Final Post. Mission Accomplished!

This 4 year snail’s race is coming to a finish….. and I’m not sure about you, but I’m ready to celebrate! snails-1540696_1920

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This coding journey has been exactly that…QUITE a journey. From deciding on my project focus, to harvesting the perfect batch of coding club students, to wrapping my head around coding, to recognizing that teachers like me are out there clueless about what coding is, this project has been very informative.

As a result of embarking on this challenge, I can confidently say that I have taken the plunge into the coding world. Though I will admit that the coding world is huge, and full of endless opportunities, I still have a distance to go in being totally coding literate.

For the purposes of this class, I feel that I have immersed myself in the coding world enough, to be an asset to other educators wanting to delve into the coding world, whether with their students, or as a school club.

While coding appears very overwhelming to those who do not know much about it, with proper guidance and education, it can easily be integrated into the daily learning of students, around the globe.

By clicking the link below, you will gain access to a “Coding for the Curious Teacher” document that I have made. This guide is intended to prepare any curious teacher (like me), for the coding world. It starts with the basic Scratch Jr. program, then moves onto the Tynker website, to provide a more complex and well-rounded look at coding for educators. I see this more as the beginning of a new journey for me, rather than the end. I am excited to see how far I can go with it with my next batch of coders, next year, when  I have a few basic skills tucked in my back pocket (including my amazing little coding students who have taught me a great deal!)

Here is the document that I have made, for anyone who would like to take a look at how to implement coding in their class, while taking the plunge to become literate in the world of coding!

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Thanks to all of my amazing classmates who have stretched my mind, guided me toward answers, and given me ample food for techno thought. It really has been a great time.

With this click, I officially wrap up, this life chapter. Class 10 of 10 is in tha books! And Boom goes the dynamite!!!

Cheers everyone!

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Coding Project Update

Tonight I am taking a bit of time to document what I have been up to with my major project over the past while. As recommended in the course syllabus, we are encouraged to keep in mind the importance of the PROCESS while working through our major project. As such, I have been doing a lot of hands-on work with the project I have chosen, but haven’t shared in awhile. Soo I thought tonight might be a great time to just stop, and share my journey so far.

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So, as many of you know, my first attempt at this project was me sitting at cross-roads trying to decide between exploring and educating parents on the teen apps that parents may not know about but “should absolutely” know about.

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I was torn between this project and then also exploring how Alexa could better be used as an educational tool in my classroom.

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When I shared my ideas with Alec, he reminded me of the focus on the aspect of digital citizenship and media literacy. I have to be honest, at that time, I did understand the concept of digital citizenship, but I hadn’t truly wrapped my head around the concept of media literacy. It was stumping me a bit, and I think I needed to get my feet wet in the course a bit more to truly understand what was being asked of me.

Fast forward a few weeks… and I found myself choosing the Teen Apps project. However, I didn’t want to just read reviews on the apps, I wanted to explore them first hand so that I could give first hand recommendations and education to parents, regarding the apps. Road Block. I did not anticipate how uncomfortable downloading one of these apps would make me feel. Even though my purpose for doing so was educational, I felt like a big elephant in a virtual room… and I did not belong there. Not only did I feel uncomfortable being present on the app, I was also uncomfortable having any risqué app on my phone. Soon after some deep reflection, and though a very worthwhile cause, I just decided that this project (though beneficial on many levels), just wasn’t for me. And that’s disappointing, because I felt many of my classmates had the same curiosity in learning more about these apps as well. I just couldn’t do it.

Sooooo…. back to the drawing board I came. And this time, I had a little better understanding of what media literacy meant. I thought long and hard about an area of ed tech that I was interested in but knew nothing about. I’m generally an adventurous person, so I knew it had to be something that would allow my creativity to be incorporated, as well as the ability to drift off into a few different directions. Alas, CODING!!! I have been curious about coding for a really long time, but just haven’t had the time, nor reason to delve into what it really is. So, I decided to take the plunge into this digital area, knowing that I knew nothing about it, but that there was a plethora to learn….

So, it began. I really wanted to just spread my wings and navigate around, but I didn’t really know where to start. So, I started with a google search. I looked up terms such as “Top educational Coding Apps for kids”, “how to code”, “coding for dummies”, “coding for idiots”…. and I landed on a great link to a list of wonderful coding Apps for kids. The list was long and I scratched a few of the top apps down on a paper and downloaded them (freely and with ease this time) onto my iPad.

When I woke up the next day, I decided that maybe a coding club at the school would tie in my learning, with student inquiry, and then also some tech based learning (which I feel should be a focus at the new P3 school that I am working at). Bingo… I had a plan.

But then, this thought came into my head. What would the blind leading the blind in coding result in? hmmmm The more I thought about it, I figured the result would be something like this analogy.

So, I reconsidered this plan. Next, I decided that maybe what would be a better plan, would be to have an inquiry based coding club that I could learn from, that would also foster student leadership, and creativity. I would email out a request for the coding keeners in our school, and have them teach me the best parts of coding, while also spreading their wings to code something that interested them. We had access to a few programs, as well as computers, and I figured we were a go. I emailed out the request and to my delight, I received the perfect amount of interest from staff. Not only that, but I had some amazing educators willing to jump onboard with me to help in any way that I needed. AWESOME! I put together little invites and invited 9 super sleuth coders to a “special coders meeting”. And there we were. Now, this coding club plan seemed a bit better than just allowing anyone to come to the coder meeting, since I really had no idea still at this point.

This club has been extremely beneficial to me, and I believe that the students have enjoyed it too. The only problem with this club, is that my lack of knowledge means that the students are really driving their projects and coding adventures… and I don’t really have a ton to offer them, as they still know more than me. But, I am learning a ton!

Check out a few of the awesome little projects that these guys have been making!

So now, this coding club is still underway and it is going well, but it seems to me that this analogy is accurate of what is happening in this coding club at this time.

So, this is causing me even further reflection… I needed to take this plunge to begin learning… and learn I have. However, my thoughts into the future are this…. What would help these kiddos to learn even further? The answer is this. If I were more media literate in Coding. Which I am NOT. So, my focus for the remainder of this project has shifted a bit again. When I consider what would make the best coding experience for my students and I, it would be if I were absolutely coding literate, along with my super sleuth coding club students. Then we would both have some experience to guide us, and I would be better able to push them in the right direction. The result I would anticipate to be something more like this analogy. No longer would the blind be leading the blind, nor the seeing leading the blind, but rather the seeing working along with the seeing to create something creative, innovative and exciting. See this analogy:

So what does this mean? Well, this would mean that I spend even more time truly understanding the world of coding, so that I am literate, and able to push my coding club to learn even more. This has redirected my final product of this journey to be a series of mini lessons for teachers, that would help them to go from where I was, to being coder literate…. and in a place where they could knowledgeably begin coding with confidence.

So, I have taken to doing some research of my own. I have watched a few more youtube videos, and have downloaded the book Scratch Kids for Dummies to help me come up with the simple basics that every educator should take the time to comprehend before diving into Coding. Here are a few of the videos that I have been watching to get a better handle on becoming coding literate.

I have also spent substantial time trying to learn from my colleague Kelsie Lenihan’s coding project videos. Hats off to you my friend, you’ve done amazing with mastering Python!!!!

And, that is where I currently am. I am taking the time to make a web of lesson ideas that I feel are important for educators… I’m organizing and refining them to get the perfect fit for what I want to do with them and how I want these lessons to look.

I am struggling to choose just one specific app that I would like to revolve these lessons around. Thanks to my awesome coders, I have explored LitBot, Scratch, Scratch Jr., and Tynker. Now, Scratch Jr. is on all of the school board iPads by default. This is making me consider that this would be a useful app to base my lessons off of. However, I really like the format of Tynker and a teacher’s ability to set up a Tynker class roster… So I am leaning toward using this for my lessons. Either way, there isn’t too much that would change as the general coding lessons would not be Program specific. Soon, that brings us to here. Sharing my journey so far. My hands are numb from typing, and I have some work to do to take some screen shots of things I want to insert into this blog post before I can post it…

However, if you are one of less than 1% that actually reads this far into my project journey, I will likely have the videos and screen shots uploaded to this website (as I plan to do that before I post this blog). So, IF you read this far, go ahead and leave me a comment below. I would love to get your feedback on this journey as well as any recommendations that you might have in guiding me to the finale! The finale, I might add, will be the end of my graduate studies road. This is class 10 for me, and I am so happy to be finishing it off in an area that I am truly passionate about!

Thanks for sharing this journey with me and taking the time to read what I have been up to! 🙂

Let Them Teach… And YOU Shall Learn

Getting into my major project has been like prepping for a major paint job…  I have changed paint colors so many times, and there are so many little things that I have needed to do to get this project off of the ground… but each little job needed to be completed before I could actually get things started. Alas, it’s happening and we are ready for take off!!!

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For those of you who have followed my major project journey so far, you can keep on keeping’ on and read on ahead. For those of you who are just stopping in, you may want to deviate over here first, to catch up on my latest plan!

This week we have been encouraged to take some time to reflect on our projects and their connections to Ribble’s Nine Elements. When I think about my project, 3 main elements come to mind.

First, Digital Literacy. This is the process of teaching and learning about technology and its uses. I have now got my “coding club” established. I sent out an email to the teaching staff looking for techy students or ones that were familiar and possibly interested in code.  What did I get? 7 staff identified students who either have a passion for technology or whom have tinkered with coding in the past. YES!!! Step one… check. Step two… the meeting. We had our initial meeting where I explained my purpose for the club to the students. I shared with them that I know nothing about coding, but that I think it is an important area within the digital world that I “should” know about. I explained that my goal would be to learn from them and to collaborate together by coding, to see what they could teach me and to see what we could create when given the green light to go for it! I believe that by working with this group, we will all advance quickly and appropriately in the ever evolving world of coding,

While embarking on this project, we will also address Ribble’s fifth element, Digital Etiquette. While I may not know all of the processes of coding at this point, I am confident that through the exploration that I will do alongside my Coding Club, we will encounter opportunities to reinforce how technology is to be used and what qualifies as appropriate. I intend on working with these students, demonstrating confidence in them,  that they know what is appropriate, allowing them to be trusted that they will code with caution and within the parameters that we will set out together.

Finally, I am curious about Ribble’s ninth element, Digital Security. We’ve all watched the movies as heroins save the world by putting the right code, into the right computer, at the last second, saving the world… and usually saving the girl too. Well, I don’t anticipate that this will be the case with my kiddos, however, I am looking forward to understanding further connections between coding and digital security. I believe that some pretty amazing things can be done through code, and I look forward to being exposed to what this includes.  I am looking forward to making connections on a very elementary level between coding and digital security. For us, this may simply include understanding how to keep our projects safe, how to back up data, and ensure that projects are stored appropriately when using school devices on a public server.

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And that is where I am at. I am enjoying this project as it unravels. I meet with my coders Tuesday at lunch for an hour. I can’t wait to see how Day 1 goes! In the mean time, I’m off to Youtube, to find a video or two on the simpler side of coding…. so that I start to wrap my head around what’s coming Tuesday!

I’ll leave you with this question. Have you used coding in your classroom / school? If so, how did you incorporate it, and what words of advice would you leave me with! Thanks for popping by!

 

Talk {code} to Me!

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After much thought and deliberation I have decided to jump ship on both of my previous major project ideas…. something about both just wasn’t doing it for me. For the “Teen Apps for Parent Dummies” proposal, I started to jump in, and I came across two hurdles. First, I wasn’t comfortable having these apps on my phone at all… and secondly, I felt like a creeper just downloading the app onto my phone. What would it look like if I used it (even though it was professional growth and development)… it just wasn’t sitting right. I knew that I could still achieve a digital awareness of these apps youth today are using, but I didn’t feel that learning about them, just through research, would give me the understanding I was looking for. So, final verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Second up….. Alexa in the classroom. Well this one was just plain and simple. I’m already using Alexa in the classroom…. and although I’m likely not using it to it’s full potential, I felt that I would be cheating myself of the “full experience” by tackling this one…. So, second verdict. NOT HAPPENING.

Alas, after many hours of thinking, rethinking, and a bit more thinking, I came up with something I have been curious about for ages. Coding. What is it? I don’t really know. Can it be used personally as well as educationally? From what I understand yes… but again, I really don’t know much! What better time and place to tackle figuring out coding, then now! So here it is. I’m on a mission to code! What does that mean? Not sure! Where will I end up? Dunno. But I’m excited! Like really excited!

My journey? Hmmm ….I am going to kick off this project by researching what coding is. Once I have a better understanding of it, I plan to research a few ways that I can begin to code, and I am going to try to code something, or create something by code…. or do whatever it is that one does when they are coding. Like I said, I am shooting in the dark here into unchartered waters…… oh it excites me!!! For those of you who know me, I’m sure you can picture that look I get… (insert it here!! )

How will I document this journey? I will use the 832 Major Project category to document the progress I am making in this area. I plan to share this growth through Vlogs, blog posts, and maybe even a few Screencastifies. The final product will be a documentation of my growth along with whatever I learn about coding. I also understand that the school division that I work for has some neat “coding” resources to use with kids. I plan to get in the know enough that I can begin to use this coding for future learning in the classroom or for an extra-curricular learning opportunity with students!

Here’s to heading out in a boat that I have no idea how to sail! I kind of feel like Moana at the moment… Hopefully I have better luck!

Major Project Indecisiveness

So this post is intended to be my announcement to everyone about what I am going to do for my major project…. and well, until a post was made about the use of Alexa and its privacy risks, I was gung ho on my initial plan. Now I’m stuck trying to commit…. and I just can’t decide.

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So I am going to allow myself one more week to get my hands a bit dirty by looking into both projects…

Project 1 Option:

Through our class and talking with teenage offspring of friends, I would like to collect a list of the sneakiest, riskiest apps that are being used today. With this info, I’d like to create a top 5 or 10 list (unsure on the number depending on how deep I look into each) of Apps to be aware of… “Teen Apps for Parent Dummies” type of deal. However, rather than warning parents against letting their children use these Apps, I’d like to find ways to help teens navigate apps more cautiously (maybe having them create their own criteria for when they choose to use the app or not) and then also provide parents some tips for how to help their children to utilize the apps on their phones safely while understanding the risks.
I would create a reflective blog trail of my findings as I moved forward with this, with my final project being a newscast that demonstrates the apps and educates users/parents.
Project Option 2:
After sharing that I use Alexa in my classroom at a basic educational level, colleagues encouraged my to delve deeper into 2 areas. 1- “the privacy/ security factors to consider when using Alexa in the classroom”. 2 – “What the top educational uses for Alexa are”. with student participation permission, I would prepare mini videos of how these Ed. Apps are used effectively in the classroom. I would create a mini interactive online notebook that lists and demonstrates what the best different apps are, as well as a document providing safety and privacy support for classrooms when they use Alexa.
I would love your feedback! I will try to sleep on this a bit longer and will update everyone about my decision!
I am loving what everyone else has decided to do for their major projects! I can’t wait to get mine started as well!
See you tomorrow in Zoom!