Thursday, December 22, 2016

My View of Computer Science EDU Week - 2016

This year Computer Science Education Week was December 5th - December 9th and I was able to expose many students to a variety of computer science concepts.  This is my fourth year participating in Computer Science Education with middle school students, and each year, I always get positive feedback from the students.  

The 6th grade students completed the Hour of Code on, in which they can pick from a variety of topics or themes to learn computer programming. Additionally, teachers can select the 'teach' option and filter by grade level to teach a semester or year long course on Computer Science concepts.  Visit their website at for more information.

The 7th grade students used Google's CS First and Scratch to learn computer programming.  The CS First interface allows the teacher to have a dashboard that can track student progress throughout the module.  Students login to CS First using their G Suite for Education account, watch the videos and reflect on their learning.  At the end of the video segment, they use Scratch to write block base code to complete the task at hand.  

Teachers will need to create a club and have the students join the club using a club code.  Once they join the club, they will receive a random username and password. These credentials will be used to login to Scratch.  Essentially, students will be flipping back and forth between CS First and Scratch.  When students complete the block base code in Scratch, they must share it with the teacher.  At this point, the teacher will be able to access the project through the dashboard and the students will receive a digital badge. 

This year, I tried something new with the 8th grade students.  I had the students hard code using Python to create music using EarSketch.  Python is the computer programming language displayed in the image above.

First, the students needed to learn about the EarSketch interface, and the proper terminology.  Click here to view my Vocabulary Reference Sheet.  After they were familiar with the interface, I introduce a few Python commands and I discussed a connection of the command to a real-life scenario that they can relate to.  Additionally, I stressed the importance of the correct syntax of the command.  

After the introduction was over, the students were ready to code.  They needed to create an account to save their programs.  They were able to write the code, run the program, and troubleshoot it if there were errors.  The purpose of the program was to produce music using the fitMedia() command.  I was happy to see many of the students were able to produce the proper requirements for the output, which was music. They were able to enhance their program to include multiple tracks, multiple instruments, and pauses.  

When the students completed their program, they needed to share the link with me in a Google Form so that I can check their work.  I created a short screen cast on the sharing procedures and used Google Classroom to make my resources available.  The Google Form allowed the students to reflect on their learning, and allowed me to read their honest opinion about the lesson.  

Some responses:

"I like how we learned about one coding language but i would like to learn more and try more coding." ~ Noel

"I kept having errors in my coding. So i solved it by running it little by little to find out which line was the problem." ~ Na'Jualin

"I liked how to put the different sounds together to create a different and unique music. I loved it a lot. It is very fun." ~Saloni

"I liked it because we learned more about Python coding." ~ Evan

"I didn't really enjoy this activity, I do not like coding I did it because I had to and it was apart of my grade." ~ Alexa

In conclusion, I will continue to use these tools to implement Computer Science concepts into the classroom. Not only are the students learning a new language, they are learning important skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, logical thinking, collaboration and more. I explained to them that failing is a method of learning, and having patience with it will help them persevere to accomplish their goals.

In 2017, I will continue to teach the students about Computer Science using the tools stated above, plus using robots. I plan to teach students how to create mobile apps for their devices. I feel these skills are essential for students to succeed in the future.

Happy Holidays!

To all my clients, and readers: 

Wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy Holiday Season and a Happy New Year! 


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Citations are Back!

The power of feedback!  You spoke and Google listened, and they brought back the citations feature in the Explore tool in Google Docs.

Posted: 05 Dec 2016 11:41 AM PST

In September 2016, we launched Explore in Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides to give you the insights, design tools, and research recommendations you need to do your best work. Today, we’re improving upon the feature by allowing you to easily cite those findings. Students writing research reports, analysts crafting whitepapers, and others looking to credit their sources can now insert citations as footnotes with the click of a button in Explore in Docs on the web. You can even change the format of your citation, switching between the MLA, APA, and Chicago styles. For more information on how to use citations in Docs Explore, check out the Help Center.

With the addition of citations support, we’re now ready to launch Explore in Docs to G Suite for Education customers on the Scheduled release track. That rollout will begin tomorrow, December 6th.

Launch Details
Release track:
Launching to both Rapid release and Scheduled release

Available to all G Suite editions

Rollout pace:
Full rollout (1–3 days for feature visibility)

All end users

Change management suggested/FYI

More Information
Help Center: See and use suggested content in a document

Monday, December 5, 2016

Google Announced New Features on Education On Air

Google Education on Air, #ItTakesATeacher, was implemented on December 2nd- December 3rd.  It offered free online professional development for anyone who registered around the world. All of the session links can be found at the website.  
I had the opportunity to present with Heather Breedlove, Susan Herder, and Michael Fricano, who are Top Contributors in the G Suite for Education forum, on tips and tricks of Google Classroom.   (We were able to collaborate and plan our session in 4 different time zones!)  Here is the link to our session. 

At the end of the Education on Air sessions, Google announced 3 new features to G Suite for Education, in which users will appreciate.  They are as follows:

  1. Alternative ways for students to log into Chromebooks
  2. Parents no longer need Google accounts to receive email summaries in Google Classroom
  3. Graduating students can transfer email and Drive files to their personal account

Alternative ways for students to log into Chromebooks

Logging into a Chromebook got easier a while back when Google gave admins the ability to pre-populate their domain name in the login box. That way students only had to type in their username, and not the “” portion. However, this could still be a challenge, especially for younger children.
During Education On Air, Google announced two new ways for students to log into a Chromebook: badges and pictures.  This is extremely helpful for elementary students.  

Badges - You can create a unique QR Codes for each of your students.  The students would need to hold the QR Code to the webcam on the computer and it will login them into their account.

Visit Clever Badges for more information:  

Here is a sample text message that you will receive.  Additionally, you will receive an email with the same information.  You would need to printout the email with the QR Code on it. Note, this is a demo account.

Pictures - A second new option for logging in is to use a set of chosen images in place of a password. This system has been developed by Cloudwise, a Netherlands company. With this option, instead of letters, numbers, and symbols, the student’s password is a series of pictures. When they student goes to log in, they are presented with a grid of images, and they need to click on the pictures that make up their password to log in. 
(Credit to Eric Curts)

For more information you can visit their website at:

Parents no longer need a Google Account to Receive Summaries in Google Classroom

You spoke and the Google team listened!  The team has allowed parents and guardians to use any email address to receive Google Classroom summaries.  

Graduating students can transfer email and Drive files to their personal account

The final update is allowing students to move their emails and Drive files to their personal account.  One of the options right now is to use Google Takeout which allows you to select the app data to download as a zip file to your computer.  This feature will be available some time early next year.