript code on the board for a few more puzzles.  The students were able to connect the correct block base command to the JavaScript code.  I was amazed to see how quick they picked up on the source code.  Some students were even able to explain it to their peers.  I witnessed a break through moment for my students, in which I knew they felt successful and achieved leadership skills. 

Many of the students  had prior knowledge of code.org because they completed the Hour of Code course on the code.org website last year.  However, they did not complete the accelerated course, and they did not discuss in detail about the sections of the Blockly editor, and the JavaScript code.    

As week 3 comes to an end, next week will be my last week with this group of students.  I will be using Ozobots next week to expose them to more block base coding, Ozocodes, and more computer science concepts.  

I am planning to implement different manipulatives to each group of students such as Ozobots, Bloxels, and Littlebits.  Also, I will be alternating between code.org and CS First, but for now, I will be using code.org.  

Stay tuned for my next blog post on my student's experiences using Ozobot.  Follow my class on Instagram at Mrs.Mattina and follow #CS4WDMS on Twitter.  
    


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Week 2 - A Computer Science Reflection



Last week was week 2 of introducing Computer Science concepts to my students.  I was happy to see that all of the students followed proper procedures when entering the classroom.  They are definitely getting more comfortable with procedures and expectations in my class.



When entering my room, the students login to the computers, login to the GSFE account, then they go to Google Classroom.  Once in there, they complete the do now assignment which allows them to practice keyboarding skills on typing.com for about  7 - 10 minutes.  I use a Google timer to keep track of time.   This application provides a teacher dashboard which  allows me to keep track of their progress.  I created a class and the students used their Google account to sign up and create an account.  I love having the single sign in option for the students. It saves so much time.  Just be sure the students are logged into their GSFE account first. 

Afterwards, all of the students logged into code.org where they completed The Maze lesson which consists of 20 puzzles in the accelerated course.  We watched the introduction videos together about the Blockly editor.  We discussed the output, toolbox, and workspace sections.  I pointed out the resource and notification sections, which are not technically outlined in the editor, but felt these areas are important for the students to be aware of.    We discussed in detail conditional statements and loops and we even did a few simple unplugged algorithms together to ensure they understood the commands and concepts. 

When each puzzle in lesson is completed, more complicated block commands are offered in the next puzzle.  Students are expected to use them in their code.  If they don't they will write a program that has too many lines of code, which will have an incomplete status for the puzzle.  In order for the students to  get full credit for the assignment, I expect all of the puzzles to be fully completed.  I can monitor their progress in the teacher dashboard.  

As students completed the accelerated course, I had them record their progress in a spreadsheet.  The spreadsheet consists of the learning goal, the learning goal scale, which is a 3 point scale, the date, and their rating.  This spreadsheet is shared with them in the assignment in Google Classroom. Although I can monitor their progress in the teacher dashboard in code.org, this allows me to monitor their growth from the beginning of the lesson to the end.  Additionally, I am going to have the students reflect about The Maze lesson using Flipgrid.  Stay tuned for updates.  

In conclusion, the students seemed to learn a lot last week and continued to show leadership, ownership, and motivation to complete The Maze lesson.  Next week, the students will move on to lesson 3, The Artist, which consists of 10 puzzles.  Additionally, I will introduce logical thinking to the students, which is an unplugged activity using Google Drawings, and Made with Code, which is another block editor. 

Please follow my class on #CS4WDMS on Twitter and Instagram.  

Stay tuned for more updates next week.