Next week, we kick off a week of coding, and also a time to talk about the good, the bad and ugly about social media.
Coding is something that could be exciting for every age group – from simple problem-solving skills, to what-if scenarios. Students will log-into places such as Code.org, Khan Academy, Scratch, and Blockly. I like how Scratch is positioned as a way to “Create stories, games, and animations.”
Two speakers will kick off the week:
Mel Adamaitis – Synapse Studios
“Why Coding Matters”
Dr. Stephanie Schull – Matter Mission
“The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Social Media.”
While we are at it, here are some good resources:
Today, being Digital Learning Day, I plan to get students to rethink cameras. How could camera create digital ‘stories’?
- How would a background give your subject context and proportion?
- What could you filter or manipulate a picture before you take the shot?
- How could you change the ISO settings to get a different result with the same subject?
Who knows? Some of my students may turn out to be journalists, or take to photography in some shape or form. Despite the fact that most pictures today are taken on phones, understanding lighting and perspective will always be an asset. My 5th grade class was divided into three groups. One with a Digital SLR, and two with regular digital cameras and two tripods if needed.
Here is how one group shot a Lego device. Interesting how one chose the robotics table, and another chose the Moon landing poster as a backdrop.
Or take how they approached this subject. Long shot with an outdoor context vs a close-up shot, adding the human element.
Salt River Elementary students have a blast using 3D modeling, and getting to hear from TimeFire what it takes to be an illustrate and work in VR.
Don’t you wish you could have learned in elementary school what kids have access to now?
That was one of the comments of a designer from TimeFire VR, speaking of how excited she was to see 6th graders quickly learn how to use SculptGL. It is a powerful open source CAD program for 3D sculpting. (I created this in just 2 minutes, having no experience!)
Of course there is much more work to be done and TimeFire showed us how we could to get there, with Blender, another open source application. This being Digital Learning Month, we will have time to get deeper into CAD and 3D sculpting. I’m planning to ask TimeFire to come back for an encore session soon.
I like to thank John Vise for making this happen. Specially to Jessica, Rainy, and Ariana for showing us the exciting software, and future career possibilities.
Thank you, Fred von Graf for conducting a highly interactive session for our 5th grade students last afternoon. It was the kickoff to our Digital Learning Month in February.
To a packed room of students and teachers, Fred asked them what social media platforms they use, and provided some cautionary stories of how to protect themselves from hackers, trolls and anyone with rudimentary search skills. He spoke of the dangerous side of oversharing, using same gamer handles and aliases across multiple platforms.
What I liked most about Fred’s presentation was that he avoided the geeky terms (no mention of Phishing or spoofing or doxxing), while explaining quite simply, how someone could find out sensitive and private information about you.
“Some people think of social media as a popularity contest,” said one student, commenting on a case of a someone grabbing information off people and posting it to his YouTube channel. Some spoke about how tagging children could reveal too much information about the family. Teachers shared their safe practices, such as not providing the location of when a picture was taken, or doing it after one leaves the location.
Overall, the room was brimming with insightful thoughts and suggestions, sparked by Fred’s topic, and style of presentation. He summed up, by bringing up oversharing, about seeking ‘Likes’ and the ‘addiction’ that could results from these self-gratifying practices. “You want that attention, and it becomes so easy to say ‘my privacy isn’t that important, let me put this out there’ ,” he said.
Digital Learning Day is on Feb 23rd, but this year we are kicking off a whole month of digital learning at Salt River Elementary.
Tomorrow, our students will learn from designers and programmers what being digital means.
3D Sculpting & VR. Students will learn from designers and animators at TimeFire VR Inc what 3D mesh sculpting and painting on 3-D models involve. An exciting hands-on sessions using Blender, and SculptGL. They will also experience what these virtual worlds look like through VR goggles.
Do’s and Don’ts of Social Media. Students will learn from Web3Mavens how to ‘Think like a programmer’ and navigate the world embedded with –or rather overlaid by — social media, particularly Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Wikipedia and YouTube.
And there’s much more in store during February!
Once again I’m planning some activities around the upcoming Digital Learning Day.
Having participated since 2013, the plan is to add more than just lessons and best practices.
I’ve invited some tech practitioners, and we may even consider a community event that addresses topics that parents lose sleep over: over sharing, cyber-bullying, and the correlation between screens and grades.
Plus, I am considering an essay competition on a social media topic, and getting some students to create their own podcasts.
Digital Learning Day is on Feb. 23rd.
Here is what we did for 2016 Digital Learning Day
Today Don Wilde, former Intel engineer, and FLL robotics coach/judge, was here to show our students a different side of programming – the Arduino board.
Don talked about how programming has been invading almost every part of our lives, from cars (which house dozens of computers), and houses to businesses, and libraries. (This session was fittingly held in the library – and I mentioned how students today self-check in and check out their books with a scanner and software).
He also stressed the point of how engineers are needed to design robots, and for online stores, casinos and satellites to function. “Highly-paid work today, whether it is in entertainment or communication needs engineers and programmers, and you could be one of them,” he said.
Don then demonstrated one of the devices he had put together for this, using a off-the-shelf Arduino Uno board. He connected a series of light, touch and sound sensors to show how this plug-and-play device worked.
By way of comparison, he talked about the Lego NXT robot, itself a micro-controller, with which many students in both 5th and 6th grades are familiar. We have had a robotics program in the school for the past 6 years. Thanks to Don, I have become interested in introducing Arduino to my class. Perhaps someday, we will have programming as a regular class, rather than an add-on to the curriculum!
Today, for Digital Learning Day, I’m inviting an App developer, Chris Cardinal, of Synapse Studios, to introduce our 5th and 6th grade students to apps.This is going to be an eye-opener, since I get a lot of questions about coding and app building. None of us are programmers, but I have channeled self-paced lessons through Code.org and Khan Academy before. This time, having a live app class will make a huge difference.
Tomorrow we will have Don Wilde to introduce students to Arduino! It appears it’s never too early for students to dip their hands into computer science, and understanding programming. Thank you Chris and Don for taking time to be here at Salt River Elementary.
Wed 17 Feb, 2016 – Chris Cardinal, Synapse Studios
1:00 – 1:40 pm – 6th grades “Creating Apps for a Digital World”
1:45 – 2:25 pm – 5th Grades “Creating Apps for a Digital World”
Thurs 18 Feb, 2016 – Don Wilde, former Intel Programmer
1:00 – 1:40 pm – 6th Grades “Programming Beyond Lego – Arduino and Beyond ”
1:45 – 2:25 pm – 5th Grades “Programming Beyond Lego – Arduino and Beyond ”
In a time when pre-teens have Instagram accounts, and tablets readers have become the 4th screen (after TV, laptops, and smart phones), digital learning takes on new meaning.
For next month’s Digital learning Day, I plan to introduce students to some tools and processes that would prepare them for college and careers.
- Book Trailers
- Content Aggregation
Building on last year’s #DLDAY activities, adding more collaboration this year, means showing students the opportunities of collaborating with even those outside the walls of a school. I am thinking of technology experts, and students in another school –even in another country!
Yes, most schools have walled gardens, for good reason. Occasionally we pierce these walls, and #DLDay is that time of year when we could try out new things.
Suggestions are welcome!
Some useful background here: