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Category Archives: Education

Planning for Star Wars class for ‘Hour of Code’ next week

I wish I had had the opportunity to learn JavaScript. But it’s never too late, since I can learn it while teaching some programming next week. You know, ‘He who teaches, learns twice‘ and all that!

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I’m doing this because it is Computer Science Education Week from Dec 5 – 11 with a focus on the ‘Hour of Code‘. (It is also the week when I have to take my ‘Lab’ to the classrooms, while the computer lab is being used for NWEA evaluations.)

The ‘Hour of Code’ folk have added new tutorials featuring, Star Wars. Something my students are focusing on for an Image Manipulation class this week. It helps to have Kathleen Kennedy (seen in the video below), producer of The Force Awakens explain how programming is very much a part of movie production today.

Students will specifically learn to program a game in which BB8 must be sent on missions to recover objects and deliver messages.

In case you are interested, Hour of Code has several social media outlets, including

Twitter https://twitter.com/codeorg
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Code.org
Instagram https://instagram.com/codeorg
Tumblr https://blog.code.org

 

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Photoshopping the White House

No, this is not another fake news alert. It’s a teaching moment, however.

The subject matter is appropriate. While teaching Photoshop and image manipulation, it’s a perfect time to be teaching students how to become critical consumers of information often seen through imagery. And spot when someone has been tinkering with the truth.

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The class begins with the ‘conspiracy’ around the 2003 Space Shuttle explosion, by looking closely at the Photoshopped images. We also look at doctored images of public figures.

When they get to the computers, their challenge is to add to, or ‘enhance’ fountains on the White House lawn.

Here’s are a couple of examples. student-3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many fountains are really there on the North lawn?

 
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Posted by on December 1, 2016 in Communications, Ed-Tech, Education, STEM

 

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Please don’t ‘Like’ this post – read it

Look, you are free to not read this. I’m mainly concerned about people clicking on links or forwarding them, while not reading beyond the first two sentences.

If you got this far, Thanks!

I run into issues of young people not ‘seeing’ information in front of them, because their brains have become trained bypass information on a screen and look for images and videos. They are good ‘readers’ as the data shows. They borrow a lot of books, for sure. However they seem inattentive to information, even on beautifully laid out web pages.

Does it have something to do with our newfound desire to share, reducing our appetite to absorb, and for conversations, as Emerson Csorba says. [“Online sharing and selfies erode the value of our private lives“]

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The article for the above quote is here at the New York Times article on Digital Connectedness. Worth a read.

If you got this far, I’m flattered. Thanks!

So how do students read in the digital era? Or rather, how is reading taught today to digital natives? Sadly, in many places, no differently from the pre-digital era. I read a long (warning: long!) article in Education Week, where reporter  says that “practitioners have few guidelines, and many are simply adapting their lessons as they see fit.” Those in literacy studies recommend that we adopt a simultaneous approach, teaching traditional and digital reading skills.

My gut feeling is we assume too much that seeing young people click on topics and pages. It makes us believe that they click, therefore the must be reading. The linear experience is being remodeled by a hyperlinked, non-linear experience even while we watch. Given the powerful desire to share instead of absorb, the non-linear experience may be not as great as advertised.

If you got THIS far, I would like to talk to you! 

(There is, intentionally, no picture in this post. What made you read on?)

 
 

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Filtering the news for our kids

It gushes out of multiple channels, often without any context.

For young people, especially those under 10 years, what passes for news is almost toxic. Our challenge is to find ways to keep them ‘well informed’ and yet not overwhelmed.

And of course, there’s no wonder app for that. Even the ones that promise to filter the crud (so-called ‘news aggregators‘ like FlowReader, Flipboard etc) are often accomplices when it comes to ‘TMI,’ or To Much Information.

But wait, there was once an filter for this which we have put to pasture. We called it ‘conversations.’ The human 1.0 app that helped us sift through day-to-day details, layering over the minutia with ‘big picture’ ideas, and cross-referencing them with stories.

We re-framed topics too ugly to ponder and yet too important to ignore. Children posed questions, and found answers to them at the dinner table. We didn’t need to fact-check everything on the spot because…. yes, you guessed it: Our conversations were not hijacked by a smart device sitting next to the casserole dish.

So I like to pose the question to you readers: ‘How do you filter the news for your kids? Common Sense Media has a useful guide for different age groups of children.

Whether you’re a teacher of a parent, I like to know. How do you filter the fire hose?

 

 
 

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Martin Sensmeier visits school as Native American Recognition week kicks off

Last Thursday, we had a visit from Martin Sensmeier, the actor who plays Red Harvest in The Magnificent Seven.

The 31-year old Native from Alaska, spoke to our students about how perseverance in the face of rejection got him where he is. Beside his acting interests, he shared with us his passion for helping youth, and how he has partnered with Nike in support of the N7 Fund.

The Nike Air Native N7 brand was inspired by the wisdom of the ‘Seven Generations’ –how our decisions impact the seventh generation. The fund supports Native American and Aboriginal tribes in health programs.

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Posted by on November 14, 2016 in Education, Events

 

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How the Internet is working against us, but no-one seems to care

Plenty of studies, and many critical thinkers have weighed in on how the Internet, once heralded as a gift to society, is not exactly working in our broader interests.

 

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“World Peace” game proves kids can problem solve (without Apps)

A friend sent me a link to this story of a “World Peace Game” played by 4th graders. Sorry it’s not as fancy as MineCraft, or pointless as Pokemon. What I love about John Hunter’s concept is that there is no “win” and that it truly demonstrates how students can learn, sans smart devices.

If you need some background to this, watch John Hunter’s Ted Talk. You’ll be blown away.

One of the best performance reviews a teacher could get is what one of Hunter’s students says: “My brain, when I come back from his class, it feels like ‘jelly’ –it learned sooo much.”

 
 

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