Thursday, January 22, 2015

Writing and the California Common Core K-5

We have been talking standards recently on my K-8 private school campus.  We are trying to figure out where we are hitting the mark and if we are neglecting any fundamentals.  This is especially challenging in the lower grades where all of the standards are the responsibility of the classroom teacher. 
So much of working with the standards involves understanding the work we are doing in class in terms of the language used in the standards. In our staff discussion we came to the question, are we covering the needed standards in terms of writing and technology?
So I sat down with the Common Core as adopted by California and looked at the K-5 standards.  Here is what I noticed.
Technology is mentioned under “production of writing” as early as Kindergarten.  “ With guidance and support from adults, explore a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing”  This standard is the same for grade K-3.  This standard is met in many ways in grades K-3, from making videos, to composing labelled pictures, to creating an interactive scene in Scratch Jr.   When we use tools like Google docs or Drive we are meeting this standard.  Even messaging each other in Minecraft can meet this standard.
Image by Wes Fryer PhD
In fourth grade the standard expands to include “Using the internet” and typing a full page at a single seating. (appx 6.25 words per minute) In fifth grade the typing standard rises to 12 wpm.
Collaboration with peers and digital publishing are both met through our use of Google docs and when we ask students to read each other’s work and respond or contribute.

My take away is that writing needs to be able to connect to multiple audiences in the class and even beyond class.  When we use Google docs, we are using collaborative writing tools.  The greater challenge in the standards seems to be the one that asks us to “write routinely over extended time frames”

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Programming a Parrot Mini Drone with @TickleApp

Minidrones in the classroom? Does anyone else hear the "Christmas Story" refrain? Well, despite the fact that I am a little afraid that we might put an eye out, we are hitting the "Take Off" button and launching our robotics and programming work into the air. 

I don't want you to think I rushed into this.  I have been avoiding drones for months.  But suddenly, as a beta tester of the Tickle App, I have access to a platform that lets me program the drone with a block-based programming language.  The Tickle app works with both Sphero and Parrot Rolling Spider Drones, to bring the connected toy potential to it's highest point yet.
What does this look like?  We are adding a programmable tool to our toolbox.  Using the drone-specific programming blocks I was able to quickly launch the drone and land it, which was more success than I had the first time I manually flew it.
I was able to set the program up in 2 parts using the broadcast and receive event tags.  Once I understood how this worked I moved the broadcast event trigger to a collision sensor on a Sphero.  I was about to send a signal from the Sphero to the drone, causing it to launch, flip over, and land.  
I will be using the drones in my after school programming and robotics club (grade 4-6)  I don't plan on using these with the k-3 kids yet, if I do it will be very guided.  Seriously, you will put your eye out.

Here is the first drone pic of the K-3 club, they loved it

Global School Playday #GSPD

Learning in a playful community makes it easier for our brain to create new connections and process information. The trust needed and built in play pays huge dividends in learning.
Are you brave enough to play?  Looking to celebrate your students and have a day of community building learning?  You should check out the Global School Play Day.  Make a commitment to play based learning on Feb 4.
I am a big fan of play, but I am nervous about the no devices rules, I wonder if there is a robot exception?