Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Ignite Computer Science Education

Over the weekend, I attended Tomorrow's Classrooms Today conference organized by Evolving Educators at Rider University in Lawrence Township, New Jersey.   Every year, I attend this conference, but this year was special because I was asked to provide an ignite speech.  Without hesitation, I accepted.  I took this challenge to get out of my comfort zone, and to take a risk.  Did I mention, this was my first speech in this type of setting?

If you are not familiar with an ignite speech it is different because it only gives the presenter 5 minutes to make their point about a passionate topic.  Plus, there is a presentation which contains 20 slides and advances automatically every 15 seconds.

I was so nervous and excited at the same time because I spoke about the importance of Computer Science education. I have to admit, it was a great feeling when it was over. A sense of conquering my fear!  Sure, my timing was off, but my message was strong and for me that was the most important part.

Ignite Speech - main points:

Why is it important to teach?
  • It is all around us
  • We are great users of technology, but can you really define computer science?
What is Computer Science?
  • Study of algorithms
  • Art of creating and reinventing
  • Teaches you how to think and solve problems
Why learn it?
  • Allows students to be innovative, have leadership, confidence, empowerment, realize that failure is a learning process
  • 4C’s - communication, critical thinking, collaboration, creativity
  • 4P’s - problem solving, problem probing, persistence, perseverance
  • Students think differently about their world when they have an impact on society
  • Computing skills will help them be successful in life and in their careers
State Law
  • New Jersey just passed a law stating that all high schools must offer computer science classes starting in the 2018-2019 school year.
  • Widely used resource K-12
  • Students enrolled in the AP CS Principles course said in a poll they enjoyed their cs classes more than other school work.
  • It showed a huge growth rate in minorities and females too
  • Students exposed will most likely apply for higher paying jobs
  • More diversity to fulfill the jobs
  • Computing skills are necessary for all jobs
  • Experts are predicting that by 2024, 1.1 computing jobs will be available, and only 42% of people will be able to fill it.
  • We need to bridge the gap so that students are exposed to computer science and acquire these skills
  • It will prepare them for a digital economy and jobs that don’t even exist yet
Get Involved

My presentation reflection teaching Computer Science,Overcome the Fear and Embrace the Algorithm - A Computer Science Reflection

You can watch and listen to me speak about the importance of Computer Science Education on The Suite Talk.  

Monday, May 14, 2018

Coding, Robots, and Mother's Day, Oh My!

Last week I was invited to visit Mrs. Burnetta's kindergarten class to teach her students about computer science.  I was super excited about it.  Since I am teaching 6th grade computer science, I had many manipulatives and ideas, but I decided to bring the Ozobots and markers to her class.

First, I introduced computer science to the students by telling them that computer science is used to teach you how to think and how to solve problems.  I also explained to them that, computer scientists look for the problems, fixes them, and tests their programs again to see if it works correctly.  I explained that sometimes things don't work on the first try and that it is okay.  That is called learning!  

In order for the students to understand problem solving, I had the students verbally command Mrs. Burnetta to walk to the door in her classroom. Students had to use logical thinking to command their teacher to correctly walk to the door without missing any details.  This included commands such as, move forward 5 steps, and turn left or turn right.  Once they successfully completed that program, I gave them another task to have Mrs. Burnetta walk to the white board and draw a square.  Students quickly realized that every detail was important and that if something did not work correctly, they had to reset and start again.   I told them they were writing a computer program which gave instructions to tell the computer, (in this case Mrs. Burnetta), to do something.  I compared it to a cooking recipe.

During this exercise, students repeated certain vocabulary words such as, program, commands, reset, logical thinking, and problem solving.

After introducing basic computer science concepts to the students, I decided to teach them about Ozobot.  They used the Mother's Day board and the static codes to command Ozobot to make a u-turn, spin, move slow or move fast.  The students did an excellent job coloring by number and staying in the lines.

Once they were done coloring their boards, it was time to test Ozobot.  They knew if they didn't color neatly, that there was a chance Ozobot would not read the static code.  A few things the students noticed was that Ozobot flashed it's lights when it read a static code, it turned around, moved slow, went off the board, and didn't read the static code.  The students had to fix their boards accordingly and test the bot again.  

After they completed the Mother's Day board, I allowed them to create their own board.  Students were paired up and created their own boards using all of the colors, (blue, red, green, and black), to command their bot.  Students noticed that Ozobot had different color lights on when it went over different color lines.  If Ozobot did not work, they had to adjust the lines and start over again.  They were truly engaged and never gave up!

In conclusion, I am extremely proud of all Mrs. Burnetta's students.  Never underestimate your students.  They can truly learn a difficult concept if presented to them in a way they can understand it.  When I asked the students what they learned, one student replied, 'I learned how to solve problems and how to think', and another replied, 'I learned about computer programming.'

Thank you for having me in your class Mrs. Burnetta! I hope we can continue to collaborate on educating our students in computer science and bridge the gap for them too.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

All About Google Classroom - EOY Tips and Jamboard Integration

In my recent episode of The Suite Talk, I wanted to focus on Google Classroom and provide you with some tips, and other information about it. 

You can watch me on The Suite Talk, episode #26, All About Google Classroom EOY Tips and Jamboard Integration.  If you don't want to watch it, my agenda and show notes are listed below.  

Here is what I mentioned in my episode:  

Google Classroom - End of the Year Tips:
  • Return and grade all work to the students
  • Export grades if necessary
  • Hide the classroom calendar in Google Calendar
  • Archive your classes
  • Create an ‘Archive’ folder in Drive and move the class folder in there
Printing Student's Assignments:
  • Download the PDF Mergy app from the Chrome webstore
  • This app will allow you to select and add multiple files to merge into one PDF file.  
  • At this point, the PDF file can be printed out
Setting Notifications:
  • Customize your email notifications from the main menu
  • This will affect all of your classes
Jamboard Integration:
  • It is an android app, and works best from a device that supports the Google Play store.  I am using a Pixelbook Chromebook which supports the android store.
  • You can still upload Jams for students to view via the web.  The web version is very limited and will allow students to just view the Jam.
  • Jams are stored in Drive and can be uploaded as assignments in Google Classroom
  • Create jams and make a copy for students, or have students edit, and view them.
  • Download the Jamboard app from the Google Play store
Google Classroom Feedback
  • Click on the question mark at the bottom of the screen and leave the team your feedback or suggestion. You can even include a screenshot!
You can subscribe to my channel, The Suite Talk YouTube Channel, to stay up to date on my episodes.