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Cars and Code

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 14 October, 2016 - 03:28

The other day I heard someone talk about what it might be like if car makers or other manufacturers released products the way most companies released software. Think about it. “We think the wheels will stay on but we’re looking for beta testers for our new car.” Anyone want to sign up? Probably not. And yet a lot of software is widely released so that other people can do the final testing for the company. Think about beta releases of Windows for example.

As I mulled that over during the day I found myself listening to part of an interview with the CEO of Ford Motor company. (Ford CEO Mark Fields on self-driving cars and Henry Ford) During the interview he said that the Ford F-150 has something like 150,000,000 lines of code. Ok that is a fairly meaningless number in many regards but it does highlight the amount of computing power and related dependence of software in modern cars and trucks.

Self-driving cares, which Fields also talked about, will be even more dependent on software. If that doesn’t make you at least a little nervous you probably never worked on the development of commercial software.

We probably need to think a bit more seriously about software testing and quality control for software designed for self-driving cars than we do for video games. But wait there is more!

More than it works and doesn’t kill people? Yes actually. There is the whole security question. (Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway—With Me in It)

We really need to get more serious about writing good, secure code.

Categories: Planet

6 Riveting Ways to Make Reading and Writing Fun for Students

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 13 October, 2016 - 10:49

Creative Literacy Lessons with Kids

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Therapy dogs. Lunch bunch. Reading groups. These are just of a few ideas you can use to excite students about reading and writing. Writing can be fun. So can reading. Let’s discuss lots of creative ideas that work.

In today’s show, librarian Margo Janzi has a wealth of ideas. Additionally, she also talks about getting out of her comfort zone. Not only can you use robots, green screens, and iPads to excite kids, but you can use some more traditional ideas in new ways. Remember that there’s no match for the creative librarian and teacher. In conclusion, it is our job to inspire and encourage reading and writing. This inspiring show will get you started.

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes  Today’s Sponsor: Write the World Write the World is a fantastic free tool to encourage writing in your classroom. Not only can teachers run writing contests but they can also assign classroom writing prompts. Also, students can join the monthly contests and global writing prompts with other students around the world. Furthermore, Write the World has a schedule of their writing prompts for the year. So, when you’re planning, include these cool contests.

Write the World is a powerful, fun community for writing. Even more importantly, the site is easy it is to use.

Make writing exciting this year in your classroom. There’s no cost for teachers to join with their classrooms.

Writing Competitions

Given all these benefits, I recommend this site for writing teachers of students aged 13-18. So, join Write the World and get kids excited to write!

Show Notes:

  • Can therapy dogs be used in reading programs?
  • What is the format of a successful “lunch bunch?”
  • How does Margo target students who may not love reading to get them excited?
  • What is a book trailer?
  • How does Margo help kids make book trailers?
    • Doink app
    • Publishing: Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo
  • Do robots have a place in a library? (And how did she use them to celebrate Beverly Cleary’s birthday?)
  • How does Margo get students excited about writing?
  • What happened when they published books?

Who is Margo Jantzi?

Margo Jantzi is a teacher librarian at a Title I school with 630 students in PreK-Gd. 5. Her passion is to inspire students to read widely, think deeply and act kindly.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post 6 Riveting Ways to Make Reading and Writing Fun for Students appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Teaching For Change

Computer Science Teacher Alfred Thompson - 12 October, 2016 - 23:43

This post by Valerie Barr (How We Teach Should Be Independent Of Who We Are Teaching) really resonates with me. A lot of what education is about is helping students develop into the people they need to be to make society better. While content knowledge is usually seen as the big piece, if not the whole piece, helping students see how that knowledge can be used for good needs to be part of it as well. We need to help students see computing as inclusive and as a force for making the world better. And not just as a force for making money.

We need to teach everyone that computer science is for everyone. It is not enough to teach girls that they can do it. We need boys to understand that girls can do it as well. In fact that part may even be more important in order to create a culture and environment where women can succeed as well as men. We already know that the big reason why women drop out of engineering and computing isn’t in the classroom. But I think that in the classroom we can start building for change if were teach our students, especially the boys, the right way to live. That starts with teaching my example even more than by words.

The more I learn about how computer technology is being used and misused the more convinced I am that ethics is an important part of teaching computing. I just ordered a copy of Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy which I heard about this morning via an interview with the author. We’re using algorithms that people assume are unbiased but which actually support unconscious biases.

My first degree was in Sociology and maybe that makes me more sensitive to the societal aspects of computing. Then again the societal aspects of technology was a big part of the undergraduate Systems major I also completed. Today though it sees as if technology and its impacts are not always given the attention that it should get. The more technology influences society the more we need students to understand that just because something can be done does it mean it should be done. The consequences and the people aspects have to be taken into account.

As teachers we need to think about that and help our students to also think about it.

Categories: Planet

How to Make Flipped Classroom Better

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 12 October, 2016 - 13:30

A Candid Conversation with Jon Bergmann

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

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Make videos for students. They can watch them in class or for homework. Then, spend your time in class helping students. Reduce or almost eliminate lecture. Students can stop and start the videos as they wish. They go at their own pace. You help those who need it. Flipping your classroom (or in-flipping it as I do) can make a lot of sense if your conditions are right. Flipped classroom co-founder Jon Bergmann talks candidly about the flipped classroom model.

Prepare for criticisms. Understand challenges. Learn from the mistakes others have made. I love using videos to teach the point and click software lessons in my classroom. Whether you’re advanced or a beginner, this conversation brings you to the leading edge of instructional design.

Listen to this show on: BAM Radio Network | iTunes  Today’s Sponsor: My Simple Show Need a quick explainer video? Already have a PowerPoint? My Simple Show is a simple way to explain anything. My simple show is an easy to use video creation tool that makes it perfect for creating flipped learning videos.

You can start by typing in a script or do like I did and import a PowerPoint file. Then, after you get your script done, the POWER begins. With a click of a button, My Simple Show’s suggestion engine adds suggested pictures and graphics for the animation. You can change it or import your own photos. Then use their narrators or record your own narration!

What a great way to build an animated film to explain, introduce, or teach just about anything. Right now the tool is free. Get started now!

Create Videos

Show Notes:
  • What are some common criticisms that students have about the flipped method of teaching?
  • What types of videos work best – those with the teacher’s voice or without?
  • Why don’t we need to get too upset about “hearing our own voice” on film?
  • How is the flipped classroom movement moving forward?
  • What are some common mistakes being made by those trying flipped learning?
  • How can teachers avoid those mistakes?

Who is Jon Bergmann?

Jon Bergmann co-wrote the book, Flipped Classroom, and is a co-founder of the Flipped Learning Network. Jon is a teacher, educational coach, and writer who has had the privilege of helping educators “turn learning on its head.” He is considered one of the pioneers in the flipped class movement.

You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or elsewhere, get the RSS feed, or listen via the media player above.

The post How to Make Flipped Classroom Better appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Why We Should Not Lead with Fear in Education

The Principal of Change George Couros - 12 October, 2016 - 10:12

Original from: http://www.anirudhsethireport.com/fear-is-a-path-to-the-dark-side-fear-leads-to-anger-anger-leads-to-hate-hate-leads-to-suffering/

The principal’s office was a scary place when I was a kid.  If you were sent there, you were very likely to be yelled at, and it could be a daunting place for a kid.

I did not want to be seen as this type of principal by my students. Although many of them were scared to ever be sent to the office, I did my best to not make judgments, but let them work through their own problems.  Here were the two questions I asked:

  1. Why are you here?
  2. What would you do if you were me?

That simple.  I would wait for a long time for the answer to the first, but what was an important was that kids learned to focus on themselves, than focusing on me.  They would walk me through it, and after that was done, their thoughts on what should happen were often way worse than anything that I would have suggested.

The hope of this process is kids would learn to deal with themselves when I wasn’t around. What many people believe is that this might be soft on kids. This is actually far from truth. My expectations for students were extremely high, but often many of our students that get into these situations, need a gentle hand, instead of harsh consequences.  The focus is developing students not only as learners, but as people.

Yet there are still many educators that lead with fear.  The focus is on compliance, not engagement, or empowerment. It is simply, “Do as I say”, or “because I said so”, mentality.  This approach is short-sighted.  Does it focus on you short term, and ignore students long term?  Will kids be able to learn on their own after your class? Will they be inspired to continue learning?  They might have done well in your class that year, but your impact is often seen long after your time with kids.

I have seen administrators do this as well, and almost wear it as a badge of honour.  Again, the vision is short-sighted.  Again, this doesn’t mean that you should be friends with your staff, or that you don’t have high expectations.  But teachers that live in a culture of fear, often create a culture of fear within their classrooms.  This quote from, “Five Characteristics of Fear Based Leaders“, is quite powerful:

People who feel bad often try to make the people around them feel even worse. A grade-school teacher has a lot of power and control over the kids in his or her classroom. Likewise, a manager or supervisor has a lot of power over the people in his or her department.

Is this the culture we want to trickle down into our learning environments?

We have to remember who serves whom in education.  I have long believed that the higher you go up in any organization, the more people you serve not the other way around.  We all serve students, and our focus should not only be on this moment, but how they will develop as people long term.  This is definitely easier said than done, but it is still important to do.

If we don’t thrive in a culture of fear, what in the world would make us think that our students would either?

(Here is the second episode of #LeadMoment talking about the above.)

Categories: Planet

Epic Guide To Game Based Learning

Cool Cat Teacher Blog Vicki Davis - 11 October, 2016 - 11:18

100+ Game Based Learning Resources to Get Started in Your Classroom

From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis

Follow @coolcatteacher on Twitter

Games are fun. We can use them to teach. It isn’t that hard. Game based learning excites learning in my classroom. It can ignite your classroom too. In this post, I’ll share what I’m doing in my classroom. Additionally, I’ll give you 100+ of my favorite game based learning resources. These links and ideas will jumpstart your journey. 

This post is sponsored by Samsung. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Game Based Learning in My Classroom

Three houses are at war in my keyboarding classroom. Not only do they battle the monsters of ignorance in quiz battle-games but when they type faster, they earn gold coins to buy awesome outfits for their avatar. Ordinarily, each day begins with a random event of the day. While the whole class is a game, there’s serious learning happening.

And despite what some may think, the game is not required to motivate great behavior because I don’t even try to reward everything. In essence, I’ve entered the realm of Game Master and I’m never going back!

What are serious games?

Welcome to serious games. Despite what some may think about the games, serious games are designed for a purpose. In essence, serious games are not just for entertainment. As shown below, well-designed serious games can teach, educate, and inspire. In summary, serious games done right can engage students and help us become better teachers.

Not only do we want our students to be excited about learning but we also want them to be intrinsically motivated. Simply put, intrinsic motivation comes from within. In the final analysis, it is demotivating to “point-ify” everything students do. But in the long run, adding a game based layer to your classroom can get students hungry to win in the classroom and life.

Interestingly, as can be evidenced by the kids running to my keyboarding classroom each day, effective game-based learning does release dopamine (which activates the pleasure centers of the brain.) It can become a powerful and positive motivator for this reason.

Nevertheless, just because an activity has points and is called a game doesn’t make it an effective game-based learning tool any more than putting me in a Doritos bag makes me a chip.

Therefore, we educators need to educate ourselves on game based learning. We should learn how to do it right. We should also learn how to avoid the pitfalls of poorly implemented game based learning.

Let’s dig deep into the resources, research, and tools that will help you become start using game based learning in your classroom. 

I’ve also included my Quicknotes that I use to reference the most important Game Based Learning information that I want at my fingertips.

100+ Game Based Learning Resources Blog Posts and Current Resources

School-Wide Game Based Learning

These are my notes on the essentials of Game Based Learning. I keep Quicknotes like these with me as I work to become better at implementing effective game based learning in my classroom. Also note that quite a few items from the Gamifi-ed project are also included in my quick notes because I find them a useful reference. 

Interviews with Experts

Matt Farber – game design

Tools to Help You Implement Game Based Learning in the Classroom Websites
  • Games for Change – This website and organization sponsors contest to create games for change. You’ll find many ideas for game based learning for social good on this site.
  • Common Sense Education – formerly Graphite, this organization ranks and evaluations apps, games and activities for kids. I like that they recently added a feature to evaluate the privacy policies and COPPA compliance of websites. A great place to find games.
  • Gamifi-ed Website – 9th Graders in the classroom of Vicki Davis (author of this blog) and Masters students at the University of Alaska Southeast analyzed and tested more than 50 serious games. This website has many resources and an overview of what makes an excellent serious game.
  • Appolicious – This site pretty much evaluations iPhone/iPad games but has lots of them in the index.
  • Game Based Learning Insights on the Samsung Insights Website has articles on recent implementations of game based learning in more fields than just K12 including health care, retail, etc.
  • Builder Bowls – Builder Bowls revolve around a wide range of immersive technologies, including Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), simulations, video games, caves and domes, 3D printing and robotics.
  • Game On – a WordPress plugin used by teacher Kevin Jarrett and others to make their whole classroom a game.
  • Classcraft – This is the game tool I use to turn my keyboarding class into a game.
  • Rezzly – Used to be 3D Game Lab
  • Student Shark Tanks – I wrote this about how we had a competition to see which apps would get funded.
  • Drama in the Classroom: 2 Bellringers with Activities – Drama in the classroom can have game-based elements. I use this all the time in my classroom.
  • Kahoot – This fun gaming tool is being used for classroom tool and review games everywhere. Students can play as individuals or in team mode.

Pedagogy first, then technology. Kae Novak. This applies to games as well.

Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (STEM) Social Studies and Geography Economics & Financial Literacy Literature and Composition Health and Physical Activity

With the explosive growth of wearables and the increasing use of gamification in health care, we’re going to see more apps for physical education that will gamify PE class. (See Wearables Market Has Potential to Dramatically Increase Student Engagement for information on how this is already being used in higher education.)


These books are listed in alphabetical order and are part of my personal library at home. I reference all of them. Some great ones here!

Game Based Learning Research and White Papers

Boyle, E. A., Hainey, T., Connolly, T. M., Gray, G., Earp, J., Ott, M., … & Pereira, J. (2016). An update to the systematic literature review of empirical evidence of the impacts and outcomes of computer games and serious games. Computers & Education, 94, 178-192.

Carvalho, A. A., & Araújo, I. (2016). What Do Portuguese Students Play on Mobile Devices: Inputs for the Development of Educational Games. In ICT in Education (pp. 69-95). Springer International Publishing.

Donahoo, D. (2016). Playing games teaching human rights. Ethos, 24(2), 22.

Gee, James Paul. “Good Video Games and Good Learning.” (n.d.): 1-13. Web. 2 Oct. 2016. <http://www.skatekidsonline.com/parents_teachers/Good_Video_Games_and_Good_Learning_Updated.pdf>. Summary: Jim Gee has examined what makes a good game and found that identity, interaction, production, risk taking, customization, and agency make a game “good.”

Hacker, D. J. (2016). The role of metacognition in learning via serious games. Handbook of Research on Serious Games for Educational Applications, 19.

Slota, S. T., & Young, M. F. (2014). Think games on the fly, not gamify: Issues in game-based learning research. Journal of graduate medical education, 6(4), 628-630. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.4300/JGME-D-14-00483.1

Build Your Game Based Learning PLN Game Based Learning Hashtags
  • #gbl – Game Based Learning Hashtag
  • #ipadgames – Games for the iPad
  • #minecraftedu – A hashtag about all things Minecraft
  • #Gamification – I’ve typically found more on gbl but sometimes people who don’t know the other hashtag will use this one and you can still find some good articles.
Game Based Learning Pinterest Boards Twitter Accounts Who Share about Game Based Learning Game Based Learning Video Resources

The Gamifi-ED Open Online Community was co-created by Verena Roberts, Dr. Lee Graham, Colin Osterhout and me. We spent three weeks digging up ever interview of every awesome Game Based Learning expert we could find. These 17 videos include many experts on the leading edge of game based learning.

Jane McGonigal: The Game That Can Give You 10 Extra Years of Life

Michael Matera – Realm of Nobles

This interview on the Gamifi-ED OOC forever changed my view of how we can use games in the classroom. 

Yu-kai Chow: Gamification to Improve the World

Primary Years and Early Childhood Panel: Why Games?

Alice Keeler: Getting Started with Game Based Learning

Higher Education Panel: Why Games?

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via cash payment, gift, or something else of value to edit and post it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I believe will be good for my readers and are from companies I can recommend. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.) 

The post Epic Guide To Game Based Learning appeared first on Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis @coolcatteacher helping educators be excellent every day. Meow!

Categories: Planet

Change, culture and Cultural Change in Education — The Learner's Way

Classroom 2.0 Diigo Group - 9 October, 2016 - 18:23


  •  Embedded in the very weave of the organisation, culture is the most difficult aspect of an organisation to change and the hardest form of change to sustain 'That’s because transforming a culture requires influencing people’s deepest beliefs and most habitual behaviours’ (Rogers, Meehan & Tanne 2006 p5). Rogers et al indicate that as little as 10% of all organisations that set out to develop a high performing culture achieve their goal. - Nigel Coutts
  • Agreed. Education is controlled by the academics since it became a savior for leaving the middle class. Our best civic leaders have a different idea.
    http://www.textbooksfree.org/Leaders%20Educational%20Advise.htm - Walter Antoniotti

Tags: change, culture, education, teaching, learning

by: Nigel Coutts

Categories: International News

What’s worth giving a Gonski about

Bluyonder Greg Whitby - 5 October, 2016 - 15:12

The tug-o-war over the Gonski education funding model continues despite Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham wanting to make changes that are designed to cost taxpayers less but still deliver needs-based funding to schools. Gonski has become a bit of a patchwork quilt with something like 27 separate school funding agreements in place with various states, territories and education sectors.

Naturally Labor and those states and territories that originally signed up are against any changes in part, because the money has already been used to fund new programs and positions in schools.  Negotiations with various education ministers will continue to play out and while no-one appears to be holding their breath on this, the debate seems to be focused on what is sufficient when it comes to educational equity, rather than what is necessary.

The discussion around equity has largely been pinned on funding and who has/deserves the biggest share of the pie. The argument goes something like, the more money a school receives, the better the outcomes.  In fact,  Kevin Donnelly in his recent piece on Gonski quoted researchers Woessmann and Hanushek who conceded that how [educational] money is spent is more important than how much is spent.

Pete Goss from the Grattan Institute reiterated that point when he wrote last month that “our education results will not change if we continue to spend money in the same way…it must be spent effectively so that it has the greatest impact on students”.  We know that one of the greatest impacts on students is teacher quality.  This, in itself, is as Professor Stephen Dinham continues to point out, the biggest (and ever-widening) equity issue we face is ensuring a quality teacher in every classroom. As Stephen says, it’s the variation in teaching and practice, school performance and resourcing is ‘driving the whole educational system down’.

What is clear is that too many invested in education are reading from different pages when it comes to the equity issue in Australian schools. The debate must be centred on how to systematically improve teacher capacity and therefore their effectiveness across all schools and sectors. According to Dylan Wiliam there is already a considerable body of evidence demonstrating how to make teachers significantly more effective (this has to do with their development of classroom formative assessment). The problem however is that these approaches are not easily scaleable.

What is needed is a coherent framework that links sensible educational policy to funding – not the other way around. The debate over equity needs to be data and evidence driven not resource driven if we are to see both teacher and student improvement in every single school.

As the Business Council of Australia’s chief executive, Jennifer Westacott recently said in an address, teacher quality has to be at the top of the agenda.  When it comes to equity, making teachers more effective is the only thing worth giving a Gonski about.

Categories: Planet

Code4Kids – Building a Simple Scratch Game

Chris Betcher - 10 July, 2016 - 02:23

I had the pleasure this week to be a guest on Code4Kids, a webinar series with Kelly Moore. Kelly is a teacher and tech coach in Melbourne, and she asked if I’d come on the show and talk about the use of Scratch to help teach computational thinking and coding. Well, you might know I’m a bit of a Scratch fanboy so I didn’t take too much convincing!

Rather than just talk about theory stuff, we actually created a classic but simple guessing game in Scratch during the live show.  I thought this was a good example because it uses quite a few fundamental programming constructs such as sequencing, looping and branching, etc. It also makes good use of Boolean comparisons, if-then decisions, and reassignment of variables. Throw in some simple maths like random number generation, greater than and less than operators, and it’s the start of some simple yet sophisticated Scratch coding.

Click here to view the embedded video.

It was nice to get some comments from the livestream viewers that they learned something from watching.

If you’d like to check out Kelly’s channel and her other videos, head on over to her Code4Kids playlist

And if you’d like to check your own Scratch skills, you can take the 15 question Scratch Quiz I mention at the end of the video… just head to bit.ly/scratchquiz and take the quiz… your results will be emailed to you immediately thanks to Google Forms and Flubaroo!

Related posts:

  1. Scratch 2.0 Beta: What’s new?
  2. A Little More Scratch
  3. Teaching Kids To Think Using Scratch

Categories: Planet
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