MuseForJews

muse: n. a source of inspiration

littleBits storage

IMG_3152Our innovation studio boasts several littleBits kits for building and coding. We’re even featuring the code kit in our innovation special this year. For right now, we’re sticking with the boxes for storage and my partner-in-crime came up with this great idea to take a photo of the box before we used it and taping it to the inside of the box lid so kids know where to put everything at the end of class. Genius!!

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August 30, 2017 Posted by | LittleBits, Uncategorized | , , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Wow! This periodic table is gorgeous – and it has pictures of how you would actually use the element. 

Google Classroom has introduced some features making it easier to use Classroom to differentiate for your students. Now you can assign different assignments to different children within the same class. Matt Miller has some ideas about how you can use this new feature.

Here’s a fun coding tutorial to introduce the timeline of MLK’s life. What a great project – using coding as a path to creating a product! Let me know if you want to explore this kind of activity further.

January 20, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Links You’ll Love

Here’s a terrific way to get notifications every time a Google folder is changed. This is big, folks!

Hour of Code is coming! In honor of Computer Science Week, tens of millions of students spend one hour during the week between December 7th and 11th learning how to code. If you’re interested in committing an hour of class (and it doesn’t have to be an hour at one time) to having your students delve into some aspect of coding, here are some great resources:

The brain is the coolest! Here’s a great article with nine things teachers should know about it.

Oooooh – this awesome (if somewhat geeky) article presents a great set of tools to use to discover if that viral news story is really true. Not only are some of these sites useful if you want to just verify if something is true or not, but they could form the basis for a terrific lesson plan on media literacy.

2073737624Love Excel but want to use Google Sheets for sharing ease? Here’s a nice selection of Excel-like tools that you may not have known are available in Sheets.

You know how I’m a big fan of copyright-free image sources for students. Photos For Class is a terrific search tool to find appropriate images that include proper citation. For instance, I downloaded this image and you can see that the source info is embedded at the bottom. Very nice!

November 13, 2015 Posted by | Links You'll Love | , , | Leave a comment

The Programming Dilemma

Like everyone else, I’ve been reading all the back-and-forth about the need to teach programming. Like everyone else, I’m wondering when we’re supposed to find the time to do it. “How many languages can we teach in one day?” I ask…

An article in Mother Jones addresses this issue, stating that “computer literacy is the key to winning the 21st century.” I’m not exactly sure what winning the century means, but I found the article a fascinating read.

During this past school year, I had the opportunity to run two specials for 6th graders who were interested in coding. As it happened, one was a small group of boys, and the second a small group of girls. The differences were interesting. For example, the boys were mostly interested  in designing games via Gamestar Mechanic, and the girls were more interested in a methodical class in an actual programming language; working through Khan Academy’s JavaScript course. Differences aside, one thing that I did observe across the board, though, was that we needed a lot of time to go through the lessons.

Time? We just don’t have so much of it.

One way our school addressed this was to start an extra-curricular Code Club run by parents. Students sign up (and pay separately) and come to school on a Sunday evening to learn how to code. It was immensely popular…with the kids who were interested in coding. Obviously, since this was a self-selected group, it was, well, great for the kids who identified an interest.

But it occurs to me that “winning the 21st Century” needs to be about getting everybody on board, or at least more students than the ones who self-identify as wannabe programmers.

The article at Mother Jones brings up a different tactic, one that I’m interested in exploring; the principle of computational thinking. This intrigues me. It’s about teaching kids how to approach solving problems in a systematic, logical manner.

I recently worked with our 7th graders to design digital scavenger hunts using ARISgames. It’s a terrific platform, and requires no programming skills. But it does require some careful thinking about what needs to be in place in order to make things happen. It also requires careful attention to syntax (and what 7th grader cares about syntax? Slashes…we don’t need no stinkin’ slashes…).

Most of the kids loved it.

Maybe that’s the way to go…computational thinking, not programming. If they want to learn to code later, so be it. But maybe, for now, we’ll teach them how to create, how to use systematic thinking to solve their problems and get from here to there.

June 18, 2014 Posted by | Programming | , , , | Leave a comment

   

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