Monday, November 19, 2012

Teaching Tech with Badges (virtual and iron-on)!

Do you teach technology (arduino, raspberry pi, mobile dev, 3dprinting, making, hacking, etc.)?

I have been looking at the idea of using gamification in my classroom for some time now.  I really like the idea of quest-based learning and inquiry-based learning. -- Give the students a quest or topic, and they learn what is needed to complete it.  This is how many of us learn in the "real world."  When I looked for gamification ideas, I happened upon Boy Scouts.  I love the idea of earning merit badges.  Merit badges have specific requirements -- see Boy Scouts Computers merit badge for example.

Of course, most all of us already know about Edmodo's badge system.  The cool thing is that teachers can create their own badges with their own (unattached) requirements.  The problem is that the teacher has to create their own badges with their own requirements! :)

The two examples below are badges with pre-defined requirements.  Why reinvent the wheel? :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Teach Programming in a 1:1 iPad Classroom

So, you've heard that programming is the new language to learn.  You want to teach it to your students but don't have a laptop cart or classroom computer.  You do have a class full of iPads (or only one), though.  There is a solution!

Teaching Programming Logic

In an elementary class or middle school class... or a basic computer high school class, I suggest teaching programming logic.  Many people are familiar with Scratch (or other tools like: AliceAndroid App Inventor or Stencyl) to learn/teach computer programming logic.  For the iPad, there is a cool app by the crew from hopscotch called Daisy the Dinosaur.

In Daisy the Dinosaur, users can add "commands" to the "program" and play them to watch Daisy move, jump, etc.  It includes "advanced" concepts as: loops ("repeat 5") and when functions (based on touch or when the user shakes the device).  It's not as advanced as something like Scratch or App Inventor, but it is a good start to learn programming logic.  It comes with two modes: 1) Free-Play and 2) Challenge Mode.  The Challenge Mode is the place to start; it steps the user through the basics of the functions in a logical, sequential path.

Teaching Programming Code

For actual programming using code, I like the app Codea by Two Lives Left.  Codea uses LUA as its language.  This worked well for me, because I use Corona SDK (which also uses LUA) in my class to make mobile apps and games.  

Codea goes on sale every so often, so make sure to put it in your App Shopper wish list to be notified when it does.


The only bad thing with something like Codea is that there aren't many resources out there to teach introductory programming using Codea.  There are some tutorials for Codea.  Linked from that site is another Codea "Hello World" program tutorial and a LUA crash course that are worth checking out.

If the above tutorial sites are NOT enough to get started in programming, I would suggest using an online tool to learn how to code like Codecademy.  

A cool thing that I did find is that you can make games that work with the iCade using Codea.

a brief video I made about using the iCade with Codea

Once I get my Avertv HD Video Capture Card, I'm going to make some intro to programming using Codea tutorials... or better yet, have my students make them. :)

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Students Creating Mobile Apps in ANY Class*

*must have a computer with internet :)

I am a computer programming teacher.  The first nine years of my teaching career...  Enough about me! :)

Actually, let me give a little background on why I wrote this post...

A local university contacted me about helping create a PD class for teachers on App Development.  As I was writing him back about my interest and history, I thought... "what does he mean 'App Development'?  Will the teachers already know how to program?  Uh, oh, this will be like the not-so-old 'Build a Class Website' PD (see e-portfolio example in next paragraph)."  I decided to turn my replies into a blog post for others to benefit from.

There are two ways to look at app development in education.  Is your goal for the students to be users or producers?  Do you want students to be able to create apps showing their competency of a specific content area, or do you want students to learn how to program via app development?  Are the students creating an app or developing an app?  Think of it like this: you want your students to create e-portfolios.  Do you want to teach kids how to code in HTML and use Dreamweaver to create the site, or do you simply use a tool like Google Sites or Weebly to easily create the site? -- is the content more important or the tool/software?

Either way, I have your answer.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reflection of Organizing a School-Wide PD Day

On Tuesday, June 14, 2010, I ran a Professional Development Day for staff at the Jackson Area Career Center (JACC). I organized, planned and presented at the PD Day.  Below, I will talk about the Process, the Good, the Bad, and the Conclusion.


The idea originated while I was at edCampDetroit back on May 7th. This unconference was an awesome learning tool (the sessions and the format). The format basically showed me the staff at JACC could run their own conference! I just had to organize it! :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Gamification of the classroom

I have been thinking about this concept for months now. I have read many posts about why you should do it and why you shouldn't do it. In the end, I concluded that I want to gamify my class.

Leaderboards, leveling up, badges, achievements, virtual goods, points system, coupons, locked stuff, progress bar, etc. I don't want to sugarcoat it so much that the learning is lost; I just want it to be gamified (not just the traditional carrot and stick of grades).

I teach "Game Development," so, it only fits that the class' content is delivered via a gamification system. How do I do that? It would be great if Edmodo (or another awesome LMS) had gamification built in. I wish @Edmodo would have an API, so I could (possibly) create a plugin. Alice Leung's blog talks about using Edmodo's current features (or lack there of) along with OneNote to gamify a science unit lesson. That was a pretty cool read.

What does "gamification of my class" mean? I am not 100% sure.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Donate Your Used Android/iOS Devices to Education

I teach programming to high school juniors and seniors. I started teaching game development this year, and found mobile App and game development the direction to take my class this fall.

For my class, I currently have some devices.

I would really like one device per student (each OS would be really nice).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Weebly or Google Sites for Education?

Which one is best, and why?

I have only used Google Sites, but have found issues (ordering pages, gadgets, etc.)

Weebly or Google Sites for Educaiton?
Google Sites
other (leave comment) free polls