TeachersFirst - Featured Sites: Week of Nov 26, 2017
Here are this week's features. Clicking the tags in the description area of each listing will present a list of other resources with this topic. | Click here to return to the Featured Sites Archive
Grades6 to 12
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In the ClassroomThe Code Player is an excellent tool for anyone who prefers to watch demonstrations to learn instead of reading or listening to directions. Depending on the coding abilities of your students, choose one of the demos to display on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector and learn together. Have groups of students choose a different coding format to complete an activity. Use this site as a model for you or your students to create your own screencasts sharing how-to projects with coding. Modify learning by using a tool like Screencastify, reviewed here. Screencastify works with the Chrome browser to record your screen and capture audio recordings. Have more advanced students create their own coding projects for classroom use.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomShare Snap! on an interactive whiteboard or with a projector to provide an overview of the features included then allow students to explore on their own. Save projects to your own computer or create an account to save on the site. Search YouTube for video tutorials on using this program and share with students as they build an understanding of how to use the site. Begin by creating a small project together, then allow students to work individually or in groups to create their design. Streghthen learning by sharing links to student projects on an online bulletin board like Lino, reviewed here. Transform learning by challenging students who are proficient with Snap! to create video tutorials using a tool like My SimpleShow, reviewed here.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomCoding is an excellent way to teach critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Use this site as homework, a center, or in a lab setting. Activities are self-paced, so differentiation is easy. However, it is still a good idea, if possible, to seat a more experienced computer user with one who is less experienced. Explain to students that coding is a critical skill in today's world filled with technology and will also be a valuable skill in the job market. Many jobs that will require coding do not yet exist. Put a link to this tool on your class website, blog, or wiki.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomMake your staff the envy of all other schools with your coding prowess! Sign up for a school account and learn about coding together. Once finished, take advantage of the free lesson plans for teaching coding to your students.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomMake coding part of science inquiry or math logic in any classroom. Include it as part of scientific method or discussions about careers in science. You may even want to portray coding as just another "world language" in today's world. Be sure to look at all the implementation advice before introducing these extensive coding resources to your class. It would be wise to complete the Hour of Code yourself, so you will feel comfortable helping students if they get stuck. Better yet, invite a few students to do an hour with you after school and learn together! You will have a team of "techsperts" to help their peers. Plan an hour of Code on nationally designated days or on your own calendar! Invite the PTA/PTO to host a coding event. Select a video from this site to use to introduce Computer Science to your students. If you only have a few computers, introduce this tool using a projector or interactive whiteboard and bookmark it as a learning station with earbuds/headphones. Encourage students to help each other when they have difficulty. Share this on your website for students to use at home, too.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this site with your school's administration or anyone willing to consider leading an after-school computer program for girls and ask them to become a sponsor. Be sure to share information on the Summer Immersion Program with your high school guidance counselor and technology teachers as an excellent opportunity for interested students.
Grades1 to 6
In the ClassroomIntroduce Erase All Kittens on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Allow students to explore and learn on their own at classroom computer centers or individual laptops. Provide a link to Erase All Kittens for students to access at home. Create a bulletin board for students to post achievement levels. Transform learning by having student "coding experts" create video tutorials using Screencast-o-matic, reviewed here, and share them on a site such as TeacherTube, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomExplore these resources for use with after-school computer clubs or as an excellent tool when recruiting skilled parent volunteers. Turn the intimidating content of computer programming into an exciting learning adventure for all with these helpful sites!
Grades1 to 8
In the ClassroomWhen asked, explain that coding is just another "world language" in today's world. Team up with the PTA/PTO or other groups in your community to find others interested in being part of a Coderdojo. Your Coderdojo can be considered an after school club, but on a larger scale can bring students from various backgrounds together for the common purpose of learning to code.
GradesK to 10
In the ClassroomMake coding part of science inquiry or math logic in any classroom. Include it as part of scientific method or discussions about careers in science. You may even want to portray coding as just another "world language" in today's world. Be sure to look at all the implementation advice before introducing these extensive coding resources to your class. It would be wise to complete the Hour of Code yourself so you will feel comfortable helping students if they get stuck. Better yet, invite a few students to do an hour with you after school and learn together! You will have a team of "techsperts" to help their peers. Select the Learn button from the top menu to find two links for educators. The one at the top of the Learn page gives quick tips for prepping for the Hour of Code. The one at the bottom of the slide gives complete instructions for implementing the Hour of Code in your classroom. Plan an hour of Code on nationally designated days or on your own calendar! Invite the PTA/PTO to host a coding event. Select a video to use to introduce Computer Science to your students. Introduce this tool using a projector or interactive whiteboard and bookmark it as a learning station with earbuds/headphones. Encourage students to help each other when they have difficulty. Share this on your website for students to use at home, too. Code teaches the basics. Those students who show a keen interest in coding could extend their learning by using a program such as Codeacademy, reviewed here.
Grades3 to 8
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tag(s): animation (61), coding (73), Computational Thinking (32), computers (103), critical thinking (116), design (88), game based learning (140), gamification (88), problem solving (296), STEM (205)
In the ClassroomUse this tool to learn basic coding skills. Students will quickly catch on to this program when allowed to "tinker" and see what they can make. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Be sure to recommend that students "ask three before me" (the teacher). Have students use an online storyboard to write down what they plan to do/draw/say with their creation, and to help you keep tabs on students and their progress. For for enhancing learning create a digital storyboard with Amazon Storybuilder, reviewed here, or Storyboard Generator, reviewed here. When finished with these Tynker lessons, move to other free tools such as Scratch, reviewed here. Teachers of even very young gifted students can turn them loose with these challenges when they have already mastered math or science curriculum. Have them create a creature they can explain to the class or share with gifted peers in other classrooms.
Grades1 to 12
Material created can only be viewed within the program. Drawings are not saved as a JPG or pic file. However, a "snapshot" of the screen can be created by using these keys in Mac: apple, shift, and 4 and click/drag to surround the portion to save. In PC use: control/print screen. These snapshots can be uploaded or used as a picture in other applications.
In the ClassroomQuick start: Click stage and in the center pane, click on backgrounds. Click on paint to make a new background. Different colors, pens, and materials can be used to create the background or an image can be brought in from your computer. Objects in Scratch are called a Sprite and can be added in by choosing the folders below the screen. By clicking the script tab, blocks can be moved in to create motion, add sounds (even record your own message), and change the look of the Sprite. Blocks are linked on to each other to create a series of events. A control block dragged to the top of the blocks control which key starts the event. Advanced options include adding variables and other controls.
Be sure to check with your Technology Department, as many districts require authorization to download or install new applications. Projects can be shared online; however an account is required.
Work is saved to the computer itself and only shared online via an account. To avoid problems concerning content made by outsiders or issues with sharing, save the work locally and either create your own gallery on a supervised class website/wiki or set up a single account where you share the "best" projects online via your own log-in. Remind students of the school's Acceptable Use Policy and consequences of violations, if you do allow them to join/share. Images used should adhere to all copyright rules. Use pictures taken in class or those with Creative Commons licensing (and provide attribution!).
Practical tips: Students quickly catch on to this program when allowed to play and easily see what they can make from it. Provide a simple assignment with defined rules/tasks to learn the tools. Younger students may familiarize themselves more easily working with a partner. Have students use a storyboard to write down what they will do/draw/say in their creation in order to keep tabs on what students and their creations.
Possible uses: For the lower grades, Scratch provides unlimited possibilities. Use as a new way to show vocabulary usage. Use the paint program to add information to a picture from your class field trip or science experiment. Use Scratch to help in storytelling a concept in a new and unique way, such as how rocks are formed. In the upper grades, use Scratch to show complex material in a new way. For example, students can draw DNA and show replication, etc. through their drawings and storytelling. Draw the different movements of landforms in plate tectonics. Draw or illustrate solutions to Math problems.